Archive for the ‘Alresford Library’ Category

New display features town celebrities and businesses

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, 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

DSCN3888A 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”.

DSCN5602These 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.

Two Truncheons

DSCN5603The 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!

The Voices of Bishop’s Sutton


How about “Bishop’s Sutton Memories” as an offshoot of AlresfordMemories? OK, so there are several Bishop’s Sutton stories on this website, but in visiting the Alresford Library today I found a really enthralling new book: only just published. It is titled “Voices of Bishop’s Sutton”, and was written by Sarah Bussy, a resident of Bishop’s Sutton over the last 40 years, since 1974.

Sarah suggests that she felt very much like a ‘Townie’ person, when she first moved to Bishop’s Sutton, from her Alresford home – it was a different world to be in village life, after residing in the big Metropolis of Alresford! But having settled in, 30 years later, Sarah was involved in a parish-wide piece of team work, which resulted in a small, publicly-funded publication entitled ‘Bishop’s Sutton: An Appraisal of the Parish, 2006’. A questionnaire was circulated around all households in the village, to see what they liked and disliked about village life. Most people were really happy to live in Bishop’s Sutton, which Sarah describes as “a very friendly place, with a strong community spirit”: only one person expressed a dislike for the incoming “Townies”.

Sarah explains the background to the current book as follows:

“In the 1980s I became involved with making sound recordings of Winchester people, several of which are now in the Wessex Film and Sound Archive. Around the year 2000 I began tentatively to record in Bishop’s Sutton.

Because of other commitments, these Bishop’s Sutton tapes lay neglected, and a source of considerable guilt for years until I was suddenly spurred into further action by a Village Open Weekend held in the autumn of 2014. Several months of concentrated work followed and the book was ready for press shortly before my move to Devon in September 2015. The timing couldn’t have been better and I still feel pleased to have given something back to Bishop’s Sutton in gratitude for the 41 years I lived there with my family.”

Her book records the memories of the current residents, memories of what village life was like throughout their lives. Sarah recorded numerous current residents, dividing them up into sections that cover the 1920s; the Hillarys of Northside Farm; the accents; the houses, including colonial bungalows and council houses, as well as cottages; Domestic life (including sanitation, food and sickness); Childhood and the School; Working on the farms; Death in the village, and WW2. Selected parts of the recordings she made are published in each heading, but the original recordings are held by the Wessex Film and Sound Archive at the HRO. Apparently the recordings made of conversations with Kit Hole, Bill Hillary, Jean Hillary, Nora Hillary, and Vic Sheppard are available for visitors to listen to on request.

The book includes many old photos, provided by David Hole – some of these originated from Peter Mills’ archive. Other interviewees include Bill Smith, Barbara Upton, Joan Clift, and many more: many Alresford parents of young children will remember Bill Smith as the caretaker at Sun Hill School some years ago.


The Home Library Service

Nicolette Morgan writes that she is wishing to raise awareness of the Home Library Service, a free service available from all Hampshire libraries including Alresford library.

The Home Library Service is for anyone who finds it difficult to get to their nearest library due to ill health, disability or caring responsibilities. We can usually arrange for one of our local volunteers to visit to exchange library materials on a monthly basis. We appreciate that often the social contact with a volunteer is as important as the library items they choose and deliver. There are no charges to hire audio books, and no overdue charges for late returns. All our volunteers are DBS (CRB) checked and comply with instructions and standards as set out by library staff.

We can deliver a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books in standard and large print formats, specialist books including ones suitable for those living with Dementia, items from our Reminiscence collection, audio books on CD, MP3 CD (a whole book on one disc) and Playaways which are easy to use digital players. We can also offer National Talking newspapers and Magazines which library staff can download onto a memory stick for you to listen to through any device with an MP3 USB connection.

If you know someone who could benefit from this service, please talk to staff at your nearest library, call us on 0300 555 1387, or apply online at

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Nicolette Morgan on . Nicolette is happy to take direct referrals.

Alresford Bowling Club


The latest presentation in the display cabinets in Alresford Library in Broad Street shows some photos and artefacts from the Alresford Bowling Club. The sport of bowling has been active in Alresford since around 1650, around 350 years ago, and it is possibly the second oldest recorded bowling club in the country. The current bowling green on Sun Lane is known to have been in use from 1823. Records suggest that in earlier times the bowling green was on the East of Sun Lane, the opposite side of the road – it was probably relocated to the current site when Langstone House was built in the nineteenth Century.


