Archive for June, 2016

A ginger beer bottle

June 30, 2016

Let’s start with my usual, ‘I do not collect bottles’. However bottles sometimes find me and this is one of them It’s a stoneware bottle for ginger beer.


This is quite small, standing about 7 inches tall with its stopper, The company manufacturing the drink were R Fry and Co who were Brighton based  manufacturers of mineral waters – lemonade and the like..

I know little of the company history but I do recall that R Fry lemonade (in glass bottles) was available during my 1950s childhood in Sussex.

I particularly like the fact that this bottle has an R Fry stopper.image004I’m guessing that this could date from about the 1920s but I am no expert and would be pleased to be corrected.

I’ll also add that, unseen in my photos, a large lump of the outer glaze is missing on the back of the bottle which probably renders it valueless to collectors.

 Like this bottle – but don’t need any more!

The Portsmouth to Ryde ferry

June 29, 2016

It wasn’t so long ago that I was on the end of Ryde Pier head watching the ferry leave for Portsmouth.


That’s Wight Rider 1 backing away from the pier at Ryde before its high speed dash back to the mainland.

Sixty years ago – and long before I knew him – my father in law took a photo of a Ryde ferry at Portsmouth.image004

His photo isn’t sharp enough to read a name but I feel it could be the ferry called Ryde. Times were more leisurely and this old lady, driven by paddles, will have chuntered gently across the Solent. If she is Ryde, then her operational life was from 1937 to 1969. She still exists but in a very derelict state. Whether she ever gets conserved is still a matter for conjecture.


There was certainly something more glamorous about the old boats as compared with the new. I know which way I’d prefer to travel.

A card from one sister to another

June 28, 2016

My Great Granny came from Butley in Suffolk but for reasons still unknown moved to Isfield in Sussex sometime in the 1870s. Her older sister, Ellen, was already in that area and they were joined by Susannah, a third sister in the 1890s.

It might have been a bit of a surprise that Susan(nah) sent this card to my great gran well into the twentieth century.


This, as we can see, is the Post Office and Street at Butley, birth place and youthful dwelling place for great gran.

By the time the card was sent Great Gran lived in Ringmer.image004We think the postmark is for 1927 and that could explain why the card was sent just to Mrs G Stevens (née Sarah Ann Crosby). Her husband, George Stevens, died in 1926.

The postmark is definitely for December 23rd so it is no surprise there is a Christmas message.image005With the Christmas greeting is the simple ‘Do you recognise this picture?’ It is signed by sister Susan(nah) and her daughter Nellie.

Nellie, my gran’s cousin, was known to me as ‘Nellie at Isfield’.


June 27, 2016

Looking back precisely 15 years ago today, I see we had young swallows in our barn. The barn is a modern building. I made a hole in the wall, high up on a gable end so that swallows could enter and leave, even if the door was fully shut.

A swallow’s nest was a regular occurrence and a delight to see.


There are three of the little beauties (or should that really be uglies) hoping to see mum or dad return soon with food. It was June 27th 2001.

A few days later (July 2nd) four youngsters were visible and looking much more like the handsome adults.


They will be airborne before long.

We still see swallows but they seem to have abandoned our barn as a nesting place.

Kew (and elsewhere) in June

June 26, 2016

The Kew Calendar for June has a really cheerful piece of art by Betty Swanwick. It dates from 1937.


Once again we are implored to get there via Kew Gardens Station and informed that it’ll cost us one penny – an old penny – to gain admission. These days, typically, the cost of entry is £14. This is a huge increase. If we look at the highest conversion of the old penny to current times at comes out at just over £1. Let’s just say that it used to be very cheap.

My own garden isn’t at its best in June but here are some blooms from my patch.


I think these are granny’s bonnets. They grow like weeds but who cares. I think they are lovely.


Whatever these are, they do well.


These remind me of the bells I ring, complete with clapper.




image012Now if only I could be more artistic I reckon I could turn them into a Kew quality poster

The Beattie Bash

June 25, 2016

Back in 1962 I travelled on a special train around the suburbs of South West London. For much of the journey it was hauled by a pair of truly old steam locos – engines which dated from the 1870s. The previous year I had been to Wadebridge in Cornwall to see these engines. My dad, bless him, seemed to realise that it was important to me. Both the visit to Wadebridge and the special train have featured on this blog.

Sadly, I had no usable camera for the special train so I have no photos. But on May 29th 2016 a chance came to sort of rectify that for the identical two engines were due to be at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre at Quainton Road. And we were there, complete with camera. It was possible, once again, to ride behind those two locos and see them in action.

The engines were designed by an engineer called Joseph Beattie and the railway centre dubbed this event, ‘The Beattie Bash’.

First off there was just one loco running.


It is a lovely little engine but up at the end of the yard, the other old lady had been prepared and was about to appear. This loco was detached from the train.

image004And then the other loco was backed out of the yard.


For a moment these old girls – each some 140 years old – were side by side but soon they were getting organised on the train.


And here they come.


