Haslemere in old picture postcards

Haslemere in old picture postcards

:   Annette Booth
:   Surrey
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-6140-4
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Haslemere in old picture postcards'

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When I was asked to put together this coIlection of old posteards of Haslemere I began by looking at the loeal guide baak. Not the current one that informs me that 'Haslernere now has a number of pleasant shopping eentres and all the amenities and services of modern life', but one thae says: 'Haslemere is a quiet and, sooth to say, an uninteresting place, and there is very little, indeed, doing, or to be done, unless the opening of the Portsmouth Railway should bring an accession of life and vigour to Haslemere.' I should hasten to add that this guide baak for tourists was produced 134 years aga, in 1861! The railway had only arrived in Haslemere two years earlier and it would take people just a little langer to discover this lovely Surrey town and lift it from its almost village status to that of a fashionable health resort. [ust twentyfive years later an artiele in the Illustrated London News of 1886 extols the virtues of 'Haslernere, a little town with scarcely more than one thousand inhabitants, (which) has a sleepy, contented, well-to-do look. Lodging houses are numerous, and in the season fuIl to overflowing'. Sa, what was the Haslemere of 100 years aga like and how has it changed since then? This baak is a coIlection of postcards and photographs spanning the years 1885-1920, although the majority ofthem were either taken during the latter part of Queen Victoria's reign or during the Edwardian 'Golden Age'. I am particularly excited by the Victorian photographs, as thirteen of them are over a hundred years old and in excellent condition. They were taken by Iohn Wornham Penfold, who lived in Haslemere from 1873 until his death in 1909. He, and all those photographers after him, who recorded for posterity the life of the town, have left us a valuable legacy. EspeciaIly when one remembers that photography was not the medium of the masses as it is today, with every family having its own personal record on mmo The actual mechanics of photography were far removed from the 'compact'

and the 'instant' cameras of today. Most of the original photographs in this baak would have been taken with plate cameras, producing a glass negative that could have been as large as 1 0 by 8 inches. The emulsions used to coat the plate were slow compared with modern film teelmology, resulting in exposures measured in seconds, or even minutes. This had a limiting effect on the composition of the picture, producing rather forced expresslons from those taking part. It was quite common for the itinerant photographer to pose every person in a scene, so that old pictures should not always be seen as a spontaneous record of a particular moment in time. Indeed, they would aften use members of their own entourage, their assistant maybe, who could weIl be a farnily member, as additional 'dressing' to help bring to life the scene being photographed. In same cases, as you will see in photograph 3, it wasn't unheard of to actually add people after the picture had been taken! Having said that, the picture postcard is a wonderful photographic record, particularly to the local historian. I see each one as a window on a specific moment in time. Not only can we see what the fabric of the town was like at a eertam date in its history, but if we look a little closer we can see so much more - how people worked and played, what they ware, the games children enjoyed, the events people celebrated. Of course, the people of the time didu't think about that when they purchased their cards from Edward Gane Inge's Chemist's shop or William Charrnan's Post Office in the High Street. Postcard mania was sweeping the country and everyone, including the King himself, was feverishly writing and sen ding postcards. The first twenty years of this century saw the heyday of this craze with an incredible 860 million postcards a year being sent through the post in Brttam alone. For the price of one half penny, a postage rate that would remain the same for a quarter of a century, people could keep in touch with friends and fami-

ly in the way we use the telephone today. In fact, letter writing was really the only form of communieation available to the ordinary person.As we approach the end ofthe 20th century, it's hard for us to visualise a world where we can't just turn on an electrie light or a radio, piek up a telephone, get in a car or on a plane. But this was all in the future for the people in our earlier photographs and they aften needed persuading to change the ways of a lifetime for some new fangled invention. Take the motor-car, for example. Many resisted this noisy mechanical beast, until it was clear the car was here to stay. There were obvious advantages and, according to one leading British surgeon, some that were not quite so obviousl In 1902 Sir Henry Thompson wrote: 'The easy jolting which occurs when a motor-car is driven at a fair speed over the highway conduces to a healthy agitation. It "acts on the liver" - it aids the peristaltic movement of the bowels and promotes the performance of the function.' However, unlike horse riding, driving a motor-car did nothing to exercise the leg muscles, sa Sir Henry advocated stopping the vehicle every twenty miles and 'running smartly for about two hundred or three hundred yards'.

