Mysteries to solve and a home for evacuees

Granny and great-granny. Pictures provided by June Gilbert

CAN anyone shed a light on a mystery school photo and a strange message on a postcard? And also this week, some memories of wartime evacuees!

Reader June Gilbert has written to say how much she enjoys the Peeps page, having been born and bred in Woking. She says she was surprised to see a photo of her granny, Dorothy Alesbury, in a previous edition about evacuees. In that story it mentioned two evacuees her granny had taken in, Stanley Kite and Edward Dorman, both from Fulham.

June has only vague memories of her granny but has a photo of her at her house in Horsell Moor, pictured with June’s great-grandmother.

She says: “My dad’s cousin, who is now 95, told me that the house was always full when she spent time there as a child as an evacuee from London.

“She had to share a small bedroom with my great-granny. The family came from Charlton and many of them spent time at Horsell Moor during the war. At the time the three-bed terraced house had an outside toilet, but no bathroom. I have often wondered where everyone slept and how granny managed to accommodate evacuees as well?

Mystery school photo

“The school photo is an enigma to me,” says June. “It was in my mum and dad’s things, but I have no idea where or when it was taken.” I attended Goldsworth School from 1952-58.”

Going on the pupils’ clothes and hairstyles, it looks to date to around the 1920s. Perhaps readers can add some thoughts?

June collects old postcards and one she has features Guildford High Street – a not uncommon postcard as us collectors know! However, it is the message on the back that is fascinating. Postmarked from Guildford and dated 27 May 1905, It reads: “Water and roll the pitch for the Australians’ match tomorrow.” It was sent to “E Bennett Esq, Unsted Sewage Farm, Shalford, nr Guildford.”

Guildford postcard back

June has done some research and indeed the first match in the Ashes series in 1905 began on 29 May. However, it was played at Trent Bridge in Nottingham! June says: “It doesn’t seem feasible to me that someone from Guildford would be asked to travel to Nottingham to water a cricket pitch.”

Could the message have been a bit of a joke shared between the sender an E. Bennett Esq?

If  you have some memories or old pictures relating to the Woking area, call me, David Rose, on 01483 838960, or drop a line to the News & Mail.

David Rose is a local historian and writer who specialises in what he calls “the history within living memory” of people, places and events in the west Surrey area covering towns such as Woking and Guildford. He collects old photos and memorabilia relating to the area and the subject, and regularly gives illustrated local history talks to groups and societies. For enquiries and bookings please phone or email him at: davidrosemedia@gmail.com

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