A 1940s Spondon Carnival

Three photographs from a Spondon Carnival of the late 1940s. The first two images show the procession emerging from Cambridge Street onto Willowcroft Road. The third picture is the Celanese float, advertising the benefits of cellulose acetate in textile manufacturing. The sign on the lorry reads: Celanese fabrics made at Spondon are Comfortable, Artistic, Reliable, Novel, Inviting, Versatile, Alluring, Lovely. Marketing was simpler seventy years ago.

The Spondon Historical Society’s archive has more images demonstrating the importance of British Celanese to the event. In 1948 the gowns for the Carnival Queen and her Attendants were loaned to the organisers by the company.

Spondon Carnival Procession - late 1940s
A marching band at the head of the procession turning right out of Cambridge Street onto Willowcroft Road.
Spondon Carnival procession - late 1940s
Prize winners!
Celanese float - Spondon Carnival Procession late 1940s
The Celanese float.

R H Moss ghost sign

While picking up a new pair of glasses this morning, I spotted this ghost sign in Long Eaton. It’s located on the Claye Street side of the building that was, until fairly recently, the Miss Elany antiques shop.

It’s difficult to make out much detail on the sign except that the business was located 50 yards away. Although the sign is defunct it seems that R H Moss & Co (founded 1889) still exists, based a few miles away in Sawley.

R H Moss & Co Ghost Sign, Long Eaton

 

A snowy Spondon Methodist Church

One of the other astonishing¹ photographs found in my father’s collection yesterday is this view of Spondon Methodist Church. It’s scanned from a small print as the negative seems to be missing. I think it dates from the late 1940s or early 1950s based on the other photographs it was stored with – but obviously taken before the A52 bypass was built in the mid 1950s.

Spondon Methodist Church in the snow, 1940s or early 1950s

¹ It’s the almost total absence of other buildings and the A52 that I find astonishing. This is the view today from about the same spot. The church was built in the mid 1930s, so the photograph might be older than I think.

I’ve always liked Totnes

I’ve always liked Totnes. Especially the Tudor Butterwalk, the Babbage room in the museum and walking by the river. I confess however that I’d not noticed the castle until the last time I visited on 2nd January this year – much to the amusement of my wife. My excuse was that as I drive I’d never seen it from the road, and if you’re in the town centre the buildings shield it from view.

So here’s a view of the River Dart, taken on my last visit, by way of welcoming their MP Dr. Sarah Wollaston to the Liberal Democrats.

The River Dart at Totnes
The River Dart at Totnes

A blat to Rutland Water

It was perfect weather for getting out in the Caterham today. Rather than head up into the peaks as usual, I decided instead to meander towards Rutland Water. The drive along the A6006 and A606 isn’t as demanding as many (provided that you stay alert for motorcyclists and tractors) but the destination is worthwhile. First stop was the Harbour Cafe at Whitwell for coffee and a cake.

Rutland Belle at Whitwell, Rutland Water
The Rutland Belle docked outside the Harbour Cafe at Whitwell.
Whitwell - Catamaran
A catamaran in the Whitwell boat park. Many (like this one) seem to have been forgotten, but I assume someone is paying for them to be stored there?
Exit sign
A six-inch high exit sign, not pointing towards any obvious exit.
Gnu in the car park at Whitwell
Small but perfectly formed.

Having decided that the two and a half mile path to Normanton was a little too far to tackle I headed off there in the Gnu. Lots of people seemed to be enjoying barbecues and there was no shortage of ice cream and other refreshments available.

Rutland Water
A view over Rutland Water towards Oakham (Well, almost. It’s somewhere to the left of the image I believe).
Duck
Obligatory duck.
Normanton Church
Normanton Church. Closed today, but available for hire.
Normanton Church
Normanton Church against the clouds.

I called it a day, as any more cake or ice cream would have jeopardised Gnu’s aerodynamics, and headed home via Melton Mowbray. The roads around Rutland Water seem remarkably well kept, certainly when compared with the roads back to Derby through Leicestershire and (especially) Nottinghamshire. They’re a pleasure to drive on. Perhaps Lord Bonkers has been keeping the inmates at the home for well-behaved orphans gainfully employed?

