Frome in old picture postcards volume 1

Frome in old picture postcards volume 1

Auteur
:   Michael McGarvie
Gemeente
:  
Provincie
:   Somerset
Land
:   United Kingdom
ISBN13
:   978-90-288-2735-6
Pagina's
:   80
Prijs
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

Levertijd: 2 - 3 werkdagen (onder voorbehoud). Het getoonde omslag kan afwijken.

   


Fragmenten uit het boek 'Frome in old picture postcards volume 1'

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INTRODUCTION

Frome is in north-east Sornerset, 13 miles south-east of Bath and close to the borders of Avon and Wiltshire. The name derives from Welsh ffraw, running water, which the early inhabitants of the neighbourhood gave to the sluggish stream which meandered from the depths of Selwood Forest to join the A von at Freshford. Until our own day the river has been a fundamental factor in the life of the town providing power for the fulling mills on one hand, and, when swollen by the winter rains, periodically inundating it on the other. The megalithic long barrow at Frornefield, now destroyed, was an indication of prehistorie settlement in the area, but Frome as we know it was of Saxon origin.

About the year 685 St. Aldhelm, a relative of King Ine of Wessex, founded a church and monastery dedicated to St. John the Baptist at Frome as a mission station to the heathen and to convert the Celtic Church to Roman ritual and form. Aldhelm endowed his church generously and the town grew up in its shadow. In 1985, Frome will celebrate the thirteen hundredth anniversary of its foundation. The site, probably dictated by the abundant springs which rose there, was a spartan one on a steep, north facing hillside. Aldhelm's choice pre-ordained the character of Frome, its development on several different levels and up and down numero us hills. There was a flourishing market by 1086 and this created Frome's untidy pattern of roads leading to and from the market place.

Aldhelm's saintly prestige and the pleasures of the chase in Selwood attracted the Saxon kings to Frome. Athelstan held a witan, or great counci1, here in 934 and King Edred died in the town in 955. Frome was probably a Saxon borough and may have had a mint. Danish invaders dispersed St. Aldhelm's monastery and by the time of the Norman conquest in 1066, Frome was in decline. It remained a royal manor, however, until King Henry I (1100-1135) gave Frome to one of bis

barons, Roger de Courseulles. Roger's descendants, through various heiresses, held it up to 1726. Henry I also gave away Frome Church - to Cirencester Abbey. With the rise of the woollen industry in the thirteenth century this link provided a useful conneetion with the Gloucestershire wool trade. Despite occasional set backs, Frome developed into the most important wool town in the West of England with the largest population of any town in Somerset except Bath. Yet though large and economically important, Frome was never incorporated and until 1865, when the Local Board was set up, remained a country parish governed by the Vestry and manorial courts. From 1894 to 1974 the town was largely self-governing under an urban district council, but has now been merged in the new district of Mendip.

Frome depended on the wool industry until the end of the eighteenth century when it began a long, slow decline, the last woollen mill, Tuekers of Wallbridge, not closing until 1965. New industries, including printing and brass and iron founding, took its place. Even at the height of its prosperity industrial Frome remained a country town, the centre of an agricultural community, attuned to the needsof the surrounding countryside and influenced by it. This is reflected by farmhouses within the town, fields that penetrate to its very centre, and country vistas at the end of many streets. This rural influence had the effect of imposing an innate conservatism on Frome, otherwise a factory town, liberal in politics and largely nonconformist in religion,

There are few buildings in Frome earlier than the sixteenth century and most of the older houses date from the late seventeenth century when an upsurge in the wool industry led to a dramatic expansion of population and building. This effected all parts of the town, but in particular the Trinity area. Streets of terraeed houses were built for the tradesman and artisans each jostling for position against its neighbour on

the steep hillsides or limited levels. They were usually rubble - built of locallimestone quarried in the fields behind them, ascending and deseending many hills in serried ranks, sometimes rising from cobbles, often gabled, occasionally embellished with wrought-iron, almost every house repaying study for some architectura1 detail or conceit, These streets give Frome its organic look: it has truly sprung from its native earth in all shades of brown, yellow and grey, muted but warm, hard and enduring.

Sandwiched amongst the houses are the other elements which go to make up the Frome story: remains of mills and chapels are still dominant a1though many have been taken down or converted to other uses, and there are still a good number of public houses to remind us of the time when Frome was famous for its strong beer. Less apparent because usually situated on the edge of the densely populated areas and insulated from them by large gardens which have only recently begun to disappear under modern development, are the mansions of the great clothiers, the Merchant Princes of Frome. Still reflecting the elegant architectura1 fashions of Bath and Bristol, they have now rnostly become flats or offices.

The following postcards show something of the character of Frome between 1880 and 1930, a1though the environment of these charming scenes has to be imagined, the clouds of dust from untarmaced roads in summer, the seas of mud in winter, the smell of horses which pervaded the whole town. However, closely packed together on its hillsides, Frome had to be a gregarious place and this comes across in the postcards of bean-feasts, processions and gatherings of one sort and another which were immensely popular. The faces which stare from them are also characteristic: we no longer seem to breed such noble heads or such striking features. Conservationists have been much upset and rightly so by the

loss of ancient or interesting buildings in recent years, The postcards reveal how much has a1tered, sometimes for the worse. On the other hand we cannot but be struck as we browse through them by the happy realization that much of what we see still remains and is recognizable today. Moreover, these interesting streetscapes are now protected by the proclamation of an extensive Conservation Area, classed as of Outstanding National Importance, in Frome in 1976.

