Dunmow in old picture postcards

Dunmow in old picture postcards

:   Stan Jarvis
:   Essex
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-3417-0
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Dunmow in old picture postcards'

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The word Dunmow has been used in this book to embrace the two parishes of Great and Little Dunmow, but the postcards shown cannot be said to have been provided in any proportion to the relative size ofthe places. It is quite understandable that by far the most postcards have been produced of Great Dunmow because it has always been the 'big brother' of the two, with the shops and services, and the main roads which bring the traveIlers and the tourists. A guide book in circulation at the beginning of the century, when many of the photographs were taken, speaks of Great Dunmow as: 'A considerable market town (Tuesday) situated on the Chelmer. .. It consists of two main streets.' Little Dunmow, says the same guide, is noted largely for the custom of' ... presenting a Flitch of Bacon to any couple who, sleeping or waking, had not repented of their marriage for a year and a day. The applicants were required to swear a poetical oath, kneeling on some sharp stones at the church door, which stones are now preserved in the vestry .. .'

As to the origin of the postcards, Great Dunmow tradesmen were as enterprising as their big-town brethren; they saw the cyclists and the trippers come pouring out from London on their fresh air forays, looking for rural peace and verdant views and they were ready for them with their souvenir postcards. Newsagents, tobacconists and station-

ers like Willett's, Stacey's, and Dowsett's offered a surprising variety. And very often those postcards were not posted, but kept as reminders of happy days in the Dunmow district, so they carry na postmark which would have helped to attribute a date.

Problems of identification of places, people and period have been overcome through the kind and generous help I have received from so many people in Dunmow. Chief among the contributors of cards to my collection is the Essex Record Office. Mr. and Mrs. Mackenzie lent me many cards from their precious family archives and supported them with much useful information. Mr. and Mrs. Byford together were a mine of information. They not only lent me their precious and frighteningly fragile glass negatives and gave me a full description of the views represented but also put me in touch with other helpfui old inhabitants of Dunmow.

Naturally the author of a prospective book of photographs would turn to the local photographer for help. Dunmow's present-day and very professional photographer David Lipson's interest, advice and generous help in the long term loan of many photographs he has produced from old postcards through years of service to the town is very much appreciated. Mr. Beard and Mrs. Barham were kind

enough to get in touch with me and offer the one or two postcards and commentary which were as important as the last pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. Last but not least, the ladies of Dunmow's Inner Wheel showed such a warm and friendly interest in this project. I thank all these kind people, from the heart. My old friend Geoff Baker knows how very much his help is appreciated.

Great Dunmow is that delightful paradox - a town in the country. lts inhabitants are envied by those Essex people who have to live in vast conurbations or on dreary dormitory estates. In Dunmow any able-bodied person can walk from the countryside through the town into open countryside again, in any direction. Modern building in the town has been sympathetic with the existing townscape which is so attractive through the preservation of its old shop fronts. The capacious car park and the supermarket have been concealed cunningly from the view of the main street. It is small wonder that many families can boast of a long association with the area. Little Dunmow's main street has not altered a jot over sixty years, though there has been building and rebuilding around the village to provide more homes.

No doubt it was a wrench for the Romans when they were recalled to their homeland, but some of them had already

lived their lives in Dunmow and their cremated burial remains have been found at Merks Hill, High Style and Springfields. The Saxons liked the look of the place, 'the meadow on the hill' as they called it in their language, and the name stuck, as Dunmow, down to this day.

At Domesday the place was comprised of the seven manors formerly belonging to the Saxon lords. From the Norman takeover Dunmow quietly progressed through to the thirteenth century when it was granted a weekly market and an annual fair by Henry lIL The important charter of 1555 afforded the busy little town borough status. It had to yield up that reputation in Victorian times because it was not big enough to be classed as one of the new boroughs, but Dunmow was not greatly disturbed; it simply carried on its age-old activities as market place, shopping and administrative centre for a wide area of farmland interspersed with villages and hamlets.

In this way the Dunmows continue to this day - a refreshingly unspoilt town and a village in the heart of pleasant Essex countryside. I dedicate this book to the people of Dunmow - who are wen aware of their good fortune, and to my wife Hazel, a truly constant companion.

~ U M ow. 764-.

1. The problem of looking after sick and poor people was, by the end of the eighteenth century, beyond the resources of individual parishes, so twenty-five of thern, centred on Dunmow, joined together to build and run the 'Union Workhouse' as a home and a hospital for less fortunate inhabitants. It was put up in 1840 in red brick with white brick window openings and black diaper patterns borrowed from the Tudor period. This postcard was produced by Fred Spalding of Chelmsford about 1910 when Master and Matron of the Workhouse were William Errington and bis wife. Even by the advent of the Great War it was obsolescent and was used to house German prisoners of war. Before the last war it was sold to a private developer and has been transformed into a nurnber of prestigious flats.

