Alton in old picture postcards

Alton in old picture postcards

Author
:   Annette Booth
Municipality
:   Alton
Province
:   Hampshire
Country
:   United Kingdom
ISBN13
:   978-90-288-5787-2
Pages
:   80
Price
:   EUR 16.95 Including VAT *

Delivery time: 2-3 weeks (subject too). The illustrated cover may differ.

   


Fragments from the book 'Alton in old picture postcards'

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29. The Swan Hotel has served Alton since at least the 16th century and was one of the important coaching inns on the route from London to the South Coast. In 1750 a coach known as the 'Alten Machine' left The Swan at 6.00 a.m. three times a week to travel to London. It took most ofthe day to travel the fifty miles and it was pulled by a team of six horses, driven by E. Gilbert 'ifGod permits'. In 1815 the 'Red Rover', a much faster coach, could travel from London, through Alton and on to Southampton in just eight hours. It carried passengers outside as weil as inside the coach and tickets cost 4d per mile for an inside seat and 2d per mile to brave the elements! As we can see in this 1908 postcard of the Swan, it is still an important stopping place for the weary travelIer , although now they are able to travel in relative comfort! At this time the proprietor of the Swan was Mr. G .F. King and he also operated an omnibus service from the hotel.

30. This posteard of the High Street in 1907 is one from a series published by the Southampton photographer Francis Stuart. His posteards are always a pleasure to colleet , sinee they are easily dated by the number in the bottom left -hand corner. Another interesting feature is that he would often include his own earriage in the photograph, as you ean see on the right, waiting outside the Swan Hotel. The splendid donkey and cart in the eentre of the photograph apparently belonged to an old sailor, who would eome into town from Alton Abbey to piek up provisions. Immediately behind the sailor ean be seen Batting's the outfitters at Nos. 34 and 36. At No. 38 was the Union of London and Smith's Bank, while next door, at No. 40 was the newly-opened Conduit's Temperanee Hotel and Restaurant.

31. This postcard, produced by Alfred William Holliday of Station Road, in about 1908, shows the delightful gardens of Conduit's Temperanee Hotel at No. 40 High Street, otherwise known as 'The Pavement'. Mrs. Conduit ran a restaurant at No. 38 in the ear/y 1900's and, on the death of her neighbour, Mr. Trimmer the solicitor, in 1906, she took over his property at No. 40 and turned it into a temperanee hotel. Mr. and Mrs. Conduit had begun trading across the street at Regency House (No. 33), in the 1890's, where George Conduit was described as an organ tuner, musie seller and concert agent, hairdresser, perfumer and tobacconist. He continued with his musie at No. 40. In 1914 the Conduits moved to Southsea and the hotel was put up for sale by auction. No buyerwas found and it stayed in private occupation , being used to house Belgian refugees during the First Wor/d War. In 1923 it was acquired by Lloyds Bank and has served as their Alton branch ever since.

32. Alton High Street in August 1911 with one significant difference between this and the photograph ofthe old man and his cart - the telephone has arrived in town! How do we know? Outside the Swan Tap Room is a very tal! telegraph pole and businesses have added telephone numbers to their advertising. No. 11 Market Street, in 1911 the premises of Alfred J. Martin, the auctioneer, had the privilege of having the telephone number 2, presumably the exchange was No. 1. At this time the only public telephone was in the Post Office and it could only be used during office hours. The two boys we saw in the picture of Crown HilI are obviously following the photographer around town and have paused to talk to three enterprising young men, who, complete with bucket and spade, are, no doubt, doing a good trade in collecting and selling horse manure. There still seems plenty around for them to col!ect!

33. The same view of the High Street just some ten years later and what a difference that has made! The horseless carriage is taking over and the sign over the Swan Hotel yard now reads 'Garage, Motors for Hire' instead of 'Stables' . Further down the street, on the other side, the large painted wall sign informs us that Kerridge's garage has taken over the premises that for years had been a large draper's store. If you look back over earlier High Street photographs you will see that Mr. Kerridge's sign has replaced those of Batting in 1907 and Bryce in our 1911 picture. F.W. Kerridge took over from E. Speils after the First World War, having some years earlier acquired No. 36 next door. Note the srnartly-dressed elderly couple on the left of the picture. No gentleman would be seen out walking without his cane, while his wife has her parasol. On the opposite side of the street we see the postman with his shako headgear, of ten called a 'scuttle heimet' because of its shape.

