Frome in old picture postcards volume 2

Frome in old picture postcards volume 2

:   Michael McGarvie
:   Somerset
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-2836-0
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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


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

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When compiling the first part of Frame in old picture postcards I was lent many more postcards than I could use, thanks to the generosity of numerous well-wishers. Making a selection was a difficult but pleasant task and I had reluctantly to leave out many interesting postcards owing to the limitations of space. The volume was well received and soon went into a secend edition. This has encouraged me and my publishers to offer to the public the second part of Frame in old picture postcards.

Such books are not simply exercises in nostalgia. The postcards which they contain are fascinating in their own right registering as they do the slowly changing face of the town. Local residents can sometimes piek out relatives or the houses where they lived in youth. In a word, old postcards give visual effect to the tewn's memory.

Books of old postcards, however, are not merely selfindulgent. Although the first priority is that the reader should enjoy such a book, it serves an important secondary purpose of making a permanent record of postcards which are hlstorical documents of great significanee in alocal context. And a nation is but the sum of its rnany cornmuntties. Most old postcards are in the hands of private collectors. Their future ownership and whereabouts must be uncertain, The European Library's series 'in old picture postcards' has provided a catalyst to bring the best of them together sa that if we lose sight of the originals at least we shall have an authentic copy,

Looking at a further selection of views of old Frome, one cannot escape the impression that in the past the town was a neater and prettier place than it is today when it has lost so many of its trees and gardens some of which were in the heart of the town. Frome was also a much dirtier place, although judging by the arnount of litter still dropped in its streets, this aspect of the past has not cornpletely vanished. The appearance of the town today owes much not only to its

rise but also to its decline. Frome expanded in a dramatic way at the end of the seventeenth century so that about 1720 Daniel Defoe found it 'prodigiously increased', its trade 'wholly clothing' and forsaw its future as 'likely to become one of the greatest and wealthiest inland towns in England'. The failure of the wool trade ('rather declining than increasing' in 1791) led to a period of poverty and distress in the nineteenth century so that Thomas Clark, a Bridgwater businessman, who visited Frome frequently in the 1830's felt that the town was 'destined in due course to sink'. New or expanded industries - brass and iron founding, brewing and printing - improved matters but there was never enough money for wholesale rebuilding so the structure of the town remained physically entire down to our own day, albeit largely devoted to manufactures ether than wool.

Although some people were lam enting the destruction of so many old buildings as early as 1927, by and large Frome survived as .a complete and little altered example of a late seventeenth-early eighteenth century industrial town almost into the age of conservation. lts streets of artisans' dwellings, harmoniously built of local stone and gracefully blending into numerous hillsides, its sumptuous chapels, elegant mansions, gloomy factories and high Victorian houses, its rich embellishment of carving, wrought-iron and mu1tifarious signs, combined threefold to create a whole of compelling, interest, distinction and charm.

The late 1950's and early 1960's were periods of blight in Britain when the speculator and the developer had his way with our architectural heritage practically unchecked. Even Bath could not be saved sa it is hardly surprising that it was at this period that much of old Frome feIl a victim to the bulldozer and the pickaxe. The laudable intention, not seriously challenged at the time, was to do away with ancient slums and replace them with decent modern hou sing. Other buildings were taken down to make way for new car parks or

roads, or to save money on upkeep. The demolition of Keyford Horne in 1956 opened the flood-gates to an orgy of destruction. Much of the Trinity area including The Mint, a particularly sad loss in retrospect, Bridge Street, Waterloo, one side of Broadway, and Union Street were levelled. The Swan Inn, High Place, Merchants Barton and the old National School disappeared. Even Grade I buildings such as the Blue House and Rook Lane Chapel were threatened. Fortunately the Blue House was saved, but Rook Lane Chapel still remains a problem being currently for sale at t46,OOO.

In the 1970's the elimate of opinion changed bath in local government circles and amongst the public at large. Wholesale demolition and redevelopment became frowned upon; the restoration of old properties became acceptable, even praiseworthy. What remained of the Trinity area was saved by the skin of its teeth and an imaginative restoration scheme by Mendip District Council is now nearing completion. The Secretary of State for the Environment himself stepped in to preserve late seventeenth century houses in Vallis Way and in 1976 a large part of Frome was declared to be a Conservation Area of National Importance.

The growing interest in industrial history and in the lives and work of the poor helped Frome which had the luck to have a history which by na stretch of the imagination could be considered aristocratie or elitist. For a time Frame was lionised by scholars of that ilk. Since, the town has steadily improved in appearance, many minor buildings having been well restored by their owners. Sheppards Barton, Catherine Hili House and the Railway Station are cases in point. There is still some erosion of good Victorian buildings, a phenomenon which needs watching.

