The Camera Returns

Monthly feature

The Camera Returns

June 22

Hereford Railway Station

This month's photo comparison is from Hereford Railway Station.

The 'then' photograph shows a group of soldiers from the Herefordshire Regiment parading to depart on camp. before the widespread use of coaches for long distance travel trains were regularly used for deployment to camps.

The 'now' photograph is taken at the same position on platform 4 at the southern (Commercial Road) end; the trees have grown on Barrs Court Road obscuring most of the houses and the old 'finger' signals have been replaced by lights.

Waiting to catch the train to camp - Platform 4 Hereford Railway Station
Waiting to catch the train to camp - Platform 4 Hereford Railway Station
Hereford Railway Station - Platform 4 - 2022
Hereford Railway Station - Platform 4 - 2022

May 2022

Canon Frome Court

This months feature is Canon Frome Court - this was the home of Lt Gen Sir Edward Hopton - see this month’s feature ‘the man behind the medal’.

The original photograph shows: Colonel Hopton, Colonel Wood, Lt Gen Sir William Pitcairn-Campbell and Colonel Pateshall at the entrance to Canon Frome Court - presumably before entering for lunch or a reception after the unveiling of the War Memorial at Ashperton on 2nd October 1921.

Colonel Pateshall was the Honorary Colonel of the Herefordshire Regiment, he had served on the staff of 159 Brigade at Suvla Bay and in the Middle East and was to become known as the ‘father of the Regiment’.

Colonel Hopton has an interesting life story ………………….

Born in 1858, the only son of Captain John Dutton of Farnshill Park, Radnor, he attended Harrow and Sandhurst. In 1899 he married Sybil Maude, eldest daughter of Walter Mynors Baskerville of Clyro Court and granddaughter of John Hopton of Canon Frome. Assuming by Royal Licence the name of Hopton, the Colonel gained ownership of every house in Canon Frome and five farms of over 400 acres.

Colonel John Dutton Hunt Hopton was such a tall man it was said that servants had to stand on an orange box to clean his washbasins - in the photograph he seems a ‘large man’!

An expert long-range shot, he extended his private rifle range in 1928 by making a clearing in the trees of Meephill. The target was now exactly 1,500 yards away north-east across the valley and beneath the wood at Old Birchend. An impressive figure in his white spats, the sharpshooter lowered his 6ft 6ins frame into the bluebells for his first shot at the new distance, took aim and scored a bullseye. Apparently satisfied with this effort, he quietly packed up and went straight back home again.

Hopton captained the British rifle team at Bisley and in the year after leading them on a successful tour of Australia, he took part in the 1908 London Olympics. In the men’s 1,000 yard free rifle competition he scored 84 out 100 with his 20 shots. He shot 36 times for England in the annual match for the Elcho Shield, the oldest and most prestigious long range rifle contest in the world; held between England and Scotland from 1862, with Ireland joining in 1865 and Wales in 1991, the 'Hopton' is still among its awards.

The marksman was also a keen musician. A cellist, songwriter, and a director of the Royal Academy of Music, his song Ceylon Whispers was often played at Bisley. In 1914 he installed an organ in a purpose-built music room at the Court.

It was made by Jardines of Old Trafford and the model favoured at the time by the organists of Hereford, Worcester and Gloucester cathedrals.

The Hoptons entertained the conductor John Barbirolli, a noted Elgar interpreter, and the pianist Myra Hess.

When he died in 1934, John Hopton was buried at his own request in a mausoleum at the point where he fired his rifle. The service was conducted by the Bishop of Hereford, with rifle range flags at half-mast. It had been intended that his wife would lie there with him, but she died at Cannes during the Second World War and it was impossible to bring her body home for burial.

During the second World War the Home Guard set up a more modest firing range below Meephill and the gamekeeper would put out warning flags when they were practising. The coppice on Meephill maintains a mask around the marksman’s Mausoleum. Foliage now obscures the lines of sight, but, in spring, primrose, daffodil and bluebell bedeck the approach.

April 2022

Cambridge Billets 1914

This months 1914 photograph is taken from the album produced by 2377 Pte (later Corporal) Frank James Edwards. He was from Llandrindod and had joined up with his brother Tom (2374) in September 1914. They later transferred to the Machine Gun Corps. The photo shows their billets in Bartolph Lane Cambridge.

The numbers joining the Army far exceeded the accommodation available in barracks and soldiers were 'billeted' in private houses, schools. hall, barns etc. until new camps were built.