Camberley views No.3: Extra information uncovered

Before writing, yesterday, about the buidings on the Southern stretch of Park Street in Camberley I should have looked at Mary Ann Bennett’s book Camberley – A History. Heck, I’ve a signed copy in our bookcase.

I’ve looked in the index for Park Street Stores and about Witwood, and have discovered useful additional information.

Firstly about Witwood.  On page 57 of her book, Mary Ann describes how building company Spear & King plus local bricklayer Mark Jacobs were responsible for erecting most of the houses in the Gordon Road area. Mary Ann continues,

The most impressive, Witwood, built in Park Street in 1898 for Major Crawford was designed by the eminent architect Sir Edwin Lutyens.

I think it looks more modern than having been built in 1898.

On page 98, of Camberley – A History, there’s this excellent photo of the Park Street Post Office and general store in 1950s, when owned by the Alborough family.

Camberley views No.3: Southern part of Park Street

Park Street in Camberley is split into two. There’s the town centre shopping, leisure and eating part that runs from London Road to Pembroke Broadway, and then there’s the more architecturally interesting stretch that runs from Pembroke Broadway to Park Road.

This short stretch of road from Pembroke Broadway to Park Road is the subject of my third in the series of Camberley views. There are buildings of historic and architectural interest, though only one, Witwood, is recognised in the Council’s List of Historic Buildings in Surrey Heath.

From Pembroke Broadway to the railway bridge the buildings are nondescript, perhaps excepting the one by the bridge with the unusual upper level window treatment.

Beyond the railway bridge there are four Victorian/Edwardian houses. While they are of “humble”, two-storey proportions, they never the less have interesting string courses and detailing in blue engineering bricks.

Immediately past these houses is a building occupied by a kitchen design and showroon. This was once Park Street Stores of which I’ve located photos of it in 1921 and 1979. Though it’s been modernised at the ground floor level, it is essentially unchanged over the years. Here are photos that show that [click on images to expand].

Further down the road toward Park Road we have a much admired Lutyens-designed house. I’ve written about Witwood, and show photos of it below, [again, click on image to expand].

Here are the photos of the other buildings on Park Street, which is pleasingly densely tree lined, The telephone exchange is the least atractive building.

The Jolly Farmer Junction could’ve been called The Golden Farmer Junction

The road from London to Exeter – the modern day A30 – passes through Bagshot. In the 17th and early 18th centuries the road crossed the sparsely populated Bagshot Heath, which afforded highway robbers opportunities to rob passing wealthy travellers.

While many a romanticised story, and inaccurate history, was told about highway robbers abounding in the 17th and 18th centuries. Bagshot Heath was the haunt for many years of The Golden Farmer a notorious highway robber. It is suggested that he acquired his sobriquet by paying his debts in gold. Mary Bennett, in her book, Life and Work in Surrey Heath suggests that it may derive from his ‘farming’ gold from travellers.

The Golden Farmer is thought to have farmed at the edge of Bagshot Heath, which Mary Bennett finds curious as the land was ‘totally unsuited to farming in the 17th century’. There is evidence that his name was John Bennet [no relation], alias William Freeman, or Hill. After years as a highway robber John Bennet was caught. Written evidence is that he was tried and executed in Salisbury Court, Fleet Street, London on the 22 December 1690 and subsequently his body hung in chains in Bagshot Heath for all to see.

Mary Bennett suggests that the Golden Farmer tavern was associated with John Bennet’s farmhouse. Later in 1814 to become The Jolly Farmer, which change is suggested by Surrey Heath Local History Club reflects the change from the Enclosure Acts. Maybe the tavern name change was to present it more favourably than association with a highway robber hung in chains nearby.

Today’s diversion from politics 2 of 3: Brits bonkers for steam engines

I’m sure you’ll know that when you follow a link to a YouTube video that there’s a range of video choices appearing on the right hand of the screen. That list of choices depends upon one’s previous selections.

Anyway, here’s one such choice I opened. It’s a documentary transmissed on BBC1 on Monday 10th July 1989 showing the record-breaking ‘A4’ No. 4468 “Mallard” hauling railtours on the beautiful Settle and Carlisle railway over the weekend of July 16th and 17th 1988.

What amazes is the size of the crowds watching Mallard. To my way of thinking it shows the enduring interest, nay love, that Brits have for steam engines.

Today’s diversion from politics 1of3: British Water Tower Appreciation Society

Amazingly, there’s an appreciation society for so many things in the UK. Heck, I’m a member of one of them, The Milestone Society.

