A charabanc at Salisbury

September 21, 2016

Charabancs at Salisbury are a frequent theme. Photographers saw a golden opportunity to turn a profit since photographed passengers were likely to buy a print. We do not always know much about them and this one is just captioned 1923.

A charabanc in Salisbury - 1923

A charabanc in Salisbury – 1923

Because this formed a part of the Peggy Gye collection we assume it is a Market Lavington charabanc, probably belonging to Mr Sayer’s company. But we are not certain.

Signed Whitworth of Salisbury

Signed Whitworth of Salisbury

We know the photographer was Whitworth of Salisbury – Harold Whitworth. But we don’t recognise the people on board so over to you.



We quite hope there is enough detail there for the vehicle to be recognised as well.


A bell pull direction changer

September 20, 2016

We are, once again, back to that favourite of Market Lavington Museum – a found under the floorboards item. Like several other items this was found at 21 Church Street which was once the HQ of the Hopkins building and ironmongery business. This item may have been part of a shop bell system or it could have had a purely domestic function.

This is the object.

Victorian pell pull direction changer found at 21 Church Street

Victorian bell pull direction changer found at 21 Church Street

The pull string or wire would have been attached to the right hand end. It could have had a vertical or horizontal pull. The wings are heavily sprung which would have pulled them back to this position after a pull. The top of the object has a moderate cover of white paint. It was almost certainly made with a screw end above the white plate but a builder has removed this from its fixing by sawing through that. It is visible as a central steel core in the middle of the brass work.

The fixing screw has been sawn off!

The fixing screw has been sawn off!

It stands to almost certain reason that the final bell would not be in line with the pull, so a wire would work its way to the bell, using pulleys or devices similar to this one (but probably unsprung) to negotiate corners.

We are fairly sure this is Victorian – probably late Victorian but it is possible to buy similar systems today.

We’d like to thank Bob for finding and donating this fascinating and clever piece of bell system engineering.

Brickworks memories by Mrs Elisha written 1977

September 19, 2016

Good memories are a real source of knowledge and understanding. Here we have memories written down by Mrs Elisha in about 1977. Her memories date back and mention of the Central Flying School probably dates that to the time of World War One. Mrs Elisha, or Eleanor May Potter as she was, was born in 1903 and became the infant teacher at Market Lavington School in the 1920s. Even in 1977 she was still doing bits of supply teaching at the school – by then St Barnabas School on Drove Lane. These memories are about the brickworks and clearly are a response to a request for information which came from Peggy Gye.

Here’s an extract and below we have an abbreviated transcript.

Brickworks memories by Mrs Elisha

Brickworks memories by Mrs Elisha

Mr Merritt, my neighbour in Park Road, tells me you are interested in the history of Lavington Brick and Tile works. I can remember an amount having lived here for 74 years. It was owned by a Thomas Holloway of London, his country home being the Manor House, West Lavington. A good standard of clay was worked from there. The workers were almost on slave labour.

The manager was Mr George who lived in the house there with his wife and six children. There were also five cottages belonging there which housed workers who were always there to see to the kilns. Mr Grey with wife and son, Mr and Mrs Davidge with 3 boys and 2 girls, Mr and Mrs Plank with 3 boys and 3 girls. These cottages had 2 bedrooms and were in poor condition.

Hundreds of bricks were made there – handmade ones too. A big traction engine driven by Mr G Brown of West Lavington hauled 3 big trailer loads. Every other day for a long time the engine hauled its 3 loads of bricks to Upavon which was then called Upavon Central Flying School. The buildings can be plainly seen built with these bricks. Additions have been made. The engine was powerful but often had to do a shuttle service on steep hills returning to the village about 6pm ready to use next day for loading.

Fancy flower pots were made there and a few remain in the village.

None of the old workers are alive today. G Davidge, 70+, of one of the cottages lives at Spin Hill and Bertha Plank (Baker), 80+ lives at Parsonage Lane.

A Sunday School Treat in 1921

September 18, 2016

This event took place 95 years ago and could just remain in the memory of a centenarian. For others it represents a past and very different age. In fact it is hard to imagine what life was like 95 years ago. This was six years before electricity came to Market Lavington – there were none of those electrical items we take for granted these days. These are things like refrigerators, vacuum cleaners and washing machines, not to mention radio, TV and all the countless electronic gadgets we rely on now. Life must have been simpler and slower but probably no less happy. It just meant that events like a Sunday School Treat were much looked forward to, hugely enjoyed and became something to talk about afterwards.

We have here a news cutting about the treat in 1921 which, for the first time, saw church and chapel unite to provide one joint treat.

image002 It comes from the Wiltshire Advertiser for August 25th 1921.


Transcript below.