And sa to the baak itselfl I have tried to lay it out in the farm of a tour of the town. We begin in the High Street, around the old Market Place, once the very hub of Haslemere, befare making a brief visit to Blackdown and then returning to the centre of town along Petworth Raad. Then it's on to Shepherd's Hili, followed by Lower Street, the Station, out to Wey Hili and Shottermill and on to Hindhead, We conclude with a brieflook at Grayswood. Inevitably the views included are lirnited by the postcards available and I apologise in advance if your favourite street doesn't even get a mention. But I should point out that this was never intended to be a complete history of Haslemere. The town has al-

ready been well documented by such knowledgeable people as E. W Swanton, üBE and G.R. Rolston. Indeed, Dr. Rolston's excellent baak 'Haslernere' has been invaluabIe in pointing me in the right direction for my own research. My aim has been to provide you with some visual images of Haslemere's past. As you turn each page try to imagine you are looking through that 'window' I mentioned onto a specific moment in time, when everyday people, going about their everyday business, were captured for posterity. Through it you will catch a glimpse of Golden Jubilee celebrations, the town band, Haslemere in war time, local tradesmen, even the King!

Although half of the postcards reproduced in this baak are from my own collection, I am very grateful to Haslemere Educational Museum, the Surrey Local Studies Library in Guildford and the Francis Frith Collection, for allowing me to copy postcards and photographs and, as requested, have credited each of their picrures. I would also Iike to thank the Surrey Advertiser, whose newspaper archives gave such a fresh insight into the people and events of the time. Last, but not least, I must thank my husband, Chris, not only for copying all the photographs for me, but also for his continuing support and great patience.

Annette Booth

Let's begin with a view of Haslemere as it was in 1902. The scene was captured by the photographer from the Francis Frith Postcard Company, who looked down from the recreation ground onto a town stretching out below him as quiet and tranquil as ever. Wen, not quite as quiet as it had been! Until the arrival of the railway in 1859 Haslemere had been little more than a village; now it was gradually becoming THE place to visit or to take up summer residence. In her baak 'Old West Surrey', published in 1904, Gertrude [ekyll laments this fact. 'Formerly it was a rare thing to

see astranger and people's lives went leisurely,' she writes. 'Now; the strain and throng and unceasing restlessness that have been induced by all kinds of competition, and byease of

communication have invaded this quiet corner of the land.' Oh, Miss Iekyll, if only you could see it now!

2 This posteard of the High Street, published around 1903, is from my own eolleetion and one of my favourites. The postman is delivering a pareel to the Workmen's Institute, while his horse takes a we1come drink from the trough outside. Bath the Institute and the trough were presented to the town by Stewart Hodgson ofLythe Hill, the Institute in 1 887 and the trough in 1897. Note the E.R. on the side ofthe post wagon, helping us to plaee the photograph during King EdwardVII'sreign (19011910). On the extreme left is the Swan Hotel, while, aeross the street, three ladies are making their way to the premises of Edward Gane

Inge, Dispensing & Photographie Chemist. He appears to have had several strings to his bow for, as well as publishing a number of posteards of Haslemere, many of whieh appear in this baak, Mr. Inge

offered his eustomers the service of''teeth earefully extraeted' !

3 A slightly wider angle of the High Street in this view published by the Frith Postcard Company in 1 9 ° 7 . Francis Frith is perhaps the best known of all the postcard publishers and, as he was based in Surrey, at Reigate, it isn't surprising that several of his cards feature in this book. He founded rus firm in 1 859, having made a fortune in the wholesale grocery business and, with a team of twelve photographers, he set about making a complete study of the British Isles. Frith died in 1898 and the business was carried on by his sons. Today, the Francis Frith Collection consists ofsome 60,000 negatives, portraying over two hundred locations. Even so,

occasionally, views were actually manipulated. If you look carefully you will see that the photographer had only managed to capture an almost empty street in 1907. The couple walking, the car, and

the coach and horses have all been added later - they may not even have had anything to do with Haslemere!

