Aylesbury in old picture postcards volume 2

Aylesbury in old picture postcards volume 2

:   A.R. May
:   Aylesbury
:   Buckinghamshire
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-5902-9
:   112
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Aylesbury in old picture postcards volume 2'

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Before the Romans came to Rye, Or out fa Severn stro de,

The rolling English drunkard Made the rolling English road.

A rambling raad, a rolling road, That rambIed raund the shire, And after it, the Parson came The Sexton and the Squire.

(Apologies to G.K. Chesterton, but I liked it better the erroneous way I remembered it.)

Aylesbury has been well-served by many of these rambling roads built by the ancient Britons, also by the more direct routes constructed by the Romans. It was being situated at the convergence of sa many important routes, th at made Aylesbury the prasperous market town that it was in the 18th and 19th centuries; and taak the position of County town away from Buckingham, which always was sernething of a backwater and continues to be so.

As regards the drunkards, Aylesbury has never been short of those, the town has had weil over a hundred pubs, certainly at the turn of the century there were sixty-two in use, a large number for a town with a small population of 11,000.

Aylesbury was the second town in the country to know what

time of day it was, with the aid of a public clock, which hung on the first Market House th at Henry VIII had helped us to build. The first public clock was at Hampton Court. Aylesbury has always welcomed and supported great leaders and champions of liberty whenever these men have risen in the locality, men such as John Hampden and John Wilkes.

In spite of this tendency to rebellion, Aylesbury has always been tolerant of men's religious foibles, with almast every church, chapel and sect found in England having its own place of worship in Aylesbury; even ifsome ofthe buildings were not very impressive, such as the catholic church in the High Street, a corrugated iran hut, until 1937. Aylesbury even had a little chapel at the canal basin for the use of the baatmen. Aylesbury men have served in virtually every conflict that this country has been involved in; I have na records to say any were with Harold at Hastings in 1066, but I would not be surprised. It was not general practise to put up town memcrials to the war dead until the Boer War 1899-1902, Aylesbury does not have a monument to these men.just a plaque on the County Hall. They are more impressively remembered at Coombe Hill monument at Wendover. We made a better effort for the fallen of the First World War with a memorial at the top of the Market Square, built to the same design as the war cernetery memorials in France. Fred Taylor was the architect. It is not generally known that the families of the dead had to contribute to have their soldier's name included on it.

The character of the town began to change with the arrival of the canaI1814-1815, before the railways were anything more than a dream. This was largely built because the previously dug cut to Wendover in 1796 had uot been a success due to many problems with leakage. Walton Mill, already here on the Bear Brook before the canal carne, benefitted much, building its own wharf, as lots of their bulk supplies came down by canal and finished products left the same way. Hills and Partridge took over the business in 1891 and built the new mil! in 1893.

The canal was also the reason for the siting of the Electricity Works and the timber yard and, of course, the all important coal yard, all at the canal basin.

Talking of transport, Aylesbury was well-served by the railways, with the L.N.W. coming in 1839 to the site ne ar the High Street and the Great Western Street station, built in 1863, eventually known as the Joint Station, with three companies running fromit.

Aylesbury underwent a gradual change with the coming of the larger factories, first in 1870 the Anglo Swiss Condensed Milk Company, later to become Nestlé's. Then Hazell, Watson & Viney and Hunt Barnards, the two big printing works, employers that made Aylesbury largely a printing town. The Rivet Works, another large employer for most of this century, but now, like Hazell's, a shadow of its former self. Hunt Barnards closed down in 1987. Only Nestlé's remains, still filling its original site and still an important employer. During this een-

tury many smaller firms in the light engineering and electrical fields have come to Aylesbury.

Many of the important crafts and industries of the last century are now completely forgotten; such as the making of baskets for the railways from the wil!ow grown in the osier beds at the site of the Vale Park and other damp, low lying land of Walton. The main charm and interest of a town lies with its shops and pubs, ofwhich Aylesbury had a great diversity of both, until the large scale demolitions ofthe 1960's, which were the death knell for so many smal! private retailers. This period was referred to at the time as the 'Rape of Aylesbury' aptly put, in that the town has not yet recovered from it and probably never will.

One expects the normal development of a town and the replacement of old buildings by new ones as they become beyond repair or outlive their usefulness, but the mass destruction of huge areas of the old town centre was very il! concieved and misguided and what did we finish up with, the white elephant of Friars Square. Incidentally, Friars Square would have been built facing the other way, if it had not been for one of MacAlpines builders, who noticed that they were driving piles in the wrong places, as they had the plans the wrong way round!

