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The Tower in 1949?

Date Sent:  29 JUL 1949

Sender: Agnes & Will

Recipient: Mrs J Binns, Shephards [sic] Farm, Ikncornshaw [Ickornshaw], Cowling, Yorkshire


Dear Edie & all

Just a card wondering how you all are, have you heard anything about your hand let me know soon. Love from Agnes & Will.

Hand written postcard with red stamp

Agnes and Will’s postcard pencilled from Peckham is brief and to the point.  A picture of the Tower of London is always a good messenger, but dating the image is a real challenge. Sometime between 1928 and 1949 is a little vague.

Lutyen’s First World War Mercantile Marine Memorial unveiled in 1928 stands alone in the foreground – its Second World War companion still to be added. The horse drawn cart emerging from behind the trees recalls late Victorian views. However, it is not the anachronism it first appears. Haulage firms were investing in fleets of trucks by the 1920s, but some breweries retained their horse-drawn drays for local deliveries into the last decade of the twentieth century. So, in the absence of any other vehicles for comparison and the unhelpful arboreal camouflage, not much mileage there.

Sepia image of the Tower of London and tower brdige with text The Tower and Twoer Bridge, London

The angle of the shot, presumably taken from the roof of the Port of London Authority Building opened in 1922, manages to conceal the most easily identified of the Tower’s battle scars – stopping short of the North Bastion on the outer wall destroyed in October 1940.  Trees cloak where the shell of the Main Guard gutted by fire from incendiary bombs dropped that December might still stand. The potential chimneys above the canopy are in fact the funnels of the ship passing through Tower Bridge’s raised bascules. Tower Hill, also the victim of extensive bomb damage, is just out of shot. Meanwhile, the slice of moat visible does not appear to have been commandeered as allotments as the area south of the site next to the Wharf was.  Nor does the better quality of the card help – throughout the war and its aftermath old stock had happily been dug out and re-circulated.

I’m sure that Mrs Binns didn’t care about such details – the view is recognisably the Tower and Tower Bridge.  Her friends’ concern was far more important.  As to the back story – was it Edie’s hand that was injured – or as Shepherds Farm is involved, does it refer to one of the farm workers? We can only hope that one of the many Yorkshire Binns can cast further light on the matter.

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