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Vintage Pictures With A Story To Tell, And Some Questions Too!

Published on: 7 Apr, 2013
Updated on: 7 Apr, 2013

By David Rose

Featured here are some lovely vintage photos, most of which have been sent to me recently. They all have a story to tell – but, as always, they prompt several questions. So perhaps our readers can help?

The double wedding that took place in Guildford in 1906.

The double wedding that took place in Guildford in 1906.

First up is a double wedding photo in which two brothers married two sisters! Sent to me by Steve Grove of Guidford, he writes: “I believe the two sisters are Rose and Mabel Blake.

“Rose married Harold John Moore and Mabel married George Henry Moore and the date is sometime between July and September 1906. They married in Guildford.

“I believe the second woman from the left in the back row (next to the woman with the black hat) is possibly my paternal grandmother Edith Ethel Blake (born in 1891, she married Alfred Grove in 1912).

“The sign in the top left hand corner states ‘1/4d’ and underneath says something like ‘for value’.  The photo was given to me by my father who could only remember that it was two sisters marrying two brothers, but that they were ‘family’.  This is as much as I know.

“I would be very pleased to learn any information about the people in the photo, the exact date and where the photo might have been taken.”

Perhaps anyone who subscribes to Ancestry or Find My Past might be able to tap these names into the search engines to see if anything comes up and whether marriage certificates exist?

Home Guards pictured at what looks like Guildford City FC's Joseph's Road ground. Note what appears to be men in motorcycle riding gear.

Home Guards pictured at what looks like Guildford City FC’s Joseph’s Road ground. Note what appears to be men in motorcycle riding gear.

This photo shows a group of the Home Guard and belongs to John Lomas of Guildford. His father, Jack Lomas, is pictured seventh from right , second row down from the top . He is indicated by a small white arrow.

His father worked for the engineering machine tool firm Drummonds Bros, that had it factory at Broadstreet (Rydes Hill), Guildford. Some are the men are believed to have been in a works’ platoon from the factory.

John writes: “I don’t know for certain, but I often wonder whether they used the shooting range at Pitch Place, as this was quite near where we lived in Byrefield Road., Stoughton.”

From other information I have heard, I do think Home Guard platoons from the north part of Guildford may well have used that rifle range – probably going for a well-earned pint afterwards in the Ship pub, next door!

This photo looks like it was taken at Guildford City FC’s Joseph’s Road ground. I have a number of Guildford Home Guard photos, taken at various locations, but this is the first I have seen that was taken at the football ground, if this is where it is. Perhaps a reader can confirm the location?

Another location that was used for Home Guard photos during World War II was in front of the then unfinished Guildford Cathedral. There is a photo of a group of Home Guards (possibly from Dennis Bros motorworks) taken there that appears in my book Images of Guildford (co-written with Graham Collyer and published by Beedon Books in 1998).

Home Guards from Drummond Bros, pictured in front of the then unfinished Guildford Cathedral.

Home Guards from Drummond Bros, pictured in front of the then unfinished Guildford Cathedral.

Then there is this photo, seen above, that I have had in my collection for some years, taken at exactly the same location, but believed to also show men from Drummond Bros. I emailed a copy of this picture to John Lomas, but he replied saying that he doesn’t think his father is featured. Any suggestions? Does anyone recognise anyone in that photo, or John’s picture?

Guildford mineral water firm Purnell & Co's delivery lorry (note the solid wheel at the back) and Norman Hamshere's Uncle George' on the right. Who's the other chap?

Guildford mineral water firm Purnell & Co’s delivery lorry (note the solid wheel at the back) and Norman Hamshere’s Uncle George on the right. Who’s the other chap?

My good friend Norman Hamshire of Ewhurst, emailed me this photo showing two men posed in front of a Model T Ford delivery lorry, belonging to Guildford mineral water manufacturer Purnell & Co.

With a connection to old bottles, this certainly interests me! Norman says: “My Uncle George was a delivery driver with Purnell. He is pictured on the right with the lorry fully loaded and ready to go on the road.

“The photo must have been taken during the 1930s at Purnell’s Buryfields premises.”

Does anyone recognise the man on the left?

For the record, Edgar Purnell came to Guildford from his native Sussex in 1905 to manage a new branch of the Sussex-based mineral water firm Shelvey & Co. Its Guildford works was first in Onslow Street, on the corner with Bedford Road. The building is now part of the Casino nightclub.

In about 1918, Mr Purnell set up his own business in Bedford Road, in a building that still stands and was, for many years, an auction house.

He appears to have had a business partner by the name of Mr Thompson, (I think), but little is known about him.

When the Guildford brewer and mineral water maker Lascelles, Tickner & Co (Castle Brewery) was taken over by Friary, Holroyd & Healy’s Brewery in 1927, Purnell & Co moved into the Castle Brewery’s works in Bury Street / Portsmouth Road.

It is believed that it remained there until about the outbreak of Word War II, when it transferred to premises in Stoke Road  – next to the railway bridge.

There Purnell’s remained until about 1952. At about this time (or just before) it was bought out by another Sussex firm, Fryco. That premises was later used by dairy firm Unigate. Apartments now stand on the site.

