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Mystery drill hall - help sought, please


Dragon
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Stupid question, Gwyn. I don't suppose there's anything on the back to tell us something useful?

Sorry, I've been out and am only logging on to the GWF while my own personal website is uploading. Thank you all very much for your ideas.

No, there's nothing at all on the back, apart from the words "Post card", "Correspondence" and "Address".

I dug out some old books about steam trains that I inherited from my dad. Now I know all about trains. Unfortunately none of them mentioned Spitepull. I must say the idea of sleeping in a first class private carriage on a train holed up in the bowels of a cross-Channel ferry fills me with claustrophobia, but the mail bag net system with the man teetering on the ladder is fun. Seeing the photos of stacks of luggage I can well understand why a special van or two was necessary.

I'm also reading up about Welsh dwellings.

I will make more considered responses anon.

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The postcard, which I may be able to show if relevant, is showing the isolated nature of Stogumber station, and has been taken from the other side of the Doniford Stream valley. The overall panorama of the picture has the same feel as our picture including a camping coach perched by the road underbridge, a goods shed and the Railway Inn. The bottom of the valley and the railway line are also fairly central in the composition. Ones eye is then taken up to the distant hills/mountains. I was wondering if these two postcards were of a series from the West Somerset line, which in present day terms has trains climbing, turning and twisting over 21 miles of testing terrain[such alliteration!] between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead, with locos and crews having to work hard. Any cryptographer/handwriting expert reckon its the same hand ? The T does it for me. Several other pictures in the book are acknowledged MJS but this does not appear in the list, which makes me think that the postcard belongs to the author, John Stretton. Rather like Gordon Brown, he must have an unused first name. [quiz info!]

If it's Tebay then at least I've enjoyed my trip round Wales and The West.

If it is Stogumber were does the other rail line come from?

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It is all getting a bit complicated with so many speculations lets have a look at all the evidence.

The train:- The general consensus seems to be that it is a GWR locomotive, most of the evidence suggests this is the case. If it is a GWR train then the carriages suggest a possible date of 1908 to 1920 other features put the date as pre WW1. The train is a mixture of 4/6 wheel and bogie coaches but are consistent in colour and size, so it could be from another company making its end journey over GWR metals.

The road and the second railway above the train appear to be very new, the road in particular it has what appears to be post and wire fencing that mother nature has yet to colonise. To the right the railway line looks as if there is a newish embankment and cutting.

Geology, the road and the second railway are in a light colour which is a possible clue to where in the country this could be but it could also eliminate some suggestions. There is also a side valley to the right of the picture.

The buildings at the right hand end of the road also appear to be fairly new which also suggests an Edwardian date.

I am now going to throw my hat in the ring and suggest another possible location. During this period the GWR constructed a new main line from Reading to Taunton to reduce the distance to the west country, this could be somewhere along this line particulary somewhere in Somerset.

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Stogumber is on the Taunton to Minehead branch - now the West Somerset Railway

Chris

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Just a little bit more about the Locomotive, it could not be a 2-6-2T as these were not in service until after 1919 but the GWR had some similar 4-4-2T's that were operated from Reading depot from about 1908. Could it be the southern end of the Chilterns?

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Not Stogumber there is no second railway there

Chris

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It is all getting a bit complicated with so many speculations lets have a look at all the evidence.

Yes. I'm going to spend some time with a map and the database looking at the potential area covered by the GWR. I'm certain that ruling places out will reduce the possibilities considerably.

Weekends are very busy, though, so I shall probably leave it till tomorrow.

I've contacted the National Rail Museum and await their reply.

In the meantime, I'm trying to get myself into the mind of the photographer. It was evidently expected that the title would mean something to a recipient, so what would be the purpose of the card? And on a personal note, I suspect that it isn't accidental that there's a train waiting at the signal. That would add interest to any photograph and a photographer then would be likely to seize the moment, as we do today.

the second railway above the train appear to be very new, the road in particular it has what appears to be post and wire fencing that mother nature has yet to colonise. To the right the railway line looks as if there is a newish embankment and cutting.

The fencing does indeed look quite new on high magnification. The section to the left of and behind the left-hand terrace of cottages is an example.

Gwyn

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Chris and Phil.

