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Reflections: Aviation companies took aerial shots of New Milton in 1920s and 30s

New Milton from above in the 1920s

Aerial images are a superb way of capturing a large amount of local history into one photograph. In the 1920s and 1930s aviation companies took photographs of towns in the UK and had them made into postcard images which were sold to the public. Often these images were part of a series and offered a good coverage of a town or area of countryside.

The three images of New Milton depicted here were taken in about 1925 or slightly before as one of the postcards has a 1925 dated postmark on the reverse.

The railway station area

The first photograph has New Milton railway station at the centre of the picture. When the station was built in 1886 it was located among farm fields with very little around it other than the railway workers homes. This photo shows the rapid pace of development in New Milton over a 40-year period.

Kennard Road showing the railway station
Kennard Road showing the railway station

In the lower right corner can be seen the shops of Bank Terrace which were built between 1907 and 1910. The building on the corner of Osborne Road was originally owned by the Wilts and Dorset Bank which was bought by Lloyds Bank in 1914. This building has been used for the same purpose since it was first constructed. Between the bank and the railway line can be seen the back of the Milton Hall and adjacent Misselbrook and Weston grocers’ shop.

The Milton Hotel, which later became the Speckled Trout Inn can be seen in the middle right of the picture beside the railway station. This was built in about 1889 by Hugh Wyeth, a brewer from Winchester. He saw an opportunity to invest in the area and predicted that New Milton, located between the Forest and the sea would become a town in its own right. The hotel was demolished in 1998. Mr Wyeth also built the Milton Hall which survives to this day. The hall has had many uses over the years, including an auctioneers, a public meeting place, an estate agents, a garden centre and furniture shop.

In the lower left corner of the image can be seen the north-west area of the recreation ground and Whitefield Road. The bowling green had not been created when this image was taken. The laying of the turf was completed by 4th May 1925, and the first match was played on 28th April 1926.

The railway sidings seen in the photo are filled with freight carriages. It was not just passengers using the rail network. The goods yards and sidings were in frequent use, bringing in and out of New Milton everything from newspapers to building materials. There was a coal yard in the sidings as it was relatively easy to bring in this type of fuel and dump it straight from the train wagons into large wooden bunkers, made of old railway sleepers, for resale and delivery. There were small huts in the entrance way of Station Approach, which were used as offices for the coal companies. Residents would go there to place their order for coal to be delivered to their home. This was the main form of heating in most homes at that time.

On the other side of the railway lines can be seen Avenue Road and Fernhill Road. The building plots were laid out around 1900, and the houses shown here were built between 1904 and 1906. Kennard Road was named after Colonel Edmund Hegan Kennard who was MP for Lymington (and Milton Parish) from 1874 to 1885. Three large houses, halfway along the road can be seen. They were named Brooklyn, Idlewild and Grey Gables. The latter is today a nursing home. The houses were built in the early 1900s by Mrs Ubsdell, an American heiress who also built Great Ballard House. In the upper left corner of the image can be seen the open fields that were developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s to create the North Milton Estate.

The water tower area

The second photograph in the series is centred around the water tower. It has a 1925 dated postmark on the reverse. The West Hampshire Water Company, in 1899, bought a plot of land in Osborne Road from the Robb family. Work commenced on the construction of a three-storey brick-built mock Tudor design and the building was completed in 1900. The poet John Heath-Stubbs likened the tower to a giant chess piece. It holds 200,000 gallons of water. The tower stands 83ft 7in (25.5 meters) above ground level or 186ft above mean sea level.

Manor Road and the water tower
Manor Road and the water tower

The photograph shows the house opposite called ‘Ashcombe’ which was demolished in 1973, with the present-day community centre built there the following year.

In 1925 on the corner of Station Road and Whitefield Road, opposite Lloyds Bank was the post office. At that time, it was run by a Mr and Mrs Novelle. The post office moved to this location in about 1899. It had previously been located opposite the Milton Hotel. Mrs Emma Newhook was the first postmistress in New Milton. She named her sub-post office the ‘New’ Milton Post Office as there was already a Milton Post Office beside the Wheatsheaf Inn at Milton Village. The name was adopted by the London and South Western Railway Company in 1896 when they were looking for a suitable name for the railway station. Thanks to Emma Newhook and the railway company, our town was named.

The photograph shows another good view of the Milton Hotel and along Fernhill Lane towards the manor house, once the home of Captain Thomas White esq, the commander of Queen Anne’s bodyguard. The house was a girls’ school for many years until it merged with Edinburgh House to create Ballard School.

Opposite the manor can be seen the New Milton Garage, run for many years by Harry Fagen, one of the first men in New Milton to hold a commercial driving licence. In a time when few people could drive, Harry rented motor cars and drove the clients. In 1914 to 1915 he was on contract to the Indian Medical Service at the convalescent depot in Barton. Later, he served in the Royal Naval Air Service in the First World War as a driver.

The houses in Manor Road can be clearly seen in the upper part of the picture. Manor Road was one of the first streets to be divided into plots which were auctioned in the late 1890s and early 1900s. The image shows the size of the plots stretching down to the railway line.

Station Road

The third postcard photo in the series shows Station Road from the cross roads north to the railway. On the left of the picture can be seen the recreation ground. In September 1920, when the Rev John Edward Kelsall, rector of New Milton, gave the ground to the people of New Milton he explained that he had called it a ‘recreation ground’ as it was hoped that local residents could be ‘re-created’ through sport and exercise when they were physically and mentally low. As can be seen from the wear and tear around the goalmouth area it was well used. Football, rugby and cricket were all played here. Tennis courts can be seen adjacent to the playing fields area.

Station Road
Station Road

At the junction of Station Road and Old Milton Road can be seen farm buildings and a barn. This was, until 1920, Hayward’s Farm. The agricultural fields covered the recreation ground and as far west as Vincent Road. After Mr Hayward sold it in 1920 the farmyard was used by Robert Adlard as a builders’ merchants. The corner plot was developed and became the Bournemouth Gas Company showroom.

Further up Station Road, on the west side, can be seen a long, dark, single-storey building. This was the Scala Cinema. The building was a First World War hut, possibly from the military convalescent depot at Barton. It was purchased by a Mr Wilkinson, who in 1920 went in to partnership with a Mr Scott to bring films to a New Milton audience. Films were shown from 6.30pm every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. They were silent movies with a pianist adding music. This was later done using records. In 1929 New Milton’s second cinema, the Waverley, was opened at the southern end of Station Road, near to the junction of Barton Court Road. The Scala soldiered on, diversifying into a cafe and confectionary shop. Finally in 1934 it closed its doors for the last time and in May that year it was demolished.

On the east side of Station Road can be seen several large houses, some of which were used by doctors and dentists as their homes, with one or two ground-floor rooms used for their practice work. One house, ‘Rosebank’. was situated across from the Conservative Club (built in 1910) and served as a municipal building for many years. It was the town hall, the district council office, the town library and the community centre. In the 1930s it was home to a small museum in New Milton. During the Second World War the museum artefacts were placed in Lymington Town Hall for safe keeping. Sadly, they were unable to be located post-war.

The shadows from the buildings suggest the photographs were taken in the afternoon. Some shops have their sun blinds down. There is very little vehicle or pedestrian traffic visible in the images. Leaving that aside, these three images of New Milton capture a moment in time and give a fascinating insight into how the town looked in the mid-1920s and how it has developed.

Nick Saunders MA is a local historian and chairman of the Milton Heritage Society. He can be contacted via nick@miltonheritagesociety.co.uk

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