Cubs go camping – 1951

July 27, 2016

It is August 16th 1951 and the cubs are about to go camping at Monkton Combe.

Cubs off to camp in 1951

Cubs off to camp in 1951

This is a newspaper photograph which came from the Wiltshire Gazette. Inevitably, it is the fairly large dot quality that news photos were almost 65 years ago. The caption gives us the names of the three cub leaders. We don’t know the names of the others but somebody out there might identify the lads who would be in their early 70s by now.

image004 image005

These enlargements have been softened a tad to reduce the dotty look.

Here’s hoping those cubs enjoyed the camp and we hope many are still enjoying life.

And do get in touch if you can name any of the people in the photo.

Thomas Miles and Eleanor Dunford

July 26, 2016

Let’s start with the name confusion. Thomas Miles Dunford is sometimes Thomas Miles Durnford.

He was born in about 1820 in Market Lavington. Sadly we have no 1841 census for Market Lavington or Easterton but we know that in 1849 Thomas married Eleanor Philpott and in 1851 Thomas was a gardener living in Easterton. Baby John was just 7 months old on census day.

By 1861 the couple had three children. They still lived in Easterton, possibly up on the sands.

At some point the family upped sticks and moved to Llandaff in the Cardiff area of Wales. Thomas was still gardening.

And he remained in Llandaff for the rest of his life. Eleanor died in 1881 but Thomas soldiered on, still gardening until 1899.

The photo here is of an older man so was probably taken in Wales. There is no photographer mark on this CDV sized photo

Thomas Miles Dunford born ca 1820 in Market Lavington

Thomas Miles Dunford born ca 1820 in Market Lavington

Eleanor also appears in a photo – this one a larger size but with no photographer’s name.

Eleanor Dunford née Philpott - born ca 1822 in Market Lavington

Eleanor Dunford née Philpott – born ca 1822 in Market Lavington

George Pike advertises

July 25, 2016

George Pike was one of Market Lavington’s butchers and he placed an advert which appeared on the front page of the same paper we featured, with a Lavington and Devizes Motor Services advert, earlier this month. Click here to see that post.

The paper dates from September 1924 and here is the Pike advert.

Advert for George Pike the butcher from September 1924

Advert for George Pike the butcher from September 1924

As we see George Pike had branches in both Lavingtons but he was a Market Lavington man. At least one descendant still lives in the village.

His main business was meat, of course. Canterbury lamb refers to Canterbury in New Zealand.

Perhaps it is George’s willingness to buy eggs that makes this most interesting. This was clearly a time when egg production was on a smaller scale than it is these days. We know, for example of three different small poultry farms on the sands. Mr Phillips kept poultry at the top of Northbrook, George O’Reilly had the poultry business at Cherry Orchard and the Misses Chalmers had the Crossways Poultry Farm. There would have been others as well as many a householder keeping a few laying hens.

Mr Pike was inviting all such people to sell him their eggs and he offered top market prices.

It is always interesting to note phone numbers. This butcher had Lavington 26.


Celebrating VE Day

July 24, 2016

At this time we mark the 100th anniversary of the battle of the Somme. July 24th was a relatively quiet day on the Somme with some 612 British service persons killed on that day.

The war to end all wars failed in that purpose for just 23 years after the Somme disaster war broke out again and the 6 year World War II was fought.

When victory in Europe came, towards the end of that second war, it was marked by spontaneous celebrations at home in the UK. In Market Lavington the event was marked 50 years on in 1995. Amongst the 1995 events was a sit down meal in the old parish room.

VE Day celebration in 1995 - fifty years on

VE Day celebration in 1995 – fifty years on

Some photos were printed in black and white to give a vintage feel to them and this is one of them.

The old boy on the left is Percy Wilkins, a well-known village character. Next to him is his daughter Barbara and it is probably her son next to her. They still live locally. So, too, does Mahla at the back table.

Unlike the Somme, 100 years ago, VE day really was something to celebrate. We remember the Somme and its enormous cost in lives.



