Harwich and Dovercourt in old picture postcards

Harwich and Dovercourt in old picture postcards

:   Phil Cowley
:   Essex
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-5347-8
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Harwich and Dovercourt in old picture postcards'

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Harwich and Dovercourt have had their history weIl chronicled by Len Weaver in his two books, so th is is not an attempt to produce another history of the Borough; rather , it is designed to show, through a selection of postcards from my collection, how the area has changed during the period from the late I800s to 1930. Changes have been dramatic and local readers will probably not remember many scenes in the book. However, those who know the area as it is today may compare it with the old view and decide whether change has been for the better. Locally we owe much to the active members of the Harwich Society who have done much not only to heighten awareness of the history of the area but also to improve physicaIly and preserve its heritage.

Interest in Iocal history and the coIlection of picture postcards have grown dramaticaIly in the last 15 years and I welcome this opportunity to share my interest and my collection with others. There we re literally thousands of postcards of this area printed between the late 1890s and the 1950s and rnany of them survive. The keen collector can visit Antique and Collectors' Fairs and Specialist Postcard Fairs and add to a coIlection and to an understanding of the past, if the price is right. Many excellent coIlections exist in Harwich and Dovercourt and local people have in their possession family coIlections of

photographs and postcards which are not only of great sentimental value but also of largely unrecognized historical interest.

We owe the late Victorian and Edwardian photographers a great deal as it is their constant output of views, events and people which have enabled me to put together this collection. WaIlis was prolific, Owen Coates equally productive: Steggles and Newell both left their mark and many of their photographs were also used by the national postcard publishers. Most shops seerned to have postcards for sale in the years prior to 1914 and the quantity and quality of cards which keep turning up never ceases to amaze. Anyone wanting to embark on the pursuit of postcards as a result of reading this book should be warned th at the hobby is by no means cheap and in some cases pricing can be unrealistic. But, it is uncovering that little gem in a bargain box which makes the hobby what is is addictive.

Archaeological digs have unearthed in the area evidence of Paleolithic and Mesolithic settlements, as weil as those of the Bronze and Iron Ages. The Romans we re in Dovercourt and replaced by the Saxons. There were Viking sorties to the area and the Anglo Saxon ChronicIe makes references to a skirmish at Stourmouth. The Domesday Book identifies a settlement at Upper Dovercourt while

Harwich may have evolved as a result of fierce storms in the late 11 th century which changed the course of the Stour and Orwell quite dramatically. A chapel existed in Harwich in 1177 and the 13th century developments of the port of Harwich were due to the efforts of the Norfolk family with the town growing to the point of receiving its charter in 1318.

This baak is more concerned with nineteenth and twentieth century developments as modern Dovercourt developed away from the original location under the impetus and foresight of John Bagshaw. The development of Orwell Terrace and shops and public houses to the east of Station Raad and Bay Raad is documented, along with the Spa and the promenade. The popularity of the be ach and the gradual growth of sea bathing prior to World War I is shown, as weIl as the continued growth of the promenade and resort faci!ities stimulated by the Government grants to relieve unemployment during the 1920s. Harwich was also growing, with the hustle and bustle of the main shopping streets - Church Street and Market St re et - the busy scenes on the quay front and piers, the noise and laughter from the many public houses, all thriving on account of the navy personnel stationed here. Once they had left, Harwich began its slowand unfortunate decline. The views in th is book, in reality , show Harwich in its hey-

day. The population growth is indicative of these changes. In 1861 the population of the Borough was a !ittle over 5000. By 1901 it had doubled to just over 10,000 helped by the development of Bathside while by 1931 it had reached 12,700 necessitating more residential building in Dovercourt. extending outward from the developing shopping centre, and shown by the continued extension of St. Augustines Church at the turn of the century as more people and vi si tors necessitated more church seating. Royal visits, demonstrations and processions, funerals and disasters, opening ceremonies and special achievements - same of these are shown but only a representative sample can be included here.

Inevitably I owe thanks to many people for their help and information gleaned. I have read widely on the local area but I have not consciously reproduced anything previously published. I have spent a lot of time inconveniencing the local newspaper office by going through their archives; I thank them very much for their patience and cooperation. Finally Len Weaver has shown an interest in this project and I thank hirn for the time he has given me in discussing sorne of the issues involved.




1. Harwich from an aeroplane. This may well be one of the earliest aerial views of Harwich, It is likcly to date from just after the First Wor!d War when aeria! photography was developing from the lessons learned during the war. The Halfpenny Pier is complete (showing the extended arm which was 10 he dcstroyed by fire in 1927) and nothing exists where the Train Ferry Terminal was to be built in 1923. The ship moored alongside the Continental Pier is likely to be the 'Argus'. The naval Yard can be clearly scen as can coa1 trucks on the pier and rail tracks the length of the Ouay which indicate the importance of coal as a fue! for the ships of this time.

HARWICH. 'rom In~ Air. ~Ing Mam Str~~IS

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2. Harwich [rom the air. This second, and later, aerial view shows clearly the Medieval street pattem of oid Harwich with the main streets going north to south and the side streets cast to west. St. Nichelas Church eau be used as a starting point if one wishes to take a journey around Harwich in the late 1920s. The naval yard (and a vessel on the slipway) can be seen and upon closer inspeetion one can sec the position and state of the Treadwheel Crane, now restored on Harwich Green. The Crane was rnoved in 1928 at the same time as the Admiralty ordered the dismantling and sale of the Yard following Mcl.earon's bankruptcy in 1927. Severallightships can be seen moored along the Trinity Pier, and the burnt out and blackened section of the Halfpenny Pier can be seen aftcr the fire in 1927. Empty spaces on the Quay Front show where the timber and grain rnerchants buildings used to be.