Stoneware ginger beer bottles used by Purnell & Co.

Stoneware ginger beer bottles used by Purnell & Co.

Here are three of Purnell & Co’s stoneware ginger beer bottles. The one on the left dates to about 1918-20.

Note on the other two (from the 1920s and 30s) one is printed with the words “old fashioned ginger beer” and the other “honey sweetened ginger beer”.

A bottle collector friend of mine was told, some years ago, by a daughter of Edgar Purnell that when pubs, shops and other customers sent in orders for new supplies of Purnell’s beverages, quite often the letter or memo contained the line… “please supply your honey-sweetened ginger beer, as it is much nicer than the old-fashioned brew.”

Truth be known, Mr Purnell’s recipe for each of those two brews was (you’ve guessed it) EXACTLY the same!

If you have any comments, please leave a reply in the box below, or send me an email to: Enlarged copies of the pictures can also be sent if you would like to look in detail at the people featured.

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Responses to Vintage Pictures With A Story To Tell, And Some Questions Too!

  1. John Lomas Reply

    April 9, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    The reference for marriage certificates for those 2 couples is:
    Volume No 2a
    Page No 237

    It is only by getting the certs from either the GRO at Southport which can be ordered on line, or by going into the local register office, at Artingrton Ho, 42 Portsmouth Rd.

    It might be that someone there would look up the details for you without printing a copy, but for a family researcher looking for clues there is nothing like having actual copies to hand.

  2. Jenny Hallett Reply

    June 11, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    I too have a copy of the Drummond Home Guard taken outside Guildford Cathedral. My late father – Idwal Edwards (Eddie Edwards) stands 2nd row from front, 4th from the right as you view the photograph.

  3. Dr Roy Purnell Reply

    September 10, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    I have Purnell & Co Olde Fashioned, ginger beer bottle similar to the one pictured. I acquired the bottle in the town of Crediton.
    As you can see the connection im terms of the similarity of names.
    I ‘believe’the name may have some connections with the county of Somerset.

    [David Rose adds: You have one of about eight or nine variations of Purnell & Co’s stoneware ginger beer bottles, used from 1918 up until about 1946. Edgar Purnell who set up a mineral water business came to Guildford from Sussex in about 1905. Not sure if his family originated from elsewhere.]

    • Becky Thorington Reply

      March 15, 2014 at 11:36 am

      I have a Purnell & Co Ltd Olde Fashioned Ginger Beer~Guildford 7″. The bottom part of the stamp mark is warn but otherwise very good condition. Worth anything? Or know more on the history of them?

  4. Trevor Beauchamp Reply

    February 9, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    I have found a glass Purnells bottle does anyone know the history. Could it be a mineral water bottle ? Did purnells close in the 1950’s.

    [David Rose adds: Guildford mineral water manufacturer Purnell & Co, was in business from 1918 to 1952. Its factories were first in Bedford Road, then Bury Street and finally Stoke Road. If you can send me a photo of the bottle I should be able to give you a date of when it was in use.]

  5. David Rose Reply

    March 16, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    In reply to Becky Thorington’s reply – the original story has plenty of detail by me about the history of Guildford soft drinks manufacturer Purnell & Co.

    The bottle Becky has found, if in fairly good condition, is worth around £7 to £10.

  6. Ed Gibbs Reply

    January 24, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    I have just acquired a Purnell and Co’s ginger beer bottle. It’s in excellent condition but unlike the one in the picture it doesn’t have ‘ltd’ printed on it?

    Is it older or younger than the 1930s? Thanks.

    [David Rose: I don’t think the additon of the word ‘ltd’ may help to date the bottle. Depending which type it is and there are about 10 different variations, some from around the same date have the ‘ltd’ and some don’t.

    Many of the bottles were made by Bourne of Denby, and if yours in one of these there may be a stamp on it, about the opposite side to the lettering and towards the base. The stamps contain a two-figure number and this is known to be a date stamp the pottery added. i.e. ’23’ is ‘1923’.

    I have Purnell’s bottle with a date stamp of 1923 WITH the word ‘ltd’ while another I have is from 1931, but WITHOUT ‘ltd’.

    And of course the bottles made in the 1940s, going by the date stamp all have ‘ltd’ on them.

    If your bottle is in an all-white glaze with what is known as a ‘blob top’ that has a thread for a screw stopper and not a crown cap top, it dates from about 1918-20. All examples of these I have seen do not have the word ‘ltd’.

    Fascinating stuff eh? Non bottle collectors reading this will not probably be falling asleep!

    However, if you can email me a picture of the bottle, I may be able to give you some more details, especially if it isn’t a Bourne Deby bottle and does not have a date stamp.

    Email to ]

  7. Martin Paget Reply

    February 3, 2020 at 7:31 pm

    David, Many thanks for the descriptions of Purnell’s ginger beer bottles.

    I am not a collector, but found a bottle in the muddy banks of the river Wey.

    It cleaned up well and i now know that it dates from 1942. A lovely piece of history.

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