Town Mill Amersham Storage Box History Search
(More details to follow shortly)
This will probably be a meandering post as I gather information and add it as it is available.
As of the original post on Feb 4, 2015 the box had been in Canada until April of 2010 at which point I moved to Pell City, Alabama, USA.
Through this and other posts and information from various contributors we hope to trace the path from Amersham, Bukinghamshire.
P.S. Click on pictures of storage box for images posted on Flickr. (Hi Res Photos)
As far back as I can remember my Grandparents had a copper or brass covered, wood storage box sitting in their living room.
When I was a little kid I used to sit on it and slide down the sloped top.
The box is about 20 inches x 20 inches x 20 inches ( 60cm x 60cm x60cm) and has a bit of a flat section on the top and a sloped, hinged access door as the rest of the top. Inset in the box is a picture of what is labeled as “Town Mill, Amersham.
There is also another picture of a house on the front of the box. Three of the sides are covered with copper and the back is a slightly rusted, sheet metal.
The box has a heavy handle on each end and claw foot legs. The inside is wood.
I have had this box in my houses for about 25 years and have always wondered the origins and how it ended up here. Occasionally I have done a random search but never really put any effort into it.
My goal has always been to travel to Amersham and see if I can find the spot from the picture.
Recently we have begun talking about travelling to England with my family. I have been there before by myself and travelled though England, Scotland and Wales, I’ll cover those details in another post, but I never ventured to Amersham.
In the past week I have decided to dig deeper into the origins of the box and see what I can find. I sent a couple of emails to amershamsociety.org, amersham.org.uk, and amershammuseum.org
One of the emails I received was from Peter Borrows:
Thank you for your enquiry to the Amersham Society web site, concerning a box decorated with pictures of Town Mill, Amersham.
Town Mill is still in existence, although it is now a private house and has not been used as a mill since the 1930s. There is a history of the Mill and a number of photographs on the Amersham History web site, at http://amershamhistory.info/houses/high-street-north/191-town-mill/. I think the second picture is probably also the mill, from the other direction.
As far as your box is concerned my personal guess is that it was produced for the tourist trade. I’ve certainly never seen anything similar. However, I am copying this e-mail to Anthony del Tufo who runs the Amersham History web site and also to Emily Toettcher who is the curator of the Amersham Museum. They may well be able to add something.
Amersham is a beautiful old town and has 2 good hotels in ancient buildings so I am sure you would enjoy a visit to the town. If you come, make sure you visit the Museum and, if possible come on one or both of our guided walks – the Town Walk (every Sunday afternoon during the summer) and the Martyrs walk (telling the story of the 6 men and 1 woman burnt to death some 500 years ago, the last Saturday of the summer months). For details about the walks and opening times of the Museum see the Museum web site, http://www.amershammuseum.org/
I have also been having some discussions with Anthony del Tufo at the Amersham Museum:
Thank you for your enquiry and yes please do email photos of the box. I haven’t heard of one before, but will make enquiries once I have the images.
I assume you have seen the page about Town Mill’s history at http://amershamhistory.info/houses/high-street-north/191-town-mill/
After I sent some pictures his reply was :
I have now contacted members of the Bazzard/Brazil family who used to live at Town Mill and we have compared the pictures on the box and an 18th century painting we have – see the attached image. They are similar but not the same and our conclusion is that the box has a general picture of what a water mill looks like and then someone has stamped on it the words “Town Mill Amersham” to sell it in Amersham. It would be interesting to know how it reached Canada.
Sorry not to be able to give it an Amersham history, but it does seem rather questionable. Anyway, please do contact us when you are coming over and you should join one of our walking tours around the town as well as visiting the Museum.
Anthony del Tufo, Museum volunteer tel: +44 (0)1494 416330
After some more links to other sites were exchanged and other comparisons made I received a reply….
You have proved me wrong! I was looking at the wrong side of the mill. The Bridgeman postcard is of the rear of the mill on the upstream side, which is not visible from the road, not the downstream side which I had been comparing. I am attaching a photo which we think was taken in about 1920 before the conversion into a house and is similar to the postcard.
Incidentally, Bridgeman painted many scenes around the town for postcards. I don’t know much about him, although I don’t think he is the A W Bridgeman in the Canadian website you quoted, as the dates are wrong. If you look at the Tuck website, you will find he painted over 100 postcards for Tuck: https://tuckdb.org/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&q=bridgeman&commit=
The photo, postcard and the box do show the same three windows in the left hand roof, the tall chimney in the centre and the chimney in the right hand roof. I now think your box is indeed based on our Town Mill, albeit with quite a lot of artistic licence!
A few things I have found in my search so far.
One is a post card picture issued around 1905 to 1915
A very picturesque view of the Town Mill in the village of Amersham, Buckinghamshire. A vintage Raphael Tuck topographic divided back postcard from almost 100 years ago.
It is artist signed by the great British artist A.W. Bridgeman in the lower left corner
Year: 1905-1915 or so.
Another sample of the post card
Card Title: TOWN MILL Artist: A.W. BRIDGEMAN Places: England – Buckinghamshire
The search continues for the artist.
One search found picture from Montreal Canada but it cannot be determined if this is the same person.
Artist- A.W. Bridgeman picture
I also found some information in the book, “Amersham Through Time” by Colin J Seabright
Here is an excerpt from the book.
Click Here for more pictures
Artist Full Name : Authur W. Bridgeman – does not appear to have any other bodies of work other than postcards. Tuck and Sons kept him well employed and became a world wide company.
1811 – AW Bridgeman Town Mill Post Card first Used. callotype, not oilette – This is the original print, only sold in England, not numbered
(Raphael Tuck and Sons) (from the Tuck database) http://tuckdb.org/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&q=bridgeman
1880-1885 – Tuck Opened Montreal Branch
1883- Queen Victoria granted firm “Royal Warrant of Appointment”
1885- Tuck opened office in NY
1903 – Oilette and Proof series are introduced
1906 – Town Mill post card is reprinted as oilette and sold in Canada and England, number 7420
1982 – Raphael Tuck and Sons became British Printing Corp
1987 – Became Maxwell Communications Corp
“After a bit of searching, it would appear that around the 1900’s, coal and kindling boxes made of metal became popular items in England and Canada. Copper was plentiful and easy to work with, so many boxes had a relief hammered into the design. (look up “copper kindling box vintage” on ebay).
Since no two boxes appear to be the same, it’s difficult to tell where the box was commissioned or by whom. The Tuck post cards were also popular collector’s items around the same time.
It as plausible that your great grandparents bought it or commissioned it in Canada, as it is that it stood at the mill prior to Norris Bazzard and Nan Brazil owning it in 1930. The history web site did not say who owned or lived in the mill in 1900’ish. If we could find that name, then I can research to see if they, or close family, moved to Canada.”
If you have any information please add it to the comments below
Way more details to follow……
Pell City, AL, USA