Category Archives: heritage

Abingdon 100 Years Ago – March 1924

Indignation was aroused on Wednesday evening when it became known that the large replica of Felix the Cat, which stands at the front entrance of the Kinema, was missing. However, before long, the worst fears were allayed when the effigy of the famous cat was found at the Queen’s Hotel, where some undergraduates had taken him for a drink.

The Board of Governors of the Abingdon Union, at their meeting on Monday, decided to reopen the casual ward attached to the institution. This action has been influenced by the significant increase in expenses that the board has been called upon to pay to The Berks, Bucks, and Oxon Joint Vagrancy Committee. The sum has increased from £16 pounds to £208 in just three years.

A Whist Drive was held in the Hut, Northcourt on Tuesday, in aid of the women’s Institute.

The Abingdon and District staff of the Pearl Assurance Company Limited held their annual tea at the Baptist Hall. The evening started with a musical selection, followed by a talk from a Pearl Assurance Manager. He noted the significance of the day due to the company publishing their annual accounts in London, and locally opening their new offices in Abingdon.

A hen belonging to Mr. T. Drew of Marcham Road laid an egg weighing over four ounces.

On Wednesday, a car, driven by Mr. Bernard Butler of Cowley Road, Oxford, was coming up Ock Street when the steering rod went wrong and locked, causing the car to turn and collide with Miss Blizzard’s shopfront, smashing the glass and woodwork.

Notices by the Thames Conservancy have been posted at Abingdon Bridge and at the lock: ‘Beware! Beneath the water mark at Abingdon Bridge, there are projecting stones that could damage navigation craft.’

There was a good attendance at the second of five lectures during Lent on Sunday afternoon, when the Rev. Dr. A. J. Carlyle (formerly Oxford City Rector) spoke on “Is our civilization going downhill?” These lectures are being held in the Stert Street Cinema.

The Abingdon Licensing Justices decided to refer two licensed houses to the Clerk Compensation Authority, namely, The Steam Plough, Broad Street (owners, Messrs. Morland and Co., brewers, Abingdon; licensee, Mrs. Ellen Doman, widow) and The Fox and Hounds, Vineyard, a beerhouse (owners, Halls Brewery, Oxford; licensee, Mr. Leonard Tame, a painter). Supt. W. Foster’s statement revealed the fact that the population was 7,167, and there were 46 licensed houses, which gave one to every 155 inhabitants. Within 150 yards of The Steam Plough there were seven fully licensed houses, and within a quarter-mile radius of The Fox and Hounds there were nine fully licensed houses, one beerhouse, one grocer’s license, and one refreshment house license.

At the Borough Police Court on Tuesday, Percival Yates, of 17, Stert Street, Abingdon, was summoned for non-maintenance of his wife, Catherine Yates, of The Ark, Manor Road, Wantage. The case took some considerable time, and eventually the Bench made an order for the defendant to pay his wife 15s. per week and the Court costs of 9s. 6d.

St Nicolas church is desirous of completing their new hall, situated in the Abbey, near the Market Place, and a meeting was held on Tuesday night with the object of obtaining support by inaugurating a lightning campaign to raise funds. The object is to obtain the sum of £1,600 in 16 months. The campaign was opened at the meeting by Archdeacon Shaw, and the work is to be started when £800 has been obtained. The campaign received strong support from Abingdon churchgoers, resulting in a considerable sum being collected and promised.

The death occurred on Saturday morning from double pneumonia after a very short illness of Mr. William Henry Randall, of Swinbourne Road. Deceased was one of the principal builders in the town, and by his amiability had won a large circle of friends. The funeral took place in the Cemetery on Wednesday afternoon and was attended by a considerable number of friends.

Thank you for the news extracts and adverts from theOxford Chronicle and Reading Gazette in the British Newspaper Archive. Also, thanks to the North Berks Herald microfilm in Abingdon Library for a couple of adverts and a few stories. Felix came from The Picturegoer in July 1924. An egg weighing over four ounces came from the Grimsby Daily Telegraph. I could not find a picture of the Abingdon egg.

