Archive for July, 2014

Butley Street

July 12, 2014

There was a time when Butley in Suffolk was filled with ancestors and relatives of mine. Not that they’d have known this, for I’m going back to the mid 19th century – 100 years or more before I was born.

Butley was hit badly by agricultural depression and people moved away. Great Granny, born 1850, joined two of her sisters at Isfield in Sussex. Some of her brothers moved north up to the Newcastle area to work as miners. Others found they could still make a living in agriculture in Essex. But pretty well the tribe of my ancestors and relatives left the area. By the twentieth century just one of great granny’s sisters was still in the Butley area.

I have no family postcards of Butley but I have bought some to add to my collection in genealogy. This one shows Butley Street.


The marking of a house with an X was done by the card sender – nothing to do with me, but I think Miles Crosby who was a first cousin of my great great grandfather lived there. The house is called Forge Cottage and Miles was a village blacksmith.

I have a picture of the same cottage which I took in 2004.


Censuses only tell us people lived in Butley, but I am sure relatives lived in the terrace of little cottages. I have my photo of them as well.


It’s a delightful, if somewhat scattered village but I bet life was hard for those ancestors.

Table Tennis

July 11, 2014

I may be the wrong side of retirement age, but I still play table tennis. I have now been a member of teams in the Devizes and District League for more than forty years. Within that league I’d say I’m a very average player and there’s no doubt that I am slower and even less mobile than I once was. But I still enjoy it.

These days technology plays a big part in the game. People who don’t play would be stunned by how much difference having the right bat makes. They’d be amazed at the bewildering variety of blade materials and rubbers you can stick on them. Non players tend to rubbish the idea that it can make much difference to a player, but be assured, it really does.

I’m a spinny, defensive player, rather than an attacking ‘hit it hard’ person. I need a bat which grips the ball so that you can impart as much spin as possible. But being mean, I also need a cheap bat. You could spend well over a hundred quid on a bat.

But it wasn’t always so and today I shall show a bat that is now totally illegal because one side isn’t red and the other isn’t black and the rubbers aren’t stamped with the mark of a recognised table tennis association.


This bat has an early 60s look to me. One of the greats of UK table tennis, Chester Barnes, played with bats of that shape and, as a result, so did many others.

The added bonus on this bat is the local, Devizes commotion.


The handle is clearly stamped ‘Cole & Son Devizes & Chippenham.

Devizes folks will remember their shop in the Market Place. It’s good to have a reminder.


July 10, 2014

We recently visited the National Trust property at Mottisfont. It’s well worth a visit, particularly when the roses are in flower, but the stroll through the shady woods alongside the River Test would be wonderful at any time. They have temporary art exhibitions in upstairs room. We hadn’t checked upon what it would be, but do you know, amongst the present collection there were five works by Eric Ravilious – none of them the well-known ones. Now how fab was that?

So what am I showing you here? A very ordinary bathroom!


This is not the now much despised 1970s avocado suite. I reckon this one dates from the 50s. I’m almost certain of this because it is very, very similar to ours at home.

Mind you, ours is in a much smaller room and harder to photograph. I certainly couldn’t show a similar scene and it was the basin I decided to concentrate on.


That’s very, very similar. The only way I could get a picture was to hold a small camera right back over our bath. You can see my arm and camera in the mirror. Even then, I decided to put this shot in an oval frame to remove extraneous cabinets.

I don’t think we’ll be opening our bathroom for visitors – we could just point them to Mottisfont instead.


A part of Older Crawley

July 9, 2014

This recalls a visit made in 2009.

Crawley was my home town when I was a child. True, we actually lived in Ifield which was an ancient village and the town of Crawley was a couple of miles away. But reality was, that with the coming of the New Town, Ifield became a neighbourhood of Crawley with hundreds of brand spanking new homes, new shops and schools and churches, adding to the scattered village.

I recall, each week, a cycle ride to Crawley. When I was very young this was a cycle ride on the back seat of my mum’s bike. I think of it as just me and my mum, so I suppose I’m remembering 1952 when my sister and brother would already have been at school and I was the spoilt brat getting that full and lovely attention of my mum. It was a very happy time in my life.

On arrival at Crawley, we usually had to go to the bank. This was Lloyds Bank and it was sited very near to Crawley Railway Station, the level crossing, the signal box and the pedestrian underpass – all places that most 4 year old boys would love. It seems it is normal for young boys to love trains. Some of us never grow up, so I’ll start this tour with a present day train about to cross the level crossing at Crawley.


The subway went under the track roughly where the cattle grid is now (photo of new train). Pedestrians didn’t need to wait whilst the gates were shut then. I liked seeing trains, but also loved hearing them pass over head when I was in the subway.

