At the Lighthouse

May 28, 2015

What! Has Market Lavington, in the middle of landlocked Wiltshire got a lighthouse? Well of course, it all depends on what you mean by a lighthouse. If you mean a tall tower with a flashing lamp at the top used as an aid to shipping, then of course it hasn’t got one. What it has got is a house and works where acetylene was once made. The Hopkins brothers who owned this business called their property ‘The Lighthouse’. Of course, acetylene was made as a fuel for producing a bright light.

We have come across the business before (click here). But this picture of the premises has not been seen on this blog before.

The Lighthouse, Market Lavington in the 1920s

The Lighthouse, Market Lavington in the 1920s

The building we see is on Church Street. The roof we see at the right hand edge is on an outbuilding at the former pub, the Volunteer Arms. We are looking at numbers ten and eight.

The man in the photo, possibly one of the Hopkins brothers, is standing under a sign which tells us what the business was.


There’s enough to see quite clearly that we have acetylene gas engineers.

There was a time when the gas was piped around the village but we believe that finished in the 1930s.

In black and white photos these buildings, now domestic houses, look to have a pronounced pattern in the brickwork. Modern day photos show there are different coloured bricks used but it is a lot less striking.


Work at Homestead Farm in the 1950s

May 27, 2015

Homestead Farm was just beyond where St Barnabas School now stands up Drove Lane which was once called Cemetery Lane because there is a cemetery just below the school.

It was never a big farm but in those days of yore a small farm could support a hard working family. The hard working family at Homestead Farm was a branch of the Gye family and in the photo below we can see that they had enough income to run to a tractor.

A loose hay stack looks to be under construction, brought in on a trailer which might well have had a horse drawn origin.


Work at Homestead Farm in the 1950s

Work at Homestead Farm in the 1950s

We believe Mrs Gye is standing on the stack whilst her husband is forking material up from the side. A girl, probably Betty, is standing on the right in front of the stack.

There is clearly a small pen surrounding a hen house. This doesn’t look much like egg production for sale, but rather for domnestic need. In the distance we look over the top of Northbrook, down into the village centre and then up to Lavington Hill and Salisbury Plain.

Let’s take a closer look at the tractor and people.

That looks like a grey Fergie!

That looks like a grey Fergie!

The tractor looks like a Fergusson, the ubiquitous tractor of its day and these days often called ‘little grey Fergies’. Mr Wordley, the agricultural engineer based in the Market Place certainly sold these tractors but possibly not this one with registration LWV 899. That would seem to have been first registered in Wiltshire. Possibly somebody can tell us a date of manufacture.

It isn’t the clearest of photos but it certainly tells us a story of times past.

When Mr Walton’s Empire spread

May 26, 2015

Mr Walton was once well known in Market Lavington for having a department store which spread from High Street, round the corner onto White Street, across to the other side of that road and round the corner onto Church Street. But seemingly, Mr Walton wanted to spread his empire and he also acquired one of the shops in Easterton as seen here.

Mr Walton's shop in Easterton - early twentieth century

Mr Walton’s shop in Easterton – early twentieth century

The shop is now a private house with Mr Kiddle’s car repair works behind it.

But what a lovely photo this is, capturing what a shop looked like in the earlier years of the twentieth century.

The enamel signs are particularly lovely.


They just name products with no other attempt to tell us our lives would be so much better if we used them. The supposed power of these adverts was just to get words into the heads of potential shoppers.

They have real collector’s value today. We note a similar Sunlight Soap sign on offer at £220.


The shop windows, then as now, displayed products. Of course, there was no self-service back then. Your requested purchases were selected by the shop keeper from shelves behind a counter.


Village shops were general stores so we can see crockery displayed in the other window.

Back in Market Lavington Mr Walton had a separate department for china, glassware and fancy goods. Easterton just had a window.

At the cricket

May 25, 2015

It’s 100 and a bit years ago – we are not certain if it is 1913 or 14. All is right with a world and life goes on as it has since time immemorial. Well that may have been the way that the well-off saw things and we capture some of this atmosphere in photos taken at Market Lavington’s cricket ground in one of the last summers before the Great War changed everything.

