Archive for the ‘Local Businesses’ Category

How to stay safe at home….

You always feel safe at home. Maybe you get your gas boiler serviced regularly, maybe you have smoke detectors, with new batteries fitted regularly? Above all you get competent professionals to install your new cooker, and also the new gas hob in the kitchen.

When was that done, when was your gas supply system checked? If you were in rented accommodation, the landlord is legally obliged to have it checked every year. But if you own your own home, there’s no obligation to have anything checked on a regular basis. Even if you have lived there 30 years. But things can go wrong.

Take your own precautions

Yes I did that. I installed a carbon monoxide alarm system, alongside the smoke detector, to check whether the gas boiler flue had been blocked, and CO was building up in the boiler area. I installed a flammable gas alarm to monitor the kitchen, in case a gas ring was inadvertently not switched off, or had a fault. Not expensive, maybe £30 each.

For many years the flammable gas alarm worked fine – in other words it just sat there, and never said a word. Then it started going off, whenever there was any wine added to the stew on the hob, whenever there was any bread dough rising in a low oven, and whenever the windows were sprayed with a solvent cleaner. Eventually the alarm started going off so often – for example when the kettle boiled and steam was seen rising past the detector, that this was the final straw. It must be worn out, or faulty, it is just giving too many false alarms. So the gas detector was discarded.

Smart metering

OK I’m a real geek, I like the idea of monitoring the gas and electricity consumption, so readily joined in the offer for Scottish Power to install new “Smart” meters free of charge. Its part of a Government scheme, but means the meter readers don’t trample all over your home. That is the real benefit.

Meters installed aok, but just the final safety test – oh dear, there seems to be a slow gas leak somewhere in your system, its not major, but it falls outside permitted levels. Now I have to call out a ‘Gas Safe’ engineer to check the system, and have to pay for that (!) .

You know the problem, for the first two appointments no-one turns up. For the third, he is called away for urgent safety checks on a tower block, otherwise the tenants will all need to be evacuated. Finally, Saturday afternoon, I get an engineer to visit: this is Simon from JPS Plumbing and Heating in Winchester.

A hob problem

Simon very quickly locates the area of the problem, it’s in the supply to the ten year old gas hob. If the leak is in the hob itself, it would not be economical to repair. There are only two joints underneath to check, so Simon lies upside down in the oven space to feel the state of each one. Now the leak checks show the leak rate is smaller, and within the allowable tolerance – only a sixth of what can be permitted.

He is actually surprised to have made such a difference, compared to the initial leak test, so re-checks the joints. Now the supply pipework where it joins to the hob falls away completely. The steel 90 degree bend feeding the hob has sheared off between the thread holding the pipework and the bend. Although this newly created ‘nut’ unscrews, it immediately falls apart in two halves, in what could be described as a brittle fracture.

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This is supposed to be a 90 angle steel union. The thread holds the fitting on the copper pipe down onto the blue looking seal. The whole thread has cracked off, maybe its a very short length of thread, but it was not strong enough to take the stud fitting on the hob.

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Side view of the fitting, where the hob would be above. The cracks and failures are obvious.

The photos above show the union, with its broken thread, and the crack around the pipe, which had obviously been growing, and leaking, over the years. The false alarms the gas detector had given were just saying “Whatever else you are doing, its made the gas that’s leaking exceed the thresh-hold to trip my alarm”. Even the steam from the kettle was just making the gas rise faster on a route past the detector.

It would seem the elbow had been twisted too tight onto the hob, necessary to get the entry angle for the supply pipe to fit in the right direction. Maybe it was pulled too far on installation?  Or the sealing washer (the blue bit) was not flexible/compressible enough?

Lessons learned….

That union could have failed catastrophically, at any time, but maybe in the middle of the night, and filled up the kitchen with gas. When the boiler ignited at 7am, it would have had a willing flame ready to set off a really big bang.

Listen to your alarm sensors, and don’t ignore persistent false alarms! Buy a new sensor if the old one seems to be getting unreliable.

Get your gas supply around the house checked regularly – how do you know that even a properly installed hob – like we believed ours was – has not developed a fault, over 10 years?

Call a reputable plumber, a Gas Safe engineer who knows what he’s doing, like Simon from JPS Plumbing! Don’t just use a guy down the road who’s installed a few gas fires….

Postscript – the Hob itself

It is very likely that the 90 degree bend in steel that failed was supplied as an integral part of the hob itself, and not as a component by the original gas installation engineer. The hob was a PROline PGH460GL-U black glass top hob, with four burners, purchased via Currys. ProLine is reported by UKwhitegoods.co.uk as a trading name/brand owned by the retailer Comet, who sourced Eastern European or Chinese domestic appliances at the lower end of the market, and sold these via many other retail outlets. Particularly after the break-up of Kingfisher Group and transfer of the Comet business to Kesa, the quality of their product supply was not good.  The products were also still sold through the Darty chain of shops in France. This was apparently from 2006 onwards: the manual that came with this hob is dated 2007 and was originated by Kesa in Hull. PROline products are no longer sold, the business has closed.

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A ProLine gas hob of the PGH460GL-U type described here

History of Tiffin Tea Rooms

A story reported on the Francis Frith (vintage postcard suppliers) website came from a Rodney James, who was born on West Street in Alresford.

In 2007 he wrote to Frith about one of their postcards of Alresford, talking about the building at number 50 West Street (the original Tiffin Tea rooms building), which is where he was born. In those days it was a bakers and confectioners known as the ‘Black and White Bakery’, actually owned by a Mr White. Rodney’s father, presumably Mr James, was the baker there, and they lived with his wife and family (Rodney) ‘on the premises’ in the flat above the shop.  The bake-house was through the broad alleyway entrance to the right (labelled as Bakehouse Yard in the photo below): the ovens were wood (oak) fired and there was a large well in the yard which supplied the water – this well, or spring is still (2017) visible in the courtyard behind Tiffin Tea Rooms.

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Tiffin Tea Rooms, as seen in 2017

Rodney comments that the shop next door, down towards The Dean, was a general grocer when he was a youngster: this was number 52, later occupied by Design Realities, which relatively recently moved further up West Street, and Tiffin Tea Rooms expanded from the small shop where Rodney had lived, adding the premises at number 52. This became the Tea Rooms, and the original building, where Rodney had lived, became the chocolates and ice cream sales section of Tiffin, no longer using the upstairs rooms for serving the tea.

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The photos above show the Tiffin Tea Rooms as they were in 1986, and some of the girls looking out of the tea room window upstairs, during the Carnival procession in 1988.

Rodney also remembers the Café on the corner, owned by the Chalke family (he remembers their daughter Susan well). Opposite, across the road from the bakery was the garage owned by Mr C Hankin.

 

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