Posts Tagged ‘Devizes’

Ezra Price

June 4, 2014

This blog post stems from an almost chance find amongst our curator’s personal collection of old 78rpm records. It wasn’t any specific record, but rather the sleeve containing it that caught the eye for it was the sleeve provided by a Devizes music shop.

Record sleeve from a shop founded by Ezra Price from Market Lavington

Record sleeve from a shop founded by Ezra Price from Market Lavington

The record itself is not relevant to this story. It amused our curator to use this sleeve for a record which may have been manufactured by his family members in Tonbridge, Kent – for that’s where this record was actually produced.

But perhaps the name E Price rang some kind of a bell with Rog or maybe it was just curiosity. He tried to find out who he was. Now we think this sleeve dates from around 1930 but Rog looked him up in censuses and the first one he tried was the 1901 census. And there, next to Albion Place (where Handel House still is) was Ezra Price a music/pianoforte shopkeeper who had been born in about 1825 and the birthplace was given as Market Lavington.

Earlier censuses gave the birthplace as West Lavington so Rog’s mind immediately wondered if he might have come from Fiddington, that strange long thin strip of land, between Market Lavington and Easterton. Fiddington had been a part of West Lavington but in some sensible reorganisations it became a part of Market Lavington. So E Price was ‘one of ours’ and his name obviously stayed on his music shops long after he died – which was 1904.

Ezra was born on 16th November 1824 and was baptised at the Independent church in Market Lavington on 9th January 1825. His parents, James and Susanna, did indeed live at Fiddington.

Ezra married Lucy Denniss in 1847 and in 1851 the couple lived at Townsend in Market Lavington along with a couple of children.

Ezra appears twice on the 1861 census. He is with his wife and family at 17 Brittox Devizes, but also with his brother and mother at 212 Church Street in market Lavington. His brother was Enos who ran the Hope Coach between Lavington and Hungerford.

By 1881 Ezra and family were at Handel House.

An obituary for Enos of the Hope Coach mentions Ezra.

He was the last surviving child of the late James and Susana Price, and brother to the late Mr. Ezra Price of Handel House, Devizes.

This comes from the Hungerford Virtual Museum at .


A Brick from Devizes

February 21, 2014

Market Lavington had its own brickworks but that didn’t mean bricks weren’t imported from elsewhere. At the museum we have several bricks made outside the parish. This one is stamped with the name of Mullings of Devizes.


We know that in the latter part of the nineteenth century a Richard Mullings owned the Caen Hill brickworks in Devizes. We believe the deposit of suitable clay had been identified when the Kennet and Avon Canal was dug – and very useful it proved to the canal company. Some two million bricks were supplied, from this brickworks to line Bruce Tunnel. That’s a colossal number. If the works was able to turn out one brick every second, continuously, you’d be in the 24th day before getting two million bricks.

Now Mullings from Devizes moved out to Market Lavington, and before that Easterton. These were basket makers, involved in a slow, gentle country craft. But we do wonder if our Mullings family had anything to do with Richard the brickmaker of Devizes.

Maybe somebody out there could let us know.

Meanwhile, we can enjoy this brick, with its neatly made octagonal frog with a flat bottom.

A Clock Face

July 18, 2013

Today we look at a clock face which once kept the time in the old Baptist Chapel on Chapel Lane. As far as we know the clock works are still in situ above the counter in what is now the fish and chip shop.

This J A Smith of Devizes clock face was onced the timekeeper in Market Lavington Baptist Chapel

This J A Smith of Devizes clock face was onced the timekeeper in Market Lavington Baptist Chapel

The clock is thought to date from about 1865 and clearly carries the name of J A Smith of Devizes. It is not in good order with missing white paint and added daubs and splashes of blue.

Sadly, we know almost nothing of J A Smith. We believe he operated from Devizes Market Place.

The dial measures about 16 inches across and we believe the clock would have been of a kind known as a gallery clock.

We would, of course, love to know more for our records.

William Bones and Connie Merritt

June 11, 2012

The wedding of Connie Merritt to William Bones took place in 1913

Wedding photo for William Bones of Devizes and Connie Merritt of Market Lavington

William was a Devizes lad. His father was a watchmaker on Maryport Street. William was born in about 1882. By the time of the 1901 census, when William was 19, he worked at a tobacco factory in Devizes.

By 1911. William was a correspondence clerk for a dairy company.

Constance Emily Merritt was born in 1891. Her father, John Hampton Merritt was a blacksmith who moved into the growing field of the bicycle. The 1891 census enumerator may have got in a muddle, for he has the baby’s name as Mary Ann. Or maybe John and his wife Annie changed their minds about the  name for Constance was less than a month old.. The family lived on High Street in Market Lavington.

By 1901 Constance had been joined by her two sisters and the family had moved to Church Street. Dad was now a cycle agent, but he is best remembered in the village as leader of the Prize Band – a position he held for more than 60 years.

In 1911 Constance was aged 20, living with her parents on Church Street, Market Lavington, and working as a Lady’s Help.

We do not know where the Bones family moved to, but an Arthur Bones was born in the Melksham area in 1924. His mother’s maiden name was Merritt.

William’s death was registered in the Trowbridge district in 1969. Constance lived until 1974. Her death was also registered in Trowbridge.

Edwin Potter’s Bus at Devizes

May 22, 2012

Edwin Potter ran a horse bus service from Market Lavington to Devizes. Lavington’s railway station was not open until 1900, so Mr Potter’s bus enabled Market Lavington travellers to catch a train at the station in Devizes. We have seen this photo before on these pages, but we have just been given a better copy. It shows Potter’s bus at Devizes – still making the trip in 1905

Potter’s Bus at Devizes Station in 1905

We can, of course, zoom in on the bus.

The bus ran the Market Lavington to Devizes service before the advent of the motor bus.

Let’s zoom in some more.

By 1905 the bus was looking rather careworn.

We can now see that by 1905, the coachwork was beginning to look tired. With Lavington Station opened, it was probably hard for the Potters to make a living, although Devizes still remained the main local town.

Wheel and brake shoe

Zooming in on the wheel, we see what looks to be a brake shoe, which could grip onto the iron tyre of the wheel. It isn’t clear if this could be operated by the driver as the vehicle was moving, or whether a crew member had to get off and apply the brake at the top of hills.

An added interest to this photo is that it has been mounted on a period postcard.

The photo of Mr Potter’s bus is mounted on a period, romantic style postcard

There’s no specific Market Lavington connection here – except that the owners of the original are long term Lavington residents.

But let’s return to the bus and take a good look at the crew. Maybe someone out there can give us a positive identification.

Can you identify the bus crew?

James Mullings – 1811 – 1860

April 18, 2012

James Mullings, basket maker of Devizes was father, grandfather and great grandfather to basket makers in Market Lavington

We doubt whether James Mullings ever lived in Market Lavington. He was born in Devizes in 1911 and the records for 1841 and 1851 say that was where he lived. People who know of the Mullings family in Market Lavington may not be surprised to know that James earned his living as a basket maker. The 1841 census has James as the head of a house, with another man, John, old enough to be his father who was also a basket maker. So it seems that this trade went back through the generations, probably into the 18th century.

It is probable that George Mullings, who was making baskets in Easterton in 1851, was a brother of James.

James, however, we know was the father of William Mullings (1836 – 1903). William set up his own basket making business on High Street – opposite The Green Dragon in the 1860s.

William’s son, another William (1867 – 1927) continued the business, but on The Clays in Market Lavington. He had a son known as Sid.

The business carried on under the great grandson of James – Sid Mullings (1899-1973).