Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Blackmore: Wayside Tea Rooms (2)

A Mystery Solved: the location of Wayside Tea Rooms -
from a postcard c1920

Local History
Wayside Tea Rooms - A Mystery Solved

Last December (2004), The Herald included a letter from Malcolm Baird, from New Zealand, and an appeal for more information about the Wayside Tea Rooms, once situated in Brentwood Road (now Blackmore Road).

Malcolm wrote, “Carolyn and I visited Blackmore Church on the occasion of the Flower Festival. We mentioned then that my grandparents in my childhood days had Tearooms in Blackmore. It is our pleasure to enclose them and ask that if you can possibly find any further details regarding the Tearooms and / or my grandparents’ time in Blackmore, this would be greatly appreciated.

“Mary Coller’s book, ‘Blackmore, My 1920s Wonderland’ makes no mention of the Tearooms although they certainly operated at that time. The facts that I know are these.

“My grandparents were James and Minnie Baird. James had been a Marine Engineer and was retired by the War Department in 1934. He was then residing in ‘Wayside Tearooms, Brentwood Road, Blackmore’ and left there in about 1940. The Tearooms were a popular stopping place for cycling clubs as shown in the photos [see part 1]. These were presumably taken about 1937/38. I am the youngest child shown standing next to my Grandfather, with my two brothers and visiting cyclists. I gauge the date by my apparent age. I was born in 1934 and at that time would have lived in London. Presumably the Tearooms were not far down Brentwood Road because I can remember walking to the Church, the village pump and village green.

”Our visit was certainly a wonderful trip down ‘Memory Lane’ for me. It was amazing how close to accurate such childhood memories could be after nearly 70 years. The Village is still so much how I pictured it all this time. Carolyn can now appreciate why I have such fond memories of my visits to grandparents.”

As is often the case, conflicting information about the location of the Wayside Tea Room was received. One person thought that it was at Walnut Cottage, others elsewhere in the road.

I had established that, according to Kelly’s Directory, in 1937 Minnie Baird was its owner. It was quite by chance, on a visit to Matching Flower Festival, that I found the Wayside Tea Rooms on copies of old postcards for sale as Greeting Cards.

The premises were opposite 3 & 4 Blackmore Road. A mystery solved.

Andrew Smith

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