Lawrence Wright and his Drawings

Lawrence Wright was an architect, who lived in Alresford in his latter years. He was certainly living here in the 1960s, because various detailed drawings of the houses and shops of West Street and on the East side of Broad Street were drawn and signed by him in 1965. A lot of the originals of these are held in the Alresford Museum, plus some coloured prints taken from these drawings are on display in the Community Centre, in the downstairs main hall.

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A coloured print of Broad St/East St, as on display in the Community Centre

Lawrence also wrote several text books describing the historical development of various architectural or domestic accessories. These included “Warm and Snug: The history of the bed” in 1962, “Home Fires Burning: The History of Domestic Heating and Cooking” in 1964, which included fireplaces. The description of Lawrence as Author of ‘Warm and Snug’ was:

Born in Bristol in 1906, he is a well-known architectural painter. He has designed many exhibitions, and it was from one of these, a history of the bath under the title ‘Clean and Decent’, that his first book evolved. Its reception encouraged him to write ‘Warm and Snug’.

His pièce de resistance was “Clean and Decent: The history of the bath and loo and of sundry habits, fashions & accessories of the toilet, principally in Great Britain, France & America”. My personal interest in such history was triggered when as a young man in an office on the Embankment in London, one of their facilities featured a classic blue and white china bowl, in a design more familiar on Victorian tureens and porcelain tableware, showing a country garden scene. This volume was first published in 1960, but has been re-printed many times since then.

I have no knowledge of any buildings or houses where Lawrence was employed as the architect, but there are unsigned drawings in the Alresford Museum collection of his papers showing a design for the re-build of the house and shop at 5a Broad Street, on paper marked as from Nightingale, Page and Bennett, Chartered Surveyors, of Kingston-on-Thames. These are dated 1961: the shop next door at number 5 Broad Street at that time was quoted as Broad Street Fruiterers, and next door at #7, in Livingstone House, was A. Livingstone and Sons. The work obviously went ahead as it showed the shop layout as used until 2015 by the D.Gedye electrical business.

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Whether he was involved with Roy Robins in the design and construction of 38, 40a and 40 West Street is not certain, but it does appear that he might have lived opposite, in one of the dwellings off the South side of West Street, in what is now named “Lawrence Wright Passage”. Certainly, from there he could have looked out across the street at these very elegant buildings and roofs, captured in his 1965 drawing below.

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The original Lawrence Wright drawing

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The coloured print in the Community Centre

What immediately becomes apparent to anyone keen on historical data, is that these pictures give a great snapshot and record of the businesses present in the town centre in 1965. Plus they also show that there were far more residential buildings, than shops or business premises: although some were presumably used as Doctor’s Surgeries and for other professional services. Some, such as #40 above (now Jaga Designs), have a business sign which cannot be read from Lawrence Wright’s front of building views. There are too many drawings in the collection to reproduce them all here, but in time they will be made available on the Alresford Museum website, museum.alresford.org.

West Street (North side)

The identifiable business premises are listed as:

  • 6 (Shown as a shop window with no markings).
  • 8 Eureka Fish Company
  • 10 Electrical supplier (there is an advert for Murphy radios in the window)
  • 12 The Bell Hotel
  • 14 Tobacconists plus Walls ice cream sales
  • 16 JS Stiles
  • 18 Lex Leathers
  • 20 Tobacconists (Note the ‘No Waiting’ sign, for vehicles, in the picture!)
  • 22 Reg Cutting , Antiques and Bric-a-Brac
  • 24 Ann Verity, Hair Stylist
  • 40a ‘Mollys’: apparently a Restaurant or Cafe
  • 42 Christian Bookshop
  • 56 Chemist (named as H.C.*****)
  • 58 Newsagent
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For 2016 we have Susie Watson Designs, Alresford Haircare, the Naked Grape and the ex-Wedding Dress shop!

