Posts Tagged ‘trade’

A Paper Bag

November 4, 2013

Museum folks must be odd. What else can explain the excitement we feel about a paper bag? But actually, the bag concerned is special. It was recently offered for sale on an internet auction site. A supporter of the museum bought it and the seller very kindly waived postage and packing charges. It didn’t cost very much – but as a museum we do not purchase items. We rely on donations.

Here is the bag which has, almost inevitably, been folded so a crease mark shows.


A J Sheppard of Easterton paper bag

For those who like sizes, the bag is about 24 cm square – slightly too wide for an A4 scanner so the edges have been missed here.

We can see straight away that the bag came from the bakery in Easterton which belonged to J Sheppard – but let’s look first at the cartoon in the middle – which is delightful.

Cartoon on the Easterton bakery bag

Cartoon on the Easterton bakery bag

The scene, on a bus, is from a past age as far as rural buses are concerned. The conductor/ticket seller on a bus has long vanished. All our buses are driver only vehicles.

The dialogue is, of course, simply charming.

Now let’s turn to the baker – J Sheppard. His daughter still lives locally and she describes a family move from Market Lavington to Easterton when she was aged one in 1927. The family home was at Jubilee Cottages, Easterton and bread was made and sold from there.

James Sheppard was clearly quite a high class baker and in her oral history, which we have at the museum, his daughter recalls him winning the competition for lunch cake in 1932. We suspect the bag dates from soon after that event which was organised by Hovis and the cake – some kind of fruit loaf, had to be made with Hovis flour. Apparently James won a gold watch which a descendant still has.

We need to do a little further research for we do not know when James shut up shop but we suspect it would have been by 1960.

A steelyard

October 23, 2013

Steelyard is a word that does not seem to describe the object we are looking at – a kind of weighing scales. Nonetheless, it is the right word for scales such as these.

A steelyard to be found at Market Lavington Museum

A steelyard to be found at Market Lavington Museum

This steelyard is of a heavy duty kind, capable of weighing items up to 300 pounds in weight. That’s approaching 150 kilograms in present units.

In use, this steelyard would have hung from a beam in the open – not against a wall. The item to be weighed was hung from those fearsome looking hooks and then the heavy ball was moved along the arm until the arm was horizontal. The scale was along that arm. The further you had to move that spherical weight, the heavier your item was.

In this case the item to be weighed was meat – animal carcases or parts thereof. This steelyard dates from around 1926 for it carries that date on the roundel at the left hand end.


Crown Regulation - 1926

Crown Regulation – 1926

No doubt the accuracy of these devices was deemed important. The item says ‘Crown regulation’, gives the year of manufacture and the maximum load.

Clearly this device is no longer in A1 condition but it serves as a reminder of a time when there was a slaughterhouse in the village.

Paying James Neate

October 16, 2013

James Neate’s name crops up quite often in this blog. He was the wine and spirit merchant who moved to Market Lavington when a railway was proposed through the village. In the event he had to wait more than fifty years for the railway to be built, and that only through the northern edge of the parish. But it seems, for the most part, business flourished and James took an active part in life.

It also seems from this bill, that he sold more than just wines and spirits for amongst a list of items, bought by Mr Gye in 1901 there are no drinks at all.

A bill from James Neate of Market Lavington in 1901

A bill from James Neate of Market Lavington in 1901

However, the billing address is The Brewery, Market Lavington. This was sited behind the Red House on High Street, close to The Clays. The Neate’s retail outlet, The Brewery Tap, was on White Street. The bill indicates that the stationery had been purchased in the 1880s and was still in use in 1901. We also note at the bottom that James’ son, Norman, had receipted the bill on behalf of his father.

The items purchased all seem to have been grain related. Presumably the Gyes had poultry to feed.

Once again, the amount of free credit that traders had to extend to customers is made clear. Items purchased in July were not signed off as paid for until the end of October. In today’s terms the total of £2/11/3 is equivalent to more than £220 and up to £2000. There are different ways to calculate these things!

The Ironmongers – then and now

October 9, 2013

Some twenty years ago the owner of what, by then, was called Lavington Hardware Shop was visited by a group of people who gave him a couple of photos of the shop. The photos dated from the mid 1960s.

The other day, Jonathan, our sound recorder for oral histories, was visiting that former owner who now lives near Salisbury and he was given the photos for the museum. They are framed and behind glass which makes copying a tad difficult, but here is one of them.

Market Lavington Ironmongers in about 1966

Market Lavington Ironmongers in about 1966

Apologies for reflection off the glass here – even with the photo taken at angle and then digitally straightened up.

