Month: June 2016

Getting closer to the middle

Facetime #5
Today’s discussion centered around the upcoming making days and current progress.
P: Making days
In terms of the first making day at the University of Lincoln, we will aim to utilise the facilities as much as possible, therefore we need to try and ensure we have things ready prepared; options include lino-cutting or mono-printing, possibly screen-printing (if the screen is pre-made), photocopying and guillotining. It will also be our intention to finalise book cover ideas/design – in readiness for this we will both aim to think about the materiality of the covers and how it can relate to our book theme. We discussed the possibility of working collaboratively on this aspect of the project, this is in contrast to our current working methodology, which is about independent-working – although not in isolation as we are continuing to share work via the blog or Facetime. We will also use the making day to review all finished work so far.
The second making day in Banbury will hopefully focus on finishings such as sewing the books together, rubber stamping and book cover production.

kitchen table photo


T:  In preparation for the opportunity to make work alongside P in the print studio, I have prepared several lino cut blocks to experiment with.  Overprinting and collaging ideas are still to be finalised and I’m looking forward to the sharing and exchanging of techniques and processes as the practical making of work takes place.

P: Progress report 

We had a discussion around whether or not it was important that postcard imagery depicted the named individual within the story. We had both taken the view in developing our ideas that a disconnect between story and image was fully acceptable and could add to the intrigue of the story.

Despite the various typewriter problems that we have both encountered, we have now got to grips with this aspect of the project (and back to back photocopying) and therefore this element is well on the way to completion.

It was interesting to see the first of T’s designed postcards, which were beautiful and inspirational. It made me realise again that I need to stop procrastinating and start to move on with some of the story/design aspects that I have been avoiding because they are problematic. I should also not worry about re-doing postcards if I am not fully satisfied with the final outcome – as T pointed out, there are only 8, so it is not an issue.

Our meeting in  10 days time will be a great opportunity to share and discuss our practice and to offer support in moving our individual work forward; more importantly it will give us the opportunity to assuage any doubts!

T: Progress report

The challenge of representing a village with one A6 image and 90 words of text is resulting in having to select what to depict and what to leave out which has led at times to the visual and written being different.  The choice of what to include and what to leave out is interesting and perhaps one to further review at the end of the project?

I found the opportunity to confirm details around the typewritten side of the post card was particularly helpful – P has definitely explored and realised this more fully and was happy to share tips and make suggestions.  The idea that there may be mistakes was discussed. This sharing of practice led to me re-making several pieces of text which I am now much happier with.

My first visual images are beginning to take shape but as yet are limited to collage.  I was interested to hear about additional details P intends to apply to the surface of her postcard and I’m interested to consider this myself with the addition of stitch.



Pigeon Post


We both reverted to good old Royal Mail this week to share ideas and materials. To Banbury went cartridge paper and printing samples – whilst I received a hand-written letter, a photocopied section of a map plus paper samples…  email and Facetime are convenient methods of communication however at times they don’t enable us to share the tactile nature of our findings.

Charwellton: Royal Connections & Bridge 491



First research led to searching out and recording the village notice board.  This time the board was situated just outside the village hall.  Originally a cottage,  the village website claims that the hall was donated by The Knightley’s of Fawsley to the residents of Charwelton in 1922 as a place to meet and socialise.  Lady Knightly of Fawsley was  lady-in-waiting to The Duchess of Albany who died in 1922 which may have initiated the  donation?

The Duchess, originally Helena Princess of Waldeck-Pyrmont, married Queen Victoria’s youngest son in 1881.  Tragically Leopold died in 1884 and left Helena a widow at the age of 23.  Reading about Helena I have come to understand that The Duchess had a strong sense of duty and a genuine love for her charity work which led her to work closely with hospitals, sponsor auctions and raise funds, until her death.  In 1894 she established The Deptford Fund to assist in finding alternate employment for women who worked in the cattle slaughtering trade which at the time was a dangerous occupation.  Allegedly Queen Victoria grew to respect her daughter-in-law after the death of Prince Leopold as she had the courage to stand up to her!  One example of this was The Duchess disagreeing with the Queen’s original choice of lady-in-waiting and imploring with her face-to-face to choose her own attendants which Queen Victoria relented to!

The Duchess travelled by rail to Charwelton station to visit Lady Knightley, her lady-in-waiting, in 1905.  Children of Charwelton assembled on the platform of the station in their best clothes with flags and flowers to welcome her.