I am not suggesting Stogumber as the location, but anywhere along the West Somerset. Taunton, Norton Fitzwarren, Bishops Lydyeard, Crowcombe, Williton, Watchet, Washford, Blue Anchor, Dunster or Minehead. The theory is based on the Postcard series idea. Wish I lived down there as it would be an excellent day out to ride the line and investigate furthur.

Phil.

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Yes. I'm going to spend some time with a map and the database looking at the potential area covered by the GWR. I'm certain that ruling places out will reduce the possibilities considerably.

Weekends are very busy, though, so I shall probably leave it till tomorrow.

I've contacted the National Rail Museum and await their reply.

In the meantime, I'm trying to get myself into the mind of the photographer. It was evidently expected that the title would mean something to a recipient, so what would be the purpose of the card? And on a personal note, I suspect that it isn't accidental that there's a train waiting at the signal. That would add interest to any photograph and a photographer then would be likely to seize the moment, as we do today.

The fencing does indeed look quite new on high magnification. The section to the left of and behind the left-hand terrace of cottages is an example.

Gwyn

Is there anything on the postcard to show the publisher? This may give a clue and explain why the Stogumber photograph is written in apparently the same hand.
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No, there's nothing at all on the back, apart from the words "Post card", "Correspondence" and "Address".

There are no clues whatsoever.

I don't have a very extensive collection of postcards, so I can't comment on patterns of script. I can see the logic of the idea that someone might have had a personal project making postcards of a particular region's railway lines.

One thing I can't analyse is why the annotater didn't write, "New drill hall, Little Gidding", or just "Little Gidding Valley" or something. It seems to me that he expected that the new drill hall would be of particular interest to the person who received the card. Or, lateral thought, there was some reason for not making the location clearer.

Gwyn

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Phil,

I think Gwyn answered your question in post 176, but as you agree that the Stogumber pic. is apparantely the same graphic style, then the Stogumber postcard is from Silver link publishing, Northants and I can give them a ring tomorrow to see if I can contact J Stretton, from whose collection the postcard came.

Phil.

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No, there's nothing at all on the back, apart from the words "Post card", "Correspondence" and "Address".

There are no clues whatsoever.

I don't have a very extensive collection of postcards, so I can't comment on patterns of script. I can see the logic of the idea that someone might have had a personal project making postcards of a particular region's railway lines.

One thing I can't analyse is why the annotater didn't write, "New drill hall, Little Gidding", or just "Little Gidding Valley" or something. It seems to me that he expected that the new drill hall would be of particular interest to the person who received the card. Or, lateral thought, there was some reason for not making the location clearer.

Gwyn

I have a book on railway picture postcards and I have identified a possible publisher. This was Raphael Tuck & Sons who commenced printing picture postcards in about 1890 to 1914. The titles are in the same style as on the ones we are discussing. Thats the good news, the bad news is that by 1904 they had published over 12,000 different postcards and their records were destroyed in the Blitz.
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as you agree that the Stogumber pic. is apparantely the same graphic style, then the Stogumber postcard is from Silver link publishing, Northants

To save going back to the beginning:

3341735174_2e40105620_o.jpg

I'm going to add Phil's 'Stogumber' script to this post if I can.

post-16-1237118836.jpg

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No, there's nothing at all on the back, apart from the words "Post card", "Correspondence" and "Address".

There are no clues whatsoever.

I don't have a very extensive collection of postcards, so I can't comment on patterns of script. I can see the logic of the idea that someone might have had a personal project making postcards of a particular region's railway lines.

One thing I can't analyse is why the annotater didn't write, "New drill hall, Little Gidding", or just "Little Gidding Valley" or something. It seems to me that he expected that the new drill hall would be of particular interest to the person who received the card. Or, lateral thought, there was some reason for not making the location clearer.

Gwyn

Is it possible to show us the rear of the postcard, somebody may be able to identify the publisher?
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Ok. Crop:

3356561128_5185ffe3b3_m.jpg

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At the risk of muddying waters can I throw in another location idea, could it be in the stroud valleys somewhere? I only suggest this as when I saw the photo I thought of the view down over the stroud/chalford road from the common. The area has a canal, and a railway, and would have been in the area covered by the GWR I'd have thought.

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Engine at rsolution of.....wait for it....... 30000. If it helps!

3347569802_cc78c8e505_b.jpg

The vertical white line is a signal.

