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Wish you were here...

When you think postcard you think holidays, and whether it’s summer, winter or any other time of the year, the word conjures up letting people know where you are, that you’re enjoying yourself, what the food’s like, what the weather’s like, and probably using the immortal line that suggests you’re missing them!

These days, the postcard is associated with a bygone era, and with social media, texts, WhatsApp, Instagram and the like, today you can be in touch instantly with your loved ones - and all the time - from almost anywhere around the world.

However, from 1902 to 1914 postcards were social media! Mail was reliably delivered the next day, with two deliveries and multiple post-box collections per day, meaning someone in the UK could send a card to a family member to let them know they’d be on the 5pm train tomorrow, and have a high level of confidence that the recipient would be there to meet them!

On top of that, people collected postcards, so the demand was high and many, many places sold them. This Edwardian period in the UK was known as the "Golden Era of Postcards" when sales were at their peak.

A typical postcard from that time would include a picture of a familiar place, either to the sender, the recipient, or possibly both, and even Stanwell Moor had its own set of 4 cards that were sold in the local Post Offices. This is a quick blog to share these cards for your enjoyment.

The set of 4 are all from the same collection and were most probably taken on the same date. They’re sepia toned – a brown and white, rather than black and white colouring - and the examples I own have a matt finish.

My copies are postmarked between 1922 and 1926, so the scenes they capture were certainly taken no later than 1920, but could be earlier, and considering the sequence, it seems likely the photographer walked the banks of the Colne somewhere between points "A" and "B" on the map below.

OS 1912 Map showing section of River Colne © Ordnance Survey

Here's the first postcard, taken on The River...

The river in question is the Colne, and this view shows the house, Silverbeck, with the water calmly flowing by. It looks to have been taken from the footpath ("F.P.") at point "A" on the map. It's certainly a very tranquil and serene picture, and the canoe on the bank just sets it off.

Silverbeck, 2013 © Author's Collection

I've been working on a future item dedicated to Silverbeck and its owners over the years, and I can tell you that when the image in the postcard was taken a lady called Jessie Renny was probably living there, but I'll share more about who she was when that gets released in the months ahead.

The next postcard is still on The River...

Initially I was not certain where this was taken from, but based on an older ex-resident of the Moor, and a star witness, I now believe this was also taken from around point" A" on the map. This time the camera is facing down towards the sluice and weir, and you can see the footpath ahead. The far end of the pergola at Silverbeck is just visible on the left, and the bird table or sun-dial is also a bit of a give-away.

The chimneys in the background on the left are probably those of Riverside, or as it's know today, The Croft, and the telegraph pole behind and to the left of the building is probably the same one you can see in the Frith picture of the Post Office from the 1950's.

Close-up of chimneys at The Croft, 2013 © Author's Collection

The above shot from 2013 shows the tight grouping of the chimneys at The Croft.

Now for the third of the postcards....

I really don't have a clue about where this one was taken! Using the name assigned by the publisher, "The Brook", I could hazard a guess it's taken on the offshoot from the Colne that runs almost parallel to the main river on the map extract, but I really have no idea, so all comments or ideas gratefully received.

This last image is possibly the most recognisable of any pictures of our village, the Upper Mill on Horton Road.

For this postcard I'll include the reverse side, which adds some more to the story about the Mill and the origin of the postcards themselves.

I'm sure everyone can read the handwriting, but since some of it's upside down, for the record I've transcribed it as follows...

Postmarked Staines, 25-April 1924 at 10am...

Holme Lodge, Stanwell Moor, Nr Staines

My Dear Mrs Dibbens,

I am so sorry I could not get you an Easter Card in time, thank you ever so much for mine. I thought you would like a view of the house where I am working, it used to be called the Old Mill House but it has been changed now. I have marked the nursery window with a (sic) X. Love to all hoping you are all well, with love, Dorothy XXXXXX

So we know Dorothy worked at the Nursery in Holme Lodge, and that it used to be called The Old Mill House, a name it has reverted to since. We also know where the Nursery was in the house as she kindly drew an "X" on the postcard (it's just visible on the right of the image, where the overhanging tree meets the house), and from the text and the postmark, we know it was Easter time in 1924 when she sent it.