L2526 Charwelton_Railway_Station

The station at Charwelton  opened in 1899 and closed in 1963!  It is no longer visible and has been completely demolished apart from Bridge 491 – a small metal bridge which once carried  a minor road across the railway line.  The station was part of the Great Central Railway and included a goods yard and extensive sidings to cater for the ironstone quarries.  At it’s peak there were often more than 200 wagons stabled in the goods yard!

L2767 charwelton(1903)old3 charwelton(tony_harden1.1951)old1charwelton(hcc7.1946)old6


The village hall website provided further information to the origins of Charwelton including reference to the village name being derived from the river Cherwell which used to rise from the arched cellar of an old farm house in the village!  British History online provided references to prehistoric, medieval and more recent times alongside a series of beautiful maps which seem to echo the decorative patterning of the railway lines and may provide the style of visual imagery to represent the village.







West Haddon: Bike Hire & Repairs


First research led me to All Saints Church, the village notice board attached to the wall opposite,  Crown Lane and the adjoining pub.

Initial interest in Crown Lane led to the local history group website and a wealth of social history stories to choose from.  The website identifies that the success of tradesmen  within the village was due to the commercial advantage of being located  at the crossroads from Warwick to Northampton and Banbury to Market Harborough!  The website continues with information cited from ‘The Militia Lists’ (1770’s) which recorded every male villager between the ages of 18 and 45 along with their occupation.  This identified that twice as many people were weaving and woolcombing than farming at that time.

Other businesses listed throughout the centuries include the clockmaking father and son, Valentine and John Hanbury who moved to West Haddon from Watford at the beginning of the 1900’s.  Also Thomas Patch and John Johnson who became brickyard partners and began building cottages in the 1820s.

wh_station_rd_ovis_1    wh_station_rd_tithe_yard_1


Searching for an individual to represent West Haddon, I became particularly drawn to the trade section of the website which presents recounted memories of businesses operating within living memory and include:

Symington Corset Factory
Doris Webb’s mother and grandmother worked at Symington Corset Factory which was allegedly hardly more than a shed  with six sewing machines in.  According to Doris, girls would train at the factory and pay one shilling per week towards the purchase of the machine she worked on.  The pay differed depending on the quality of stitching on each corset!  Once a girl had enough money to buy her own  machine she would work from home.

Cross Butchers                                                                                                                                                 The butchers killed their own animals in Crown Lane watched on by boys of the village. The down side to this was the rise in rats which then invested the thatched roofs of cottages in Elizabeth Road!

Bush Bakery                                                                                                                                                Denys Bush recalls that his father used to use the huge bakehouse ovens to  roast people’s Sunday lunches on the one day they were not being used to bake bread.

Bike Hire & Repairs                                                                                                                                      Next door to Bush’s Bakery, Fred Hutchins looked after the bikes of the village. He repaired them, and even ran a bike hire service for those without bikes of their own!





Watford: The Gap & The Rockers



First research led to this three sided partially empty village notice board positioned in front of the community centre and a small well.  Different in form and scale from previous notice boards I was drawn to the gaps and the evidence of past notices through left pin holes and lighter coloured areas of wood.

The village website revealed a massive wealth of social history including a detailed account of Watford Gap.  The website notes that whilst North of Watford Gap is now used to distinguish the South from the North of England historically the phrase refers to an important cross-roads on coaching routes and an actual inn from the 17th century called The Watford Gap.

In the 1950’s work began on the development of the first motorway.  The M1 was to pass through Watford Gap joining London to Birmingham. The village website notes that despite Lady Henley making a television appearance to protest about the invasion of the motorway on the rural idyll of Watford, the motorway was officially opened by Ernest Marples, Minister of Transport, on 2nd November 1959.  This reference to protest of industrial development links back to England and the Octopus by Williams-Ellis (connected to Wardington)

Watford Gap services opened on the same day as the M1 and as such is the first and oldest motorway service station!



Prior to the M1 being built the Blue Boar filling station was located on the crossroads of the A5.  The company name refers to a local legend of a Blue Boar who lived beside the lake. As compensation for lost business Blue Boar were offered the opportunity to run the Watford Gap service area.  Allegedly as soon as the services opened they became a prominent landmark for drivers and their fine-dining experience led to them reading their maximum capacity on their first day of opening!




In its day Blue Boar was the place to be!

Service stations were at the cutting edge of catering innovation!   Blue Boar pioneered cooked meals being reheated in ovens for queues of motorists and in 1965 a plate of bacon and eggs cost just two shillings!


Memories of teenage Rugby Rockers who frequented Watford Gap in the 1960’s recall studded  R.R.  initials alongside their names on the back of black leather jackets.   Known as Whippet and Boxer the girls spent their evenings at Blue Boar and worked at the Co-Op Milk during the day on delivery rounds at 4am each morning.  Whippet recalls:

Watford Gap was the place to go even if you had no transport, people would walk up there or thumb a lift and stay all night!   It was electric!