United Sunday School treat. – Yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon the scholars attending the Market Lavington Congregational Sunday School and the Church Sunday School held their united Sunday School tea and sports. Some 200 children assembled at the top of the village at three o’clock and, headed by the Market Lavington Brass Band marched to the Drill Barn where a sumptuous tea was provided, to which the children did full justice. After the wants of the younger generation had been supplied, the parents and friends of the children sat down to tea, A vote of thanks was accorded Miss Bouverie for the loan of the barn, and to the many friends who had helped make the tea a success, and the company adjourned to one of Mr Walton’s fields where sports took place many novelty races being included in the programme. Football, cricket etc. were also much enjoyed and swings had been erected on the trees for the younger children.

This united Sunday School treat was an innovation and the success which attended the first venture fully justifies carrying out the treat on similar lines in the future.

Amongst the workers who made the function such a success were the Rev. J. A. Sturton, Mr Peters (pastor of the Congregational Church), Mr G. Pike, Mr G. Price, Mr V. Osmond, and Mr H. Merritt, Miss L Pike, Mrs G Davis, Mrs Burbidge, Mrs Eldin, Mrs Elisha, Miss Curtis, Mrs Potter, Mrs Giddings, Miss Gale, Miss B. Pike, Mrs Smith, Miss Wiffen, Mrs B Cooper, Mrs S Hopkins, Miss D. Draper and Mrs Price

Annie Merritt – but where?

September 17, 2016

This little photo has a very basic caption on the back.


Annie Merritt, unknown and Mrs Tucker – but where?

The caption tells us that Annie Merritt is on the left and Mrs Tucker on the right. The younger lady in the middle is not known

Annie was the wife of John Hampton Merritt, well known in the village as the bandmaster. They ran the cycle store on Church Street and had married back in 1890. Annie had been a Devizes lass – Annie Louisa Wiltshire. We guess the photo dates from the 1920s.

We think Mrs Tucker was Minnie Tucker of White Street in Market Lavington but we can’t be certain of that.

And as to the location – we have no idea. Maybe someone out in blogland can help us.


September 16, 2016

Much of Salisbury Plain is now closed to walkers, being a military firing range. Norman Merritt, a lifelong local man, recalls walking across Salisbury Plain when it was still possible



By Norman Merritt

My father was an avid walker he loved his Sunday stroll and would cover miles on our Sunday walks. My favourite walk was always the pumping station walk down to the valley of SELDOM SEEN as it was always known to my father and his father before him. An apt name because no matter where you are on Salisbury plain it is invisible from view. The only time you can see it is to be there.

So come with me for a walk around the valley as I remember it.

We start our walk at the sentry box at the top of Market Lavington Hill and walk a few hundred yards until the track forks to the left. We now take this left fork and follow it for about 2 miles into Seldom Seen.

As we start our walk on the left is a large clump of trees this was the site of little farm (su029533) it is marked on the map as gibbet knoll but this was not the original site of the gibbet. As we continue walking past the trees, the field on the left goes into a triangle where farther down the track from Easterton merges with the track we are on. This triangle field was the original gibbet field it was, many years ago, a crossroads.  The track went across the track we are on and down to Fiddington Farm (su034528) and Wallace’s Cottages (su037528) and then veered off to terminate at Philpott’s Farm (su033521). We will be coming back on this other track

Going back to our track, the crossroads was an ideal place for a gibbet. It was a major highway in Roman and medieval times. It was the main route to Salisbury. If you are going to hang a body as a deterrent to others to (behave or else) you put it where it can be seen right by the trackways.

Now if we carry on down the track about 500 yards on the left would be Easterton Hill Farm (su037530) and on the right at about this point was a massive well since filled in but at the time protected by stakes and wire it was brick lined and about 4 metres around.

The story is that a Canadian soldier fell in and drowned in the well and that during exercises on the plain a Bren gun carrier was lost down the well. .The soldier that drowned in the well on December 15th 1914 was private Charles Mathews of the 12th field ambulance corps of Hamilton. (Canada)

As we continue down the track about 600 yards we now come to the area known as Pond Farm (su0435251). It became a large army training camp long before World War One.

We now continue on down the track after a while it starts to drop down into the valley and as you round a slight bend the low lying valley starts to come into view and with it the pumping station you can now see Seldom Seen in its full glory.

SELDOM SEEN is .a low lying flat area and an ancient crossroads. The track from the right going to the left is the old coaching road from Bath to Andover and the road straight on takes you to Salisbury.  The pumping station is situated in the right hand corner of the valley

It is still a very imposing building and now a sanctuary for owls so it still serves a purpose.

The western side of the pumping station is cut into the chalk hillside. The north end and east sides are solid concrete walls and roofed in – massive reinforced concrete roof. The doors and window openings are fitted with 12mm thick steel plate doors and window shutters so the operator could seal himself in and work the pumps during live firing.