I’ve been tempted to join societies such as The Letter Box Study Group, having found a rare example of an Edward VIII pillar box in Prior Road in Sunningdale see HERE, and a Victoria one in Crawley Ridge. The Pill Box Study Group also interests me, as I have an odd, to my wife anyway, fascination for these war time relics.

Thanks to Ferrers who commented, see below, on my brief article about Blackhill Water Tower in Bagshot heath.

Dr. Barry Barton, author of “Water Towers of Britain” has a build date of 1923.
Dr. Micheal Gould and Dr. David Cleland in their paper “Development of design form of reinforced concrete water towers” give the capacity of this tower as 200,000 gallons.
That is the sum total of information that I have on this tower.

Ferrers, British Water Tower Appreciation Society (Archives)

So, wonderefully, now you know there’s a apprecition society for Water Towers.

Stonehenge: images of straightening, re-erection, excavation and renovation

Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire that is estimated to be over 5,000 years old.

What visitors see today is the product of archaelogical work to stabilise and re-erect the stones in the early part of the 20th Century, where for example in 1901 one of the sarsen stones and its lintel had fallen down, leading to the straightening of a large leaning trilithon.

Between 1919 and 1926 the south-eastern half of the monument was excavated and further work carried out to re-erect some of the stones, In the 1950’s further extensive excavation and renovation was carried out.

Thought you might like to see some images of these works. See these English Heritage document for more information on: the World War I Aerodrome, and Historic England reports, including one on Restoring Stonehenge.

Don’t miss visting the Royal Logistic Corps Museum before it closes on October 31st 2019

For 25 years the Royal Logistic Corps Museum has had its home in Deepcut. Along with the closure of Princess Royal Barracks, the museum is heading for a new home at Worthy Down Barracks near Winchester.

The Museum will close to the public on October 31st 2019, after which its contents will be progressively transferred to its new home, which is expected to open in spring of 2021.

If you haven’t previously visited the museum in Deepcut now is a good time to go. Here are a few photos I took of the museum last week.

British inventiveness: the invention of the pencil and steel pen nib

While idly scrolling through a Twitter feed I came upon this from Jill Rutter, Director of Strategy and Relationships @BritishFuture.

One of the likes on Jill’s tweet is mine. Meanwhile, I looked up both facts, and was mildly surprised that the modern pencil was invented in the UK. There’s a Pencil Museum in Keswick in the Lake District. This is taken from Quora,

Now about the steel pen nib, another piece of British inventiveness, about which I did know. There are numerous sources on the invention of the steel pen nib. I’ve chosen this one from The Journal Shop,

There’s museum for pen nibs. It’s the Pen Museum in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham. I’ve not been to either museum, something I think I should correct.

September events: Start planning for your Heritage Open Days visits

It’s not too early to begin your planning for visits to places in the national Heritage Open Days. There are plenty of places to visit. We’ve enjoyed many of them, even events further afield, as sadly, the map only shows a couple of events in Surrey Heath. Click on map to visit the website.

Seeing what’s been hidden for over 40 years

At the beginning of July I wrote about our taking a mini-adventure to the Isle of Thanet and hopefully to see some sound mirrors up close.

How lucky we were, the weather was fine, and we saw much that was new to us. We based ourselves in Ramsgate, which has a busy little harbour, plenty of eateries, and has attractive regency and Victorian buildings that have so often been demollished elsewhere in the country.

One of the main items on our agenda was to visit the recently uncovered first World War sound mirrors on the White Cliffs near Dover.

Built as aircraft and airship early warning devices for coastal towns between 1915 and 1930, parabolic sound mirrors concentrate sound waves enabling detection of incoming enemy aircraft. They were developed from sound ranging experiments during WW1 to fix the postion of enemy gun batteries by plotting the sound of gunfire.  Many of the 20 or so sound mirrors survive being located in quiet and out-of-the-way places. They became redundant as the speed of aircraft increased such that the amount of early warning time became so small as to be of little benefit, and the arrival of the more efficient radar.

Two sound mirrors at Fan Bay near Dover were covered up by Kent County Council in 1970’s along with all evidence of adjacent three coastal gun batteries to rid the coast of unsightly redundant wartime buildings and tunnels. In 2012 the National Trust acquired a stretch of the White Cliffs coast and knowing that gun emplacement, searchights and tunnels existed at Fan Bay decided to open them as a tourist attraction. These are the photos of our visit to the Fan Bay Deep Shelter and Sound Mirrors. [More info about sound mirrors can be found HERE, and HERE and HERE].