The current club was re-formed/established in 1937, through the efforts of Sidney Lane: he had moved to Alresford during the First World War, with the firm of solicitors run by George Ridley Shield. After WW1 he returned to London, but moved back to Alresford on his retirement in 1937. The first members of the re-established club included such people as Canon A J Robertson, Lord Templemore, Sir Anthony Tichborne, Sir Francis Lindley, Doctors Leishman and Meryon, and George Ridley Shield. Cameron Black, the Publican at the Sun Inn, agreed to rent the green to the new bowling club for £10 per annum.


The 1938 members of the bowling club were shown in the photo below, courtesy of, which numbered from the right include: 1. Edgar Blake of the World’s Stores, 2. Canon Robertson, 3. Sidney (Lofty) Lane, 4. George Wigmore (Barber), 5. Claude Hunt (Tobacconist), 7. H C Godwin of Langton’s Farm, 10. Bert Davy, and 14. Mr Bascombe (Postmaster).


Currently the Alresford Bowling Club has over 70 members, plus 10 non-playing ‘Social’ members. For information and membership details, please contact Barry Morgan, Secretary, Phone 733477 or visit the website,

The display of Alresford Bowling Club items can be viewed in the library during opening hours. These include Saturday morning and all day Friday, as well as half days on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

Soft toy collection returns to Alresford

IMG_9698xsIn our first story about the soft toys made at Alresford Crafts (1), Verena Harper was mentioned as one of the first employees at the Town Mill, back in 1976. Verena (née Pegg) worked as a checker and finisher on the production line for these popular children’s toy animals. Over the subsequent 40 years, and particularly since retiring to Dorset, Verena has become an avid collector, attending numerous car boot and general jumble sales. Always the previously loved Alresford Crafts soft toys catch her attention, so slowly Verena built up an enormous and varied collection of these animals, helped by friends and relatives who added more of them as birthday gifts!

Now Verena has decided that it is time her little friends were returned to their home town, and so a grand total of over 120 soft toys have come back to be looked after by the Alresford Museum, to be displayed as often as possible – for today’s children, and older ex-children (who are now avid Alresford Crafts toy and doll collectors), to see and appreciate.

Unique soft toys

IMG_9675xsWe think some of these animals are unique, but maybe you can tell us something different? The collection includes some unusual models, not seen in any of the Alresford Crafts catalogues of the time. One from the Southern hemisphere is a striking looking Penguin: these days no doubt some children will be able to identify what sort of Penguin this represents, and if it is accurate! In addition there is a life-like dark brown hen.

IMG_9671More unusual is a glove puppet in a bright pink fur, distinctly looking like an Alresford Pig – maybe it even belonged to one of the children of the original Alresford Pigs, also founded over 40 years ago? The Pig has been introduced to another pink friend, this time an Alresford Crafts pink bunny rabbit, in dungarees, which was returned to us separately from America a few weeks ago. The two are now the best of friends, although one has a distinct American accent.

The Owls!

IMG_9694xsObviously Verena liked the Owls made by Alresford Crafts, because there are more than 15 of them in her collection! We can honestly say that the Alresford Museum now houses more Owls than are likely to ever have lived in the Alresford district! We start with one enormous silver Owl, fashioned in the style of our models of Ollie the owl, who is one of the stars of various “Dr Who” episodes, and also the film “E.T.” Then there is a family of Snowy Owls, a Daddy and two babies: a pair of large Brown Owls with their three babies, one with a black eye-patch like Paddington Bear. Most striking are the family of five young Tawny Owls, looked after by the big Mother Tawny Owl.

Every design of soft toy?

Many other animals are represented in the collection, from a kangaroo, to an ant-eater; a dinosaur as well as white and even blue lambs, plus an otter  – we didn’t ask Verena to check his tail, apparently these toys used to be difficult to sew together without twisting the tail away from horizontal. Many of the smaller toys were made from left-over scraps of cloth, which were turned into simpler stuffed toys, like rats, mice, guinea pigs or Lemmings: Alresford Crafts often donated these to the Alresford Christmas Tree Committee, to be given away on the night that Father Christmas arrived – a famous event in the Alresford calendar – when everyone under a certain age has a present.