The photo originals belonged to the Awdry family. Charles Awdry had owned the Manor and estate but he had died in 1912. Charles, like many of his family, was a cricket enthusiast and the Market Lavington ground was made very classy by him. It had a pavilion which could have graced a county ground but it never ran to stands for spectators. They occupied benches and deck chairs.

This photo – we do not know who the people are – captures the rather gentile life style of these privileged (by money) people. There was time to sit and enjoy the sunshine and the company of a handsome young cricketer.

At the cricket in Market Lavington in 1913 or 14

At the cricket in Market Lavington in 1913 or 14

Another group are fairly obviously not watching cricket. The women wear the large hats that were fashionable in that era but also have umbrellas or sun shades. The building was the Market Lavington cricket pavilion.

People may not have had much interest in the cricket but it was a social event at which to be seen.

People may not have had much interest in the cricket but it was a social event at which to be seen.

Lavington School was built on the cricket field and for many years the school caretaker lived in the pavilion. The little estate called Pavilion Gardens now occupies the site.

We don’t believe there is an active cricket team in Market Lavington at the moment although back in the 1980s there was a local club using the Elisha Field


No Grove Farm! No Garage!

May 24, 2015

This photograph dates from 1999. What changes the new century brought!

Looking over the Grove Farm site in 1999

Looking over the Grove Farm site in 1999

We are looking across the area where the buildings of Grove Farm had stood. The two houses we see are on the south side of the main road. Meadow Cottage, birthplace of museum founder Peggy Gye, is just off shot to the left. To the right of the houses the concrete area was where the Spring Filling Station (Lavington Garage) had stood. Sad to say, like so many village petrol stations, all over the country, that had been swept into complete oblivion.

It’s the concrete area in front of the houses, and on this side of Church Street, that used to be yard and buildings for Grove Farm.

The area has, of course, been transformed.

Similar view - 21st century

Similar view – 21st century

Now, we look over the approach road and car parks for our wonderful Community Hall. The two houses have been joined by Shires Close on the site of the garage.

Now that’s change for the better!

Along The Clays

May 23, 2015


The Clays is a back lane or even less than that for much of its length being a footpath. It runs parallel to Market Lavington High Street from White Street and can be followed through the Fiddington Clays area and on into Easterton.

The name signifies the underlying geology. Market Lavington has very distinct areas with different bedrocks. Salisbury Plain, which rises up from The Clays is chalk land. To the North of the village we can go up various roads to the sandstone ridge and then drift back downhill onto more clay land where the brickworks once stood.

But today we are looking along The Clays towards White Street.

The Clays, Market Lavington in about 1971

The Clays, Market Lavington in about 1971


The rather austere wall on the right is at the end of Woodland Yard, accessed from the High Street next to the butcher’s shop. Beyond that we can see the strange upstairs room on the house once owned by the Pinchen family which you can read about here.

To the left we look across allotments to the rear of Beech House which is on White Street. This photo dates from about 1971, Development along The Clays has blocked off that view now. In fact, bricks might have been delivered to the site to start the new bungalow.


Building work is about to commence which will block off the view to Beech House


At Edington Gardens

May 22, 2015

The Edington Gardens were a popular venue for trips out from Market Lavington in pre motor vehicle days. It was far enough away to be an adventure, but not beyond the reach of horse powered vehicles or even on foot.

Large numbers of people went on church treats to Edington, particularly from the Congregational Church.

Here we have a group of people relaxing and posing for the photo in the garden.

Members of the Market Lavington Congregational Church at Edington Gardens in about 1911

Members of the Market Lavington Congregational Church at Edington Gardens in about 1911

This picture dates from about 1911 and shows a group of people, clearly dressed up in their finery. Sadly, we have no names!

The chap on the right looks to be getting quite pally with the lady next to him. The other chap looks far too young to be of interest to the ladies, all wearing their large hats. We may not have names, but the picture brings to life the simpler and less frantic lifestyle just over 100 years ago. It was a time when sitting on the grass with friends was a real change from much of the daily grind of life. Do remember these happy and contented looking folk had no transport beyond a bicycle (unless they were very rich and quite pioneering). They had no electricity in their homes so cooking or heating water was a slog, let alone doing all the washing by hand and then the ironing with flat irons. They had no mass media apart from newspapers – no radio, no TV and, of course, no internet.  They had no method of producing music unless they played it themselves – again, a few might have had a gramophone but they wouldn’t have been common.

