Archive for the ‘Local Businesses’ Category

Etchmasters of Alresford

Who can tell us about working at Etchmasters of Alresford, in Prospect Road? If you have some memories of working there, let us know! Their pictures were mentioned in an earlier post, on Alresford exporters.

Many of the Etchmaster pictures are regrettably to be found regularly in the shop at the tip, not far from where they were created of course. The Alresford Museum does not want to buy these, particularly at tip prices, as one or two are enough!

Museum Donations

However, imagine my face when my aging sister-in-law proudly brought back two Etchmaster pictures from the USA, in her luggage, for me to keep, or put in the Museum! One is an imitation of the Haywain, by John Constable, where moisture has penetrated the varnish particularly in the clouds. It is actually very well drawn, and signed by J.R.Hurley. You never know this might be Liz’s Dad. There’s a number 92 on the back, but this could surely not be a date, as I thought they were produced in the 60s and 70s.

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The second one is a pub scene, which seems to represent a coach stopping at “The Marquis of Granby” public house and coach stop. This version of the Pubs of that name was part of a “Nalder & Collyers” chain – anyone know where this one was? The N&C brewery started in 1586 in the High Street in Croydon. There were pubs named like this, said to have been started by soldiers returning from the Seven Years War after serving under the Marquis (in 1762 approx) in Esher, Epsom, Sompting (Sussex), Weymouth, Wellingore (Lincs), Lincoln, Sleaford (Lincs), and Sunniside (Gateshead) to mention a few of those still active. The drawing seems to have been created by Sue Sturgess, and might even have a date shown – 1974. The coach in the picture is labelled Epsom – Box-Hill, so maybe this pub was indeed in Epsom?

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Stainless Steel Etching

Much more interesting was the last picture to emerge from her suitcases, and this was possibly a picture we bought as a present for her in the 1980s, after arriving in Alresford. The picture is of Broad Street, Alresford and labelled as such. There is no makers mark, but the artist signature is that of Bob Morris.

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With identifiable names shown of Hunters Wine Bar and Pennywise (re-cycled clothes), the picture is probably from the late 1980s. Does anyone know who produced these, and were they made in Alresford too? The picture, with no cars, is very much imaginative, since it was only on Christmas morning that there were likely to be no cars at all parked in Broad Street. Maybe that explains the apparently imaginative cobbled appearance of Broad Street and the parking areas. But it does show the scrawny trees of that time, without metal grilles.

Is Bob Morris known to anyone? The ones on Google do not look right!

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 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

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!

Alresford lamb seen shopping in Minneapolis….

Yet another of the Alresford Crafts animal owners has written to keep in touch, as their white lamb has been passed on to the next generation, and is in use in Minneapolis: as the photo shows he is still fit and well, at the ripe old age of 37, and enjoying life in the USA, despite the snow!

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The photo is of Giovanni Howell, taken in January 2017 while out shopping in a supermarket in Minneapolis, in Minnesota. The lamb is in a mini-trolley, or a ‘kiddies shopping kart’, a clever (or cunning) idea the supermarkets there use to encourage the younger shoppers, particularly in the chocolate biscuit aisle it seems! (Giovanni seems to have resisted the biscuits and chosen some healthy vegetables instead).

The Alresford Crafts lamb was bought in 1980 for his father, Eric Howell, when he came on a visit to Alresford with his parents: at that time their home was in Basingstoke. The lamb was possibly purchased from Pastimes in West Street (or at the Old Bakehouse in Broad Street). Gay Revi, Eric’s mother, tells that the family used to enjoy a visit to Alresford, for lunch at the Globe, which was a favourite destination.

The good news is that Giovanni seems to be a discerning shopper: the kiddies kart is pictured below still using the lamb to protect the final shopping selections in the checkout lane by the till, and there are no chocolate biscuits in sight!

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The photo below from back in 1986 shows the Pastimes shop in West Street.

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Alresford Christmas 2016

The Christmas trees on the shops in Alresford, organised by the Alresford Pigs, have always made the town look really special – but with the growth in the numbers of businesses and residents who subscribe to this scheme, the whole town has stepped up a gear. The trees have spread down the Dean, up Pound Hill, and up Jacklyn’s Lane, as well as to some of the out-lying parts of the town.

For 2016, several businesses, notably those in West Street, added a lot more in the way of decoration, internally and externally: and it was good to see that these seemed free of any real vandalism in the evenings.

It would be unfair not to mention that the window decorations inside the shops were also particularly attractive this year, notably in Caracoli and the Oxfam shop, and the Swan Hotel entrance was beautifully framed.

A large selection of photos for 2016, and for previous years, are shown on the FlickR album on https://www.flickr.com/photos/83468450@N03/albums/72157662148395779, which is also accessible via tinyurl.com/NewAlresford. Some of my favourites from 2016 are shown below.

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Lawrence Wright and his Drawings

Lawrence Wright (1906-1983) was an ‘architectural perspective artist’, who lived in Alresford in his latter years. He was elected as an Associate Member of RIBA in 1930, and they record him living at 27 West Street in the 1960s. 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. His book 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 appears that he lived opposite at number 27, in a small house on the South side of West Street: RIBA say that this was his address in 1965. This is now a listed building and private residence, situated on the corner of what is 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 the Lawrence Wright 1965 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 (later moving to become the Broad St. hardware and china shops)
  • 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 (now two modern shop buildings)
  • 47 Hankins Ltd: Garage and Petrol Pumps (now the Co-op)
  • 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 (now Tesco)
  • 20 County Library
  • 28 Westminster Bank
  • 30 Chas Eddolls Ltd: Drapery, Clothing, Footwear & Carpets
  • 32 Tylers Wine Stores (now Pizza Express)
  • 36 Broadway Motors (John Allen) (now three modern private residences)
  • 38 (Unidentified shopfront)
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What did Joseph Atkins do? Apparently he lived at 13 Edward Terrace. Next door we have the Chinese Take-Away and the Toy Shop occupies the Cubitt & West premises!

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 strong links with the RIBA, 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 most recent 50 years, is of relevance to all modern historians: “There is no future in writing the history of the present before it is past”.

RIBA advise that he had a further book published in 1983: ‘Perspective in perspective’, published in London by Routledge & Kegan Paul.

(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.