And here are my two old friends – first met at Wadebridge on 24th July 1961 – as they take a breather at Quainton Road 0n 29th May 2016.



June 24, 2016

Isfield – not to be confused with my childhood home of Ifield – is an important place to me. I can trace direct ancestors, baptised at the church, back into the 17th century. Isfield is in East Sussex. It’s about 5 and a bit miles north east of Lewes and is, in many ways, an ordinary enough place but to me it is special. Right through into the 1960s I visited relatives in Isfield but if I have any now, I don’t know them.

Unsurprisingly, when I was really into my own family history, ten or more years ago, I acquired postcards of relevant places including Isfield to supplement the family ones I had. This is one I acquired.


This attractively tinted photo shows the forge at Isfield. I have a detailed 1899 map of the area and we can see ‘smithy’ marked on it.


Now I guess my great grandfather’s brother, Harry, learned his trade here. The 1871 census lists him as a blacksmith, living with his parents in Isfield. Later he worked in neighbouring Ringmer but he returned to Isfield after his wife died.

Isfield was the place three sisters from Butley in Suffolk happened to come to. I really don’t know why, but Sarah Ann Crosby – mentioned in yesterday’s blog post – came, met and married my great grandfather and they lived the rest of their lives in or quite near to Isfield.



Dad’s notes on relatives from Butley

June 23, 2016

Butley is in south Suffolk, not far from Woodbridge.

I came across a note dad had made back in 1968. He visited Butley with his mum. Butley had been the childhood home of her mum – my great grandmother. Her maiden name was Sarah Ann Crosby.

Back in 1968 he knew very little. I’d have been a teenager and probably not much interested.

Here’s the first part of his note.


Dad’s writing never was that easy to read so I’ll transcribe.

Butley – 11-7-68

A woman named Crosby is remembered by the village shopkeeper. She married Charlie Mann the village cobbler. They had a daughter, Mary Ann whom my mother remembers visiting them at Isfield. Mary Ann went to Canada or America. There was also a son, Harry, killed in World War 1.

None of the children at the village school knew the name Crosby.

We now know a bit more than this. Eliza Crosby did marry Charlie Mann, We know of five children. Charles was born in 1888, Mary Ann in 1890, William (sometimes George) in 1892, Harry in 1894, and Edward in 1896.

There is a second part to dad’s notes.


Aunt Ellen married a Snowdon in Sussex and later he died and she married Huntley. It was this aunt who took charge of Sarah Ann. Sarah Ann worked at Gibraltar Farm.

There was an Uncle Ted and Uncle Jack.

In fact my gran had nine uncles and aunts called Crosby as well as her mother, Sarah Ann. Gibraltar Farm appears to be in Firle. I know my dad always thought that Sarah Ann moved to Sussex when she was a girl. I think from census records she was over 20 so being looked after by her big sister Ellen may not have been day to day care, but maybe helping her find a place to work.

It was interesting to find Dad’s note – largely correct but written on spoken testimony from his mum only.

Strawberry Moon

June 22, 2016

When I took a picture of the moon as it rose on 20th June I certainly thought it looked lovely and I was amused to think that this beautiful moon rose on solstice day. I had never taken in that a June full moon was called a strawberry moon, but seemingly it is.

I took my photo from my home as the moon rose above Salisbury Plain. I deliberately exposed for the moon which means the tree topped hills and the sky look comparatively dark.


I actually love the streak of cloud across the moon.


Holiday Haunts 1964

June 21, 2016

This book gives an indication of the decline in railways as a means of getting on holiday. Until 1962 such books were issued by the railway but after that publication was down to other commercial concerns. The introduction says it all.


HERE is the second Dickens Press edition of HOLIDAY HAUNTS.
The first, in 1963, was successor to the long line of British Railways issues which ceased in 1962. It was felt that here was a reference book essential to holidaymakers in Britain. The success and support which greeted our first publication of HOLIDAY HAUNTS has confirmed that opinion.

But let’s take a look at the book.


For half a crown (12½p) you could buy a guide to the whole of the UK running to more than 500 pages. It gave some general overviews of areas and then had a gazetteer listing and describing pretty well all holiday places. My local town, Devizes, gets a mention.

DEVIZES. Wiltshire. – 86 miles London (43/- Ordinary 2nd Class Return), 203 miles
Manchester (100/-),418 miles Glasgow (/74/-).
Pop.: 8,497. E.C. Wed. Mkt. Thurs.
Stonehenge, Avebury and Silbury are not many miles from this historic town in the heart of Wiltshire; and in the museum of Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural Historic Society are notable exhibits of times long past.
Golf (9), tennis, bowls, open-air swimming pool. Coarse fishing. Caravan park. Cinema. Carnival (September).
Annual fairs (April and October).

We get distances and train fares from some major places – early closing and market days – an attraction is mentioned and various annual events and activities are listed.

But of course, much of this bit of memorabilia is adverts and for no obvious reason I have picked out Clacton.image004

I suppose things haven’t changed that much but destinations probably have.