Archive for the ‘Alresford Library’ Category

A.E. Wade: An artist in Alresford

“Albert Edward Wade studied at Birmingham in 1911, and was resident in London in 1917, and Dover in 1919. He was working at the Sheffield School of Art in 1921, and from there joined the staff of the Grimsby School of Art in 1924. He then became Principal of this School in 1927. As well as being an accomplished artist in oils and watercolours, he was also an excellent musician, playing the cello with great skill. He retired from the Grimsby School of Art in 1953, and moved to Alresford.”

Presumably there are many of his artworks in the Grimsby School of Art and in North East Lincolnshire. Some of these can be seen on

AE Wade aged 61

AE Wade aged 61

A photo of a self-portrait dated 1950, which states it is an image of him at age 61, and is held in this Grimsby collection, was provided by Louise Bowen, of the NE Lincolnshire Council Museum Collections department, in 2014. A drypoint image purporting to be a self portrait from 1930 was also found in his collection of dry-points, most of the rest of which dated from the 1960s.

Louise provided the description of his early life quoted above, and adds that “Examples of his woodcraft can be seen in Humberston Church (near Grimsby) in the form of the chancel screen and the pulpit. He was an authority on antiques and archaeology.”

Albert was born on 17 October 1889, in Kinver, Staffordshire, and had parents Josiah and Mary Ann (nee Newell). In the 1911 Census records he is listed as a Draughtsman with a Furniture manufacturer, then aged 21, living at 3 Marlborough Road, Smallheath, near Birmingham, with his parents (aged 54 and 60) and brothers Sydney George aged 27, and Walker Charles aged 19. All of the rest of them were employed in the family Bakery. There were two other children of Josiah and Mary alive at that time, but not living in Marlborough Road.

The move to Alresford

Albert Wade retired to Alresford in 1953: he chose Alresford “because his family had originated here” [the only record of any family connection is that his mother had been born in Farringdon, Hampshire – Ed]. Here, he made his home at Ivern, in Salisbury Road, where he lived for over 20 years: he died in 1976.

scan312 Alresford Church 1965 cardA good friendship was established with George Watson in Alresford, possibly via contact with Laurence Oxley’s shop, and George assisted Albert in printing the Christmas cards he made using a dry point technique, from the sketches reversed onto copper blocks. Later, George passed some of these blocks and prints to Roy Robins and his colleagues who were starting the Alresford Museum. Also included was a full sized painting, showing the dismantling of the water tower, on its site near the top of Jacklyn’s Lane in around 1953, which now hangs in Alresford Library.

Another possible route for the Alresford Museum collection of the Wade cards seems to have been via Mrs Mary Horner, of the Manor House, Humberston, Grimsby: possibly a relation of Albert Wade.  Mary Horner passed her set of cards to Peter Chapman, a reporter on the Grimsby Evening Telegraph. Peter Chapman felt the Alresford images would be better kept in Alresford, and passed them back to Christopher Everett in Holyborne, Alton, from where they came to the Alresford Historical and Literary Society, and then the Alresford Museum.

Biography by Peter Chapman

Peter Chapman included his assessment and biography of A E Wade, for our information. He wrote:

“When 1950 dawned, Mr AE Wade had been Principal of Grimsby School of Art for 23 years. When he retired three years later, to Alresford, from which his family originated, his tenure of office was, and has subsequently proved, a record. But he left an eradicable mark – not only on the thousands of students who had sat at his feet – but on the town to which he had come in 1923 after a spell at Birmingham School of Art.

Albert Wade was a man of many parts. He was first a devoted husband to Florence (née Hames). He was father to two daughters, Athena and Gabriel, to whom he passed many of his enthusiasms. He was a highly competent artist, in oils and watercolours, a master of the portrait, the landscape and specific studies. He was a sculptor and a highly skilled woodworker and carver. In addition to these many accomplishments he was a most useful cellist and an inveterate collector.

Self portrait in 1930

Self portrait in 1930

His knowledge of, for instance, Chinese porcelain was encyclopaedic, and he amassed a still extant collection of Egyptian items which remains in Grimsby. Mr Wade was both a man of his time and a connoisseur, and he passed on his wide range of knowledge to his pupils, many of whom owe the awakening of many interests to his passions.

