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Remembered Today:

Individuals' mobility and transport, 1910s

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Recently I was asked how often villagers on Salisbury Plain would visit Salisbury in the 1910s. I hesitated before suggesting that they would usually go in on market days


Later, I reflected on what sort of distances people in England would regard as acceptable to travel regularly a century ago - and how. Occasionally I read of children walking several miles each way to school and of agricultural labourers covering similar or longer distances. Presumably rural families visiting the nearest town would walk or use a horse and cart?


Salisbury itself was quite well served by trains, but there were many communities on the Plain that were not. And come the war military traffic would have taken precedence over civilians. I have the vaguest idea that rural bus and charabanc services might have been starting up in the early 1910s?


The question I was asked related to getting from Bulford to Salisbury. Actually not a bad, if somewhat circuitous, journey by train as this postcard suggests:


Bulford-Salisbury train.jpg

During the war, soldiers in the Bulford area complained of the poor rail service when going on or returning from leave. And I wonder how they fared when trying to get from camp to the nearest bright lights. Prewar, officers might ride into Salisbury, returning across the Plain in the moonlight. I suppose that Other Ranks thought nothing of walking several miles there and back, and I've seen references to them - notably Australians - visiting localities further away. Early in the war the British Army was notoriously short of mechanical transport, but as more lorries became available perhaps they sometimes transported soldiers into nearby towns?


Though my question relates to Wiltshire, I would be interested in reading of individuals' mobility in other parts of the country.




Edited by Moonraker
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My great-grandfather walked from Catford to Greenwich to work each day, about five and a half miles. 


I would guess that lifts could be hitched in farm wagons, grocers' delivery wagons etc etc? I'm sure 'Lark Rise to Candleford' mentions getting from village to village at about that time.



Edited by seaJane
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I was brought up in west Wilts during the 1950s and 60s in Sutton Mandeville. We got a lift to primary school in Fovant in the mornings but had to walk the two miles home after school, and thought nothing of it. The nearest bus stops were over a mile away.


Market day in Salisbury was on Tuesdays and the farmer took his wife and my mother the ten miles there to do their shopping while he went to look at the market. We also had the local baker doing a round in his van twice a week, so it is likely that tradesmen had similar rounds of local villages using horses and carts a hundred years ago. In Fovant there was a general store, post office and family butcher (with his own slaughterhouse). The postwoman Mrs Wilson did her round on a bicycle.


Roads would also have been much more basic as well. In the days of stage coaches the route from Salisbury to Shaftesbury was along the drove road on top of the downs (above where the badges are now) with horses being changed at the half way stage at Fovant Hut.

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