The Alresford Museum display in the Broad Street library has been updated, to add two new items relating to Alresford businesses, two relating to major Alresford celebrities and two versions of an 18th Century Alresford Policeman’s truncheon!
The very ornate saddle, for a horse, was made by Alresford Saddlers of 16 West Street: it is an example of the local trade in skins and leather that developed around the tannery on Mill Hill. Alresford Saddlers was in 16 West Street, now Suzy Watson Designs, and was next door to Lex Leathers, who were still to be found at 18 West Street in the 1965. See the story about Lawrence Wright and his Alresford drawings.
Next is a rather plain box, which is a laundry box, used by the Weir Laundry to deliver cleaned and pressed washing back to the owners. Presumably this would have been a daily service. The Weir Laundry was believed to be housed in the Weir Mill building, later called the Arle Mill, situated alongside the lane linking Mill Hill to the Weir House, in 1900-1920. A photo can be seen of the staff at the Weir House laundry in 1904, on AlresfordHeritage.co.uk, and other photos on that site show the laundry buildings.
The display in the library cabinet also still features some dolls and soft toys from the Alresford Crafts collection featured in the Museum.
Alresford Celebrity – Lord Rodney
A major Alresford Celebrity was George Brydges Rodney, who was born in 1718 and brought up by his Godfather George Brydges of Avington Park. As the Royal Naval Captain of the 60 gun “Eagle” at the Battle of Finisterre, he captured many Spanish ships, and won £8000 in prize money. With this he bought land next to Old Alresford Church, and built Old Alresford House.
Later as an Admiral, in the West Indies in 1780 he was very successful against the French, using the tactic of splitting the enemy’s line of ships – a tactic later copied and used by Nelson at Trafalgar.
He retired to Old Alresford House, and died there in 1791. But throughout the latter C18th he was the naval hero that everyone in Britain knew. There are still 7 pubs all across England named “The Lord Rodney”.
These Alresford Museum items date from that period, and are a mock Chinese bowl, inscribed “Rodney For Ever” – in tribute to Rodney – and a Beeswax portrait of him, which was the fashionable method of presenting portraits as 3D images at that time – and the technique is still used in Mme Tussauds!
C20th Celebrity – J Ridley Shield
The silver salver on display was made by Heming & Co, in London, and was presented to J. Ridley Shield in recognition of his many years of service (1906 – 1953) as Clerk of the Court at Alresford Petty Sessions.
J Ridley Shield, a Solicitor, was a prominent local figure, the first Chairman of the Town Trust in 1890, and first President of the Alresford Bowls Club. It is hoped to add a photo of Mr Shield to the display at some future date.
The Alresford Museum has two Batons, or Truncheons, items which were used by the Police Constables in the town in the 1800s. Both carry the Alresford town crest, which denotes that the Policeman was authorised by the town elders.
One is authentic, ie Victorian, the other is a modern reproduction, made in 1987 by AHW – his exact name is unknown. If you can let us know who it was, please do so! Weighing 300/400 grammes, they are fairly effective weapons…..
Maybe not as big as the town Bailiff and Burgesses Maces, also shown in the cabinet!