A Tug Of War

Ron has e-mailed me four more scans of the early negatives of his late father, Ray Salinger.

The first image, made in 1948, is of the Blandford Forum, a West Country Class steam engine that pulled the train that took my brother in law to school until he left in 1967. Ron points out that the burnt banks are wooded, now that steam and cinders have ceased to singe them. When I commuted to London by electric train a common cause of delay during autumn was “leaves on the line” for, it seemed, funnel furnaces no longer set them aflame.

Another ridiculed excuse, for winter commuter train tardiness, was “the wrong kind of snow”. I would hope that the precipitation blanching the roof of The Walkford

in this next image was of the right kind. It was inside the bar of this hotel that Ray’s first set, featured in https://derrickjknight.com/2020/07/08/in-keyhaven-harbour/ was photographed.

http://breweryhistory.com/wiki/index.php?title=Strong_%26_Co_Ltd has this entry for

Strong & Co. of Romsey LtdHorsefair Brewery, Romsey, Hampshire.

Founded c.1778. Brewery and 23 tied houses leased to Thomas Strong 1858, who bought the business in 1883. Registered November 1894.

Strongs were acquired by Whitbread & Co. Ltd in 1969 with 940 public houses. Brewing ceased at Romsey in 1981. Partly demolished in the early 1990s.’

The Fighting Cocks pub at Godshill, visited in https://derrickjknight.com/2013/03/05/carry-on-walking/ is another popular hostelry once part of the Strong chain;

a chain of strong men engaged in a tug of war in the first of these two images of the SRDE (Signals Research and Development) sports ground at Somerford. There is a faint possibility that the little boy in the roller coaster is Ron.

The SRDE, where Ray worked, was a pioneer of satellite communications. Wikipedia tells us that ‘The Signals Research and Development Establishment (SRDE) was a British government military research establishment, based in Christchurch, Dorset from 1943 until it merged with the Royal Radar Establishment (RRE) in Malvern, Worcestershire to form the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment (RSRE) in 1976. Its focus was military communications (signals).’ The sports ground, now owned by Siemens, is still at Somerford, once part of the eponymous estate.

This afternoon I wandered up and down the paths collecting up refuse to transport to the compost bins and dead-heading roses and poppies.

In the Palm Bed on one side of the Gazebo Path we have these new alliums; on the other the eucalyptus trunks support hanging baskets spilling petunias.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s potent pork paprika; flavoursome savoury rice; and tender mange touts with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Squinzano.


  1. I have these alliums too, at just the same stage of blooming. Today’s sunshine has brought them on a treat. Ron’s photographs are so evocative, a story in each frame even if we can’t know the details. Lovely post as ever, Derrick ๐Ÿ˜Š

  2. The expression on the face of that child in the roller coaster is priceless. I never went on a roller coaster until my senior year in high school. After I survived the first ride, I went on it over and over — maybe eight times. I haven’t been on one since.

  3. Those old photos are wonderful! As Sandra said, a story in each frame.

    It’s funny, but I never considered that the area around old trains would get singed. I just never thought of it!

    Your two garden photos are absolutely stunning, Derrick. Photos I’d expect to see displayed somewhere.

    1. Thank you so much, Merril. Even though I lived through the steam age I never thought about the singeing until one of the electric train staff explained it to me.

  4. The photo of the steam train is my favorite. (The alliums are a close second.) In northern New England, you’ll see a similar “singed” appearance at the bottom of evergreens along the roads from all the road salt in the winter.

  5. Fascinating images from the past, Derrick, and wonderful images of your garden today. I wonder if decades from now our offspring and their offspring will look at “pictures” of us and wonder about our history, or perhaps wonder if the pictures they are looking at are real or the product of Photoshop?

  6. The winter of 91 – 92 ‘the wrong kind of snow’ fell and the trains came to a halt. I remember that ๐Ÿ™‚ I love the eucalyptus trunk with its baskets – that’s a stunner!

  7. Ron’s well-seasoned photos, by Ray, and their history/stories are so wonderful!!!
    The little boy in the roller coaster looks very concerned! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Hope he was happier after the ride. ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope he laughed and exclaimed, “I wanna’ do that again!” ๐Ÿ™‚ HA! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Your last photo…gorgeous! It made me sigh a good deep sigh. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I hope it’s been a good day…and you both get a good night’s sleep!

    Hmm…potent…potent pork paprika, eh?
    We won’t be having anything that is potent for dinner…we are having golden roasted chicken, brown rice mingled with ripe red cheery tomatoes and green onions, and a kale salad with crunchy orange carrots, crunchy purple cabbage, crunchy almonds and a squeeze of lemon. OOH! Maybe the lemon is potent…I’ll ask it before I give it squeeze! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Ha! ๐Ÿ˜›

  8. This alliums are beautiful. At that stage, they look like red clover blossoms (or I should say call to mind, rather than look like). And with Pauline, I love that eucalyptus trunk. In old photos, I tend to look at clothing and think how it was likely tailored or hand made.

  9. Hi Derrick – thanks for sharing these pictures. That tug-of-war picture is great. There’s so much to look at and it looks like a good picture to write a story about. Hope you are doing well. Sorry I haven’t been by lately, but I’m getting back into the mode!

  10. The alliums are exquisite! I enjoyed studying the tug of war photo. Everyone is so focused and serious. It must have been an important event. Gotta be a story there.

  11. Fascinating photos that speak volumes of the times. Did the leaves on the line make the tracks slippery? What about the wrong kind of snow? The logical conclusion that follows is the steam engines were much more effective in disposing the dried leaves and โ€˜wrong kind of snowโ€™ while they chugged away merrily. It seems that the sentence โ€œ I would hope that the precipitation blanching the roof of…โ€ got chopped of in the process of insertion of images. The tug of rope and the alarmed looking boy who could possibly be Ron are just as wonderful.

    1. Thanks very much, Uma. Apparently the wet leaves on the line do make the tracks slippery. I’m not sure about the snow, but your conclusion is correct. Steam trains were just as quick, too. Re the chopped sentence I have shifted “The Walkford” up to the top line so it makes more sense.

  12. Loving these old photos. As well as looking terrified, I see the poor boy has on a shirt that is so buttoned up, he may even have a tie with it. No one left home looking sloppy in those days, did they? Look at the wonderful wartime tailoring on those women’s dresses and suits. Never thought about the steam engines grooming the waysides. A very interesting point. Of course, the smoke also blackened the washing, I would imagine.

  13. Love looking at your photos old and new. I particularly like the tug-o-war one, that shot tells a great story.

  14. Ray’s photos are just wonderful. I wish my parents had documented this time in our history.
    Those were the days when firms would hold the annual summer sports day, I remember them well.

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