A Wiltshire Wander in blazing sunshine brought a group of magnificent vehicles to the Museum forecourt today.
Thank you for your visit – safe journey onwards.
When you walk along Silver Street from Barclays Bank to the Poultry Cross, if you look carefully, you will see that the pavement has been widened. This happened over 50 years ago as evidenced by this photograph. I doubt if it is an easy task without photographs such as this to determine when this pedestrian enhancement occurred. The buildings in this 1965 scene look much the same now as they did then but they almost all had different tenants.
It is thanks to the amazing foresight and gymnastic abilities of the photographer, Austin Underwood, that we have this photograph. Somehow he must have managed to gain access to the upper stories of the Barclay bank building to take this photograph. Maybe someone could manage a repeat and obtain a “now” photograph from the same vantage point and check my following comments. The first shop, visible on the left, is Hepworth’s the tailors where I bought my first suit, paid for by working nights at Welworthy’s piston ring factory in Harnham. The premises is now (2017) occupied by the coffee shop, Nero.
Robinson Rentals, now also Cafe Nero, is next door . In 1965 many families rented their TV. Now we rent our mobile phones but choose a different word than ‘rent’. One can make out Bollom the dry cleaners. Then there is FHW (Freeman Hardy and Willis) the shoe people who moved round the corner to Minster Steet, and have now left Salisbury all together. ‘Toni and Guy’ are now here. On the other side of Silver Street, one can see that Marks and Spencers occupied the building that Boots the Chemist now (2017) have. Woolworth’s had a large foodmarket on this side as well as their premises in High Street. Robert Stokes remains in name only along New Canal, the other side of their premises here in Silver Street. Lipton, the self service grocers, eventually moved into Butcher’s Row before disappearing into the annals of history. Now the premises is occupied by Santander. Timothy Whites (Chemist) can be made out, squeezed between M&S and Robert Stokes. They were taken over by Boots shortly after this photograph was taken. Curry’s sign can be seen down Butcher’s Row. They moved out of town a few years ago to the Southampton Road with many other retailers.
Besides the architecture and the shops, there is much more of Salisbury’s social history in this image. For example, double decker buses used to have a driver and a conductor. Look carefully in this photograph to see the driver. Butcher’s row appears to be pedestrianised. One can just make out the “No Entry” sign but note the van parked pointing in the wrong direction. Over eight premises have their blinds stretched out over the pavement. How many shops now have a working blind?
One can observe lots of shopping bags but no shopping trolleys or mobility vehicles.
Only the men appear to be wearing the trousers back in 1965!
Many thanks to Volunteer Stephen Lycett who saw an article in the Volunteer Newsletter and sent us this:
Stephen writes: I wish I’d known in advance about the Walter Alcock/Stirling locomotive article as I have a photo of Sir Walter and a group of choirboys actually playing with it.
What follows here is an illustration of just one of the many skills taught to Salisbury Museum volunteer scanners. To obtain perfect digital images from the museum’s vast collection of negatives, there are a number of such skills to be learnt.
A flatbed scanner which scans negatives usually comes with a number of plastic templates for the various sized negatives. These templates attempt to keep the negative aligned to the vertical and flat, as well as allowing automated scanning of multiple negatives placed on the flatbed. The scanner hardware/software senses which template is in use by first scanning some plastic codes at the top of the template. Thus, if you are not using any of these templates, one must not have anything in the first ½ inch of the scanning flatbed, otherwise the scanner gets confused. It is far quicker, easier and more productive, not to use the plastic templates, but read on.
Software such as Vuescan can easily correct any misalignment of the negatives from up to 5 degrees away from the vertical, more than adequate. Any negative placed on the scanner flatbed must therefore be at least ½ inch away from the top edge of the flatbed where the scanning illumination starts. The first image here of Salisbury Cathedral, with the top of the tower covered in scaffolding, was produced by placing the negative by itself on the flatbed. It looks as though the Cathedral is bending in the wind. I can assure you that this was not the case.
The heat from the scanning head has curled the negative whilst scanning it. The remedy is to have a piece of toughened glass, made with ground edges, and the correct size to fit the flatbed, minus the top ½ inch. Salisbury Glass specially made this for the Museum. Now one can put the negative on the scanner flatbed, position the negative and then place this sheet of glass on top, being very careful in letting the glass descend the final ¼ inch not to disturb the position of the negative. A technique that also had to be taught. The negative is now constrained to remain absolutely flat whilst being scanned. The second image here now shows the Cathedral without distortion, as the negative has not curled.
I thought that this was a nice example to illustrate one of the skills acquired by being a Salisbury Museum volunteer scanner.
Best wishes, Alan
Dauntsey’s School (Devizes) student Sophie Roberts has been with us for two days of her week’s work experience – and says she isn’t disappointed so far!
Yesterday she was helping visitors enjoy our Coo Var Glow Wall experience. Today, she has been involved with more traditional museum back room work. Sophie joined Volunteers Roger Collins and Mary Crane who are here every Tuesday, building boxes to store priceless artefacts.
A first visit to this exhibition is a delightful surprise. Apart from anything else, there is such variety – Stonehenge on everything from photographs to phone cards! And for those of us of a certain age, those wonderful Shell posters of yesteryear…..
A favourite? Perhaps John Constable’s tiny, exquisite, pencil sketch but it will take a few visits to make a final decision.
As I write, there are considerable numbers of visitors in the galleries and great Volunteers looking after them.
