Posted in Activity, Bringing Alive The Past, Event, History

Top 10 Tips For Starting A History Blog

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©Come Step Back In Time

Since March 2016, I have been the History Editor at Bloggeration (@Bloggeration_) an on-line magazine for bloggers across the globe. Editor in Chief is the fabulous Sarah Moody (@Sairey_bearey ) of The Prosecco Diaries whom I met last year when I attended one of her Blogger workshops in London. You may remember reading my article about this event?

Bloggeration has been incredibly successful since its launch a few month’s ago and whether you are new to blogging or a seasoned pro, there is something for everyone in the magazine. New content is posted daily. Bloggeration‘s Twitter account (@Bloggeration_) is very active, a great way to meet other bloggers too.

Every Sunday between 9.30 and 10.30 am (GMT), a different Editor hosts #BloggerationChat – a themed Q&A covering a wide range of blogging topics. #BloggerationChat has even trended on Twitter! I will be hosting a history-themed #BloggerationChat on Sunday 8th May and Sunday 22nd May, so do drop by and connect, it will be lovely to meet you there.

My first feature article for Bloggeration was a long-overdue ‘how to’ guide to starting a history blog. The full article can be found, here but below are some of my top 10 tips if you want to start history blogging:

  1. Some history bloggers are academics but many are graduates, heritage professionals, amateur or local historians. A PhD is not a pre-requisite for writing a successful blog, but a passion for the past definitely is;
  2. Engage your readers by presenting fascinating subjects in a lively and innovative way. Use a mix of film clips, podcasts, quality illustrations, Pinterest boards and Periscope. Generate interest in your posts using Instagram and Twitter.  I also recommend looking on Twitter at #Twitterstorians for all the latest history news and articles, a good place to find other history bloggers too;
  3. Create a niche. The quirkier the content the quicker you will find an audience. Feature hidden histories or lesser known individuals from the past. Take note of current affairs – straplines can inspire you to research fascinating backstories;
  4. Blog upcoming historical anniversaries. Best website for checking future anniversaries is the Mary Evans Picture Library;
  5. Explore the history of your local area. Visit your library and historic locations near to your home. Take photographs and share on-line via Twitter, film a Vlog or for more immediacy, Periscope. If you are based in England then look-out for the Blue Plaque Scheme run by English Heritage;
  6. Rummage in your local charity shop or boot sale for books, magazines, artefacts and objects. Research your finds, document results in your blog. History blogging is actually a fairly low cost pastime in comparison with lifestyle blogging;
  7. Delve into your own family’s history for inspiration. Talk to family members about their memories of the past. Ask if they have any photos or objects they would be willing to have featured in a blog post. This will also give your history blog a unique and very personal edge;
  8. Use plenty of illustrations in your blogs and be copyright aware. (For a full explanation of this point as well as details of copyright safe image resources, see my original article). Since writing my original article, I have discovered an additional image  safe resource. The New York Public Library. Search their image catalogue but make sure you do so by marking the ‘Images In The Public Domain’ tick-box. It is a fantastic database and easy to use. NYPL have released over 180,000 images into the Public Domain;
  9. Quality not quantity. History bloggers tend not to post daily. Articles take a lot longer to research, write-up and curate illustrations. If you are averaging two or three a month then I salute you!
  10. Be a proof-reading Ninja. Your readers will quickly lose confidence in you if articles are full of spelling and grammatical errors or broken web links.
  • For my comprehensive feature article on how to start a history blog, click here.

Good luck if you start a history blog.  Leave me a comment below or Tweet me (@emmahistorian) if you do, I would love to hear about how you are getting-on and am happy to answer any blogging related questions.

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©Come Step Back In Time

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Activity, Aviation History, Bringing Alive The Past, Event, Exhibition, Film, History, Maritime History, Museum, World War Two

Solent Sky Museum, Southampton – Spitfires & Flying Boats –

  •  Film by British Pathé, ‘Vivid Demonstration’ (1936), shot at Eastleigh Aerodrome (later Southampton Airport) on 26th March, 1936. Film features Vickers Long Range Bomber and a Spitfire prototype. This was the Spitfire’s 2nd test flight. Film also shows pilot Jeffrey Quill getting into the Spitfire. Uploaded to You Tube 13.4.14.

Saturday 5th March will be the 80th anniversary of Spitfire’s first test flight from Eastleigh Aerodrome (later Southampton Airport), Hampshire which took place on 5th March, 1936. The first Spitfire test flight lasted 8 minutes. Southampton Airport will be marking this momentous occasion, a Spitfire will take-off from there on Saturday on an 80th birthday flight.

Me in conversation with R. J. MItchell at Solent Sky Museum. ©Come Step Back In Time
Me in conversation with R. J. MItchell at Solent Sky Museum. ©Come Step Back In Time

It will first  fly close to the resting place of its Chief Designer R. J. Mitchell (1895-1937). Continuing along the river Itchen to Southampton Water where it will pass near to the site of the old Supermarine factory in Woolston where many thousands of the aircraft were built.  Onwards to Portsmouth harbour before flying back on itself to Southampton Airport.

According to Southampton Airport’s website, the Spitfire should be visible, around the Solent, between 11 am and 12 noon on Saturday 5th. Subject to weather conditions, there will be good vantage points along the River Itchen, Weston Shore, Hythe, Royal Victoria Country Park, Lee on Solent and Cowes (Isle of Wight).

Solent Sky Museum have a rare Spitfire on display, the Vickers Supermarine Spitfire Mk24 PK683. One of the last of its type to be produced, PK683 saw service with the RAF in Malaysia, and is in almost original condition. ©Come Step Back In Time
Solent Sky Museum have a rare Spitfire on display, the Vickers Supermarine Spitfire Mk24 PK683. One of the last of its type to be produced, PK683 saw service with the RAF in Malaysia, and is in almost original condition. ©Come Step Back In Time

Afterwards, head down to the brilliant, hidden gem that is Solent Sky Museum, Southampton  (Twitter: @SpitfireSolent). On Saturday 5th, this multi-award winning Museum will be open from 12.30pm (admission charges apply) for a packed afternoon of activities to commemorate the Spitfire’s 80th anniversary.  A new exhibition will also open on Saturday, ‘Southampton and the People’s Spitfire’, containing over 100 photographs documenting Southampton’s Blitz.

This exhibition will focus on Southampton’s role producing the Spitfire in ‘Southampton’s Blitz’. During the Battle of Britain, in 1940, Southampton was heavily bombed and the Supermarine factory was destroyed. Spitfire production was dispersed to any local site with enough floor space to produce Spitfire components. The exhibition also commemorates the heroic efforts of local residents to maintain Spitfire production at all costs.

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  • The Spitfire production line at the Vickers Supermarine Works in Southampton, 1940.

There were 20, 531 Spitfires built, the last one rolled off the production line in 1947.  Surviving examples are extremely rare (there is one in Solent Sky Museum – Mk24 PK683). The first Spitfire prototype was originally called “The Fighter” F.37/34 but subsequently this changed to prototype K5054.

Captain Joseph “Mutt” Summers (1904-1954) piloted the first Spitfire test flight in 1936. Mutt joined Vickers Aviation Ltd in June 1929, a year later he became chief test pilot at Supermarine Aviation Works. Jeffrey Kindersley Quill (1913-1996), piloted the second test flight on 26th March, 1936 (see film at top of article). Jeffrey was known as “Mr Spitfire” and was Mutt’s assistant. In January, 1936, he began working at Vickers and its subsidiary Supermarine.

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R. J. Mitchell's cigarette case which he had with him whilst watching Spitfire's first test flight on 5th March, 1936. Artefact is not normally on display to the public at Solent Sky Museum so was very privileged to see and handle it. ©Come Step Back In Time
Two views of R. J. Mitchell’s cigarette case.  He had the case with him whilst watching Spitfire’s first test flight on 5th March, 1936. Artefact is not normally on display to the public at Solent Sky Museum so have been very privileged to see and handle it. ©Come Step Back In Time

  • ‘Solent Sky Museum Seeking Stories Recalling World War Two’ by Shan Robins (That’s Solent TV) featuring an interview with Museum Director Sqn/Ldr Alan Jones MBE CRAeS RAF Rtd. Alan also introduces some special Spitfire related artefacts from the Museum’s deep archives. Uploaded to You Tube 13.2.2016.

I recently assisted on and participated in several films made by Shan Robins (Senior Broadcaster at That’s Solent TV) shot on location at Solent Sky Museum. It was a wonderful opportunity to find-out more about some of the Museum’s most famous exhibits.

  • ‘The Schneider Trophy’s Influence on the Design of the Spitfire’ film by Shan Robins (That’s Solent TV) featuring Museum Director Sqn/Ldr Alan Jones MBE CRAeS RAF Rtd.  Uploaded to You Tube 4.2.2016.

  • ‘Flying Boats: A Look Back at a Bygone Era’ by Shan Robins (That’s Solent TV) featuring an interview with myself made on location at Solent Sky Museum, which is also home to the ‘Beachcomber’, a flying boat originally built in 1943 as a Short Sunderland Mk3, but in 1947 was converted to operate commercial flights with passengers. Uploaded to You Tube 18.2.2016.

There are many exhibits at Solent Sky that fascinate me but the Beachcomber is by far my favourite. In 2012, I wrote an article about the Beachcomber.  On my recent visits to make the above films, I made sure I spent some more time looking around this lovely vintage flying boat.

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Flying Boats and Southampton

In the summer of 1919 (16th August), Supermarine operated Britain’s first commercial flying boat service from the Royal Pier, near Southampton docks. The first flights were local, to Bournemouth, Portsmouth and Isle of Wight, on a Channel Mk.1 aircraft. In September, 1919, Supermarine operated its first international flying boat service from its premises at Woolston travelling to Le Havre.

The service to Le Havre did not operate for long, starting-up again in September 1923 when flying boats serviced the route between Woolston and Cherbourg. In 1924, British Marine became Imperial Airways who continued to operate flying boat services from Woolston. Between the 1924 and 1958, Southampton became one of the busiest flying boat ports in the world.

Before the jet age really took hold, towards the end of the 1950s, flying boats were the popular, if most expensive, method of travel overseas. Only the wealthy could afford the ticket price as well as spare the time needed to complete the  journey.  Travelling to the other side of the world by flying boat could take eight days or more. Some of the journey would have to be made via ship or other modes of transport until flying boats were servicing more routes. Eight days may seem a long time now but actually, back then it was considered extremely quick!

  • Film by British Pathé, ‘Flying Boat – Sydney Aka New Empire Flying Boat Leaves Sydney For Southampton’ (1938).

Like the Spitfire, the flying boat is also celebrating a big birthday this year. On 3rd July it will be the  80th anniversary of Imperial Airways’ first Short C Class flight from Southampton which took place in 1936. Imperial Airways’ first revenue flight took place on 6th February, 1937 and henceforward, Hythe (near Southampton), became the airline’s home base. Only 42 of this type of flying boat were built.

In the new C Class ‘boats, passenger comfort took precedence. A smoking cabin at the front of the aircraft was fitted out like a lounge, with chairs facing each other around small tables. Behind this was a galley, where a steward delivered restaurant quality meals on china plates. Amidships was the “promenade” deck with large, high-placed windows where passengers could stand and see their sights. In all, 24 passengers could be carried.

All this luxury came at a high price, however. The round trip from Southampton to Australia cost as much as a small house in 1937…. Today, aircraft travel at upwards of thirty thousand feet, and frequently all that is visible is clouds. In the C Class, though, there was no pressurised cabin, so flying took place at low level for the whole of the journey. This enabled Imperial Airways to make scheduled flights almost into sight-seeing tours.

(‘Southampton: The Gateway to The Empire’ by Chris Smith, The Solent Sky magazine, Summer 2014, pp. 16-19)

This first C Class flight took place over Southampton Waters. Southampton was  chosen as the location for an international “marine aeroport”, or “airport”. As the name suggests, the first airports were actually located at seaports, Southampton being one of the first.

Airports were originally not the landlocked complex of buildings and terminals that we know today. Historically, that type of airport would actually have been known as an aerodrome. In the 1930s, Southampton’s aerodrome was based at Eastleigh and is today Southampton Airport.

  • British Pathé film, ‘Empire Flying Boat (Imperial Airways) ‘Centaurus’ leaves for flight to New Zealand from Southampton’ (1937). Uploaded to You Tube 13.4.2014.
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  • Imperial Airways flying boat ‘Centaurus’ at Hythe, Hampshire with its five- man crew. The plane flew to Egypt, Iraq and Singapore bringing India to within 2 and 1/2 days air-travel from Britain. L to r Flt Clerk R Doel, First Officer A Richardson, Captain J Sheppard, Wireless Operator L F Mitchell and steward E W Rowcliffe. 1938.

In March 1937, Imperial Airways Limited (1924-1939) started their twice-weekly services to Alexandria and later that year to South and East Africa. These aircraft were maintained at the Hythe flying-boat base until early 1938 when operations moved to Folland’s hangar at Hamble which could now handle five C Class boats at any one time.

From May 1938, arrangements were made for passengers to embark directly onto the aircraft from a pontoon at Berth 101 in Southampton New Docks, doing away with having to board from a launch. Departures to Sydney, Australia left at 5.15am. For early-morning take-offs buoys equipped with electric lights were strung out to indicate the ‘runway’. (Source: Flying Boats of the Solent and Poole by Mike Phipp, 2013, p.46)

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  • A snapshot photograph of a an Imperial Airways flying boat moored to a jetty in Southampton harbour, taken by an unknown photographer in about 1935.

Imperial Airways established their services as four times a week to India, three times to East Africa and twice to Durban, Malaya, Hong Kong and Australia. On 5th July 1937 their first Transatlantic service was started with flights from the UK by Imperial and from the USA by Pan American.  In September 1939, Imperial Airways transferred their aircraft and services to Poole Harbour.

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  • Photograph from 1936. A Flight Steward aboard the giant flying-boat, ‘Canopus’ serves breakfast to passengers in their bunks. Imperial Airways’ Canopus was on the Alexandria-Athens service. It cruised at 200mph and carried 16 passengers in night stages.
Advertising poster for Imperial Airways (1939). On display at Solent Sky Museum, Southampton.
Advertising poster for Imperial Airways (1939). On display at Solent Sky Museum, Southampton.

In the pre-war era, flying with Imperial Airways was everything you would expect it to be, if you had money that is. Passengers who flew regularly with the airline were even allowed to have their valet with them. If you didn’t have a valet to look after your every in-flight need, then you would be looked after by a Flight Steward. In these early years of seaplane travel, all Stewards were male.

Facilities on-board these early flying boats were not luxurious but were adequate. The Short Calcutta and Kent flying-boats were equipped with twin-burner oil stoves, there were no cooking facilities on the Empire ‘boats. Restaurant standard meals were prepared locally in ports across the world, decanted into vacuum flasks and stowed for service in either hot boxes or ice chests.

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  • Steward preparing lunch in the galley of an Imperial Airways, Short L.17 Scylla, a landplane version of the 38 passenger Kent flying boat. The London-Paris route, 1934.

Fruit juices were transferred from the vacuum flasks into serving jugs, bread rolls and Ryvitas were placed in baskets. Food was always served on china plates. Preserves and butter were put on plates and covered with doilies. White linen table cloths and serviettes, metal cutlery, side plates and cruets were laid-out on the tables in each of the cabins.

In 1937 and 1938, Imperial Airways even served Christmas dinners to their passengers, in 1938, Thanksgiving dinner was also provided, popular on the transatlantic routes. All meals were accompanied by wine, spirits, cocktails, soft drinks, hot beverages (tea, cocoa, coffee, chocolate, Bovril, OXO and Horlicks).  Below are examples of Imperial Airways’ dinner menus. First is from 30th August 1938 and second one is from flying boat ‘VB Corsair, date unknown but late 1930s:

Grapefruit or Consommé Princess

Roast Pheasant and Watercress

Lamb Cutlets and Mint Sauce

Roast Chicken, York Ham

Green Salad Beetroot & Apple Salad

Fresh Fruit Salad & Cream

Cheese Cheddar, Gorganzola, Gruyere

Toast Imperial  Assorted Biscuits  Coffee

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Pâté de Fois Gras or Grapefruit

Roast chicken, Ox Tongue, York Ham

Russian Salad

Peaches Melba, Golden Figs

Cheese – Cheshire, Camembert, Kraft

Toast Imperial  – Assorted biscuits – Coffee

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  • Imperial Airways, the Short L.17 Scylla, was a landplane version of the 38 passenger Kent flying boat. Flight Steward attends to his passengers on the London-Paris route, 1934.

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  • The Mayoress of Southampton christens the ‘Southampton.’ Naming ceremony of the RMA ‘Southampton’, at which a libation of wine from a silver ewer is poured over the aircraft. The ceremony took place at the new flying boat base at Southampton docks (Berth 50) which allowed passengers to step ashore straight into the airport buildings. Officially opened by Lord Nathanon on 14th April, 1948.

After World War Two, Imperial Airways became the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). The last C Class retired in c.1947. A new marine air terminal was built for BOAC at Berth 50 in Southampton’s docks with bars, lounges and dining rooms, and a direct rail line was established to London Waterloo. However, in 1948, BOAC gradually started to replace their flying boats with modern land aircraft. Their flying-boat services, from Southampton, finally ended in the autumn of 1950.

  • British Pathé film, ‘Flying Boat Deck'(1948). Showcases the new BOAC Marine Terminal in Southampton. Uploaded to You Tube 13.4.2014.

Following BOAC’s decision to no longer operate a flying boat service out of Southampton,  Aquila Airways, an independent airline,  stepped-in and filled that gap, well at least until 1958.  Aquila Airways  Ltd was formed on the 18th May 1948 by Wing Commander Barry Aikman and operated from Hamble Beach, adjacent to the former Folland slipway.

Aquila serviced the popular route between Southampton and Madeira, initially under a BOAC Associate Agreement. Aquila also provided charter flights carrying ships’ crews. In 1948, Madeira could only be reached by ship, there were no direct flights. When Berth 50 at Southampton docks became vacant, Aquila moved in. By 1951, the airline had 12 aircraft.

At the beginning of 1949 Aquila purchased the remainder of BOAC’s Hythes and parked them on the beach at Hamble. Aquila was able to make use of Berth 50 at Southampton Docks and G-AGEU Hampshire departed on a proving flight to Funchal Bay on 24th March. Its deluxe cabins with thirty-one seats were served by three stewards, with a cocktail bar available.

(Flying Boats of the Solent and Poole by Mike Phipp, 2013, p.120)

Me behind the cocktail bar from an Aquila flying boat (1948-1956), RMA Hadfield. ©Come Step Back In Time
Me behind a cocktail bar from Aquila flying boat RMA Hadfield (1948-1956). ©Come Step Back In Time

Aquila went on to operate further routes at Capri, Santa Margherita and Montreux at Lake Geneva. All areas difficult to access via land planes. Aquila Captain Christopher Blackburn commented on the holiday atmosphere on many of these routes:

By 1957 we had quite a network of routes in operation, and were anticipating our best year. We had a tie-up with Club Mediterranee and took loads of passengers every week from Marseilles to Palermo and Corfu. This was the most enjoyable of all….The passengers were always in a holiday mood and the girls, whom we always invited up to the flight deck, often wore nothing more than a bikini. If one had a skirt on we found that the solution was for the pilot to open his window just as she was coming up the ladder, sometimes with revealing results!’

This and other passenger and crew reports demonstrate that these were truly golden days of air travel, and completely unlike modern “cattle class” operations. As a bizarre example, one regular passenger aboard Aquila Airways would insist on doing the washing up after her evening meal on board!… Air Hostess Shirley Passmore recalls that: ‘It was nice to be able to make a pot of tea and sit down and drink it with the passengers, or just walk around and chat with them and play with the children.’

(‘Southampton’s Eagles: The Last Flying Boat Airline’ by Chris Smith, The Solent Sky Magazine, Summer 2015, pp. 12-13)

Shirley was an air hostess for Aquila Airways, Southampton during the 1950s. Ivor was a flight engineer, the couple met during a practice boat-drill in 1953. When they married, they had a marzipan flying boat on top of their wedding cake.