- )(rsJemere.

4 Haslemere Town Hall, photographed in about 1 862 and produced as a postcard around the turn of this century. At the time of this photograph the hall consisted of just one large room on the first floor where everything was held, from infant's school to parish meetings. On the ground floor were three arches; a central one where weekIy markets would be held, while one of the smaller arches contained a loek-up for 'bad characters' and the other the stairs to the first floor room. Erected in 1814, the Town Hall replaced an earlter timber-framed building, which had stood a little fur-

ther along the High Street, almost opposite the King's Arms.

Old Town HaIl, Haslemere.

5 This 1 885 photograph of the corner of the High Street and Lower Street is from the Surrey Local Studies Library collection. It is the first of several photographs from the camera 00000 Wornham Penfold, a member of an old established Haslemere family and an architect and surveyor by profession. On the left can just be seen the Town Hall, which has undergone a face lift in the twenty years since the previous photograph, with the loek-ups being converted into two ground floor rooms. On the extreme right is part of the old Swan Inn, a seventeenth century building, which, within the next ten years, would be reconstructed. To the left of the Swan,

which at this time was under the licenceeship of Frank Gibbs, was the home of Frederick Fowler, a tailor by trade, while on the very corner was the butcher's shop of Henry MitchelI. Immediately

behind the Town Hall you can see the barn belonging to the Half Moon Farm.

6 The pictures on this page and the next are bath reproduced courtesy of the Haslemere Educational Museum and enable us to share a Iittle of the excitement expertenced by local people as they celebrated Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. Once more, Iohn Wornham Penfold was on hand with his camera to capture that day in [une 1887. The celebrations had gat off to a good, and a bad, start! The Haslemere Town Band played two jubilee marches through the decorated streets at 6.30 a.m., as weil as 'God Save the Queen' in front of the Town Hall. They then marched to Midhurst, where according to the report in the Surrey Advertiser, 'they were

(by an oversight of the committee) allowed to be engaged, so that consequently another band had to be hired'. It would appear that this was the Shaftesbury School [uvenile Band, who

led the procession from the church, where a service had been held, to the centre of Haslemere, where some 530 people sat down to lunch.

7 Immediately after lunch on Tuesday, 2Ist june 1887, the band led a procession through the streets to Lythe Hili Park, where, courtesy of Mr. J.S. Hodgson, sports, a tug of war and a demonstration by the Fire Brigade were held. In this photograph the Fire Brigade has congregated at the junction ofMarket Place and East Street, ready to join the procession. just visible in the background is one of the floral arches which adorned the town in celebration of the Golden Jubilee. This particular one, erected by Mr. George Fulk, the grocer in East Street, received a mention in the 10cal press. The reporter from the Surrey Advertiser wrote that 'Mr. Fulk should especial-

ly be complimented, the arch being of special design and very tastefully displayed'. Following the afternoon of sports, the procession returned to the centre of town, where a tea for some 340

women and children was held. A bonfire on Gibbet Hili concluded the celebrations.

8 This john Wornham Penfold photograph of the High Street taken on 7th October 1885 comes from the Surrey Local Studies Library. On the right we have Wellaud's the grocers, then comes the Kings Arms, with its 'Good Stabling', and the White Horse Hotel. Note the gas lamp on the corner of the Town Hall. Gas had come to the town in 1869. rvv. Penfold left a marvellous legacy to the local historian with his photographs of Haslemere in the 1880's, but he is perhaps best known as the designer of one of the country's very first post boxes. His boxes - a replica of one stands beneath the old Chestnut tree in the High Street as a memorial to

Haslernere's famous sonwere hexagonal in shape, with a circle of beading crowning the tall pillar. They were produced between the years 1866 and 1879 at a cast of about :S3 each. There are

believed to be about eighty of his boxes still in use throughout the country today.

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