Swanage in old picture postcards

Swanage in old picture postcards

:   David A. Haysom and John Patrick
:   Dorset
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-5514-4
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Swanage in old picture postcards'

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'Swanage is a place of very little importance. It is near PooIe. ' This is how Swanage (or Swanwich) was described in a trade directory of 1793! By 1830 Pigot's Directory of Dorsetshire observed that the village of Swanwich 'derives its chief support from the stone quarries, ofwhich there are great numbers within the parish constantly worked, which employ many of the male inhabitants, and the females are occupied in spinning flax and making straw plait. The bay is extremely commodious for bathing, and consequently attracts some few families hither in the summer season.' The 1842 edition notes that a 'marker formerly held on Thursdays and Fridays, has ceased to be observed. The parish contained in 1831 1,734 inhabitants, and by the last census (1841) 1,971.' The market was revived in the early 1850's and was held at 'Market Place', now The Square. The Anchor Inn served as the market house and the licensee, Elijah Vacher, was also proprietor of the sole bathing machine (see Nr. 48). The Post Office Directory of 1855 states that 'the market is held on Fridays'. This edition also describes Swanage as a 'town' rather than a 'large village' , which is 'situated on the beautiful bay of Swanage, consists of one street, nearly a mile in length, the houses are chiefly built in stone'. It continues: 'A spacious and commodious hotel, called the Royal Victoria, has been erected for the accommodation of the numerous visitors who frequent this place during the summer season for the purpose of the fine sea-bathing, There are, also, many excellent shops, as weil as some commodious lodging houses. The inhabitants are chiefly employed in quarrying freestone for building and paving, large quantities being annually exported from this place. The bay, which serves as a harbour to the town, affords good anchorage for vessels of from 300 to 400 tons burthen. This parish comprises about 3,770 acres; the population, in 1851, was 2,104.' By the 1870's Swanage was described as a 'rising watering place'. The Post Office Directory of 1875 states that a 'new

town is being erected on the Durlston Park Estate, the property of George Burt, a native of Swanage, who, with John C. Robinson of Newton Manor, are largely contributing to the improvement of the town'. Burt and Robinson were in fact bitter rivals. Robinson, art adviser to Queen Victoria, considered Burt an ignorant upstart and even refused to use his new water supply, preferring to build his own reservoir at Newton. The only part of Burt's 'new town' actually built was Park Road and Grosvenor Road, due mainly to the steep hili. The Directory of 1880 adds that a 'hydropathic establishment and sanatorium is situated in the Durlston Park, and is conducted by Dr. Pearce, formerly of London and Northarnpton'. '[his was apparently short-lived, The residentpopulation of Swanage rose from 2,357 in 1881 (little changed from 1851) to 3,408 by 1901. This can partly be explained by the large number of dornestic staff employed at the new hotels and boarding houses, built after the coming ofthe railway in 1885. The 'Cliff Estatc' or 'New Swanage' was also being developed and these wealthy families also employed servants.

The beginning of the 20th century saw the death of Queen Victoria and the accession of Edward VII. In the Dorset County Chroniele on 3rd January 1901, local grocer and fruiterer James Day gave his prophetic thoughts for the new century. 'Many of us will wonder what position England, or rather I should say Greater Britain, will possess in the world at the dawn of the next century (2001). There have been many artieies written by experts, letters frorn business men, drawing attention to the fact that we as a nation are losing our worldwide supremacy, that we are losing a great deal of our trade, in fact that England is in a bad state of decay. Many theories have been brought forward as to the cause. I think many of them have overlooked the fact of the great increase in the population of other countries during the last 20 years. The greater the population the more competition there must beo It

is nonsense for anyone to suppose we are always going to control the trade of the worId as we have done during the last century. That we shall more than hold our own in the coming struggle for existence is evident to all those who make a study of the English character, and there is nothing that brings out that character in an Englishman more than a tight corner. The time is coming when it will be wanted to show the world that we are from the same stock that made England great, that our sun has not yet set, nor our race degenerated. '

Jimmy Day was alocal Councillor for over forty years and he died in 1948 aged 84. As a public benefactor his name is still familiar to us through the James Day Home and Day's Park (see Nr. 39). Day's Raad also perpetuates his name. The origins of our present raad names in fact vary from the obvious to the obscure. Station Road and Share Road need no explanation, however, Steer Road and Mermond Place are more complex. Steer Raad was named after Congregational Minister Thomas Steer (see Nr. 60), while Mermond Place is derived from Merton and Osmond, the nam es of Lambert Rose's two sans killed during the First World War (see Nr. 50).