Many stars of stage and screen flew with Aquila in the 1950s including: Harry Secombe; Terry Thomas; Trevor Howard; John Huston; Bernard Miles; Peter Butterworth; Janet Brown and John Mills.

On the whole, flight safety records for flying boats were relatively speaking, quite good. However, in late 1957, Aquila’s Short Solent flying boat RMA Sydney crashed into the side of a quarry, Chessell Down, on the Isle of Wight, due to engine failure. All 8 crew were killed, along with 35 of the 50 passengers. Aquila never quite recovered from the tragedy and ceased operations on 30th September, 1958. (Source: Ibid. p.13)

The golden age of international flying boat travel from Southampton slowly drew to a close. The flying boats could no longer compete, in terms of cost, speed and flying times, with planes like the de Havilland DH 106 Comet, a British jetliner introduced in 1952. Occasional flying boat pleasure flights still took place over the Southampton Water.

Indeed the Beachcomber made 17 passenger flights from September 5th to 9th in 1977. Operating from Calshot (the old RAF flying boat base near Southampton), well to be precise, some 4 miles from the moorings at Calshot. This was due to opposition from the Southampton and Solent authorities who did not permit flying boats to operate over Southampton Water at this time. (Source: ‘”Beachcomber”: The Story of a Sandringham and Sunderland Civil Conversions Operated In Australia by Vic Hodgkinson, p.13)

Captain Andrew Evans once wrote: ‘flying boats, in particular, had a special place in the hearts of those who travelled in them, though sadly today they are almost forgotten.’ (Source: Eagles Over Water: From Solent to the Sun – Story of Aquila Airways Ltd by Norman Hull, 1994, p. 85)

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Posted in Event, Exhibition, Fashion History, Historical Hair and Make-up, Museum, Vintage, Vintage Retail, World War Two

Interview: Gloria Holloway From Vintage Hair Lounge

Glamourous vintage pin-up model, Miss Scarlett Luxe with the co-owner of Vintage Hair Lounge, Gloria Holloway. ©Come Step Back In Time
Glamourous vintage pin-up model, Miss Scarlett Luxe, with co-owner of Vintage Hair Lounge, Gloria Holloway. ©Come Step Back In Time

Southampton-based Vintage Hair Lounge, is one of southern England’s leading providers of vintage hair styling and make-up.  Founded in 2010 by mother and daughter team, Gloria and Sharon Holloway. Sharon originally worked as a top criminal barrister but retrained, in the early 2000’s, to work as a  hair and make-up artist in film, television and theatre. Gloria has been a hairdresser all of her life, spending many years as head of hair and beauty at Isle of Wight College.

Gloria and I at Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Scott Chalmers
Me interviewing Gloria at Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Scott Chalmers

In 2015, I had the privilege of interviewing Gloria at the vintage extravaganza that is, Goodwood Revival.  Gloria has had a long and illustrious career in the hair and beauty industry, spanning over 5 decades.  I am delighted to share with you here, highlights from my interview with Gloria.

In 1960, aged 16, Gloria began her training in historical hair and make-up for television at the BBC’s prestigious in-house academy. Gloria explains:

It was an excellent 2 year training scheme. We were taught to do everything ‘properly’, paying particular attention to historical accuracy and techniques. Unfortunately, in the year I finished my course, the BBC raised the age they employed training academy graduates, from 18 to 21. I was very disappointed that I couldn’t begin working for the BBC straightaway and would now have to wait 3 years to put my skills into practice.

However, this early setback didn’t stop Gloria from continuing with a career in hair and beauty. Returning to her family home on the Isle of Wight, Gloria set-up her own salon, with help from her parents. Gloria has fond memories of these early years:

We opened the salon in 1962/63. I really enjoyed working in a salon environment, chatting with customers and finally getting to use the skills I learned at the BBC. The 1960s was also a very exciting time to be a hairdresser. Hairstyles were changing so fast. Clients became more adventurous with their choice of cut, colours and styles. When I first started working, ‘beehives’ were very popular.

  • British Pathe film, ‘Luxury Hairdressers’ (1964). Uploaded to You Tube, 13.4.2014.

Gloria’s beehive updos are now legendary amongst her Vintage Hair Lounge clients. Quite simply, Gloria is the Queen of Beehives. Afterall, Gloria learned her techniques first-hand, back in the 1960s. In the last few years, Gloria has seen the beehive hairstyle make a comeback. This is thanks, in part, to being popularised by a number of celebrities from the entertainment industry.

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  • British singer, Amy Winehouse, performs at the Glastonbury Festival 28th June, 2008. AFP Photo/Ben Stansall. Amy’s iconic hair style was a modern-take on the 1960s beehive.

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  • British singer Adele was also a fan of the beehive hairstyle. 24th February, 2013. Credit: Jason Merritt.

At Vintage Hair Lounge’s pop-up salon, the beehive is still one of their most requested styles. Luckily, the team has Gloria’s first-hand knowledge of how to recreate the original look. Gloria advises that:

A traditional beehive doesn’t have a French pleat! A common mistake with modern-day versions. The hair should be smoothly swept upwards, blended at the top and sides, it should also be teamed with a fringe. Backcombing is the key to a really good beehive.

It was such a joy speaking with Gloria about her career, she is a remarkable lady with an indomitable spirit.  As a social historian, I had many questions to ask relating to various aspects of hairdressing in the latter half of the 20th century. Gloria explains:

Dressing hair properly was very important in the 1950s and 1960s. In the 1950s, hats were worn high on the head with hair in a French pleat. In the 1960s,  Vidal Sassoon liberated women’s hairdressing.  Haircuts were less complicated and a modern-take on the 1920’s ‘bob’ became popular too. Hats were still worn in the 1960s but less fussy and not so old-fashioned. In the Swinging Sixties, young people liked wearing berets and ‘baker boy’ hats.  I used a lot of ‘Plix’ by L’Oreal setting lotion in the salon. I also remember creating the unusual ‘cottage loaf’ hairstyle quite a lot. 

Advert for Plix setting lotion by L'Oreal. The setting lotion of choice for professional hairdressers in the 1950s and 1960s.
Advert for Plix setting lotion by L’Oreal. The setting lotion of choice for professional hairdressers in the 1950s and 1960s.
Gloria Holloway creating the perfect 'beehive' hairstyle at Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Scott Chalmers
Gloria Holloway creating the perfect ‘beehive’ 1960s hairstyle at Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Scott Chalmers

When I teach 1960s hair styling techniques on courses at Vintage Hair Lounge, I am very particular about backcombing. Nowadays, backcombing is often taught incorrectly. If not done properly, the hair will become tangled and impossible to work with. Each section of hair should be backcombed in stages all the way from root to tip and in one direction. Don’t drag the hair. This method ensures that you create strength and structure in the hair. This gives you a strong base from which to build your style. Backcombing is important when creating 1940s Victory Rolls too. You don’t need rollers to create them, just backcomb, control and shape the roll.

Example of Gloria's technical expertise in creating the perfect Victory Roll. Model is Miss Scarlett Luxe. Goodwood Revival 2015. Gloria with one of her former students, Mellisa Holme. Mellisa was working at Vintage Hair Lounge's pop-up salon at Goodwood Revival 2015. Mellisa now runs her own salon on the Isle of Wight, Six Hair Studio and Upper Six, Ryde, Isle of Wight. ©Come Step Back In Time
Example of Gloria’s technical expertise at creating perfect Victory Rolls. Model is Miss Scarlett Luxe. Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Come Step Back In Time

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  • Miss V. Neels of Southsea, Hampshire works on a model to create the ‘cottage loaf’ hairstyle during a teen hairdressing competition at the Park Lane Hotel, London. 25th April, 1960.

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  • British hairdresser Vidal Sassoon (1928-2012) creates a long bob with a soft fringe for actress Janette Scott (b. 1938). 4th January, 1963.

  • British Pathe film ‘Artists in Hair Styles’ (1962). Uploaded to You Tube 13.4.2014.

Beehive hairstyles emerged in the late 1950s, peaking in popularity during the early 1960s. Although, according to trendsetting booklet, with it: trends for ’63 (1962) : ‘Out for the with-its are bouffants and beehives. Out, too, is back-combing: it’s harmful to the hair. In are blonde and light brown shades to tone with the natural look of the new fashions’ (p.19).

Also in the early 1960s, new setting lotions, hair sprays and colourants began to emerge for professional as well as amateur home stylists. Hair spray had been around since the 1940s but by the 1960s it was mass-produced and very cheap.

Colouring your hair at home, in a wider range of shades than before, also become a reality. I found a wonderful article, ‘What it’s like to colour your hair’, in my vintage magazine collection. The article appears in a popular British weekly, Woman, (11.3.1961). Unlike today, in the early 1960s, there were only 2 options for colouring your hair at home, temporary water rinses and semi-permanent rinses. Permanent tints had to be done at a salon.

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  • A selection of popular 1960s hairstyles. Images from my own private collection of magazines, Woman (March, 1961) and Woman’s Day (April, 1964).

The article in Woman magazine has the following advice for the home hair styling enthusiast: ‘Girls who “go a new colour,” say they feel new personalities too. It’s fun to experiment first with rinses, before going a new colour for keeps. Colour choice is huge….. If you want to dye, check that your skin-tone won’t quarrel with the new colour… check that your hair isn’t too dry…check that you can afford the upkeep…check that you and your hairdresser are the best of friends.’

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  • Gloria Holloway during the 1960s. All images courtesy of Gloria Holloway.

Gloria married in 1966. In 1969, Gloria was approached by the Isle of Wight College who were setting-up a new hairdressing department. Gloria explains:

By the time the college approached me, I was managing 2 salons on the Island. I thought that the new department at the college was an exciting development in hairdressing education. I had always enjoyed teaching in my salons. I accepted the position at the college, initially working there part-time. When I started at the college there as no in-house salon but eventually I set one up.  I was Head of Department and Head of Student Services at the college for 26 years.

Until the end of the 1980s, Gloria was the owner and innovator of 4 Isle of Wight salons (Marina Dawn, Monroe Hair). Today, Gloria is still a highly regarded lecturer and trainer in hairdressing, continueing to work closely with hairdressing training providers in both college and salon environments to improve industry skills.

Gloria with one of her former students, Mellisa Holme. Mellisa was working at Vintage Hair Lounge's pop-up salon at Goodwood Revival 2015. Mellisa now runs her own salon on the Isle of Wight, Six Hair Studio and Upper Six, Ryde, Isle of Wight. ©Come Step Back In Time
Gloria with her former student, Mellisa Holme, at Vintage Hair Lounge’s pop-up salon, Goodwood Revival, 2015. Mellisa runs her own salon,  Six Hair Studio and Upper Six, Ryde, Isle of Wight. ©Come Step Back In Time

Gloria’s passion for passing on her knowledge to the next generation of hair stylists has never diminished. Gloria now regularly teaches students about historic hair styling and techniques on Vintage Hair Lounge’s wide range of courses. Gloria tells me:

Hairdressing is a fantastic career! It allows you to be creative, meet new people and travel the world. It is never too late to master the skill. It is a wonderful thing to be able to make someone ‘feel good’ about themselves by simply doing their hair nicely.

Gloria's former pupil, hairdresser Mellisa Holme, creates the perfect 'beehive' at Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Scott Chalmers
Mellisa Holme, creates the perfect ‘beehive’ thanks to expert tuition from Gloria. Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Scott Chalmers
Mellisa's client is utterly thrilled with her 'beehive'. Gloria's former pupil, hairdresser Mellisa Holme, creates the perfect 'beehive' at Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Scott Chalmers
Mellisa’s client is utterly thrilled with her authentic ‘beehive’. Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Scott Chalmers

When Gloria and Sharon started Vintage Hair Lounge, in 2010, they had a salon in Southampton High Street but in 2012 they closed that salon.  Going forward, this enterprising and dynamic duo, now operate their business, predominantly, as mobile specialists and trainers in vintage hair and make-up. Their HQ is based at Southampton’s Solent Business Centre, facilities include an in-house photographic and training studio.

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That’s Solent TV, ‘Talk Solent’, chat show, pictured (L-R) presenter, Shan Robins, myself, Gillian Tully (CEO of Film Expo South), Sharon Holloway (Co-Owner of Vintage Hair Lounge). November, 2015.

There are many unique aspects to Vintage Hair Lounge’s business model. It comes as no surprise that education and training still remains at its core. Gloria and Sharon run courses for both professionals and the general public. Keep an eye on their website for forthcoming courses as they sell-out very quickly! Click here.

Sharon Holloway with model, Miss Scarlett Luxe at Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Scott Chalmers
Sharon Holloway with model, Miss Scarlett Luxe. Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Scott Chalmers
Model, Miss Scarlett Luxe. Hair and make-up by Vintage Hair Lounge. ©Scott Chalmers
Model, Miss Scarlett Luxe. Hair and make-up by Vintage Hair Lounge. ©Scott Chalmers
  • ‘Vintage Hair Lounge to be stocked in the British Museum’.  Film by That’s Solent TV.  Uploaded to You Tube 20.1.2016.

Vintage Hair Lounge also has a sister company, VHL Distribution an independent cosmetics distributor based in the UK. VHL Distribution has recently formed new partnerships for distribution in Europe with Australian based brand Eye of Horus Cosmetics (Twitter: @eyeofhorus_mu), and French brand Féret Parfumeur (Twitter:  @FeretParfumeur) for distribution in the UK. Other heritage brands on VHL Distribution’s portfolio include: Papier Poudré Limited (Twitter: @papierpoudre) and Barba Italiana (Twitter: @barbaitalian #barbaitaliana).

©Scott Chalmers
Eye of Horus Cosmetics display. Goodwood Revival, 2015. ©Scott Chalmers

These beautifully packaged, extremely high quality, heritage brands can be found on-sale at vintage retailers, salons and barbers, museums and gift shops.  A selection of these products can also be purchased at Vintage Hair Lounge’s online store.

©Scott Chalmers
Eye of Horus Cosmetics display. Goodwood Revival, 2015. ©Scott Chalmers

Exciting times are ahead for VHL Distribution (see film above). The British Museum has recently selected award winning Eye of Horus Cosmetics to be sold in the gift shop, later on this year, during their major new exhibition, Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds which opens in May.

Regular readers of Come Step Back In Time will know that interest in Egyptology is currently at an all time high.  In July 2015, British archaeologist Nicholas Reeves, published a paper that claims Tutankhamun may not have been alone in his burial chamber. A series of ultra-high-resolution images of King Tut’s tomb (subsequently designated KV62) have revealed what is believed to be the outlines of two doorways, previously blocked and plastered over.

Reeves has suggested that behind these hidden doors there may be a lavish secret tomb belonging to the legendary Queen Nefertiti (the 14th century wife of Akhenaten, step-mother to Tutankhamun). Tutankhamun died at the age of 19, and it is thought that, due to his unexpected death, he may have been buried in a chamber of his step-mother’s tomb.

©Scott Chalmers
Eye of Horus Cosmetics display. Goodwood Revival, 2015. ©Scott Chalmers

Continued interest in Egyptology ensures that Egyptian Revival products, such as Eye of Horus Cosmetics range, will remain popular with beauty professionals and the general public alike. It is interesting to note that Eye of Horus Cosmetics range of illuminating eye makeup is actually based on sacred formulas passed down from the ancient Egyptians.

Gloria Holloway at Goodwood Revival 2015. Model is Miss Honey B'Zarre. ©Scott Chalmers
Gloria Holloway at Goodwood Revival 2015. Model is Miss Honey B’Zarre. ©Scott Chalmers
Model, Miss Honey B'Zarre. Hair and make-up by Vintage Hair Lounge. ©Scott Chalmers
Model, Miss Honey B’Zarre. Hair and make-up by Vintage Hair Lounge. ©Scott Chalmers

Eyeliners in the range are all made with natural waxes and oils and the incredible organic Moringa Oil, a tell-tale product found in Tutankhamun’s tomb. Check out the entire Eye of Horus range at Vintage Hair Lounge’s online store.

There are many ways to connect with Vintage Hair Lounge:

Gloria and Sharon Holloway in their pop-up vintage hair and beauty salon at Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Come Step Back In Time
Gloria and Sharon Holloway in their pop-up vintage hair and beauty salon. Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Come Step Back In Time

 

Posted in Archaeology, Bringing Alive The Past, Decorative Arts, Event, Exhibition, History, Museum

Exhibition – St. Barbe Museum, Lymington: ‘Out of Egypt’

Coffin mask that will feature in new exhibition, 'Out of Egypt' at St. Barbe Museum, Lymington, Hampshire. Image credit - Hampshire Cultural Trust.
Coffin mask which will feature in new exhibition, Out of Egypt, at St. Barbe Museum, Lymington, Hampshire. Image credit – Hampshire Cultural Trust.

An exciting new Egyptology exhibition opens at St. Barbe Museum, Lymington, Hampshire on Saturday 16th January. In Out of Egypt: exploring the passage from life to afterlife (sponsored by Thesis Asset Management), you can discover more about the religious beliefs and passage from life to the afterlife in ancient Egypt. The exhibition continues until 27th February, 2016.

St. Barbe Museum has had a recent history of producing some really terrific, unusual and cleverly curated exhibitions. I have covered quite a few of them here on Come Step Back in Time, have a browse through my article archive and see the range of fascinating  subjects the Museum has covered in its exhibition programming. The press pack I have received for Out of Egypt, certainly looks like 2016 could be St. Barbe Museum’s best year yet for stimulating exhibitions!

Displays for Out of Egypt will feature original artefacts from the Hampshire Cultural Trust and Bournemouth Natural Science Society collections including coffin masks, animal mummies, and canopic jars, which were used during the mummification process to store and preserve the viscera of their owner for the afterlife.

Overseer figure from the 6th Dynasty which will be on display at Out of Egypt exhibition at St. Barbe Museum, Lymington, Hampshire. Image credit - Bournemouth Natural Science Society.
Overseer figure from the 6th Dynasty which will be on display in Out of Egypt exhibition at St. Barbe Museum, Lymington, Hampshire. Image credit – Bournemouth Natural Science Society.

Also on show will be items that would have been placed in tombs such as amulets for protection from harm and danger; scarabs symbolising the holy beetle in ancient Egypt and Shabti figures, as well as a beautiful funerary boat.

The exhibition has been designed to appeal to school children and families through a host of activities, while still offering lots for adults to discover and enjoy. Themes include making a mummy, life after death, hieroglyphics, Egyptian numbers, gods and goddesses, Egyptomania – souvenirs and Egypt’s influence on British culture.

The timing of Out of Egypt, couldn’t be more on point. Interest in Egyptology with the general public is now at an all time high. This follows publication, in July 2015, by British archaeologist Nicholas Reeves, of a paper that claims Tutankhamun may not have been alone in his burial chamber. A series of ultra-high-resolution images of King Tut’s tomb (subsequently designated KV62) have revealed what is believed to be the outlines of two doorways, previously blocked and plastered over.

Reeves has suggested that behind these hidden doors there may be a lavish secret tomb belonging to the legendary Queen Nefertiti (the 14th century wife of Akhenaten, step-mother to Tutankhamun). Tutankhamun died at the age of 19, and it is thought that, due to his unexpected death, he may have been buried in a chamber of his step-mother’s tomb.

If Reeves theory is correct (although a number of academics and archaeologists dispute his claims!), this could potentially over-shadow Howard Carter’s (1874-1939) discovery of King Tut’s tomb in November 1922. Excavations to prove Reeves theory have not yet begun, indeed, there is a possibility they may never do so. Why? Well, Dr Zahi Hawasshas, Egypt’s former antiquities minister, not only disputes Reeves theory. He is also adamant that a hole is not to be made in the structure of KV62 in order to carry-out further investigations.

The main tomb is extremely fragile. Any further excavations could cause some of the priceless paintings to completely collapse not to mention potentially damaging the tomb itself. Archaeologists would need to find a way to enter the secret chamber, that has been hermetically sealed for 3,500 years, without causing any harm to the tomb’s infrastructure.