West Street (South side)

  • 1  (Unidentified shop front)
  • 7  Lloyds Bank
  • 11 The Swan Hotel
  • 13 Cycle, Motorcycle and Pram services
  • 17 Post Office
  • 19-21 House’s Stores (Players cigarettes, Ariel washing powder)
  • 23 The White House Florist, Fruiterer & Greengrocer
  • 39 Southern Electricity Service
  • 43 Co-operative Food Hall
  • 47 Hankins Ltd: Garage and Petrol Pumps
  • 49 Dedman’s Grocers, Tobacconist & Newsagent
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These shops look different in 2016 – Moda Rosa and Hetre!

Broad Street (East side)

  • (1 East Street) Lawrence Stationer & Tobacconist
  • 2  Horse & Groom pub
  • 4  Cubitt & West House and Land Agent
  • 6  Hobby Horse – Antiques & Bric-a-Brac
  • 12 Joseph Atkins
  • 14 Kelsall Food Markets
  • 20 County Library
  • 28 Westminster Bank
  • 30 Chas Eddolls Ltd: Drapery, Clothing, Footwear & Carpets
  • 32 Tylers Wine Stores
  • 36 Broadway Motors (John Allen)
  • 38 (Unidentified shopfront)
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What did Joseph Atkins do? Now here we have the Chinese Take-Away and the Toy Shop!

The T-Junction and Town Hall

Other pictures of interest are an unfinished sketch of the Wessex Pharmacy, the view down East Street, and a pen and ink picture created from one of Wright’s drawings of the Barclays Bank building.

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Postscript – His earlier Career

Something I read once made me think that Lawrence Wright had held a significant role in the RIBA, or a similar body, which was reinforced by the comments made on the back cover of “Warm and Snug”, quoted in the above story. On the RIBA website, I found that the picture used to illustrate the design for the Lisboa Casino in Macao, dated 1966, is attributed to him as the artist, which confirms the book cover comment that he was a (very skilled) architectural painter. In the Author’s introduction to ‘Clean and Decent’, he explains that the book arose after he was invited by Molly Montgomery, who ran the Building Exhibition at Olympia in the late 1950s, to organise a ‘Feature’ display stand at the show, on the theme of The History of the Bathroom. The book inevitably followed: but was a side-line, writing books was just an offshoot from his main works.

Nevertheless, one sentence from his intro to ‘Warm and Snug’, which explains why his history does not cover the previous 50 years, is of relevance to all modern historians: “There is no future in writing the history of the present before it is past”

(c) Nick Denbow 2016

 

Shop changes of Alresford over 30 years

There’s a lot of data available on the businesses active in the town over the past years. I did a survey of them in 1986, so thought a 2016 survey, 30 years on, would be interesting. Remarkably, there are very few of the original 1986 businesses still trading! At least under their old public facing names.

Broad Street – East side…….  1986 vs 2016

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West Street – North side…….  1986 vs 2016

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West Street – South side…….  1986 vs 2016

 

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Broad Street – West side…….  1986 vs 2016

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The Alresford Museum holds further survey data for earlier years, such as 1947, and 1965 – the latter via the drawings made by Lawrence Wright, which will feature in a future article. Meanwhile the Lawrence Wright drawings are on display in the Community Centre. Notably the Sun Hill Schools conducted regular surveys recording the names of businesses in the town, dating back to at least 1971 (See the story on AlresfordMemories titled ‘Local history, as recorded by Sun Hill School’, and published on 28 January 2016). School history projects relating to the town are eligible for financial support from the Arthur Stowell Fund, associated with the Alresford Museum, and administered by the New Alresford Town Trust.

(c) Nick Denbow 2016

 

 

 

Alresford Waitresses in the 1980s

What makes a good restaurant? Well, a good memorable restaurant that the customers will return to? The answer is mostly ‘a good comfortable atmosphere for the dinner’. But essential within that is a good team of waitresses delivering good service every night you go there. Not just one good waitress, but a team, and I use that word because there’s no collective noun for waitresses.

The Bodega

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Woottie with Daphne (left) and Gina, dancing on a float at the Carnival

In the 1980s the restaurant with real potential was the Bodega wine bar, in Broad Street. It had a lovely outdoor dining area in the archway, and good windows at the front from the main bar and restaurant area to the street. The only real problem was the amount of booze the boss, John Wootton, drank, starting fairly early. He needed some strong waitresses around him to make the place tick.