The whole collection, delivered from Verena in Dorset crammed into a small car, can be seen – or at least most of them – in the picture below.

IMG_9689a s

john and verena Harper xs

John and Verena Harper

Verena is now writing more about her early life around Alresford and Bishop’s Sutton, and her time at Alresford Crafts, where she had many friends – like Sue Palmer and Christine Terry. Her comments about the labels on the toys are interesting: apparently the original labels, used at first, were black, but then the gold coloured label with red and black writing was adopted. Where these have a V cut out, these items would have been seconds, not felt good enough for sale, and would have been used as donations to charities, for example to the Christmas Tree Committee in Alresford, for use as presents under the tree.

Museum Displays

The Alresford Museum has a rotating display of artefacts in the Library in Broad Street, and more in the Framing Shop in the Old Fire Station. Several Alresford Crafts dolls and toys are permanently on display in the children’s section of the Library, upstairs. Further displays will be on show in the Alresford Library, and at various other Museum events throughout the coming year.


(1) See the original story:

Lists of the Museum collections can be found on


The crash of Lady Luck, 1943

Lady Luck scale model by Tim Barnes

Lady Luck scale model by Tim Barnes

Much has been written about the crash of Lady Luck, a Flying Fortress in WW2, in or near Alresford pond: so it is difficult to write anything new. Already on this website we have had personal reports from people who were there at the time, like George Watson and Jim Smith.

There are also several reports and photographs publicly visible in the Globe Inn, down at the end of Broad Street, on the Soke: this is a fitting lasting tribute to the USAF airmen who were flying from UK bases at that time. Another memorial plaque is located at the end of the Soke, next to the pond, near the gate to the garden of the Globe Inn.

IMG_7638 strtHilary Cornford, from Old Alresford, an enthusiastic Lady Luck supporter, has enabled the Alresford Museum to retain and display an interesting modern memento of the event, which is an aeroplane panel painted up to make a replica of the tail of USAF Flying Fortress 25434. Known as “Lady Luck”, the tail was decorated, as many wartime aircraft were, with a mascot. Their original mascot was painted by Sgt Sam P Rodman, of the US 303rd Bomb Group, when he was based at the Molesworth USAF aerodrome in the UK.

The account below is of unknown origin, but a printed copy is glued to this modern reproduction of this tail panel, now in the custody of the Museum: this repro tail panel was painted by and is on loan from Tim Barnes, produced when he was working at the Lasham aircraft works near Alton. His employers kindly donated an aircraft panel from a modern Boeing 757 airliner, to make the repro tail panel look more authentic.


The painted ‘Tail Art’

“This is one of the two known tail art paintings done by Sam Rodman.

This languishing beauty adorned the tail fin of a Fort which carried the simple title of ‘Lady Luck’ on the nose – perhaps one of the most popular and understandable names chosen by the numerous air crews around the world. Standing on the horizontal stabiliser of the Fort and painting onto the huge tail would have made the task of painting much easier for Rodman (and other artists), and it is surprising that the tail was not used more often for embellishment.

This particular B17F arrived at Molesworth, Cambridgeshire, via the South Atlantic route to England, having passed through Marrakesh, North Africa. Assigned to 303 BG on 6th March 1943, it began combat flying with a mission to Wilhelmshaven on the 22nd, under the command of Lt Griffin. It was lucky 13 for First Lt Loyd Griffin, later made Captain, as he completed that number of sorties in Lucky Lady before finishing up in mid-July. Thereafter, 9 different crews took the Fort to targets across France and Germany until misfortune overtook Robert Cogswell’s crew.

On a recalled mission to the Nantes submarine pens in France on 26th September 1943, they experienced a runaway prop on #4 engine, which subsequently caught fire and forced them to abandon the aircraft over Southern England. The pilot, Lt Cogswell, stayed with his ship until all the crew had baled out safely, and then jumped himself – too low by then – and he sustained severe back injuries as a result. Lady Luck crashed near Alresford pond – a sad end for a veteran of some 25 missions.

Robert Cogswell returned to combat flying, but was tragically killed in action, flying a B29 during the Korean conflict in 1951.”

The picture on this text, attached to the painted panel. shows Sam Rodman painting the original artwork on the B17 tail, earlier in 1943. Lady Luck was a Boeing B-17F-50-BO, with the USAF registration 42-5434.


