The Spring in 1926

October 24, 2014

Market Lavington was a very different place in 1926. The built up area was much smaller with no housing in the Grove Farm area, no Bouverie Drive or Canada Rise, no Fiddington Clay estate to name but a few.

And the road that linked Market and West Lavington – The Spring – was just a country lane devoid of housing as shown in this card.

The Spring, Market Lavington on a card posted in 1926

The Spring, Market Lavington on a card posted in 1926

Actually, there is one house in this photo, almost lost in the trees on the right.


Chimneys in the trees.

Chimneys in the trees.

We can just see a bit of the roof and the chimney stacks. From this we know that we are looking towards Market Lavington. Here’s the present day view.

A present day view shows the same chimneys

A present day view shows the same chimneys

We can still see the chimneys on that house on the right which help to fix the location and we can see we are just by the entrance to Lavington School with Pavilion Gardens and then the Alban Estate

It’s a totally different scene

The back of the card posted in 1926

The back of the card posted in 1926

The old postcard was posted from Littleton Panell in 1926.

A World War II saw

October 23, 2014


Recently we were given a saw which we find interesting. It came from Vicarage Farm in Easterton but clearly has a military origin.

The saw comes in what looks like a small kit bag – a canvas pouch.


Military saw pouch

Inside the lid of the pouch it is marked with the war department arrow symbol. It is very faded.

The War Department arrow head can just be made out

The War Department arrow head can just be made out

Inside the pouch there are the makings of a substantial two man saw, capable of sawing down quite substantial trees.

Military saw pouch

The contents of this saw pouch

Here we have the rolled up saw blade, two double handles and a saw set for getting the angles of the teeth correct. That should have a wooden handle as well and there should also be a file for sharpening the teeth.

With the items out of the pouch we can see it is purpose built for this saw.

pockets in the pouch

Pockets in the pouch

Here we can see the pockets for the four handles and the two maintenance tools. The blade fits neatly in the middle.

Assembled, the saw looks like this.


The blade has a cutting length of 42 inches – that’s well over a metre.

The teeth are big, bold and sharp.


We believe this item to be of World War 2 age but seek advice from any expert in the field of military saws.

A Hopkins Bill Head

October 22, 2014

We have a wonderful collection of Hopkins bill heads. Retailers got bill heads on the cheap by having a manufacturers advert on them – like this one below.

A Hopkins of Market Lavington bill of 1913

A Hopkins of Market Lavington bill of 1913

This one dates from 1913 so is just over the 100 years old as this is written. Of course we can marvel at the price of what appears to be a range back then with a smaller one at 18/5 (92p) and the portable one at £1-16-0 or £1.80 in present decimal coinage.

But it is the advert at the head of this bill that really appeals and recalls a bygone age.

These days the electric lamp is just about everywhere in the UK but back in 1913 most smaller places did not have mains electricity and locally produced gas could be used for lighting – particularly by the well to do folks. Most gas does not burn particularly brightly and so an incandescent mantle was used. When heated by the burning gas these mantles produced a wonderfully bright light. And the advert tells us that if we used the Veritas mantle we’d be quids in because we’d get our light burning less gas.


And these points are pressed home by a flag waving Boy Scout.


A problem with mantles was that once put into use they became very fragile. It didn’t take much of a knock to damage them beyond use so advertising as strongest was, no doubt, a good ploy. It rather looks as though our flag waving lad has broken the lamp cover but the mantle is still there and intact.

A lovely item here which says much about life 100 years ago. These days heating, cooking and lighting are all ‘at the flick of a switch’. It was so different back then.



Frank Arnold remembered

October 21, 2014

It is a long time since we featured one of our agricultural cartoons that can give insight into the life of the small farmer in the mid-1960s. They were drawn by an artist who just signed EGL.

Frank Arnold lived at Anne’s Farm which is on Spin Hill although you won’t find it now because its name has been changed to Sandmartins Farm. This was Anne’s Farm in about 1979. Frank was still there then.

