This category contains 14 posts

Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!

Blazing Saddles

Blazing Saddles

They might be riding llamas but if you were a bandito roaming the English countryside in the early 20th century you probably would have steered clear of these Federales. To be honest I can’t be sure if they are hunting gringos, canvassing on behalf of the Salvation Army or delivering the mail. What I can say is that when I spotted this battered old photo in the bottom of a bin I couldn’t resist adding it to my collection. I found the 4.25″ x 2.75″ photo on a recent trip to the UK. If anyone has a theory on which service these smartly dressed young men might belong to please post a comment.

Quarry Mount FC

Quarry Mount Football Club, 1914

Quarry Mount Football Club, 1914

A wonderful real photo postcard sent by a teacher to his Aunt & Uncle shortly after he began teaching at Quarry Bank School in Leeds. It reads:

“Dear Auntie & Uncle, 

I’m sending you this photo showing the football team at Quarry Mount School where I am now teaching. I have marked an X above me for fear you do not know me. 

With Best Wishes from B & Ma. I remain your loving nephew, 


The card is dated 13/3/14 and was sent from his home at 35 Grimthorpe Terrace in Headingley.

It’s a wonderful shot of the football club, many of the boys are sporting snake buckle belts.

I have placed my Historypin streetview opposite the windows from behind which I believe this photo was taken (the brick detailing is identical to that on the outside of the building).

Edward Fletcher, Esq.

Edward Fletcher Letter (1)

Edward Fletcher Esq. 1844

This wonderful letter, written on Sept. 11, 1844 by Edward Fletcher, Esquire to his friend Mr. Lagarenne in France, gives us some insight into holiday planning in the mid-18th century, at least for those that could afford such luxuries.

The letter was folded and sealed with wax and so no envelope was required. I know very little about postal history but would be interested to know more about the marks on this letter should you have any information to share.  I’ve read about a Uniform Fourpenny Post that was in place for a handful of weeks in 1839/40 which used a large written 4 to indicate payment.  Could the large 10 written on this letter be a similar designation, used on a letter posted to the continent?

The contents of the letter are quite interesting. Edward Fletcher penned the note, beautifully I might add,  from his brother-in-law’s country residence in Croydon and described in detail how he would make his way to the continent.  The Brighton Railway, which was in service for less than 10 years, was only a mile and half from this residence and Fletcher estimated 3 to 3.5 hours should suffice for the journey to Shoreham (the same journey today would take just over an hour and involve several changes, but of course the mile and half carriage ride to the station might take a bit longer).  He goes on to say that from Shoreham there was a good steamboat service every Friday to Harve.

Fletcher devoted much of the letter to describing his requirements for an apartment, should his friend be willing to enquire on his behalf. “A bedroom for Madame et moi — one for Mademoiselle Emilie, and one for her Bonne, will suffice for sleeping apartments. One salon will be sufficient, but if there were a small second room, to use as a study, when requiste, it would be preferable“.  One french female servant was also required (frankly I never travel without one).

Edward Fletcher was a man of means and explained to his friend that he had given his carriage to his cousin, the young Captain Elliott, and so he would hire or purchase a carriage on arrival —  “If you hear of a good strong horse, fit to ride or drive, please keep your eye upon him“.

Intrigued by Edward Fletcher, Esq. I did some digging on Ancestry where I found his baptismal record, showing that he was born in Ealing on April 25, 1798 to Joseph Fletcher, Esq. and Frances. In 1851, six years after this letter was written, the census shows he was living with his wife Mary Ann at 19 Park Street in Bath and was described as a “Proprietor of Houses”.  Interestingly enough, they had visitors the night of the census, a George and Ellen Elliott, presumably the young cousin to whom he gifted his carriage.

Edward Fletcher Probate

Fletcher's Will from 1862

By 1861 Edward was living in Kensington with his wife, his daughter Emily (now Emily Luther) and his grandson Martin F. Luther.  He died only months later, on Dec. 12 1861, and left an estate worth nearly £4000 (over £2 million today).


A six-pack of vintage British buses

Vintage British Coach

A vintage British Coach

I love collecting photos of vintage vehicles, especially when I have the opportunity to research where and when the photos were taken.  I’ve uploaded half a dozen photos to a new Vintage British Buses set on Flickr. While I can date these bus and coach photos to the early 60’s I have no idea where in the British Isles they were taken.

These half dozen photos are postcard size (3.5″ x 5.5″) and are printed on a similar thickness of card stock.  The backs are blank although I have many more photos to add that contained detailed information on the vehicle, including date and sometimes location.  Stay tuned for those.

If you know anything about these vehicles please add a comment.

1928 Rent Book – No Pigeons or Hens

1928 Rent Book

1928 Rent Book from Ashton-Under-Lyne

This is a rent book from 1928 printed by the Ashton & District Property Owners’ Association in Ashton-Under-Lyne.  At the time the property was owned by Ben Riley and was situated at 136 Chapel Street, Dukinfield.  It was let out to a Mr. Hawes for 10 / – per week.

This 4″ x 6.5″ booklet, constructed of card stock, features advertisements from local businesses on the front and back cover.  The inside of the rent book provides a space to track payments over the year and also state the terms and conditions, including:

* Slop Water Only to be used in Waste Water Closets.