Standing sentinel over it all was the signal box. Amazingly, this survives as a functionless relic of earlier times when semaphore signals were pulled off by a strong person manhandling levers in the box. But best of all, he had a giant wheel to turn to open and shut the level crossing gates. In those days the gates shut off the railway when road traffic could pass, so there was no need for a cattle grid. Winding that wheel was a job I really wanted. It looked such a perfect thing to do to me – so much better than at the level crossing by Ifield Station where the man had to walk out to the gates to open and shut them.


Anyway, here’s the box at Crawley, as it is.

The present gate is barrier style and only closes off the road when dropped. Hence the need for those cattle grids. There’s a 750 volt third rail ready to kill any stray animals that get on the line.

The station used to start immediately off the level crossing, but with the coming of the new town, a new station was built 200 yards or so to the east.

Now we’d come to this area to go to Lloyds Bank, the first building on the west side of the Brighton Road after the signal box, with just little Springfield Road, parallel to the railway, in between. Here’s the bank – the building with its verdigris topped cupola. You can see the signal box as well.


There’s a sign visible pointing to Stanley Ball’s off-license. I won’t say this was much used by my family, but my dad liked a little bit of cider and it came from there. I liked visiting. The place had a distinctive smell – not of alcohol but more of damp wood, I think. I have no childhood memory of a Bank Terrace, but at least it serves as a reminder that this was, once, a bank.

Nearly next door is the old Imperial Cinema.


Now I never knew this as a cinema – it had a limited life. Originally built in 1911, it burned down and this rebuild, as you see, dates from 1928. How long it stayed a cinema, I do not know, but at some point it became an auction room and my mum loved going to it and buying bargains. How about a refrigerator which didn’t work, as an example. (Is collecting old junk a genetic trait?) We kept it for years as a kitchen cupboard. The cat learned the noise of its door and would come running if it heard it, thinking it might be food time. I must have been young, for I didn’t understand auctions and couldn’t work out why we had to wait so long. I wanted to just buy the item and be gone, for I was spoiled and a currant bun, priced at a penny, was often the last thing bought before the journey home. If I worked at it, I recall getting two such items because that made one for each hand. The old Imperial Cinema has been a car showroom for years now.

Just opposite the Imperial was a shop which became important to me in my early teen years – the 1960s. This shop, as is, can be seen below.


In my day, or rather when this shop was important to me, this was an antiques shop called James – the first name of the owner. But we always called it Sid’s after the well known comedian, Sid James. The odd thing was that a lady called Honor Edwards worked as a shop assistant to James. Her brother in law was the well known comedian, Jimmy Edwards so we obviously felt that the shop had a comedic air. If you wandered through the classy items and out to the back, you came to a place where the old records were kept. And by old, I mean old. Our penchant was for 1920s dance band music but we’d give anything a spin on our wind up gramophones back at home. Part of the reason for this strange habit was a degree of poverty. At Sid’s you could buy a record for 6d (2.5p) whereas a new pop record was something like 7/- or 35p. But we also had a desire to prove our difference from other people – it was image building in a way. Of course, the image was no good, for having bought our records, we went to meet friends in the main part of the town. The girls never seemed very impressed with us!

Just along Brighton Road was a little door which led to my first doctor’s surgery.


It doesn’t look very prepossessing these days. If lucky, we met Doctor Collier. Everybody seemed to be in awe of elderly Doctor Knight although I recall being well impressed when a plane crashed on its approach to Gatwick. Amongst the many survivors was the prime minister of Turkey and Doctor Knight – my doctor – treated this truly important personage.

One of the reasons for this particular walk was to go along a side turn off the Brighton Road – along Malthouse Road.


In the 1920s my Great Aunt Mercy lived there and there are pictures of my dad there – a sort of first family link with Crawley. (Actually, I had older relatives, surnamed Peirce, who lived in Crawley before Aunt Mercy, but I knew my Aunt Mercy. And here she is with two of her children and my dad (the little one) in the garden at Malthouse Road. This picture must date from about 1924.


This is Malthouse Road.


Just what would Mercy have thought of this scene. There were cars when she lived there, but the ordinary folks in these houses wouldn’t have had them. I daresay there would have been electricity, probably delivered via overhead wires, but TV aerials, and space age satellite dishes would have been science fiction dreams. There’d have been huge changes. Yet the basic structure of this part of the road must be much as it was then. Mercy might have struggled with the view in the back garden, for a new town has been built and instead of distant trees, Mercy would now have a view of fairly close houses.


Le Moulin de Moidrey

July 8, 2014

It was autumn 2009. We had booked a week in the dinkiest of cottages in Normandy. This is the tale of one early morning and a chance discovery which fascinated me.

