Old Lichfield in Slides

The Society's monthly meeting on 19th November at St Mary's centre saw Jenny and Laura from Lichfield Heritage take us down memory lane with some interesting photographs of Old Lichfield, some from the collection of the late Edgar Bates - who not only owned a photography shop in Lichfield but also took many photographs during the early part of the 20th century. The many members and visitors attending were treated not only to a 'then and now' photographic journey but often to a 'then and then' journey starting at the turn of the 20th century, taking us through comparable views of the same locations up to the 1950s and 1960s.

The tour was enhanced by the provision of much interesting background information about the dates of construction of the many buildings that we visited, together with background information relating to their use and ownership.

The memory lane trip allowed us to visit the original, pre-1949 structure erected at St Chads Well, the Dolphin Inn, that was demolished in 1912 to make way for Branch 13 of the Walsall Co-op (who went to the tea dances on the first floor?) which of course is now Burtons the Tailors. Boots has changed little since the early part of the 20th century as a photograph taken in 1910 showed. And where was the Anson Arms? Yes, that of course is the Earl of Lichfield pub in Market Street.

We saw the Market Square before the erection of the statue to James Boswell in 1908 and, a little later on in the 1920s, its use as a bus station. Then we moved on to the Palladium Theatre in Bore Street. The theatre moved through a succession of names before becoming the Garrick, then lapsing into decline as the Motormania shop. Now of course it has been swept away to be replaced by Wilkinsons.

Not only did we look at photographs of buildings but also at other photographs including the delivery of parcels by the London and North Western Railway horse and cart from Trent Valley Station, Shakeshaft and Playfair's horse-drawn hearse, deliveries of Royal Daylight paraffin by horse and cart and many others.

The photographic archive at St Mary's Centre contains over 5000 images, lovingly tended by Jenny and Laura. They extended to the audience, and to the readers of this newsletter, an invitation to visit the archive on the first floor of the Centre on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 10 and 12 noon. Ring beforehand to see if they are there, but otherwise you will be very welcome, especially if you have explored your attic and discovered a treasure trove of pictures you would wish to donate to the Centre.

Roger Hockney
November 2002