This all meant the day out at Edington was a real break from routine and a chance to relax with friends and family.

Update: The lady third from the right in the black hat and the light coloured blouse is Olive May Borer, known as Joey, who later married Owen Loe in 1915. Her father was John Thomas Borer, Master Baker, who had a bakery in Littleton Panel. (With huge thanks to Rosemary)

Beatrice Bolter Married.

May 21, 2015

This blog post has been sparked off by a brief message in Ben Hayward’s wonderful record of his life. We have an electronic copy of this. Ben lived at Kestrels in Easterton for the second half of the nineteenth century and recorded village events, his farming program and, often, what bird life he saw. Here’s our extract – one line from 122 pages.

Beatrice Bolter married - an extract from Ben Hayward's note book. Click to enlarge

Beatrice Bolter married – an extract from Ben Hayward’s note book.
Click to enlarge

This gives us one simple fact – Beatrice Bolter married on August 28th 1878.

But it begs many questions such as:

Who was Beatrice Bolter?
Where did she live?
Who did she marry?
Where did they live?

Well Ben has given us something to start with – a marriage date and a name and we can quickly discover – and no surprise about it – that Beatrice’s marriage was recorded in the Devizes district. With the odd way in which marriages are recorded we have two possible spouses William Kyte or Joseph Webb. If we purchased a marriage certificate that would tell us which one it was, but we won’t do that – a real waste of museum money. Instead we’ll find out using censuses.

The first census we used is from well before the marriage, but it seemed a fair bet that a lass who married in 1878 was around for the 1861 census and we can find Beatrice on that census on High Street, Market Lavington with an age of 3 years so born about 1858. Her father was a grocer – a shopkeeper.

We can use that information to trace Beatrice on censuses after she was married. We searched the 1891 census for anyone called Beatrice born in Market Lavington in 1858 plus or minus a year. We find a Beatrice Webb married to Joseph so the ‘which of the two marriage riddle’ is solved. She married Joseph Webb. By 1891 the Webb family lived in Brentford in West London and Bromham (in Wiltshire) born Joseph was a carpenter and joiner. No doubt that was a trade much needed in rapidly expanding London. The Webbs had probably lived in that part of the world for all of their married life for the eldest of their five children, also called Beatrice was 11 and born in Hounslow.

Twice before we have tried to find further information about a Webb family in Easterton. These probably are not related but do get in touch if you can tell us anything further.

The Scouts of 1978

May 20, 2015

It always seemed rather odd that Market Lavington, in the middle of landlocked Wiltshire, decided to convert its scouts into sea scouts. Or maybe it was just a good idea to give the lads who joined up a bit more aquatic experience.

Outwardly, the standard scout uniform was exchanged for something looking a bit more naval as seen in this 1978 photo.


This is, of course, taken in what often gets called The Scout Hall but was built as the Workman’s Hall.

It is a grand photo, showing a very neat and proper collection of leaders and lads – but you may have guessed it – we have no names.

However, we are confident that somebody out there will be able to name all of these lads some of whom will now be around 50 years old.

Do get in touch if you can help and remember you can see a larger copy of the picture by clicking on it.

Update – Brian Ewart fourth from left, front row


Sunny Spread

May 19, 2015

Regular readers will know that the theme for one of our 2015 displays is ‘Lost and Found’. It features many items that have been dug up in Market Lavington. Some have been found by people with metal detectors and others by people digging the garden. This jar lid falls into that category and has the hole made by a fork tine to prove it.

Sunny Spread jar lid - found in a Northbrook garden

Sunny Spread jar lid – found in a Northbrook garden

This lid, like the Bristol Dairies one also found recently, probably dates to around 1960. Yeatman and Co set up their Cherry Tree Works in Watford in 1942 and it was there that they made this mix of honey and invert sugar (plus colour and flavour).

It’s another item which might have been ‘Lost and Found’ but maybe somebody can tell us more about the product and when it was made.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 257 other followers