2. On the right as the visitor went townwards was the railway station seen here. There is now no trace of it at all; new industrial units cover the site. In 1910 it was' ... a station on the Bishops Stortford, Dunmow and Braintree line of the Great Eastern Railway'. In 1864 some six thousand peopJe flocked to see Lady Henniker of Newton Hall cut the first sod with a silver spade from a spot below New Street. 'An omnibus meets every train,' says the Directory of the day; there was a day, however, when it did not - 'A singular accident to a 'bus occurred at Dunmow Station on Tuesday. The vehicle was standing outside the station when the horse, becoming frightened at some pigs, bolted into the cattle yard. In the 'bus were Mrs. Priestman and her child. Seeing the danger of the horse plunging down on the doek metals, Porter Reeve jumped into the vehicle and pulled the ladyout. .. Mr. Priestman had just time to sieze the !ittle one as the horse plunged over the precipitous doek wall and the 'bus crashed on its side to the metals .. .' (Essex WeeklyNews, 11th September, 1908.)

3. The road continued up the hill to the junction with the Braintree road. On the left the fields were developed to house the Dunmow Flitch Bacon Company, not even proposed untill908 and now demolished. The railway sidings which served the factory have been replaced by the Dunmow bypass which takes so much of the modern motor traffie dear of the town. On the right at the junction is Park Corner, reminder that the parkland of Dunmow Park estate, seen at the extreme right of the postcard, eame up this far. The Braintree road, running into the background, is still called Stane Street on maps today, showing that it began as one of the Romans' paved highways. The late Dolly Dowsett, Dunmow's local historian, remembered playing marbles and fivestones beside the pump. As late as 1908 Dunmow's water supply still depended on this and another town pump, together with various private wells.

4. Down the Braintree road one could splash through the ford in the footsteps of Roman and Saxon, or cross over the River Chelmer more decorously by the bridge. When this card was sent about 1912 the writer made an interesting comment: 'There has been three or four accidents at Dunmow, and one well-known man in Dunmow had a sad accident against this bridge and died Wednesday rnorning. This is the ford bridge, down the Braintree road ... ' The Chelmer, rising in the region of Debden, could, in those days, cause considerable floods, when the ford was quite impassable and the bridge becarne a veritable lifeline. Today the ford can hardly be detected, the bridge has been widened, and the field beside it, with a footpath running through, has been officially designated as a picnic park, with the cricket field beyond.

5. In this undated postcard, produced before 1920, we stand on the far side of the ford looking back towards Dunmow. The Ford Bridge takes the Braintree road across the Chelmer which is running very full after recent rain. A family sits on the opposite bank, no doubt eyeing the cameraman with that curiosity which in these early days was aroused by the unusual operations of the photographer in capturing a view for the production of a postcard. Until the advent of the tewn's bypass this bridge was a vitallink between east and west, from Colchester to Bishops Stortford. Today the bridge has been rebuilt and the road widened, but the fields on either side retain the pleasant natural aspect. A new element in the view is the sight from the bridge of the traffic now flowing away from it on the Dunmow Bypass.


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6. The history of these houses in the Avenue, back towards town off the Braintree road, is definitely known because Hasler and Clapham, the well-known local firm of millers, recorded in 1908 as corn and seed merchants and brick and tile manufacturers, decided, in that year, to develope for building purposes the land they owned on the corner of Braintree Road and Chelmsford Road, called White Post Pasture . It led to a quite separate development of two streets of houses, including the Avenue, where one of the houses is actually dated 1908. It was a successful speculation ; within two years we see people as varied as the Reverend William Martin of the Primitive Methodists and Mr. Percy Robinson, commercial travelIer , taking up residence here. The road looks very much the same today, though its pavements are now kerbed with Iittle stone blocks which must have been laid soon after the houses were built and this photograph was taken.

7. This card is postrnarked August, 1905. The view, from the south, shows on the left the signboard, unreadable, of the White Lion, a very old inn, but described at this time as: 'Family and commercial hotel; livery and bait stables; large billiard saloon; good accommodation for cyclists.' It was run by Douglas Bayly. Older Dunmow folk will remember that the Ancient Order of Foresters met there regularly. To the right we can see that the tradesmen's horses are being brought out from the stables behind the old White Hart, to be put into their carts prior to setting out on their delivery rounds. Beside the inn is the large shop of Charles E. Stokes, the butcher and purveyor who was still there at 73, High Street at least until the last war.

8. In our postcards we have come a little further along the High Street and have paused to look back. The road, after wet weather, looks very muddy, but the road sweeper has already made neat piles of horse dung and dirt in the gutter, ready for the cart to collect. Since it was in 1899 that stone paving was first proposed, and seeing that the pavement here looks so new and neat, this postcard must have appeared at the very beginning of the twentieth century. The buildings are identified in further views, but there is an odd feature here, for which no explanation has been forthcoming: a long string crosses the pavement from the fence in the left foreground and is tied to a stick in the middle of the road. A piece of white cloth is tied to it - perhaps as a warning to trafficbut why is it there?

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