Debates, arguments and theories by Egyptologists will continue to grip the public’s attention over coming months. Keep any eye on global news reports, 2016 could still be the year when one of the greatest archaeological discoveries and  Egyptology’s greatest mysteries, is finally solved!

Out of Egypt Workshops

  • ‘Anthony and Cleopatra: Interactive Storytelling’ (February 17th). Join professional actors from Treehouse Theatre for an exciting and interactive storytelling session. Shakespeare’s passionate tale of Antony and Cleopatra is the inspiration for today’s story. There will be plenty of chance to dress up too! Performances are at 10.30am and 1.45pm. This is suitable for youngsters aged 4 – 11 years. £4 child, £3 adults. Advance booking required. Book online for the morning session here  Or afternoon session here ;
  • ‘Exploring Egypt: Family Explorer Day’ (February 18th). Discover life in Ancient Egypt and handle authentic objects from the time. This explorer day compliments our exhibition Out of Egypt. Youngsters will also get the chance to make decorative Egyptian cuffs, circlets and mini scarab beads. Usual admission charges apply.

Opening Times and Admission Prices

  • Out of Egypt at St Barbe Museum & Art Gallery will be open Monday-Saturday, 10am-4pm;
  • Tickets, which include entry into the museum, cost £6 for adults, £5 for senior citizens and students, £3 for children aged 5-15 years and £12 for a family of two adults and up to four children (including a voluntary gift aid donation); under fives are admitted free of charge;
  • For details visit www.stbarbe-museum.org.uk or telephone 01590 676969.
Out of Egypt - Mummy board, 22nd Dynasty credit Bournemouth Natural Science Society
Mummy board from the 22nd Dynasty which will be display at Out of Egypt exhibition, St. Barbe Museum, Lymington. Image credit – Bournemouth Natural Science Society.

 

Posted in Activity, Event, History, Literature

Bloggeration Workshop With Penguin Books UK – The Power Of The Booktuber

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Location of Bloggeration’s workshops, the O Gallery, a spacious and stimulating studio space beneath the O Bag Factory in Crouch End, North London. Image copyright – Come Step Back In Time.

Being a blogger is a lot of fun and extremely rewarding. However, sometimes it can be a lonely and frustrating experience. I began blogging in 2011 and July, 2016 will be Come Step Back In Time’s 5th Blogaversary. I also set-up a 2nd blog, retro food for the modern cook Viva Blancmange, in 2013. I honestly have had a brilliant experience blogging over the years, visited incredible places, met fascinating people and researched unusual topics I may never have found otherwise. However, I am now at a bit of a crossroads.

I hope 2016 will be my best blogging year yet but in order for this to happen I need a new direction for the content on both of my websites.  This means changes in my writing practices and methods. I also need to be more integrated within the friendly, but close-knit, blogger community. Exchanging ideas with other writers, being more interactive with you, my readers and, of course, embrace all the new and exciting possibilities offered by digital media.

In light of these plans to reboot my blogs, I have been actively looking for top notch blog events to participate in to help inspire my transition. To this end, I am happy to say I struck gold first-time around and wanted to share my experience with you here.

I recently attended a day’s ‘Bloggeration’ workshop, run by Sarah Moody (@Sairey_bearey ). Sarah blogs full time at The Prosecco Diaries and runs Bloggeration (@Bloggeration_ ) which is a fantastic initiative that aims to build blogging communities, offering support and advice to bloggers to help them get the most out of this great adventure. If you are a lifestyle blogger, then Sarah’s workshops also provide an opportunity to pitch and connect with relevant, pre-selected and trusted, brands.

Sarah was a drama teacher before going freelance and has worked with many top brands and written for Cosmopolitan, The Guardian and Blogosphere magazine (a must for all pro-bloggers! Available from WH Smith). Sarah is also studying for her PhD in social media communication, therefore very well-placed to impart her ‘pearls of blogging and digital media wisdom’.

If you have been blogging for a while and are in need of inspiration or guidance to move on to the next level, then I highly recommend Bloggeration’s workshops. They take place at O Gallery, a spacious and stimulating studio space beneath the O Bag Factory in Crouch End, North London.

Bloggeration’s workshops are currently free to attend, brilliantly organised and offer plenty of opportunities to network with other established bloggers, exchange ideas and pitch to brands (if that is the direction you wish to take your blog).

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A selection of lovely bags, watches and bracelets on display in the O Bag Store above O Gallery. O Bags are the hottest accessory trend from Italy that you play a role in designing and customising. The Crouch End branch is the UK’s first, and although you can buy online (http://www.obagnorthlondon.co.uk/O-bag-s/1818.htm), it’s a unique and fun experience to visit the store and create your own accessories with the help of friendly consultants. Image copyright – Come Step Back In Time.

 

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Delicious pizzas to keep us going, provided so generously by Basilico Pizzas (@basilicopizzas). Image copyright – Come Step Back In Time

Each workshop lasts six and half hours, from 10.30am-5pm. No need to bring a pack lunch, you will be watered and fed on hearty fayre.  There are competitions and chances to win prizes throughout the day! You also receive professional advice from Sarah, tailored specifically to your own blog. Topics covered at previous Bloggeration workshops include: crafting; lifestyle; parenting; health; fitness and wellness. The workshop I chose to attend was sponsored by Penguin Books UK. Keep an eye out on Bloggeration’s Twitter account (@Bloggeration_) for updates on 2016’s workshops.

Let me introduce you to the talented bloggers who joined me at Bloggeration’s workshop:

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These beauties were provided by flower subscription service, Bloom & Wild (https://www.bloomandwild.com/ – @bloomandwild). This photograph won me a three month subscription to Bloom & Wild and I gave the prize to my lovely mum. Image copyright – Come Step Back In Time.
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Refreshments for workshop participants provided by British heritage tea brand, Ringtons (http://www.ringtons.co.uk/ – @Ringtons). Image copyright – Come Step Back In Time.

 

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Such generous goodie bags provided for us by Penguin Books UK (@PenguinUkBooks) and Bloggeration (@Bloggeration_). Image copyright – Come Step Back In Time.

During the afternoon, Junior Campaigns Officer at Penguin, Stephenie Naulls (@stepheniejayne), answered our questions about book blogging and booktubing. We were told about Penguin’s new booktubing initiative, Penguin Platform (@PenguinPlatform), a place for young adults, to share, create, discover and debate.

  • ‘Introducing Penguin Platform’. Uploaded to You Tube 2.4.2015.

We were also introduced to exciting new Penguin book titles already out as well as those available in 2016. Stephenie was engaging, honest, open and keen to develop positive relationships with established, as well as up-and-coming bloggers/booktubers of all ages and interests.

The workshop took the form of a two-way dialogue with Stephenie encouraging attendees to put forward suggestions on how Penguin can improve their relationship with bloggers/booktubers in the future.  Stephenie explained that Penguin books are urging bloggers and booktubers to get in touch with them. Stephenie is your first point of contact in this regard (@stepheniejayne).  It was very heartening to see collaborations with bloggers being taken seriously and respectfully.

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We were also given an insight into how the publishing world works. Penguin do not accept unsolicited manuscripts and if you want the team to look at your writing then you will first need to secure a literary agent (so please lovely readers don’t ask Stephenie to read your latest literary offering!).

Apparently, the previous trend of authors receiving big advances for their book, particularly first-timers, is starting to wane. Stephenie explained it is better, in the long-run, for the author if their literary agent secures them a decent commission percentage for each book sold, rather than a high cash advance. Obviously, there are exceptions to this, particularly if you are a first-time author who already has a large, established readership/audience for your writing (i.e. one of the vloggeratti/bloggeratti or star of a high-profile reality tv show). However, as with all things in life, there is always room for negotiation.

Here is a round-up of Stephenie’s and my fellow bloggers/booktubers top tips for book reviewing:

  • demonstrate to the viewer/reader that you have fully engaged with the book you are reviewing;
  • put across your thoughts in a fun, creative and interesting way using your platform’s unique house style;
  • discuss the characters and themes of the book (sometimes neglected by reviewers!);
  • don’t forget to include information about the type/genre of book you are reviewing, (i.e. fiction, non-fiction, biography, young adult, historical fiction etc);
  • be honest! If you don’t like a book that is fine but don’t just dismiss it without putting forward a carefully considered response as to why? If you love the book, then also explain to your audience, why?;
  • you have a loyal audience who trust and listen to your voice, so use the platform wisely;
  • Stephenie is keen to hear from you, so do get in touch. Her Twitter handle is @Stepheniejayne.

As a post-script to this workshop, I found-out from Stephenie that the famous Penguin logo currently has 6 different poses and the publishing house has very strict guidelines for usage of each one. Who would have thought? For more information about the history of Penguin Books, click here.

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Penguin Book’s iconic logo since 1935.
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Contents of my brilliant Penguin goodie bag from the Bloggeration workshop. Great titles. I have been reading the harrowing, but very well-written biography, In Order To Live by North Korean defectee, Yeonmi Park.  Image: Copyright – Come Step Back In Time.
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A small selection of vintage Penguin cookery books from my own collection. ©Come Step Back In Time

I value all of you, my lovely readers/followers, many of you have been with me since I began in 2011. I hope that you will enjoy 2016’s improved content, across all of my media platforms. I would love to hear from you, so please do leave a comment below or Tweet me (@emmahistorian ) if you have any suggestions of topics you would like me to cover in 2016, on either of my blogs or my You Tube channel.

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There are some lovely vintage clothing shops in and around Crouch End and Highgate, North London. This was one of my favourites, ‘Scarlet Rage Vintage’ (http://scarletragevintage.com/) a stone’s throw from the O Bag Factory. ©Come Step Back In Time

 

 

Posted in Event, Exhibition, Film, History, Maritime History, Museum, Vintage, World War One, World War Two

Celebrating Cunard’s 175th Anniversary: Memories Of Glamour On The High Seas

©Come Step Back In Time
Queen Mary 2, Sunday 3rd May, 2015, Southampton before sailing out into Southampton Water with her sister ships, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth. Queen Mary 2 has 2,000 bathrooms, 3,000 telephones, 280,000 square yards of fitted carpets and 5,000 stairs. ©Come Step Back In Time
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  • Poster produced for Southern Railways (SR) to advertise the first sailing of Queen Mary, and tickets to the event from London train stations. The Queen Mary could accommodate 776 first-class, 784 tourist and 579 third-class passengers, together with 1101 officers and crew. She also won the Blue Riband of the Atlantic in 1936 and 1938, and served as a troop ship in World War Two. Artwork by Leslie Carr, who painted marine subjects and architectural and river scenes and designed posters for the SR, London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) and British Railways (BR). Dimensions: 1016 mm x 1270 mm. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)

Sunday 3rd May, 2015 – Sailing of The ‘3 Queens’ From Southampton, Hampshire

In 2015, one of the most famous names in shipping, Cunard, celebrates its 175th anniversary.  On Sunday, 3rd May, I joined the crowds of onlookers at Mayflower Park and Town Quay, Southampton (yes, I did have to make a dash between both locations to get the best images!), to witness the historic spectacle of Cunard’s ‘3 Queens’ sailing out into the Solent.

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  •  A view of a restaurant aboard Queen Mary 2. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
©Come Step Back In Time
Queen Mary 2, Sunday 3rd May, 2015, Southampton.©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

Queen Mary 2 (2003) led her sister ships, Queen Victoria (2007) and Queen Elizabeth (2010), on a ‘thank-you’ procession down Southampton Water and into the Solent. Queen Elizabeth was heading for Hamburg, Queen Victoria to Guernsey and Queen Mary 2 to New York.

©Come Step Back In Time
Queen Mary 2, Sunday 3rd May, 2015, Southampton. ©Come Step Back In Time
Queen Elizabeth, Sunday 3rd May, 2015, Southampton. ©Come Step Back In Time
Queen Elizabeth, Sunday 3rd May, 2015, Southampton. ©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
Queen Victoria, Sunday 3rd May, 2015, sailing past Mayflower Park, Southampton to join Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria. ©Come Step Back In Time
Queen Victoria, Sunday 3rd May, 2015, sailing past Mayflower Park, Southampton to join Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth. ©Come Step Back In Time
Queen Mary 2 setting sail on Sunday 3rd May, 2015. ©Come Step Back In Time
Queen Mary 2 setting sail on Sunday 3rd May, 2015. ©Come Step Back In Time
Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth set sail, Sunday 3rd May, 2015. ©Come Step Back In Time
Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth set sail, Sunday 3rd May, 2015. ©Come Step Back In Time
The '3 Queens' sail off into Southampton Water on their respective voyages, Sunday 3rd May, 2015. ©Come Step Back In Time
Cunard’s distinctive red funnels belonging to the ‘3 Queens’ can be seen sailing off into Southampton Water on their respective voyages, Sunday 3rd May, 2015. ©Come Step Back In Time

Cunard’s Early History

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  • Sir Samuel Cunard, founder of Cunard Line in 1839.

Cunard Line was formed in 1839 by Canadian born, Sir Samuel Cunard (1787-1865), who had answered an advertisement placed by the British Admiralty for bidders to operate a timetabled steamship service to carry the Royal Mail between Britain and the North American colonies. Sir Samuel was the son of a master carpenter and timber merchant who had fled the American Revolution (1765-1783) and settled in Halifax, Canada.

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  • PS Britannia, 1840. Model (scale 1:48). She was built for the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Co, which became the Cunard Steamship Co Ltd. Her 3 sister-ships, the Acadia, the Caledonia, and the Columbia were also built on the Clyde at the same time.  There was accommodation for a 150 passengers. Charles Dickens (1812-1870) crossed on the Britannia in 1842, which he recorded in his ‘American Notes’. (Photo by Science & Society Picture Library/SSPL/Getty Images)

Despite the considerable risks involved in tendering for this contract (no ship, no maritime experience, huge financial risks, stiff penalties for late delivery of mail etc.), Sir Samuel uprooted his family and moved to Britain. On July 4th, 1940, steamship Britannia left Liverpool, arriving in Halifax, Nova Scotia, 12 days and 10 hours later, averaging a speed of 8.5 knots. Three more ships joined the fleet and by the end of 1840, Cunard offered a scheduled weekly service across the Atlantic.

  • ‘175 Years. Forever Cunard – A Voyage Through History’ by Cunard. Uploaded to You Tube 12.1.15.

A Celebration of 175 Years of Cunard – Exhibition Southampton City Art Gallery

From 1st May until 5th September 2015, there is an exhibition of rarely seen images from the Cunard archive on display at Southampton City Art Gallery. Also featured will be iconic a portrait of the QE2 that was presented to the city by Cunard in 2008 following the ship’s last day in Southampton, her home port.

The exhibition also includes popular posters from the eras which were used by travel agents to sell ocean travel in the most attractive light. A dedicated ‘wall of fame’ will take visitors back to one of the most glamorous eras as they discover which Hollywood stars graced Cunard’s decks.

Southampton City Art Gallery is open Monday to Friday, 10am-3pm and on Saturdays 10am-5pm. Admission to the Gallery and this special exhibition is free. For further information, click here.

A list of free Cunard talks taking place at the Gallery over the coming months can be found here.

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  • 4th September 1947, Southampton, actress Elizabeth Taylor is pictured on board Queen Mary with her two French Poodle dogs, ready to return to America after a short stay in London (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)

Notable Cunard Liners

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  • 15th April, 1912: Carpathia arrives to pick up survivors in lifeboats from the Titanic. Original Publication: The Graphic – pub. 1912 (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
  • CarpathiaLaunched 1902, maiden voyage 5th May, 1903, rescued 705 survivors from doomed liner Titanic, torpedoed southeast of Ireland and west of the Isles of Scilly by German submarine U-55, 17th July, 1918;

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  • Passengers drinking in one of the bars on board the Mauretania as it draws into Fishguard, Pembroke. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

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  • The Dining Saloon of the Mauretania c.1900. (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)
  • Mauretania – Launched 1906, maiden voyage 17th November, 1907, Blue Riband, out of service 1934 and scrapped 1935;

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  • Interior of the Grill Room aboard the Aquitania, c.1920. (Photo by Paul Popper/Popperfoto/Getty Images)
  • Aquitania – Launched 1913, maiden voyage 30th May, 1914, last surviving four-funnelled ocean liner, Blue Riband, served in both World Wars, scrapped in 1950;

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  • c.1920: A line of women waving goodbye to the vessel Laconia as she leaves Liverpool. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
  • Laconia – Launched in 1921, maiden voyage 25th May, 1922, sunk by torpedo from German U-boat U-156 on 12th September, 1942. Aboard were 2,732,  crew, British and Polish soldiers, civilian passengers and Italian POWs.  The final survivor count varies, different sources estimate that there were somewhere between 1,104 and 1,500. Captain of the German U-boat, Werner Hartenstein (1908-1943), ordered his submarine to surface and go back for survivors, this extraordinary turn of events led to what is known as ‘The Laconia Incident.’

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  • The luxurious wood-finished 1st class smoking saloon of the Laconia. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

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  • The 2nd class saloon of the Laconia, with a painted ceiling and pillared colonnade. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

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  • The observation saloon of the Queen Mary serves as the sleeping quarters for American soldiers, while the vessel carries out her duties as a troopship during World War Two. Original Publication: Picture Post – 1825 – Queen Mary troopship – unpub. (Photo by Haywood Magee/Getty Images)

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  • The luxury dining room of the Queen Mary serves as a mess for American soldiers, while the vessel carries out her duties as a troopship during World War Two. Original Publication: Picture Post – 1825 – Queen Mary  troopship – unpub. (Photo by Haywood Magee/Getty Images)
  • Queen Mary – Launched 1934, maiden voyage 27th May, 1936, Blue Riband, served as a troopship in World War Two and after the war G.I. Brides were transported on her back to America, retired from service 9th December, 1967, now a hotel ship, restaurant and museum in Long Beach Harbour, California;

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  • 10th July, 1947: The Queen Mary at Southampton after her refitting at the end of World War Two during which she was used as a troopship. (Photo by J. A. Hampton/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

  • ‘Queen Mary Crew Members’, interviews with crew members who served on the Queen Mary in her heyday. Uploaded to You Tube 22.9.14.

  • ‘Queen Mary War Brides’, former war bride, June Allen, recalls the thrill of coming to America on the Queen Mary. Uploaded to You Tube 22.9.14.
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  • The cocktail bar and observation lounge of the Cunard White Star liner Queen Mary. The bar is made of Macassar ebony with a mural by Alfred R. Thomson behind. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
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  • Dining-room aboard Queen Elizabeth in 1946. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
  • Queen Elizabeth – Launched 1938, pre-war maiden voyage 3rd March, 1940, in World War Two she served as a troopship and after the war G.I. Brides were transported on her back to America, her service career as a passenger liner began officially on her post-war maiden voyage, 16th October, 1946, she was retired in 1968, destroyed by fire in 1972;

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  • Smoking room aboard the Queen Elizabeth, 1950. In this shot, some of the chairs have ropes securing them to the floor, presumably to stop them sliding about in rough seas. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)

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Hollywood Glamour Aboard Cunard’s Luxury Liners

In 1997, I worked as a research assistant on Romancing Hollywood, a conference and exhibition at Millais Gallery, Southampton. The exhibition celebrated the glamour of Hollywood as it was perceived from the 1930s until the 1950s in Britain. Focussing mainly on Southampton, Romancing Hollywood, explored the ways in which glamour was not only received by local people via Hollywood but also created.

During the 1930s Southampton, as a gateway to the rest of the world, became a mecca for stars of stage and screen travelling on Cunard’s popular transatlantic route to New York. The exhibition concentrated on Cunard’s Queen Mary whose maiden voyage departed from Southampton on 27th May, 1936 and the Queen Elizabeth, launched in 1938.

I had the privilege of interviewing crew members who had worked on the original ‘Queens’, amongst other luxury transatlantic liners, during the golden-age of pre and post-war ocean travel. Here are a few extracts from those interviews that were published in the catalogue accompanying the exhibition (Romancing Hollywood by A. Massey, E. Stoffer, A. Forsyth and J. Bushnell,1997, ISBN 1 874011 62 1).  All interviewees described what life was like for the ordinary Cunard employee aboard these glamourous and luxurious ‘floating hotels’.

