Posts Tagged ‘horse’

The Market Lavington Fire Engine in 1920

December 17, 2012

Marjorie (née) Milsom wrote the paragraph below – a part of her memories of the fire service in the village.

In 1929 the only fire appliance in the village was a tender which had to be towed behind a lorry, and my father used to stand on the back stoking the boiler when racing to a fire. But one day the tender hit the kerb and it turned over. After my father recovered from his injuries, the Council asked him to build the village a motorised replacement fire engine, which he did. The village of Mere had recently acquired a new fire engine so my father went over and copied the design, then built it to those specifications. The fire engine was a great success and served the village and surrounding villages well for over 20 year years. It was housed in The Fire Station in the Market Place.

But today we predate Marjorie’s memory with a picture of the fire engine in about 1920. It may have been the same appliance, but back then horse power was used. Regrettably, it isn’t the best photo we have.

Market Lavington fire engine and crew in about 1920

Market Lavington fire engine and crew in about 1920

As we can see, some of the crew have all but faded away in this picture which, we assume, was not taken on active service. There is certainly someone very youthful at the back. Another regret is that none of the people are named so yet again we appeal for help.

But despite our lack of information we still think this is a charming image of the way things were 90 or so years ago.

Violet and Prince

November 14, 2012

What we call a genealogy page is something we do from time to time on this blog. Those are the posts where we select a local inhabitant and write a brief biography of the person concerned.

We are rather short of information concerning today’s characters, Violet and Prince. We don’t know when or where they were born, how or if they are related and we know nothing regarding their parentage or ancestry. We know nothing about when they arrived in Market Lavington, nor on when they left or if they reached the ends of their lives here.

We do know that the couple worked for the Gye family of Homestead Farm on what is now Drove Lane in Market Lavington. So the boss would have been James Gye whose daughter, Betty now lives in Devizes. We are not even sure of the date of our photo. It is probably in the 1940s.

Violet and Prince – shire horses working at Homestead Farm in Market Lavington.

Violet and Prince were horses that worked the land up there on the sands of Market Lavington. They look to be a fairly well matched pair of shire horses.

Now come on! They look absolutely lovely and serve to remind us that the horse was still a major force in agriculture within the living memory of older folk.

The person half hidden by Violet could be James Gye. He is standing behind what looks to be a sack filled with potatoes.

A High Street for Horses

November 9, 2012

These days Market Lavington High Street is dedicated to the motor vehicle but as we have seen it wasn’t always so. Back in the 1950s the car or van was there, but not in vast numbers. If we go back 100 years then the car was virtually unknown. Today’s picture of the High Street dates from that era. It is taken from more or less outside the Co-op looking towards and beyond the crossroads.

Market Lavington High Street about a hundred years ago – A High Street for Horses!

On the left we have the Elisha’s shop and then a group of people surround a pram.

A pram of the period

Beyond the pram was Mr Whitchurch’s drug store and then the Kings Arms – which was receiving a delivery of beer. The dray, of course, was horse drawn.

The dray delivers at the Kings Arms

Beyond the dray is The Red House where James Neate lived. He was a wine and spirit merchant and had a brewery which supplied his own pub – The Brewery Tap on White Street. Further on we look down into Church Street.

On the right side we have Mr Burgess’s shop. He was the photographer and probably took this photo. Outside his shop there’s a small horse drawn wagon. Further down we can make out another horse drawn wagon. This could be outside where the newsagent is now.

Four wheels on the wagon outside Mr Burgess’s shop

What a delightful, if sadly faded,  photo.

Cultivating Salisbury Plain

September 14, 2012

A large part of the parishes of Market Lavington and Easterton lie up on Salisbury Plain. Most of this now falls into the military training range but agriculture is carried on at the periphery. It is on the Plain that we get big open fields and the cultivation work is long and lonely.

Here’s a photo which we used in a previous Museum Miscellany (there will be some farming pictures this year on September 15th). We do not have a date for the picture, but it is almost timeless.

The loneliness of the Salisbury Plain farm worker. The date of this photo, taken in the parish of Market Lavington, is uncertain.