The plan had been hatched the night before. We would go to Le Mont-Saint-Michel. We had tried to go there two years previously and had got refused entry. A huge civil defence exercise was going on. It meant we parked for free but when we tried to enter the village, a gendarme held up his hand and said, ‘non!’ But we really were quite close and we both decided it would be good to go so off we went, via Avranches and then via a slightly inland route.

We were approaching the fairy tale looking island when we saw a windmill on a hill.


Some of the windmill – the tower, looked typically Gallic. But those sails looked very odd – almost like doors hung on the mill.


The sweeps were clearly angled to be driven by the wind. The long pole out of the back of the mill enables a miller to push the cap round so that the sails face into the wind.

The sails were actually slatted.


A notice explained the mechanism – for those who read French.


Basically Berton’s system allowed the slats to be adjusted according to the force of the wind. And here’s the mechanism.


Former mills dotted the landscape here.


As ever, for me, a mill is a lovely mill.


The mists cleared and we moved on.


Adelaide Frances Clarke

July 7, 2014

Adelaide Frances Clarke

Along time ago I bought a collection of Burwash (Sussex) parish magazines on a CD., I wrote this piece to try to explain how I went about genealogical research. It is based around one entry I found.

Adelaide Frances Clarke was baptised on December 18th 1881 at Burwash, according to the January 1882 edition of the parish magazine, which was called Home Words for Heart and Hearth. This is a copy of that part of the magazine.


My Great Granny Frost had been born Ruth Clarke and she certainly had connections with the Burwash area. In fact Great Granny had a cousin called Adelaide Clarke, born in about 1839 at Burwash. This Adelaide had married James Leaves and this family are known to be buried at the Heathfield Independent Chapel on Cade Street. Maybe Adelaide Frances was linked to this other Adelaide, and thus to me.

Adelaide ought to be easy to find, for the name is slightly unusual and we know that her mum and dad were Jane and James. But Adelaide may well have been born after the 1881 census and so she’d have to have survived close on ten years to be on the 1891 census. I try to make sure I find a person on a census search. Clarke is often spelled without the final e – as Clark. So I search for Clark* because that gets both versions of the name. Adelaide was clearly born before December 1881, but an age on the census was ‘age last birthday’. She might well be only 9 and parents can often get ages wrong, so I’d search for a birth year of 1881 plus or minus a couple. It’s a fair bet she was born in Burwash, but not certain. I’d use my knowledge of the area to help to be sure I was finding the right Adelaide.

But in this case it is easy. The 1891 census has 14 people called Adelaide Clark* born between 1879 and 1883. One of them has parents James and Jane and she was born at Burwash. The birth year given is 1882 and we already know she was born before then. We can also see that James and Jane have been up to rabbit standard when it comes to producing children. James and Jane have ten children, all under the age of 21. No wonder the family, at Bardown Cottage in Ticehurst, stretches onto two pages of the census book. But those older siblings might prove useful in tracing back, and the three oldest lads, like their father, agricultural labourers, are probably helping to make the family feel prosperous.

James was 40 and came from Burwash which is a good omen for a family link to me. Jane was a mere 38 and from Ashburnham.

The Freebmd web site records a marriage between John Mitchell and Adelaide Frances Clarke in the first quarter of 1899, Hailsham district. It looks as though Adelaide was, like her mother, a fecund young lady for by the 1901 census there were two young Mitchells in the family. Just to make life a bit harder for the researcher, the transcriber of the 1901 census has spelled a forename as Adalaide. In finding our Adelaide, I had to try things out – first Ade* and then Ada* , born in Burwash in 1881 plus or minus a couple. That gave me a possible Mitchell surname which Freebmd confirmed.

Looking back to 1881, we find that Adelaide was not born. James and family lived at Witherenden Cottages in Burwash and James was a dairy man. The oldest child, Edward, was 10. James was given as 33 so there’s an age problem with him.  But Edward allows us to find the family easily on the 1871 census. James was 24 and Jane 17. They lived at Ale Thatch in Ashburnham and James was a farm labourer.

Surely an 1861 census, or an 1851 one can find the link. With James’s ability to be a bit variable in age, I could have problems. But I’m sure he was born in Burwash so I should get him.

1861 gives James as a servant at Brightling which is not useful to me, but 1851 has four year old James as a son of  Thomas and Sophia Clarke and a brother of that older Adelaide. So James, too, was a cousin of Great Granny. Adelaide Frances was her cousin once removed – my Grandad’s second cousin. This family lived at Glazers Forge, a place I know, well out of the village. In 1841, Thomas and Sophia had been at Little Poundsford, also out in the sticks, not so far from Glazers.