At the Silver Street Art School he both instructed and entertained before making his way home to St Giles’ Avenue, Scartho. He inherited the mantle of the late Mr Jennison as mayoral portrait painter for immortality in the Town Hall, and became an associate member of the Royal Miniature Society. He also did endless ‘jobs’ for the corporation – among them designing the Borough boundary signs and numerous official brochures, and the town still has many of his paintings – several showing the aftermath of the war.”

The Christmas Cards

The Christmas cards we have, printed using the dry-point technique, date from 1958 through to 1962. Over this period the subjects change from Roman and classical images, through pictures of Alresford scenes, to sketches of the Grange at Northington. Possibly the best known of his pictures will be the town plan of Alresford, which is a relatively every-day sight for all Alresford shoppers, situated at the alleyway entrance to the Churchyard, between Barclays Bank and the Opticians, and shown here. The complete set of cards is shown in an Alresford Museum web album on FlickR (, aka, but they are listed here:

scan317 Alresford plan 1969 card

AE Wade aged 61

1959: Town plan of Alresford

1960: Images of the history of Winchester

1961: Claudius Caesar AD43

1962: Between the weirs in Alresford

1963: St Swithun and his miracles

1964: [Missing!]

1965: St John’s Parish Church, Alresford

1966: Windsor Castle

1967: Bisham Church from Marlow tow path

1968: De Lucy Bridge, Alresford, C1200AD

1969: Fulling Mill, Alresford

1970: Alresford from the Southwest – titled as “The Alresford Society” (drawn 1962)

1971: Doric Portico, The Grange, Northington

1972: Ionic Portico, The Grange, Northington

1973: Ovington Mill

Dry-Point prints

In a letter to a friend dated 22 October 1959 – we can’t decipher the friend’s name – Wade explains “Drypoint” as engraved with a point (similar to an engraver’s burin) on the copper plate, and then printed – with no acid used, therefore it is a drypoint. But other descriptions of the technique highlight that it is the burr thrown up on the furrow of the line which is crucial to the final result, the angle of the dry point changing the characteristics of the burr. Lines in a drypoint print are characterised by a soft fuzziness caused by the ink delivered by the burr.

Other Wade prints in the collection

Also in the collection are two small drypoint prints, one quoted above titled as a 1930 self-portrait, and one of Alresford church tower and churchyard from the south. A few larger prints are also included, as follows:

  1. Five composers: Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Mozart. Feb 1970 (8” diagonal)
  2. Alresford Centre: a view of the Community Centre, Lloyds Bank and The Swan Hotel. Dated 21 May 1958. (13.5” diagonal). This is his major work in relation to Alresford, and its history. See below!

15463485643_e1d0f54d8a_k3. A larger print of the De Lucy Bridge, July 1968. (13.5” diagonal).

4. A larger print of the Fulling Mill picture, June 1958. (13.5” diagonal), as below.

scan308 Fulling Mill 1969 card

Not part of the Museum collection, but nevertheless available for public viewing in St John’s Church, is another Wade painting. This is the Royal Coat-of-Arms, positioned above the West door inside the Church, as shown below.


Original copper plates

Some of the original plates used to print the images on the Christmas cards have been passed on, and are in the Museum. The 1960 Winchester history plate was still wrapped in a newspaper dated 1960. In better condition are the plates for the De Lucy Bridge, the Fulling Mill, Alresford Churchyard and “Between the weirs”: plates are also present showing a portrait of Dr Meryon, and part of the Buttercross in Winchester. A 1968 newspaper protects another picture plate of Alresford Church, as viewed from Broad Street.

The Albert Wade local pictures, drawings and the drypoint technique would qualify for support funding, as a local school history project, by the Arthur Stowell Fund. For further information please contact the New Alresford Town Trust on


Most of the original Wade prints, made directly from the copper, were produced in the basement at Oxley’s shop by George Watson, who worked there before starting his own picture framing and furniture repair business with his wife Beryl. Recently, ie in 2015, Oxley’s have made available for sale some hand coloured A4 sized versions of Wade’s town plan, originally drawn in 1959: but these are certainly modern paintings, possibly painted on modern prints of the image. Nevertheless they are a tribute to Wade and the images he produced. The photograph below is an image of one of these 2015 prints: it is deliberately taken as is, in situ.



