Farming + Rural Life | 1940 | Silent | Colour
The village of Shere in Surrey 1940's
The village of Shere in Surrey. Excellent images of early post war life. Idyllic view of village life with blacksmith, village shop, church life, baker, horse drawn farming machines in use, basket making, village school, village stream and pub, cricket on the green. The film can be dated to around 1946 since Rosemary Bryant can be seen aged about 4 and she was born between 1941 and 1943. Also the school still has its anti blast tape on the upper windows, a remnant of wartime. I think the film was shot between mid June (black current picking) and late July (children still at school).
Slightly out of focus long shot of St Martha’s hill and chapel panning left toward Albury viewed from Newlands Corner on the North Downs. Bus travels down hill from Newlands Corner towards Shere. Signpost by the Duke of Northumberland’s Model Farm and Silent Pool with its legend of damsels in distress showing junction of the A248 to Albury and Guildford with the A25 West to Newlands Corner, Clandon, Merrow and Guildford and East to Shere and Dorking. This was in the days before the dual carriageway which removed this sign and before the Shere bypass. The A25 was the major East West artery South of London and gave its name to the M25. The film gives a good indication of the density of off peak traffic at the time. A route 425 (Guildford to Dorking route via Shalford, Chilworth and Albury) London Transport Country bus (type T reg CLE 202 - date 1935) comes down Upper Street passing Bill Weller’s sweet shop by the railings and opposite Tommy Walker’s garage as viewed from the wooden foot bridge linking Sir Jocelyn Bray’s manor house with its kitchen garden. The other bus route (448) through Shere was between Peaslake and Guildford via Merrow. This route was shared with the plum coloured Tillingbourne Valley Bus Services known as ‘the tilly’. The other bus service was between Holmbury St. Mary and Guildford operated by Brown Motor Services known as ‘the brady’ which followed the 425 route from Abinger Hammer through Shere. Another shot of bus continuing along Gomshall Lane (pronounced Gumpshal) past Lloyds Bank toward Dorking with policeman standing on junction with Middle Street which connected the other main streets; (an artificial scene) he waves on traffic coming from the opposite direction. Bus passes Lloyds Bank and pulls up at bus stop outside the village hall and several people get on. The last passenger looks like Bob Renshaw. The Oak Cottage tea rooms sign can be seen on the gable end. Policeman again directing the traffic. Jack Grover’s delivery van comes along Gomshall Lane turns left into Middle Street past Forrest Stores shop with offices above, the major village grocery shop, next door to which was a large gated entrance to a warehouse and distribution centre for the several Forrest Stores in neighbouring villages. The van continues down Middle Street past the disused Shere and Albury Volunteer Fire Service fire station with the alarm bell tower and past the village pound formerly used to hold stray livestock next door. It then crosses the village bridge, past the junction to Lower Street and into The Square. In the foreground is the remaining one (pollarded for safety) of two huge old elm trees which dominated the square. The van pulls up outside the green grocery and fish shop in the village square. The fish was sent by rail from Grimsby several times a week to Gomshall Railway Station (British Rail Southern Region) and then collected by van and delivered to the shop. Jack Grover, the best known person in the village wearing an apron and a tie for the occasion, comes out of shop called E.Grover and opens the back of the delivery van and with the help of driver they carry a wooden box of fish into shop. A lid would have normally have been fitted. Mrs. Williams and then Mrs. Sherlock from Church Cottages, the wife of Charlie the bricklayer and well known character, are shown the fish. Close-up shot of Mrs. Williams basket which holds some rhubarb.
Older lady wearing black, as was common for old women, probably the Church Warden, walking through lych-gate up to parish church of St. James with world war one memorial to the right hand side. Sir Paget Bowman was the rector at this time. He lived in the large rectory beyond the end of Lower Street and uniquely rode around the village in a pony and trap.
Man mowing around the graves with a hand mower, woman walks past him and unlocks the porch of the large West door of the church and enters. This was the normal entry door. It was in later years that the smaller South door became the normal access, presumably to reduce heat loss.
Lloyds bank which owed its existence to Gomshall Tannery, by far the largest employer for several miles, handling its business and cash for weekly wages. A woman, probably Mrs. Suiter who was the caretaker and lived in the attached gable next door on the left, wearing an apron is seen sweeping pavement in front. Her garden eventually became the bank car park. Then man with a horse leads it away along Middle Street, the central artery of the village, from Les Storey’s the local blacksmith/farrier who is wearing a leather apron and originated from Alnwick and had an almost incomprehensible accent, not helped by the pipe, usually unlit, which hung from the corner of his mouth. Les could normally be seen behind the lower of the large stable doors leaning with his arms folded and would chat to all the passers by. The building nearer is the gents hairdressers owned by Phil Summers and his son Tony and opposite was Miles the butcher’s shop. Phil was a smoker and used to have a cigarette in the corner of his mouth as he worked. Waiting customers would watch as the ash grew longer and longer expecting it to fall on the customers head, but it never did. Man gets on his horse outside the White Horse which faces The Square and was then a Watney Combe & Reid pub. The cream coloured building to the right is the Lavender Lady tea room which was the recipient of the very infrequent ice cream delivery which caused huge queues. He rides up toward the Prince of Wales on the corner, a Young & Co of Wandsworth pub, up Shere Lane which passed Dale’s newsagents and The Maltings tea rooms to the crossroads with Pathfields and the Spinning Walk where Dr Stent, who looked and dressed like Winston Churchill, lived and held his surgery. The road then became Shere Hill (though nowadays officially called Sandy Lane), a beautiful road in the autumn with the sun filtering through the turning beech leaves whose trees completely covered the road leading south to Shere Heath, where there were several larger houses and to Ewhurst beyond. A typical lorry passes the rider.