While it required a bit more research, I can also tell you that the address for Mrs Dibbens' belonged to Sam Marsh and his family. For anyone that works with horses they may know of "Sam Marsh from Scamperdale": there's a horse-bit named after him and he wrote a few books on the upkeep of horses, but I digress....

If you look at the Mill in the postcard, all of the ground windows and the entrance are boarded up, as are some of the higher windows, and several of those not covered look to have smashed panes. The Mill suffered a major fire in early September 1905, and it's possible the picture was taken prior to it being repaired.

There also appears to be someone standing in between the Mill and Holme Lodge, but who, we'll never know!

From the back of the card you can also see the publishers details:

"W.H.A.Series. E.Corder, Post Office, Stanwell".

The initials W.H.A. refer to William Henry Applebee, a Photographer and Stationer that happened to live in nearby Ashford (Middlesex), although they published a large number of postcards in and around Surrey & Middlesex from about 1912 to 1928. Applebee would publish the cards based on orders from local shops and Post Offices, so in the case of the Stanwell Moor set, it looks like the proprietor of the Stanwell Post Office, E. Corder commissioned them,

The Post Office were very protective of postcards at one stage and early versions didn't allow any writing or message on the back, other than the address. They were fairly strict and anyone not following the rules may have found that their postcard never made it to the addressee! However, over time they realised there was more money to be made by encouraging postcards, and the back was amended to include a message section. You can see the "Post Office Regulation" statement on the card of the Mill.

In any event, that general effort to drive more sales was probably why the Post Office produced this set, and it's just possible they did so because they had an office on Stanwell Moor.

(At the time of publication Stanwell Moor would've been seen very much as a part of Stanwell, and although it had its own identity, it wasn't "cast away" until the village was bisected with the construction of what was called "Stanwell New Road" in 1949. Bedfont Court was similarly "trimmed" from Stanwell Moor about 30 years later with the construction of Airport Way leading to the M25.)

There's another postcard I've come across and when advertised, was said to be from 1909. As I wasn't able to buy it, I never managed to see the back to confirm anything, so for the sake of argument and so I can include it here, let's call it a postcard!

Now we're firmly back in the "where was this taken from?" box!

There are a few clues, such as the houses in the background, the ditch and metal fence on the left, which is of a style used around the open farmland on the "even numbered" side of Hithermoor Road, before the new houses were built in the mid-60's. However, consider that 1909 pre-dates Southern Cottages and Cheltenham Villas by over a decade, and the houses in this image may be Cottages that have long gone! Even the ditch may have been culverted, as have so many in the village, so the only part that has probably not changed is the route of the road, Any ideas?

And finally, another postcard depicting the Upper Mill. This was found in the Mills Archive which is an excellent charity based in the UK and dedicated to the protection and preservation of the records of milling history.

Upper Mill, Stanwell Moor © The Mills Archive

Based on the postmark, the Mills Archive suggest this must be earlier than 1941. Judging by the ivy in this picture, it's certainly several years after the original postcard above.

Both these last two examples are what's called "Real Photo" Postcards, and may have been unique pictures taken by individuals using a Kodak camera that was sold for that very purpose. The titles were scratched onto the negative by hand so it would show up on the final print.

So there you have it: there was a time when our village had its own postcards, and people actually sent them to friends and relatives! Who knew?

I hope this has been of interest, and please do leave any suggestions for the unknown locations, or anything else you wish to share, in the comments below. Do you have any copies of these postcards, or any pictures in a drawer from your ancestors? Let's get the conversation going...

November 2022

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It is interesting that there is a boat at Silverbeck, looking at the river now you wouldn’t be able get a boat down there now.

People take photos on their phones now but are probably quickly delete. It does make you wonder if we need to take some pictures and upload them as the Moor is now.

I remember the Hope pub was great when I first came to visit the village in the late 80’s with all the memorabilia. It is sad to see how neglected it has become.

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