In the pages of this book two names frequently appear, those of James Day and of master builder and innovator William Masters Hardy. In his excellent book 'Old Swanage and Purbeek', first published in 1908, Hardy describes vividly the Swanage of his youth and the changes he had witnessed. 'W.M.', as he was known, founded the well-known local building firm in 1864 and was also a talented amateur musician (he died in 1921 aged 85). During the 1870's he had been Surveyor and Inspeetor of Public Nuisances for the Local Board, which later became the Urban District CounciI. Before the Town Hall was built, the meetings of the Local Board we re aften held in the office at his builder's yard on Spring Hill (replaced by Craigside in 1900). 'W.M.' moved his yard to Mount Pleasant Lane, where he built Central Works, later run by

George Hardy and Tom Hardy. The firm closed upon the retirement of LIew and Ron Hardy in 1985. The yard was replaced by flats appropriately called Hardy Close. W.M. Hardy's preface to 'Old Swanage and Purbeek' ,although written over eighty years ago, sums up our own feelings about this new book. He writes: 'If my humbie baak, with its many illustrations, is the means of preserving an impression of the old town and its history , the old folks and their doings and sayings, I shall feel that the pains th at I have taken in its compilation pains, yet, that have been to a great extent pleasure - have not been in vain. My reward will be that I have done something to visualise for the information and, I hope, the entertainment of generations yet unborn, the 'Old Swanage' which I have loved, which, having been bom in, I have always esteemed as the most desirabIe place of abode in all the worId.'

The Edwardian period was the heyday of the picture postcard, when visitors bought vast numbers to send to their families and friends or keep as souvenirs of their travels. Picture postcards had been introduced from Europe in 1894, although smaller in size (41h insx31/z ins) than the now familiar size (51h insx31h ins). These were known as 'Court Cards' and postal regulations permitted only the address to be written on the back. The message had to be squeezed under the necessarily sm all picture. In 1899 the larger size was allowed, and by 1902 the message could be written on the back with the address. These 'divided back' postcards triggered a remarkable postcard boom. Recent surveys suggest that 1906 was the peak year with around 260 million cards sent, before a gradual dec1ine up to the First WorId War.

David Haysom John Patriek

1. A fine view taken by Walter Pouncy in the summer of 1905. This postcard can be dated to th at year by the completion of the row of shops on the east side of Institute Road (see No. 40). By the 1906 season Frank Parsons had also opened his Beach Refreshment Room at the north end of Shore Road (seen on the next page). His small bathing shed, nearest the camera, was erected in 1899. A scheme for 26 stone groynes was defeated in 1901 by the 'anti-groynists'. Howcver, a sea wall was proposed, to provide a 'smooth and pleasant promenade' and re move the 'ragged appearance of the shore'. The foundation stone was laid by John Mowlem J.P. on 25th February 1904, and he gave each workman half-a-crown. This stone, near the Mowlem Theatre, is now iIlegible. The wall was built in sections by local contractors Burt and Burt, the middle part being the last. The final paving work was completed in June 1905.

2. Frank Parsons 'Beach Refreshment Room', Shore Road, 1906. This simple structure was built to plans dated April 1906 and completed in time for the summer season. In an advert of 1907, Frank Parsons provided 'Bathing Tents, Sailing and Rowing Boats, Deck Chairs for Hire, by the Day, Week or Month. Swimming Lessons given, Fishing Parties Arranged. Refreshment Room close by. Teas served on the Beach'. After the 1907 season he subrnitted plans for his new 'Beach Restaurant and Stores', designed by Bournemouth architect Thomas Grimes and built early in 1908 (shown on the next postcard - now Ocean Bay Stores). Frank Parsons lived at Sea Bank Lodge built in 1896 (behind his Refreshment Room). The other properties seen here on the 'Cliff Estate' are, left to right, 'Gosberton' (now Kingsley Hall Hotel), erected by Parsons and Hayter in 1896; 'Mount Edgecornbe' (now part of 'Highcliffe'), dating from 1903; and apartments for John Hooke , built in 1898 (named 'Highcliffe" from 1902).

3. Shore Road c. 1912. Frank Parsons new 'Beach Restaurant and Stores' can be seen on the right. He also added a 'motor car house' in 1908. The now familiar term 'garage', a French word first used in 1902, had yet to become generally accepted. The horse-drawn delivery van would also soon become a thing of the past. On the left was 'Shincr's', where Mrs. Elizabeth Shiner, wife of gardener! coachman Thomas Shiner, was a bathing tent proprietor from the 1870's. Her son, Tom, carried on the business until the late 1930's, when he is described as a 'confectioner'. The present Ivy Cottage still sells confectionery and ice creams, although it is in fact set back on a different site to the original cottage seen here. The notice board (resting on the wall) advertises 'Mixed Bathing' , which Shiner's c1aimed to have first introduced to Swanage in 1879. By 1900 the Dorset County ChronicIe noted th at 'mixed bathing is being carried out here with great success'.