Richard Park – Tailor of Market Lavington

July 23, 2016

Richard Park was born in 1841 to his parents, William and Rosanna. William had married Rosanna Cook in 1838 at Bradford on Avon. Richard’s birth was recorded in the first quarter of the year so it’s a real shame that the 1841 census has not survived for we’d have known whereabouts he lived within Market Lavington at the time of his birth. As it is, we can’t catch up with Richard until he was aged ten, in 1851 when the family lived on Northbrook.

By then, Richard’s father, William was aged 45 and earned his living as a tailor. Mother, Rosanna, was 46 and both parents had been born in Market Lavington. Richard, aged ten, was the oldest child at home. He had a younger brother, James, who was five. Both Richard and James were scholars.

In 1861 Richard is described as a tailor. He still lives on Northbrook with younger brother, James. A note on the census says, ‘H Absent’. I’m not sure what the H means but I imagine it means parents for Richard is recorded as a son.

Richard married Ellen Honey in the spring of 1867. The marriage was recorded in the Devizes district.

In 1871 the census transcriber has given Richard the surname Kirk but it clearly says Park. Richard, the tailor lives with his wife, Ellen and children William Henry, aged 2 and Charles David, just a month old, at number 5 Stobbarts Road. This census tells us that Ellen came from the village of Stanton St Bernard, up the Vale of Pewsey.

In 1881 Ellen was away and Richard, the tailor, was living with his two sons. This time the address is given as number three Stobbarts Road. Ellen was staying with George Pearson and family in St Pancras, London. George was a Market Lavington man by birth as was his one year old daughter. A second Ellen Park, aged 7 is also in the house – so Richard and Ellen now had a daughter as well as the two sons.

By 1891 Richard and Ellen had moved to the High Street – not so far from the Vicarage which is now the nursing home. As in 1881, Ellen gives her place of birth as Devizes. Richard is still at work as a tailor and the only child at home with the couple is Alice, aged six.

In 1901, Richard reached the age of 60 and Ellen was 57. Alice, with middle name Gertrude was still at home and a visitor at the house was a twenty year old son of the Pearsons – the family that Ellen had been staying with twenty years earlier.

Richard died on January 11th 1909 and was buried in Market Lavington churchyard on the 16th January with the Reverend Sturton officiating.

Grave of Richard and Ellen Park in Market Lavington churchyard

Grave of Richard and Ellen Park in Market Lavington churchyard

In 1911 Ellen was still on High Street with single daughter, Gertude aged 26. They had a house with 5 rooms. This time, with Ellen writing the census herself, she gives her birthplace as Stanton St Bernard. She had filled in that she had four children, all still living.

Ellen died on February 18th 1920 and joined Richard in the churchyard on the 23rd of that month with the Reverend Sturton, again officiating.

Guide leaders in the Market Place

July 22, 2016

We love this photo although it isn’t the sharpest we ever saw. But somehow it seems to capture a past age.

The Market Place with three guiders - undated

The Market Place with three guiders – undated

This was part of a collection of guide photos which had belonged to Bessie Francis, one time guide leader. The three guiders in the middle of the photo were clearly the intended subject, but the surroundings also speak to us.

The first thing to say is that there is not a car in sight and standing in the road to chat, pose or just be there. It wouldn’t be like that these days for cars park in a marked out spot on the right and despite the road being ‘no through’ there’s a steady stream of traffic on it.

Next, the vantage point for this photo has gone. It was taken from the room above the carriage arch which once stood over the entrance to Woodland Yard.

We’ll zoom in a bit.

He's leaning on a lamppost at the corner of the street

He’s leaning on a lamppost at the corner of the street

You have to admire the cool dude who is leaning on a lamppost at the corner of the street although maybe he just had an eye for the photographer here, rather than for a certain little lady. We can see that on the corner at that time there was the Midland Bank. This is roughly where the chemist is now although it is an entirely different building.

The chap behind the lads is by the sign which says ‘no through road’.

Three Guiders

Three Guiders

The three guiders. The photo quality (and/or our knowledge) doesn’t let us identify them.

A chat in the middle of the road

A chat in the middle of the road

Two more people and behind them the hill leads down Northbrook with The Terrace to the right staying on top of the hill. The notice on the window to the left of Northbrook says, ‘travel by coach’ and this would have been put there by Fred Sayer.