USAF Molesworth

303-bgMolesworth in Cambridgeshire is now a non-flying facility under the control of the United States Air Force, and is one of the two Royal Air Force (RAF) stations in Cambridgeshire currently used by the United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE). In WW2, from November 1942, Molesworth was occupied by the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses of the 358th Bombardment Squadron, the first of four squadrons that would comprise the 303d Bombardment Group. The 303d remained at Molesworth until shortly after V-E Day in late May 1945.

The 358th flew the first mission for the group on 17 November 1942. The group became one of the legendary units of the Eighth Air Force. Initially missions were conducted against targets such as aerodromes, railways, and submarine pens in France until 1943, when flying missions commenced into Germany itself.

The Library display of 2013

Seventy years after the event, Hilary and Ray Cornford set up a library display, in the Alresford Library on Broad Street, showing the stories and artefacts available surrounding the B17 crash in Alresford. The file of documents they collected has been passed over to the Alresford Museum, so that they are all available for future researchers (Accession number D1031a). Anyone joining the newly established Membership of the NATT will have access to the Museum resources, by arrangement.

Lady Luck window161

The tail panel is Alresford Museum item A1060.

In the Alresford Library there are other locally produced documents about the event, such as Nelson Trowbridge’s April 2001 essay, called ‘Lady Luck – What Really happened?’, a copy of this paper is also held in the Museum (Accession Number D1031b). Other comments from Nelson about the Lady Luck crash were quoted in an earlier Alresford Memories story –

What is ‘Made in Alresford’?

WHAT is actually made, and sold world-wide, from Alresford?

The displays in the Alresford Library (Broad Street, Alresford, underneath the scaffolding at the moment!) are being updated from July 1st to show a collection of the many unusual items that are “Made in Alresford”, and exported around the world – in some cases at least.

First in any such display are the dolls and soft toys made by Alresford Crafts: but since there is a permanent display of these dolls and toys in the upstairs cabinet, in the children’s section of the library, there is just one Teddy-bear in the downstairs cabinet to represent this Alresford business.

DSCN1608Next in worldwide exports comes Etchmasters Ltd, of Prospect Road, who operated in the 1970s and 1980s. In the display we have five examples, three of which are railway engine pictures. The fourth is a classic ‘Knight and His Lady’ brass rubbing style of picture (see below), and fifth is a Ploughing scene, with a horse drawn plough. The museum is pleased to have this last picture as the artist is Alan Longford, who worked for Etchmasters around 1980, and then went on to specialise in equestrian and other horse related pictures, becoming a member of the Society of Equestrian Artists.

DSCN1612Almost along the same theme, Alresford has had several saddlers and producers of horse-related equipment in leather, such as reins and so on. An interesting saddle by Alresford Saddlers is on display, which has a sheepskin underside: Alresford Saddlers were located at 16 West Street.

Alresford is famous for some well known clockmakers: at the moment the only example in the Museum is a very worn face of a Grandfather clock inscribed “Jno Howe – Alresford”. He was working in The Dean from 1828-32. This clock face is on show. Equally famous was Evans and Evans, of West Street, where Jaga Designs are now, but until when? – Maybe it was 2000? Or 2010?

DSCN1605Brewing has always been a major industry in Alresford, whether ginger beer or real beer! So there are two beer bottles from Batchelors of the “Pineapple House” at the bottom end of Broad Street, one with a marble stopper in the neck of a glass bottle, and one stone bottle. Batchelors also had a china shop, and a special plate from them is on show that commemorated the first 50 years of Queen Victoria’s reign, presumably therefore dating from 1890. For more about the Batchelors bottling business, see the AlresfordMemories story entitled “The very Best Ginger Beer in Great Britain”, dated 10 March 2013.

What else was made in Alresford?

What else can you think of that was made in Alresford? What have you got that could join this display? We would love to borrow more items to add.

I am also keen to be able to show one of the vibrating spools that were used to measure the density of crude oil flows, made by Agar Instrumentation Ltd in Prospect Road in the 1970s, thru to about 1981. These were essential for every oil well and refinery, and were exported all over the world – the only real competitor was Solartron in Farnborough. Has anyone saved any of these spool pieces? There must have been lots of rejects. The factory was taken over by Redland, the bricks and tiles people, and moved to Kingsworthy, but the products are now obsolete, so the company has now disappeared. Please can we find one of the vibrating spools?