Jack Barker was born in 1919 and worked in a London Hotel as a Page Boy before going to work for Cunard in 1937 (Andania). After World War Two, Jack worked on the Queen Elizabeth (1938) for 16 years, rising to position of Head Waiter: ‘You would start the morning at half past six. Before the restaurant opened at eight o’clock for breakfast, you would have a scrub out to do, and you had to get into your uniform, which you had to buy yourself, and then breakfast went on till ten, and then after that you had to get your station ready for lunch, and you had to be in the restaurant by  half past twelve, you didn’t get any time off. You got used to it. I must have met hundreds of stars. Alfred Hitchcock, he just took a liking to me as a waiter.’

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  • Crew members working in the engine room of the liner Queen Mary during a transatlantic crossing, 12th August, 1939. Original Publication : Picture Post – 198 – Atlantic Crossing – pub. 1939 (Photo by Kurt Hutton/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Ralph Clarke was born in 1929 and worked on the railway boats at Southampton Docks for 6 months prior to starting work as a Trimmer on board the Queen Mary (1936) in April 1948. He worked on board the Queen Elizabeth (1938) in the late 1940s for 3 trips after an accident on board the Queen Mary, to which he returned: ‘Everything was SO BIG, extraordinarily big for the first month I was virtually lost on the Queen Mary. It was a massive, great big, beautiful ship. Danny Kaye and his wife and two children came down and he would say ‘Hello everybody,’ and he gave a song, one or two chaps in the crew used to be able to play the piano. We had Bing Crosby, we then had Paul Robeson and Jack Dempsey the boxer and he used to come down and say, ‘If anyone feels like a spar with me you are welcome to do it? They used to mix, no matter how big a star, they used to talk to us as if we were human beings and they used to be great friends.’

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  • 1948, Bellboys from the Queen Mary  being inspected by the chief steward prior to leaving Southampton for New York (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)

John Dempsey was born in 1920 and first went to sea in 1934 on the Mauretania (1907) as a Bell Boy at the age of fourteen. While working on the Berengaria (formerly the SS Imperator but after being brought by Cunard, sailed under the name Berengaria), he volunteered to assist the masseur, Arthur Mason in the Turkish Bath. When he moved to the Queen Mary (1936), Arthur Mason requested that John rejoin him, which he did until the until the outbreak of war. John joined the Queen Elizabeth (1938) for its post-war maiden voyage and worked in the Turkish Bath as a masseur until 1960: ‘The majority of first class passengers, mostly the Jewish community, loved their Turkish bath and massage. The hours of the gentlemen were 7am to 10am and from 2pm to 7.30pm. These people were running around upstairs and in the smoking lounges and the observation bars and had to behave themselves to a certain extent. What they wanted was to take their clothes off and be normal. So they came to the Turkish bath, off with their clothes and, ‘Hey John, go and get me a pint of beer’. They used to tell stories and do drinks. They were letting their hair down, for about the one and half hours that they were there. These were film stars, all lovely people, great people. I had a Christmas party in the Turkish bath with Noel Coward. It was a Christmas trip and he said to us ‘Have you got any parties?’ Well all the ship had parties, a fellow called Tommy MacDonald and the ship’s dispenser. We were drinking and telling stories, and that was our party. Coward sent me a Christmas card another year.

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  • Swimming Pool on-board the 2nd class of the Queen Mary. March the 3rd, 1936 (Photo by Imagno/Getty Images) [Swimming Pool der zweiten Klasse auf der ‘Queen Mary’, Southampton, England, Photographie, 3,3,1936]
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  • Passengers on the Queen Mary eating dinner in the luxurious cabin class restaurant during her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, May 1936. The radiating light on the map by Macdonald Gill at the far end of the room constantly pinpoints the vessel’s location. (Photo by Hudson/Topical Press Agency/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Terry Hargroves was born in 1928, after demob from the Air Force he worked on the Queen Mary. Terry started by washing dishes, working his way up over 14 years to a Bedroom Steward in first class: ‘I had a set of rooms, which usually depended on something called a section, which was a set of about 5, 6, or 10 rooms. You were responsible for keeping them clean, making of all the beds, and attending to the passengers that used them. You took the passengers on, took their luggage and sorted that out. You fetched and carried for them and you tried to look after them the best you could until they got off the other end. The passengers lived in the middle of the ship and crew lived at either end. Either end of the boat there was part of the boat tied up. On the back end of the boat there was an area where the ropes came in to tie the ship up and for the cargo. That big area was designated as the crews’ ‘Pig and Whistle’. They had a little bar, that was the crews’ pub. You found an empty beer barrel or you sat on the bollards or an empty beer crate. Every now and again Bob Hope or Tommy Cooper came down there. Quite a few people were persuaded to come down. The crew would decorate it with a few flags and couple of spotlights. I think Bob Hope said that he’d played in many theatres but he rarely played in a sewer.’

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  • 12th August 1939: Staff on the Queen Mary pass the time during a transatlantic crossing in one  the ‘Pig And Whistle’. Original Publication: Picture Post – 198 – Atlantic Crossing – pub. 1939 (Photo by Kurt Hutton/Picture Post/Getty Images)
  • Bob Hope and Loretta Young were among a number of American film actors and actresses who arrived at Southampton on the Queen Mary for the Royal Command Film Performance in London on November, 1947. (Photo by Planet News Archive/SSPL/Getty Images)
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  • A steward unpacking a passenger’s luggage while a stewardess arranges a vase of flowers on the Queen Mary, 1948. (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)
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  • Cabin class passengers enjoy a tea in the middle of the Atlantic on the promenade deck of the Queen Mary c.1939. Original Publication: Picture Post – 198 – Atlantic Crossing – pub. 1939 (Photo by Kurt Hutton/Getty Images)

Frank Makinson was born in 1925, he joined the Queen Mary (1936) in 1944 while serving as a troopship and stayed with her until 1967 for her last voyage to Long Beach. Frank continued to work in the pantry of both the Queen Elizabeth and QE2 until 1970: ‘We always supplied the in-between meals, sometimes we also had a night pantry which I was in for quite a while. When there was music and dancing going on, on the ships, we had to supply sandwiches and various things to these rooms where they had these sessions. I remember getting an order for cold meat from Victor Mature, and he stressed that he wanted a whole turkey sliced up. It was just about the time his Samson and Delilah [1950] picture was about, so I think he wanted to let everyone know that he was a big eater. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were on the Queen Elizabeth towards the end, that was when they had recently got back together, and she had a great big fancy ring. I didn’t see them, but I had dealings with regards to the stewardess, she used to want Stilton cheese for them. One of them liked a lot of the blue of the Stilton, and one liked a lot of the white. Just who was what, I don’t know.’

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  • Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton on the QE2; c.1960; New York. (Photo by Art Zelin/Getty Images)
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  • Cabin verandah grill on the Queen Mary – postcard from 1930s. (Photo by Apic/Getty Images)

John Minto was born in 1927, he joined Cunard in 1949 as a cabin steward aboard the Queen Mary (1936). He worked his way up to first-class waiter and ultimately became the Captain’s Tiger (waiter). John left the Queen Mary in 1955 and became Mayor of Southampton in 1978/9: People like the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and Winston Churchill used to go in the Verandah Grill, they used to go incognito and the cost of going in there for a meal was ten shillings which was fifty pence. In the Veranda Grill, everything was on tap. If you wanted oysters, you got oysters, if you wanted caviar, you got caviar. Each kitchen, each galley was divided into specific areas. You had the pastry, the soup and the grills. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor never came down to the main restaurant, they always went to the Verandah Grill. The thing that always struck me about them was the amount of luggage they had.’

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  • Cabin bedroom on Queen Mary – postcard is from 1930s (Photo by Apic/Getty Images)
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  • A bootblack cleans the passengers’ shoes on the Queen Elizabeth (1938), as she makes her way from Southampton to New York, May 1964. (Photo by Bert Hardy Advertising Archive/Getty Images)
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  • 20th October 1964, American actress Carroll Baker, born 1931, on board the Queen Mary on her way to London for the premiere of her film ‘The Carpetbaggers’ (Photo by Paul Popper/Popperfoto/Getty Images
Posted in Event, Fashion History, Film, Historical Hair and Make-up, History, Maritime History, TV Programme, Vintage, World War One, World War Two

V.E. Day 70th Anniversary – Memories From My Family’s Photo Album (Kent & Netherlands)

V. E. Day commemorative silk scarf. Private collection. ©Come Step Back In Time
V. E. Day commemorative silk scarf from 1945. Private collection. ©Come Step Back In Time

70th ANNIVERSARY OF V.E. & V.J. DAY – UK COMMEMORATIVE EVENTS

Germany surrendered on 7th May, 1945, and the next day was declared V.E. (Victory in Europe) Day, ending World War Two in Europe. However, for many servicemen and their families, May 1945 was not their war’s end. The Allies were still at war with Japan but on the 6th and 9th August, 1945, the United States dropped atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan surrendered, World War Two was officially at an end.

V.E. Day commemorative pins, 1945. Private collection. ©Come Step Back In Time
V.E. Day commemorative pins, 1945. Private collection. ©Come Step Back In Time

In 2015, Britain will be marking the 70th anniversary of V.E. Day Victory in Europe and from Friday 8th May 2015 there will be a three-day weekend of commemorative events across the country. At 3pm on 8th May, national two-minute silence will mark the moment Winston Churchill (1874-1965) broadcast to the nation the news that war was officially over. (Follow UK events on Twitter: @DefenceHQ – hashtag VEDAY70)

Private collection. ©Come Step Back In Time
Souvenir V.E. Day brochure, 1945. Private collection. ©Come Step Back In Time
Victory souvenir postcard, 1945. Private collections. ©Come Step Back In Time
Victory souvenir postcard, 1945. Private collection. ©Come Step Back In Time

One of the most poignant of these V.E. Day 70th events will be the lighting of a hundred beacons at various locations around Britain from Newcastle to Cornwall. In the skies above London, there will be an aerial display of Spitfire and Lancaster bomber planes, and cathedral bells will also ring-out across the country.

VE day party May 8th 1945. Cuckoo farm , Boxted , Colchester.  Victory in Europe day 8th May 1945. A celebration party at Cuckoo Farm near Colchester Essex England. party was held for the local community by the Joy family who owned the land . Mum in the middle of the picture would be waiting till August for VJ day and the end of the second world war. Colchester's new football stadium is at this location today. Image courtesy of Glenn Pattinson (Glenn's Flickr account is full of lovely heritage images, click here).
V.E. day party, May 8th 1945. Cuckoo farm , Boxted , Colchester, Essex. This celebration party was held at Cuckoo Farm (near Colchester Essex England).  The party was for the local community hosted by the Joy family who owned the land. Glenn Pattinson’s mother is in the middle of the picture, however, she would be waiting until August for V.J. day. However, for various reasons, her husband didn’t return home until February 1946. A lot of service people were kept in India after August 1945 because of the country’s internal religious and political problems.  The British Raj was coming to an end and there were increased social tensions. Colchester’s new football stadium is at this location today. Image courtesy of Glenn Pattinson (Glenn’s Flickr account is full of lovely heritage images, click here).

People are also being encouraged to organise street parties within their local community, similar to those organised 70 years ago. Although I am sure trestle and picnic tables will be employed in 2015 rather than dismantled Morrison shelters which were used in May, 1945! To help inspire you, I have curated a selection of ‘rationbook recipes’ from my own collection of 1940s cookery books. (Click here) I have also collated a Pinterest board packed full of inspiration to help you create a 1940s style look, for both men and women. (Click Here)

Souvenir invitation for a children's V.J. party, 1945. Private collection. ©Come Step Back In Time
Souvenir invitation for a children’s V.J. party, 1945. Private collection. ©Come Step Back In Time
My late grandmother with her sister on the beach at Hythe, Kent, in the late 1930s. ©Come Step Back In Time
My late grandmother with her sister enjoying a fun-filled Summer on the beach at Hythe, Kent, late 1930s. ©Come Step Back In Time
My late grandfather (left) with a friend at Hythe beach, Kent before World War Two. ©Come Step Back In Time
My late grandfather (left) with a friend at Hythe beach, Kent before World War Two. ©Come Step Back In Time

 FAMILY HOLIDAYS IN HYTHE KENT, BEFORE WORLD WAR TWO

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Family holiday, bungalow, opposite Hythe seafront, Kent. Photograph taken after World War Two. ©Come Step Back In Time
Grandmother in the porch at the bungalow in Hythe, Summer 1956. ©Come Step Back In Time
Grandmother in the porch at the bungalow in Hythe, Summer 1956. ©Come Step Back In Time

Before war was declared in 1939, my grandparents enjoyed carefree summers in Hythe, Kent at the family’s holiday home, a bungalow located on Dymchurch Road, directly opposite the seafront. The bungalow still exists today, with its original name, but is no longer in our family.

The lady standing-up is my great, great, grandmother.  Photograph is dated c.1911.
The lady standing-up is my great, great grandmother Verena Chads (Nee Jennings) who brought the Hythe bungalow in 1929. Photograph is dated c.1911. ©Come Step Back In Time

My great, great grandmother (pictured above, standing) Verena Jennings (b.1864) cut a formidable figure. She was an educated lady of independent means with a portfolio of properties across London. She married into the Chads dynasty, an illustrious naval family but later divorced her husband, an unusual step for a woman in Victorian England. Her ex-husband later took his own life for reasons which I feel it entirely inappropriate to discuss on a public forum such as this. However, she did receive a substantial divorce settlement and lived out the rest of her days enjoying a comfortable standard of living.

Verena Chads (Nee Jennings) a successful businesswoman, my great, great grandmother. ©Come Step Back In Time
Verena Chads (Nee Jennings) a successful businesswoman, my great, great grandmother. ©Come Step Back In Time

My great, great grandmother did not enjoy living in London during the Summer months and decided to purchase a holiday home on the Kent coast which she could live in from Easter until September.  She had always enjoyed trips to the seaside during her childhood. In 1929, now in her 65th year, she purchased a new bungalow that had just been built on a plot of land not far from Hythe Ranges, on the Dymchurch Road. The bungalow was the first to be built on that plot and was sold by local Hythe estate agents C. R. Child & Partners , the firm still exist today.  Incidentally, it was one of the first sales that this estate agent made in 1929, their inaugural year.

My late grandmother in 1930s (Verena Chads' granddaughter) in the garden of the Hythe bungalow. ©Come Step Back In Time
My late grandmother (centre) with her sister and friend enjoying Hythe beach in the 1930s. ©Come Step Back In Time

Great, great grandmother named the bungalow ‘Multum-in-parvo’ which is Latin for ‘much in little’. The bungalow remained in the family until the early 1970s. Every Easter she would come down to her Hythe seaside retreat. Compared to her usual standard of living in a large, smart central London townhouse with servants, conditions at the bungalow were primitive and servantless.

My late grandmother in 1930s (Verena Chads' granddaughter) in the garden of the Hythe bungalow. ©Come Step Back In Time
Verena Chads’ granddaughter, my grandmother (1930s) in the garden of the bungalow at Hythe. ©Come Step Back In Time

In 1929, the bungalow had a large garden, no sanitation, an outdoor toilet, no electricity or running water (rain water was collected in a vast metal container and boiled for daily use). Perishables were stored in a meat safe, which was corrugated with a grill on the front, as there was no refrigeration nor suitable marble-lined larder at the property. My mother tells me that apparently it became a family tradition, started by great, great grandmother, to take oysters and a pint of Guinness, most days at 11am.

  • Guinness advert. A print from the Illustrated London News, 12th December 1936. (Photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images)
My grandmother with her best friend in the garden at the Hythe bungalow. ©Come Step Back In Time
My grandmother with her best friend in the garden at the Hythe bungalow before World War Two. ©Come Step Back In Time

It was necessary to shop on a regular basis in order to eat fresh produce. A local farm in Palmarsh, close by the bungalow, provided the family with dairy products and the milkman called at the bungalow most days. A kitchen range was fitted after World War Two and in 1955, gas was connected to the property and finally in 1958, water and electricity. By the 1960s, basic mod cons had been installed.

1916 Swift motorcar similar to the one great, great grandmother brought for use whilst she was in Hythe. Image from my own private collection. ©Come Step Back In Time
1916 Swift motorcar similar to the one great, great grandmother brought for use whilst she was in Hythe. Image from my own private collection. ©Come Step Back In Time

The fishmonger and butcher also made home visits. Great, great grandmother grew quite friendly with the fishmonger which resulted in her hiring him as a chauffeur during the Summer months. She then brought a World War One Swift motorcar, although she didn’t drive herself, the fishmonger drove her around when she was at the bungalow. In exchange, she allowed him to drive the car for his own use from October until March. When she died, the fishmonger brought the Swift and continued to use it.

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  • 4th June 1938: A little girl at London Waterloo Station makes enquiries for trains to the seaside during the Whitsun Holidays. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Before World War Two, great, great grandmother used to journey down to Hythe from London Victoria on the East Kent Coach. She travelled with many of her possessions, including her beloved parrot. She would alight at Red Lion Square, Hythe and continued the rest of her short journey to the bungalow by train, alighting at Botolph’s Bridge, an unmanned halt close by. This halt opened in 1927 and closed just before World War Two in 1939, it didn’t re-open after the war. For a couple of years she travelled by train to Sandgate until it closed in 1931. The family also often made good use of Romney Hythe and Dymchurch light railway line (RH&DR) when visiting the bungalow.

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  • August 1922: A family paddling in the sea at Dymchurch, 9 miles up the Kent coast from Hythe. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
My late grandmother on Hythe beach in the 1930s.
My late grandmother on Hythe beach in the 1930s. ©Come Step Back In Time

RH&DR opened for public use on 16th July, 1927, when the inaugural train travelled from Hythe to New Romney. The 8 miles between Hythe and New Romney was covered in double tracks. In 1927, St. Mary’s Bay had its own RH&DR station known as ‘Holiday Camp’ due to its location near to several holiday and boys camps, popular in the area at that time. St. Mary’s Bay was known (and still is!) for its lovely beaches, perfect for bathing.  In 1928, the RH&DR line was extended to Dungeness via Greatstone, creating a main line ride of 13.5 miles.

My great, great grandmother's copy of Hythe, Sandgate, Folkestone, Dymchurch, New Romney Guidebook, from 1927-8. Private collection. ©Come Step Back In Time
My great, great grandmother’s copy of Hythe, Sandgate, Folkestone, Dymchurch, New Romney Guidebook, from 1927-8. Private collection. ©Come Step Back In Time

Another reason that attracted my great, great grandmother to Hythe in 1929 was its obvious potential as a popular, smart, seaside resort. During the 1920s Hythe had begun to invest in its tourist infrastructure and in May, 1924, the ‘Bathing Establishment’ had been converted into a restaurant and tea room, The Pavillion. It was then leased by Mrs Farmer and a music and dancing licence was granted.

Hythe has had a long history as seaside resort, emerging first in the Georgian period. In the Hythe, Sandgate and Folkestone Guide (1816) it was stated:

In the immediate neighbourhood of Hythe there is a pleasant walk called Marine Grove, leading to the sea-side, and another denominated Sir William’s Wall, where both visitors and the inhabitants frequently form agreeable promenades (especially in the summer evenings), and to which the refreshing coolness of the sea-breezes are extremely inviting…..

(Hythe: A History by Martin Easdown & Linda Sage, 2004, p.69)

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  • High Street, Hythe, Kent, 1890-1910. The High Street in Hythe contains the Smugglers Retreat (on the right) which was demolished in 1907. Popular belief has it that a light was lit in the projecting upper storey window to signal to smugglers off the coast that it was safe to land. (Photo by English Heritage/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

The arrival of Hythe as a respectable watering place really began in 1854, when the Corporation opened the Bathing Establishment behind the sea front in South Road at a cost of £2,000…They [the baths], catered for the craze amongst the wealthy that the bathing in, and drinking of, seawater could cure all their ills. Indoor baths had grown in popularity as a more comfortable alternative to sea bathing whilst, unsurprisingly, the drinking of seawater was in decline in 1860. However, the recommended daily does for any partakers was 1/2 pint of seawater mixed with milk, beef tea or port wine….The [bathing] machines were hauled to and from the sea over Hythe’s steeply shelving shingle beach either by horses or by using a winch.

