Friday, October 01, 2010

The Upton Clay Industry: might be a boring title with little sparkle to attract the casual reader. But almost 2 year's ago, at the November 2008 launch of the 'When Upton Had Trains' book, a young man named Mark Strand flicked four sepia photographs across the signing table. 'How about writing a book about the Upton clay industry?' he asked. (Mark's father, Mervyn, had worked at the Dorset Clay Products pipe factory, and he and his work colleague, Johnny Philips, had been admired by myself and neighbourhood friend, John Westacott. Johnny has now passed, but Mervyn is still around, and made himself known at a mutual bood test at Poole Hospital last year.)
Well, my eyes bulged.
Quite a task!
But those four photos, taken in the very late 1950's or early 1960's at the Dorset Clay factory behind where I have lived for the majority of my life, sparked the will to do something before those industries, (also the Lytchett / Upton Brick Company), and the local people who worked for them, became forgotten.
Once started, a casual chat between myself and Cyril Gillard, who lives across the road, was overheard by Brian Selby, whilst we were waiting for a prescription at the chemists, and this chance meeting brought an Ordnance Survey map of Upton in 1953 from Brian, which, along with other photos and some of my own, were the genesis of the project.
Because Mark Strand threw down a challenge, and after the 'Upton Trains' book, which touched upon these industries, I knew its publication would pull photos, knowledge, and first-hand accounts which would need logging for posterity, from other people living in the village; and it did.
Yesterday, the manuscript and photos were accepted for publication by Natula, my local interest book publisher, for which I am very grateful.
You see, knowledge is a wonderful thing, and with me hitting 60 next year, my knowledge of Upton, framed into the 'Upton Trains' book, created a great deal of local interest. Some people, who have perhaps lived here for 30 years or so, were aware of the Castleman's Trailway country walk, which again is behind me here, and goes through to Broadstone and beyond. But those people didn't know that this beautiful, scenic country walk had once been the bed of a railway line, known as Castleman's Corkscrew; and named such as it winds itself in and around its course, and various obstacles, through neighbouring Hamworthy, and Upton Heath.
The book will be published next year, and I am thrilled because it's not boring, believe me, and it will be a tome of diamond-like local knowledge which would have been lost forever, otherwise.