Anne's Farm on Spin Hill in Market Lavington

Anne’s Farm on Spin Hill in Market Lavington

And now a cartoon.

Mid 60s cartoon showing Frank Arnold taking a break

Mid 60s cartoon showing Frank Arnold taking a break

Here we see Frank taking a break, surrounded by drink, and musing on what might have been. Frank, of course, is attired in braces and a flat cap and clearly indicating he had a good life. In truth he worked hard but did always give the impression that he loved what he did.

There could be an implication that parsons have an easy life. That might have been true back in the 18th century when the vicar may have been very much an absentee with an underpaid curate doing the work. These days the local parson is that bit less local as parishes have been grouped into benefices and the cleric may have charge of five or more churches.

But the artist has caught the spirit of those mid-60s days which was still in the era of ‘you’ve never had it so good’. And before anyone comments, we know those words were never uttered by Harold MacMillan.

Before World War One

October 20, 2014

This year, and quite rightly, there has been much talk about World War One – and we’ve done our share of that. But of course, parts of our area were militarised before the Great War – that war which was supposed to end all wars – began. In an attempt to keep body and soul comfortably together, our Manorial Lord had sold his lands on Salisbury Plain to the War Department. Tenant farmers continued to user the land for several years but at Pond Farm, now in Easterton parish, an annual summer camp for reservists took place.

In the Edwardian era the whole area was closed and it became a permanent military training area. Local photographers made sure the last of the fairly open summer camps were well recorded. And here we have one such photo.

Soldiers at Pond Farm Camp in 1909

Soldiers at Pond Farm Camp in 1909

This card shows signs of its past life as a piece of pub décor. It has been in the museum for some years but had an earlier home at The Drummer Boy which has now closed.

The card gives a real sense of the vast openness of Salisbury Plain. If it wasn’t for the soldiers, the area would really look empty. Somehow that distant horse and rider on the horizon adds to the sense of huge space.

The year is clearly given on the card. It is 1909. The regiment here are obviously ‘of horse’. Regular summer campers were a regiment known as the London Rough Riders. Here the troops look anything but rough as they maintain a neat formation led by their officers.

The vast open space of Salisbury Plain

The vast open space of Salisbury Plain

What a lovely image and it can remind us that when the war started, just five years later, the horse was still the mainstay for haulage and transport. Sad to say horses suffered very badly in the war, just as the men did.

A sword chape

October 19, 2014

It is always good to learn a new word and we learned the word chape when given some metal detector finds recently.

The dictionary defines chape as the metal point of a scabbard.

A scabbard, of course, is that special pocket, usually of leather, which hangs from a belt. It is designed to hold a sword or a dagger.

By their very nature, swords and daggers have sharp points and these points would tend to wear through a leather scabbard, so the base of the scabbard, where the point of the sword goes is reinforced with metal. That metal reinforcement is the chape.

Now if you were a person of status, then your chape could help to mark you out. It could be highly decorative and made in suitably strong metal. Even in base metal, a chape could be well decorated – like this one.

17th century chape found in Market Lavington

17th century chape found in Market Lavington

This chape is reckoned to date from the 17th century so is up to 400 years old. It could even have been in use in the English civil war.

Now we are no experts at metal work, but it is clearly carefully and intricately marked. A metal smith has spent much time getting this item to be as beautiful as that. It would have added quite a bit to the cost of the scabbard. We guess the decoration was produced by careful beating with quite specialist tools.

What a very pretty item to be worn into battle!

Fun and Games in 1977

October 18, 2014

1977 is 37 years ago as we write this blog in October 2014. Getting on for half of us weren’t born at the time and it probably would be half of us who don’t remember events from that year.

Would it be fair to say that events were celebrated in a more social way and, perhaps with more active participation? Maybe back then people expected to get together and have a bit of fun. These days we spend more time, as your writer is doing now, sitting alone with our electronic devices.