* No wireless apparatus must be attached to any premises without the consent of the Landlord or his Agents

* No Pigeons or Hens allowed to be kept on the Premises.

The terms end with the stern warning that “Tenants removing their Goods before the Rent be paid, and any person who may assist in so doing, are, by Act of Parliament, liable to be committed to the HOUSE OF CORRECTION FOR SIX MONTHS“.

Bustling Boar Lane, Leeds

Boar Lane in Leeds

A nice real photo postcard

Today’s blog post features a real photo postcard of Boar Lane in Leeds. Although the card was posted on Aug 19, 1948 I suspect the photo was taken before the Second World War.

The postcard was written by a young rail/bus/tram enthusiast to his parents in Manchester. He was a man on a mission:

“On express to Grimsby. Got Auntie up early. Thoroughly enjoyed Whitby yesterday. We are late into Grimsby. Just about to board G.8.1 Tram. Visiting depot. Have wasted exposures.

In Cleethorpes bus. Have finished with Trams. Just passing Docks Station. The fare from Grimsby to Immingham is 1/11. Not like most tramways but they have to have railway fares. Will get into Leeds at 10.20 by special train.”

A Soldier of the Great War

An Unknown Soldier

A weary looking Sergeant of the Great War

One of the unfortunate consequences of searching for vintage photographs is the discovery of hundreds, if not thousands, of images of someone’s forgotten relatives.

It’s particularly sad to see a soldier’s photograph, knowing that nearly a century ago they held pride of place in homes across the country. If I’m fortunate enough to find a name or number I do my best to keep their memory alive by publishing their story online. Unfortunately sometimes there is no information to follow up.

I can’t afford to buy all of the photographs of unknown soldiers but I do rescue as many as I can.  I’ve created a photo set on Flickr as a tribute to, as tens of thousands of headstones so eloquently state, “A Soldier of the Great War, Known unto God“.

The postcard featured here is of a British [Edit: Private with a Horse Artillery Unit] with two wound stripes on his left forearm. This dates the postcard to 1916 or later. He looks tired and in need of that cigarette.

Snowy Weymouth

Cove Row in Weymouth

Snowy Cove Row in Weymouth

A light dusting of snow blankets Cove Row in the seaside town of Weymouth in Dorset.  I never tire of looking at images like this, in fact I wish I could step right into the photograph and take a spin around the cobbled streets and breathe in the fresh salt air.  A tour of the decks onboard ship wouldn’t go amiss either.

Although labeled like a postcard the back of this photograph is completely blank. This is one of three atmospheric photographs of Weymouth I have and although none are dated I assume from the clothing being worn that they are from the 1930’s or possibly early 1940’s.

The cold sleepy streets in this photograph are in stark contrast to the sunny summer scene captured in the Google Streetview on Historypin.  Nevertheless the buildings have changed very little and The New Rooms Inn still stands in the foreground, even if it is a cafe today.

The Tilly Whim Inn

Tilly Whim InnThis little card, a souvenir from the Tilly Whim Inn in Dorset, made me laugh out loud when I found it in a local bookstore. I do enjoy a pint of Real Ale and so how could I resist the sage financial advice printed on the back?  And there are more lessons to be learned on the inside too. The Tilly Whim must have been a fun place to while away a few hours.

The cliff-top pub near Swanage, whose regulars included author Enid Blyton and actor Wilfrid Brambell, sadly burned down in 1972. Far sadder was the news that its owner of 22 years, Mrs. Burridge, lost her life savings in an Icelandic offshore trap. It seems unusually cruel that someone whose motto was Laugh and be Happy should be swindled in this way.

An unhappy ending but a fine example of how a little piece of ephemera can  tell a much bigger story.

Aberdeen & Penrhyn Bay Trams

Aberdeen Car 129 at Castle Street

Aberdeen Car 129 at Castle Street

I picked up some wonderful photographs of British trams this weekend, two of which I’m featuring in this post.  The photos were captured by tram and bus enthusiasts in the 1930’s, 40’s and early 50’s.  Most are of excellent quality and include handwritten details on the back.

The first photograph is of Aberdeen Corporation car #129 at the Castle Street terminus.  This picture was taken on September 5, 1935 by E.C. Haywood from Carlton, Nottingham.  On the back he noted that the car had air brakes and S.K.F. roller bearings, and that route #4 ran from Castle Street to Hazlehead via Queen’s Road.  This Streetview image shows how the turning circle is today a pedestrian area.

Llandudno car 12 at Penrhyn Bay

Llandudno car 12 at Penrhyn Bay

The second photo is of Llandudno & Colwyn Bay Electric Railway car #12 picking up a passenger along Penrhyn Bay.  Shot by E.C. Haywood on May 31, 1946 he wrote the following details on the back:

Showing the eastbound track out of use for about 1/3 of a mile, as it had been since the storm (which affected the whole of the N. Wales coast) the previous autumn. Rocks and stones cover this track lower down. Compare with photograph (A) and note how much nearer the bank-edge is now, and also the rearrangement of the overhead lines.

This Streetview image reveals that the home in the background with the unique arch detail is not only still standing but remains unobstructed.

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July 2020

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