Saturday, 10 November 2018

First Pictorial Record

The first photographs to appear in the Herts Advertiser coincided with the preparations for the First World War, and through the war years there were a very few portraits of local men who had been killed, injured or honoured.

Although the number of pictures appearing gradually increased during the Twenties they were all what photographers called exterior images.  There was just insufficient light for pictures to be shot indoors.  I suspect church service pictures would have been frowned on at this time. Especially the Armistice, later Remembrance, services which took place in the Cathedral.

The first Armistice-related pictures date from 1920 when side-by-side photos of the recently completed war memorials at Welwyn and Wheathampstead appeared in the edition of 6th November, and although Remembrance articles appeared thereafter it was 15th November 1924 before photos of representative groups marching to the Cathedral appeared and a picture of the Mayor laying a wreath at the St Peter's Street War Memorial.

These were the days when photographs were taken by others and handed in to the Advertiser office, so articles were rather randomly illustrated.

Peering into a hole
Random reports of holes have probably appeared in various locations for as long as it has been worthwhile reporting them.  Last week it was the turn of Oaklands where, rather worryingly, a large hole opened up beneath the foundations of Cedar Court, just east of Longacres.  Speculation that it was the result of digging clay for the nearby brickworks (on the site of the modern Marconi estate) can, I think be discounted, as Hardy House, which previously occupied the Cedar Court site, was also constructed without its builders being aware of fill material, often including rubbish.

A clue might be in the name of the Hill End Farm field on which later developments were built: Chalk Dell Field.  Small chalk pits were common in the area, and men employed to dig out the chalk for liming fields.  They were generally not very deep and early pits may have been gradually filled by the soil lying nearby.

What is of concern, whatever the cause (and it definitely wasn't heavy rains this time), the bottom of the hole would have been twice as deep as it appears today by peering in, as the soil and subsoil had fallen into a void below.

We will all be intrigued to discover more details about the Cedar Court hole, especially the residents whose homes hover over the newly opened space.

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