Alresford Crafts: Dolls and soft toys for Collectors and Children.

scan186For around 25 years Alresford Crafts was a major business venture in the town, making dolls and soft toys. Perhaps more than any other, this business promoted the name of Alresford to consumers across the world, until 1992! John and Margaret Jones started trading from the two lower floors of the Town Mill, a building at the bottom of Mill Hill, Alresford, which dates from 1189. Water flowing out of the pond, and under the bridge at the lower end of Broad Street, used to fall down a vertical shaft inside the mill building and there rotate a turbine, which could drive the hoist and other machinery: then the water flowed under the mill floor and downstream.  Following an accident with a tree-trunk ramming down this shaft and smashing the turbine housing, causing a flood in the basement, the mill was modernized in 1972, when the stepped waterfalls were introduced, keeping the river outside the building: the basement became more habitable!

DSC01962a softtoysWhen John and Margaret moved into the mill, in 1964, their first business was that of a mail order gifts company, mainly involved in Christmas gifts. In order to expand they began co-operating with a lady from Salisbury, who used a network of home workers around there: eventually they took the business over from this lady, in about 1972, when more home workers were recruited around Alresford. In the first five years or so, Alresford Crafts just made soft toys, designed by Margaret Jones, and the business grew and became known for quality hand-made toys: the work was brought in-house as a method of ensuring this quality. Mrs Jones says the Brighton Toy Fair made an enormous difference, with lots of orders, but it alerted a lot of the competition, like Steiff (teddy bears), to their new materials.

Verena Harper worked there during 1976, as a checker and finisher, and particularly remembers the machinist girls making the toy otters had problems, because their tails seemed to twist round. Verena will be pleased to see the otters in the Alresford Museum collection seem OK. However, Mrs Jones was also interested in making dolls, and was convinced that a quality manufacturer in England could produce porcelain dolls for collectors worldwide.

DSC01991 alr crafts dollsSo in 1977 Alresford Crafts started planning a workshop where doll’s heads, hands and feet could be produced. Initially these were made of bone china, but then production switched to using porcelain. They were proud of producing their dolls wholly in England, and did not call their dolls ‘China dolls’. In fact the company adopted a logo that just used the word ‘Alresford’ – and so had to add a subheading of “…say it Alls-ford” to help with the problem of pronunciation, maybe particularly for the Chinese and Japanese people, when trying to order the dolls! The staff who made the soft toys found the transition to doll making, with their soft bodies, and the doll’s clothes, fairly easy. The first baby dolls were produced in 1978, and in 1979 boy and girl dolls were added, with 11 different styles. Each year saw fresh designs of doll, and soon the business moved to larger premises in another mill, a corn storage mill in the Railway Station Yard in Alresford, known as Station Mill. Next to the old Police Station, this is likely to be converted into retirement flats shortly!

Production at the Station Mill

scan188The Station Mill is a four storey building, and was used for producing both the stuffed toys and the dolls. On the ground floor a carding machine combed and straightened the fibres of non-inflammable synthetic material used for stuffing the toys, and the bodies for these animals were cut out in fabric by machine. On the second floor the bodies were sewn together on machines. On the top floor under the rafters the bodies were stuffed and the remaining seams sewn by hand. The toys then descended via a long chute to the ground floor, and were taken to the Town Mill for inspection, packing and despatch – going to children and collectors all over the world. Even by 1980 Alresford Crafts quoted official Distributors in Australia, Japan, France, Germany, The Netherlands and the USA. The company won design awards for their products in the USA and Japan: at one stage they even had their own warehouse in the USA, with their own sales staff.