So what happened? Somehow or other Woottie assembled the Alresford dream team: Gina, Pat, Lynn and Daphne, who made the Bodega work. Believe me they had so much fun that as merely a husband/babysitter left at home, I was really jealous of their evenings, but not the hard work! The fun also included the regular disasters, when John fell off his stool, and when the chef walked out and they had to do the cooking themselves. They also had to cope with John regularly letting people off paying the whole of their bill when they complained loud enough, which rather dented the business profitability.

Moving down to Rio

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Rio Rio, on Pound Hill…

After the Bodega closed, three of the dream team moved on, to the new Mexican restaurant on Pound Hill, Rio Rio. This provided a different background behind the scenes, but the girls still seemed to have fun. Themed nights came regularly, and the photo below is of Lynn, Gina and Pat dressed up for a ‘Rocky Horror’ night at Rio Rio in December 1985.

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The hazards of dressing for work….

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The Bodega in Broad St. At this time, tables were also set out in the coaching entrance, to the left

On a previous ‘Dressing up’ night at the Bodega, on ‘Beaujolais Nouveau’ night, one September in the 1980s, I was driving home to try to meet our parental changeover deadline times, along Whitehill Lane: I came down the hill towards the cottages on Tichborne Down, and met Gina going to work the other way, overtaking all the parked cars. Unfortunately the greasy road and recent rain made quite a skid patch, but I stopped before actually driving into her car, which was totally stopped by that time!

We laughed about that as she then came past me, and set off past more parked cars. When I arrived home to take over kids duty, there was a phone call from a guy in Shepherd’s Down, who claimed my wife had driven into him 10 minutes before on Tichborne Down. He said his bonnet was dented and he was not sure of other damage, so would need to claim against her. Now I knew from my own experience that the road was really slippery, and he had obviously come down the hill far too fast, behind me. Gina later said she had stopped long before he skidded into her, and her car had no damage at all.

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The official  image of the Bodega

The problem appeared to be that Gina was dressed as a ‘French Maid’, for Beaujolais Nouveau night, with heavy make-up, fish-net tights and a short skirt. When the cars had hit each other, everyone from the cottages came out to see what had happened, and were surprised to see Gina jump out dressed like that! But maybe worse, she said she had to dash, because she was now late for work.

The next day, after driving round to look at his car, which had no visible damage, I phoned the guy in Shepherd’s Down and told him he had been driving far too fast, and as a result skidded into my wife’s stationary car, and that the ‘accident’ had been entirely his fault. I did not hear any more.

Cat plague: Good or bad?

There is a cat plague in Alresford, around Carisbrooke Close and Orchard Close in particular, and to my knowledge. This is not just a problem of cats leaving their mess in any cultivated vegetable patches, it has grown to involve regular, even daily, bird kills, mainly pigeons, but also young blackbirds.

I am delighted that the pigeons now appear to have moved away, as a result, so that is a major benefit!

But as a carp pond owner, it is true that the occasional cat is seen to lick their lips alongside the water, but there are further pond level defences that stop them getting at the fish. They are amateurs compared to the herons around here, from which we need to defend ourselves rigorously.

The beneficiaries of this phase of cat trespassing have been suppliers such as Homebase and even the Winchester Pound shop, one of whom (guess who?) sell wire netting at very reasonable prices – yes, you’ve guessed it, £1. I recommend their metal mesh fencing, for use on top of a six foot wooden fence. Maybe the cats cannot see it when they shoot up the fence, but I really hope they then get the message with the next 6 inches to a foot of wire net, with spikes on the top.

The wire netting has now grown up above fences and gates to stop these feline climbers getting into back gardens along their regular routes. They may climb up, but they will not get over! If they get into our back garden, I’m not sure they will ever get out…..

I look forward to responses from all the irresponsible cat owners who send their cats out every morning, they will undoubtedly send some sort of justification to defend the misery they inflict on all their innocent neighbours.

