Calne Blue Plaques #3
When I took this, I wasn't thinking about the blue plaque series. I had sat down on a bench by the river in the town centre, just below Fay's Bistro, to test out the 4G on the iPad. Reception was fine, but it kept insisting I turn on Location services when I tried to check in, when it already was, as this HDR picture taken with the iPad, with GPS info included, proves.
When I got back I realised that there is a plaque to denote the site of the monolithic Harris factory that used to dominate the town centre. It had been demolished by the time I moved to the town, but the redevelopment of the area, the new library and shops and the re-siting of the path of the river, took place under my watchful eye. Initially it was going to be grander than it now is, but the recession happened midway through the whole ongoing process.
The river used to run underneath the factory and there was no green area to be seen. The library is the large, partly round building seen to the right of the image.
Harris' Bacon Factory Sites
In 18th century a widow, Sarah Harris and her son John, came from Devizes and set up a small butcher’s shop in what is now Church Street, then known as Butcher’s Row because of the number of butchers’ shops located there. [Some of the gravestones in the north end of the churchyard are worn down where the butchers used to sharpen their knives on them]. Sarah’s grandsons set up separate butcher’s shops, John in the High Street and Thomas in Church Street
Until the opening of the railway, pigs reared in Ireland were shipped across to Bristol and then walked along the Great West Road to markets in London at about 12 miles a day. By the time they reached Calne it was clear that some of them were not going to survive the rest of the journey and were sold off cheap, benefitting the Harris brothers.
John Harris’ sons, Charles, Thomas and George amalgamated and the business flourished. The biggest development was in 1850s when they began to introduce ice imported by canal to keep the meat cool, enabling them to trade during the warmer months.
The factory was extended and at its peak covered a huge area from beside the Heritage Centre, including the central car park, up to Bank House- then across Church Street by an aerial bridge to the slaughter house that spread across the area now covered by the new shops and the library.
1940s the factory was amongst the most advanced in the world. It employed 1400 people, processed 120,000 pigs a year and Wiltshire cure ham was internationally famous, but with the decline of the pork industry in the west and the lack of reinvestment in the 1980s, the factory became uneconomic.
It closed in 1982 and was demolished 1983/4, revealing for the first time in 50 years the River Marden running through the centre of the town and views of the church tower. The demolition enabled the redevelopment of the town centre over a period of years – still in progress. - Calne Heritage
9.12.2014 (1848 hr)
Consecutive Blip #000
LOTD #673 (#793 including archived blips)
Calne Blue Plaque series
River Marden series
Lozarhythm Of The Day:
Elmore James - Strange Angels (recorded 23-24 May 1960, New York NY)
Elmore James (vocal, guitar), Homesick James (bass guitar), Wild Jimmy Spruill (guitar), Johnny Acey (piano), unknown (saxes), Belton Evans (drums)
Although I have a number of Elmore James CDs, because they tend to be compilations they have several duplications and some omissions, so I had not heard this until it turned up on the radio on this day, played because it featured Jimmy Spruill, an under appreciated session guitarist who played on around 3,000 records in his time.
“My ‘scratchin’’ style came about because I sat down one day, I didn’t know what to play. It really came from ‘Kansas City’, that ‘chicka-chick-chick’. The guy who recorded me said ‘I don’t want that!’... I said ‘I’m gonna play what I want to play, if you don’t like it, forget about it... I got a name for scratchin!’”, Jimmy Spruill said in a 1986 interview, describing his style as “...up and down strokes, but I knew how to choke the strings... you had to choke all the way down the neck to get that scratchin’ sound. Then I bent the notes, eight notes above from where I started... you know, ‘Eeeeooowwww’ back down. It’s hard if you don’t know how to do it, but to me it come natural. It was my own sound. I don’t go behind nobody... if I can’t be my own person, I don’t bother with it!”