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.
Making in the north alongside P enabled me to finalise 5 images and begin to work on a further 3. The time to share ideas, discuss working practices and give and receive feedback further supported my initial ideas and gave me confidence to continue. A practice of cutting and sticking has emerged! Making use of the photocopier I have explored its potential and utilised the advanced settings to knock back or heighten colour, enlarge and re-enlarge to distort found images, and print different surfaces including thin washes of paint and fabric. Access to a printer and photocopier alongside printing and painting materials has proved essential in the later stages of the making process and very much supported the idea of making the multiples required for this project.
Having made each picture postcard separately, I began to view them sequentially prior to the final making day. This resulted in the addition of collage though self adhesive papers, letter stamps and selected colours in paint and pen for further detail.
The return trip from a making day in the North provided the opportunity to re-visit the last villages on my section of the Jurassic Way to search out possible starting points for the final stories.
The first visit to Welford with P some months before had led to The Wharf Inn and a notice board listing local walks. Having read about The Welford Arm of the Grand Union Canal I was interested to find a story to represent this. The notice boards and village website provided information about boatmen, business men and their lives. I was drawn to the story of Mary Gilbert who ran the Inn and continued to expand the business her husband began after his death.
In Elkington I found the village notice board but little else! Surrounded by fields and sheep only one or two farm buildings seemed to make up this tiny settlement. After taking the photographs, I discovered farmers listed in Kelly’s directories and eventually happened upon a report examining large scale sheep grazing in the sixteenth century. Apparently many flocks were pastured on deserted village sites such as Elkington and an individual called Sir John Spencer emerged as the most renowned at this time!
The tiny village of Winwick on the other hand was home to a church on a hill, a hall and a manor. The village website and additional local history sites provided a wealth of information about owners of the manor, rectors and their families. I became drawn to the story about Juliana Poole who started the Winwick Orphanage for boys in 1877. Further detail about the orphanage, the school master and Juliana was found through online census listings.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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 !
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
First research into Staverton has led to an Elizabeth Darby who bequeathed a fire engine to the village in 1720 following a fire which destroyed 22 houses, haystacks, stables and grain stores from the original village behind the church. Who was Elizabeth? and why a fire engine?
I found this image of a fire engine within the Information & History section of the Staverton Parish Website. Allegedly the fire engine was kept in the village until recently when it was moved to Daventry museum.