• Stories from St Annes on Sea

    A blog from the Friends of St Annes Library featuring stories from the people who live and work in St Annes about the objects that are most special to them.
  • Paula and her violin

    Paula and her violin
  • Andrew’s WWI memento

    John Walmsley's Dog Tag
  • Seetha with her silver box

  • Ian and his glass negatives

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  • army clogs clothing Dog Tag fiddle footwear music trade directories violin war
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Tony’s Buddha

Tony's Buddha

My object is a  ‘Buddha’ on a stand.  I think it is of Vietnamese or Burmese origin. It stands 150cm (6”) high and 180cm (7”) wide. It is made of brass and the base is made of a very dark wood which has been roughly carved. I inherited the ‘Buddha’ from my father Jim Ford who inherited it from his father, my grandfather James Ford. It was a feature in my grandparents’ house. It had pride of place on the mantelpiece or the sideboard. As children, when my sisters and I visited, we were told that there might be something underneath it for us – but only if the ‘Buddha’ was smiling. This became a family ritual.  Every time we visited our grandparents in Salford we would look under the ‘Buddha’ to find a threepenny bit or a sweet.

We have tried to find out more about this object – we think it has another name. My grandfather never served in the Far East during his military service so we have no idea where it came from. One story I was told has it that it was given to my grandfather when he was a bailiff.  When I had it valued it was only worth about £25 and that was the metal value alone. I would love to know more about this object.


My wife and I and our two children moved to St. Anne’s  in Dec. 1989 as I was due to take up a new job as Headteacher on 1st January. Since then time has moved on. Our children now live elsewhere in the country and we have settled into life here. I serve on Fylde Borough and St Anne’s Town Council and am currently the Town Mayor.


Ian’s glass negatives

My most Treasured Possession is a collection of 400 glass slides that record a visit my Great Uncle Archie and his wife Kate made to India in 1925.

Ian with the glass negatives

Great-Uncle Archie was a man of wide interests, in whose home my father and his two brothers were reared while their parents were away in China. My grandfather (his elder brother), worked for some forty years as a missionary and must have been very grateful for a family arrangement that allowed his children to grow up in comparative comfort and safety whilst he and my grandmother (who sadly died there), sought and faced a succession of hardships in a far-off and often-hostile land.

In 1925, aged around 57, he took 3 months’ absence from his wholesale grain and grocery business to travel to India, taking Kate with him to visit her sister there, who was married to a Scottish missionary named Andrew Low. In Uncle Archie’s collection of books is a slim volume of 1901 titled “Across India” that mentions Rev Low’s work among famine orphans in Nasirabad, Rajasthan, so Uncle Archie may have been contemplating this journey long before he actually made it.

Besides amateur microscopy and telescopy, both of great interest to him, Uncle Archie was also a keen photographer and documented his trip very diligently. The journey through India took them from Bombay to the Low’s handsome bungalow in Jaipur in Rajasthan, and from there on a holiday to Kashmir. He recorded some fine pictures of the Himalayan valley that they trekked up, following a spell relaxing in a houseboat on  Dal Lake.

But he was also an elder of the Church of Scotland, fascinated by the active spirituality of India, and the remainder of his trip was planned around sites of religious significance, enabling him to illustrate with an epidioscope (magic lantern) the lectures about Indian religions that he subsequently gave to church meetings in Greenock on his return. He was also fascinated by the variety of trades and skills carried out quite openly in the streets – pottery, silver-work, winnowing of grain etc – and made many photos of people engaged in their crafts. I have inherited some of the text he prepared as scripts for his talks, various indexes of the slides (for each talk he would make a fresh selection), and also a few letters to his nephew my uncle (at that time a student in Oxford), that reveal more fascinating details of their epic journey.

riverside scene, benares

Women winnowing in Jaipur

Seetha’s silver box

My name is Seetha Shearer; I’m an Indian, married to a Scotsman, and with our three children we came to make our home in Lytham St Annes in 1985.

