As promised last month, I’ve made a start on assessing the huge database of photographs I got hold of, which document the history of the village I grew up in from the 1900s onwards. Some pictures came with more detail than others, and the quality is highly variable, but it still makes for a fascinating study. We start at the bottom of Main Road, with a picture from before 1905.
The gateway on the left is the beginning of the lane to the old mill (now converted to houses and flats), the origins of which date back to the 1780s (Bamford Mill in this index), although the property has been rebuilt several times since.
Construction of the houses that run up the left hand side of the road began in 1905 and by 1920, the scene was considerably busier. The main gateposts, trees and telegraph poles are still there, although one gatepost seems to have been lost, and it’s interesting to note that all three vehicles in view are either horse-drawn or steam-powered.
Moving up the hill, we reach the junction with Victoria Road. For many years, each corner housed a shop, although this was no longer the case by 1985 – and I’m not certain I remember shops being there much before that either. The telegraph poles changed several times, and had disappeared by 1985 or so (going by the registration of the car pictured), to be replaced by street lighting.
I also found an estate agent’s brochure for the lower of the corner houses from 1985, when it was priced at £29,000. A similar house now might be worth seven or eight times that amount.
Moving up towards the centre of the village, we turn to look back down the hill between the Derwent Hotel, which I talked about last month, and Hancock’s stores, which has long-since been converted to a dental surgery with flats above. The row of houses down the hill from the hotel is Coronation Villas, built in 1902. On the opposite side a little higher up is a wooden hut that may be the forerunner to the sweet shop I remember from my childhood (site now built over by a private house) and between that and Hancock’s shop, we now have a brick-built bus shelter and (disused) public toilets). Note also that a pavement (sidewalk to you in the US) now runs up both sides of the road in that area.
Continuing up the hill a little, we reach the village green, site of the well dressing in summer and the nativity scene at Christmas, as well as a popular vantage point for watching the carnival procession every year. That at least seems to be a long-standing tradition; I found two photographs of a Silver Jubilee parade in 1935 (pictured above), celebrating the 25th year of the reign of George V and Queen Mary. By the green, we also see a cobbler’s shop next to the site where the well dressing and nativity scene are erected annually. That’s no longer there, and the site of a bank branch that subsequently sat a little further back off the road is also now being (slowly) redeveloped.
Passing the Village Institute, which has changed little on the outside in the 100 years it has stood there, we end this month’s visit at the (now community-owned) Angler’s Rest. The shop across the road has long been a private house, and the whole structure of the building altered to better accommodate the main road and a pavement. Meanwhile the carriage house (or garage) with the Posting sign above it (pictured below) has now been redeveloped into a snug.
The database contains well over 500 files, some of which contain more than one photograph, so I should have plenty more to share in coming months, not just of the main village but also, I suspect, of the drowned villages of Derwent and Ashopton.