I’d have liked to have identified, for certain, James’s wife, Jane. FreeBMD gives a possible marriage but of course, a list of two men and two women on a page does not tell you who married who. However, James Clark and Jane Cramp are listed on the same page, in the appropriate Battle area, in the first quarter of 1870.This fits well with the birth of young Edward towards the end of 1870. But the 1861 census gives no Jane Cramp from Ashburnham. It does give a Jane Winchester of the right age. I’m left with a question mark. I still think it was Jane Cramp, for there was a Cramp family in Ashburnham (parents Charles and Clarissa) and they were producing children at a time when Jane was born and they have a gap into which Jane would fit – perhaps the Jane listed on FreeBMD as born in 1854 in the Battle district. I think she missed the 1861 census for some reason


Stunning Scenery

July 6, 2014

I once was a teacher and now I’m retired.

You know! I don’t miss it at all.

Well it could be the opening couplet of a song but actually, I’m going to show a photo or two from a school trip I went on in 2003 – down to the Dorset Coast. It reminds me of happy times in working life.


That must be looking over Man o’ War Cove towards Durdle Door. As a lover of chalk scenery, I was in heaven here.

And here is that cove with Portland Bill in the distance.


Now that is stunning scenery and no mistake.

I’m not sure where the youngsters were, though.

Perhaps they were learning about the Lulworth Crumple??


Seriously, they were with us.


Now actually, I have happy memories of days like that and the youngsters in the picture I remember with affection.

But by and large I really don’t miss having to be in particular places at particular times. I love the freedom retirement brings.

Have a banana

July 5, 2014

Today I am looking back thirty or more years which seems like just yesterday to me. I’m looking back to the 1980s and my starting point is this toy lorry I acquired then.


It’s still in somewhat grubby plastic packaging, but it does come out.


And look at that it is absolutely pristine.

It’s an advert for a brand of floppy diskettes. Remember them?  Five and a quarter inch squares of plastic material containing a disc of magnetic material. You could store computer programs or other data on them. And they were so much better than audio tapes which we used as well. First of all, they offered random access you didn’t have to wind backwards and forwards through a tape to find the right place and then they were near instant at loading and saving information. And at the time, the storage capability seemed vast. A standard floppy disc could hold 100 kilobytes. Now that’s laughable today. As taken on my low res camera, the photo of the lorry above occupied 2604 kilobytes of memory. That would need 27 such discs now plus software to stitch them altogether. That would be entirely impractical in the second decade of the 21st century.

And Banana diskettes offered something new. Guess what? You could use both sides of the disc on a single side disc drive. You just took the disk out and turned it over. So you could get 200 kilobytes of data on one disc. Clever stuff!

For those who like the toy I took a photo of the maker’s marks.


It means nothing to me, but that photo is a bit less complex than the one of the whole lorry and would have needed only 26 sides of disc (13 bananas) to store it.

For me the lorry brings back happy memories of using the old Acorn Electron computer and feeling I was in charge of it. I could program it in quite complex ways that enabled me to make the most of its amazingly limited memory. We had a local computer club where we all helped each other to become more adept at managing the wondrous 1980s machines we had.

Happy days!

Screw in Stoppers

July 4, 2014

I have said before, I do not collect bottles, but somehow some arrive with me. Actually, I do like old glass bottles, mostly because they have writing on them, produced when the bottle was moulded. I also rather like screw-in stoppers – assuming they have writing on them.

Here’s a little collection of mine.


The bottles have the matching thread moulded into the neck. The rubber washer on the stopper (perished or missing on this collection) ensures a tight seal. But as I say, it is the writing which makes them interesting so lets take a look.


This one was from Simonds of Reading. This brewery started business in 1785 and remained in production until the 21st century although name changes had taken place before then.

More interesting to me is a Wadworth stopper. Wadworth are the local brewer still running under that name in Devizes, our local town.


Two of the stoppers have this on top. I can only guess that 1939 might be the year they were made. Maybe somebody could tell me more.

So to the fourth of the stoppers.


R. Fry were  manufacturers of aerated mineral water (fizzy pop to us) and based at Tonbridge Wells in Kent. This is the correct stopper for the bottle I have used to photograph all of them. It’s an earthenware rather than a glass bottle.


I find it an interesting little collection.

A Ringlet

July 3, 2014

I’m a looker and learner when it comes to butterflies. Although wildlife has always fascinated me and I can identify the most common butterfly varieties OK, the even slightly unusual ones can leave me seeking help (usually from .

On 22nd June I saw a very dark looking butterfly fluttering around and settling briefly, usually on greenery, from time to time. I didn’t recognise it so I went after it, camera in hand. I have to say, it didn’t want to be photographed.


But there she (I think it’s a female) is and she is definitely a ringlet. The reason for the name is obvious. Those rings at the rear end of the wing give it away.

I couldn’t get in close for a sharp picture and had to satisfy myself with rather distant shots.


I certainly wasn’t sure I knew this butterfly but that uk butterfles web site describes them as fairly common. It also says they don’t emerge until July, so this one was a few days early.