Posts Tagged ‘early 20th century’

The London and South Western Railway

March 21, 2016

As a kid I lived in the south east of England. Of course, back then our railways were nationalised but the stock we saw reflected history. I was accustomed to seeing locos built by the London Brighton and South Coast Railway which had ceased to exist some 25 years before I was born. I lived on what had been that company’s network so no wonder it was always my favourite old company – the one I deemed built the best locos and had the class coaches.

But the London and South Western Railway ran it a close second. That company had much longer main lines and needed big, powerful locos. These had not survived on the old Brighton network for the main lines had all been electrified.

Given a free choice of railway memorabilia to own, I’d always pick a Brighton item. But sometimes things just come your way and this carriage print showing a map of the old London and South Western system was something my sister had (probably hoping to sell) and I have inherited it,


We can pick out that main line down to Exeter which looks so straight on the map and from there to the west we have the line that curves round Dartmoor to Plymouth. Had that line not been closed the sea wall being washed away on the ‘other’ line at Dawlish would not have been quite so disastrous. Lines also head off to the North Devon and Cornish coast.

There are a couple of inserts to show more detail.

image004Lines around the Solent and near Plymouth.

image006I don’t know much about this map but I assume it dates from before 1923 so it is more than 90 years old. I do know that Bude didn’t join the rail network until 1898 so that gives the map a 25 year window.

Anglo Brewery Bottle

March 15, 2016

Here’s an item I shouldn’t have for it just doesn’t fit my interest mix, but nonetheless, I like it.

I have had occasion before, on this blog, to say I am not a bottle collector yet what we have here is another bottle.


This is a handsome bit of glass and I think a quart sized bottle – 2 pints.

It came from the ‘Anglo’ Brewery in Shepton Mallet.

image004Now they, it seems, were renowned as the first brewers of lager in this country. I’m not anti alcoholic drinks but I rarely imbibe. And if I do it certainly isn’t lager which I really don’t like.

But of course, I do like industrial history and this bottle represents a piece of that.

By the way, the stopper I have in the bottle fits but doesn’t match. It’s a Wadworth of Devizes screw in stopper.

image006Wadworth is still a very active brewery in my most local town.

The Anglo Brewery, on the other hand, after a very successful period from opening in 1864 until 1914, is now long closed. With its emphasis on lagers it had been known as the ‘Anglo’ Bavarian Brewery and at the outbreak of WW1 in 1914 anti German sentiment was very strong and sales of the beer plummeted. The company removed the word ‘Bavarian’ from all products but it made little difference and by 1921 the business shut down. This bottle does not have the word ‘Bavarian’ on it and that suggests it dates from that 1914-21 period in the company’s declining years.

The brewery building, a handsome edifice, still stands in Shepton Mallet.

So, although I don’t collect bottles and dislike lager, I find this bottle has a fascinating history.

A load of Codswallop

March 12, 2015

I’ll start with a regular and heartfelt cry. I do not collect bottles. But I do rather like them and some have come my way and they do get kept.

Here’s another example. It is in a style known as a Codd’s bottle named after the designer of this container. And the contents – fizzy drink – was sometimes called codswallop. Actually, there’s no certainty that the word codswallop derives from the drink in these bottles.


I think I must enjoy the challenge of photographing these see-through items.

This is a mineral water bottle embossed with the marks of Allen and Lloyd of Aldershot. It’s one of those bottles held shut by the pressure inside the bottle against a ground glass marble trapped in the neck. You needed a pusher to push the marble further into the bottle to release the pressure so that you could get at the drink. The bottle opener might have been a wooden device like this one I snapped at a local museum.


The firm of Allen and Lloyd came about in 1868 when Mr Lloyd joined Mr Allen’s existing business.  I think the bottle could be 100 years old.

The other side of the bottle tells us about its manufacturer.


Redfearn Bros, Bottle makers of Barnsley.

As far as I can make out they opened for business in 1910.