The first floor was devoted to making and dressing the dolls. Normally Margaret Jones designed the dresses and cut the material out. On one side of the workroom the “Dress-makers” made the under-garments, dresses and bonnets:  in addition home-based workers were again recruited, this time to sew the doll’s clothes. Before working full time at the Town Mill from 1986, Jenny Lawes was one of these home workers, and remembers being paid five pence each for sewing a pair of doll’s pants!

scan185Production and painting of the porcelain heads, lower arms and legs was transferred in 1982 from near the Town Mill to a new Ceramics Department, located in the single storey building next to the Station Mill, which was run by Colin Larkin. Eventually the whole business employed around 35 people, including the home-workers. Most of the dolls were fairly large, typically 60cms, or two feet, tall.

Famous toys from Alresford

Today the Alresford Crafts soft toys and dolls are well known, and often sold on internet auction sites, as collector’s items. The Alresford Museum has acquired a collection of these soft toys, including the hedgehog, kangaroo (with a baby), Teddy bear, Polar bear, dinosaur and squirrel. One of the Alresford Crafts Teddy bears, known as a Honey Bear, was said to be unique in that it was designed to have a flat bottom, which made it easy to bend its legs and make it sit down properly, without having to lean against anything.

The Hand Of Fear pt4 102Another famous Alresford Crafts stuffed toy was the owl, which was produced in various styles and colour combinations. One of these, Oliver, the dark brown owl with large eyes, made a guest appearance on the BBC’s “Dr Who” programme, in Episode four of ‘The Hand of Fear’ as Sarah-Jane’s owl, when she leaves the Tardis: as yet we have not managed to find this particular version for our collection, but if you see one, let us know!

ET sceengrabs aaThe same owl appeared in the film ‘ET’, amongst the cuddly toys in Elliot’s wardrobe, which is where ET hides. Many thousands of this style of owl were produced.

Jenny Lawes also remembers Alresford Crafts producing the first versions of Pudsey, the BBC’s “Children-in-Need” bear, with the eye patch: these Alresford prototypes, built to a BBC design, had the bandage over the other eye (his left eye!). There was other work for the BBC, one presenter on children’s TV had a lamb puppet from Alresford Crafts, and the company was featured in a “Made in Britain” film, and in a Pebble Mill report. The mill also hosted visits from Angela Rippon, and even Kate Adie, but not when the latter was a war correspondent!

Alresford Crafts Dolls

scan187Maybe not so well known, except to doll collectors, are the Alresford Crafts dolls, and the first example found by the Museum was a clown, produced in 1981. Notable dolls made by Alresford Crafts included the Royal Baby dolls, celebrating the births of Prince William and Prince Henry. Such was the success of the first (the Prince William doll, a limited edition of 2500 in 1982) that the Prince Henry doll was also created to commemorate the birth of HRH Prince Henry of Wales (Harry). Cast in fine porcelain, and impressed on the neck ‘1984 Royal Baby RB2 Alresford’, (RB2 was a code for Royal Baby 2) the doll had blue glass eyes, painted features and a cloth body, and was dressed in a long cream satin robe with an overlay of lace, a matching bonnet and a pillow. Not quite what he looks like today, and there is not much evidence of red hair, in this model. Each doll was issued with a limited edition certificate, two catalogues and a swing tag. This baby doll measured 40.5cm (16″), and the robe was 71cm (28″) long.

prince henry alr craftsThe Alresford Museum has recently been lucky enough to obtain 25 Alresford Crafts dolls, collected over the period 1980-1983 by Mrs J.K.Gloyn of Taunton, and still in perfect condition in the original packaging. Included in these are the Prince William doll, and several other baby dolls, plus two boy dolls, called Patrick and Benjamin! The girl dolls are too numerous to mention, but all bear the initials of the people working there, who signed the back of the labels to show who made the clothes. The ceramic heads were marked and stamped with the initials of the workers who moulded, painted and completed the ceramics. The production staff were also involved in designing the outfits, and naming the dolls!

Later ventures

In 1982, in response to collectors’ requests for a fully pose-able jointed doll, Alresford Crafts introduced Mellissa (CD74) with a ball and socket jointed body made from a composite material – the head was still porcelain. Most of the other full sized dolls had a stuffed cloth body, upper arm and thigh: the exceptions were some of the baby dolls, particularly CD1/CD2 from 1979/80. The new style Mellissa doll was announced, at a price of £70, 40% higher than the average full sized doll, but were either never sold or quickly withdrawn, as Alresford Crafts were not happy with the quality/reliability.

