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.

 

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Bluebell trail at Hinton Ampner

The Bluebell trail through the woods in the National Trust Hinton Ampner Estate, south of Hinton Ampner House, offer a delightful walk in Springtime. The Trust shop can provide maps of the walk, some 4 miles long, and certainly this year the bluebells have been showing themselves off very well.

Pictures below are from 22nd April 2017.DSCN5682

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And here is a copy of the map:

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You might also see:

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Even if you are only driving to Winchester shopping, or on the 64 bus, just look to the left just after joining the A31 dual carriageway: at the top of the first rise the woods on the left of the road are carpeted with bluebells too!

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!

OLD Alresford Memories (Recorded 1977)

These contributions were made by visitors to the “Old Alresford Revived” Jubilee Exhibition held in 1977, at the Old Forge on Basingstoke Road, next to Forge Cottage/Prospect House. The original typed records, presumably typed by Pru Ransom, who organised the exhibition, are now held by the Alresford Museum, with other documents and photos that were on display back then. These are the reproduced records, as typed:

Mr Jackson remembers talk of a ‘Pub’ – The Fox – at the other end of the Green, but it was before his time, ie prior to 1905. Air Commodore Paul (at Wearne House) has found tiles which look as though they may have come from a stable yard in the south west corner of his garden.

Mr Ransom can remember the footpaths crossing the fields at the back of the village – the one to Northington being seldom empty of people – girls used to walk over to work in the Laundry (now (in 1977) belonging to Mr and Mrs Flood) every day, and the village women to shop. He has a pile of flints which came from the old lane that used to run behind the Council houses opposite the Home. Mr Bevan’s father was going to take them away to fill the ruts in the Coombe drive, but never did so! Eventually flints from this pile were taken by Mr Kemp for building at Beech Monastery (nr Alton). On this bend (the left hand side of the entrance to Coombe) people from the top end of the village used to dump their rubbish.

The ‘Nit’ House was demolished long ago – about the time of WW1 according to Miss Whitlock – who lived in Alresford for 12 years before coming here in 1912. She used to walk over from Preston, past the Nit House to fetch her sister’s clothes from Alresford where she was in service. Judging from the foundations, it was quite large. There also was a large rubbish dump at the Wield turning.

The Hoskissons came down from London in 1939. At that time their cottage was in a state of bad repair, with the roof falling in. The man who took the photographs belonging to Mrs Hoskisson was named Broad, and he owned some cottages in the village. He has conveniently dated his shots! Miss Whitlock thinks the man playing with the snowman is Harry West.

Mr Jackson can also remember the owner of the Retreat Cottages selling sweets from an “old tin shed” in his garden. Mr Whitlock used to hang his bacon in the Forge, in the small room at the front, before he jointed it, according to his sister.

Members of the Ransom family commented that their father used to keep a smallholding at the end of the village near Manor Farm. In the old days the Home used to hold their xxxxs (games?) in the field behind us, on Basingstoke Road, This was always a pasture until ploughed up in WW2 – Digging for Victory. It also had a cricket pitch on the brow of the hill. In WW1 there was a dug-out at the top of this field, where the footpath goes through to Northington. Here were stored explosives, the caps of which still lie scattered around (in 1977).

Mrs Fletcher remembers the Ransom’s small-holding, as she used to live near it. In those days (early 1900s) the Green was just a marsh – too wet to be safe enough to play on, and full of king cups and rushes. She can remember the hall being built by Mrs Christy, but the villagers were asked to buy bricks at 1 shilling each! Her mother bought 2 and a half bricks!

A chap named Snobby Merritt (no relation of our Mr Merritt (added Pru Randall, typing these notes in 1977) kept a shed on the allotments where he mended shoes (This shed features in one of the old photos, behind Christy Hall, situated where 1 Green Close is now). He actually lived behind where Mr Dory lives now. The field behind the allotments was called ‘Inhams’, and Mrs Fletcher can remember the gypsy encampment up the lane by her home. (Maybe this lane was Inhams Row, up past Prospect House? – Ed).

From about 90 years before 1977, up to 1920, a Swiss Jew named Mr Brollot collected clocks and watches from the village every three months, for repair, and returned them on his next visit. He used to come down by train and stop at “The Globe”, which Mrs Fletcher’s family kept. The “Cosy” was built in about 1915. She can remember two thatched cottages where Arthur and Shirley Wyeth’s house is now.

After the Twinnings family left in 1915, the shop was closed for about 18 months, then the Worthingtons re-opened it, with an off-licence for already bottled beer. After that the first lot of Joneses came and opened the shop as a general store. The sub Post Office was at Green End.

Billy Smith, now of Bishop’s Sutton, added the following:

The Jackson twins went to school with a Mr Benham, Mr Ransom’s brother-in-law (now of Bishop’s Sutton), and Billy Smith and his brothers – this would have been in around 1909. There used to be a bell in a cupola at the back of the school, which was also where Old Alresford Sunday School was held.

The lady who lived in the Laundry (next to the school) used to steam a pud and hang it over the wall for the schoolchildren (presumably only on washdays). The laundry was only for the use of the Upton House family. In those days Christy was at Upton, and used to give new sixpences to all the children every Empire Day.