3. Church Streel, Harwich. Posing for the camera in Church Street at its junction with Market Street and Currants Lane are sornc of the Iocal children in the early 1900s. Woodward's. the ehemist and 'supplier of photographie materials' occupied the corner premises. It is said that Mr Woodward would 'pull' a tooth tor a shilling and then teil his parient that a pint of beer was the best painkiller, with the Duke's Head on the opposite si de of the raad and the Royal Oak and King's Head in Market Street - really the Harwich folk were spoilt for choke. Market Street was a particuJarly busy shopping area with Spurge selling clothing, the International Tea Cornpany selling groceries, Calver the fruiterer, Cooper the clothier and Kettle the tailor amongst ethers. The whole of the area would be a hive of activity as shops stayed open tilllOpm on Saturdays and 8pm most other evenings.

4. Church Street, Harwich. A view of Church Street showing a complete absence of traffic, and not as much hustle and bustie as rnight be expected. The local Cooperative Store can just be seen in the right foreground and next door Crane's Fancy Bazaar can be seen. A popular store, especially at Christmas, they advertised 'Cutlery and plate , table and fancy glass, dinner and toilet ware, brooms, brushes and baskets. Iron and enameled ware - we always have a big stock of all these goods at lowest prices.' Cosriek (butcher) and Hayhoe (Grecngrocer) had the next two shops. The sign of the Singer Sewing Machine shop can be seen with the Harwich Free Press office run by the Watsons. The Guildhall was the Police Headquarters at this time, under Inspeetor Coppin, with 2 sergeants and 9 constables. On the other side of the wad was Stead and Sirnpsons. Jacksons who published the 'Newsrnan", Saunders the ironrnonger and the London Centra! Meat Company.

5. Church Street, Harwich. This view of Church Street, taken from outside St. Nicholas Church, was photographed in the early 1920s. The Three Cups can be seen with the Post Office on the opposite side of the road, and the Singer Sewing Machine shop has moved to this side of the Guildhall. In 1909 Harwich had at least 24 Public Houses and a further 5 beer retailers, undoubtedly kept in business by the large number of tourists visiting the town during the summer on the G.E.R. steamers and the large naval establishment constantly in the port either side of the Great War. Fishermen and sailors were a regular sight on the corner of Market Street and Church Street , exchanging yams before going off to their favourite pub for a game of parlour quoits or a few hands of crib.

6. West Street, Harwich. This view along West Street shows the prominent position held by the Harwich fountain. When the people of Harwich subscribed to a portrait of Alderman Groom which he handed over to the Borough, he promised a drinking fountain in return. This fountain was handed over to Alderman Hall, the Mayor, on July 14th 1904. It was designed by Watts of Colchester and provided for the 'alleviation of thirst of human beings, cattle and dogs'. About 20 feet high with a lamp at the top, it was made of Cornish granite, polished dark granite and Portland stone. It mysteriously ended up as a heap of rubble in 1946; perhaps the location was appropriate in 1904 but not so convenrent in 1946! In the background, the Spread Eagle Public House can be seen, with the large gas lamp over the door, whilst the shop with two people standing outside is that of Eliza Walford, the baker, before moving over the road to No. 8 West Streel.

7. The Lighthouse Shelter, Harwich. In 1817 the Rebow family began building the High and Low Lighthouses at Harwich almost alongside and in the same direction as the wooden ones they were replacing. The Low Lighthouse, as it is still known, was 30 feet high and had 3 oil burners and reflectors to complement the more powerful High Lighthouse. Mariners had to line up the 2 lights to gain safe passage into the Harbour, but this was not always easy and the light was changed to red in 1819 to make navigation easier. The lighthouses were used daily until 1863 when shifting sands made it necessary to construct two new lighthouses at Dovercourt. This photograph, taken in the early 1900s shows the light house being used by a large number of local people as a shelter. Trinity House used it as a Pilot Station from 1969 until new premises were built; later the Harwich Maritime Museum was started and provides an interesting focus for those wishing to know more about Harwieh's maritime past.

The Lighthouse Shelter, Harwich

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8. Disestablishment of the Welsh Churcli (Ij Ju/y 2nd 1913. Harwich had a large Welsh contingent who arrived looking for employment and held their own Church services in the Admiral's Ballroom in West Street. The Governrnent's Bill to disestablish the Welsh Church stirred local people into action and such was the passion aroused that a procession and an open air meeting were organized to start at All Saints Church in Upper Dovercourt and to end on the Barrack Field. The procession, headed by the Church Lads Brigade Band, surpliced clergy and choirs, plus supporters, marched to St. Augustine's Church where the procession grew in numbers. They then marched on to St. Nicholas Church where a service was conducted by the Reverend Grey Collier. The demonstrators were marshalled by a large band of stewards and can be seen here outside St. Nicholas Church (with the Hanover in the background); their banners show explicitly the cause they were supporting. Before becoming a Public House the Hanover was wel! known as the Hanover Square Dining Rooms, owned by William Lawrence , alocal character, for many years.

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