Building the Viaduct – a photo by Alf Burgess.

The Market Lavington railway line was a late bit of railway building – being completed in 1900 and opened for passenger trains on 1st October of that year. We have already seen that local photographer, Alf Burgess, was able to record the building of the line and here we see work in hand on the Lavington viaduct which crosses the little stream that divides West from Market Lavington.

Building Lavington Viaduct - a photo by Alf Burgess

We can see that the viaduct is brick built. This provided much income for the local brickworks.

Today we’ll look at the back of the photo for Mr Burgess had pasted an advert onto it.

Burgess of Market Lavington advert on the back of the photo

The simplicity of a late Victorian ad is quite charming. There are no hidden messages suggesting you’ll succeed better in life by spending a bit more at Burgess of High Street, Market Lavington. Instead there is basic information about some services that could be offered.

So who was Alf Burgess?

Alfred was born in Coulston, a few miles to the west of Market Lavington in about 1860. His father, William was a farm labourer. At the time of the 1861 census young Alfred was just 11 months old – the youngest in a line of children which William and wife Mary had had. The oldest was already 17.

Alfred was still in Coulston in 1871. William and Mary had had just one more child who was now aged 8.

But in 1881 Alfred was in London, working as a footman for Lady MacNaughton in Eaton Square, Westminster. Perhaps it was in London that he decided on his future trade.

By 1886, Alfred was back in Wiltshire for it was in that year that he set up his photographic studio in Market Lavington. And the next year, 1887, he married Marion Grey who originally came from Scotland, possibly the Paisley area of Glasgow.

Alfred did not confine his photography to studio shots. He also took local scenes and made and sold them as postcards.

In 1891 at the time of the census Alfred and family lived on High Street, Market Lavington. Apart from wife, Marion, two youngsters had been born, Robert was two and George was aged one.

The census in 1901 shows an increased family of Robert, Alfred (George?), John, Hugh, Allen and Charles.

Alf and Marion Burgess outside their Market Lavington shop

Sadly, the date given on this photo is wrong, for Alfred died in 1918. Wife, Marion, joined him in Market Lavington churchyard in 1935.


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