Monday, 26 April 2010

Holly, Croquet and The Berrylands Dairy

It's funny how sometimes good can come out of a bad situation. Not that this was particularly bad, but one evening last week I was supposed to be at the grand opening of my niece's Headmasters hairdressing salon in Surbiton and my quick internet address check had thrown me a curve-ball. What I assumed was the salon address actually turned out to be the Headmasters Head Office and whilst an obliging member of staff was kindly finding out where I was actually supposed to be, I had a chance for a quick look around the immediate area. Which was very fortunate because this caught my eye on the other side of the road...
The archway fronts onto Ewell Road and is in the middle of what looks like a lateish-Victorian building. Not that I'm any great judge of these things but the 'established' date of 1840 looks well on the early side for the building to me. The cobbled path beneath the arch winds back to what once must have been a fairly substantial, prosperous and busy dairy yard, if the quality of the archway can be taken as any indicator.

Berrylands itself lies between Surbiton and the A3 and intrigued by such a self-confident and solid  inscription in what seemed to be a fairly insignificant area, I thought I'd do a little digging around to see if I could throw any light on the history of the dairy itself.

I soon found out that most of the area that now makes up Berrylands used to be farm land  and according to to one source there were two farms, Berry Lodge Farm and Berrylands Farm. However according to the Kingston Borough website, there was actually just the one, originally Berry Lodge Farm but which later changed its name to Berrylands, just to confuse everyone! This farm was a significant and ancient building and was even noted in the 1911 edition of A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 3 
The only house in the district covered by the modern Surbiton marked on the maps of the 18th century was Berrylands Farm. It certainly existed in 1736 and is probably much older..
The significance of this farm for both the dairy and the surrounding area is that it seems to have had a large dairy herd pretty much dedicated to supplying the rapidly expanding area of Surbiton. Whether the arrival of the railways also meant that there was the opportunity to send milk into the heart of London as well I couldn't say but I'd be very surprised if the dairy wasn't owned by the farm owner as well. After all if you've a monopoly on a local product I couldn't see why you'd let a middle-man in to 'cream off' some of the profit.

Following up on the dairy theme there's a small snippet in the Livestock Journal of 1922 that would suggest that the milk (and good quality stuff at that) was still flowing freely at that particular time
HOLLY, W. & SONS, BERRYLANDS, SURBITON. Registered herd, Pedigree heavy milkers. Societies milk records, tuberculin tested. Stock bull (Stagenhoe Governor) has won several first prizes, Champion Cup at Reading, also Silver Medal Dairy Show 1920; also numerous prize-winners, including first for best heifer, second in Milking Trials and Silver Medal at London...
There's another entry in the Agricultural Gazette of the same year which remarks on the quality of 'Tolworth Lassie' another of the Holly families prize-winners, as being a 'wealthy type of heifer, remarkably well-grown and showing promise'.

It also seems that the dairy building wasn't the original one, as I suspected. There's a Kingston document regarding the nearby Fishponds Conservation area which is illustrated with a number of maps. This clearly shows that the  dairy building wasn't there in the 1880's but may have been by 1896. It's not too clear to be honest, but what is clear from the old maps is the increased population bought about by the arrival of the railways in the 1840's, which just so happens to be when the dairy was founded.

As time went on the dairy land was supplanted by further building and even a few sporting facilities as the following note in the records of the Surbiton Croquet Club archives of 1911 indicates - "The Hon. Secretary reported ... that Mrs Stevenson had applied for a croquet section of the club to be formed and additional lawns laid down on the land adjoining the club forming part of Berrylands Farm."

Even up to 1939 the Holly family seem to still have been a force in the club as in that year records note that the  "... prizes will be presented by Mrs W Holly (president)." Sadly she died later that year in her 70s and I would imagine that that and the post war building boom might well have been the catalyst for the final break up and sale of the remaining land and whatever remained of the dairy herd itself.

One last little mystery caught my attention, and that was the fairly plain mosaic in the shop front to the left of the arch. I imagine at some point that this could well have been the dairy shop but sad to say I can't be sure because whatever name in the middle was originally, it's been very thoroughly erased by later owners!
(Before I forget - if you find yourselves in Surbiton in need of a new hairstyle try the new Headmasters opposite the station. If I still had any hair worth dressing I'd be there like a flash!)