(Ibid. pp.69-70)

Views of Hythe from My great, great grandmother's copy of Hythe, Sandgate, Folkestone, Dymchurch, New Romney Guidebook, from 1927-8. Family collection. ©Come Step Back In Time
Views of Hythe from My great, great grandmother’s copy of Hythe, Sandgate, Folkestone, Dymchurch, New Romney Guidebook, from 1927-8. Top: Military Canal, Middle: Esplanade, Bottom: Ladies’ Walk. Family collection. ©Come Step Back In Time

In 1938, Stade Court Hotel and Four Winds Restaurant opened on West Parade, Hythe. The buildings were designed in the fashionable 1930s Art Deco minimalist style popular at the time. Leisure facilities began to increase in town and on 26th May, 1930 the Grove Cinema showed the first talking picture. The cinema was nicknamed ‘The Shack’ on account of its appearance but closed on 1st March, 1958.

On 12th June, 1937 the Ritz Cinema opened on the corner of Prospect Road and East Street. Another Art deco modernist-style building which could hold 858 patrons. Canal Hall in Hythe was another popular tourist destination, this time for dancing, opening its doors also in the 1930s.

Hythe’s spectacular, Venetian Fête, was one of the highlights in the Summer season calendar (and still is!). The event takes place on Hythe’s Royal Military Canal. The first Venetian Fête took place on 27th August, 1890 on the suggestion of Hythe reporter Edward Palmer who thought a parade of illuminated boats on the Canal would be an excellent tourist attraction and a showcase for local trades.

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  • 5th September 1935: The ancient pageantry of the Cinque Ports, Councillor E C Smith, mayor of Hythe, sets out in his barge to welcome visiting mayors during the Hythe Venetian Fête at the Royal Military Canal in Kent. (Photo by Horace Abrahams/Keystone/Getty Images)

The event continued every year until World War One when it stopped and restarted again in 1927. Unfortunately, in 1927, there were complaints from locals who were unhappy about the 8 hour closure of the canal banks during the procession. The event did not take place again for 3 years but in 1934 there was a big revival and the annual procession drew large local and national crowds. The last one before the outbreak of World War Two was on 30th August 1939.

My late grandmother and her niece on Hythe beach in the 1930s, before war broke-out in 1939. ©Come Step Back In Time
My late grandmother and her sister on Hythe beach in the 1930s, before war broke-out in 1939. ©Come Step Back In Time
  • British Pathe film showcasing women’s swimming costumes from 1939. Uploaded to You Tube, 13.4.14.
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  • 22nd October 1938: Young Muriel Richards, just one of the children sent to Dymchurch in Kent in anticipation of the start of World War Two. The storm clouds are gathering in Europe and the Summer of 1939 was to be the last time my family holidayed in Hythe until 1946. The evacuee in this image wears a label round her neck for identification. Original Publication: Picture Post – Album Of A Teacher In The Crisis – pub. 1938 (Photo by Merlyn Severn/Picture Post/Getty Images)
My late grandmother in World War Two, with some splendid victory roll curls! ©Come Step Back In Time
My late grandmother in World War Two, with some splendid victory roll curls! ©Come Step Back In Time
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  • 8th April 1940: Despite the war, painters brighten up the sea front at Folkestone in hope that there might be an influx of tourists during Summer season. Sadly, this frontline town struggled to attract the tourists as the war progressed. It wasn’t long before it became a militarised zone. (Photo by Arthur Tanner/Fox Photos/Getty Images)

HYTHE & SURROUNDING AREA DURING WORLD WAR TWO

On 3rd September, 1939, World War Two was declared. At the time 1,000 children were staying at St. Mary’s Bay Holiday Camp, near Dymchuch and had to be immediately evacuated. The Sands Motel in ‘The Bay’ had two large naval guns mounted on the front of it, pointing out to sea. The guns were disguised to appear like two adjoining houses having false roofs and wooden chimney pots. The defences along the sea wall were reinforced as iron scaffolding was erected and mines fixed to it. Both The Sands Motel and the children’s holiday camp took direct hits from enemy bombs.

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  • 1940, Kent. With the threat of German invasion imminent, a Coastal Guards detachment on the cliffs between Dover and Folkestone, are given a demonstration in the use of petrol bombs (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)

During World War Two, Britain’s coastline was vulnerable to enemy invasion, particularly in the south or east. As soon as war was declared, beaches were planted with mines, barbed wire and other obstacles. Access to front-line coastal towns like Dover and Folkestone were heavily restricted.

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  • 1940, barbed wire defences on the coast of Folkestone and Dover (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)

Due to the location of my family’s bungalow, directly opposite the seafront on Dymchurch Road and close to the Hythe Ranges, this meant that visiting the property during the war was very much restricted. Definitely no holidays (the beach was out of bounds anyway!), local people and property owners had to obtain a resident’s pass to both visit as well as travel back and forth to their homes. My mother recalls that some of these visits made by her grandmother to inspect the bungalow meant that she had to be accompanied by military personnel to do so.

The Hythe Ranges have been used for live firing for nearly 200 years, they are one of the oldest ranges in Britain and are still used by the military today. There are two Martello Towers on the site as well as a “Grand Redoubt” fortification at Dymchurch which was built in 1800 as a defence structure in case of an invasion by Napoleon (1769-1821). During World War Two, the Martello Towers in Hythe resumed their role as a defence structure. They were used as look-out posts and armed with anti-aircraft guns and searchlights.

The Hythe School of Musketry, founded in March 1853, now known as the Small Arms School Corps (SASC). In 1939, the SASC took over responsibility for defences in the area:

A sea mine and boom defence system was installed in Hythe Bay and a minefield land on the seaward side of Hythe Gasworks. The beach was defended with a gantry of scaffold poles with attached mines and six-inch gun emplacements were located on the Promenade. Ladies Walk Bridge was demolished as a defensive measure, and others were disabled. The Royal Military Canal was enmeshed in barbed wire.

  • ‘Toy Train Goes To War’ (1944). Short film featuring the RHDR before World War Two carrying holiday crowds and then refitted for its important role in wartime when, according to my mother, one of the cargoes it transported was ack-ack guns. Uploaded to You Tube 13.4.2014

One of the RHDR engines, Hercules, was converted into an armoured train using guns salvaged from crashed aircraft. As the threat of invasion loomed, the Small Arms School was largely exiled to Bisley. Hythe became a prohibited zone and could be entered only with a valid resident’s pass: The district south of the Royal Military Canal was cleared and declared strictly out of bounds.

(Hythe: A History by Martin Easdown & Linda Sage, 2004, p.115)

  • Troops stationed in the Hythe area have been provided with a novel leave train. Troops of the command travel to visit the cinema and join main line trains for home leave. (On the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Light Railway – Probably at New Romney, Kent) (Photo by Planet News Archive/SSPL/Getty Images)

Unsurprisingly, due to its frontline coastal position, Hythe suffered at the hands of the Luftwaffe. During World War Two, in total, there were 19 air raids; 2 bouts of shelling; 11 fallen doodlebugs; 20 civilians killed (3 by a bomb that fell on and completely destroyed the Arcade in the High Street, 4th October, 1940).  On 10th May, 1942, 2 people died when a bomb fell at the back of Trice’s refreshment rooms and on 21st August, 3 others perished when a bomb exploded in the air above Prospect Road and Bank Street. (Source: Ibid p. 115)

One of the worse instances of civilian fatalities took place on 15th August, 1944 when a doodlebug flattened numbers 1-5 Earlsfied Road, claiming 5 lives. In 1941, on the Hythe Ranges, close to our family’s holiday bungalow, 3 soldiers were killed by a bomb whilst practicing there. In April, 1944, all civilians (except those who lived there) were banned from sea by virtue of a 10 mile radius, this was enforced right along the coast of southern England. By the end of 1944, Hythe was a husk of its former self, battle scarred but nevertheless ready to rise again from the ashes and re-establish itself as a popular seaside resort once more.  During the war, many of its residents had boarded-up their homes and moved in land which created a ghost town in their wake.

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  • Evacuee Barrie Peacop enjoys an ice cream as he sits on a mine washed up on the beach at Deal in Kent towards the end of World War Two. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
In the Summer of 1946, my family were finally allowed to return to their holiday bungalow in Hythe. My mother was a toddler at the time and this was her first experience of the seaside. Top left she is pictured giving her favourite teddy bear a bath. Notice behind the garden boundary is covered in barbed wire, left over from wartime. The other 3 photographs show my mother on Hythe beach enjoying a splash around in the sea. ©Come Step Back In Time
In the Summer of 1946, my family were finally allowed to return to their holiday bungalow in Hythe. My mother was a toddler at the time and this was her first experience of the seaside. Top left she is pictured giving her favourite teddy bear a bath in the garden at the bungalow. Notice behind, the garden boundary is still covered in wartime barbed wire. The other 3 photographs show my mother on Hythe beach enjoying her first sea encounter. ©Come Step Back In Time

HYTHE & SURROUNDING AREA AFTER WORLD WAR TWO

Hythe, like the rest of the country, celebrated V.E. Day on 8th May, 1945. A Victory Party was held for local children at the Old Jesson Club, St. Mary’s Bay. Hythe Town Band played as part of the area-wide celebrations, having been disbanded at the start of World War Two following call-up orders.

My family were not allowed to return to their holiday bungalow in Hythe until the Summer of 1946. When they did, it was quite a celebration by all accounts from the photographs I have seen in our archives. Summer 1945, my grandfather was still serving in Holland (more about him in a moment), therefore the Summer of 1946 was the first time all the family was able to come together and celebrate the end of the war. My mother recalls that everyone travelled down to Hythe in April 1946, this month also happened to my mother’s 2nd birthday!

Summer 1946, my grandparents are reunited and enjoyed a wonderful Summer at the bungalow in Hythe, celebrating the end of the war and all the family surviving safe and sound. ©Come Step Back In Time
Summer 1946, my grandparents are reunited and enjoyed a wonderful Summer at the bungalow in Hythe, celebrating the end of the war and all the family surviving safe and sound. ©Come Step Back In Time

The above photographs show my mother’s first experiences of the seaside and playing in the sand. However, she informs me that she was less than happy with her first ‘dip in the sea’. Apparently, a soldier and his friend were walking along Hythe beach and saw my mother and asked if they could take her into the sea for a splash. My grandmother agreed, my mother was scooped-up and as they splashed around a large wave engulfed them all. Mother was really upset, bawled her eyes and the shocked soldiers hastily placed her down on the sandy shore. She is still terrified of water today and has never liked swimming since, only learning to do so when she was in 60th decade!

My grandparents and my mother. All safely reunited after World War Two and having fun on the beach at Hythe. ©Come Step Back In Time
My grandparents and my mother. All safely reunited after World War Two and having fun on the beach at Hythe. ©Come Step Back In Time
In the garden at the bungalow, Summer 1946. My grandfather is in the centre.  ©Come Step Back In Time
In the garden at the bungalow, Summer 1946. My grandfather is in the centre. ©Come Step Back In Time

My mother recalls that despite being allowed back on the beach in Hythe after the war, there were still many dangers present in doing so. Unexploded ordnance, debris such as rusty barbed wire and lots of fire bombs were common sights. Civilians were not allowed to walk on the Hythe Ranges for quite some time after the war and for obvious reasons until the sight was made safe to the public.

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  • 24th December 1945: A bomb disposal officer gently pulling a mine from the sea in Hythe, Kent. (Photo by Hamlin/Express/Getty Images)

In fact there was still barbed wire on parts of Hythe beach and by the bungalow well into the 1960s! Until 1971, just off the coast near Hythe, there was even a large piece of Mulberry Harbour wreckage that had broken-off in 1944. My mother tells me that this large piece of concrete and steel was the size of a small house.

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  • 24th December 1945: A bomb disposal officer with a mine washed up on the beach at Hythe. (Photo by Hamlin/Express/Getty Images)

Mother remembers that as she and her siblings grew-up throughout the 1940s and 1950s, discarded fire bombs and gun cartridges on the beach at Hythe were still a hazard. My grandfather insisted that everyone remained vigilant when playing on the shingle and sand. The more popular resorts in Kent, such as at St. Mary’s Bay and a little further along in Folkestone and Ramsgate, were first to have their beaches cleared of these hazards. It took a while longer for Hythe to be made safe.

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  • 13th November 1944: Authorised by the Town Council, the destruction of concrete tank barriers on the seafront at Ramsgate, Kent, finally begins. They are no longer necessary, and would only impede the return of the tourist trade. (Photo by Harry Todd/Fox Photos/Getty Images)
  • British Pathe film from 1964 featuring the bomb disposal unit operating along the Kent coastline, including Lydd, twelve miles along the coast from Hythe. They are clearing ordinance from World War Two.

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  • 3rd August 1946: The Marquis Trio performing on the sands near Dymchurch, Kent. Original Publication: Picture Post – 4152 – A Girl Drops Out Of The Blue – pub. 1946 (Photo by Merlyn Severn/Picture Post/Getty Images)

My mother remembers that holidays at the bungalow after the war until the 1960s were no-frills affairs compared to today’s beach holiday. Buckets and spades, ice-cream and swimming in the sea were the main activities. For the first decade after the war, people were still suffering the effects of rationing, money was tight and it wasn’t until the latter half of the 1950s when people’s disposable income began to rise. But these early years after the war were a time of carefree Summers, freedom to explore.

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  • August 1955: Holiday-makers on the beach at Dymchurch, Kent. (Photo by D. Peacock/Fox Photos/Getty Images)
My aunt and uncle standing in front of their dad's Ford Zephyr. Galleywood Common. 1955.
My aunt and uncle standing in front of their dad’s Ford Zephyr. Galleywood Common. 1955. ©Come Step Back In Time

In the mid 1950s my grandfather purchased a new, grey, Ford Consul 204E (MKII – 1956) which meant that getting to and from the bungalow at Hythe was now much easier. In addition, photographs in our albums from this point forward, show that Summer holidays based in Hythe now included day trips further afield to places such as Pevensey and Polegate in Sussex.

Family outing to Wannock Tea Gardens, Polegate, Sussex. 1955.
Family outing to Wannock Tea Gardens, Polegate, Sussex. 1955. ©Come Step Back In Time
My family at Pevensey Castle, East Sussex. 1955.  ©Come Step Back In Time
My grandmother, mother and great grandmother (Back, L-R) and my aunt and uncle (front) at Pevensey Castle, East Sussex. 1955. ©Come Step Back In Time

My mother describes this post-war period as a time of simple pleasures, children saving their pocket money and spending it on ice-cream and souvenirs. Her favourite purchase was a doll with a crinoline dress made out of sea shells. Afternoon teas were a treat, fish and chip suppers were the norm and if they wanted candy floss then a trip to Folkestone was necessary. In the 1950s and 1960s, seaside shows at either Hythe Summer Theatre in the Institute or Leas Cliff Hall Folkestone were also included as part of the treats enjoyed by my family.

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  •  A scene from the film version of Dry Rot  showing L-R: John Chapman, Diana Calderwood, Brian Rix, John Slater, and Charles Coleman (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)

One of my mother’s favourite theatre trips was to see the play Dry Rot by John R. Chapman (1927-2001). This popular 1954 comedy, about dishonest bookmakers, was part of the repertory theatre in residence which ran over eight weeks at Hythe Summer Theatre in the Institute.

Grandmother (right) with her friend Rita in the garden at the bungalow in Hythe. Summer 1955. ©Come Step Back In Time
Grandmother (right) with her friend in the garden at the bungalow in Hythe. Summer 1955. ©Come Step Back In Time
Daughter of family friend with Inky the poodle in the garden at the Hythe bungalow, Summer 1955. ©Come Step Back In Time
Daughter of family friend with Inky the poodle in the garden at the Hythe bungalow, Summer 1955. ©Come Step Back In Time

After the war, St. Mary’s Bay became popular again with tourists on account of its long sandy beach and The Sands Motel was often booked-up for the whole season. My mother loved visiting ‘The Bay’ to have an ice-cream and also remembers going to Dungeness sometimes too, she said they put an ice-cream kiosk in there after the war. In the 1950s and 1960s there were a number of holiday camps in ‘The Bay’, including Maddieson’s Golden Sands. A friend of my grandfather ran one of these holiday camps after leaving the army. Kent, particularly seaside towns, enjoyed a tourist boom until the 1960s when the advent of cheap foreign lure families away to foreign shores. Britain can never guarantee a rain-free Summer but the Continent could. Many seaside towns struggled to keep going, became shabby and fell into decline.

My family on Hythe beach, Kent in 1956. The annual holiday to Kent was a favourite of my mum. Even Inkie the poodle (bottom left) came too. I think Uncle Victor might have had a few nips of brandy on the journey down, since he has decided to wear a plastic bucket as a sunhat. ©Come Step Back In Time.
My family on Hythe beach, Kent in 1956. The annual holiday to Kent was a favourite of my mum. Even Inkie the poodle (bottom left) came too. I think Uncle Victor might have had a few nips of brandy on the journey down, since he has decided to wear a plastic bucket as a sunhat. Grandmother (front row, 2nd from left), great grandmother (front row, 3rd from left). Grandfather (back row, right-hand side). ©Come Step Back In Time.
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  • 22nd August 1952: A boy dressed as Peter Pan surrounded by fairies floats down the Canal on a barge, one of the attractions at the Hythe Venetian Fête in Kent. (Photo by Stanley Sherman/Express/Getty Images)

During the war, no Venetian Fêtes took place in Hythe, the event restarted in 1946 but due to a lack of available materials to decorate floats there was no procession in 1947, it then took place annually between 1948 and 1954. My grandparents took my mother to the Venetian Fête in 1946 and each year from then on. The Fête would fall at the same time as my aunt’s birthday in August which made it an ideal family outing. From the latter half of the 1950s, it was then decided that because floats were expensive to decorate, Fêtes would take place bi-annually and this has remained the case ever since.

The Venetian Fête was always one of the highlights of my family’s Summer holiday. Even when the bungalow had been sold in the early 1970s, I remember still being taken to see the procession several times as a child on a day trip from our home in Battle and latterly Hastings. No carnival ever came close to the standard of floats that took part in Hythe’s Venetian Fête. In 2015, the Fête will take place on Wednesday, 19th August, 7pm start.

  • British Pathe film showcasing Hythe’s Venetian Fete (1960). Uploaded to You Tube 13.4.2014.

The RH&DR re-opened in 1946 between Hythe and New Romney and in 1947 the Dungeness section was opened by Laurel and Hardy. The New Romney to Dungeness extension was only a single as opposed to a double track because of the shortage of materials after the war.

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  • Laurel and Hardy drive the inaugural train on the New Romney-Dungeness section of the line which had been closed since the start of the war, during the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway’s 21st birthday celebrations. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
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  • c.1956: The size of the Hythe ticket office of the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Light Railway corresponds with that of the trains themselves. The line boasts the title ‘The World’s Smallest Public Railway’. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)
My late grandfather, Sergeant Frederick Langley. I love this photograph because the crease across the middle is where my grandmother folded it in half and kept it on her person during the war. ©Come Step Back In Time (The Langley Family Archive)
My late grandfather, Sergeant Frederick Langley. I love this photograph because the crease across the middle is where my grandmother folded it in half and kept it on her person during the war. ©Come Step Back In Time (The Langley Family Archive)

MY GRANDFATHER – SERGEANT FREDERICK LANGLEY, 314th/29th AA BN ROYAL ENGINEERS, KENT

My late grandfather, Frederick Arthur Langley, was born in 1916. When World War Two broke out in 1939, he joined the 29th (Kent) Searchlight Regiment, a volunteer air defence unit of Britain’s Territorial Army (TA), established in 1935. During World War Two the unit was part of the Royal Engineers.

