From time to time I have bought old postcards of places that interest me. Naturally living in Hook Norton I have several of the village, however, I was married in St Mary’s Church, Swinbrook and I have acquired a small collection of cards of that village too. Swinbrook is probably better known for its connection with the Mitford family rather than my wedding!
One of the cards I have of Swinbrook features The Smithy with the smith in his work clothes standing proudly outside. The card was published by Walter Scott of Bradford and was sent by Rachel to Mrs Swain of Harborne, Birmingham.
Walter Scott (1878-1947) was a well known Bradford photographer who began publishing postcards featuring “real photographs” of the local area in the 1900s. The business expanded and it was soon publishing cards from many other parts of the British Isles. Continuing after Walter’s death in 1947 the business was still in existence in the 1960s.
Rachel sent the card to Mrs Swain thanking her for a bag she had given her. She had been unable to write sooner as she had burnt her hand.
Mrs Swain’s address was St John’s Road, Harborne, Birmingham. The 1939 Register listed the Swain family living at No.4. The household comprised Dora Annie Swain, born 8 April 1885, a married woman undertaking unpaid domestic duties. Living with her were two daughters, Dora Phyllis Swain born 11 July 1907 an unmarried teacher and Beryl Ridgway Swain born 22 April 1912 an unmarried nursery governess. Dora (senior) had married Alfred Swain in 1909 at Harborne St Peter’s Church in the city. Alfred at 44 was some 22 years older than Dora. However, he was not at St John’s Road when the Register was taken.
In an effort to put a bit more “flesh on the bones” of the Swains I looked at the 1911 Census. Alfred and Dora were living with Dora’s brother, Horatio Lambourne, at 129 Rotton Park Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham. Alfred was a hardware merchant while Horatio was a manufacturing jeweller. The household on census night also comprised Horatio’s wife, Alice, their son Gordon, Alfred and Dora and their daughter, Dora, and two servants.
As the Lambournes were able to afford servants they may well have had a successful business. Indeed Lambournes of Birmingham was a well established business in the city. According to Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History the company was founded in 1886 by Thomas Lambourne to produce Spats, Rigid Braces, Buttons and Studs for the gentry. Thomas died in 1904 and Horatio took over the business which, in 1911, moved to Empire Works, Great Charles Street in Birmingham.
In addition to the manufacture of the items mentioned above the company made cap badges and other insignia for the military during WW1. However, according to more recent comments on a Great War forum it was said that the quality of these items were not really up to scratch. Jewellery items made by Lambournes come up for sale on auction sites from time to time.
The above is a potted history of the postcard’s recipient. However, what about Rachel who sent the card? I cannot make out the date of the postmark on the card but the style and dress of the smith standing outside his workplace could date the card to around the late 1920s/early 1930s.
Sadly there is no indication whether Rachel was a native of Swinbrook or just a child who was staying there and decided to send a “thank you” card to Mrs Swain. Was she a friend of the family or a member of the extended family? It has been quite a challenge to attempt to trace Rachel from just her christian name and so far I have drawn a blank.
So who was Rachel? At the moment I do not know.
Sources: Ancestry, Find my Past, Grace’s Guide and Great War Forum.