My treasured possession is a small, smooth, round silver box that belonged to my maternal grandmother, my Thai. In it she stored betel (areca) leaves and chopped betel nuts, cardamom seeds and crystallised sugar. The nuts, sugar and cardamom were either eaten on their own after a meal as a digestive, or were placed in an betel leaf, folded into a parcel and eaten as a ‘beeda’. Thai’s silver box was always with her.

Seetha with her silver box

My grandmother, after whom I am named, never got to see me because she died a few months before I was born. When my mother gave me this treasure I was thrilled because I can hold it in my hand as my grandmother would have done, and think of her.  I have a few photographs so I do know what she looked like.

Seetha's grandparents

One of these is shown here. It was taken when my grandparents visited London to attend the King George V Levee of 1916, and then got stranded there for a while due to the war. I understand there was a big party held to rejoice at their safe return.  My grandfather is in full ceremonial dress, with a dagger in its scabbard at his waist. Thai is wearing a gold bordered silk saree, an embroidered headscarf tied at the nape of her neck, and fine traditional jewellery. Her saree is worn in the unique way of the women of Kodagu, held in place by a brooch on the right side below her shoulder. She has her feet on a cushion which intrigued me because she looks a bit grand, but it was more likely to have been because her legs were too short for the chair she’s sitting on!  In 1935 she was awarded the Kaisar-e-Hind (from Persian/Hindi meaning Emperor of India) Gold Medal (for recognition of Public Service) for her charitable work.

My maternal grandgarents belonged to the hill country of Kodagu, which was absorbed into Karnataka State after India became an independent federal republic in 1947. They owned land on which they grew coffee, rice and black pepper.  I have cousins in Kodagu who farm coffee, tea, rice and black pepper there today, though not on the family property which was sold a long time ago. Thai’s silver box holds a host of precious memories and connections to my background which I hope will inform and enrich my children’s and grandchildren’s understanding of their Indian heritage.

Close up picture of the box

Seetha's box with betel nuts, sugar and cardamom

Anne’s Clogs

My name is Anne Fielding and I’ve lived in St Annes for almost 30 years.

My Mother was not a sentimental woman. Any toys, books, clothes that had been out grown were immediately passed on to someone who would make good use of them. There are no bootees, locks of hair or bald teddies either to remind me of my early years.

It was therefore with surprise that I discovered a small pair of painted clogs amongst her possessions.

It must be that the clogs, by the time I had outgrown them, had gone out of fashion. No-one would have wanted them in 1947.

It was the time of buckskin sandals bought along with a new dress for the Whitsun walks. Winter meant Mary Jane leather shoes that had a bright button. If you were very lucky it was shiny patent.

These are Derbyshire clogs, rather scuffed and sad looking and not at all sentimental.

Clogs are a wooden shoe traditionally associated with Northern parts of England. The Oxford English Dictionary describes them as……..   ” A wooden-soled overshoe or sandal worn (chiefly by women) in some localities, to protect the feet from wet and dirt. b. A shoe with a thick wooden sole protected by a rim of metal, worn in the north. [Probably the name belongs originally to the thick wooden sole alone…]” and provide an instance of the word being used in 1416. Lancashire Library members have free access to the Dictionary through the Online Reference Library.

Large industrial towns would have had many clog makers in the mid to late nineteeth century. Over 50 are listed in this  extract from an 1870s directory of Preston.

Clog and Patten Makers in Preston in 1877 (from the Mannex Directory held at St Annes Library)

Paula’s fiddle


Paula with her violin

My name is Paula Fodor. I was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States. I’ve lived in St Annes for seven years with my husband, a Lancashire lad from Ansdell.