Chester in 1952 vs 2019

I returned to Chester last week to attend the BPS occupational psychology conference. As I arrived early, I took the opportunity to re-shoot two of the 1952 photographs of Chester that I’d got wrong last year.

St John's Ruins 1952
St John’s ruins in 1952 …
St John's ruins in January 2019
… and in January 2019
Richard Grosvenor 1952
The statue of Richard Grosvenor in 1952 …
… and in January 2019

It lifted my spirits to see the conference hotel flying the EU flag alongside the Union flag. It’s a shame we collectively did so little of this prior to the 2016 referendum.

The Crowne Plaza Hotel in Chester flying the EU flag alongside the Union flagGiven the redevelopment that’s happening around the hotel at the moment, I can’t see this building being around in 2086 to photograph again.

Dartmouth Harbour in 1955 and 2019

Two views of the harbour at Dartmouth, the first taken in 1955 and the second a couple of days ago. Not very much seems to have changed in the last 64 years. The walls are no longer whitewashed, boats are mainly fibreglass instead of wood, Lloyds Bank is now Jack Wills and The Stores is a branch of Boots.

Dartmouth Harbour 1955
Dartmouth Harbour in the summer of 1955 …
Dartmouth Harbour 2019
… and in January 2019

Elsewhere, The Flavel Arts Centre serves a good coffee and the Dartmouth Museum is small but welcoming. The newly refurbished Platform 1 Station Bar & Restaurant has a great view of the river and is decorated with well-known Winston Churchill quotations. I munched through my scampi and chips under the steely gaze of the former PM, wondering what he’d make of the mess his country is in.

Terminus

One of my Christmas Day highlights (*) was seeing John Schlesinger’s film Terminus for the first time in many years. A 33 minute short produced by British Transport Films, it documents a day at Waterloo Station in 1961. I remember being forced to watch and write about the film on a number of occasions at school. Making comparisons between the hive of bees at the start of the film and the people rushing around the station was an obvious one, even for a bored teenager.

Terminus felt it belonged to a bygone era when I first watched it, although only 16 years would have elapsed since it had been made. The railways of today seem much closer to those of 1977, even if the internet has superseded telephone timetable enquiries. After all, I still sometimes travel to London on a 1970s InterCity 125.

There’s a short clip of the film below featuring a disturbing (but staged) incident of a lost child. The full film is available for free on the BFI Player.

 

(*) Talking Pictures TV showed the film yesterday, but I didn’t watch it until this morning.

Cine film of grasstrack motorcycle racing, Hopwell Hall, 1951

I recently found a couple of Pathescope films shot by my father in the early 1950s. The more interesting one is of grasstrack motorcycle racing in September 1951.

Pathescope is a 9.5mm cine film format with the sprocket hole in the centre. It was introduced in 1922 and was most popular with amateur film-makers in France and the UK. Pathescope Limited was the subject of a workers’ buyout in 1959, but went bankrupt in 1960. In a precursor to the VHS/Betamax wars of the 1980s, an arguably superior format fell to the greater marketing muscle of Kodak and the far wider range of suppliers supporting the 8mm standard. The very late introduction of Pathescope colour film also didn’t help.

When I had the film digitised (+) I thought the location may have been Kirkby Mallory in Leicestershire. In 1951 Kirkby Hall was still standing, but only just (it was demolished in 1952), after wartime use by the military. The British Championships were held there on 2nd September, and this film was processed on the 25th. Grasstrack racing was held at Kirkby Mallory up until 1956. It ended when a tarmac circuit – Mallory Park – was laid for the princely sum of £50,000.

However, a closer examination of the film plus a glance through his 1951 diary instead confirms the location as Hopwell Hall (-), near Ockbrook. The racing took place on Sunday 23rd September. There’s a couple of seconds of my grandfather midway through the film, which was an unexpected bonus.

Grasstrack racing at Hopwell Hall 1951
Grasstrack motorcycle racing at Hopwell Hall, September 23rd 1951. The hall was damaged by fire a few years later and subsequently rebuilt.

(+) By the excellent TVV Productions in Newcastle.

(-) Hopwell Hall was a Special School run by Nottinghamshire County Council (in Derbyshire) from the 1920s up until the 1980s/90s. In the 1950s, motorcycle racing took place in the surrounding parklands. It was converted into a £6m, 10 bedroom house in the late 1990s and has been privately owned since.