34. We leave the High Street for a while and turn into Market Street, seen here around 1904. At the bottom ofthe street can just be seen Regency House in the High Street, the premises ofthe pork butcher. A.E. Mugridge. There were a large number of butchers in Alton around this time, two of which we can see in this photograph. On the very left is the business of the London and Central Meat Company, while on the opposite side of the road were Gates & Co., park butchers and 'purveyors of colonial meat and farm produce' . Next to Gates & Co. can just be seen the tobacconist's sign ofJohn Coxon's newsagent's. There is a nice story attached to this building and even though you can't see it very well I will still relate the tale. The shop was built by William (Sooty) Wright and features a cupola surmounted by a weather vane. Apparently, to ensure that the vane moved freely, Mr. Wright borrowed a marbie from bis young son - it may still be up there today!

35. The butcher's shop of John Gates and William Frank Stacey at No. 20 Market Street in about 1895 with Mr. Gates standing in the doorway. Gates and Stacey were in business in Market Street from the early 1890's until about 1906, although by 1898 the firm was known as Gates and Co, as our previous postcard shows. This is one of my favourite Alton postcards. I particularly like the young man with the pails of milk on the yoke. This is certainly an aspect of country life th at few ofus have even seen, let alo ne remember! As we can see in the photo, milk delivery was very much part of Gates' and Stacey's business. A 1902 advert in the Hampshire Heraid informed customers, 'new milk and cream delivered to all parts of the town twice daily' and by this time the business had expanded to include No. 18 next door. By 1907 his premises had been taken over by Mrs. Mary Faulkner, who was both a butcher and a fruiterer.

36. The Market Square in about 1905 with Henry Adlam's delivery carts parked outside his premises. MI. Adlam came to Alton from Totton in the 1880's and set up in business in a house in Tower Street before moving to Market Square. Adlam's the bakers has stood, almost unchanged, for over a hundred years. Next to Adlam's is the Market Hotel, again looking very much then as it does now. The public house belonged to Crowley's, the Alton brewers. The other two buildings in this picture are just memories today. The little white cottage was the cycle repair shop of Arthur Debenham and Son. As weIl as the usual repairs, Mr. Debenham could, for just 13/6, totaJly dismantIe your bike, stove enamel it and put it back together again. He also sold new bicycles and, not to be left behind, could offer 'prompt delivery of Rover cars'. Next to Debenham's was the house known as Lady Place, which, in 1962, was demolished to make way for the car park which bears its name today.

37. Of course, Market Square is dominated by the Town Hall, interestingly called 'old' in this postcard. The card is difficult to date, the only clue being evidence of a phone line, so it must be after 1908 but, 1 suspect, not long after. The Town Hall was built by public subscription and completed in 1813. It was enlarged in 1840 at a cost of fl,OOO. It contained a corn exchange, while above this was, according to Kelly's Directory of 1907, a 'spacious room adapted for balls and assem blies and holding 130 persons' . In its early days the building also served as the drill hall of the local volunteer regiment and the County court and petty sessions were held in the upstairs room. The Urban District Council met there unti11934, when they moved into Westbrook House in the High Streel. Today, the offices of Alton Town Council are in the Town Hall.

38. Christmas at Alton Market was always a special time with the Annual Fat Stock Sale and Show, when there was not only a wonderful array of Christmas livestock to purchase, but prizes were awarded to the tradesmen for 'fattest turkey' or 'best butter'. This particular photograph was taken in 1909, a time when the weekly Tuesday market was so popular that special cheap return railway tickets could be purchased for a day out in Alton from Basingstoke or Winchester . It was also a time when there was growing concern over employment in the town, with the closure of Spicer's paper mill (the firm moving loek, stock and barrel to Kent) and a poor harvest ofhops- both of them industries Alton depended on. Dyers, the long established builders, also closed. Joseph Cox says 'these vanishing businesses lost the town a number of well-paid workmen, there were many cottages empty, and trade was very bad'. The average wage in 1909 was only f2perweek.

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