With individual postcards constructed and the project almost complete, the first making day in the south started with a review of each others work . This provided the opportunity to view the full sequence of 36 selected individuals and their stories to represent each of the towns and villages along the Jurassic Way. We began work by drafting and then typing the introduction page and role call. Consideration was given to ordering names and identifying individuals from the north and south of the route.
Throughout the day post cards were stitched together with a colour chosen separately to represent the wooden Jurassic Way markers. Individual stamp sized portraits were stuck on postcards where we had been able to find the actual individual.
Having visited, read about, written, designed, edited and constructed each postcard over eight months we finally met in the middle by joining the north and south sections with a red stitch to represent the colour used to identify walks on Ordnance Survey maps.
Inspired by the making days at the beginning of the week, I have kept the momentum going by trialing and testing further postcards – this has sometimes meant adopting T’s approach of working directly with photocopies – a more immediate method than scanning and working digitally.
I have been concentrating on two pieces that utilise a variety of different techniques, therefore each one is taking quite a long time to develop and complete. The trick is knowing when to stop and accept that the design is finished.
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
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.
After almost six months of researching the 18 villages of the north section, I feel disappointed that this aspect of the project is almost over. Following the Malaga meeting with T, I spent time re-visiting stories that I had initially rejected; some I approached from a different angle, the workhouse at Duddington for example, whilst others I accepted had sufficient information to form a story – only Great Oxenden and Harringworth remain unresolved. Whilst we had agreed that gaps would be acceptable, having got this far, I feel encouraged to continue with research to find the two missing stories. The difficulty is not always in finding the individual person, but in the story itself having some merit – either visually or in terms of social history.
Having worked on this project for three months, making site visits and sharing our findings through the blog, on Saturday we met in the depths of the Northamptonshire countryside. The photograph shows the spot near Sulby that we identified as the middle point of the North and South Jurassic walks.
Sulby parish notice board in the middle of a wood and the middle of the Jurassic walk.
My approach to each site visit was not to do any research before-hand, as I didn’t want any pre-conceived ideas about what each location may have to offer, my only reference for directions purposes was the Jurassic walk leaflet. Below are three more villages that I didn’t post at the time, but which I have discovered some interesting historical information about that relates to past-industry.
Great Easton: This was home to a small corset factory – Moore, Haddon and Co. Based in a small ironstone building in Cross Bank; at its height it employed 40 women, one man and one boy. The images above show the factory in about 1910, and how it looks now.
Cottingham: In 1874 the clothing factory Wallis and Linnell was established here. A worker from the 1960s remembers making suits, naval uniforms and blazers. In 1980 the factory became Cottingham Closures – a shoe factory which closed in 2000.
Wilbarston: Although not strictly in Wilbarston, RAF Desborough – as the map shows was sited just south of the village. It was in operation from 1943-1953, and is now abandoned. Found imagery includes type-written Raid Reports from WWII which record various missions, with comments such as ‘a very comfortable trip’ (!).
Whilst I have completed my site visits, there were some locations that didn’t seem to offer much visual reference at the time, and therefore I didn’t bother posting them; however subsequent research has uncovered some interesting stories.
Barrowden: this village had a thriving skin trade, with one prominent trader Robert Gill and Son; described as Fellmongers and woodstaplers and vellum, glue, parchment and patent rug manufacturers – this trade included the preparation of animal skins – a hazardous job – that would then be turned into either parchment paper, chamois gloves or sheepskin rugs. Whole families, including small children, were involved in this industry. The image above is an unusual wooden war memorial from inside Barrowden church.
Rockingham: One hundred and sixty four years ago the first Rockingham flower show was held, and continues today. It was reported that in 1852 ‘there was a good display of vegetables, but very few flowers’ – The exhibitors were divided by class – the gentry, clergy and farmers formed one class and the ‘humble cottagers’ the other. The visual opportunities associated with such a story could be interesting here.
This is the final village visit of my section of the walk. The Old School house features a brickwork date on the gable end, next door stands the church which has some lovely detailing in the porch area – the door hinge and decorative floor tiles in particular.
This above image of the plaque is one I have found since the visit – and have subsequently researched further. As it states, in 1941, a Wellington of 305 (Polish) Squadron returning from a raid on Cologne crashed near Sibbertoft. All six crew members were killed. After removal from the wreckage the crew’s bodies were placed in out-buildings at the Red Lion public house in Sibbertoft to await collection by the military.
Pictured here is Flight Officer Golacki the second pilot who was only 22 years old, the other photo is believed to be the crew.
There is also a nineteenth century reference to the Red Lion pub from the Sibbertoft village website which records that at this time the village saw major improvements being made, ‘this was due to the new Lady of the Manor, Lady Villiers. She had acquired Sulby Hall and its lands by the middle of the century. Lady Villiers was a stickler for propriety. Tenants of hers (and most of the villagers were) could not hang out clothes on Sunday. All had to attend church and line up outside to doff their caps or curtsey to her after service. Those that didn’t abide by her rules were thrown out of their homes. Despite this picture of Victorian rectitude the village had quite a reputation as being a wild and lawless place. Heavy drinking in the Red Lion and poaching on an industrial scale seemed to be the order of the day. Running fights between the local ruffians and the Constabulary were not unknown’.
Something else to note, up until the Industrial Revolution, flax weaving and farming formed the principle trades of the village. I wonder if, like in one of T’s previous posts regarding Silver Street, there are any street or house references to flax weaving?