Grandfather with some of his unit in the early stages of World War Two. Location unknown but likely to be Molash, Kent, c.1941.
My Grandfather (4th from left) with some of his unit in the early stages of World War Two, before he became a Sergeant. Location unknown but likely to be Molash, Kent, c.1941. ©Come Step Back In Time (The Langley Family Archive)

The regiment had its origins in a group of Independent Air Defence Companies of the Royal Engineers formed in the Home counties by the TA during 1924. My grandfather’s regiment was part of the 314th (Kent) Anti-Aircraft Searchlight Company which was based at Southborough and later Tonbridge, Kent.

My grandfather in camp, c.1941. Location possibly Molash, Kent. ©Come Step Back In Time (The Langley Family Archive)
My grandfather in camp, c.1941. Location possibly Molash, Kent. ©Come Step Back In Time (The Langley Family Archive)

My grandfather’s decision to join this particular regiment may have been influenced by his own father’s military service during World War One. My great grandfather, Arthur Langley, had been a Corporal in the Royal Engineers.

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  • 27th March 1942: Anti-aircraft guns ready for action below the cliffs of Dover as warning is given of approaching enemy planes. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

The 29th Kent Anti-Aircraft command played a vital role in the Battle of Britain (10th July – 31st October, 1940) which was waged in the skies, particularly over southern England. The regiment’s searchlight skills also provided an important first-line of defence along the Kent coast during The Blitz (7th September, 1940 – 21st May, 1941).

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  • 1942: Anti-aircraft gun pits in the walls along Dover’s coastline. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
  • An array of army searchlights illuminate the night sky over London, in the hope of spotting enemy aircraft during World War Two.

In the Winter of 1944, it became evident that the German Luftwaffe was suffering from a severe shortage of pilots, aircraft and fuel meaning that aerial bombardment of Britain could pretty much be discounted. In January 1945, the War Office began to re-organise surplus anti-aircraft and coastal artillery regiments into infantry battalions, primarily for line of communication and occupation duties, thereby releasing trained infantry for frontline service.

In this re-organisation, my grandfather’s regiment became the 631st (Kent) Infantry Regiment, RA. On 22nd January, 1945, the 631st was attached to the 59th AA Bde, which became the 307th Engineer Infantry Brigade. After an initial period of re-training, the 631st was sent to North West Europe in April, 1945 to work under the 21st Army Group and SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force) commanded by General Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969).

On my grandparent's wedding day, 23rd March, 1940.  ©Come Step Back In Time (The Langley Family Archive)
On my grandparent’s wedding day, 23rd March, 1940. ©Come Step Back In Time (The Langley Family Archive)
My grandmother's wedding dress, beautiful thick, blue satin, made by her best friend. My mother and I are currently restoring this dress back to its former glory. ©Come Step Back In Time
My grandmother’s wedding dress, beautiful, thick blue satin, made by her best friend. My mother and I are currently restoring this dress back to its former glory. ©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

NAZI OCCUPATION OF THE NETHERLANDS IN WORLD WAR TWO

Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands on 10th May, 1940 and the Dutch armed forces (apart from those in Zeeland) surrendered on 15th May. The country’s sovereign, Queen Wilhelmina (1880-1962) resided in Britain during the war and whilst in exile managed the Dutch government, which had also escaped there. It was thought the Netherlands would remain neutral in World War Two like it had done in World War One. Therefore an invasion by Germany and the suffering subsequently endured by many Dutch citizens, shocked everyone.

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  • Foreign Royalty, pic: c.1943, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, (1880-1962) Queen from (1898-1948) making a wartime radio broadcast while in exile during World War Two(Photo by Paul Popper/Popperfoto/Getty Images)

In 1939 there were 140,000 Jewish citizens in the country, 25,000 of whom were German-Jewish refugees who had fled Germany during the 1930s. Two thirds of the Jewish community resided in Amsterdam.  In the Winter of 1940, all Jews had to be registered. On 1st May, 1942 all Jews were required to wear a yellow star. Only 40,00 Dutch Jews survived the war and 75% of the Dutch-Jewish population perished, one of the highest percentages out of all of the occupied countries in Western Europe.

During the war, approximately 400,000 people went into hiding in the Netherlands some of which were Jewish. One of the most famous of these ‘hidees’ was Annelies Marrie “Anne” Frank (1929-1945) a young Jewish girl from Germany. The Frank family moved from Germany to Amsterdam in 1933 when the Nazis gained control over Germany. In July 1942, the Franks went into hiding in some concealed rooms behind a bookcase in the building where Anne’s father worked.

After two years, the group was betrayed and transported to concentration camps. Anne and her sister Margot were eventually transferred to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where they died (probably of typhus) in February, 1945. Anne’s wartime diary, The Diary of a Young Girl, was published posthumously.

Less than 2% of the Dutch population sided with the Nazis. Immediately after occupation, democracy was abolished and parliament dissolved. The NSB party (Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging, the National Socialist Movement) a Dutch fascist and later national socialist political party were the only legal political party in the Netherlands during most of World War Two. Members of the NSB were rewarded for supporting the Nazis and as such kept positions of leadership during the occupation.

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  • A Dutch poster from World War Two, depicting a WA man with the words ‘In dienst van ons volk, en gij? Wordt WA man’ (‘In the service of our people, and you? Become a WA man’), c.1943. The WA or Weerbaarheidsafdeling were the paramilitary wing of the Dutch Nazi party NSB, who worked in collaboration with the Germans to arrest Jews and Resistance members. Poster by Lou Manche. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

In 1943, the Dutch Resistance movement was strong whereas previously recruitment had been slow. In May, 1943, following the Nazi’s introduction of Arbeitseinsatz , every Dutch male aged between 18 and 45 was forced to work in German factories, particularly those bombed regularly by western Allies! Consequently, many eligible men went into hiding. Food was heavily rationed in the Netherlands and the resistance movement played a vital role in raiding distribution centres to obtain ration cards for those men in hiding. The LOLKP was the underground resistance movement organised for people in hiding.

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  • Civilians and armed resistance fighters in a recently liberated Dutch city during World War Two force a traitor to walk the streets with a shameful sign around his neck which reads roughly ‘So we do with those who betray people in hiding,’ Breda, Netherlands, 1944. ‘People in hiding’ refers to Jews and Underground fighters trying to avoid the Nazis. (Photo by Horace Abrahams/Keystone Features/Getty Images)

Women were particularly important in the resistance movement, they tended to attract less suspicion. Membership consisted of citizens drawn from a wide range of occupations, religious backgrounds and political beliefs such as butchers, farmers, teachers and housewives.

Radios were confiscated by the Nazis who feared that the English radio broadcasters may give instructions to people of the Netherlands. Only 80% of all radios were ever handed in and many sets disappeared, hidden under floorboards, cupboards, cabinets etc. People became very resourceful and some created simple radio receivers ‘crystal receiver.

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  • 1946  Audrey Hepburn as a teenager with her mother, Dutch Baroness Ella van Heemstra. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Actress Audrey Hepburn’s (1929-1993) experiences in the occupied Netherlands provide a fascinating insight in what life was like at that time. Her mother was a Dutch aristocrat, Baroness Ella van Heemstra (1900-1984) and her grandfather was Baron Aarnoudvan Heemstra, mayor of Arnhem, 1910-20.

Both Audrey’s parents belonged to the British Union of Fascists but her father was a Nazi sympathiser. When their marriage broke down in 1935, he moved to London and Audrey moved with her mother to Kent where she attended a small private school in Elham.

When war broke out Audrey and her mother moved back to the Netherlands to live in Arnhem as they believed, like many others, the country would remain neutral. In 1940, she used the name Edda van Heemstra in order to distance herself from an English sounding name. Her uncle was executed in 1942 in retaliation for an act of sabotage by the resistance movement. Her half-brother was deported to Berlin to work in a German labour camp and her other half-brother went into hiding to avoid the same fate.

Audrey attended the Arnhem Conservatory for the duration of the war but suffered malnutrition, anaemia, respiratory problems and edema, like many of her fellow Dutch citizens lack of available food had serious health implications. She supported the Dutch resistance and gave ballet performances in secret to collect money for the movement. Sometimes, she acted as a courier of messages and parcels for them, an extremely dangerous thing to do, if caught she would have been tortured and executed.

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  • Resistance grafitti in a street in the Netherlands during the Dutch famine of the winter of 1944-45. The slogan reads ‘Eist Meer Brood’ (‘ask for more bread’). (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

During the Winter of 1944-45, famine spread throughout the Netherlands. The famine had been caused by a German blockade cutting-off food and fuel shipments from farm areas. Approximately 4.5 million people were affected and many survived only due to a network of soup kitchens. Food was so scarce that people even ate tulip bulbs and sugarbeets.

In her memoirs, Audrey recalls making flour to bake cakes and biscuits from ground down tulip bulbs. Following liberation in 1945, she became extremely ill after putting too much sugar on her porridge and eating an entire can of condensed milk. It is estimated that between 18,000 and 22,000 people died that Winter.

  • ‘Liberation of Amsterdam’ (1945) (there is no sound) by British Pathe. Allied troops parade the streets, greeted by delighted Dutch citizens after years of Nazi occupation during World War Two. Uploaded to You Tube 22.5.2013.

LIBERATION OF THE NETHERLANDS 

The liberation of the Netherlands began in September 1944. The Allies crossed the Rhine in March, 1945 and Canadian forces entered the Netherlands from the east, liberating the rest of the Nazi-occupied Dutch towns. The Netherlands was largely liberated by the First Canadian Army which included Canadian Forces, the British 1st Corps, 1st Polish Armoured Division alongside American, Belgian, Dutch and Czechoslovak troops.

The 307th Engineer Infantry Brigade, of which my grandfather’s unit was part of, arrived in Europe on 23rd April, 1945. My mother recalls her father saying that conditions travelling across Europe were extremely tough. Food rations were low and soldiers did not always have the right equipment. At one point, soldiers in my grandfather’s unit were so dehydrated that they had to drink water reserved for train engines. The cold was another difficulty he encountered, he had to chew raw ginger to keep warm.

On 5th May, Canadian General Charles Foulkes (1903-1969) and the German Commander-in-Chief Johannes Blaskowitz (1883-1948) reached an agreement on the capitulation of German forces in the Netherlands in Hotel de Wereld in Wageningen. The following day, the capitulation document was signed in the auditorium of Wageningen University, next door to the Hotel de Wereld.

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  • c.1944: A newly liberated Dutch town. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

A chronological list of liberated Dutch towns:

1944

14th  September: Maastricht, Gulpen, Meerssen

16th  September: Simpelveld liberated by the 803rd tank destroyer battalion

17th  September: Sint-Oedenrode, Veghel

18th  September: Eindhoven

19th  September: Veldhoven

20th  September: Nijmegen, Geldrop, Someren, Terneuzen

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  • September 1944: Allied Sherman tanks crossing the newly-captured bridge at Nijmegen in Holland during their advance as part of ‘Operation Market Garden’. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

21st   September: Schijndel

22nd  September: Weert

24th  September: Deurne

26th  September: Mook

27th  September: Helmond, Oss (The battle of Overloon started on 30 September)

5th  October: Kerkrade

6th  October: Ossendrecht

18th  October: Venray

27th  October: Den Bosch, Tilburg, Bergen op Zoom

29th  October: Breda

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  • Dutch Resistance fighters armed with captured German weapons smoke and talk to each other on the street during liberation, Breda, Netherlands, 1944. (Photo by Keystone Features/Getty Images)

30th  October: Tholen, Goes

1st  November: Vlissingen, Westkapelle

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  • November 1944: Allied assault troops dash through the streets of Flushing (Vlissingen) in the Netherlands to clear out the remaining enemy snipers after the World War Two liberation of the town. (Photo by Worth/Keystone/Getty Images)

2nd  November: Wissenkerke, Zoutelande

6th  November: Middelburg

8th  November: Veere, Koudekerke

3rd  December: Blerick

1945

1st  March: Roermond, Venlo

1st  April: Doetinchem, Borculo, Eibergen, Enschede

3rd  April: Hengelo

5th  April: Almelo

12th  April: Westerbork, Brummen, Deventer

13th  April: Assen, Diepenveen, Olst

14th  April: Arnhem, Zwolle

15th  April: Zutphen, Leeuwarden, Zoutkamp

16th  April: Groningen

17th  April: Apeldoorn

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  • 21st September 1944: Dutch citizens cheering British Sherman tanks in Holland. (Photo by Jack Esten/PNA Rota/Getty Images)

HENGELO & ENSCHEDE IN WORLD WAR TWO

Both Hengelo and Enschede are located in the Overijssel province of the Netherlands. Enschede was one of the first Dutch cities to be captured by the Nazis due to its close proximity to the German border. Enschede had a large Jewish population at the start of the occupation, approximately 1,300, only 500 of whom survived, many went into hiding on local farms with the help of resistance members.

In 1930, Hengelo had a Jewish population of 247 which increased to 360 in 1941 as a result of refugees fleeing from Germany. Jews had lived in Hengelo from the early 1800s onward and their community declared independent in 1830. The community was important in the development of the textile industry in the region.

In August 1941, the Hengelo Synagogue was vandalised by Nazis and members of the NSB. Fortunately, the building’s contents had already been removed and hidden in anticipation of such an attack. In September, 1941, Jews in Hengelo were rounded-up for deportation, this continued until the following summer. In 1951, there were only 86 Jews stilling living in the town.

On April 29th, 1943, workers in Hengelo walked out of their jobs in a protest strike. The Nazis announced that 300,000 Dutch army soldiers, previously captured in 1940 and subsequently released, were now to be recaptured and sent to German labour camps.  Hengelo’s town centre was completely bombed out during an Allied attack on the 6th and 7th October, 1944. The raid killed 200 people. After days of carnage, the strikes resulted in over 180 deaths, 400 casualties, and 900 prisoners of war being sent to concentration camps.

Hengelo Victory Parade 9th May, 1945. One of the photographs in my grandfather's collection, It shows his unit taking part in the event. Eric tells me that: 'The photo was taken in Burgemeester Jansenstraat. The street is there today but it has totally changed so you would not recognise it today.  The church in the far-side of the road was torn down in 1966. During the war civilian administration was located next to the church. Resistance fighters set fire to the administration building [after first being ransacked, then soaked with gasoline]so that the Nazis could not check whether someone had falsified ID cards, which had been issued by the resistance itself. A copy of all issued ID cards was kept at the administration office.'  ©Come Step Back In Time (The Langley Family Archive)
Hengelo Victory Parade 9th May, 1945. One of the photographs in my grandfather’s collection, it shows his unit taking part in the event. Eric tells me that: ‘The photo was taken in Burgemeester Jansenstraat. The street is there today but it has totally changed so you would not recognise it today. The church in the far-side of the road was torn down in 1966. During the war civilian administration was located next to the church. Resistance fighters set fire to the administration building [after first being ransacked, then soaked with gasoline] so that the Nazis could not check whether someone had falsified ID cards, which had been issued by the resistance itself. A copy of all issued ID cards was kept at the administration office.’
©Come Step Back In Time (The Langley Family Archive)

EXHIBITION: 70th ANNIVERSAY OF THE LIBERATION OF HENGELO & ENSCHEDE, THE NETHERLANDS

Last year I posted on my Twitter account (@emmahistorian) a selection of photographs from our family archive featuring my late grandfather. In 1945, he had, together with his unit, been part of the Allied liberation of Nazi-occupied Netherlands. He was stationed in Hengelo, a city in the eastern part of the Netherlands, in the province of Overijssel, from April 1945 for approximately six months.

During the liberation of Hengelo, local citizen Mrs. A. Wilmink (centre)enjoying the company of Allied soldiers . Image courtesy of Eric Heijink (http://www.secondworldwar.nl/hengelo-1940-1945.php)
During the liberation of Hengelo, local citizen Mrs. A. Wilmink (centre) enjoying the company of Allied soldiers . Image courtesy of Eric Heijink (http://www.secondworldwar.nl/hengelo-1940-1945.php)

These photographs and associated backstory caught the attention of Dutch historian, Eric Heijink (@ericheijink) (http://www.secondworldwar.nl/enschede/ Twitter: SecondWorld.nl (@operatiemanna). Eric has curated a major exhibition commemorating the liberation of Enschede, 70 years ago this month. The exhibition opens on 1st April at the Centrale Bibliotheek Enschede and continues until 9th May, 2015. There is also a second exhibition at Synagoge Enschede which opens on 1st April and continues until 26th April, 2015.

Poster for new exhibition in Enschede, commemorating 70th Anniversary of liberation from Nazi occupation in the region.
Poster for new exhibition in Enschede, commemorating 70th Anniversary of liberation from Nazi occupation in the region.
Opening of exhibition in Enschede, 1st April, 2015. Image courtesy of Eric Heijink (http://www.secondworldwar.nl/hengelo-1940-1945.php)
Opening of exhibition in Enschede, 1st April, 2015. Image courtesy of Eric Heijink (http://www.secondworldwar.nl/hengelo-1940-1945.php)
Exhibition commemorating 70 years since the liberation of Enschede region, the Netherlands.
Opening of new exhibition commemorating 70 years since the liberation of Enschede region, the Netherlands. Image courtesy of Eric Heijink (http://www.secondworldwar.nl/hengelo-1940-1945.php)
Image courtesy of Eric Heijink (http://www.secondworldwar.nl/hengelo-1940-1945.php)
Part of the new exhibition at Enschede Central Library until 9th May, 2015. Image courtesy of Eric Heijink (http://www.secondworldwar.nl/hengelo-1940-1945.php)

However, the story does not end here! One of the photographs to be included in the exhibition features a local family from Hengelo, the Schuits, who had befriended my grandfather in 1945, following the town’s liberation. Together with some of his fellow soldiers, grandfather visited the family regularly, resulting in the soldiers forming an affectionate bond with the Schuits.

The Schuit family from Hengelo. Dick and Henrik are the two young boys picture standing-up. ©Come Step Back In Time (The Langley Family Archive)
The Schuit family from Hengelo. Dick and Henrik are the two young boys picture standing-up. My grandfather took this photograph. ©Come Step Back In Time (The Langley Family Archive)
Inscription on back of Schuit family photograph taken by my grandfather. ©Come Step Back In Time (The Langley Family Archive)
Inscription on back of Schuit family photograph taken by my grandfather. ©Come Step Back In Time (The Langley Family Archive)

How do I know this? Well, conversations I have had with my family about these photographs and, more specifically, a lovely inscription written by the Schuits on the reverse of one of the photographs which reads:

To our best English friend Fred Langley in remembrance of his stay at Hengelo, Holland. Family H. J. Schuit.

I am extremely grateful to Eric’s detective work which has revealed that not only does the Schuit’s house still exist in Hengelo but both of the young brothers shown in the photograph are still alive! The eldest brother continues to live in the town. Eric made telephone contact with the youngest of the two brothers, Dick Schuit (79), who remembered my grandfather, “the Sergeant”.

My grandfather, Sergeant Frederick Langley. ©Come Step Back In Time (The Langley Family Archive)
My grandfather, Sergeant Frederick Langley. ©Come Step Back In Time (The Langley Family Archive)

Dick recalls that his parents came in contact with grandfather when trucks from his unit stopped outside their house, not long after Hengelo was liberated. The Schuit family invited him in for tea, together with several of his fellow soldiers, this tradition continued for quite a long time whilst the soldiers were stationed there. The Allies remained in Hengelo from the end of April, 1945, for approximately 6 months.

Allied soldiers by their camouflaged tank during Hengelo's liberation. Image courtesy of Eric Heijink (http://www.secondworldwar.nl/hengelo-1940-1945.php)
Allied soldiers by their camouflaged tank during Hengelo’s liberation. Image courtesy of Eric Heijink (http://www.secondworldwar.nl/hengelo-1940-1945.php)

The Schuit brothers, Henrik and Dick, recall another British soldier, Jerry Barnard, a driver with the Royal Engineers, also being one of these regular visitors. On one occasion, another British soldier, ‘Jeremy’, brought with him a pair of miniature toy soldiers which he had been brought in Brussels and he gave them to Henrik and Dick.