There are a number of talks and events associated with this exhibition. Notice ‘Ancient Landscapes Through the Lens: A guided photographers walk to Breamore’ led by David Walker and Peter Norton on 23 May 10am – noon. For details, click here.
Photo courtesy of David Walker
We hope this one is in your diary already – Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 July. ArchFest has been enormously successful in its first two years and we have our fingers crossed for fine weather (that helps!) and happy crowds once again this year.
Tickets will soon be on sale for the talks (click HERE for link), and will be, soon, for the ‘taster sessions’ which we hope will include calligraphy, Roman cooking, spinning and weaving, and sword skills for adults. The latter could be very popular so book soon!
Quite often, when scanning glass plates, one comes across a puzzle. The thing to remember, with glass plates, is that it took the photographer some time to set up and expose his glass plate. He (I haven’t found any ladies yet) would only have around a dozen emulsioned glass plates with him. This meant that the photograph was intentional, not accidentaly taken or frivolously snapped. Also there are seldom any written clues as to why the photograph was taken.
One of these puzzle images shows what I took to be part of one of the exterior walls of Salisbury Cathedral. As you can see from the image here, there is not much to go on. If you look carefully you can see some marks in the wall. Now, you need to know some local history about Salisbury and the English Civil War. Having been born and schooled in Salisbury, I knew the tales about musket shot marks in the Cathedral wall. In recent times these musket ball marks have been attributed to target practice.
A friend of mine took the two following images, shown here, to add to the museum records. All the previous images are black and white, so I thought you, the reader, would like some colour images for a change. These two images do show the marks more clearly. In fact some of the old black and white images had almost been discarded as nothing of interest, which would be true to the untrained eye or non-historian.
A retired ballistics expert friend thought the marks could be the result of a firing squad.
If you go to this site, you will find this extract:
“Soldiers were being executed by gunfire in this country as early as the seventeenth century. A notorious case occurred following the siege of Colchester in 1648, during the English Civil War. The town was held by the Royalists, and the Parliamentarians, under General Fairfax, found it a long and arduous task to break through the fortified positions. Eventually, the defenders surrendered. Fairfax pardoned all the rank-and-file, but decided to make an example of the four Royalist commanders. Sir George Lisle, Sir Charles Lucas, Colonel Farr and Bernard Gascoigne were all sentenced to death at a drumhead court-martial. Gascoigne was reprieved because he was a foreign national, while Farr managed to escape. The other two men were shot by a firing squad in the grounds of Colchester Castle, on the evening of 28 August 1648. An obelisk now marks the spot where the so-called Royalist Martyrs met their death.”
This acts as a piece of supporting evidence that the musket ball marks at Salisbury Cathedral could be from a firing squad. If you search the web you can find other evidence of firing squads used in the English Civil War where the prisoners were stood against a church wall. As to the spread of the marks on the Cathedral wall, one needs information on the dispersion of shot from English civil war muskets, and lots more information, such as how many made up a firing squad, and what was the distance from the prisoner etc. A fascinating piece of research starting from an almost discarded black and white glass negative.
Has anyone seen one of these before?
It is, apparently, a shaving mug (a central hole in the removable top), straight sided (despite the angle of the photo which makes it appear otherwise) and just under 30cms (4 inches) high.
It has, as you can see, the insignia of the old Salisbury Infirmary, and underneath a particular manufacturer’s mark of Keeling and Company of Burslem, which indicates that the mug was made between 1880 and 1936.
It is an item unknown at the museum and not recognised by the archivist at Salisbury Hospital. Was it made to be sold at a fund raising event? Was it used within the hospital and appropriated by a patient?
One of the great pleasures and benefits of volunteering in the museum is the amount one learns (or not!) from the visiting public.
Following on from my previous blog on ‘Constable’s Wagon’ (17th January) I accessed the website for the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) at the University of Reading, which has photographs of various county farm carts.
This does show a ‘Wiltshire cart’ which has broad similarities to the wagon in Constable’s ‘Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows 1831’, in that the front wheels are smaller than the rear, and the structure curves over the front and rear wheels. However, as can be seen from the illustration below, the curve is nowhere near as pronounced as depicted by Constable:
A visitor suggested that perhaps commentators have ‘got it wrong’ in referring to it as a ‘Wiltshire wagon’ and that it is really a Suffolk wagon – Constable’s home county. However, the illustration of a Suffolk wagon on the MERL website is quite dissimilar:
Thus, I do believe that Timothy Wilcox was partially correct in his book/catalogue ‘Constable and Salisbury, The Soul of Landscape’ (p152) in which he implies that Constable used artistic licence in the appearance of the wagon, to allow the eye to follow through the curves in the painting. However, we now know from Professor John E. Thornes lecture on ‘A Reassessment of the Solar Geometry of Constable’s Rainbow’ that this was not to predict/preempt the spectacular appearance of the rainbow, as the rainbow was only painted in a year after the painting was first exhibited at the Royal Academy; in order to mark the death of his great friend, Archdeacon John Fisher.
The most common reaction of visitors entering Gallery 2 (containing Constable’s great painting) was to stand stock still at the entrance and exclaim “Wow!”
Many visitors commented on how privileged they had been to be able to view this painting, on its own on the wall (in contrast to the situation when it goes to The Tate Gallery, when it could just become ‘one of many’) and in the absence of a large crowd. I certainly feel very privileged as an Engagement Volunteer to be in the presence of this great painting for 1.5 hours every week, and to share the joy of all our visitors.