Census reveals poor state of River Itchen

For the first time our once pristine, gin-clear English chalkstreams and rivers have been put under the microscope in a national survey to compare and investigate whether they are as healthy as they should be. And the results are truly shocking.

The 2015 Riverfly Census, undertaken by Salmon & Trout Conservation UK (S&TC UK) has identified that there were only 14 pristine, unimpacted sites out of a total of 120 sites sampled in the survey on rivers across England.

According to fisheries charity, Salmon & Trout Conservation UK, the threat to our rivers has moved from industrial pollution to a range of subtler but equally damaging impacts from sources such as agricultural and road run-off, poorly treated sewage, septic tanks and discharges from watercress and fish farms.

Although these forms of stress are less dramatic than fish-killing chemical spills, the long-term effects on flylife such as blue-winged olives are equally profound.

Paul Knight, Chief Executive of S&TC UK explains, “Most of the rivers we analysed were impacted to some extent, although the chalk rivers were the worst.  England’s 200 or so chalkstreams form about 85% of the world’s total stock of this richly diverse and complex habitat.  Almost all of them are in a dismal state of decline. Plants, insects, fish, mammals and bird-life are suffering as a result of the loss of flylife, which plays a crucial role in the aquatic food chain. Basically lose your flylife and you will lose many other important species too.”

Even figures from the Environment Agency, show that 83% of our rivers are failing to meet the standard of ‘Good Ecological Condition’ classification, measured by the European Water Framework Directive.

Riverflies and other invertebrates are excellent indicators of the underlying ecological condition of our rivers because different species of invertebrates demonstrate different tolerances to the various forms of stress from pollution.  Traditional and less exacting methods of analysing water quality frequently struggle to capture the often combined impacts of nutrients, sediment and subtle organic enrichment on invertebrate life in our rivers.

The study was carried out by ecological consultants Aquascience Consultancy Ltd, on 120 sites in seven rain-fed rivers and five chalkstreams across the country. For the first time, the investigation used ground-breaking research and chemical analysis to accurately identify the problem.

Dr Nick Everall from Aquascience Consultancy says, “The national river survey showed a mixture of improving, stable and all too many sadly declining reaches in terms of overall ecological condition, environmental stresses and riverfly life in particular. Several rivers showed loss of condition with measures like mayfly species richness and freshwater shrimp population status over time. Breaking some of these river findings down with controlled laboratory tests has recently shown that raised levels of phosphate and sediment, akin to many of our stressed river conditions, has a detrimental impact upon the survival of early life stages of the base of the aquatic food chain for species such as the blue-winged olive.”

The Census identified that, although Hampshire’s River Avon – a chalkstream, came out best in the study, the next 6 places went to freestone rivers, mainly in the north and south west.  Three of our most highly protected SAC chalkstreams; the Itchen, the Lambourn and the Wensum, rank poorly in the Census.  These contained low riverfly richness and abundance in many reaches of these rivers. Indeed on the Itchen, populations of the blue-winged olive have collapsed, despite being relatively abundant in the early 1990s.

In addition, the River Test, which is an SSSI (one of our highest conservation classifications) showed that flylife is below that expected of a pristine river with many significant species impoverished and rarer species absent.

Freshwater shrimp (Gammerus pulex) an important element in the food chain for trout and salmon, recorded very low numbers and measured against historic Environment Agency records, are showing a long and marked decline.

Paul Knight says, “So far The Water Framework Directive’s measure of water quality struggles to capture the often combined impacts that pollution is having on the invertebrate life in our rivers.  The biometric fingerprinting we used in the Census was like examining these systems with a microscope rather than a magnifying glass and, significantly, the results showed that water quality is often insufficient to sustain the life that our target rivers historically supported.”

In his forward to the Census, keen fisherman and journalist Jeremy Paxman laments the loss of our pristine rivers and says, “Something has gone very wrong.  Yet experience tells us that almost everything in nature is connected.  A decline in flylife on rivers will have consequences.  The only way we can enlist popular support – and the possibility that someone might care enough to realise the risk we face – is to gather evidence.  That is why the Riverfly Census matters.”