And finally the little girl who got in the photo

Just waiting

Just waiting

High Street from on high

July 21, 2016

This is certainly an unusual angle for a photo. It must have been taken by a workman on the roof of the Workman’s Hall. It’s a shame the light got in. It sometimes happened when a 35mm film was wound into the cassette – particularly to a first picture taken on a film. It’s also a shame there is damage on the other side of the picture but it still creates a good scene.

High Street from the roof of the Workman's Hall - 1980s

High Street from the roof of the Workman’s Hall – 1980s

Let’s attempt to date the picture. The fact that it is in colour almost certainly means the earliest it comes from is the 1970s. Zooming right in we think the red car has a V registration. These were issued from August 1979 so that probably makes the photo a 1980s one.

On the left hand side there is the former Parish Room built in 1908. It was demolished in 1996 to make space for extensions to the nursing home. Its demise was regretted at the time, but these days, with our wonderful Community Hall – well equipped, well heated and with a car park, we can all see that time was up for the old room.

We look along High Street towards and beyond the old Congregational Church – who now make use of the Community Hall.



We can also see some of the mysteries behind the even older chapel on the left with Ivy Lodge peeping through the trees.

It was very thoughtful of the photographer to make use of his vantage point for this photo.

Some Tom Gye memories

July 20, 2016

The following comes from an email sent by Tom Gye to our rector in 2010. Tom was looking back over his 90 years in the village and recalling some things he had done. The rector was James Campbell and the memories seem to have been stirred by the name James.

The name James always invokes memories for me. It is one of my own along with Thomas and Edward. There were three of us contemporary boys in the village all named Thomas and Edward. I was the only one with a third name, James. My paternal grandfather was James who died twenty years before I was born. His time matched the reign of Queen Victoria, born at the time of her coronation and dying in 1901. James was a tall well-built man, 6feet 3inches in his socks, one time Tower Captain when tradesmen only were allowed to be bell ringers. He was in company with the Sexton (blacksmith), Blacksmith’s brother (ironmongery shop), Village plumber (one time churchwarden and maker of the weathercock), a professional gardener and wreath maker, a sign-writer and decorator

When the bells were recast in 1876, a wealthy benefactor had a chiming (carillon) installed. I believe the same person donated the tower clock. When I started ringing in 1936 the bells were only rung for evensong, the most important service in those days. For matins, the four most senior ringers took it in turns to call the congregation with the carillon. For that the bells had to be fixed to stop them swinging. To enable this, the paid sexton had, every morning, to climb the tower stairs, fly the flag and apply the locking device to the bell wheels. After matins he had to climb the stairs again and unlock the bells ready for evening ringing. The chimers were paid ten shillings annually, which I think came from a charity set up by the carillon donor.

I was given the extra name because after my parents had decided T. E. my mother stated that E. would be after her father; to which my father immediately responded, “ If we are having one grandfather we’ll have the other”.

The story goes that after an evensong service a group of young men had gathered at the bottom of the Church path surveying the rest of the congregation leaving. When a group of young women approached one of the men said, “Which one be you gonna have James?” James replied “That little dark eyed one.” And in good time he did, and between them they raised nine children to maturity, no mean feat in those days. Their first six children were all girls and the three sons followed. My father was the youngest.

Grandfather held the rank of sergeant in the local unit of ‘The Loyal Volunteers’ a forerunner of the Territorial Army. I imagine these voluntary forces date back to the time when Napoleon was a threat before his defeat at Waterloo. The LVs were armed with Martini Henry rifles with bayonet attachments. They had a practice range at the Fiddington end of the village. To obtain extreme range they used to fire across the through road. The targets were marked on iron sheets and positioned in that hollow in the escarpment just south of the Southcliffe Industrial site. I have some silver plated pewter beakers that James won shooting. My wife’s father was also an LV Sergeant and she had some plain pewter beakers her grandfather had won. I used to tease her that mine were silver plated because my grandfather was a better shot.

