Book Review Rutland Local History & Record Society Researching Rutland	Registered Charity No 700273
By Trevor Hickman Published by Amberley Publishing, Stroud ISBN 97-1-4456-1760-2 96 pages, paperback, £14.99 Trevor Hickman’s enthusiasm for the history of Leicestershire and Rutland is well known locally and so any new title from this author always attracts attention. This nicely-produced volume from Amberley Publishing’s ‘Through Time’ series is in the same vein as many other such books which contain reproductions of historic photographs, sometimes, as here, combined with recent views (in this case, mostly from 2006), but one of the attractions of this series is the use of full colour throughout, which enables us to appreciate the carefully-applied tints often to be found on old postcards. Also, improved printing techniques here generally bring a sharpness to the historic views which has sometimes been lacking in books like these and better reflects the skills of the original photographers: but of these unfortunately, as so often, we are told nothing even though in many cases their names are recorded on the postcards. The title of the book, even with its sub-title enumerating some of the villages concerned, doesn’t really reflect its geographical range since in fact it extends all the way to Ryhall and the Castertons – not villages that one would normally associate with Uppingham which after all lies near the southern extremity of the county. This means that in the case of many villages we are only treated to one or two photographs where perhaps we might have expected more, and often the more recent views are those of public houses: in fact, a better sub-title might have been ‘Rutland pubs I have known’! The format of books like these means that the extent of information that can be contained in the captions is limited. This makes them hard to write accurately and concisely, and precludes the possibility of giving references to sources unless there is a more extensive general introduction; thus several line drawings from the Rutland volumes of Victoria County History remain unacknowledged. Sometimes a single caption is used for two photographs, which doesn’t always work well since the heading may not sufficiently reflect the content of each of them. However, the captions do contain much information about dates and individuals (incumbents, publicans, stationmasters, shopkeepers), although where dates are attributed to individual views these may be on the basis more of the postmark than the actual photograph. Occasionally, where the present tense is used, there can be traps for the unwary reader: on p30, for instance, Normanton Hall was [1900] the home of the Earl of Ancaster, and on p95 Uppingham School’s Boer War memorial hall had then [1916] been renamed the Concert Hall and Gymnasium – now it is the Uppingham Theatre. More careful editing would have averted a few typos and some errors, such as the mis-spelling of Martinsthorpe on p20 or the reference to Little Casterton on p5 when Great Casterton is meant, and might perhaps have resulted in a different or less repetitive selection of views. One does wonder why there are two nearly identical recent views of the Kingfisher Inn, Preston, or so many views of Uppingham Market Place, given that many more varied early photographs of the various villages do survive. In one instance, on p91, the wrong photograph has been used: the lower view in fact shows the old schoolboys’ studies in the school quadrangle and not Constables on Leicester Road. Fewer images of the school’s boarding houses would have sufficed, even if those of Meadhurst bring a wry smile to this reviewer’s face since he spent (mis-spent?) many terms in the study and dormitory block shown. Despite such reservations, this volume is a useful addition to the Rutland bookshelves because it does contain some particularly interesting photographs. Of these one might mention just two which merit further investigation. On p45, there is a view of the Glaston Coffee Tavern in 1905, with a motorcar outside bearing a Rutland (FP) number plate – if this could be read on the original, its owner could be traced in the vehicle registration archives in the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester & Rutland. On p41, there is an intriguing view of Barrowden with a LNWR train on the viaduct over the Welland – surely not ‘a goods train ... travelling along’ the railway since it is clearly posed with the driver, fireman and others facing the camera, and with another man standing on top of an unfinished structure, perhaps a water tank, on the right; the viaduct all looks very new – what does this photograph commemorate? One would rather like to know. Tim Clough Note: A companion volume in the same format - Oakham & the Villages Through Time, also by Trevor Hickman (ISBN 97-81-4456-1687-2) - was published by Amberley in August 2013
Uppingham & the Villages Through Time