P.S. Just to add that I will be taking a week off from the blog and will be back around the 8th April 2024.

Which pub in Abingdon has gravestones in its garden and why?

In the first edition of the Trinity Triangle magazine, in September 1982, I found the following:

Which pub in Abingdon has gravestones in its garden and why?

ANSWER (October 1982)
Our oldest member at Trinity – Miss Evelyn Rant – answered the Adult Puzzler correctly. She said, ‘The White Horse at the corner of Spring Road was once a burial ground.’

I did visit the White Horse and got pictures of some of the stones in the rock garden, but I was not sure any were from gravestones.

The staff at the pub knew nothing about the graveyard. However, Jackie Smith, the town archivist, has access to a map that shows Ock Street with the Air Balloon pub, a yard, a building, and then a Quaker burial ground. That Quaker burial ground starts near Reeves fish and chip shop.

Arthur Preston’s book, St Nicholas Abingdon and other papers (p. 98), refers to ‘the dissenters’ graveyard at the west end of Ock Street – known as the Quakers’ burial ground.’

Abingdon 100 Years Ago – February 1924


Premier’s Daughter Recuperating
Miss Sheila MacDonald, the youngest daughter of Ramsey MacDonald, the Prime Minister, is recovering from a severe illness at Wick Hall near Abingdon. She is staying with Mr. William Docker Drysdale, a Berkshire magistrate. Despite differing political opinions, the families are close. Sheila is 13 years old.

Abingdon Division Polling Place
Mr. E. A. Lessing, the Member for the Abingdon Division, has taken action to address the lack of polling facilities in the widely-scattered division. He has reached out to the chairmen of all parish councils and meetings, highlighting provisions in the Act of Parliament and offering support to improve voting facilities.

Court Hearings

Motor Car Obstruction
In the Borough Police Court, Robert Stanley Godwin was summoned for obstruction after leaving his motor car in Stert Street, Abingdon, on the 12th of the month. A police constable testified that the car remained parked in the narrow street for an extended period, causing an obstruction to the main entrance of the town. Despite not appearing in court, Godwin acknowledged the offense in a letter. As a result, a fine of 10 shillings was imposed.

Cigarette Machine Theft
In the Borough Police Court, Albert William Goodenough, an 18-year-old labourer from Abingdon, was charged with stealing cigarettes from an automatic machine owned by Joseph E. Gibbens, a tobacconist in Abingdon. The prosecutor had noticed tampering with the machine, including the insertion of foreign coins and farthings instead of sixpences. Upon catching Goodenough in the act, he said, “I am sorry. I put a dud in. I did not mean to.” The accused’s grandfather vouched for his good character, stating he was employed at 21s. per week. Despite complaints about such machines being outside shops and a great temptation, Goodenough was bound over for 12 months, with his grandfather as surety.

Order for Eviction
At the County Bench, on Monday, Harold E. Alden, of Oxford, farmer, and butcher, applied for an order of eviction against Isaac Buckingham, the occupier of a farm cottage at Fyfield, belonging to the complainant. The Bench made an order for eviction within 28 days.

Social Events in Abingdon

Dance for Charity
A dance was held in the Council Chamber on Saturday evening in aid of the Home for Blind Babies. The music was supplied by Mr. F. B. Rawlinson’s band.

Literary and Debating Society
In connection with this society, a lecture was given at the Roysse Rooms on Monday evening by the Mayor of Abingdon (Mr. C. Rippon) on “How a modern newspaper is produced.”

Annual Social by Liberal Association
The Abingdon District Liberal Association held their annual social in the Corn Exchange. Mr. A. E. Lessing, M.P., was present and received an enthusiastic reception.

Conservative Social Gathering
A large number of members and friends attended the annual social meeting of the Abingdon and District Conservative Association. The event took place on Wednesday last in the Abingdon Corn Exchange, featuring a lively programme and an address on the political situation by Major Glyn, the Conservative candidate for the division.

