Postcards chart the ever-changing face of Cirencester’s market place

24th March 2017

Cirencester’s new-look Market Place has now been unveiled. A £1.4m regeneration project, 20 years in the making, has created an extended ‘community space’ for holding markets, and reducing the speed and volume of traffic through the centre of the town.

Most of us can’t remember a time before cars parked along either side of the wide road - and along a central parking zone too.

But thanks to photographers including T.W. Gough, F. Mortimer Savory, and W. Dennis Moss, we have a permanent record of the changing face of Cirencester.

And a large collection of picture postcards, spanning the period from the late Victorian era to the 1930s, will be going under the hammer at a Cotswold auction house.

The collection records not just the changing face of Cirencester but the villages around it - filed alphabetically from Ampney Crucis to Westonbirt.

Remember when the VWH Earl of Bathurst’s hounds used to pass through Cirencester market place? Or when agricultural implements and horses were sold at the market? Or when the first motor cars parked up at the side of the street? Those events were captured on film, and duplicated on postcards.

The postcards also record what people wore, how they worked - one postcard features a team of oxen pulling a plough at Cirencester Park - and long-lost features, like the Thames and Severn Canal’s South Cerney wharf and lock gates.

And it’s not just the front of the postcards that tell us about life in the Cotswolds 100 or so years ago. Many were sent through the post as a quick way to transmit news in the days before most homes had telephone, let alone email or text messages.

Birthday wishes, travel updates, and alerts of sickness in the family – “Alice has broken her leg” – could be posted in Cirencester in the morning and delivered to a local address in the afternoon.

A bid of £100 to £150 should secure the folio of postcards, which will be sold by auctioneers Moore Allen & Innocent on Friday, March 31.

And local history from a pre-photography era can be bid on in the form of old maps.

A fairly modern colour print of Christopher Saxton’s Map of Glocestriae (1577) – featuring almost-familiar local names including Byburye, Colnealyns, Quennyton, and Ciciter – is expected to attract bids of around £20 to £30.

Meanwhile, A Mapp of Glocestershire, a later hand coloured engraving after a 1673 original by Richard Blome for George Berkeley, Baron of Berkeley Castle, features place names including S Sarney, Somerfordeanes, and the Soddingtons. A bid of £50 to £80 should secure the lot.

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