It is amazing how ‘olde worlde’ it looks, even though the picture is in colour and a modern lamp post spoils the foreground.

This was the shop when the Phillips family had it. On the original, the name Phillips can be read above a window. The windows also display plenty of stock.

On the shop next door, with the white window frames there is clearly a slot machine. I bet some people can tell us what was stocked in that. The next cottage, just across the entrance to Chapel Lane is advertising teas and ices. Both of these are now available again, at St. Arbucks, just down the road.

Our curator decided that this shot could be easily replicated for a then and now comparison – so here’s his shot.

The same view in Market Lavington in 2013

The same view in Market Lavington in 2013

The obvious difference is that the brickwork for all of the row has been painted white. And how wonderful that the ugly lamp post is no longer there.

The old ironmongers – in use as such for 150 years – is no more. The building, now, is purely residential. The upstairs windows have been changed. The building on the corner carries signs about the take away business on Chapel Lane. That front part of the building is no longer in use as a shop. And neither is little ‘Kyte’s Cottage’ just across the lane entrance.

But despite closures, Market Lavington still has a good range of shops – sufficient to meet the needs of day to day living and it retains a vibrant and caring community which will help people in need of items we can no longer get in the village.

The Basket Maker

September 6, 2013

This is another article from that 1949 Market Lavington School Magazine which is called Lavington Forum.

It is about Sid Mullings, the last in a long line of basket makers in the village. It was written by Gordon Baker.

Let’s open with sketches of basket maker’s tools.

Basket making tools as sketched by Gordon Baker of Market Lavington

Basket making tools as sketched by Gordon Baker of Market Lavington

And now the article.

Basket Making in Lavington

Mr Mullings is our basket maker and he and his family have been at the craft for over 200 years. Even this however is a very short time in the history of basketry for we know it was practiced in Utah over 9000 years ago. It is even far older than this as, no doubt, the pit dwelling cover or roof made of interlaced branches and twigs evolved the basket and perhaps one lined with clay to stop things falling out got burnt and so was discovered our first pottery.

Mr Mullings started basket making in 1919, just thirty years ago and his father, grandfather and great grandfather all made good baskets in their day as Mr Mullings himself does now.

A number of interesting looking tools are used in this craft some of which I have drawn for you. I suppose the most useful implement is the bodkin which has many uses from opening the weave to insert extra stakes to splitting rods for making the tic at the bottom of a basket. A tool which rather resembles a large file minus the cutting teeth is a closing or beating iron used to bang down the rods and keep the sides of the basket level during making.

Mr Mullings will make you any type of basket you require and in a very short time. To make a medium sized clothes basket takes him only three hours and he makes three in a day.

Although he has two withy beds in the district – one at Russell Mill and the other at Dauntsey’s School grounds, Mr Mullings also buys some withy from Bridgwater. There is a reason for this – the local withys are what he describes as white willow and Mr Mullings uses them in this colour, but buys his brown and buff rods as he prefers not to boil the whites with the bark on for himself. He does, however, stain some of the baskets so they have the appearance of having been made in brown withy. The method of boiling the rods for five hours, before removing the skin was explained to me. The action of boiling passes a stain from the bark or skin into the white rod, making it a golden brown colour, and this colour does not fade. Incidentally, the bark is more easily removed after boiling.

A rod is called a brown rod, not because of its colour but because the bark is left on. The boiled rods are known as ‘buffs’. White rods, which are cut and peeled in April when the sap is rising, also buff rods, need to be soaked for only a few hours before use but brown rods must be soaked for up to a week before use. Although first, second or third year’s growth can be used for basketry, Mr Mullings uses only the first year’s growth as these rods are more pliable and less liable to split than older wood. They appear to make terrific growth in one year – rods of about twelve foot in length being cut, which may mean Mr Mullings uses a soft rod of the variety kelham, which is well known for its vigorous growth.

It is interesting to note that whilst we use the term withy beds in this part of the country in the great osier growing districts round the River Trent in Nottinghamshire the beds are called ‘rod holts’.

Mr Mullings pointed out to me there is a great deal of difference between osier and cane, each having its own special characteristics and being suited to its own type of work and market. Cane work and osier work are two quite different crafts and should not be thought of as one.

Gordon Baker

Bees in Difficulty

September 3, 2013

Many people will know of the varroa mite which is spreading havoc amongst present day been colonies. Back in 1949 it was a disease called foulbrood which wiped out one beekeeper’s Market Lavington hives. Let’s let school pupils John Izatt and Bert Cox tell the story, as they did in that Summer 1949 issue of ‘Lavington Forum’.