 My violin is my most treasured possession. It belonged to my father before me and it went everywhere with him. I have a photograph of him taken in England or France in 1944. He’s dressed in US Army uniform with helmet, a sleeping roll over his shoulder. He’s holding his violin bow in one hand and resting in the crook of his other arm is the violin case. He was a member of a US Army hospital unit that followed the Normandy landings to Paris. I have another photograph of Houghton Lodge in Stockbridge in Hampshire. There’s an inscription dated July 15 1944 on the back which reads “Your music was LOVELY”. My father died when I was 15 so I haven’t been able to ask him about the photographs. I can imagine that my father must have played at Houghton Lodge sometime before embarking on the USS Chester to cross the English Channel to Utah Beach in Normandy.

Captain Fodor

Houghton Lodge

 Before moving to England, my husband and I lived in Normandy just overlooking Utah Beach so it was exciting to find out that my father had been there before me – and with our violin.

 I’ve played the violin since I was 10 or 11. I have always played classical music and have been lucky enough to play in orchestras, quartets and various chamber music groups. I had to give up playing for a while because it hurt my neck and back.

 About three years ago, I heard about a group being set up called The Palatine Fiddlers. The group was for anyone interested in learning traditional English fiddling, particularly music from Lancashire and North West England – I joined up. The more relaxed style of folk fiddle playing has made it possible for me to start to enjoy playing my violin again. The instrument is happy to be played and is sounding good. I’m happy to be playing music again. I’m learning about the traditional music of Lancashire – my adopted home. And I’m keeping alive the link with my father. My violin is my most treasured possession – it has gone everywhere with me and it went everywhere with my father before me. It’s a pretty well travelled instrument!

Andrew’s First World War memento

Hello there, I’m Andrew walmsley and I’m the Community History Manager for Fylde District Libraries and I’ve been based at St Annes Library since April 2009.


I have selected the dog tag which belonged to my grandfather in the First World War. I never knew my grandfather, as I was only 7 months old when he died,  so don’t know how we would have got on  but I have  heard a lot about him. So it’s not really a remimder of him,  more a tangible connection with the past and the history of my own DNA if you like. It speaks of my connection with him, what he went through and the times he lived in.

I’m  from Preston and my father John is  from Clitheroe. His father (my grandfather), also John and also from Clitheroe was born on the feast of the Epiphany 1887 and  served in Egypt as part of the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry (DLOY). The RC on the tag indicates that he was a Roman Catholic. The DLOY was a territorial cavalry regiment. My grandfather loved horses which is probably why he went into this regiment.

Dad tells me that he actually met Lawrence of Arabia whilst he was in Egypt. He would have known very little about him and apparently his reaction to him was… “…he was a funny bugger who dressed like the Arabs”.

My granddad was also batman to a member of the Garnett family and we think he may also have been the best man at his wedding. This marriage took place at the Shepheard’s Hotel which acted as the British Headquarters in the Near East during the first world war. The Garnett family owned the mill at Low Moor near Clitheroe where my grandfather and family lived on St Paul’s Rd.

Apart from the being a regular soldier my granfather had numerous other jobs and was proud of the fact that he was able to find work even in difficult times. He worked from a number of years as a  gardener at Clitheroe Castle and at Roefield Hall near Clitheroe. His father James  was,  for a time,   also a gardener at Waddow Hall which is also near Clitheroe.

John Walmsley's Dog Tag

John Walmsley's WWI dogtag. DLOY - Duke of Lancaster's Own Yeomanry.

John Walmsley's WWI dogtag - reverse. RC - Roman Catholic.

My Grandfather, with My Grandmother and son Gregory who would have been my uncle. He died aged 5 as a result of complications from contracting pneumonia.

Lawrence of Arabia

“From December 1914 to October 1918 Lawrence was intimately involved in collecting and assessing intelligence and in shaping strategy and policy in the Middle East. His academic training fitted him for tasks which he performed diligently and well.” From The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. (Free online access to members of Lancashire Library through the Online Reference Library)

From Medals Rolls Index

John Walmsley in the WWI Medal Rolls Index. Taken from the "Ancestry" website. Free access in Lancashire Libraries.

1901 Census

John Walmsley in the 1901 census - age 14 - living in Clitheroe. Image taken from the "Ancestry" website. Free access to Ancestry in Lancashire Libraries.


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