The chap here at least has his horses for company. His job, cultivating the prairie sized field must have seemed endless. The photo was probably taken in autumn or winter, so the team probably won’t cook in the sun. Once away from the edge of the field there’s no shelter of any kind. It is interesting to note that the farm worker is wearing knee high gaiters.

Now we move forward to 2012 (September 2nd to be precise).

A Cambridge style roller in use on Salisbury Plain – in Easterton – on September 2nd 2012

This view is in the opposite direction and looks off Salisbury Plain and down into the villages. The powerful, four wheel drive tractor has Lavington School in front of it – except that it is down in the vale. The tractor has an air conditioned cab and, no doubt, has a wonderful entertainment system for the farm worker. The hard graft has gone out of the job for our cultivator here does not have the weary trudge behind the horses but he is still on his own. Actually, he may well have a radio link to others.

The tractor is hauling a vast roller – it covers a huge swathe of land in one pass – based on a very old design originally devised by a chap called William Cambridge. William has featured on these pages before because, for a while, back in the 1830s and 40s he was a Market Lavington man. Indeed, the first Cambridge rollers were made in Market Lavington.

The view from the Plain is grand, even on a rather cloudy evening. We can certainly see across to The Cotswolds.

Vanner and Prest’s Black Oil for Harness

September 11, 2012

Here’s an item we don’t know much about. Maybe someone out there in the horse world could tell us more. It’s an empty can which once contained Vanner and Prest’s Black Oil for Harness.

Vanner and Prest’s Black Oil for Harness at Market Lavington Museum

We know this was used by the Cooper family who lived up on The Sands and they used it in about 1900. We suspect this was Joseph Cooper and his wife, Annie Francis. Joseph worked as a self-employed market gardener so may well have used a horse. And any horse owner would need to keep the harness in good order.

Of the company, Vanner and Prest, we can find little information. The name still exists for some horse products, but they are made by another company who have the right to use the name.

Through the wonders of the World Wide Web, we have found an 1884 advert for the product, in a New Zealand paper at

Here’s the advert.

Advert from The New Zealand Herald for July 29th 1884

The item can be found in our trades room at the museum.

Outside the Co-op

September 2, 2012

Outside Market Lavington Co-op in about 1920

This view is along the High Street. The old buildings on the corner of the Market Place can be seen behind.  The photo dates from about 1920 when Mr Matthews was the shop manager. In this photo we see him, some of the shop assistants and members of the Matthews family.

Mr and Mrs Matthews and some of their staff and family

Here we see Grace Hill, a shop assistant and then, the boss, Edwin Matthews. Mary Matthews, Edwin’s wife is next with their dog, Rover, in between them.  The little girl is a Matthews daughter, Gwendolen who also holds the hand of Mrs Bull, the shop assistant. Then we have three more Matthews daughters,  Queenie, Teddiea and Rosa.

More members of staff (including horses) and the manager’s family outside Market Lavington Co-op

Daughter, Penelope is held by stepdaughter Frances Davies. Shop assistant Gladys Moore (née Alexander) stands by the horse. Another stepdaughter, Dolly Davies holds the more distant horse.

The Matthews lived in the house next to the fire station.

The Horse and covered wagon were used for deliveries.

There must be people who could tell us more about this Matthews family.

Walter, William and the Workhouse

July 24, 2012

Walter James was a baker. His premises were at number 1 High Street in Market Lavington – where the Post Office is now. He probably started work there as an employee of the Sumner family before taking over the business.

Walter was born towards the end of 1879. Locally born father, John James was a carpenter. The family lived on Church Street in Market Lavington.

Walter married Elizabeth Gye in 1904. The marriage took place in Marylebone. He died in 1943

Our picture, which dates from the late 1920s, shows Walter taking his horses, used for the delivery round, along Church Street on their way to a grazing field.

Walter James leads his horses past a house rebuilt by William Hopkins. This house is on the site of the former workhouse in Market Lavington. The picture dates from the late 1920s.

The building behind has lettering in the brickworks. It reads 1884 W H and records the fact that William Hopkins rebuilt the house in 1884. William Hopkins was not an uncommon name in Market Lavington. The William who dealt with this house lived close by this building and was a bricklayer and builder.