To the south end were the stables for the horses and trap, then you passed through a door in the stables into the pump room.  This would have held two beam engines to pump the water – long gone at this time.

I have no idea when it was built it does not show up on my map for1888 but looking at the way it was built I would hazard a guess it was around the time of the build up to Pond Farm Camp. It was the site of a water house before the pumping station was built.

The left hand track that took you to Upavon and on to Andover and Winchester forked about half a mile from the valley. This left hand fork took you back up to Eastcott Hill Farm on the top of the ridgeway track (Su033542).

The right hand fork from the valley will take us to pick up the other track from the top of Lavington Hill where we first started from.

As we leave the valley track the track back to the left would take you to Tilshead, Orcheston, and on around to pick up the Redhorne to Salisbury track about two miles from the Bustard pub

At a spot now called Bombard the sign post for Lavington, Urchfont and Salisbury still stands at this spot

We are going to take the right hand fork and head for home to complete this 6 mile triangle. As we walk after about half a mile you would get a better view of Wallace’s Cottages to the right and Fiddington Farm lying on the slope of Church Hill. The next farm we would come to was New Farm (su034518). This farm covers both sides of the track. The wooded area where the farm stood is still there.

The next farm would be Philpott’s Farm (su033521), the last farm on the track. This is the farm where the track (the old crossroads) from Easterton going past Wallace’s Cottages and Philpott’s Farm terminated.

The only other building on this track is old barn (su028528).

We have now arrived back at where we started.

Down White Street

September 15, 2016

This is another card from former museum archivist, Priscilla. The view could almost have been taken from her house being a view down White Street.

A view into White Street - about 1960

A view into White Street – about 1960


We are looking at the pair of semidetached cottages which face up Lavington Hill. In this image White Street heads off to the right and the old route that crosses the stream by a ford at Broadwell heads down to the left. From the style of photo we date this to about 1960. This photo lacks items to give us real evidence.

But there are some features worthy of note. Like the little lamp bracket on the left.


They don’t make ‘em like that anymore and by the looks of the wiring perhaps that is just as well.


The right hand house has a delightful galvanised dustbin outside the back door. They have almost been swept into oblivion in this area because every household was issued with a plastic wheelie bin which is mechanically lifted and emptied, (Our curator says he still uses an old galvanised one!)

Thanks again to Priscilla and her daughter.

Tim Gye’s christening

September 14, 2016

This photo lets us see two of the better known families in Market Lavington. These are the Gye and the Welch families who were joined in holy matrimony when Tom Gye married Peggy Welch in 1940.

Photo taken after Tim Gye's christening in 1943

Photo taken after Tim Gye’s christening in 1943

What we see here is a photo taken following the christening of their first born son in 1943.

On the left we have the Gye grandparents of Tim – Joseph and Lucretia (always known as Ethel). The happy parents with Tim are in the middle and on the right we have Tim’s other grandfather, James Welch along with his second wife, Winifred.

This may well have been the last time that collection of people was all together. Tom was on leave from military service and his father, Joseph, died the following year

The McKinnon boys

September 13, 2016

This tiny photo, not in good condition, shows two lads.

The McKinnon boys

The McKinnon boys


Now that’s not too bad for an original image measuring 5.5 by 4 cms.

The back has a hand written caption.


We’ll amend the spelling a bit and say we have here two McKinnon boys of whom one lives at Northbrook.

Now the one who lived at Northbrook was Thomas McKinnon who was born in 1913. His family had been living in Easterton at the time of the 1911 census. They had two daughters then. Ernest, the other lad was born in 1912 so we surmise we have Ernest on the left and Thomas on the right. The Mckinnons clearly moved about for whilst Ernest’s birth was recorded in the Devizes district, Thomas’s was recorded in Pewsey. Subsequent daughters had births recorded in Devizes with one in Westbury.

Thomas married Vi Hurkett in 1936. They had a son called Malcolm.

This family all lived at Northbrook and are listed there on the 1964 electoral roll.

We know little of Ernest who may have been Frederick Ernest. He lived locally, but does not appear on Market Lavington records.

Grove Farm, the church and village

September 12, 2016

Here we have a period postcard of Market Lavington. We date this by TV aerial to about 1960. All of the TV masts we see are of the old 405 lines type.


The Village from Home Field – about 1960

This is a view of the village from the lower slopes of Salisbury Plain. We are looking across Home Field which had once been the recreation ground. The two dominant buildings are…

…Grove Farm …


…and the Church of St Mary.


We can see that Meadow Cottage still had its thatched roof.


It is also interesting to note those three bright white ventilators on the roof of the school.

And here we have more of Church Street and The Muddle.


This postcard has recently been given to the museum. It was part of the collection of former board member and archivist Priscilla. We offer her and her daughter many thanks.