I do like the cleverness of the design and the reusable nature of the bottle. By comparison with re-using, recycling glass seems almost criminal. Just think of all the energy needed to melt down old bottles and reform them into new ones.

Abraham Rathbone Fisher

July 23, 2014

It proved wonderful for genealogy to have a great grandfather with the middle name of Rathbone. We knew the Fisher family came from the Gawsworth area of Cheshire and when we found Rathbone graves in the churchyard there we recorded them because of that middle name of Rathbone. Later research proved that Rathbones were direct ancestors.

Abraham was born in 1871 in Ardwick which is now a part of Manchester. His Gawsworth born father had become a policeman in Manchester. In 1871 he was a Constable but he rose through the ranks as young Abraham grew up and by 1891 he was an Inspector.

Abraham was a postman by 1891 and in 1893 he married Mary Ann (always known as Polly) Robinson. They were able to acquire a ‘sell everything’ shop in Macclesfield. It was right next door to the Flowerpot Inn.

This was probably a bad thing, for Abraham was fond of drink and, we gather, he spent far too much time and money at The Flowerpot.

A photo found in a book about old Macclesfield seems appropriate.


Polly, in the white apron stands outside their home and shop. Abraham leans on the nearer window of The Flowerpot. As the caption says, pub and cottages have all gone now and a bigger pub has been built.

A good piece of luck to come across this picture. Even better that an aunt was able to positively identify the people.

Mum’s oil lamps

March 22, 2014

I find it interesting that I recall my mum loved a pair of oil lamps which I now have. Mum died way back in 1967 when I was a teenager but I still think of these lamps as ‘mum’s’.


The lamps have a clear glass window at the front and a red glass window at the rear.


There’s a small green window at the side and a clamp for fastening on the other side.


I do not know for sure what they were used for but almost certainly they were for bikes. Most similar lamps seem to have the fastening bracket at the back.

The base of the lamp is the paraffin tank and the lamp is a simple wick lamp so there is a wheel adjuster to control the flame.

The clear glass front opens so that the inside can be cleaned if it gets sooty.


The lamp was made by a Birmingham firm.


P H stands for Powell and Hanmer. I think they made their ‘Demon’ lamps towards the end of the nineteenth century or possibly early in the twentieth. I have had them lit in the past.

Lovely items – I am very fond of them as lamps but mostly for memories of mum.


The Phonofiddle

June 19, 2013

Regular readers will know that this Happy Nerd was once a collector of wind up gramophones and records. He also collected associated items and one such was a phonofiddle.

Up until the 1920s, recordings were first cut mechanically. Performers played their instruments or sang into a horn which gathered the sound and made a diaphragm vibrate. This, in turn moved a cutting needle on a wax disc. It’s precisely the opposite of a gramophone. But some instruments, notably the violin, produced too diffuse a sound to be much good. The inventors of the era made an instrument which allowed a violin like sound to be heard on these old mechanical recordings. It was the phonofiddle.

Because of the mechanics of the device it would have been far too complex to have more than one string so it is sometimes called a one string fiddle. To get a range of notes something like a true violin, the string is longer and the instrument is played rather more like a cello.

Guess what? The string rests on a small bridge which wobbles when the instrument is played. The bridge attaches to a diaphragm which is at the base of the horn. In recordings, the horn could be pointed straight at the similar recording horn and the sound could be reproduced.


So there we have the phonofiddle. Unlike a violin, the fingerboard is marked with lines and dots to tell you where to place a finger.


At the top end there’s a standard machine head – so much easier to manage than those infernal pegs on violins when you need to tune the instrument.


That’s the string passing over the bridge – the thing that wobbles the diaphragm.

This phonofiddle is a Stroviols concert model, manufactured in Britain.


I recently took this instrument for a folk fiddling niece to try out. Here she is, having a go.


So that’s how you hold it and play it. To be fair, she much preferred her real fiddle.

All the evidence I have points to this phonofiddle being early 20th century in origin.