Hertfordshire Postcard Artists, Photographers, Publishers, etc.

Wrench Post Cards

(Hertfordshire cards from 1902/3/4)

 

Sir John Evelyn Leslie Wrench (1882-1966) was actively interested in the unity of the British Empire and his post card activities only occupied a few years of a very active life. He left Eton at 17 planning to enter the diplomatic service and travelled on the Continent to learn languages. While there  he noticed how advanced the Germans were in the production of post cards and decided to publish post cards. His first post cards were ready for sale by the end of 1900 and the company expanded very fast to become perhaps the largest post card publisher in the country with a very wide range of cards - including many view cards including some of Hertfordshire. However it expanded too fast, with too much money locked up in the stock of some 10,000 differed subjects, and despite support from Amalgamated Press  it was liquidated in July 1904. Evelyn became editor of the Overseas Daily Mail and while the company was reformed as Wrench Postcards Ltd at the beginning of 1905 this company closed down in 1906. Two of the employees who were with the company in 1904, Watson & George Knight, began their own business as the Knight Brothers, and their output includes the "Mirror" series of view cards. They set up a limited company in 1906 and ceased trading in about 1908.

 

In 1934 Evelyn wrote an autobiography (Uphill, The First Stage in a Strenuous Life) which includes his experiences as a post card publisher and there is a detailed section on his publishing career in Picture Postcards and their Publishers by Anthony Byatt. The Daily Mail published an interesting article describing the company in 1903 and there is more information on the Postcard Collecting Bulletin Board.

 

So what about the Hertfordshire cards? Because of the history of the firm one can say with confidence that all cards showing views in the county must have been published between 1901 and 1906. So far I have not seen a Hertfordshire card with an undivided back - so the earliest could be 1902. With one exception all have basically the same back with the  words "This space must be used of communication in the British Isles only (Post Office Regulation)" over four lines - although there are some minor typesetting differences. All but one appear to be printed in Saxony.

 

The layout of the pictures vary, some being in colour, and there are alternative versions of some cards. All cards carry a reference number in the Wrench series but the location of the number, the Wrench name and logo, and the printing details vary. In particular some cards have been noted which are not labelled as being Wrench cards - but they have matching numbers and backs which indicate that they are, and some cards have the names of local shops as publishers.

 

It seems likely that all the Hertfordshire cards so far identified would have been photographed in 1902/3 or early 1904, but a few may have been republished as late as 1906.

 

Some (and perhaps all) post cards in "The Hatfield Series" and "The Hertford Series" would appear to have been printed by the same Saxony printer to similar specifications at about the same time. Could these series also have been published by Wrench? More investigation is needed.

If you can help make this list more comprehensive by sending details of other Hertfordshire Wrench cards I will be very grateful.

London Daily News, 20th DecemberR, 1907

Click on images with blue boarders for larger images. Click on blue text for more information about the subject of the picture

 

Undivided Back Examples (Not Hertfordshire)

205 Eton - The College Dining Hall

 

363  Winchester Cathedral

posted December 1901

 

1546,

undivided back, posted August 1902

 

 

Back of 363

1546 also has printing detail on left margin

 

 

 

Divided Back (1903/4) Hertfordshire & Some Adjacent Towns

    Watford    

2194 High Street, Watford

 

Typical Back circa 1903/4 

 

Watford Parish Church - Wrench Series

2195 The Parish Church, Watford

2196 The Fig Tree Tomb, Watford

    The version on 2195 illustrated here has a later back and I suspect that there was an earlier version with a white space under the picture.

2197 Cassiobury Park Gates

 

2198 The Footbridge, Cassiobury Park, Watford (also uncoloured)

 

2199 The Swiss Cottage, Cashiobury Park, Watford (also uncoloured)

Berkhamsted

2664 Woodcock Lane, Hertfordshire

[Known posted Oct 1903]

 

(There is a Woodcock Hill in Berkhamsted)

 

2665 Beckhampton Place, Herts

 

Beckhampton Place - Postcard by Wrench

2665 Beckhampton Place, The Park

The above picture also occurs on the Raphael Tuck & Sons "Country" Postcard No 2275  which contains two views "Berkhampstead Park" and "Egerton House" - copy known posted 1901.

Over the County Boundary into Bedfordshire

I decided to check for towns in Beds, Bucks, and Essex close to the Hertfordshire border  I found some for Luton & Dunstable (Beds) but so far none for Aylesbury (Bucks) or Waltham Abbey (Essex).

3759 Luton - Park Road

Photo Anderson, Luton

 

3431 Luton - A Bit of Old Luton

(also version with Photo: Anderson Luton)

 

3432 Luton - A Bit of Old Luton

photo: Anderson, Luton

 

3760 Luton - Why-Ax-Ye.

Photo Anderson, Luton

[also with printed Xmas Message]

 

3768 Silsoe Church Interior (Bedfordshire). Photo Anderson, Luton 

Trains that would have run through Hertfordshire

   

4512 Euston Station, L & N W R

   

 

 

Kings Langley

 

 

4917 Langley Hill, Kings Langley

{W. Baldwin, Kings Langley}

 

4918 The Lock, Kings Langley

{W. Baldwin, Kings Langley}

 

4919 Church, Kings Langley

This group of cards is interesting and suggests some problems in selecting and labelling the cards. The titles of the church cards seem to have been interchanged - with the exterior being labelled the interior. There was a palace and never a castle at Kings Langley. For two of the cards the Wrench logo and "Wrench series" text have been omitted - but the numbers and address sides suggest they are part of the series. Card 4924 has both the Wrench logo and the name of a local shop.

