THESE postcards, dating from around 1900, come from the collection of John Taylor of Kidderminster, an avid collector of all things connected to his Black Country birthplace, Stourbridge.
Two of the cards have the same image, a photograph of a long-lost building in the town, but one is untreated and the other has been hand-tinted with colour.In adding colour the artist has highlighted some details while obliterating others, such as the base of the lamppost in the centre of the picture.
The black and white postcard is the earlier version, having been posted on 14th December, 1904, from Stourbridge to Miss M. Leach, Thorncliffe House, Manningham Lane, Bradford.
Intriguingly, on the reverse of the card, in the half devoted to the message, the sender has written only a single, cryptic word, sideways too – “Weary”.
Who knows what that may mean? On the front they have pencilled “a la Houghton”, perhaps suggesting a similarity between the Stourbridge scene and Houghton Hall in Yorkshire.
The postcard was produced by the Stourbridge stationers and printers Mark and Moody and reads “A bit of old Stourbridge corner of Church Street and Hagley Road”.
The building was E. Roberts’ shoe shop.
The main sign above the door reads, “hand sewn boots made to measure” and “bring your repairs”.
The colourised postcard was posted in Stourbridge on 9th January, 1906, to J.G. Garland, Esq., Garlands, Stoke-in-Teignhead, near Teignmouth, Devon. The message reads, “This is now all pulled down and a free library (Carnegie) built in its place. I am enjoying myself very much with Marie. I go to Lily for a few days on Thursday. Best love, Madge.”
E. Roberts’ shoe shop, with its Dutch gable, and the adjoining buildings were demolished to make way for the new public library and technical institute. Construction began in 1904 after steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated £3,000 to the £11,000 costs. The reading and news rooms were opened in August, 1905, and the lending and reference department opened in April, 1906. The building also housed the school of art and Stourbridge Girls’ Secondary School, with the girls in the upper floor and basement. Many of the books in the library came from the old, privately- owned Town Library and were bequeathed to the town on the death of its owner, Robert Broomhall, in 1894.
The library was extended in 1916 with the building of the clock tower in memory of local businessman Isaac Nash.
The library relocated in 1985 to a new building in the Crown Centre with the old building taken over by Stourbridge College.
The building is now home to BBLB Architects.
John’s third postcard shows another scene that had changed a great deal in the intervening 100 years or so since the photograph was first taken. The caption reads “Coalbournbrook, Stourbridge” and it shows the junction of Amblecote High Street and Wollaston Road.
The scene is dominated by the tall brick cones of the glassworks of Thomas Webb and Son, demolished many years ago.
Glass is still produced on the site, now home to the Ruskin Glass Centre.
Before the glass works is the Fish Inn; this building has survived as a Cantonese restaurant. The sign at the side of the building reads “Fish Inn by G. Dixon”. In its place today is the clock that was installed by Amblecote Urban District Council, which held its meetings on the upper floor of the pub.