Nick Measham, author of the report and S&TC UK environmental consultant, concludes, “The aim of our Census was to provide, for the first time, an accurate picture of water quality in our rivers, to gauge the problems we are facing and to identify workable solutions to restore degraded watercourses to their pristine condition.  The evidence from our Census is irrefutable. Increased human pressure is having a disastrous impact on our rivers.

“We will now challenge the Government to tackle these damaging sources of pollution before we reach the point of no return.  We have a five-point plan of action involving working with the Environment Agency, but also challenging them where necessary, especially over the urgent need to identify and regulate polluters.  However, we believe the best chance of reversing the degradation in our rivers is to work directly with those who, mostly inadvertently, are the sources of the stress on river water quality, and to show them that they can also benefit from adopting measures that protect watercourses. ”

Read the full Report here.

Comment:

The comment below is from Nick Denbow, who learned to fly-fish on the Itchen and Arle in the 80s, then studied Aquaculture at Sparsholt, before setting up the Western Caribbean Fly Fishing School in Mahahual, in the Yucatan, Mexico:

“Absolutely. This is exactly and completely what I wrote my Sparsholt thesis on in 1998. They should have listened then!
Hopefully now you are out of Europe you can have rules specific to each river individually.
A great start would be that water abstractions should only be allowed and licensed if the water is properly scrubbed to its original or better than its original quality parameters. This as far as I know still only happens in Holland.
The decline in species richness of Mayflies is almost completely due to habitat destruction. Poor river maintenance in the 90s during low water levels led to over widening and deepening of many sections of river so that they remained viable businesses as fisheries. Mayfly species distribution relies on a variety of habitats and only one of 47 in Hampshire is a burrower in silt, E. danica. Due to spending 4 years as a nymph this insect is more common on the lower stretches of any river system. The others are stone clingers, moss creepers, agile darters and laboured swimmers. Take away these habitats and replace it with silt and the bugs will move on at the rate of invertebrate drift. If this starts at the top of a river system (as that’s where most cress beds are) then you gradually remove all the favoured invertebrates from the river, gradually all the way down stream.
By creating favourable habitats on side streams or periodically in areas of micro habitat in poor quality areas it’s easy to ‘re-establish’ populations as adult (winged) may flies all migrate upstream to breed. So what I’m saying is its recoverable if the river acts together.
The lack of G. pulex, the freshwater shrimp, is not due to habitat but rather directly from chemicals used in water cress production, specifically zinc. It’s been proven for many years that the products used to spread on cress and its roots prevents crustaceans being able to build their shells. Spatial avoidance of G. pulex from areas of cress has been seen for years. Due to the Trout’s dependence on shrimps in the winter months due to lower fly hatches, it’s beleived to represent 80% of the Trout’s annual diet. Take that away and your Trout simply won’t survive the winter, which is their spawning time.”

Nick Denbow
BSc (Hons) Aquaculture and Fishery Management
STANIC Qualified instructor
The Western Caribbean Fly Fishing School, Mexico

http://www.catchafish.net, twcffs@gmail.com
00 52 1 983 7323 144

Air Commodore Christopher Paul, of Old Alresford

The Obituary below was published in the Telegraph on 27 March 2003, after the passing of Air Commodore Paul, who lived in Old Alresford. I was privileged to meet him only once, when I delivered post around Old Alresford, and I showed him some of my old aviation photos. He was what you imagined a Spitfire pilot had to be: slight of build, long piano player type fingers, a delicate touch. At that time he was 92 years old. But the following account does not mention Spitfires – maybe I saw him in his Turbulent, touring Britain – I at that time was supplying various photos of interesting aircraft to Air Pictorial.

It showed me, at that time, that you never realise the history behind the people you see or meet or serve in the local shops, cafes, pubs or wine bars, and Air Cdr Paul certainly visited the Bodega Wine bar many times back in the 1980s. Think of that when greeting the next 90 year old contact you make!

