Archive for the ‘Local Businesses’ Category

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.

Cynthia’s new life in Australia

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Cynthia, the Alresford doll

Cynthia is one of the Alresford Dolls, and she was made by Alresford Crafts in 1980. Once completed in the Town Mill in Alresford she was shipped off to by sea-freight on a cheap passage to Australia, and presumably sold through one of various shop or exhibition outlets over there.

Thirty five years later, in a story reminiscent of the TV “Heir Hunters” programme, the latest owner of the doll was Wilma Dunne. Wilma, now retired, had spent her working life helping a plastic surgeon work with children born with cleft lips and palates in the Philippines. On her retirement to Perth in Western Australia, Wilma was presented with the OAM, the Australian Medal of Honour, for her services to the people of the Philippines. It was because of this career and knowledge that she visited the Presbyterian Ladies’ College (PLC) in Peppermint Grove, a suburb of Perth, to talk to two Year 6 students there, Isobel and Lucy, about the challenges of working in a Third World country.

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Isobel Lucy Dunne, now in her PLC kilt and uniform

Making the link!

Sitting in the PLC library she suddenly realised that the girls filing back and forth in their school uniforms were dressed in exactly the same way as one of her three china dolls – these dolls had been bought from the estate of a deceased lady of Maylands, in Perth, maybe 30 years before. On returning home to look at the doll more closely, Wilma realised it had been carefully re-dressed in the green and black tartan kilt, the similar tie, and the green stockings of the PLC uniform: presumably the uniform remembered by the original owner of the doll, 30 years before, and maybe worn by her, years before that!

Wilma offered the doll to the Ladies’ College, and it was gratefully accepted by the College Archivist and Historian, Shannon Lovelady, who set about the quest of trying to identify more of the doll’s history and origins. Shannon saw some Alresford dolls advertised for sale on the Australian Ebay website, so soon contacted this Alresford Memories site to enquire about her PLC dressed doll (now rechristened as Isobel Lucy Dunne, to show her pedigree).

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The doll with Isobel and Lucy, in their current school uniforms

The marks on the back of her head soon proved that the doll was indeed an Alresford Crafts doll, made in 1980, and from the catalogues of the time in the Alresford Museum the original identity was established as that of Cynthia, also known as CD22.

Now back at School

When Cynthia arrived in Australia she was dressed as a classic English schoolgirl, in a black gymslip and red tie on top of the white blouse. It seems that only the black shoes, the white blouse and the straw hat have been retained, plus her distinctive plaited fair hair. Now Isobel Lucy Dunne is happily back living in her original school environment again, but we still don’t know how many years before 1980 the memories she stirred in the lady from Maylands were created.

The story is being written into the PLC archives, and Shannon has been kind enough to send us some photos, as seen here.

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The doll with some PLC schoolgirls in their latest uniform hats!

Alresford Crafts Doll’s head markings

DSC01991 alr crafts dollsAs with most manufacturers, Alresford Crafts wanted to be able to identify the manufacturing date and methods used on each doll sent out of the factory, in case they were ever returned with a fault or other problem. So following the traditional route, some code numbers and letters were placed on the back of the neck of the doll’s head, which was normally not visible, under the hair.

In their 1980 catalogue – they started making dolls in 1978 – these markings were explained, and as far as we know this system was not changed, but was modified a little. The doll’s heads were made in Alresford, in the moulding department of Alresford Crafts, which until 1982 was in a building near the Town Mill, which is on one of the streams emerging from Alresford Pond. During 1982 most of the production, and the ceramics department, was moved to the Station Mill site, near the Alresford Station, famous as the end of the Watercress steam railway line. The heads are made from porcelain, which is often referred to as “china”, as the material was first seen in Europe in cups and saucers, and bowls, exported from China.

acrafts 3Making the heads, arms and feet

The ceramic clay paste was formed into shape inside a mould, to create a relatively soft “green” moulding of either the head, hands or feet of the doll. These were then fettled (to remove the extra material from the feeder tubes that delivered the paste), and for the head, the eye sockets were cut through, and careful finishing produced smooth unblemished porcelain pieces, for the first firing, which took around 12 hours. This produced a “bisque” – a harder moulding – which was then decorated before firing again. Finely ground on-glaze enamels were then applied by hand, to achieve the final colour -after a further six hours in the kiln.

 

acrafts 7The typical marks on the back of the dolls head are seen in the diagram. All but one of these marks are moulded-in, at the first stage. At the base of the triangle “ENGLAND” is the country of manufacture: under ‘England’, the word “ALRESFORD” was usually added, outside the triangle, to identify the manufacturer. The “C A3” marks show the mould number, and the “80” refers to the year of manufacture, ie 1980 here. The initials (“AD” in this example) impressed in the head, are those of the girl who cast the head. The other initials (“DW” in this example) are painted on, and show the initials of the girl who then decorated the head.

 

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The only names we know are those of Denise White (DW), who was a decorator, and Colin Larkin (CL), who was the mould shop manager, seen in the picture on the left. The names of other ceramic workers would be of great interest, and will be added here, if anyone writes in.

The original moulds were formed from sculpted head models, which were created by skilled sculptors. One of these was Frank Garbutt, who lived in Stoke on Trent in the Potteries, and attended Glasgow School of Art in around 1934.

 

 

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