4. This view of 1906 shows the two principal bathing machine proprietors, White's and Linnington's. In 'Old Swanage and Purbeck', W.M. Hardy recalls that in the 1850's: 'There was only one bathing machine, a day's notice had to be given to the proprietor, at the Anchor Inn, who would provide the services of a horse, man and nurse.' By the late 1860's George Stickland and James Clark had become bathing machine proprietors and in 1877 were fined Is each for allowing mixed bathing. The late 1870's also saw John Davis White set up his business. A lengthy court case with the Council during 1901/02 concerned his bathing machines being kept on the beach in winter. Mr. White was finally allowed to use a field opposite, owned by Mr. 1.M. Burt, to store his machines. The shelter was built in 1910 and the clock added for the Corona ti on in 1953.

T.h.e senäs, Swanage

5. This charming postcard of c. 1904 was produced by local 'fancy dealer', Tom Carey (see No. 47). Around 1903 James Day started an annual sand castie competition. The Chronicle reported in 1908 that 'the entries numbered 70, and the competitors threw themselves into the work with much zeal, stimulated by the hope of winning one ofthe prizes again provided by the generosity of MI. Day. The competitors were divided into three classes: family groups, young folk over 14 and under 18, and children under 14. Many of the models were of local buildings, as well as objects and animals. for example the sphinx and the elephant were deservedly admired by the throng of spectators who lined the sands by Mrs. Shiner's' (see No. 3). Sand castle competitions are still of course part of the Regatta today. One of John Davis White's bathing machines can be seen on the right. In later years MI. White became known as 'fashion' or 'old-fashioned' White. He died in 1927.

6. In August 1906 it was the turn of the Hampshire Volunteer Infantry Brigade to occupy the annual camp at Whitecliff Farm. Their 1st Battalion of 1,000 men camped at Lulworth. Swanage hosted their four remaining Battalions, commanded by Colonel H. Crichton. The ChronicIe reported their arrival: 'Swanage was crowded with resident visitors, weekenders and day trippers on Saturday and the incursion of weil nigh two thousand volunteers made matters lively, especially at the railway station where the staff worked very hard.' The camp site was praised for 'its healthy, pleasant situation, the salubrious air, the superb landscape and seascape that it commands, the animated surroundings and the facilities for sea bathing and boating'. The week was spent on manoeuvres with the cycle section being followed around by their food truck - a borrowed 'Bournemouth Corporation motor-dustcart' which had 'of course been washed out'!

7. The White House was for many years the home of the Hibbs family. David Hibbs also ran the property as a lodging house. He died in 1909, but his wife Thirza continued to live there until Christmas 1920. The Council received a report in 1921 describing the building as 'uninhabitable' and reeommending demolition. Councillor H. Smith offered to re-build the White House, rat her than see 'one of the landmarks of Swanage pulled down'. However , James Day wanted to see 'some bat hing bungalows that would bring in some revenue'. The Council finally decided to offer it as a tea room and garden. The Information Bureau was opened here on 10th June 1936. The A.R.P. used the building during the winter of 193911940, and the Bureau re-opened from April to July 1940, when a Restricted Area Order was enforced. It was requisitioned by the War Department and became the Home Guard Headquarters from August 1940 to March 1941. The Information Bureau re-openedfrom the 1947 season.

8. The cab stand on Shore Road 1907. The cabmen were of ten in trouble. The court sessions of August 1904 had four ofthem appearing befare the magistrates and receiving fines; two for overloading their vehicles, one for using obscene language and the other for 'driving an unfit horse'. The shelter shown opposite was built in 1908 and shortly after the cab stand was moved to the north. However, complaints made that the cabmen used the new shelter, were refuted by James Day, whose shop was close-by (see No. 39). In 1910 the cabmen sent a petition to the Council asking that 'motor vehicles may not be licensed as public conveyances' (sorne later took to driving motor cabs!) The dilapidated barn to the left was part of Brook Farm, which was cleared away over New Year 1914. In 1912 a concert pitch was built for George Robins. although in 1908 the Council had not allowed Punch and Judy because they 'wished to keep the beach select for their visitors' !

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