Monday 30 December 2013

Fairs, letters and patterns

Earlier this month - the 15th to be precise - I found myself at another of my local Essex Vintage Fairs.  Fast becoming a quarterly tradition thanks in no small part to its proximity to m'parents' home it is also a well-run yet intimate event with some good bargains to be found if one is prepared to search beyond the "vintage" (in the worst possible sense as used to describe stuff from the 1970s, '80s - or even later - that just looks old or has a bit of retro about it) and "[insert decade here]-style".  (Those two types of items are, of course, found everywhere these days so this event is not unusual for that.)

While perhaps not quite up there with the summer fair in terms of atmosphere (despite the "Special Christmas Vintage Fair" tagline of the advertisements there was really very little to differentiate it from any other time of year beyond some occasional Christmas music and a few decorations) it was still great fun and we - mother and I - were both able to find a couple of things to take our fancy.

Mine has lost the wording
but is otherwise identical
The first find was mine - another book for my library and quite an apposite one in view of next year's centenary of the First World War.  In The Royal Naval Air Service is comprised of a series of letters written by RNAS Flight-Lieutenant Harold Rosher to his family (in Beckenham, South East London) from the outbreak of war in August 1914 until February 1916 when he tragically died in a flying accident.  I've already leafed through the first chapter and it looks to be a cracking read and a welcome addition to my World War One book collection (it should be a particularly good companion piece to James McCudden's Five Years in the Royal Flying Corps).  It's my intention to read through all (or as many as possible!) of my Great War books in 2014 as part of my own commemoration of the centenary and this one will be top of the pile.  I'm also delighted to note that it has been republished twice in the last eleven years and that copies are still available to buy or even read/download online.

At £3.50 for an original 1916 copy, however, there was no way it wasn't coming home with me.  It also has a fascinating pencil inscription on the frontispiece - 'G. Barham N.A.A, "Hood" Division'.  A little bit of digging has found that Hood Division was one of eight battalions of the Royal Naval Division, an infantry unit made up of surplus Royal Navy and Royal Marine volunteers not serving on ships.  A clear link to Harold Rosher, then, who served in the Navy's air force (before it was merged with the Royal Flying Corps on the 1st April 1918 to form the RAF).  Maybe this G. Barham knew Harold Rosher, who can say?  Interestingly enough, towards the end of 1916 the Royal Naval Division was re-deployed to the Army as the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division with the eight battalions losing their names (all famous naval commanders) so it should be possible to precisely place this Barham chap in the timeline of the RND. 

Now, for the second find (mater's, but equally exciting for me too) I must ask any ladies reading - particularly those of you who knit - to please be sitting down or holding on to something because I don't want there to be any swooning.  Yes - knitting patterns!

Not just any old patterns, either.  Hiding in amongst piles of Seventies- and Eighties-tastic booklets (dubious cardigans, three-piece sets where one of the pieces is a hat - you know the sort of thing) were a couple of absolute gems from a far earlier period...  Just feast your eyes on these!

From the 25th September 1937 issue of Woman's Own, a whopping 44 pages of woollen wonders in the Big Knitting Book!!  I mean,everything!  Look at it all! Quite literally the mother lode.



Pullovers (for chaps too)!

Even the kiddies are catered for!

If that wasn't enough mother also nabbed an "Autumn Woollies" book from "My Weekly, of approximately the same vintage (sadly there's no date to be found in it, but the styles look very much the same and the fact that it has some colour pages and is roughly A4 in size leads me to believe it is also pre-war).  

Got your breath back yet?  OK, here we go...

Not as many pages as the Big Knitting Book, but still some corkers for the whole family dwell within.

Why not indeed?!

Mater was quite tickled to note that the older, larger lady was referred to as a "matron"...

We chaps are well-catered for too!

By Jove, what a lot of patterns eh?  Should keep mother busy well into the next year.

I'll certainly be returning to the next fair on the 26th of January, with an even bigger one scheduled for the 2nd of March at a larger sports hall in Southend, to look out for more bargains, patterns and books for 2014.


  1. Oh, knitting pattern ENVY! Well done to the mater for finding those - I'm always pleased when I see treasures unearthed by people who will love them. (Maybe you'll get a new woolly or two out of it...)

  2. Wonderful post! I love vintage. Happy New Year to you from Montreal, Canada.

  3. I may not knit but I do enjoy looking at the pictures on these old patterns.


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