Posts Tagged ‘builder’

A drain inspection cover

June 6, 2015

What a utilitarian item! It is a rectangle of sturdy cast steel that can, with the right tool, be lifted to allow access to a drain. It would have been in a place where drain rods or something more powerful could be used to clear blockages. Such items are almost as common as the muck which ought to be flowing, out of sight and out of mind, beneath them.

But here’s one with a Market Lavington connection for it is badged with the name of a Market Lavington builder.

Drain cover badged G W Bishop, Market Lavington

Drain cover badged G W Bishop and Son, Market Lavington

It’s G W Bishop and Son of Market Lavington.

George William Bishop was born in Market Lavington in about 1884. His father, Jesse was a farm labourer. On the 1911 census we see George still a single man and at home with his parents. George was a bricklayer. The family lived on Church Street.

George married Helen (possibly known as Annie) Notton in 1916. Son Edward was born in 1918.

The Bishop company is best known, in Market Lavington, for building the Alban Estate. That’s the houses along The Spring and in Park Road.

George died in 1955 and Annie in 1959. Both are buried in Market Lavington church yard.

We would like to know more about George. Do get in touch if you knew him and, in particular, if you have photos you are willing to share. It would be good to be able to put a face to a drain cover!


Gye’s Yard in 1906

December 31, 2013

These days an interesting development of houses is known as Gye’s Old Yard. But of course, Gye’s Yard was where the family firm of builders, carpenters, blacksmiths, wheelwrights etc. actually worked

Gye's Yard, Market Lavington in 1906

Gye’s Yard, Market Lavington in 1906

This charming photo shows some of the workforce, and maybe the odd visitor too, in 1906. The various carts are of course a delight. Maybe an expert out there can tell us more about them.

But now the people. From left to right we have:


John Merritt Senior – the father of the John Merritt who was bandleader in Market Lavington for 60 or more years. The Merritts ran a blacksmithing business just across Broadwell from Gye’s Yard.


John James was a carpenter and may well have been employed by the Gyes.


Walter James was John’s son – he had married Elizabeth Gye in 1904 so was a family member by marriage. He was a baker and had the premises now occupied by the Post Office in Market Lavington.


Charlie Burnett was the Gyes wheelwright. He originally came from Easterton.


Tom Gye. Gyes often confuse by not being known by first names. We think this is the present Tom’s grandfather – boss of the firm.


This one is just recorded as J Gye. We think it is Joseph who later became head of the family firm.


Fred Burgess who worked as a labourer and at some time became a butcher.


Seymour Buckland was a painter who lived on High Street in Market Lavington.

It seems appropriate that members of the Gye family should mark the end of another year. Our museum owes so much to them for their support and generosity.

Gye’s Yard

August 25, 2013


From time to time a really lovely photo turns up at Market Lavington Museum and this one, just given to us, is a wonderful record of a part of the village, as it once was. It’s an aerial photo and we do not know who took it so we’ll guess at Peter Francis who very much enjoyed his photos from above. At the heart of the photo is what might be described as Gye’s Yard.

Aerial photo of Market Lavington showing White Street and Gye's yard

Aerial photo of Market Lavington showing White Street and Gye’s yard

In the immediate foreground we are looking down on White Street and we look straight into Gye’s Yard which has a van, a pickup and a couple of cars in it. On the near side of the road in the left corner are numbers 11 and 13 whilst opposite them are the Old Malt House and number 12.


Properties on White Street, Market Lavington

Properties on White Street, Market Lavington

Through the archway we get to the ‘store’ – where the Gyes kept bricks, tiles, etc.


At the back of Gye's Yard

At the back of Gye’s Yard

At back right we have the end of the Sutech building which was once the site of Mr Milsom’s garage and which is now the area where Milsom Court stands.


This area is where we now have Milsom Court

This area is where we now have Milsom Court

Beyond we can just see the bottom of houses on The Muddle.