DSC01967Later in the 1980s, a range of hand puppets and rag dolls were added to the Alresford Crafts doll collection, ie fully dressed dolls with soft bodies, heads and hands/feet. Apparently there was also some production of the black rag dolls previously described as ‘Gollywogs’, which was criticised from some quarters: the major market for these dolls was apparently to be found in export, to Nigeria.



Plus the factory produced other dolls under the trade name of ‘Margaret Jones Designer Dolls’: one of these was Fiona, a favourite of Jenny Lawes, who helped design and produce her outfit.

The recession of the 1980s, and the rapid growth of lower cost Chinese competition, made the volume of business turn down. The lead they had achieved with the softer filling in their soft toys was eroded by copycat products.

The Alresford Crafts business closed in 1992, with a major sale of the remaining stock, attended by most of the ladies of Alresford. Verena Harper remembers that much of the left-over stock of stuffed toys, mainly rats, guinea pigs and small owls, were given to the Alresford Christmas Tree Committee, to be used as presents for the children attending the Carol singing and Father Christmas evening on Broad Street that year.


Oliver the Owl

Oliver the Owl

A specimen of Ollie the owl, just over a foot high, has returned to Alresford from his temporary home up North – in Winsford, Cheshire. Ollie will be making a guest appearance in the Alresford Library display cabinet between now and Christmas, with lots more of the Alresford Crafts soft toys and dolls from our growing collection. So don’t forget to say hello as you collect your library books – unless of course he goes off with Dr Who and Sarah-Jane for another adventure in the meantime.

Now it is important to find some examples of the Alresford Crafts rag dolls for the Museum: and if possible even one of the “Gollywogs”! (Possibly we will be inundated with those emails from Nigeria, suggesting that this can be provided, for a relatively large up-front payment! The answer is ‘No’)


News as at January 2016: The Alresford Museum has received another collection of over 100 original stuffed toys and glove puppets made by Alresford Crafts: look out for the story and photos soon!

WW1 – Alresford Remembers

DSC01562aSeveral hundred visitors to the Alresford Community Centre on August 9th & 10th appreciated an exhibition commemorating the contribution made by Alresford and the surrounding area, for example the Tichborne and Morn Hill camps, during World War 1.

The exhibition was organised by the Alresford Community Association Fund Raising Committee. Contributors to the many displays included Alresford Heritage with support from the Alresford Museum Committee, The Alresford Historical & Literary Society, Perins School and the Morn Hill project ‘To Honour a Promise’. Many treasured artifacts and memorabilia were kindly donated for display by local residents.

Refreshments were provided by the Community Centre Fund Raising Committee & Volunteers and over the weekend £135 was received in donations which will be given to the Perins School World War 1 ‘Plant a Tree’ project.

Some of the photographs from the WW1 display

Some of the photographs from the WW1 display

Some of the items and stories shown in the Community Centre over the weekend have been returned to the Alresford Museum display cabinet in Alresford Library in Broad Street, where they will be on show until late September. The five panels showing pictures of local scenes from WW1, created by Gog Andrews of, are now on display in the alleyway off Broad Street (between Lavenders and the AgeUK Charity shop) which leads to the Courtyard Tearooms, and will remain there during the autumn. If you have any further pictures which could be copied and added to this record, please contact Alresford Heritage, or Alresford Memories via a comment on this webpage.

The alleyway to the Courtyard Tearooms

The alleyway to the Courtyard Tearooms

Unique WW1 items on display

The Alresford library display, which commemorates 100 years since the start of WW1, has been updated with some new items for July and August: the people of Alresford and the surrounding area who remember those who fought in WW1 have provided some treasured mementos for us to see.

New to the display, which has been on show for two months already, are some embroidered cards, known as ‘WW1 Silks’ and a set of spurs worn by a soldier in the Royal Artillery.