The council development of Friars Square was a dismal failure for over twenty-five years. The moving ofthe Market into Friars Square altered the Market Day character of the town completely and the council made it illegal to seil anything in the Market Square. Two Royal Charters granted permission for the

Market, the local council wiped them out at a stroke! But then this was the same council that refused Greenpeace permission to seil fiags in the town as they thought Greenpeace was a political group! While on what we finished up with after planning upheavals of the 1960's, it is worth mentioning the brilliant ring road, that cuts so close to the town centre, has a 30 mph speed limit and for thirty years ceased half way down the High Street, and you had to piek it up at Adams Garage three-quarters of a mile up the Tring Road. This because British Rail would not seil the land for the ring road to join up from High Street to Stocklake. This was eventually completed, as I said, approximately thirty years later! What a farce! The building of the ring road destroyed many ancient and interesting buildings.

As I said, in the early 1960's the most sensible site for a modern shopping centre and the obvious place to build it was behind the High Street, between the Vale Park and Cambridge Street; there was little left in Railway Street and Station Street worth preserving; much of the area was empty, having been the L.M.S. Railway site. A new centre could have been built without touching the shops of High Street and Cambridge Street, entrances could have been put through for pedestrians and the new centre hidden from sight, but with easy access from the main shopping areas of the town. Vehicle access being from Park Street, with plenty of parking space available.

The new covered redevelopment of Friars Square, recently opened, is possibly an improvement, at least it is finished in

brick rather than bunker concrete; but it still looks out of place at the left of the Market Square.

The Market Square has regained a little of its old atmosphere since the market was allowed to return to its ancient site. I do wonder if the council has repealed the byelaw that made it illegal to seil anything in the Market Square.

Anyway, enough of the pre-amble, let's get on to the photographs, mostly, as is the theme of this series of books, picture postcards of the 1880's to the 1930's. We have also used some original photographs printed from the old glass half plate negatives, which have not been seen in print before, and the odd document and print has been reproduced from items in our collection, where we thought it relevant, interesting or amusing. This book, I hope, will complement the first Aylesbury in old picture postcards, written and compiled by my father Mr. Ralph May, whose personal knowledge of Aylesbury went back to the First World War. He always had a way of putting things forward to make them fascinating. His book will be a hard act to follow. The nearest thing to a complaint that I heard of it, was when an old lady rang my father and said: 'Mr. May, I bought your book yesterday and it kept me up 'till gone midnight!' The staff at the Bucks Heraid told me, that when Mr. De Fraine received his copy from the publishers, he shut hirnself in his office with it, and they couldn't get anything out of hirn for two days!

1. Let's start with a map ofthe town, circa 1950, it shows the basic layout of the town that had slowly evolved over the centuries. This was to be drastically torn into in the development ofthe 1960's and for the first time ever whole streets and areas were demolished not leaving a trace. I include this map to enable people who do not remember the missing streets to quickly ascertain where some of the following scenes were situated. In a short space of time were lost: Silver Street, Silver Lane, Friarage Road and Friarage Path or Passage, Great Western Street, the south side of Bourbon Street and the top west si de of Wal ton Street. This map also shows the cana11815, the branch line railway to Cheddington 1839, referred to as the first branch line constructed in this country and the Great Western Street station 1863 served by three lines; more on this subject later. Also shown is the Bear Brook, sometimes referred to as the Friarage Brook depending on which stretch is in question, and the canal overflow brook.

2. St. Mary's Church was well-covered by my father in his baak of Aylesbury, publislied in this same series in 1985, sa we will not dweIl upon it, but this card is such a good early aerial photograph, well worth viewing, showing St. Mary's dead centre. (That wasn't intended as a pun on the graveyard. ) The Prebendal House, clearly seen in front of the church, was from 1749 to 1764 the home of the notorious John Wilkes; he had previously been a regular vi sitar to the house as a lad. John WiJkes was M.P. for Aylesbury from 1757 to 1764, but probably best remembered as a member of the Heli Fire Club of West Wyeombe or the Medmenham Monks. The Wesleyan Methodist Church, built 1893-1894 in Buckingham Street, ean be seen in the top left corner, also the large museum buildings to the right of the ehureh.