Stan Longhurst the builder, in his workshop in Lower Street planing piece of wood with a boxwood jack plane. The workshop was until 1932 the premises of Fred Hooker the village wheelwright who would make and mend carts behind the large double doors of this workshop. Stan Longhurst lived on the premises with the living area behind and the bedrooms above the workshop. Mr Vaughn the baker, wearing a white hat and apron, kneading bread in his bakers shop which was the front room of this house, now Vaughns next door to Sanders the grocers in The Square opposite Grover’s shop. Vaughns closed soon after and was replaced by van deliveries by Fred Rapley who also had the Phil Summers habit and carried his large basket of bread below his cigarette so customers always looked for a grey dusting on the bread. Stan Longhurst demonstrates the blacksmith’s forge knocking piece of iron into shape. The bellows in the background was of elm almost 2m long by 1m wide in normal bellows shape with leather sides. The handle end was a cow horn. This half timbered forge with an earth floor became a workshop in the late 1800s and is now again a house. This was part of the wheelwrights business next door and the forge was used to heat the iron tyres prior to fitting to the wooden wheels. The steel ring on which the tyres were applied to the wheel can be seen in the front garden of what was the workshop, now a house.
Children picking fruit from a black currant bush in the school garden, others in background hoeing with Gomshall Lane and houses next door to the police station in the background. Horse being used to harrow field. This is probably the small field behind the church where the Vachery and Gravel Pits footpaths cross. Cows in the field and geese and a turkey in the farmyard. This is probably Mr Haymer’s farm in Combe Lane, the road to Clandon. Men collecting hay in the field and putting on hay cart with Fordson tractor. Note the iron wheels and tyres on the front. Men stand on top of hayrick with their pitch forks whilst hay is dropped on top by elevator. The men are wearing overalls, caps and some have scarves around their necks. Close-up of Harold Sherlock who lived at Pathfields. Shots of fields with Fordson tractor pulling large amount of hay on cart. People working in watercress beds fed by one of the springs feeding the River Tillingbourne, known as the stream, picking Coe’s watercress alongside the A25 on the right of the picture. This is at Abinger Hammer looking west towards the isolated houses at what was known locally as Frog Island. Cress put into basket crates and loaded onto lorry flatbed.
Picturesque view of village with church spire and village bridge looking upstream viewed from Lower Street, and man sitting under one of the six weeping willow trees planted to commemorate the coronation of King George V weaving a basket. (an artificial scene) Shots of some ducks sitting on the brook side path by Fred Weller‘s, the coal merchants riverside wall in shade. This is the wall in the background of the previous shot. The path led to the scout hut.
Lovely shots of interior of primary school, with children all sitting and writing in their exercise books. Note the twin seat desks with bench seats and backs and sloping desk tops and that pencils are used and not ink though the desks were fitted with ink wells. One little boy stops and counts on his fingers.
Back to the basket weaver sitting under tree, smoking a cigarette and waiting to sell his goods.
Children run out of main school building onto Gomshall Lane, with just one car going past. Note the lane discipline. Phone box can be seen next to the bus shelter with the telephone exchange behind. Between the telephone exchange and Mrs. Suiters garden was a track which led to Weller’s coal yard, now a block of flats.
Young girl and boy go past the curved wall of the Infants building of the school. Note the wartime anti blast tape on the upper windows. (Off camera to the left was the public swimming pool.) Miss Markham and Miss Symonds, the teachers, were lovely old ladies. Mr. Dobbin the headmaster’s house built of local sandstone in the background. Children go back home for their tea. One is Doreen Killick in her best frock and the other probably Peter Sherlock son of Charlie. They run through the churchyard following the footpath past the East end of the church and then, curiously, across the grass and through the gate by the south church door onto the road toward Church Cottages on an unmade and unnamed road where they lived. Note the pair of huge elm trees in the background. Shot of Mrs. Williams returning to the back of her end of terrace cottage in Pathfields carrying her basket of rhubarb. Her husband worked at the vulcanised fibre factory in Shalford. Children pass an old man as he leaves the village bridge with views of the stream and Lower Street. Note the bridge coping of oak with steel straps making it difficult to sit on the bridge. Mrs. Bryant at home in Pathfields having a meal and sitting at the dining table with her husband and children Ross, Brenda and Rosemary. The 2 young girls have bows in their hair. Mrs. Bryant is wearing an apron. They all drink tea. Can spot a jar of marmite sitting on the tea table.