WW1 Silks

silks 264  cut down

These embroidered cards were made by the local French and Belgian people in refugee camps, and sold to the soldiers to send home to their loved ones. The cards on show were sent home to West Meon by Bert Wicks, to both his wife and his mother. The lace attached to a postcard formed an envelope, and inside there was typically a card for a personal message. Half a dozen cards are on show, just a portion of the many cards sent home by Bert throughout the war.

Royal Artillery spurs


The spurs worn by Frank Holland, a horseman in the Royal Artillery during WW1 are also on show. Frank rode a horse, which with up to five others in the team pulled the field guns, attached to a Limber, which was a two wheeled cart. When the guns were in position, the Limber was used to collect the shells from the munitions base, and deliver them to the gun position.  See the spurs just visible on the right of this photo.

See further explanations and photos in the display organised by the Alresford Museum, in the library in Broad Street. This will continue through July and August.

Commemorating WW1 in Alresford

This year we commemorate 100 years since the start of WW1, and there will be a display by the Alresford Museum committee of WW1 memories from us all in the Alresford Library cabinets. The first set of objects will be on display for May and June 2014, and a second set in July/August, and if we have a lot of items, also a third set.library cab4 What does WW1 mean to you and your family?

In the display to start in May, as an example, the Museum Committee have collected some items from their family histories relating to WW1: some of these are from my grandfather, who fought in that war. He had no links to Alresford, but the items on display will be relevant to most of that generation of men who went off to fight, whether from Alresford, or in his case from Leeds in Yorkshire. What would you wish to display to remember that time, for your family? Please show us the items, let us put them on display, on loan for a few weeks, with a story about what they meant at the time, and what they now mean to you. Contact us through the NATT website,, or via Nick Denbow on phone 734824 or

During May/June some of the items on display are:

Princess Mary Christmas Box

This Christmas presentation box was sent to every soldier fighting in Christmas 1914, ie the first Christmas in the war, by Princess Mary, the seventeen year old daughter of King George V and Queen Mary. The purpose was to provide everyone wearing the King’s uniform and serving overseas on Christmas Day 1914 with a ‘Gift from the Nation’. princess Mary box (2)The contents of the box varied considerably; officers and men on active service afloat or at the front received a box containing a combination of pipe, lighter, 1 oz of tobacco and twenty cigarettes in distinctive yellow monogrammed wrappers. Non-smokers and boys received a bullet pencil and a packet of sweets instead. Indian troops often got sweets and spices, and nurses were treated to chocolate. Many of these items were despatched separately from the tins themselves, as once the standard issue of tobacco and cigarettes was placed in the tin there was little room for much else apart from the greetings card.

The box design was by Messrs Adshead and Ramsey. Actually, the funds for the box came from a press appeal to the British public made in November 1914, via an advertisement inviting monetary contributions to a ‘Sailors and Soldiers Christmas Fund’. The picture here comes from a box now offered for sale, still with the original contents, for GBP300. As you might expect, empty boxes are sold regularly, there are a lot around, and are worth maybe £50 on Ebay! (A recent Bargain Hunt BBC TV programme saw one sold at auction for £10)

WW1 Diary from East Africa

The soldiers in WW1 were expressly forbidden to keep diaries of their time at the front, or anywhere else, as these would have been invaluable to the enemy, if they had been captured, in knowing troop movements and routes, amongst other things. However, a lot of soldiers wrote such diaries, even if only after the war, in order to get the memory out of their minds. My grandfather was one of the latter, and he had many months to do this, recovering from malaria in a UK convalescent hospital, after fighting in East Africa (Tanganyika) with the Royal Engineers. Much of the text of the diary section of his record is already re-published on the website . The diary and his medals will be on display in the library cabinet. Other diaries and memoirs are on show, one as reported in the previous story on this website.

Detail of the cyclists and equipment!

Detail of the cyclists and equipment!

John Triggs of West Meon

Prior to the Great War, John Triggs of West Meon joined the Hampshire Cycle Regiment, and then volunteered for the Hampshire Regiment after the outbreak of war. He fought at the battle of the Somme in Summer 1916, and was killed in the October of that year. His story is given separately on the website, and this page will be shown in the library.