Slate Entertainment
The Wesleyan Trinity Slate Club hosted a successful social evening, with membership nearing 150. They also initiated a holiday fund with weekly contributions. The “Graham Concert Party” provided enjoyable musical entertainment, with gratitude expressed by Rev. N. E. Dando, the Wesleyan minister.

Sunday School Tea
Congregational Sunday school scholars had a delightful tea and entertainment event. Mr. L. A. King entertained the children with magic tricks, and musical performances by various individuals were well-received. Buns, and oranges were distributed.

Abingdon Citizen’s Party
The Abingdon Corn Exchange on Friday evening was filled with happy young people at a children’s party given by Mr. A. E. Lessing, Liberal M.P. for the Division.


Deaths in Abingdon
During the month of January, the number of deaths in Abingdon borough was eleven. The ages ranged from 26 to 89 years.

Exam Success
Mr. Reginald Stacey, a resident of Abingdon, achieved success in the December examinations of the London Association of Accountants, passing the final examination. His educational journey began at the Abingdon Charity School, where he earned a scholarship at Roysse School. Subsequently, he gained valuable experience as a clerk at Messrs. Challenor and Son, solicitors in Abingdon, under the guidance of Mr. John Cowburn, an experienced Poor Law Clerk. In recent years, Mr. Stacey has been employed in the Taxation Department at the Oxfordshire County Hall in Oxford.


The Royal British Legion
During the annual meeting of the Berkshire County Council of the British Legion, Major-General Sir W. de S. Cayley reported significant progress in the county, with a total of 29 branches. New branches were established in various locations, including Burghfield, Maidenhead, Thiele, Twyford, and Lower Whitley. The Didcot branch, previously inactive, was successfully reorganized and was now thriving. However, branches in Abingdon, Woodley, and Pangbourne were at risk of disappearing. Efforts were particularly focused on saving the Abingdon branch, with the Council making vigorous attempts that could lead to success.

Philanthropic Institution Report
The annual report of the Abingdon Philanthropic Institution had increased giving to the “meritorious poor” in the borough.

League of Nations Union Meeting
A meeting of the Abingdon local group of the League of Nations Union were addressed by Professor Gilbert Murray who focused on the League’s efforts to prevent war and protect small nations.


Football Match Report: Wantage vs. Pavlova
Wantage Town faced Pavlova in the Reading and District League, Division 1, at Westfields, Abingdon. Despite a valiant effort, Wantage Town suffered defeat with a final score of Pavlova 3, Wantage 2.

Disciplinary actions
Reports emerged of disciplinary actions in various matches: C. Harris was censured for misconduct in a Stevenson vs. Drayton match, while R. Wootton received a 14-day suspension for misbehaviour in a match between Brightwell and Aston at Aston Tirrold. Furthermore, J. Erricker of Berks’ Mental Hospital was suspended indefinitely for kicking and striking a player after being ordered off the field in a match against Moreton in the North Berks League.

Local Billiards Match
The Abingdon Young Social Club hosted a billiards match against Pavlova, and won all four matches, and so kept up the club’s reputation of producing talent in the sport.

Thank you for the news extracts and adverts from the Reading Standard, Reading Observer and Oxford Chronicle and Reading Gazette in the British Newspaper Archive. Also, thanks to the North Berks Herald microfilm in Abingdon Library for the adverts.
Other pictures were:
Abbey Gateway in Sheffield Daily Telegraph – Tuesday 19 February 1924
Premier’s daughter in Leeds Mercury – Thursday 14 February 1924
Anglo Saxon Jewellery from Abingdon in the Illustrated London News – Saturday 16 February 1924

Spot the difference

Abingdon High Street, from a postcard, dated Oct 9 – 1905. The message says ‘Dear Hilda, I hope you will like this one fore your collection this street is full up with the fair this morning. With much love from Louis.’ It shows Cheapside House above what is now Howden Insurance (corrected).

Abingdon High Street 2024. Can you spot any differences?

P.S. Click here to see how other City Daily Photo bloggers illustrate the theme of “street corner.”