Nick Denbow

 

The Telegraph said:

“Air Commodore Christopher Paul, who has died aged 95, was a wartime bomber pilot who became involved in promoting gliding and other aspects of the boom in private flying after the Second World War.

Paul was given his first operational command in 1940 with No 150 Squadron, which was re-equipping with Vickers Wellingtons following the costly losses of Fairey Battles in France.

After a frustrating period when navigational aids were insufficient to conduct satisfactory night-bomber operations, he was posted to “Bomber” Harris’s headquarters as a watch keeper. He then moved to Flying Training Command, converting trainers into makeshift bombers.

When Paul joined the directing staff of the Army Staff College at Camberley he was at first disconcerted to discover that his RAF students included some highly decorated officers who had seen far more action than he had; but he took the opportunity to milk them of their experience for his eventual return to operations.

In early 1944 he was posted to No 13 Operational Training Unit to learn to fly Mitchell light bombers, where he attracted the attention of Air Vice-Marshal Basil Embry, the holder of a DSO and three Bars, who was preparing the 2nd Tactical Air Force to support the forthcoming Normandy invasion.

On taking over No 98 Squadron at Dunsfold, Bedfordshire, Paul was delighted by the presence of so many Canadians. Their food parcels and camp fire parties were especially appreciated, though they had a disconcerting habit of shooting at empty beer cans for revolver practice during their late night revels. Nevertheless, he noted with pleasure that the nightingales of Dunsfold Woods seemed to be inspired in their singing by the hum of the squadron’s two-engine Mitchells.

When the invasion was launched, Paul was awarded a DFC for the way in which he led the squadron in day and night attacks on tactical targets. His citation stated: “He has at all times maintained a high standard of determination, keenness and accuracy and has developed a fine fighting team which strikes the enemy with great precision and concentration.”

Gerald John Christopher Paul was born on October 31 1907, and educated at Cheltenham and St John’s, Cambridge, where he learned to fly with the University Air Squadron.

He was commissioned in 1929 and joined No 13, an Army Co-operation Squadron, equipped with Armstrong Whitworth Atlas biplanes. The following year, when RAF pilots were serving in aircraft carriers, he joined No 446 Flight in Courageous. When the Navy recovered its air arm, Paul came ashore in 1938 to No 90 Squadron, flying two-engine Blenheim aircraft.

After the war, Paul became commanding officer of No 13 OTU at Middleton St George, Yorkshire. He was delighted to discover a neglected Tiger Moth on the station, after which he enjoyed flights before breakfast – until the morning he hit a low coaxial cable linking two masts and crashed. He reported that he was showing off and entirely to blame. Years afterwards, when he lost the sight in his left eye, doctors attributed it to the accident.

In late 1946 Paul joined the headquarters of the diminished remnants of 2nd Tactical Air Force at Bad Eilsen in Germany. The base’s previous Luftwaffe occupants had accumulated looted Cognac, Champagne and other wines, so Paul and his fellow officers charged themselves a token penny a tot.

Paul also took advantage of the splendid gliding facilities which had formed the basis of Luftwaffe training since the end of the First World War, and which had been developed to allow the Germans to circumvent the rearmament restrictions of the Versailles Treaty.

His next move was to the United States, where he served with the Joint Services Mission in Washington and at the USAF War College at Maxwell Field, Alabama.

In 1949 Paul returned to the Air Ministry for Intelligence duties which centred on countering the developing Soviet bomber force. He regarded tête à tête background briefings for Aneurin Bevan as light relief.

Paul was discussing the joys of gliding with RAF colleagues in a London cab when he hit on the idea of launching a gliding and soaring club in the Service. A year at the Imperial Defence College followed from 1953. Paul then went on to become commandant of the Central Flying School at Little Rissington, Gloucestershire, and at the same time qualified as a Meteor jet pilot.

At the beginning of 1956 Paul arrived in Aden as Senior Air Staff Officer. A year later he returned to the Air Ministry for his final appointment as director of operational training. In October 1958 he took advantage of a “golden bowler” retirement, with the proceeds of which he paid off his children’s school fees and bought a small Druine Turbulent aeroplane.