Testing, testing…

I have been able to undertake several areas of testing for the project in the last week or so; firstly with about seven typewriters to choose from it was important to find one with an elite typeface rather than pica (which is bigger), this is because the space on the reverse of the postcard where we intend to type our ‘portraits’ is limited; typeface style also varies – as does the quality of typewriter(!).

I also did a lot of testing with printing back to back on the photocopier – but without much luck, so I may have to resort to typing each story 8 times. I have also begun to digitally print some of the postcards – just three sorts in total to start with. After some letterpress tests, I have now overprinted the cards, but there are still further embellishments to be added, as well as the typing on the reverse. Working in threes’ is a manageable number so I’ll proceed with this structure as it means I can have work at various stages of completion, which will hopefully keep the momentum of postcard production going.

Mr. P. White



On the hunt around charity shops for old postcards to inform my visual practice, I happened upon a typewriter in Oxford yesterday.  Whilst chatting to the sales assistant I discovered the former owner of this Olympia Traveller de Luxe model had been a writer and had also donated a typewriting instruction book, several typewriter ribbons and two boxes of correction papers.

Gregg Applied Typing (1965) provides instructions and practice exercises to master the art of typing a postcard ready for despatch.  

photo 10photo 11


Mr P. White’s name is still visible on the typewriter case lid and the used correction papers allude to the places he has visited and the stories he has written.  I’m not sure yet if Mr. P White will connect to a person or place within this project in some way or if he is the start of a new project !

photo 6 photo 1

Six months on

j sign

Last night I found myself looking back at our old blog posts to remind myself of how far the project has come. The first post was made on 7 December 2015, so it has been six months
today since we began this journey. Looking at some of the early posts, it is interesting to see how much of our early research material is now redundant and has been dismissed. As part of my ‘day job’ – working in education – we have recently been reviewing and discussing
students’ attitude to research, and (at times) their reluctance to engage with developing an idea that doesn’t lead directly to a final solution. Some students also struggle to see the
relevance of research and how it informs their work. This project is the antithesis to that issue; we had no preconceived ideas about what the final outcome of meeting in the middle would be, this enabled us the freedom to explore each site with an open mind. By taking a broad
approach – once a theme was decided, we were able to extract the relevant information and enhance this by undertaking further in-depth enquiry into a specific subject area.
We were both aware at the recent FaceTime meeting that this project could just be the start of an ongoing investigation into other aspects of the people and places that comprise the
Jurassic Way.

Snapshots in time

Postcard messages from the early 1900s. The messages seem to be of a similar length – brief and to the point with a maximum of 30 words!

Dear Kim
I have not forgotten to send you a p.c. We arrived here after seven on Thursday eve, time is passing on(?). I think this is a pretty view of Stamford. Love from all to you all. Your loving Grandma

Dear Ethel
This is Bath Row at the bottom of our lane while the floods were on. Thanks for the things, & will send the bodice back when I write next time. Warren is going away for the holidays.

postcard back

Sent to Miss Chambers, 7 Cooper Street, Leeds
I am sending you another for the collection, I know you haven’t any like this and I think it much nicer to have them through the post. Love ?

Worth the wait

Lizzie & Charles Wells & family

A couple of weeks ago I reported that I was still trying to find information for two of the villages in the north section – Great Oxenden and Harringworth. A random Google search one evening led me to the website of Joy Olney and the Wells Family Archives. Whilst Joy is an Australian, her great grandfather was originally from Great Oxenden. I emailed Joy, who kindly put me in contact with Dr Andrew Wells, the great, great grandson of Charles  Wells (whose brother had emigrated to Australia). Andrew sent me a wonderful, in-depth biography of Charlie, who unlike his brother had remained in Oxendon for most of his life. Having read so much about him I feel that I know Charlie – or Chas (pictured on the far right in above photo) – more than any of the other individuals that constitute my section of the walk. There are so many aspects to his life, and I feel guilty that with all this information at my fingertips I may not be able to do him justice, however limited space, and a maximum word count of about 80 words, means we have to focus on a singular attribute. So it will be my job to decide how this staunch Liberal, who kept bees and won awards for his honey, who had green fingers, and preferred his cycle rather than relying on public transport – as it didn’t meet with his exacting timekeeping expectancies – will be portrayed! Thank you to Joy and Andrew for generously sharing a part of their personal family history with a complete stranger and for filling the final gap in my research.