The engine looks to have a shiny brass cover midway along the boiler, the boiler lo be tapered.

this sugests Great Western which could be west country or Wales.

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The locomotive does seem most likely to be GWR. If you examine it closely you can make out the brass "bonnet" over the safety valve(s) in the centre of the boiler. Other GWR features are the whistle on the firebox which is of the "Belpaire" type a typical GWR feature. In addition you can just about make out the outside cylinders above which the frame has a step, also a GWR feature. The most likely candidate would be a 2-6-2T or a 4-4-2T. The train is typical of the Edwardian period with its mix of bogie and rigid stock.

Wilst looking at the locomotive I noticed that the shadows were fairly long, going by the fact that the trees are in full leaf this would be about July/August. The shadows are at an angle of about 45 degrees this means that the photograph was taken either in the morning or evening. If the photograph was taken in the morning this means that the photographer was facing west and the train south. If in the evening he was facing north and the train west.

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Ok. Crop:

3356561128_5185ffe3b3_m.jpg

Thank you, The style may be of help in identifying the publisher, especially the distinctive s in post and the a in card. Does anybody have any ideas?
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I'll upload a summary list from the database relating to the relevant area covered by Gloucestershire and Somerset, but it won't be this afternoon.

Thank you all again.

Gwyn

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No, please don't give up! I had to go out this afternoon and I'm doing some work on the photo. I have to keep stopping, though as it hurts my eyes. I've also sent various emails and searched archives myself.

I think the train carriages have dark livery, a paler roof and possibly two light parallel lines down the sides above the footplate. Does that mean anything?

What is Bletchley Park, please?

Anthony - thank you very much for the maps.

Gwyn

The light paralell lines are the footboards which were fitted to most carriages at the time.
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Is it possible to show us the rear of the postcard, somebody may be able to identify the publisher?

Not all postcards had a publisher. You could ask the local photography shop, when you put your film in for processing for your prints to be made on post card so you could send your holiday snaps to your friends. We might end up identifying who produced the printing paper which might have nothing to do with the location. (Yes this train is definitely somewhere near Ilford!).

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Looking again at the original photograph it must be a fairly steep sided valley, the houses on the right are well above the railway line and the second (upper) line is above the roofs of those houses. I think we are looking at the backs of the houses further to the right, the gardens would be back gardens. On the extreme right there is what looks like a series of stepped end gables, could we have those enlarged? also the white building at the left on the second line as it could be a railway station there is a faint chance there could be a nameboard

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Not all postcards had a publisher. You could ask the local photography shop, when you put your film in for processing for your prints to be made on post card so you could send your holiday snaps to your friends

This has that flavour and I wondered whether that might be the case. Alternatively, as has been suggested earlier, a photographer might have made it his personal project to take photos of a theme and (as you say) requested the pictures to be printed as postcards. I suspect you could even do it yourself if you were a keen home developer and printer.

I tend to think that a commercial firm would attach some sort of identification.

Ilford is just down the road from me. Hm. Maybe if I popped in avec card...

What has to be relevant, I think, is that the title is 'New drill hall...' as if it would mean something to someone receiving the card. Something more than it does to us. It isn't primarily a train picture, IMHO. The train is part of the key to establishing the location.

And why 'New' drill hall? Perhaps it was somewhere which had either used a drill station previously, or which had demolished an old DH and erected a new one.

I will interrogate the database and some old maps tomorrow; I haven't got the opportunity to do it today. I have a lot of 1940s and 1950s maps which I've collected over the years, which will show the rail lines pre-Beeching.

Gwyn

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I think we are looking at the backs of the houses further to the right, the gardens would be back gardens. On the extreme right there is what looks like a series of stepped end gables, could we have those enlarged?

My reading of the card under magnification is that they are likely to be the sort of terraced houses which have very long front gardens, which could be used for flowers and vegetables.

also the white building at the left on the second line as it could be a railway station there is a faint chance there could be a nameboard

I'm pretty confident that is a house with extended roof to the rear and open railings running parallel to the hypothesised second railway. I can't see any signage under high magnification.

I'm afraid I can't scan and enlarge it at the moment because I haven't got time to create such a vast file. The scans at extreme high res are huge files and seize up my computer for half an hour. Sorry. Maybe tomorrow.

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