Paul was appointed secretary general of the Air League of the British Empire, which required him to travel throughout Britain both by car and his own aircraft. He made a major contribution to the post-war increase in private flying, not least by converting an Air League journal into the aviation magazine Air Pictorial.

In time he was welcomed to the Royal Aero Club, the Gliding Association and the Tiger Club committees, becoming president in 1968 of the Popular Flying Association, which encouraged group ownership of private aircraft.

In the late 1960s Paul fell out with council members at the Air League, and was dismissed in 1971. He busied himself with village affairs at Old Alresford in Hampshire and with the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen’s Families Association, while writing for Air Pictorial, by this time an independent publication.

He also carried out extensive research on behalf of the Fleet Air Arm Museum, and produced a history of No 90 Squadron. In 1989 he became president of the Central Flying School Association.

Paul, who died on January 11, was appointed CB in 1956. He also held the Belgian Croix de Guerre and the Czech Military Cross, and was a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

In 1937 he married Rosemary Lane, with whom he had two sons and a daughter. She died in 1975; he married, secondly, in 1985, Mollie Samuels, who survives him.”

 

Naval telescopes linked to Alresford

Whatever you collect, it is always of particular interest to find an item that has a particular relationship with the village or area where you live. For me this was slightly more difficult than usual, I thought, as I collect terrestrial telescopes, ie the sort of hand-held telescopes that were used on ships. So living inland, in Alresford, there would be quite a limited number of naval telescopes linked to here.

My one real hope was Lord Rodney, George Brydges Rodney, who was brought up by his godfather, George Brydges of Avington Park. After winning some prize money at the battle of Finisterre in 1747, when in command of the 60 gun “Eagle”, Rodney purchased land near Alresford Church, and built Alresford House. His life is described in the 1991 Alresford Displayed story by John Adams, see www.alresford.org/displayed/displayed_17_01.php. Lord Rodney died in 1791, at Alresford House.

Admiral Lord Rodney

1744-beare-poss-capt-g-b-rodneyRegrettably Rodney was at sea only up to the 1780s, which is right at the start of the boom in telescope production, which started following the Dollond patent of 1760, a development that made them far more efficient. So any telescope he might have used would these days be very expensive, where they have survived, and they would probably out of my price range! Incidentally, none of the later portraits of Lord Rodney show him with a telescope, which is unusual, for paintings of Admirals in those days. But surprisingly, I’ve found a portrait of him as a young man, with a telescope that looks like a 1730/40 model – very expensive now!

However, I did find a bit of Lord Rodney’s past, on a visit to see my daughter in Cornwall. If you walk down the main streets of Helston, near Porthleven (the nearest decent harbour) you will find the The Rodney Inn, with apparently a picture of Lord Rodney hanging outside! The picture does look like the many portraits of him, painted in around 1791.

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The Rodney Inn sign, with a copy of a standard portrait of Lord Rodney, with seagull adornment. Below are some views of  the exterior of the pub.

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Hinton Ampner House

Mary Ricketts

Mary Ricketts

This week I visited the National Trust at Hinton Ampner, and read about the ghost stories that relate to the original house on that site. In 1765, Captain William Henry Ricketts and his wife Mary rented the original Tudor house on that site. Captain Ricketts had estates in Jamaica, and was presumably in the Navy: his time in the West Indies was coincident with that of Admiral Rodney, and his wife Mary was the sister of Admiral John Jervis, who was also in the Royal Navy, and active in the West Indies at that time. So presumably there were frequent visits between Hinton Ampner and Alresford House.

Indeed in 1770, John Jervis came to stay at the house in Hinton Ampner, with a friend, Captain Luttrell, when Captain Ricketts was away in Jamaica. The two of them tried to keep guard over the house one night, to find an explanation for the ghostly noises and appearances that were regularly disturbing the household. Unable to explain the happenings, and thoroughly frightened, John Jervis advised his sister to move out.