3. Church Street about 1907. It was in this year that the CountyMuseum taak over the old school building, built in 1719, seen here top right of the street; below is Ceely House, a 15th century building refronted in the early 18th century. Named after the Ceely brothers, bath surgeons ofthe Bucks Infirmary (1833), later the Royal Bucks Hospital, Robert Ceely lived here unti11882. At the time ofthis card Ceely House was the residence ofDr. John Baker until1921. The museum extended into Ceely House in the mid-1940's. Opposite is the Chantry, a 16th century building refronted in the Gothic style in 1840. In the 1860's the residence of Robert Gibbs, editor of the Bucks Advertiser and author of the History of Aylesbury, originally issued in parts, completed in 1885. He also wrote many other local books. Later occupants ofthis house were Dr. A.W. Coventon, followed by Dr. Peter Gimson, who was the last doctorresident in Church Street, retiring in 1975. Next is the redbrick Georgian frontage of No. 10, the horne of G.T. Hunt of Hunt Barnards. Then two unspoiled 17th century cottages. No. 12 was my Iather's boyhood home, the second was Bailey's dairy business, the buildings beyond on the corner are Hickman's Almshouses, rebuilt in 1871.

4. An excellent photograph of No. 10, the home of George Turner Hunt, taken by his nephew Horace Hunt, who lived there from 1900 to 1912. This is printed from the original glass negative, hence the quality, This has not been previously published and for which we have to thank his son, Mr. Michael Hunt. My father. Mr. Ralph May, worked for Horace Hunt in the 1920's, and always said that Horace did much high quality work to enhance the reputation of Hunt Barnard's, who worked for the prestigious London Illustrated News as weil as many other high class publications. Hunt Barnard's were at the Granville Street works from 1898 until1927, when the new factory was built in Milton Raad. They expanded again in 1938.

5. Another view of Church Street taken by Horace Hunt. This is probably the great snowfall of April 1908, which brought several Aylesbury photographers out into the snow to produee some of the meest shots of Aylesbury. This also shows Dr. W.S. West's house, (No. 5) the one with the bay windows, and No. 3 whieh was shared as surgeries with Dr. Thomas Godfrey Parrott, who lived next door at 'Hickmans' No.1 Chureh Street. He resided there from 1891 until his death in 1951. Dr. T.G. Parrott was bom at Walton House in 1860 (the son of Thomas Parrott, solicitor of Parrott & Coales). He served during the First World War as Captain 4th Volunteer Battalion, Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry. He served Aylesbury in many different capacities, for many years, and was much respeeted. His two sans were Colonel Godfrey Francis Parrott M.e. and Hayward Parrott, solicitor, as his uncle and grandfather before hirn. No.1 Church Street was previously the residenee of Thomas Hiekman, who died in 1695leaving property, the income from whieh was to be distributed in alms to the poor. In the early 1930's the income of this charity was only H50 or sa per annum; with the change of property values it is somewhat different today!

6. The finest monument in St. Mary's Church is that to Lady Lee of Quarrendon, the wife of Sir Henry Lee and third daughter of William, Lord Paget. Lady Lee died in 1584, it is also monument to her three children. The tablet has a poem with two oft quoted lines:

Good friend sticke not to strew with crimson flowers This marble stone wherein her cindres rest

... and every day there is a crimson fiower placed in front of her effigy, someone has kept the faith fOT 410 years. This monument was removed here from Quarrendon Church. It is a trage dy that the ancient church of Quarrendon has been allowed to, all but, disappear, in spite of the attempt made in 1848 to rebuild it before all was lost. Local worthies such as Acton Tindal Esq. and John Lee Esq. and eleven others had subscribed a totalof fiftysix pounds four shillings, a goodly sum in those days, but not enough, nothing was achieved. The American Civil War General Robert E. Lee was a descendant of this same family, the Lees of Quarrendon.

7. Parson's Fee viewed from outside the Prebendal gates, on a nice sunny day, with the old Aylesbury character, Pigeon Green, just coming out of the shadows. His real name was William Green, although few people knew that. He was alocal odd job man and a popular character. He always wore a buttonhole, and would present it to the first lady who admired it, or whom he admired. He died at the advanced age of ninety-two in 1951, which seemed to prove that his way of life was not bad for your heaIth. As mentioned by my father in his book, here, in Parson's Fee in the 19th century, was Miss Turner's Dame School. In April 1814, to this establishment, came Louis XVIII to bid farewell to the young ladies on his leaving Hartwell to return to France. The Count d' Artois, afterwards Charles X, also gave each lady a parting kiss.

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