Frome today is a genuine and friendly town which retains its gregarious spirit and a strong sense of community. This is shown by its enormous number of organizations and societies. It is a gentle place, unpretentious and retiring. lts charms have to be sought out. Although Frome has a busy market and several light industries, it is a curiously unhurried town where life eau be lived at a civilized pace. lts people are sometirnes accused of apathy and, indeed, it must be admitted that they have lost some of their zea1 for rioting and religion, but they are still always ready to give time and money to a good cause. lt is strange that out of a population of 14,527 perhaps nearly 70 per cent are not natives of the town yet it appears to absorb these numbers without damage to its essential spirit. Such figures tell their own story .

Finally, I should like to acknowledge with much gratitude the many people who lent me their collections of postcards, collections ranging from a handful to whole albums. Without their generosity and willingness to help this book could not have been compiled. I dedicate it to them and to the people of Frome.

Michaël McGarvie

1. Still very much a country town: a bird's eye view of Frome in 1907 taken from the now vanished chimney of the electricity works in Rook Lane. The town is chiefly remarkable for its steep and straight streets, says a guide book of the same year, adding that the spactousness of the market place redeems the narrowness of the streets. North Hill House (top right), surrounded by extensive grounds, was then the home of the Le Gros family. Below it to the left, covered in creeper, is The Chestnuts, now demolished. Several houses in Justice Lane (Ieft centre) can be seen, which have now gone to make way for a car park. The round stove house for drying cloth there still had its roof when this picture was taken.

2. An unusua1 view of Frome from a card postmarked 1910 showing some of the slightly pretentious villas, Victorian in comfort, but Gothic in style, which were going up in the town at the end of the nineteenth century. We are looking at the back of Stoke House where lived Miss Cockey, a member of the well-known bell and iron-founding family. Across Christchurch Street West are the newly built Victoria Hospital and Nurses Home (top right) and the School of Art (top left) completed in 1901 and 1902 respectively. The allotments and pleasure grounds which made Frome almost a garden town stand out.

3. Badcox about 1900. Weymouth House (left) still stands, but Palmer's 'Pioneer' Coffee Rooms next to it and the pretty Swan Inn, recorded in the seventeenth century and notabie for its three storey bay window, have both gone possibly to the advantage of the traffic, certainly to the detriment of this attractive architectura1 composition. On the right is Badcox Parade, built by Hodder & Son about 1889, a striking development both on account of its height and in its use of brick, an unusua1 material in Frome at the time. The hand-cart on the left bears the letters F.U.D.C. - Frome Urban District Council, which came into being in 1894 and was abolished in 1974.

4. Badcox looking east down Christchurch Street West during a demonstration by the Workers Union on 16 September 1917 to celebrate the formation of a Trade and Labour Council for Frome. The Town Band led the march from Wallbridge to the Co-operative Field in Nunney Road. The First World War was in its third year; many men were away at the front. Their places were taken by women and children. Trades Unionism had deep roots in Frome: as early as 1802 William Gifford, a sp inning man, was imprisoned 'for illegally combining with others respecting their labeur'. In the background is the Ship Inn, mentioned in 1749, its walls decorated with hoardings advertising Little Miss Happiness and other varieties at the 'Picture Palace'.

5. A religieus procession wends its way up Bath Street to a service of thanksgiving at St. John's Church to celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Versailles which ended the First Wor1d War, on 28 June 1919. The returned troopsare led by clergy in robes and birettas aeeording to the Catholie tradition of St. John's. The Reverend W.F .H. Randolph, Vicar of Frome, is at the rear flanked by a server. Behind the banner ean be seen the premises of Messrs. Daniel & Cruttwell before the present shop front was put in. On the right is the original poreh of the Wheatsheaves, since destroyed and replaeed, and Y ork's Motor Works. On the extreme right a glimp se of Waterloo House, taken down about 1954.

VIEW Of FROME SHOWING WESLEYAN CHURCH.

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6. The top of Bath Street in 1907, another view taken from the electricity works chimney. In the foreground the pillared gates of Rook Lane Chapel. The Wesley Chapel (right) remains as does the Lamb Inn (centre) with its shop-like front. Most of the buildings on the left hand side of the picture, including the National School, Lamb Brewery, and Georgian cottages at Gorehedge, have been swept away and the sites re-developed. Top right, behind the smal1 tree, is the old Unicom Inn, which used to stand where the Fire Station is now.

1629.

7. This rather posed postcard records Bath Street as it was in 1903. The thoroughfare was cut under the authority of an Act of Parliament in 1810 and took the place of a maze of narrow lanes and tenements with 'such an accumulation of dung-hills, slaughter-houses and tallow melting houses as to be indescnöable'. Named after the Marquess of Bath, over whose land it ran, the construction of Bath Street was a deliberate attempt to ape the elegance and dignity of the City of Bath and was not unsuccessful. The Old Post Office, which moved down to the Market Place in 1915, is on the right and the Assembly Room can be seen at the bottom of the street.

ßath Street.

8. The junction of Bath Street with Christchurch Street East and West from a postcard dated 1905. The Lamb Inn, recorded on an adjoining site in 1774, moved into this former shop about 1890. The Frome and District Conservative Club premises (left) were demolished for road widening. Seventeenth century cottages in Bath Street made a pleasant backdrop. The notice on the signpost warris cyclists that the hili is dangerous. A writer in 1927 advised such visitors that the best time to arrive in Frome is by twliight. ... the old world plan of the town with its ups and downs and narrow streets makes it seem a most roman tic place.

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