Anyway, the big event of 1977 was the Queen’s Silver Jubilee when she celebrated 25 years on the throne. The previous occasion when there had been such an event was 1935 when her grandfather, King George V celebrated his 25th year as Monarch.

Our Queen’s Silver Jubilee was certainly seen as an excuse for public celebrations, get togethers and general fun. Many areas in Market Lavington and Easterton had quite small scale street parties. For example, Spin Hill had one, Northbrook Close had one and so did The Market Place. There was at least one in Easterton and others elsewhere.

And then there were village wide events. In Market Lavington this included a fete and sports on the Elisha Field. And our heritage photo, from 1977, shows men involved in their sack race.

sack race for men - a Market Lavington event in 1977

Sack race for men – a Market Lavington event in 1977

This photo was taken by someone who moved to the village in 1976. He didn’t know the people then and still doesn’t.

So once again we ask our readers for any help possible in identifying competitors and spectators.

We can also smile or even giggle at the fashions of the day. Did we really wear trousers that baggy? Well clearly we did.

Photos from this era continue to arrive at the museum. We do have some ability to copy slides (the photo above was a colour slide) albeit it is a slow process.


More Jam Factory Workers

October 17, 2014

Often, when we think of workers at the former jam factory we think of ‘the girls’. But men worked there as well in quite large numbers. And of course, this included the actual manufacture of jam. So today we feature two men at work amongst the hot sugary product.

Two chaps at work at the jam factory - probably 1960s

Two chaps at work at the jam factory – probably 1960s

This picture, which we believe dates from the 1960s, shows Preston Law and Nigel Marston. Almost inevitably we know nothing about them but thanks to John in Oz for identifying them.

Their old place of work is now no more. This photo was taken earlier this month and shows where the factory once stood.

The former jam factory site - October 2014

The former jam factory site – October 2014

We’ll keep you posted on this site as developments occur.

And we’ll come up with more photos of jam factory workers too.



October 16, 2014

We have another advert from Harry Hobbs’ shop today and we think this one may date from the 1930s or 40s It’s a simple sheet of card which could fold and it is for Weetabix. This is a product which we can still buy, of course.

Weetabix advert from Harry Hobbs' Market Lavington shop

Weetabix advert from Harry Hobbs’ Market Lavington shop

The red outlined font, the slogan and the font for it point to our estimate of an early date.

But of course, do tell us if we are wrong.

Once again, thanks to Pat and Eric for finding these items and passing them to the museum.

The Co-op in times past

October 15, 2014

Today we have a postcard which shows a part of the High Street in times past. The card was posted in 1910.

Market Lavington High Street on a card posted in 1910

Market Lavington High Street on a card posted in 1910

If we start on the left we can see what was then and still is the butcher’s shop. The building just beyond that, with the arched underpass has been demolished and stood at the entrance to what we now call Woodland Yard. Further down the street we can see the dark looking sign for the Kings Arms pub – now converted into housing and beyond it, with the windows in the roof there is Red House. From then on we look into Church Street leading down to the building with the gable end facing the road which was another butcher’s shop back then.

The curvature of the road hides much of the right side of the street. We can see the light coloured building which is the present Co-op and beyond that was Alf Burgess’s shop which had his little photographic studio behind it.

Let’s look at some detail.

The weighbridge - just outside what is now Woodland Yard

The weighbridge – just outside what is now Woodland Yard

This is the weighbridge which stood outside that arch near the butcher’s shop. It appears to have writing cast into the weighing platform but I’m afraid we can’t make that out. Maybe a weighbridge expert can tell us more.

Below we show a part of what is now the Co-op. It appears to say, above the window, something like A R Hole and Sons. We have no record of this name or anything we can read it as. Once again, we seek enlightenment.


For completeness, let’s look at the other side of the card which as the message written upside down just to make it a bit more awkward for the postman to read.


We can see that Fred sent a brief message to his Ma – Mrs Claridge – on August 17th 1910. The card was posted in Market Lavington.


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