Posted in Chit Chat

Some very old postcards…

I love so many things ‘artistic’, and this includes postcards.  I always used to collect them on my travels but over the years, with so many moves, they’ve been thinned out and binned 😦   While sorting out – yet again – the family things we have been storing for the last 5 to 6 years, I thought it would be fun to go through the little box of postcards I stashed when we were doing the original sort.  These mostly seem to be from the Doyle family – hubbies maternal side.  Many are from all corners of the world and the later ones are around the mid to late 1920s.  Not only are there postcards, but also those old photo-postcards and birthday ‘cards’ – rather than what we call a card these days. The ones that fascinate me are of really old buildings, especially if there are people from the time also hanging about.  Vintage google earth?

Anyway, I picked out a few that took my fancy and decided to try and locate them in present day, to see if any of the buildings were not only still standing, but able to be seen.

The first one is titled “Old Houses, St Andrew Street, Plymouth”.  (England)

It is dated March 30th 1905.  It is addressed to “Master Claude Doyle” who is my husbands Grandfather – and he would have been 10 yrs old at the time.The family was living near the Maryhill Barracks in Glasgow as Claude’s father Richard was stationed there for a few years

The card is signed “Auntie L”  Who I am assuming is Susan  Lavinia Darke as there are no ‘Aunties’ as such on the Doyle side – think Irish, think Nun.

She wrote “George standing outside shop, and Irvine – I think – the other side of him by Gray Dunns“. Gray Dunn being the once well known biscuit factory in Scotland that received a Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria.  I have no idea at present who George or Irvine were, but I do remember Custard Creams!

The quintessential Custard Cream!

So, getting back to postcards – here is the scan.  Not that you can see it, but on the right hand side to the left of the “Nectar Tea” sign is one saying “The Swan Hotel”.

1905 Postcard St Andrew Street, Plymouth, England.
Fast forward to the latest Google Earth shot, and you can clearly see that the store next to the “biscuit shop” is still there.  It is called “The Merchant’s House” and is now a museum.  It is a surviving example of a 16th Century residence.  You can see the interior as it is today HERE.
On the opposite side of the road, just before the right turn, there is still a “Swan” sign, but it is now called The Swan- Pub Inn.
Here is the best view I could get of this building/street.
The Merchant’s House – Google Earth.

The second postcard I liked was a view from one side of the River Esk in Musselburgh, Scotland.  While this has nothing on it other than where it was taken – written by Richard Doyle – it was only about an hour or so away from the Maryhill Barracks.  I’m thinking this is around the same few years as the St Andrew Street postcard, solely because on close inspection the clothing is very similar.

So here is the scan of the postcard.  On the far left, between the two buildings, you can see what looks like a church tower.  From what I can find out, it is actually the old “Musselburgh Tolbooth“.  You can read more on it at the link.  Remembering that this postcard is possibly a good 100 years old, there has been much more building etc since this was photographed, so please feel free to point out my wrong thinking  about the comparison photo I will add after the postcard!
River Esk, Musselburgh, Scotland – early 1900s
I had a little tiki-tour around the area on Google Earth and found these two old buildings.  I think that they are the two on the left.  You can see (with a jeweller’s loupe!!!) that the black door and windows seem to fit ok, and the chimney stacks on the roof of the bigger building seem to match, even though some bits seem to be long gone. They are just off the River Esk, and if you wander down Shorthope Street that now comes off the bridge, you end up on the High Street where the Tolbooth is located.
The two houses in the above postcard – Google Earth
The same houses viewed from the other side of the River Esk.
I couldn’t get the exact spot of course but it does seem to me to be the right area, allowing for the fact that over the last 100 years so many old homes etc have been demolished so new roads, businesses and homes can be built.
While this one has no real story attached to it, other than the postcard was sent by Claude to his sister Kitty in May 1923, it is still nice to see some of the old buildings still here. 
The McKee Clock Tower, Bangor, Ireland – then and now 🙂
Postcard sent in 1923.
Current view.
Anyway, hope you liked my little journey back in time.
Just for perspective- here are a couple of old photographs of Richard Doyle and his son Claude.  One Army, one Navy.
Richard Doyle 1869 – 1947
Claude Doyle 1895 – 1956


Self taught artist back living in New Zealand after more than a decade of living in Canada. Starting over in more ways than one but always up for the challenge!

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