Sunday, 21 February 2016

Loughborough and the holiday connection

So, every time I go on holiday I encounter something that reminds me of Loughborough! How odd!

In October 2015 I found myself in the tiny town of Pembroke in South West Wales. Given that Pembroke is on the coast, has a wonderful castle and a connection to Henry VII, you wouldn't think there would be anything here that could possibly evoke anything to do with the little market town of Loughborough, slap bang in the middle of the country, would you?

We decided to visit the museum/heritage centre of the Pembroke Dock Sunderland Trust, housed in the former Dockyard Chapel. There was an extremely interesting collection of artefacts concerned with battles (particularly those of the second world war) and especially with the Sunderland flying boats, as Pembroke Dock was Britain's largest base for flying boats during WW2. When we'd finished wandering around, we exited the grounds onto Meyrick Owen Way, and I was surprised to see on the corner of that road and the B4322 an old-fashioned looking shop, called - the Maypole Dairy!  

The Maypole Dairy in Pembroke Dock, October 2015
Of course, this looked familiar, because there used to be a similar place in Loughborough Market Place:  

The Maypole in Loughborough Market Place, 1960s

If you look closely to the right of the Maypole Dairy in Pembroke Dock, you might be able to work out that the attached building is called the White Hart! 
The White Hart in Pembroke Dock, October 2015
Ok, I grant you, that's a pretty common name for a pub, so it's not surprising that there is also one of these in Loughborough! 
The White Hart, Loughborough, 2015
So, I doubt it would surprise you to learn that whilst on holiday in Dorset last week, I spotted another White Hart, this time in Wimbourne:
The White Hart, Wimbourne, February 2016
Now, if this building in Wimbourne, pictured below, wasn't originally in use as a pub, I'd be surprised! I'd also be surprised if these weren't Hathernware tiles:
An Indian restaurant in Wimbourne, February 2016
Compare this to many 1930s buildings in Loughborough town centre, for example, the former offices of the Loughborough Echo:

Former offices of the Loughborough Echo, Swan Street, Loughborough
A visit to Dorchester County Museum not only reminded me of the place where I grew up, where there was a roman amphitheatre, but also of Loughborough, in the shape of church bells in the county museum. Ok, so they were not made by Taylors, but bells, to my mind, are closely associated with Taylors Bellfoundry on Freehold Street:
Bells in Dorset County Museum, Dorchester, February 2016
And as if that weren't enough, in one of the museum display cabinets was a fragment of an alabaster plaque, of the Nottingham School (and therefore, probably from Chellaston). In the nineteenth century folk in Loughborough carved ornaments to sell, probably at Skegness, from such alabaster: 
Fragment of an alabaster plaque in Dorset County Museum, Dorchester, February 2016
Of course, being in Dorset, we were near Portland, so it was no surprise to find some Portland Stone in a display case:
No.12, Portland Stone, Dorset County Museum, Dorchester, February 2016
But I must say, Portland Stone looks far better around the base of our Carillon, than it does in little chips in a glass display case!
Loughborough Carillon 
Walking around Dorchester, we found a lovely park, Borough Gardens, which was created in 1896, presumably in some way a celebration of Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee, rather like our very own Queen's Park. Borough Gardens had a lovely bandstand which rather reminded me of Loughborough's:
The bandstand created in 1897, Borough Gardens, Dorchester, February 2016
The bandstand in Queen's Park, Loughborough, 2014
Back in the town of Dorchester itself, I happened upon a beautiful post box which reminded me of the one that used to be on the corner of Burton Street and Park Street, before it was damaged by a car:
Post box in Dorchester, February 2016
By now it was getting rather late in Dorchester, so we made our way back to the car. What we hadn't seen on our way down into the town, was the bronze statue of a horse.

Bronze horse, Dorchester, February 2016

It was pretty dark so I didn't get to read what exactly he was doing there, but he reminded me of three things about Loughborough: the bronze sockman in Market place
Shona Kinloch's sockman, Loughborough
Songster, the replica war horse in the Carillon Tower and War Memorial Museum
Songster, the was horse

and the new cinema complex that is being built on the site of the old General Hospital. The Dorchester complex was on the site of the former brewery, although the building was renovated rather than demolished, but the range of eateries seemed to be similar
The development on the site of the former General Hospital
During our trip to Dorset we also visited Tolpuddle and the Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum. You may wonder what on earth I could possibly find to remind me of Loughborough, but the whole experience brought to mind the Chartist risings in the Market Place (1848) and the Luddite attacks on Heathcoat's lacemaking factory (1816). 
The Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum, February 2016

Information on the Chartist Movement in the Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum, February 2016
On our final day in Dorset we visited Cerne Abbas, the village with the giant chalk man on the hillside, and the site of an old abbey. Information provided by the Cerne Abbas Historical Society is available on the web and includes a variety of pictures. This is more-or-less what we saw:

This, of course, reminded me of our own Garendon Abbey, the Chapterhouse of which was excavated by the Loughborough Archaeological and Historical Society in about 1965. Garendon Abbey no longer exists, but the archaeological remains are on the Garendon estate and can be seen in this flyover.