The Telescope Scout Regiment

Look-out posts, or scouts, were the primary methods of obtaining military intelligence about enemy intentions in WW1. Most scouts were issued with a telescope, to enable them to see the approaching enemy, observe troop movements or aircraft, or to identify where the cannon fire was landing to advise the artillery to move their aim up or down, right or left. Many of these scouts were hoisted up on barrage balloon type platforms, to better see over the enemy lines.

Other “Officer of the Watch” telescopes were developed for the Royal Navy. These were made by Dollond, BCC (Broadhurst Clarkson Company), N+Z (Negretti & Zambra), Troughton & Simms, Ross, and others. On display currently is an “Officer of the Watch” telescope that saw service off the Belgian coast, with its owner, Captain Haselfoot of the Royal Navy. In later years Capt Haselfoot was famous for sighting a “Sea Serpent” with a long swan like neck, in the North Sea – rather like what we imagined that the Loch Ness monster looked like.

What can you add?

Send us your memories, or loan us your Grandad’s or Great-Grandad’s souvenirs, or his medals, with a brief explanation about what they are and who he was, where he fought etc, and we will be delighted to display them and record them on line. Or maybe your grandmother has memories of working in a different style of job to help the war effort here at home, in WW1?

A soldier’s WW1 diary

The Diary of W. Hill during the Great European War.

[The school exercise book from which these few pages are recorded is described in the appendix at the end of this article. Labelled Ex VII HOMEWORK, the last school entry is on 10-2-14]

May 1915

May 18: Enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery for 6 years with the colours and 6 years Reserve.

May 20: Underwent training at Maryhill Barracks Glasgow, Scotland, in the 31st Battery, as a driver. Was only 15 years of age.

June 1915

Training at the above place.

July 1915

July 3: Was drafted to Woolwich to finish off training, and be equipped for France.

DSC00007aaSeptember 1915

Sept 23: Entrained and reached Southampton docks with a draft for France, and set sail.

Sept 24: Reached France, and sent to the base at Le Havre.

Sept 25: Entrained for firing line to join the 48th Brigade Ammunition Column, 14th Division, in action at Ypres. Made lead driver for supplying the guns with ammunition – had some narrow escapes.

October to January

Still in action at Ypres.

January 1916

Jan 12: The division shifted to the left of Ypres to a place called Elver Dinghe – nothing worth mentioning occurred here.

January to March

In action at Elverdinghe.

March 23: British front extended 14th Division and some others relieved the French of the Arras front after a march of 7 days from Elverdinghe via Amiens. Went into action on the right of the Arras road, about 200 yards before entering Arras.

March to September

Still in action, on Arras front. Some guns shifted into Arras and the other side about June. Went laying wires in new position – 6 of us. Narrow spueak whilst on this job, 2 wounded by rifle fire.

Aug 20: Division sent to the Somme area. Guns at Mametz wood and Montauban. Very hot work to do here while offensive was on.

Kept with the Division at this place till Sept 23.

[The next page is then torn in half, so the rest of 1916 and the first few months of 1917 are missing. But he is obviously returned to the UK]

…..Lead driver of Gun Team. Went on many stunts with this division as follows:-

Apr 25:

  1. Went from Northampton to Ipswich and stayed there.
  2. Went to Salisbury plain – Larkhill Camp – on firing course and returned to Ipswich.
  3. Went to Alderton Gun Pit digging
  4. Went to Maningtree on miniature battle stunt.
  5. Went to Woodbridge on miniature battle stunt.


Addendum: The rest of the Exercise book

The exercise book is a (London City Council) school book, covering his spelling tests and essays from 5-11-1913 through to 10-2-1914. His marks through this time are consistently 10/10, except for 19-11-1913 when he only achieved 9.5. The sketches are brilliant and show a scientific approach to subjects: the writing is admirably clear.

The book obviously leaves a gap between the last entry on 10 February 1914, and his enlisting, on 18 May 1915.

This book has no significance or relevance other than a piece of history: it was bought on Ebay in 2013.


These diary pages will be on display in the Alresford Museum cabinet in the Alresford Library as from May 2014.