The Schuit family lived next door to the Hotel Lansink in Hengelo, this location had its advantages. The Hotel had been commandeered by the SS as a divisional HQ (2nd Class) which meant that during regular raids on local properties, the Schuits were pretty much left alone. This was just as well as they were hiding a cousin from the Dutch town of Zwolle. The cousin had been employed in Germany but he managed to flee and seek refuge with the Schuits.  He lived in hiding with the family for two months and survived the war.

Sherman tanks on the streets of Hengelo following liberation. Image courtesy of Eric Heijink (http://www.secondworldwar.nl/hengelo-1940-1945.php)
Sherman tanks on the streets of Hengelo following liberation. Image courtesy of Eric Heijink (http://www.secondworldwar.nl/hengelo-1940-1945.php)

The Schuit brothers remember the day Hengelo was liberated. British soldiers walking and others driving tanks down the nearby street of Julianalaan. There was one particular incident involving SS officers who were chased down the street by Allied soldiers as the men fled on bicycles. The soldiers caught-up with the officers (at gun point) and they duly surrendered.

Dick Schuit explained that the British soldiers were billeted in a nearby factory, officers were quartered in Hotel Lansink. Unfortunately, his family do not have any more photographs of my grandfather as it was very rare in 1945 for local people to own a camera. A majority of the photographs that exist from that time were taken by Allied soldiers. My mother has written to the Schuit family who are keen to re-established contact and we look forward to corresponding with the brothers, finding out more about my grandfather’s time in Hengelo as well as what life was like for the Schuits under Nazi occupation.

Allied soldiers enjoying the company of the local people of Hengelo following liberation. Image courtesy of Eric Heijink (http://www.secondworldwar.nl/hengelo-1940-1945.php)
Allied soldiers enjoying the company of the local people of Hengelo following liberation. Image courtesy of Eric Heijink (http://www.secondworldwar.nl/hengelo-1940-1945.php)

I was delighted to provide photographs from our family archive as well as background information about my grandfather for inclusion in the exhibition. It means a great deal to both myself and my family that he will be part of this event, a fitting tribute to a wonderful gentleman who served his country in World War Two. Grandfather was one of the lucky ones, he returned home, uninjured, to his family, after the war ended.

My grandfather's story featured in Hengelo's Weekblad newspaper (24.3.2015, p. 15 - www.hengelosweekblad.nl). Thanks to all the hard work by historian Eric Heijink!
My grandfather’s story featured in Hengelo’s Weekblad newspaper (24.3.2015, p. 15 – http://www.hengelosweekblad.nl). Thanks to all the hard detective work by historian Eric Heijink!
BBC’s V.E. Day 2015 SEASON OF PROGRAMMES

The BBC have also announced (17.3.15) an extensive season of programming across television, radio and online, and a major education project honouring Britain’s Greatest Generation. Some of the major television highlights include:

  • VE Day: Remembering Victory (BBC One – 1×90): Some of Britain’s best-loved figures from stage and screen recall the jubilation of that unforgettable day;
  • Britain’s Greatest Generation (BBC Two – 4×60): This major four-part series celebrates the last survivors of the Second World War, now in their nineties and hundreds, and their achievement in helping to win the war;
  • The BBC At War (BBC Two – 2×60): Debates about the BBC’s role were just as volatile in the 1940s as they are today. In this two-part series, Jonathan Dimbleby uncovers the story of how the BBC fought Hitler – and Whitehall – with a unique insight into one of the story’s leading players – his father, Richard Dimbleby;
  • Savage Peace (BBC Two – 1×60): Only at the war’s end was the true scale of human suffering and misery revealed, and so devastating was the scene that Europe was dubbed ‘The New Dark Continent’. This film will re-examine the aftermath of the War to ask if too much stress has been laid on an optimistic view of victory in Europe with celebratory images of VE day;
  • Fighting for King And Empire: Britain’s Caribbean Heroes (BBC Four – 1×60): In this programme, Caribbean veterans tell their extraordinary wartime stories in their own words. They also reveal how they have faced a lifelong struggle as they helped build Britain’s multicultural society – to be treated as equals by the British government and the British people;
  • World War Two: 1945 & The Wheelchair President (BBC Four – 1×90): David Reynolds re-examines the war leadership of American president Franklin Roosevelt. In this intimate new biography set against the epic of World War Two, Reynolds reveals how Roosevelt was burdened by secrets about his failing health and strained marriage that, if exposed, could have destroyed his presidency.
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  • The cover of a Victory Special issue of Picture Post magazine depicting a mother and her two sons celebrating V.E. Day in Britain, at the end of World War Two, 8th May 1945 (published 19th May 1945). (Photo by Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Posted in Activity, Bringing Alive The Past, Country House, Decorative Arts, Event, Exhibition, Fashion History, Film, Historical Hair and Make-up, History, Museum, Review, Theatre History

Wallace Collection, London: ‘Joshua Reynolds: Experiments In Paint’ Exhibition

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

A room hung with pictures is a room hung with thoughts.” Joshua Reynolds (1784)

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  • Engraving from 1873 featuring Joshua Reynolds.

It was a pleasure to receive an invitation to an exclusive Bloggers event at the Wallace Collection, London last Friday. This is the first event of its type organised by the museum and it was a great success. The occasion marked the opening of their new exhibition, ‘Joshua Reynolds: Experiments in Paint’, a free exhibition that continues until 7th June 2015.

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

The exhibition explores Joshua Reynolds’s (1723-1792) painting techniques, pictorial compositions and narratives through the display of twenty paintings, archival sources and x-ray images. Paintings Conservator for The Wallace Collection Reynolds Research Project, Alexandra Gent, gave us a comprehensive and fascinating insight into some of the surprise discoveries encountered whilst working on the collection’s Reynolds paintings over the last four years. There are twenty paintings on display in the exhibition, twelve of which are from The Wallace Collection, others are on loan from collections elsewhere in the UK, Europe and the USA.

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

With support from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, TEFAF, the Hertford House Trust, various private donors, and Trusts and drawing on the research expertise of the National Gallery in London and the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, the exhibition spans most of Reynolds’s career and includes portraits, ‘fancy’ pictures (young children in a variety of guises) and history painting.

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

The exhibition has been curated by Dr Lucy Davis, Curator of Old Master Pictures at the Wallace Collection, Professor Mark Hallett, Director of Studies in British Art at the Paul Mellon Centre and Alexandra Gent. Ms Gent explains why this research project has been so fascinating as well as challenging:

One of the things about Reynolds, and the reason it was started as a research project, is that his painting technique is quite notorious amongst conservators as being tricky to deal with….So to have a really good understanding of the way the paintings had been made and constructed and what materials had been used was really important to make informed decisions about which paintings to treat. The paintings as a group hadn’t been restored for a very long time, a few of them had had minor treatments but none of them had really been cleaned since they’d entered the Wallace Collection in the mid-19th century.

Although Reynolds is notorious for using wax, we only found wax in small amounts on paintings. The Portrait of Miss Jane Bowles appears to have a varnish layer on it that is made from wax, and we think that this is original and really interesting to see Reynolds use as a varnish layer.

It’s been a real privilege to work on these paintings, they’re a really wonderful group of paintings by Reynolds.

(‘New Perspectives on Joshua Reynolds’ by Lorna Davies, The Portman, Spring, 2015, pp.18-19)

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

In 1755, Reynolds had a hundred and twenty sitters, in 1758 he had a hundred and fifty sitters. He charged some of the highest prices by any painter working in London at that time but still the commissions kept on coming. In 1760, he earned between £6,000 and £10,000 per annum, working seven days a week, eight hours a day. (Source: The 17th and 18th Centuries Dictionary of World Biography Vol.4, edited by Frank N. Magill, 2013, p.1161)

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
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Mrs Abington as Miss Prue from William Congreve’s ‘Love For Love’ (c.1771-1772) Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection. ©Come Step Back In Time

Reynolds often produced multiple versions of his paintings, worked over a length of time, sometimes four years. It was not unusual for him to work on two similar pictures side-by-side. He also encouraged his subjects to perform roles that would reveal an aspect of their personality, actresses he depicted in character such as Mrs Abington as Miss Prue, (c.1771-1772). Mrs Frances Abington (1737-1815) with her coquettish gaze as Miss Prue, the silly, awkward country girl from William Congreve’s (1670-1729) comedy Love For Love (1695).

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  • Engraving depicting Mrs Frances Abington c.1785. (Photo by Kean Collection/Getty Images)

X-ray Image And Infrared Reflectography Use In Painting Conservation

X-ray image: X-rays can penetrate through most parts of a painting but denser materials, such as lead containing pigments and iron tacks, obstruct them. An X-ray image records the areas where the X-rays have been obstructed and these areas appear lighter. These images are useful for revealing paint losses and changes to a painting. However, they can be difficult to interpret because they show all the layers of the painting superimposed.

Infrared reflectography: an imaging method used to ‘see through’ paint layers that are opaque to the human eye. Infrared light is electromagnetic radiation with longer wavelengths than those of visible light. Infrared radiation passes through the paint until it either reaches something that absorbs it or is reflected back to the camera. An infrared image can often reveal under-drawing.

Mrs Mary Robinson (1783-1784). Oil on canvas. The Wallace Collection. ©Come Step Back In Time
Mrs Mary Robinson (1783-1784). Oil on canvas. The Wallace Collection. ©Come Step Back In Time

Curation of ‘Experiments in Paint’ is excellent. Reynolds’s portraits are accompanied with detailed background to both painting and sitter. Those works on display that have been subjected to detailed conservation analysis are of particular interest.

Alexandra Gent explains conservation on The Strawberry Girl. ©Come Step Back In Time
Alexandra Gent explains conservation on The Strawberry Girl (1772-1773). ©Come Step Back In Time

For example, an X-ray of Reynolds’s slightly unnerving, The Strawberry Girl (1772-1773), revealed that it resembled the version of The Strawberry Girl reproduced in Thomas Watson’s 1774 mezzotint. Reynolds had reworked the figure, lowering the shoulders, painting a fringe of brown hair and developing a more oriental style of turban.

Infrared reflectography of the Wallace Collection’s version of The Strawberry Girl  also revealed under-drawing around the hands and in the folds of the drapery. The use of such under-drawing may indicate that the composition of this painting was transferred from an earlier version of The Strawberry Girl.

An X-ray of Mrs Abington as Miss Prue showed that Reynolds had originally intended her to wear a simple bonnet that would have been more in keeping with her role as Congreve’s Miss Prue. Instead the final painting showed her sporting an updo hairstyle fashionable at the time.

Lady Elizabeth Seymour-Conway (1781). Oil on canvas. The Wallace Collection. ©Come Step Back In Time
Lady Elizabeth Seymour-Conway (1781). Oil on canvas. The Wallace Collection. ©Come Step Back In Time

An X-ray of Lady Elizabeth Seymour-Conway (1754-1825) painted in 1781, revealed that Reynolds updated the sitter’s hairstyle just before the painting left the studio making it look much fuller, as was popular at the time of the work’s completion. The original hairstyle had been smoother and the curls at the neck are higher, similar to those adopted by the fashionable Waldegrave sisters painted by Reynolds between 1780 and 1781.

According to Alexandra Gent, Reynolds used five different sizes of canvas available to the Georgian painter: head; three-quarter length; half-length; full length and Bishop’s half-length (large enough to fit in his mitre!). A popular pose for Georgian sitters was ‘penseroso’, resting with chin in the hand, signalling to the viewer that the subject was refined and contemplative.

Mrs Jane Braddyll (1788) in 'penseroso' pose. ©Come Step Back In Time
Mrs Jane Braddyll (1788) in ‘penseroso’ pose. Oil on oak panel. Wallace Collection. ©Come Step Back In Time

Even a faded picture from Reynolds will be the finest thing you have.” Sir George Beaumont (1753-1827)

Events & Further Information

There is an extensive programme of educational and cultural events taking place at The Wallace Collection to compliment this new exhibition:

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  • 1748, Sir Joshua Reynolds at his easel working on a portrait. He was elected the first President of the Royal Academy in 1768 and knighted in 1769. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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  • Manchester House, on the north side of Manchester Square, Marylebone, London, 1807. (Photo by Guildhall Library & Art Gallery/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

  • Fashion Designer, Vivienne Westwood, explaining why she is inspired by The Wallace Collection. Uploaded to You Tube 1.10.2009.

The Wallace Collection – Main Museum

The Wallace Collection, Hertford House, 2015. ©Come Step Back In Time
The Wallace Collection, Manchester House, 2015. ©Come Step Back In Time

I first discovered The Wallace Collection, by chance, in 2005 whilst working in Portman Square as a corporate researcher. In order to escape the caged existence of my office and reawaken my senses, I regularly took long walks, exploring the surrounding area. There is so much to see, all just a stone’s throw from the craziness of Oxford Street. Attractive squares and stunning architecture as well as more blue plaques than you can shake a stick at!

The grand, main staircase inside The Wallace Collection, 2015.  ©Come Step Back In Time
The grand, main staircase inside The Wallace Collection, 2015. ©Come Step Back In Time

When I visited the Wallace Collection for the first time, I remember being completely awestruck by the magnificent interior and extensive collection of French eighteenth century painting, furniture and porcelain. The good news is that in the last ten years admission charges have remained the same, absolutely FREE.

 ©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

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  • View of the north side of Manchester Square, Marylebone, London, 1813. Manchester House is on the left. (Photo by Guildhall Library & Art Gallery/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

The Wallace Collection is housed in Manchester House, a fine example of Georgian architecture built between 1776 and 1788 for the 4th Duke of Manchester (1737-1788). The original shell of the building was built by Samuel Adams in 1771. It wasn’t until the 4th Duke brought the leasehold in 1788 that substantial structural alterations were made by the architect Joshua Brown.

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

A few key dates in the history of Manchester House:

  • 1791-95 – house let as the Spanish Embassy;
  • 1797 – 2nd Marquess of Hertford (1743-1822) acquires the house’s lease;
  • 1836-51 – house let as the French Embassy;
  • 1800-1870 – 4th Marquess of Hertford (1800-1870) uses the house to store his private art collection;
  • 1871 – the 4th Marquess’ illegitimate son, Richard (1818-1890), moves back to London from Paris and brings with him a large portion of his private art collection;
  • 1897 – Lady Wallace bequeaths the collection to the British Nation. Lady Wallace (Amélie-Julie-Charlotte Castelnau (1819-97)), married Richard in 1871, she had been his mistress for many years. Upon his death in 1890 he bequeathed to her all his property;
  • the house opens to the public as a Museum on 22nd June, 1900 (closing during both World Wars);
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©Come Step Back In Time

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  • Photographing at the Wallace Collection, London, 1908-1909. From Penrose’s Pictorial Annual 1908-1909, An Illustrated Review of the Graphic Arts, volume 14, edited by William Gamble and published by AW Penrose (London, 1908-1909). (Photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images)
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

The Wallace Collection is one of the most significant collections of European fine and decorative arts in the world and the greatest bequest of art ever left to the British Nation. The collection encompasses old master oil paintings from the fourteenth to the late nineteenth century including works by Titian, Velazquez, Rubens and Van Dyck, princely arms and armour, and one of the finest collections of French eighteenth century art in all media.

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

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  • The Wallace Collection, Hertford House, London, 1926-1927. Illustration from Wonderful London, edited by Arthur St John Adcock, Volume I, published by Amalgamated Press, (London, 1926-1927). (Photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images)
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
Magnificent collection of eighteenth and nineteenth century snuff boxes in The Wallace Collection. ©Come Step Back In Time
Magnificent collection of eighteenth and nineteenth century snuff boxes in The Wallace Collection. ©Come Step Back In Time

The Curious Will of Mrs Margaret Thompson (1777) – The Joy of Snuff!

“Scotch snuff is the grand cordial of human nature”.

Recently, a member of my family passed on to me a copy of Chalfont St Peter Parish Magazine (February, 2015) which included a reproduction of one of the most interesting and amusing examples of an eighteenth Will that I have ever come across. The Will belonged to Mrs Margaret Thompson who died on 2nd April, 1777, at her house in Boyle Street, Burlington Gardens, Mayfair, London.

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

The Will was discovered in one of the old registers at St. James’s Church, Piccadilly. However, there is no record of the burial of Mrs Thompson in the Burial Register of St. James’s, for April, 1777. Upon arrival at the Wallace Collection last Friday, I made straight for their superb collection of eighteenth century snuff boxes. Mrs Thompson was clearly a lady who adored to indulge in the then fashionable trend of snuff-taking!

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  • ‘The French Fireside’, eighteenth century, a young lady indulging in some recreational snuff-taking. From The Connoisseur magazine (February 1905). (Photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images)
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

Mrs Margaret Thompson’s will (1777):

I Margaret Thompson, etc, being of a sound mind, etc, do desire that when my soul is departed from this wicked world, my body and effects may be disposed of in the manner following, etc.

I also desire that all my handkerchiefs that I may have unwashed at the time of my decease, after they have been got together by my old and trust servant, Sarah Stewart, may be put by her, and her along, at the bottom of my coffin, which I desire may be made large enough for that purpose, together with such a quantity of the best Scotch snuff (in which she knoweth I always had the greatest delight) as will cover my deceased body; and this I desire, and more especially as it is usual to put flowers into the coffin of departed friends, and nothing can be so pleasant and refreshing to me, as that precious powder; but I strictly charge that no one be suffered to approach my body till the coffin is closed, and it necessary to carry me to my burial, which I order in the following manner:

Six men to be my bearers, who are well known to be great snuff-takers in the Parish of St James’s, Westminster; and instead of mourning, each to wear a snuff-coloured beaver, which I desire to be brought for that purpose, and given to them; Six Maidens of my old acquaintance to bear my pall, each to wear a proper hood, and to carry a box filled with the best Scotch snuff, to take for their refreshment as they go along. Before my corpse I desire that the minister may be invited to walk, and to take a certain quantity of snuff, not exceeding one pound, to whom also I bequeath five guineas on condition of his doing so. And I also desire my old and faithful servant, Sarah Stewart, to walk before the corpse to distribute every twenty yards a large handful of Scott snuff on the ground, and to the crowd who possibly may follow me to the burial place – on condition I bequeath her Twenty Pounds. And I also desire that at least two bushels of the said snuff may be distributed at the door of my house in Boyle Street.

I desire, also, that my funeral shall be at twelve o’clock at noon. And in addition to the various legacies I have left my friends in a former will, I desire that to each person there shall be given a pound of the best Scotch snuff, as it is the grand cordial of human nature.

In the eighteenth century, snuff was a tobacco product favoured by the upper classes, snorted directly from the back of the hand into the nostrils. Smoking pipes containing tobacco was associated with the lower and working classes. Queen Charlotte (1744-1818) earned the nickname ‘Snuffy Charlotte’ on account of her love of the brown stuff. She had an entire room at Windsor Castle devoted to her substantial stock of snuff.

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

Marie Antoinette (1755-1793) is purported to have enjoyed taking snuff so much that she had fifty-two gold snuff boxes in her wedding basket. Joshua Reynolds also indulged in large amounts of snuff, on a regular basis, according to fellow artist Joseph Farington (1747-1821):

January 16th, 1796: Steevens speaking of Sir Joshua Reynolds’ habit of taking snuff in great quantities, said, he not only carried a double box, with two sorts of snuff in it, but regaled himself out of every box that appeared at the table where he sat; and did his neighbour happen to have one, he absolutely fed upon him. When I expected to meet Sir Joshua in company added he always carried an additional allowance.

(The Farington Diary: July 13th, 1793 to August 24th, 1802, Volume 1 by Joseph Farington, p. 184)

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  • Part of Shenstone’s poem, The Snuff Box, 1735, (1840). Facsimile of part of The Snuff Box. Illustration from Historical and Literary Curiosities consisting of Facsimilies of Original Documents, by Charles John Smith, (Henry G Bohn, London, 1840). (Photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images)
A sneaky self-portrait in The Wallace Collection. ©Come Step Back In Time
A sneaky self-portrait in The Wallace Collection. ©Come Step Back In Time
Posted in Bringing Alive The Past, Country House, Event, Literature, Rural Heritage

A Very Merry Georgian Christmas – Chawton House Library, Hampshire

  • A short ‘stills’ film I made showcasing the Georgian Christmas event at Chawton House Library, Hampshire (13.12.14).

