Monday, 7 September 2015

Beginning to discover the story behind the envelope .............. from South Africa to war time Bayswater in London

Now sometimes you know that you are just at the beginning of a story and with patience, a bit of good luck and a heap of research it will all come out into the day light.

And that is pretty much the excuse for why Miss Natalie Bramley is still a bit of a mystery.

I came across Miss Bramley when David Harrop passed over these two intriguing envelopes which were sent during the last war.  Both had been sent from South Africa and both had been redirected to a new address.

All of which meant that it had all the possibilities of a story.

The letters came from Stella Road in Escombe which back then was a small residential township to the east of Durban.  It had been settled by those wanting to escape the humidity of the coast and took its name I think from a Prime Minister of the Natal.*

In time I meant be able to find out about J. Sulls who posted the letters from the Natal but for now it is Miss Bramley who has drawn me in.

The address on both envelopes was Strathray Gardens North West London and they had been redirected to 3 Vicarage Gardens in Bayswater.

Given the war and the Blitz it was reasonable to suppose that Miss Bramley had had to move, but Strathray Gardens is still there looking as solidly impressive as it must have done when it was built.

But not as grand as number 3 Vicarage Road which stretches over floor floors with a basement to add to its size.

It is one of those places you just pass by wondering how much it would cost to buy and just how much its first occupants spent to get it.

Not that she seems to have always lived in such opulent surroundings for back in 1937 she was at 178 Bye Pass Road in east London.

It has gone now and like the other two properties was built sometime after 1914.

How long she lived in east and north London I haven’t been able to find out but from the electoral rolls and telephone directory I know she was in Bayswater from 1944 till ’47 and later appears to have shared the house with a Miss Rachel Bramley and Dr Roland Bramely who described himself as a “consulting physician” with a second address at 9 Devonshire Place WC1 which are still listed as “consultancy rooms.”

All of which may seem a little too trivial as a piece of historical research but I think not, although I suspect many will be more interested in the envelopes which not only carry a South African stamp but also one of those additional fund raising labels which in this case was for the Navy League.

I had come across those sold for the Spitfire Fund but this one was new to me.
And that for now is about it.

David tells me that the two came as a part of a bigger collection of material he acquired recently and may feature in the new exhibition at the Remembrance Lodge in Southern Cemetery dedicated to the Blitz and the Battle of Britain.

Pictures; two war time envelops, 1943 from the collection of David Harrop

*Harry Escombe, 1838-1899 Prime Minister of the Natal, 1897

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