Around South Gloucesteshire and Gloucestershire in 500 postcards
INTIMATE messages, greetings or reminders quickly dotted on the back of a postcard may not bear much historical value at first sight.
But to a Thornbury collector, who has been scouring the region for the mementos they are precious windows into our region's past and some of the last relics of our lost heritage.
Bob Griffin, a former mayor, has amassed nearly 500 cards featuring the streets and people of Thornbury, Chipping Sodbury, Berkeley and Dursley and his native Bedminster, dating as far back as 1900, all the way up to the First World War.
The retired senior operating officer for the Concorde project, who controlled the iconic jet's maiden flight, was bitten by the collecting bug after his grandfather William Short, who fought in the Great War with the 12th Battalion of Gloucester, bequeathed him his small assortment of postcards in 1982.
From then the father-of-three began searching for notes written at the back of pictures of Bedminster and Bristol before turning his focus to Thornbury and the surrounding villages and towns of South Gloucestershire and Gloucestershire.
“You never know what you will find," the 74-year-old told the Gazette. "It’s like pulling hens' teeth because of their rarity. But sometimes you are at a fair and you see something and you think Oh my God.”
“I love to drive around to see if the houses on the postcards are still there.
“It’s given me a great interest in the area and it breeds more interest. There is a lot of history here and there’s an awful lot to find.”
His albums are filled with stunning images of early 20th century Chipping Sodbury, Wotton-Under-Edge, Berkeley, Thornbury Castle, views of the Severn and even Stone, Almondsbury and Alveston’s long gone post offices.
Almost all of them bear cancellations from these very same post offices.
This time-consuming hobby has allowed him to trace the lives of notorious local figures such as the daughter of Thomas Dale, the very first president of what would become Thornbury in Bloom, Catherine Dale, or Dr David Prowse, whose son Roger would take over the family practice.
Aside from the historic photographs at the back of the postcards, the correspondence captures and offers a fascinating insight into locals daily lives.
“Most of the cards are written by women to their friends or family living really close,” said Mr Griffin. “Before WWI there was no telephone so people would write to one another. Some people just say, I’m coming on Thursday. One of them is from a young girl writing to her aunt wishing for many happy returns. These are very personal moments.”
His latest acquisition, unearthed at a fair, is an intriguing group snap from 1907 of Rockhampton’s Ladies Hockey Team.
Anyone who may know who the members of the team were or has information about the picture, they are asked to contact Bob Griffin at email@example.com
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