Wednesday, 26 July 2017

The Manchester soldier outside Burrage Grove school in 1915

Outside Burrage Grove school in 1915
Now I rather think this photograph will set off a trail of comments.

We are on Burrage Grove sometime around 1915 and the picture comes from the George Davison collection.

George Davison was born in Manchester, enlisted in the Royal Artillery and for part of 1915 and again 1918 was stationed in Woolwich.

I can’t be sure but I don't think this is Mr Davison.

What fascinates me is the way the picture draws together a number of different stories, not least the fact that

I grew up not far from Burrage Grove and will have friends who may attended the school.

And here is one of those first lessons in dealing with photographs from the past.

Knowing that George was from Manchester I misread the name above the gate and went off on a fruitless search for Burnage Grove School.

When this drew a blank I looked again at the picture and found the name of a the photographer who had premises at 40 Plumstead Road, Woolwich and with that came Burrage Grove School built by the London School Board sometime after 1872.

Now this I know because the London School Board was established in 1870 and the OS map of 1872 does not yet show the school, that said it will have been built sometime during the next two decades, and I have every confidence someone will come up with a date.

All of which just leaves our soldier mounted on his horse outside the building.

Burrage Grove, 1872
Looking at the photograph and the map of 1872 Burrage Grove has changed dramatically although the pub on the corner is still there.

So it begs the question of why focus on this obscure picture of a place long gone?

Well I think because like all lost images this one deserves to come out of the shadows.

In time I will find out more about the school along with the circumstances behind this particular picture and perhaps even who he was.

I know that George Davison spent some time in Woolwich in 1915 and returned briefly on his way to France.  It was on this second period in London that he hastily produced a will which was witnessed by two of his colleagues.

It may also be that he spent another spell here in 1917.  There are no letters to his wife for this year and we know that she spent time in London living near him.

But that is to stray into speculation so that just use leaves us with this picture of a soldier from Manchester in Plumstead sometime during the Great War.

And just after the story was posted Phil contacted me with this, "I've had a search through the British Libraries online local newspaper archives about the school for you. 

The earliest reference that I could find is from the 12/09/1878 with references the 'Burrage Grove Board School' in Plumstead donating £2 10s to the relief fund for the families of the deceased of the liner Princess Alice which was lost in the Thames with the loss of 600 lives following a collision. 

That hopefully helps narrow down an opening date."

And so it does, thank you Phil.  All I need now is some one who who knows who the chap on the horse was.

Picture; from the collection of George Davison, courtesy of David Harrop and Burrage Grove from the OS map of London 1862-72, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

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