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Belgrave Square And The 'Ghost Signs Archive' Launch

March 18th saw the launch of a wonderful collaborative archive between Sam 'Ghostsigns' Taylor and the History of Advertising Trust . Basically Sam has been working hard to establish a national photographic database to provide a record of this unique form of advertising and the launch took place in the IPA building in Belgrave Square. Sam very kindly invited those who had contributed to the archive along for the opening and being a sucker for both Ghost Signs and a free glass of wine, Faded London was more than happy to join in with the celebrations.

Never having knowingly visited Belgrave Square, and not being one to miss an opportunity, I took a quick spin around the block in the closing gloom before making my dazzling entrance at the launch party. There were a couple of interesting items as well, not least of all this water trough at the top of Grosvenor Crescent. 
It's part of an edifice that serves as frontage to a building that was originally St George's Hospital prior to its relocation to Tooting. It's now the Lanesborough Hotel and has been scrubbed up a bit.  I found this detailing on an Images of England English Heritage site and am pleased I did as it throws a little more light on the organization responsible for all those granite cattle troughs dotted around the capital
Attached drinking fountain on Knightsbridge fa├žade. Inscribed "MDCCCLX" (1860) on the frieze. Erected by the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle trough Association. Fluted shell basin of carved stone on a rough stone base flanked by stepped plinths surmounted by acanthus leaf consoles carrying a frieze and cornice with scrolled pediment and central finial. One of the earliest drinking fountains erected by the Association, a hospital being seen as an appropriate location. Founded in 1859 The Metropolitan Free Drinking Fountain Association (Cattle Trough added 1867) provided free fresh water to many humans and beasts at a time when ale and spirits were easier to obtain than water and most supplies contaminated. 
There would originally have been cups attached to chains for the ease of drinkers, but these have long since either been removed or broken off.

Continuing around the square and tucked around the back is the Norwegian Embassy building. Either side of the Front door are these two small but interesting friezes showing cherubs engaged in what I assumed at first must be typically Norwegian activities.
A bit of art going on in this one with some painting and sculpture along with what looks like some architectural consultation judging from the stonework lying about the place.
 The other side stays in the country with its rural theme of shepherding, growing crops and taking some time out for a tune on the pan-pipes. There was a plaque explaining some of their history
In 1796 these two coade stone reliefs were affixed to the Danish-Norwegian consulate in Wellclose Square Stepney. In 1968 the reliefs were re-erected on this embassy by courtesy of the Greater London Council
 In know what you're wondering... 'what's coade stone?' Wikipedia has the answer, of course
Coade stone was a ceramic material that has been described as an artificial stone. It was first created by Mrs Eleanor Coade (Elinor Coade, 1733–1821), and sold commercially from 1769 to 1833. 
So it looks as though the date of 1796 puts it right in the middle of the production period and it's not as if there are lots of them about as there are only about 650 known surviving pieces. Apparently lots of decorative designs were sold 'off the shelf'  so there's a good chance that they're generic cherubs and not even been produced with Norway in mind! 

Having exhausted the square I finally arrived at the launch party and was very pleased indeed to make the acquaintance (and the re-acquaintance) of several other bloggers, as well as enjoying the speeches and the presentations. Unfortunately I was so eager to get at the wine and crisps that I left my camera in my coat pocket and only managed to get one shot of the event just as I was leaving.
Quite a cunning one as it happens as I managed to bag Sebastien Ardouin of Painted Signs and Mosaics and Caroline of Caroline's Miscellany in the foreground whilst Sam Roberts'  head is neatly framed in the background, just underneath one of the slides.  The evening was a great success and full details of the launch and the archive itself can be found on it's new searchable website. Well done to Sam for all the hard work he's put in over the last year!

But the evening wasn't yet over. After making my excuses and disappearing silently into the swirling London mist I caught sight of an intriguing coal-hole cover and managed to get a reasonably clear picture. The inscription reads "Luxfer Prisms 46 Hill Street London EC"
Luxfer Prisms were a company better known for their glass cellar lighting panels rather than their coalholes and previous examples I've seen would have had glass inserts instead of holes, which would have been more in line with their core business. Glassian is the place to go to find out more about the company and one interesting comment is the origins of the word LUXFER being  'from the Latin words lux (light) and ferre (to carry)'.

And as the light by then had pretty much gone it was a good time to put the camera away carry myself off home. An enjoyable launch and congratulations to Sam once again on all his hard work.