The John Jervis Tucker telescope

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The link to a telescope results, although it does turn out to be tenuous: a year or so ago I acquired a telescope signed Captain J. Jervis Tucker, believing it to be linked to Admiral Jervis (later known as Earl St Vincent, and commanding officer in charge of one Commander Nelson at the battle of Cape St Vincent: Nelson was as a result of this battle appointed an Admiral). But for John Jervis to be the rank of Captain, the telescope would be dated around 1760, and this telescope was younger than that, it looked early 1800s.

Admiral Jervis had a personal secretary (or ADC, or Batman, or whatever a PA is known as) called Benjamin Tucker, who went on to be Second Secretary to the Admiralty. He christened his son, born 1802, John Jervis Tucker: JJT joined the Navy in 1815, and became Captain of HMS Royal William in 1838: and that is about the right date for this telescope, which is unique in that it is over 4 feet long!

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So John Jervis Tucker probably never brought this telescope to Hinton Ampner, nor Alresford. Never mind, the search goes on!

See more information about the Captain J Jervis Tucker telescope on http://tinyurl.com/JJTucker, which is one of the stories on the website http://www.telescopecollector.co.uk.

Late news of Lord Rodney!

DSCN3884DSCN3888The Alresford Museum has recently acquired a moulded bust (in profile) of Lord Rodney, made out of wax or something similar, and protected by a deep gold-plated frame. Apparently such things were fashionable in those days. This bust is pictured here: it is quite small, the glass window is maybe 6″x5″. In my view it shows Rodney much younger than 90, maybe more like 60, so it might date from the 1760s. This is unlikely to be put on external display by the Museum, it does not like too much heat, even from artificial lights!

And another thing

An aviation correspondent of mine has e-mailed to say that there is another pub, this time called the Admiral Rodney, not far from him, near Martley, in Worcestershire. Probably you could not get that much further from the sea, anywhere!

Other Lord Rodney pubs!

There are several!

  • The Admiral Rodney, 592 Loxley Road, Loxley, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S6 6RU; The Admiral Rodney was built during the 1950’s, next to the site of another pub called The Rodney, which was demolished at the time. The pub is named after an old local hero, George Brydges Rodney who as an admiral defeated a Spanish fleet in 1780 and a French fleet at the Battle of the Saints in 1782.
  • Admiral Rodney Hotel, Eatery & Coffee House – Horncastle, LN9 5DX 01507 523131.
  • Admiral Rodney, Wollaton Road, Wollaton, Nottingham, NG82AF: Historically, Admiral Rodney was one of Nelson’s right hand men and a good friend of the owners of Wollaton Hall which is just down the road. Hence the naval name so far from the sea! Inside is open plan with stone floors, wood panelling and a really nice fireplace which is lit during the winter. This genuine pub has avoided loud music, sports and the like, opting to encourage a relaxed, comfortable environment where visitors can enjoy a quality drink or have a tasty meal with friends. We have Cask Marque status which means this is ‘the’ place to come for that choice real ale. The clientele are a good mix of ages with students, professionals and retired people all coming here. Why not see for yourself what a great place this is.
  • The Admiral Rodney Hotel, King Street, Southwell, Nottinghamshire NG25 0EH
  • The Admiral Rodney, Main Street, Calverton, Notts NG14 6FB:  The Inn dates back to the mid 1700’s and is an unmodernised country pub. Named after Admiral Rodney who harvested local oak from this area for his ships and who was subsequently honoured by a pillar which was built on the adjacent hill. Indeed the pub is used as a base for walkers exploring this area to see the pillar and the Breidden Hills.
  • Admiral Rodney, Criggion, Shrewsbury, Wales: The Inn dates back to the mid 1700’s and is an unmodernised country pub. Named after Admiral Rodney who harvested local oak from this area for his ships and who was subsequently honoured by a pillar which was built on the adjacent hill. Indeed the pub is used as a base for walkers exploring this area to see the pillar and the breidden hills.
  • Ye Old Admiral Rodney, New Road, Prestbury, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK10 4HP.