He was born in about 1849 in Market Lavington. In 1869 he married Elizabeth Brown. They had quite a large family and later they became builders merchants as well as builders in their own right.

And what of a workhouse? When Market Lavington had possessed one of these institutions it was sited at the end of The Muddle – where the building rebuilt by William Hopkins stood in the photo and still stands today – although the bricks are now painted so the old message recorded in the bricks is hidden from view.

When The Spring was a country lane.

April 6, 2012

The road through Market Lavington is a ministry classified B road – the B3098. But this road has various different names as it crosses the parish. At the end nearest to Easterton, it is called High Street. At the crossroads in the centre of the village, by the Post Office, it becomes Church Street and as it wends its way towards West Lavington it becomes The Spring. Most buildings on The Spring date from after the First World War although older buildings include Spring Villa, Spring Cottage and Clyffe Hall. But apart from that, The Spring had the appearance of a country lane until the Alban Estate was built in 1926 (Click here).

The Spring, Market Lavvington, possibly about 1920

Unusually, this postcard was not published by the Burgess family, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t take it and the rights passed to another publisher.

Man, horse and cart - but what manner of cart?

It is hard to fathom out just what the horse is pulling and what the man leading the horse has strapped to his back. There looks to be a good-sized basket on the cart.

Can you name this chap on The Spring, Market Lavington?

Can anyone tell us the name of the young chap on the footpath?

Bert Burnett

March 25, 2011

Bert Burnett - Easterton and Market Lavington Blacksmith

Bert Burnett became the blacksmith and Farrier working for The Gye family on White Street in Market Lavington. But Bert was Easterton born and spent his early working life there.

We have already seen Bert (Herbert was his full name and he was born in about 1895) as a young lad in an Easterton School photo and as a young man in a Burnett family portrait photo. Now we’ll look at his working life.

Bert became a blacksmith. The 1911 census lists him as such, living in Easterton.

A rather battered photo we have at Market Lavington Museum shows the Easterton smithy, and possibly has Bert in the picture.

When the Easterton smithy closed, the Gyes, in Market Lavington decided to set up their own blacksmith’s shop. They bought the equipment and transported it to Market Lavington. They also employed young Bert as their smith.

Apparently he was a superb craftsman and other blacksmiths in the area lost a lot of trade to the new smithy.

Our pictures show Bert shoeing a horse, probably in the 1930s

Bert Burnett shoeing a horse

Bert Burnett, blacksmith and farrier - a photo at Market Lavington Museum

Herbert married Elsie Lucas in 1922. In 1926 the couple lived on High Street in Market Lavington. Later they lived at Frieth on the northern edge of the parish.

Two children are known to have been born to the couple – Norman and Elsie

Bert died in 1976.

Thomas Ferris

March 22, 2011

They say the camera never lies and that may be true. But of course, in these days of photo editing software, the photograph can be far from totally truthful. In former times ‘fixing’ a photo may have been harder but it was done. Here we see a photo taken by Alf Burgess which he has modified to cover up a problem.

Thomas Ferris at West Park Farm in Market Lavington - probably about 1900

The photo shows Thomas William Ferris riding a horse in front of his West Park Farm home. It seems that the horse moved as Alf opened the shutter and the rear of the horse was blurred, which spoiled the image. So Alf created a bush, painted in front of the rear end of the horse.

It is not only photographers who need to fix things. Museums do as well.  The information with this photo says it was taken in 1885 but this, certainly, is not the case. It could be as early as 1895, but certainly not before then.

Let’s have a look at Mr Ferris and the alterations made to the photo.

Close up on Thomas Ferris and the bush added by Alf Burgess on a photo now at Market Lavington Museum

Thomas Ferris came to West Park Farm in 1895. Before that he had been at Compton Bassett where, aged 25, he was already a farmer and employer, married to Sarah and with two young children.

By the 1901 census, the family were at West Park Farm which is sited on Broadway, near the railway line. But the census shows more children born at Compton Bassett up until 1895 and only a 2 month old son, Leslie Lavington Ferris who was born at Market Lavington.

The 1911 census shows the family still at West Park Farm but our next official record – a 1926 Electoral Register, shows nobody called Ferris in Market Lavington