Green End used to be both Post Office and Sweet Shop. Next door was a carpenter’s shop belonging to ‘Narrow’ Broad’s brother. A man called Sutcliffe took it over. The name of the owner of Green End was ‘Tin’ Rampton – his wife was the mistress in charge of the infants at the school. (Mrs H Rampton eventually retired from the school at Christmas 1923, after 25 years service – Ed)

At this time the Forge was where the Bus shelter is now. Charlie Rampton was the head man, with a chap called Ford, and a Jack Cousins under him. It soon moved to its present position.

The Home owned no fields in those days, and was shut off from the rest of the village. The boys (no girls were mentioned) used to appear only on Sundays, when they were marched to Chapel twice. They were taught at the Home. The field was a rubbish dump, known as “Dory’s Dell”.

Mrs May Smith was a maid at Prospect House for 11 months in 1939 for a Mrs Maynard, who died a few months after. Mrs Smith left to be married. Mr Smith was born at the Nythe in Bighton Lane, which sounds exactly like it is today.

Alf Bucham used to drive the baker’s cart in about 1912.

There was a ‘German’ who once owned Maxwell’s Old Alresford House named Schwert – remembered with affection by the school children as he used to give them a party after Christmas with nice useful presents of clothing – though the children did not appreciate them fully at the time! The other big houses joined together and gave a party before Christmas.

 

 

Old Alresford Revived – the 1977 Jubilee Exhibition

The Alresford Museum is delighted to have received the collection of documents and photos that were used in the 1977 Silver Jubilee exhibition held in Old Alresford. These items were assembled and displayed by Mrs Pru Randall, in The Forge, in Old Alresford, and Mrs Randall has now donated them to the Alresford Museum for safe keeping.

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The Old Forge in 2017

The display presented at the Forge was entitled “Old Alresford Revived”, and was an exhibition showing records and objects from Village Life through the Years. It ran from 6th to 11th June, all week, and then re-opened for one day on Saturday 18th June, 1977.

Winchester City Council and Verena Pegg supplied and described some of the ancient exhibits, like Saxon and Roman Pottery, Neolithic flints, and lethal looking animal traps. Colin Priestley produced the prints of the various photographs on display, and John Howard penned the labels and notices explaining each item. Others of the Old Alresford community rallied round to help, and put on a good display.

Other notable items included Mr Broad’s collection of Hampshire Chronicle cuttings about Old Alresford. There were Farm and Smithy tools, a collection of old bottles, and various clay pipes and other bits dug up in various back gardens. The documents that hopefully will be added to this website shortly include an account of events on Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in 1887, and a history of the Church and Old Alresford Place.

The Old Forge

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The Old Forge is the long low building on the road, next to Forge Cottage

The Exhibition was held at the Old Forge building, which was apparently in the course of renovation: it is now converted into a home. Presumably it was owned at the time by Mrs Randall. The sheet describing the event had a history of the Forge on the back page, as follows (written 1977):

“The building consists of a single storey approx. 43 feet from front to back by 16 feet wide, constructed of brick with a tiled roof and two large wooden doors at the front. It measures approx. 8 feet 6 to the eaves and 16 feet to the single ridge. Boarding over the rafters creates a second floor over the front section, which can be reached via a removable step-ladder.

DSCN5413The two forges still existed there, the one nearest the front having a set of leather, hand-operated bellows in working order, connected to the tuyere (the pipe through which air is forced into the furnace). The other is at the rear. Air was supplied to this forge by a fan with an extended shaft, to which was fitted a belt-driven pulley. The bottom halves of plummer block bearings still remain on the roof trusses, along the southern side of the building. These indicate that a line of shafting existed.

There is an old engine buried in the garden, and it might be reasonably surmised that this engine drove shafting that was connected by belts to drive the pulleys upon machinery, such as drilling and grinding machines on the bench below.

A place for the fitting of wrought iron tyres to wooden wheels exists in the grounds of the south side of the building. This consists of a wrought circular plate 5 feet 8 inches in diameter, 1” thick.

Mr Rampton was blacksmith at Old Alresford in the late 19th century. He was assisted by Jack Cousins, who lived at Prospect Cottages nearby, and George Trebick, who became the Smith at the Forge in Herriard.”

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Prospect Cottage, on the corner of Kiln Lane, occupied by Jack Cousins at the time

More stories

More stories will follow, from this Exhibition, but a really comprehensive review of Old Alresford history was published by Arthur Stowell, in his booklet “Tales of Old Alresford”, published 2004 by the Alresford Hist and Lit Society.

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Len Strong, of Alresford – long ago

It is with sadness that I need to record that Len Strong passed away in the last month, at his home in Derbyshire. He was 92 years old, and had recorded many of his memories of Alresford, where he grew up, on these pages, and other websites. His contributions were always well written and usually light hearted: maybe reflecting his character, but sadly I never met him.

You can read some of his stories on here, as he has his own listing, see “Len Strong’s Memories” on https://alresfordmemories.wordpress.com/category/len-strongs-memories/

Best wishes, RIP Len.