Article heading from Lavington Forum for Summer 1949

Article heading from Lavington Forum for Summer 1949

A number of us had been discussing the loss Market Lavington bee keepers had suffered through the foul brood and that led us on to discussing some of the problems of the bee-keepers but we found none of us knew enough about the work to be able to say much about it.

We therefore decided to see Mr Elisha and find out what we could. Accordingly we went along to his house and were lucky enough to find him at home: in fact he was already out in the field near the hives and kindly agreed to answer our questions of which we had a formidable looking list.

Mr Elisha told us he had been keeping bees for over thirty years, and for all that time he has stuck to the Italian breeds as he thought they were the best honey-makers for this district.

There are forty two stocks of bees in Mr Elisha’s colonies – 18 stocks forming the Market Lavington Colony and the remainder forming a colony at Easterton. We learned that a colony means a full establishment at one place.

Foul brood was responsible for the destruction of the Lavington colony but fortunately the disease did not reach Easterton, so Mr Elisha still has a nucleus from which to build up a new colony here.

Foul brood seems to be a bacteria which attacks the newly hatched grub, and at present there is no known cure. All the bees making up the colony have to be destroyed as otherwise they would carry the disease wherever they went, rapidly spreading it from stock to stock throughout the country.

The disease struck Mr Elisha’s colony before any swarms had taken place this year, but during the swarming season last year a swarm settled on the highest branch of a nearby ash tree and Mr Elisha had to saw off the branch to retrieve the bees as otherwise they were out of reach.

Bee keeping is one of Mr Elisha’s ways of making a living but he enjoys the occupation, and foul brood or no foul brood, intends sticking at it.

This article also contained a sketch of Mr Elisha.


We have seen a couple of Mr Elisha’s hives before on this blog. The photo dates from the 1920s, before John and Bert who wrote the article were born. Click here to see the hives.

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.

Market Lavington Garage

August 15, 2013

Market Lavington’s garage was built on The Spring so was known as ‘The Spring Filling Station’. It was run by E J Haines, sold Esso petrol and had an agency to sell Fiat cars. And here it is.

The Spring Filling Station, Market Lavington in the 1970s

The Spring Filling Station, Market Lavington in the 1970s

We believe the garage opened around 1970 and this photo dates from the late 1970s.

Apart from the garage, we can see Spring Cottages under the Esso sign.

The garage, later, became Shires and had an agency for Seat cars.

By the year 2000 it had gone the way of many a village garage – swept into oblivion. The site is now Shires Close, a small housing estate. Cars can still be admirably serviced and repaired in the Lavingtons, but petrol is not available in the area. ‘You have to go to Tilshead for that’.

The Museum Miscellany – 2013

August 13, 2013

On September 14th, The Community Hall in Market Lavington will be the venue for our fourth annual Museum Miscellany. This year’s topics will include people at work

Bessie Gye at work in Market Lavington

Bessie Gye at work in Market Lavington

Here we see Bessie Gye as a butcher’s van driver

There will be a section called ‘In the Soil’ and this features metal detector finds in the parish.

13th century penny found in Market Lavington

13th century penny found in Market Lavington

This is a Scottish silver penny from the 1280s.

We’ll feature church and chapel life

Plaque on the former Congregational Chapel, Market Lavington

Plaque on the former Congregational Chapel, Market Lavington

There will be a photo tour of the villages


Our venue under construction

All this and more and, of course, our famous food made from recipe books we have in the museum. Maybe, this year, we’ll have Uncle Walter James’s fruit cake.


We hope to show some of our wonderful collection of magic lantern slides as well – a kind of Victorian horror show.

The event starts at 7.30 pm and admission is still just a fiver. Tickets are on sale in Market Lavington Post Office.

Potters Stores – 1950s

August 12, 2013

This is another of our collection of bills at Market Lavington Museum – as issued by Potter’s stores, then run by G S and E M Prowse. This was actually, still Potter family, for George Prowse had married Elizabeth Potter in 1956.

The shop was on Church Street. Later it became a Spar shop and after that Mr Dempsey ran it. Now it is a private house and its reconstructed front end hides its former identity.

Potter's Stores on Church Street, Market Lavington

Potter’s Stores on Church Street, Market Lavington

Here we see the shop during its ‘Potter’ days.

But now to the bill.

A bill from Potter's believed to be the late 1950s

A bill from Potter’s believed to be the late 1950s

This is undated but a mix of prices and items purchased lead us to the late 1950s. A small loaf cost 8d. Cigarettes seemed to be 3/2 for twenty. A packet of crisps (and we bet they had a twist of salt in the pack) was 4d. A packet of frozen peas was a shilling.

We certainly get an insight into prices and what people, or at any rate Mrs Harris, bought at the time.