In part 1 a postcard of the declaration of poll at the old Police Station after the General Election of 1906 is included. In this volume 1 have included a picture of the celebrations which followed the election of Lord Weymouth as M.P. in

1895. Frome's name again became part of the title of a Parliamentary constituency in 1983 when it was transferred from Wells to 'Sornerton and Frome'. The name should, of course, be 'Frame and Somerton'. Frame was a Parliamentary borough from 1832 until 1885 and for long after the votes were counted and the declarations made here; it is a large town by Somerset standards with an authentic Parliamentary tradition and it is obvious to any fair-minded person that it should have the primacy. The present name does not even make alphabetical sense.

Frome cannot be divorced from its rural hinterland. In the past the town was largely controlled from outside its boundaries by the Earls of Cork and Orrery who lived at Marston House and were Lords of the Hundred and main Manor of Frome, and by the Marquesses of Bath at Longleat whose Manor of West Woodlands came into the heart of the town. The Champneys family of Orchardleigh and the Lords Stourton also had manors here. From Saxon times Frome was the centre of a Hundred, an administrative area whose chief organ of authority was a court which met at Modbury, a barrow on Buckland Down.

Vestiges of the power of the Hundred survived almost to 1894 when many of the villages it contained were grouped together in the Frome Rural District whose Council was a rather more effective and intimate instrument of government, lt met in Frome and was only merged in the new District of Mendip in 1974. For centuries Frome was the centre of the local wool trade and to the town the clothiers of all the surrounding villages brought their goods for carriage to London. The town was, and is, their shopping and market centre. So to round off the portrait of Frome 1 have included some postcards of the villages not forgetting Corsley and Maiden Bradley which, although in Wiltshire, have always had a close conneetion with Frome.

General View of frame.

1. An unusual view over Frame Iooking north-west. It was taken from the chimney of the Electricity Works. On the left is Zion Chapel with the varied roofs of Catherine Hill below. In the centre is Singer's works fronting Bull's Meadow, an open space in the heart of the town, now covered by Westway and the car park. Ta the right of Singers is Waterloo, now vanished under the factory, and Henley Villas, demolished in 1983. The old market hall is on the extreme right, From a postcard dated 1906.

2. Frome Market Place in 1909. It was evidently a hot day and na one seems in much of a hurry. Changes include the demolition of Charles Waters' shop (left), one of several he owned in the town, taken down for raad widening in 1938. The site is now occupied by Holfords. The big block on the right was a draper's shop run by Mrs. W.F. Carpenter. It was replaced by the Midland Bank after the First World War. The two gossiping women in the foreground seem posed, but not sa the old man peering through the gap behind them. The children wear voluminous smocks.

3. The Market Place in the early 1920's: the character of the market has not changed, but the dress of the custorners has and motor buses have replaeed the horses and earts evident in 1909. The weather, too, has changed for the worse. On the right, sandwiched between two high blocks of buildings, the new Mid1and Bank ean be glimpsed. The bicycle in the foreground advertises Hayward & Taylor, a loeal butcher's.

4. Until 1968 floods were a regular feature of Frame life. This postcard of ab out 1920, taken from a photograph by A.S. Ashby, whose advertisement can still be seen on his former pre mises on the corner of the Market Place and Bath Street, shows just how far the waters advanced up the Market Place and into King Street. The Angel Inn is recorded in 1665. Opposite are the offices of Harding & Sans, old-established auctioneers, now Quartleys, and Carpenter's shop (extreme right) where the Midland Bank now stands.

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5. Floral display by Mr. Alfred Vincent (the distinguished, flow er bedecked gentleman on the right), fishmonger and poulterer, adjoining his shop at 15 Cheap Street (now The Settle Bakery) in May, 1906. It was part of a fund raising campaigu by the local Friendly Societies Council in aid of the Victoria Hospital which raised f19. lOs. in a week. The boy is Walter Minty, later a fish and chip retailer at 10 Catherine Hill.

6. Alfred Vincent (who was not camera shy) poses outside rus shop in Cheap Street about 1920. The mistletoe and poultery indicate that Christmas is near. Vin cents was founded about 1840 and included amongst its patrons the Earl of Cork, Lord St. Maur, besides 'the magistrates, clergy and gentry of Frame'. The hearts of customers were said to 'warm towards the inanimate but appertising display of feathered and furred game dependent from the hooks about the shop'.

7. The top end of Gent1e Street still gives a good impression of what Frome looked like in the seventeenth century, a1though the high classic al block of Knoll House, built in 1839, is intrusive and mars the picture. It was erected by Dr. Bush, who lived in The Hermitage (centre) for his son, The Wagon and Harses was a public house from befare 1568 until about 1960. The cottage on the left is on the site of the house of William Gentell, who gave his name to the street. In the foreground is a B1ue School boy. This card was produced by E.C. Eames, a Stony Street stationer, ab out 1910.

8. Frome photographers were not often given to taking pictures in the snow, so this postcard of Bath Street about 1907 is a rarity, The absence of traffic revea1s the spacious dignity of this thoroughfare cut under an Act of Parliament in 1810. The extensive wrought-iron railings, taken away during the Second Wor1d War, completed and furnished the street in a way which is now sadly 1acking. On the 1eft are Argyll Chambers and in the centre one of Cockeys' handsome gas lamp standards.

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