Near the cross roads in Market Lavington

Near the cross roads in Market Lavington

The bottom right of the photo gets very close to the crossroads. The tile hung building at the extreme bottom right is now Saint Arbucks. Behind that we can see the little ‘roof garden’ which was on the back of Peter Francis’s photographic store. At the left hand front of this photo is the single storey building which later became Lavington Services. Sadly we no longer have a hardware shop in the village.

It may not all have been the tidiest part of the village, particularly when viewed from above, but what a wonderful photo.

Unfortunately, we don’t have it dated. We think it could be the 1980s.

Moving an organ

May 16, 2013

We have seen Hopkins invoices before on this blog.


This one is the February 1911 account rendered to West Lavington Church. . For £1 – 8 – 6 Mr Hopkins cut along the floor, removed the organ forward and blocked up the level for temporary use in church. It was a 100% labour cost as nothing new was built or installed.

By 1911 Market Lavington born William Hopkins had moved to Littleton Panell but his firm was still based in Market Lavington.

One son, also a William, was running the acetylene works in Market Lavington at that time. Another son, Sam, was listed as a builder and employer in 1911. He, too, lived in the West Lavington area.

Postcards from around 1911 clearly show the HQ of the Hopkins business at 21 Church Street in Market Lavington.

Hopkins HQ - Church Street, Market Lavington

Hopkins HQ – Church Street, Market Lavington

Building the Vestry

April 29, 2013

Here we show another recent photographic gift to the museum which Easterton Jim has got named for us. Here’s the original photo.

Easterton men building the vestry on St Barnabas Church in 1953

Easterton men building the vestry on St Barnabas Church in 1953

It shows Easterton’s St Barnabas Church having the vestry built on in 1953.

The people have been numbered – and because this image and another were on one page these people are numbered 24 to 29.


And the people are:

24 Bob Godfrey
25 Alec Chapman
26 John Dodge
27 Bob Sainsbury
28 ? possibly lived at Kestrel Cottages
29 Bill Stockley

Once again, many thanks to Jim and to Rosemary for making this picture accessible to many and helping to portray a little more of the history of our parishes. And if anyone can name number 28 we’d be delighted.

Making good at Clyffe Hall

August 20, 2012

For much of the second half of the nineteenth century, the Hon Louisa Hay, a Bouverie by birth, lived in family property – Clyffe Hall.

Like any house, this one needed repairs from time to time, both to the house and grounds. To judge from this piece of invoice from 1884, it would seem that James Gye and his team were regulars at Clyffe Hall, making good or just helping out. The front of this scrap of paper covers August and the start of September in 1884.

This piece of invoice concerned work done for the Hon Louisa Hay of Clyffe Hall, Market Lavington by James Gye in 1884

We can’t imagine that Mr Gye’s skilled builders and carpenters were keen on being told to do farm work, to help out the honourable lady.

The greenhouse, which got repair, was, of course, the domain of star employee, James Lye, the fuchsia growing champion. Repairs to that structure would have been seen as essential.

The back of the same scrap of invoice

The reverse side of the invoice certainly has a December date on it and the last item is of interest, partly because, these days we wouldn’t re-handle shears. We’d buy new ones. Perhaps they were a favourite pair of James Lye’s. The other interest is the spelling. OK – James has not spelt handle the way we would, but the other word, ‘verells’ can help us with 1884 Market Lavington pronunciation. The word is surely what we would call ferrule. That’s the metal clamp used to fix the wooden handles to the metal shear blade. It looks as though we can tell that the f sound was softened to a v.

We learn about wages, too. It would seem that James Gye charged about four shillings a day for labour. If that’s what the labourer received, it comes to £1 for a five day week. So the skilled worker was certainly getting no more than £50 a year. That’s equivalent of about £25000 today.

