Interpreting the Culver Street mosaic

Culver Street Mosaic interpretation

Today’s Culver Street would be almost unrecognisable to someone who lived there in the early 20th Century. The building of the Inner Relief Road and the Culver Street Car Stack split the street in two and meant the demolition of most of the original buildings. Here you can find about the people and their stories featured in the mosaic.

1) A horse in finery

Horse dealer Mr Dean stabled his horses in a yard off Culver Street. His horses were paraded up and down the street in their finery ready for horse shows.

2) Feathers

Margy Bodger was born at number 40 Culver Street in 1921. She lived with her grandparents:

“And of course my granfer was a poulterer…we used to have all the people round there with their chickens and their geese for Christmas, and their turkeys, and all the wild game, it was all sent to ours and we all used to have to help… All you could see was feathers, feathers…lots of feathers!”

3) Bell

Salisbury was a major centre for bell-founding from about 1380-1700, and Culver Street was referred to as “the bell-founders’ street”. John Barbur, the first named Salisbury bell-founder, had his workshops here prior to his death in 1404. Information from The Salisbury Museum.

4)  Mr Golding and Arthur

Between numbers 46 and 48 were two large double doors giving access to “The Cellar” which not only ran under both houses but also under numbers 50 & 52. It was probably originally the cellar for a merchant’s house and was very old, with walls 3-4 feet thick. In the 1920s the cellar was leased to The Haunch of Venison Inn, and looked after by ex-City Police Sargeant William Golding. As a boy, Arthur Maidment had many happy memories of accompanying Mr Golding down into the cellar to help or maybe hinder!

5) Barrel disaster

Huge barrels were brought to the cellar from Milford Goods Yard on horse drawn drays. It was a very tricky operation to get the barrels safely down from the dray, and one day a huge barrel fell and split:

“The news that some 1500 pints of bitter were going to waste soon brought a crowd of every kind and sort with every kind and sort of receptacle in which to catch some of the precious liquid…One lady even came armed with a floral chamber pot. ..The only calm person around was Mr Golding who stood arms akimbo, looking every inch the retired policeman and saying “It’s alright, the insurance company will pay”. (From “I Remember I Remember”)

6) The Royal Oak pub

The Royal Oak stood at numbers 57-59 and was painted a cream colour, making it stand out among the other buildings. Margy Bodger remembers being sent there as a child to buy a half of old mild for her grandmother. A passageway led to the “jug and bottle” where Margy would tap at the window to get the landlord’s attention before handing over her jug to be filled with beer. Rumour has it that when the Royal Oak was demolished the pub sign went up to the pub of the same name on the Devizes Road.

7) The Invicta Leatherworks

The leather works was a source of employment in the area for nearly seventy years. Moving to Paynes Hill in 1902 after its premises in Endless Street burnt down, the works changed hands several times before war was declared in 1939. The business, also called Colonia Ltd, was then seized and closed by the British government; its current German owners having fled the country! Invicta/Colonia returned to private ownership after the war and by 1956, eighty workers were processing the imported goat, sheep and reptile skins for shoe and fancy goods.

8) The Mysterious holes in the washing!

The chimney of Invicta often emitted brown smuts that burnt holes in washing put out on garden lines. Local resident June Handford remembers:

“Every now and again the leather factory sent out all this smoke and it burnt your clothes. I put all me washing out and when I looked out everything was covered in absolutely brown, big spots, course it caught, they’d all gone rust like.  I was so mad I picked up all the washing, put it in the basket, went round and told em to ‘Just look what’s happened here,’ and the  man said, ‘and how much did all that cost  you’ he paid me out there and then.”

Finally, the Invicta management acknowledged there was a problem and took steps to remedy the situation; one being to raise the height of the metal flue behind Rampart Road.

9) Scissors, skins, and a mauve lizard!

Culver Street resident Margy Bodger worked in Invicta as a young woman. She remembers:

“But you had to work hard, mind, to get any money. When you start off over there, you have to start off as a cutter. You had to wear gloves, and they had big scissors … and if you didn’t wear any gloves you had blisters on your hands, and you used to have to cut a groove in the legs and in the back of the tail, so that they could get it underneath the machine to flatten it out, to get under the machine to glaze it, to put a nice glaze on it, a shiny glaze on it. And you had to do a dozen, right? For tuppence ha’penny. Tuppence ha’penny! For a dozen of that.”

Margy trained to be a dresser, and remembers a special order:

“I used to have to match all the shades up on the skins.. that was the lizards there that they used to do. We done some for the Queen, not our Queen, not Elizabeth, her mother, the Queen Mother. They were mauve. She wanted skins done for handbag and shoes and we had to get it just right, and they just sent a little tiny piece of the velvet for us to go by, and we had to get that exactly the same colour.”

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