4920 The Old Ruins, Kings Langley

also with

W. Baldwin, Kings Langley

 

4921 Church, Kings Langley

 

 

4922 The Castle Ruins, Kings Langley  -{No Wrench}

4923 The Mill, Kings Langley

{No Wrench}

 

4924 The Mill Bridge, Kings Langley

{W. Baldwin, Kings Langley

  4925 High Streeet, Kings Langley
   

5187 Pound House, Kings Langley

{W. Baldwin, Kings Langley}

Printed in Berlin

   

 

 

More Cards of Luton

 

 

5973 Corn Exchange, Luton

[No Wrench] {Dryerre's Series}

(also coloured Wrench version)

 

5974 George Street, Luton

 

 

5974 George Street, Luton

[No Wrench] {Dryerre's Series}

  Note that two versions exist of No 5973 & 5974 and that cards in the "Dryerre's series" do not carry the Wrench name or logo

5976 Park Road, Luton

 

5977 Luton Hoo

 

5978 Parish Church, Luton

(also coloured version)

Bishops Stortford & St Albans

6286 Church, Bishops Stortford  

6287 North Street, Bishops Stortford

 

6288 High Street, Bishops Stortford

(also noted uncoloured)

5289 and 6291 unknown

 

6290 On the Stort, Bishops Stortford

 

6292 South Street, Bishops Stortford

(also noted uncoloured)

6293 St Albans, Fighting Cocks  

6294 The George Inn, St Albans

 

6294 The George Inn, St Albans

6295 St Michael's Church, St Albans

 

6296 St Albans Abbey from S.W.

 

6297 St Peter's Church, St Albans

6298 The Lady Chapel, St Albans

 

 

6299 Clock Tower, St Albans

 

6300 Unknown

6301 St Albans, the Nave

6902 St Albans, St Albans Shrine

6303 French Row, St Albans

 

6304 Sopwell Nunnery, St Albans

  6905 The Gate House, St Alnans
6906 Unknown

 

6307 Town Hall, St Albans

 

 
7218 The Modern School, Bedford (card has wide white border round picture)
    Barnet    

bb

 

7759 High Barnet Church

Again there are likely to be some intermediate numbered cards which relate to Hertfordshire.

 

7765

Wesleyan Church, New Barnet

7755 Council Building, New Barnet

7756 Hadley Green, Narnet

7757 Unknown

 

7758 Congregational Church, New Barnet

 

7759 High Barnet Church

 

7760 Hadley Church, Barnet

 

7761 High Street, High Barnet

 

7762 Church & High Street, High Barnet

         

7763 Hadley Obelisk 

 

  7764 New Barnet  

7765

Wesleyan Church, New Barnet

 

 

Hatfield

 

 

Grand Staircase, Hatfield House, by Wrench

8584 Hatfield House - Grand Staircase

 

 

8584 Hatfield House - Grand Staircase

(another version has bright red stair carpet)

 

  There are some very similar cards - apparently printed by the same Saxony company - in "The Hatfield Series." Could these also have been published by Wrench? More research is needed.

 

Catherine notes the following similar "Hatfield Series" cards:

Birdseye view from the Tower 15
Park St 16
Hatfield Newtown church  21
Queen Elizabeth oak 46
Essendon Mill 60
Lemsford vicarage no number

Hatfield House

8586 Hatfield House - View from N.W.

 

South Front of Hatfield House, circa 1903, by Wrench

8587 Hatfield House - South Front

 
    More cards of Watford    

8631 Cassiobury Park, Watford

 

watford-cassio-swiss-03

8632 The Chalet, Cassiobury Park, Watford [Also uncoloured]

 

8633 The Pond, Watford

8635 The Pond, Watford

8637 Tree growing out of Tomb

8639 Entrance to Cassiobury Park

 

8638 Watford Church

8634 Market Place, Watford 

 

watford-cassio-mill-02

8636 Waterfall, Cassiobury Park, Watford [also coloured]

 
    Hitchin    
Parish Church, Hitchin, by Wrench No 8833

8833

Parish Church, Hitchin

 

 

8834 Walsworth Street, Hitchin

 

8837 Tilehouse Street, Hitchin

8839 High Street, Hitchin

 

8841 Coopers Arms, Hitchin

 

8832 The Biggin

8835 Unknown

8836 Unknown

8837 Tilehouse Street

8838 Bancroft

8840 Bridge Street

    Rickmansworth    

9599 Rickmansworth

 

9599 Rickmansworth (colour)

 

9600 Canal, Rickmansworth

9601 Canal Weir, Rickmansworth

 

9602 Moor Park, Rickmansworth

 

9604 Batchworth, Rickmansworth

9603  Moor Park                              9605 Batchworth

 

A Change in the Colour Printing

9776 of High Road, Ilford, Essex still in old style

11094 of Liverpool Royal Infirmary- in new style

Highest number noted 15197 of Upper Lake, Killarney Boat Mountains

12916 High Street, Dunstable

 

12917 Grammar School, Dunstable

 

High Street, Dunstable

12919 High Street, Dunstable

12920 Dunstable Downs

 

Higher numbered view cards in the Wrench series used a different approach to colour printing - as seen in these cards of Dunstable - but had the same or similar 1903/4 back. I have seen no Hertfordshire examples.

 

 

 

Later 1906 Back (by restructured company 1905/6)

Typical Back - Wernch Series of Postcards 1903/4

Later Back

  The numbering suggests that this picture was taken in 1902/3 but the back suggests a reprint in 1906, by the restructured company. This is the only Hertfordshire example I have seen.  

Watford Parish Church - Wrench Series

2195 The Parish Church, Watford

April 2015   Page created
September 2015   Various minor updates
October 2015   Tuck - Wrench use same picture
January 2016   Various updates, including more card image thumbs
October 2016   Various updates