For many years there was a one-eyed man in the village who had been on duty as a ‘marker’ on the firing range. Although there was suitable protection for the markers while the shooting took place, this man did not wait for the shooting to stop and looked round the protection to see the bullet strike on the target. A piece of metal rebounded and hit his eye.

The bus company in Market Lavington

July 19, 2016

Just recently charabancs and bus companies have featured quite a bit on this blog. Yesterday we featured a ‘lost and found’ button which may have belonged to Mr Fred Sayer. Today we bring you the history of motor bus operations as written by WI members in the mid 1950s. This also features Mr Fred Sayer.

image002 image004 image006Let’s transcribe the text.

Motor Bus Services

In 1911 the Bath Tramways Motor Company of Bath stationed two motor buses at Market Lavington, together with two drivers. The buses were garaged in the “King’s Arms” yard. After a few years however, they decided that they did not pay and so decided to withdraw them. Mr F. H. Sayer, one of the drivers, however, who apparently had foresight of the possibilities of motor buses in the Market Lavington district, purchased the buses from the Bath Tramways and set up on his own to run services.

Sayer’s buses began to pay and early in the 1920’s a company’ was formed which called itself the Lavington & Devizes Motor Services Ltd., and by 1934 the Company had extended to 37 buses and coaches – or rather “char-a-bancs” as they were called in those days. Services were running to all the principal towns and villages in the district, including Bath, Salisbury, Trowbridge, Pewsey, Chippenham etc.

About one-third of this fleet of 37 vehicles were charabancs which were only licensed during the summer months for running trips and day outings to the sea-side and places of interest. The charabancs were much different to the present day luxury coaches which carry out these trips. They were open with a canvas hood which was pulled over the seats when the weather was unkind. The seats went right across the vehicle, with a separate door to each row of seats. They had large brass head lamps lit by acetylene (later with bulbs and a battery), and up to about 1927-8 they all had solid tyres.

The buses too, were very different to the present day ones which serve the village. They were very high, fitted with solid tyres, and most of them were fitted with a carrier on the back, and sometimes on the roof, for carrying large parcels and crates of poultry etc., to and from the various markets.

All repairs and maintenance (body-building and painting etc) was carried on at the Company’s depot which was Oatley’s Yard and the garage now owned by Messrs. Wordleys. Wages for some time were 7/6 per week for conductors and £2.0.0 for drivers!

Mr. Sayer by this time was quite a well-known figure in the district as Proprietor of the Lavington & Devizes Motor Services: also because he was an exceptionally big man – at one time his weight was Just over 32 stones!

In 1934 the Lavington & Devizes Motor Services Ltd., was sold to the Bath Tramways Motor Co. Ltd., and a few years later they in turn were taken over by the Bristol Tramways & Carriage Co., but the Bath Tramways still retained their title, which still holds today.

In 1935-6 great changes took place: the Company built a large new depot comprising Garage. Booking office and waiting rooms etc., at Devizes which became the company’s headquarters for the district. More modern and up-to date vehicles were operated and services on practically all roads were made more frequent.

Although Devizes was made the centre for the Company’s operations Market Lavington was not entirely neglected as now a very frequent service is running between Market Lavington and Devizes, and the buses on the service are modern double-deckers. Some of these double-deckers are not much higher than some of the very early single deck buses were, especially when they had crates of livestock in the racks on the roof!

Bath Electric Tramways

July 18, 2016

This button was found in a garden at the Easterton end of Market Lavington High Street.

Button front. It says BETL

Button front. It says BETL

At first sight it appears to say BELL on it but the two end letters are not the same so we put our thinking caps on and believe it says BETL – Bath Electric Tramways Limited.

The back has a button manufacturers name on it.


Made by Wathen Gardiner and Co

The button was made by Wathen Gardiner and Co.

It definitely is a Bath Electric Tramways Ltd button.

Fred Sayer, who became the owner of Lavington and Devizes Motor Services, had been a driver for Bath Electric Tramways who operated motor buses as well as trams. This button was actually found in a garden which the Sayer’s owned although we don’t think they lived there. Just maybe it was Fred who lost this button.

Take a look at the British Tramway Company Badges and Buttons site to see a good condition version of this button by clicking here.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 299 other followers