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Market Drayton barber's parting legacy of historic pictures

By Toby Neal | Market Drayton | Nostalgia | Published:

All hail Harold Bloor the Market Drayton barber – for the part he played in recording and preserving the town's history.

Harold was a founder member, and later chairman, of Market Drayton Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society. Here he is in April 1981 with Mrs Gloria Bates and Mrs Jill Russell, at the dress rehearsal for Kiss Me Kate which was being presented at the Grove School.

Harold was an avid collector of old images of the town and surrounding area and now a fascinating crop of his photos have come to light, thanks to George and June Edwards of Market Drayton who have given us the opportunity to showcase some of them.

The background circumstances are the sad passing away of Miss Sybil Jones of Market Drayton.

June said: "She died early on this year. She was in her 80s, I suppose. Harold Bloor was Sybil's partner and when she died Terry, her brother, cleared her house.

"He knows George very well and wanted some help moving stuff and clearing it out, and George helped."

Handwritten on the back of this print is the date 1910 and also: "Old man: Mr Barrow. Boy on corner: Harry Sillitoe. Ernest Burgers, Needle (the handwriting looks like Needle) Chidlow." The sign on the building is "T. Garrett, contractor & builder" and the location is Double Gates in Market Drayton.

With Terry having no plans for the old photos he was more than happy for them to be saved for posterity by letting George have them. Both 83-year-old George and wife June have a keen interest in the town's history.

Many of the photos bear Harold's name on the back, but June says that Sybil collected them as well.

George and June find one of the images of particular historical interest, as it is the only one they have ever seen of that specific view, showing the crossroads by the Alexandra Road School, which is visible in the background.

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It is a wide panoramic picture looking north from the Dalelands direction, and the road crossing the photo is what is today the Shrewsbury Road.

With the exception of the school, virtually everything else has disappeared. A sticker on the back of the print gives this information: "The Harold Bloor Collection. Date 1950s. Subject: Jug Lane, Double Gates, Perkins/Garretts."

The thatched building on the right is Garretts, a builders. Harold Bloor used to live at a bungalow at the back.

Harold's tin shack barbers decked out for the 1953 coronation.

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Among other photos is one showing Harold's original tin shack barber's shop, which is decorated with flags for the 1953 coronation. Later there was a bungalow on the site.

As to the background of Sybil and Harold, Sybil was in local amateur dramatics – possibly the Tern Players in Market Drayton, because certainly in the 1990s Harold was the press spokesman for that group.

Harold was a hairdresser in Market Drayton for 32 years, and had started at the age of 14. His premises were in Jug Lane.

However in September 1978, when he was 55, he became the new senior caretaker at the Grove School in the town.

Harold, who lived in Allen Gardens, said at the time: "I just thought I would like a change. I wouldn't like to go through life without a change."

The Alexandra Road School in the distance is about the only remaining feature today of this view of the crossroads on Shrewsbury Road in the 1950s.

Back then he was in his second year as chairman of Market Drayton Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society, of which he was a founder member when it was formed about 15 years previously.

A significant number of the pictures have holes in them where they have been plainly pinned up with drawing pins.

We've painted out the holes digitally, but we do wonder whether Harold might have pinned up the pictures to have them on display for customers at his barber's.

As for the long term future for the photos, June says: "I think the originals should go to the Market Drayton museum."

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of Shropshire history. Lives in Telford and is based at the Ketley headquarters.

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