Flint tools from Cheriton on display

This Spring, the NATT Museum committee has borrowed some artefacts from the Cheriton Archives to be shown in their display cabinet in the Alresford Library. Pat Culpin, the Archivist, has been collecting documents and actual historical objects relating to the Parish of Cheriton for many years, and organises occasional displays of these items for the public.  After one such display in January, several of the objects were selected for loan for this Alresford display, to possibly reach a wider audience. 

A fossilised sponge, found in the river in Cheriton

A fossilised sponge, found in the river in Cheriton

Local chalk and flints

The flints in the chalk in this area of Hampshire have interested the people and have been adapted for use since the Stone Age – which lasted over 3 million years! It ended somewhere between 2000 and 6000 BC. But in all those years many of the tools created from flints were lost or thrown away, and are still around to be found. Several found in Cheriton, often exposed by farmers or in the stream, are shown in the library display.

A worked flint, probably used as a knife

A worked flint, probably used as a knife

First is a Flint Axe – also known as a Tranchet Axe or Thames Pick. This flint would have been attached typically to a deer’s antler, which acted as the handle, and angled the flint to enable it to be used efficiently. The second flint is sharpened to form a small knife blade: another worked flint also has a sharp edge.

A flint axe head

A flint axe head





A small flint knife

A small flint knife








A slightly different flint is perhaps typical of the fascination these objects have: this one is in the shape of a horse’s hoof. Many other flints, known as shark’s teeth, are found in the chalk, but they have nothing to do with sharks, or teeth!

Man-made relics

Cheriton is also famous for the battle between the Royalists and the Roundheads in the English Civil War, which was fought in the fields near Cheriton. Sir William Waller and the Parliamentary troops won the battle, and the Royalists retreated, through Alresford. A cannon ball is shown in the display that was found at the probable site of the battle.

Other items include old household items as used early in the last Century, or earlier, such as flat irons, scales, a foot warmer and a paraffin lamp. The display cabinet also contains the three Alresford maces used by the Bailiff and Burgesses, who pre-date the New Alresford Town Trustees, originating in 1572.

The shark’s teeth of Alresford

In the housing estates around Alresford it is common to dig up many flints from the chalk, which is often only a few inches below the surface of the soil. While many of these look like pointed teeth, they are typically around an inch (2.5cms) long. Having found a specimen that was a magnificent 6 inches long, picture below, I decided to ask the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, in Cambridge, about these “teeth”, since Ken McNamara there had just discovered a new genus of shark, now named after him, based on finding a six inch long fossilised tooth.

Shark's tooth found recently in Alresford

Shark’s tooth found recently in Alresford

Matt Riley kindly responded from the Sedgwick Museum, and explained as follows:

“Unfortunately I don’t think that your specimen is a shark’s tooth. You are correct in that flint sometimes forms moulds or casts of fossils, but these are usually oyster shells or sea urchin tests made from calcium carbonate; a relatively soft material that is readily dissolved away or replaced. Teeth are made from calcium phosphate, which is much more resistant to chemical dissolution. I’ve never heard of a tooth being replaced.
Your specimen is most likely a burrow infill. Burrows are often long or pointy with branches or nodes, so it is not surprising that they get mistaken for bones and teeth. Burrow in-fills are very common, and found widely in Southern England.
The next most common fossil preserved in flint is sponges. Many Cretaceous sponges are mushroom-shaped, cup-shaped or conical. So this is another possibility.
The silica in flint originates from the bodies of glass sponges and siliceous diatoms (plankton) that lived in the sea. When these organisms died the silica from their bodies was buried in the sediment and dissolved under pressure, turning into a silica jelly (via some complicated physics that no-one understands). This jelly then surrounded other fossils, filled up hollow shells or fell into burrows, hardening to form flint. Most of the flint found in southern and eastern England originates from the 80-100 million year old Cretaceous chalk (like that found at Dover or the Isle of Wight) that once covered the region. Some of this chalk was scoured away by glaciers during the last ice age around 120,000 years ago, leaving behind concentrated beds of hard, resistant flint gravel.”