Idyllic downstream shot of village bridge and Lower Street with the stream, which flows west down the valley to meet the River Wey near Guildford, and Jack Grover’s ducks on it. They roosted in the garden to his house and shop which backed onto the stream. Men sitting in the White Horse smoking and drinking pints, looks like they're playing dominoes though they also played cribbage. Note the inglenook and high level mantelpiece in the background. The close-up looks like Roland Sherlock, father of Harold seen earlier and of Charlie. He lived in Lower Street and kept a pig in the sty in his back garden. His dog a Labrador cross used to sleep in the middle of the road. Local boys would often borrow him to go rabbiting. They would sell the rabbits to Jack Grover, share the cash and their mothers may well have gone and bought those same rabbits to feed them.
Mr. and Mrs Bryant in their back garden, weeding etc..
Young girls on the recreation ground, known as ‘the rec’, behind the village hall on swings, other children playing with cricketers, sight screen and pavilion far left in background. Young boy on see saw with camera filming him from the other end. Close-up of cricket being played (badly) on the recreation ground, which also had a football pitch, bowling green and tennis courts, with four young boys watching from side lying on their fronts with bottle of pop and then applauding a catch. Other children play a game of rounders in evening sunlight by war memorial in front of the church. Note the boys short trousers, grey being the universal colour, often held up by braces. They would normally have played on the much larger sandy area on the south side of the church seen earlier.
Route 425 bus leaves bus stop and from its rear window is Ernie Read’s butchers shop opposite the school and the half timbered Oak Cottage tea rooms next door, passes a lorry and car, travelling the long straight leafy Gomshall Lane toward Gomshall and Dorking. Note the pea shingle road surface in shades of brown through yellow to white.
Slightly out of focus long shot of the Surrey Downs panning left.
A greenline London Transport bus (reg CLE 202 - date 1935) comes down narrow country road, past cross roads which show it is on A25 and going towards Shere and Dorking. Another shot of bus going through narrow village road (Shere) with policeman standing on corner; he waves on traffic coming from the opposite direction. Bus pulls up at a bus stop in the village and several people get on. Policeman again directing the traffic. A delivery van comes along road and pulls up outside grocery shop in the village. Man wearing an apron comes out of shop called E.Grover and opens back of delivery van and with the help of driver they carry a box of fish into shop. Two women customers are shown the fish, then close up shot of customer's basket which holds some rhubarb.
Older lady walking through lych-gate into church with world war one memorial to the right hand side.
Man mowing around the graves, woman walks past him and into the main door of the church.
Lloyds bank in the village, woman wearing an apron is seen sweeping pavement in front. Then man with a horse leads it away from the local blacksmith who is wearing a leather apron. Very quiet road in front, one van goes past and man gets on his horse. Lovely looking Tudor or earlier buildings in the village.
Man in workshop planing piece of wood, baker, wearing a white hat and apron, kneading bread, blacksmith in forge knocking piece of metal into shape.
Children working In farm, some picking fruit from bush, others in background hoeing. Horse being used in field dragging a wooden scratcher in the field. Cows in the field and geese and a turkey in the farmyard. Men collecting hay in the field and putting on mechanized cart with tractor. Men stand on top of pile of hay with their pitch forks whilst hay is dropped on top by machine. The men are wearing overalls, caps and some have scarves around their necks. Shots of fields with tractor pulling large amount of hay on cart. People working in fields bent over and picking what looks like watercress. Put into basket crates and loaded onto van.
Picturesque view of village with church, and man sitting under large tree weaving a basket. Shots of some ducks sitting by wall in shade.
Lovely shots of interior of primary school, with children all sitting and writing in their books. One little boy stops and counts on his fingers.
Back to the basket weaver sitting under tree, smoking a cigarette and waiting to sell his goods.
Children run out of school building, with road in front with just one car going past.
Young girl and boy go through the village back home for their tea, They run through the churchyard out through the gate onto the road. Shot of house with woman entering carrying a basket. Children pass an old man as they go through another gate.
At home having a meal and sitting at the dining table with mother, father and younger sister. The 2 young girls have got bows in their hair. Mum is wearing an apron
They all drink tea, can spot a jar of marmite sitting on the tea table.
Idyllic shot of village with pond and ducks on it. Men sitting in pub, smoking and drinking pints, looks like they're playing dominoes.
Couple in their back garden, weeding etc…
Young girls at park on swings, other children in background. Young boy on see saw with camera filming him from the other end. Cricket on the village green with four young boys watching from side lying on their fronts holding bottle of pop and then applauding. Other children play a game of rounders in evening sunlight by the church
Bus leaves bus stop and view of village from it's rear window, passes a few cars.
A correspondent says this can be dated to 1953 since the "T" and "Q" single deck buses are shown working on route 425 rather than a Greenline route - the older vehicles were demoted to ordinary routes when London Transport acquired a fleet of new Greenline coaches (RF class) in 1952. Most of the "T"s and "Q"s were withdrawn permanently in 1953/54 with the very last gone by about May 1955
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