Building the Vestry

June 29, 2012

Photos and postcards of the church are very common items. Inside and outside of St Mary’s  have both been well documented by photographers over the last 130 years or so. Mostly, they document a very slow change in the church structure but back in 1910 a fairly substantial change took place with the building of the choir vestry.

Edwin Burgess, the Market Lavington photographer was there to record the scene for posterity. We have copies of the photos he took in Market Lavington Museum.

The Sainsbury firm of Littletojn Panell pose for a photo whilst building the choir vestry on St Mary’s Church, Market Lavington. The year is 1910.

The work involved alterations to wall and roof.


The photos, between them, show the substantial nature of the work.

The job was undertaken by the Sainsbury firm who were based in Littleton Panell.

Building the Viaduct – a photo by Alf Burgess.

January 21, 2012

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.

Tarmaccing a drive

January 9, 2012

Our curator recently had his drive resurfaced. After 60 years of use the surface was worn, large puddles formed in places and then filled with mud. Weeds took hold and they added to the surface damage. It was time for a fresh start.

And slap bang in the middle of the old  drive a soakaway had obviously been dug and this was topped off with a drain cover. Curator, Roger, had been saying for years that when, eventually, the drive was resurfaced, this drain could become a museum exhibit.

The reason? It has the name Hopkins, Lavington cast into it.

Hopkins of Lavington drain cover, recently removed from a Market Lavington drive and now to be found at the museum in the village

The drain is not in good order. In fact it is in two pieces – as it has been for more than 35 years, since Roger moved into the house. It shows clear evidence of an attempt to weld it back together. Broken, it may be, but Roger has been driving his car over it ever since he moved to the house. The two pieces have real strength.

Hopkins were, of course, Market Lavington builders and builders merchants. They had a number of buildings serving various purposes along Church Street.

This Edwardian picture shows their premises at 21 Church Street, next to The New Inn which is now The Drummer Boy. We can see some of their wares on sale outside what was then a shop.

Hopkins Ironmongery Stores - Church Street, Market Lavington

If anybody recognises the people, then of course, we’d love to hear from them.

As far as we know, the drain cover was not actually made by Hopkins. There have been iron foundries in Market Lavington and, conceivably, the Box family might have cast this drain at their foundry at the brick works.

We know of two of these drain covers in one-piece condition. One is on Parsonage Lane, near the side of the Post Office. This one is in West Lavington.

A good condition version of the drain in West Lavington

An Apprenticeship Indenture

December 10, 2011

When a youngster was bound apprentice, the seriousness of the commitment was emphasised by the legal nature of the apprenticeship document.

At Market Lavington Museum we have been pleased, recently, to receive such a document dating from 1919.

Apprenticeship indenture binding Stephen Coleman of Market Lavington to Hopkins - 1919

Perhaps we should start by saying that this indenture lays far less stringent constraints on the apprentice as compared with similar documents from the mid 19th century. The terms, though, may have seemed daunting to the young man being bound apprentice here. He was Stephen Henry John Coleman. Stephen was born in 1905 so he was a mere 14 when he entered this apprenticeship.

His employers were William Hopkins and Sons, (builders) – (Samuel and J E Hopkins).

Young Stephen was committed to serve his master faithfully, keeping his secrets and causing him no harm in any way. Nor should he waste the goods of his master. In exchange, Samuel and John Ernest Hopkins agreed to instruct Stephen in the art, trade and business of a carpenter, using the best methods he could and finding the apprentice all such tools as he would need.

The term of the apprenticeship was for five years. Young Stephen was to be paid six shillings (30p) per week for the first year, rising by two shilling (10p) increments so that in the fifth year Stephen was on fourteen shillings (70p) per week.

The document was signed by Stephen, his father, also Stephen and by Frederick Chapman of High Street, Market Lavington.

The signatures on the indenture

Stephen completed his apprenticeship, married in 1926 and worked for local builders throughout his working life.

We recently featured his roof angle gauge, which was made for a specific job, probably on a housing estate in the area.