Although Chawton House, Hampshire, is not a Georgian property (it was built between c.1583 and c.1665), it is still the perfect setting to step back in time and experience Christmas during the long eighteenth century.

©Come Step Back In Time
Chawton House Library, Hampshire. ©Come Step Back In Time

The Georgian period started in 1714 and ended in 1830. In 1797, Jane Austen’s (1775-1817) third eldest brother, Edward Austen Knight (1768-1852), took control of the Chawton estate after inheriting it from his childless relatives, Catherine and Thomas Knight.

Jane Austen's home, Chawton, Hampshire. ©Come Step Back In Time
Jane Austen’s home, Chawton, Hampshire. ©Come Step Back In Time

Edward’s new situation, as a gentleman of considerable wealth, enabled him to take care of his mother and two unmarried sisters (Jane and Cassandra). In 1809, he moved the three of them into Chawton Cottage, located only a short walk from his estate in the nearby village. Whilst living in Chawton, Jane had four of her novels published:

Edward did not live at Chawton House but instead spent most of his time at his other estate, Godmersham, Kent, letting out his property at Chawton to gentlemen tenants. His brother Frank also borrowed the house at one time. Jane’s mother and her sister are both buried at St. Nicholas Church, situated in the grounds of Chawton House. Jane died in 1817 in Winchester and is buried in the north aisle of the Cathedral nave.

Jane Austen's mother and sister are buried in the churchyard at St. Nicholas Church on the Chawton estate. ©Come Step Back In Time
Jane Austen’s mother and sister are buried in the churchyard at St. Nicholas Church on the Chawton estate. ©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

During the eighteenth century, the Knight Family kept a handwritten cook book (Knight Family Cookbook), not uncommon for a household of Chawton’s size. However, what is unique is that the Knight’s cookbook has survived in good condition. The cook book was compiled on behalf Thomas Knight for his sister, when he died, the manuscript passed to Edward.

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

When I recently attended  ‘A Georgian Christmas at Chawton House Library’, facsimile copies of the handwritten The Knight Family Cookbook  were available to view. A hardback version of the cook book (un-transcribed) has just been published by Chawton House Press. Eminent food historian, Dr Annie Gray, gave a fascinating talk exploring the Georgians’ dining habits.

The Georgian period as a whole has got an awful lot going for it. The clothing is fabulous, the attitudes are interesting, the Enlightenment is in full swing and people are questioning philosophical, medical and culinary viewpoints, left, right and centre. As for the food, especially the feasting food, you cannot beat it. I would say that the flavours, tastes and textures of Georgian cooking are probably the best. Some of the combinations are just knockouts.

(Dr Annie Gray, extract from Chawton House Library website)

Food historian Dr Annie Gray dressed as a Georgian Housekeeper from c.1770/80. ©Come Step Back In Time
Food historian Dr Annie Gray dressed as a Georgian Housekeeper from c.1770/80. ©Come Step Back In Time

Dr Gray also treated us to food samples recreated from recipes she had transcribed from The Knight Family Cookbook. A delicious spread of sweet treats, cinnamon cakes, ginger cakes, mincemeat pies (with cow tongue!) and Twelfth Cake. There is an excellent interview with Dr Gray about the allure of Georgian festive fare on the Chawton House Library blog. Click here.

11.

In Georgian England, Christmas lasted much longer than it does today. It began on 6th December (St. Nicholas’ Day) and ended with Twelfth Night  (6th January, feast of the Epiphany). This month long season became a time of balls, dinner parties, dancing, playing parlour games, singing carols and, of course, feasting.

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

The upper echelons of society engaged in acts of philanthropy not only towards the poor but also their own servants. On St. Stephen’s Day (26th December), Christmas boxes filled with cake, money and clothing were donated, the modern name, ‘Boxing Day’, originates from this tradition. Dr Gray explained that festivities among the poorer sections of society were rather bawdy, drunken affairs. They would consume lots of boiled meats and puddings, that had been cooked in the household cauldron, normally used for washing laundry!

Christmas dinner table laid a la francaise in the Oak Room at Chawton House Library. ©Come Step Back In Time
Christmas dinner table laid à la française (where all dishes were served at the same time) in the Oak Room at Chawton House Library. ©Come Step Back In Time

During the Georgian era, dining was an exciting experience. According to Dr Gray:

No children were present at the dining table, mealtimes were very much an adult affair. It was a ‘choose your own dining adventure’, the most exciting method of dining. The table would be laid à la française [all dishes served at the same time] with between five and twenty dishes for each course. The second course usually consisted of roast meats (game, beef, sirloin and game) from the landowner’s own estate. Another Georgian delicacy was brawn, made from a stewed pig’s head.

Plum pudding [plumb pudden] was treated like modern-day chutney. It goes very well with beef. Georgian plum puddings had a stiffer structure than we are now used to, it held its shape and could be sliced. If you fry slices of Georgian plum pudding, pair with slices of beef and cover in gravy it is delicious. Mincepies were not all sweet like they are now, one third of the filling was actual meat, for example calf or cow tongue.

Service à la française dated back to the Middle Ages and continued until the nineteenth century when it was gradually replaced by service à la russe, a succession of courses, each one cleared away before the next, we still use this style today. The rules of Georgian dining table etiquette were very strict:

When dinner is announced the mistress request the lady first in rank, to shew the way to the rest.., she then asks the second in precedence to follow, and after all the ladies are passed, she brings up the rear herself…The master of the house does the same with the gentlemen…The mistress of the table sits at the upper end (with) those of superior rank next to her, right and left, those next in rank following, then the gentlemen, and master at the lower end….

Soup is generally the first thing served, and should be stirred from the bottom….Where there are several dishes at table, the mistress of the house carves that which is before her, and desires her husband, or person at the bottom of the table, to carve the joint or bird before him…

Eating quick or very slow at meals is characteristic of the vulgar; the first infers poverty, that you have not had a meal for sometime; the last … that you dislike your entertainment. So again eating your soup with your nose in the plate, is vulgar, it has the appearance of being used to hard work, and having, of course, an unsteady hand….Smelling to the meat whilst on the fork, before you put it in your mouth…To be well received you must always be circumspect at table, where it is exceedingly rude to scratch any part of your body, to spit, to blow your nose (if you can’t avoid it turn your head), to lean elbows on the table, etc.., etc.., to leave the table before grace is said.

(The Honours of the Table, or Rules for Behaviour during meals by John Trusler (1791))

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

Greenery featured heavily at Christmas in the Georgian house and represented the strength of life through cold winter months. Greenery included, holly, evergreen, kissing boughs of holly, ivy and rosemary, foliage was dressed with spices, apples, oranges, candles, and ribbons, all of which would be put-up on Christmas Eve. Kissing boughs would only be hung in the servants’ quarter.

Servants' Gallery at Chawton House Library decorated with greenery. ©Come Step Back In Time
Servants’ Gallery at Chawton House Library decorated with greenery and mistletoe. ©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

Yule logs were the centrepiece of Georgian Christmas decorations. The largest log on the estate would be chosen, one big enough to burn throughout Christmas Day. The log was so large it stick out of the fire hearth into the room and was wrapped in hazel twigs. A small piece of the log would be kept to light the following year’s Yule log.

Smaller version of the traditional Yule log at Chawton House Library. ©Come Step Back In Time
Smaller version of the traditional Yule log at Chawton House Library. ©Come Step Back In Time

Twelfth Night was an extremely important feasting opportunity in the Georgian calendar. Wassail and Twelfth Cake were traditionally consumed on this day. Hidden inside a Twelfth Cake would be a dried pea or bean, whoever found these pulses would be King or Queen of the household for the day, even if the finder happened to be a servant!  Twelfth Cake went out of fashion in the Victorian era and replaced by the Christmas Cake. It is still tradition in France to eat a flaky cake known as a galette des rois (kings’ tart) on Twelfth Night (see image below).

Embed from Getty Images

Recipe for Georgian Twelfth Cake

Twelfth Cake cut into squares, made by Dr Annie Gray from The Knight Family Cookbook. ©Come Step Back In Time
Twelfth Cake cut into squares, made by Dr Annie Gray from The Knight Family Cookbook. ©Come Step Back In Time

(From The Knight Family Cookbook (Both recipes below transcribed by Dr Annie Gray)

‘I have already halved the amounts in the original recipe, which calls for a cake tin half a yard.’

Ingredients: 5pt. flour, 1/2 lb sugar, 1/4 oz mace, 1 1/2 nutmegs, pinch cloves, cinnamon, 4 lb currants, 1 lb raisins, 7 1/2 fl. oz. cream, 1 1/4 lb butter (melted into the cream), scant pint of warm water, with a tsp of sugar in it and 6 tsp dried yeast, 10 very small eggs (pullet’s eggs are ideal. Otherwise use 6 medium eggs). Half a jack of brandy (a jack is 2  1/2 fl oz), 1/2 lb peel.

Method: Mix all of the dry ingredients, and then mix separately the cream, melted butter and water/yeast mixture. Leave the liquid for about 30 minutes to activate the yeast (the liquid should be no more than blood-warm). Whisk the eggs. Now add all of the liquid and eggs to the dry mix and mix very well. Don’t use a standard mixer unless it is a catering model, or it will blow up! Use your hand (even using a wooden spoon is unwise, as you’ll get blisters). Layer about a third of the mix into your cake tin, then put in a layer of half the peel. Top with another third of the mix, and then the rest of the peel, and the rest of the mix. Slash the top with sharp knife. Tie several layers of brown paper around the tin and stand it on a few more. If the cake browns too quickly, you’ll need to stick a couple of layers on top as well. Cook in a moderate oven for an undisclosed amount of time.

Cinnamon Cakes

Cinnamon Cakes made by Dr Annie Gray from The Knight Family Cookbook. ©Come Step Back In Time
Cinnamon Cakes made by Dr Annie Gray from The Knight Family Cookbook. ©Come Step Back In Time

Ingredients: 3/4 lb caster sugar, 1/2 oz ground cinnamon, a nutmeg (ground or 2 tsp ready ground), 1/2 lb unsalted butter, 2 egg yolks, 1/2 an egg white, 1/2 tsp rosewater, 2-3 tbsp. water (in reserve in case the pastry is too dry), 1 1/2lb flour.

Method: Mix the sugar, spice and butter and leave to rest for up to an hour. Break up the mix, which should form a loose but dry ball and gently mix in the eggs. Add the flour gradually, mixing until you have a malleable dough, which can be rolled out and cut into biscuits with a cutter (or wine glass, as the original recipe suggests). Prick each with a fork a few times. You may need to add the water if your dough is too dry and crumbly. Half of the amount here makes around 50 biscuits.

Parlour Game – Hunt the Slipper

(Text by team at Chawton House Library)

All players, except one, sit in a circle. In the middle of the circle the remaining person sits. It is their task to Hunt the Slipper. The players in the circle pass the slipper between them and behind their backs very quickly and everyone mimics the action of passing the slipper so that the person in the middle of the circle is unable to find it easily.

The Great Hall at Chawton House Library. ©Come Step Back In Time
The Great Hall at Chawton House Library. ©Come Step Back In Time.
Mum and I in the Great Hall at Chawton House Library. ©Come Step Back In Time
Mum and I in the Great Hall at Chawton House Library. ©Come Step Back In Time
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. ©Come Step Back In Time
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. ©Come Step Back In Time
Posted in Bringing Alive The Past, Event, History, Rural Heritage

Happy 200th Birthday – Bursledon Windmill, Hampshire

Bursledon Windmill, Hampshire. ©Come Step Back In Time.
Bursledon Windmill, Hampshire. ©Come Step Back In Time.

The millers trade involved long hours and a craftsman’s experience and skill. He, or the manager who supervised the running of the mill, needed to be conversant with a great deal more than just the basic mechanical workings of his gear. He had to judge the quality of the grain he brought or was required to grind, supervise its storage and cleaning and watch over every stage of its grinding and dressing.

He was required also to be something of a meteorologist, forever watching the sky like the look-out man on a ship, interpreting the local weather portents, setting his sails accordingly. Lacking understanding of the movement of clouds and air currents his mill would not operate to the best advantage, nor with safety. A freak squall, for example, might drive the sails round too fast, the millstones inadvertently left unfed with grain would overheat, the friction would strike sparks as they revolved and in no time the wooden structure of the mill would be on fire. Many a windmill was destroyed by some such accident.

A severe gale could be equally disastrous, bringing the whole building crashing to the ground. When the wind died the mill was becalmed, no grain could be milled, there would be a shortage of flour in the neighbourhood and the miller lost his customers to the nearest rival able to operate his mill.

(English Bread and Yeast Cookery by Elizabeth David, 1978, p. 22)

©Come Step Back In Time.
©Come Step Back In Time.

Bursledon Windmill, Hampshire, officially reponed today following a two-year restoration project which included replacement of its wind shaft and sails. This two hundred year old windmill is Hampshire’s only working windmill, a rare surviving example of a traditional tower mill. Measuring five stories high, the main structure is a circular brick tower with tapering sides. The windmill is a Grade II Listed building. Inside, much of the windmill’s original timber machinery still exists, restored to full working order. The team at Bursledon Windmill plan to start milling their own flour again by Summer 2015.

©Come Step Back In Time.
©Come Step Back In Time.
©Come Step Back In Time.
©Come Step Back In Time.

The restoration project was made possible following a £94,000 Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant together with an additional £47,000 from local councils. This latter sum of money will cover costs involved in recruiting and training more volunteers in traditional milling skills, provide guided tours, workshops and host special events.

©Come Step Back In Time.
©Come Step Back In Time.
©Come Step Back In Time.
©Come Step Back In Time.

Bursledon is the only working windmill in England that retains a wooden shaft and is one of twenty-seven still regularly working in Britain. Historically, most of Hampshire’s mills were powered by water which is why a wind-powered mill like Bursledon is such a heritage gem. Winchester City Mill (National Trust) is an excellent example of an urban working corn mill and is powered by the fast-flowing River Itchen. It was rebuilt in 1743 on a Medieval mill site. At one time, there were twelve watermills along the River Itchen.

©Come Step Back In Time.
©Come Step Back In Time.

The idea of harnessing wind power to do useful mechanical work dates back to 5th Century AD China. Four hundred years later windmills arrived in Europe and a hundred years after that Britain. Bursledon Windmill was built in 1814, replacing an earlier tower mill which was built in 1766. The machinery of the earlier mill was incorporated into the new mill. The mill eventually fell out of use in 1882. Hampshire Buildings Preservation Trust organised the restoration back to full working order between 1975-1991.

©Come Step Back In Time.
©Come Step Back In Time.

©Come Step Back In Time.

When Bursledon Windmill is grinding the corn, the sails have canvas cloths which spread to catch wind. If there is a strong wind, no canvas cloths are required. The ground floor of the windmill was used for temporary storage of newly delivered grain. The bin floor is where sacks of grain are lifted on the sack hoist and emptied into the bins. The dust floor is known as such because it very easily becomes dirty, greasy and dusty. It is also possible to view the cedar windmill cap from this floor.

There have been five millers at Bursledon:

  • William Fry – the first windmill was built during 1766-7 by William Fry following a request to the Bishop of Winchester. William built it: ‘at his own expense for the benefit of the neighbourhood where such a convenience is much wanted’;
  • William Langtry 1787-1813 – when the windmill was a post mill;
  • William Langtry 1814-1820 – son of the previous mill owner. Together with his mother, the strong-minded and entrepreneurial Phoebe Langtry, they rebuilt the mill creating the structure that exists today. Phoebe undertook the build independent of her husband at a time when women did not own their own property and it was unusual for a woman to run her own business. In October 1814, Phoebe took a mortgage out on the windmill for £800 for a term of six years. She did not redeem the mortgage when the payment became due, probably because of the depression in agriculture that lasted from 1812 to the early 1820s. In the same year that Phoebe took out the mortgage, she also asked the Bishop for a grant of thirty poles of land. Phoebe’s son, William, became the Miller and she managed the business side of things. In 1820, records show that the mill, house, piggeries and other outbuildings were offered for sale;
  • Mortgage for £800 taken out by Phoebe Langtry. ©Come Step Back In Time.
  • John Cove 1847-1871 – John and his wife Susannah Emmett both came from Wiltshire. His daughter, Mary, married a Jarvis and ran the Jolly Sailor public house in Hamble and one of his daughters ran a market garden at the end of Windmill Lane. His son, also called John Cove, became a farm labourer;
  • George Gosling 1872-1907 – George was a Methodist lay preacher from Upham who together with his wife and, at that time, two children moved to Bursledon. The couple went on to have five more children. By all accounts he was a much loved local figure, kind and philanthropic. George allowed the local poor to mill their grain free of charge.
The Chineham barn at Bursledon Windmill. ©Come Step Back In Time.
The Chineham barn at Bursledon Windmill. ©Come Step Back In Time.

Also on the same site as Bursledon Mill are two reclaimed buildings, a sixteenth century barn from Four Lanes Farm, Chineham, nr Basingstoke and a late eighteenth century granary. The timber-framed granary was rescued from Hiltonbury, nr Chandlers Ford and sits on nine staddle stones.

The granary at Bursledon Windmill. ©Come Step Back In Time.
The granary at Bursledon Windmill. ©Come Step Back In Time.

A barn was the epicentre of a village windmill during harvest-time. The wheat was left out in the fields to dry in stacks, then transported to the barn to be threshed or beaten with flails. Men would work rhythmically and in pairs. Once the grain was collected in sieves or riddles it was winnowed or tossed in the air to get rid of the chaff or straw dust. The grain was then bagged up on the thresholds by the barn door.

©Come Step Back In Time.
©Come Step Back In Time.

 

 Historic Bread Recipes

How to bake your own bread: Put a bushel of flour into a trough, or a large pan; with your fist make a deep hole in the centre thereof; put a pint of good fresh yeast into this hollow; add thereto two quarts of warm water, and work in with these as much of the flour as will serve to make a soft smooth kind of batter. Strew this over with just enough flour to hide it; then cover up the trough with its lid, or with a blanket to keep all warm, and when the leaven has risen sufficiently to cause the flour to crack all over its surface, throw in a handful of salt, work all together; add just enough lukewarm soft water to enable you to work the whole into a firm, compact dough, and after having kneaded this with your fists until it becomes stiff and comparatively tough, shake a little flour over it, and again cover it in with a blanket to keep it warm, in order to assist its fermentation. If properly managed, the fermentation will be accomplished in rather less than half an hour. Meanwhile that the bread is being thus far prepared, you will have heated your oven to a satisfactory degree of heat, with a sufficient quantity of dry, small wood faggots; and when all the wood is burnt, sweep out the oven clean and free from all ashes. Divide your dough into four-pound leaves, knead them into round shapes, making a hole at the top with your thumb, and immediately put them out of hand into the oven to bake, closing the oven-door upon them. In about two hours’ time they will be thoroughly baked, and are then to be taken out of the oven, and allowed to become quite cold before they are put away in the cupboard. (A Plain Cookery Book For The Working Classes by Charles Esme Francatelli, 1861).

To make white bread: To a gallon of the best flour, put six ounces of butter, half a pint of yeast, a little salt, break two eggs into a basin, but leave out one of the whites, put a spoonful or two of water to them, and beat them up to a froth, and put them in the flour, have as much new milk as will wet it, make it just warm and mix it up, lay a handful of flour and sieve it about, holding one hand in the dough, and driving it with the other hand till it is quite light, then put it in your pan again, and put it near the fire and cover it with a cloth, and let it stand an hour and a quarter; make your rolls ten minutes before you set them in the oven, and prick them with a fork; if they are the bigness of a French roll, three quarters of an hour will bake them. (The Experienced English Housekeeper by Elizabeth Raffald, 1769)

©Come Step Back In Time.
Bursledon Windmill before the wind shaft and sails were replaced. Summer 2014. ©Come Step Back In Time.