On our last day we travelled to Swanage, passing near Corfe Castle with its Greyhound Pub:
Greyhound pub near Corfe Castle
Strangely, I've been through my photograph collection, but can't find a picture of our former Greyhound pub, on Nottingham Road, which used to have an athletics ground behind it.

Anyway, our last port of call in Dorset was Swanage. Even I couldn't find much of a connection with Loughborough here, as Swanage is a seaside resort with a pier, beach huts and amusement arcades. One or two comparisons could be made though! Their war memorial was quite different from ours (see Carillon above):

The War Memorial at Swanage
I was also pleased to see that they had a steam railway, a teeny bit like our own Great Central Railway, which I wasn't expecting (I really hadn't done my homework at all!):
The platform at Swanage steam railway, February 2016
The platform at the GCR Loughborough
The Town Hall at Swanage was a pretty impressive stone building with an interesting clock on the front:
Swanage Town Hall clock
similar to the one on our Town Hall, although not designed to be seen from all directions like ours:
Loughborough Town Hall clock
I was also interested to see that new houses in Swanage were given names inscribed on stone tablets, just like on some of the older houses in Loughborough. This one was built in 1989:
Stone plaque on newly built houses in Swanage
House plaque on Chestnut Street, Loughborough
Finally, I can't resist posting this picture of Victorian street furniture on the pier at Swanage:
On Swanage pier, February 2016
Sorry, did I say finally? One last one, I promise! Yesterday I went shopping in Loughborough, and picked up some books on our local area at the Age Concern bookshop. Apart from one, which was about pubs in London. Which was odd. I leafed through it before going to sleep last night and read the following passage: 
"The Clanger. The Clanger is a new pub and it has taken the Great Fire of London as its theme ...There are also some interesting items concerning insurance companies. In those days these insurance companies each had a special crest which was displayed on the wall of insured premises and the fire brigades were only allowed to put out fires where these crests were to be seen."
MacLaren, R. (1977). London pubs & inns. St Ives: James Pike Ltd., pp3-4

Fire insurance crest on a house in Swanage, February 2016

Now, I'm pretty sure I've seen one of these somewhere in Loughborough, but I can't for the life of me remember where. Can anyone help?

Hope you've enjoyed this post! And with huge apologies for the changes in type size :(

See you soon

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Victorian house plaques

Over on facebook people are talking about plaques that appear on many Victorian houses in the town. I've long been interested in these, but rarely seem to have time to do any investigation and research that I could blog about.

In my post about Middleton Place, I mentioned the house names and the carved stone plaques, for example:

"Others (61, 63, 65 & 67) all had bay windows, were slightly taller than 53-59, with rounded arches over the doors, and with the house name carved into shaped stone above the door (Sunnydene, Lyndene, Rosedale & Avondale)."


"Numbers 77, 79, 81 and 83, have very similar doorways to 61-67 and, like 61-67, the house names – Mystrayla, Jesmond, Danesford, and Cresford - were carved into a stone block above the doorway, but these were a more plain rectangular shape."  

These names do appear in the pictures that are on my Middleton Place page, but they are difficult to see, and I haven't had a chance to take further pictures. Nor have I been able to come up with any plausible solutions as to what the house names mean, nor why they were used. To date, all I've managed to come up with is:

Mystralya - spelled Mistralya seems to be the name of an elder god in a role playing game, Never Winter Nights, specifically from the Known Lands. Now, I may be wrong here, but I think this role playing game is a whole lot more recent than the house on Middleton Place!!

Jesmond - appears to be an area of Newcastle! Is this significant to Middleton Place? I personally don't know. Oh, and there are also places called Jesmond in Australia and Canada. Now, there is a place called Jesmond Dene, an important wildlife corridor that leads into Newcastle city centre: given the house names of numbers 61 and 63, is this significant in any way?

Danesford - is a small village in Shropshire, so why would a Loughborough house be so named?

Cresford - well, there's a Cresford Road in London, and a place called Cresford in Australia and Toronto, but why there is a house with such a name in Loughborough is a mystery to me,

Sunnydene - ok so "dene" could mean a sandy tract near the sea, or a steep-sided wooded valley. Maybe this house is situated in a sunny valley?

Lynedene - this name is found as both a forename and a surname. Or, lyne is a variation on the word line or lind. Or, linden is the name for a lime tree. Looking a bit deeper, lind could be mild or gentle, a lime or linden tree, to grow, or feed, a wellspring, to give birth or to bear, soft or thin, a bird, Spring, supple, vineyard's bud, sprout, plank, etc.. 

Rosedale - appears to be the name of a city in Maryland, and is also a name.

Avondale - appears to be the name of a city in Arizona, and is also a name.

To briefly return to the plaques ...

Sometimes plaques are quite ornate, but with minimal information, like a date, or the initials of the architect or builder. Nos 85 and 87 Middleton Place have a plaque bearing a date, whereas on Ashby Road and Chestnut Street, there are plaques with initials and a date, with house names and a date, and a variety of others. 

Next time you are driving along Epinal Way, do take a look at the elaborate carving on the side of Field House - swags and green men!
Well, this started as a blog about house plaques, and has ended mentioning green men - answers to the former on a postcard please, but don't mention green men ...