The best of Dorset in words and pictures

Wareham then and now in pictures

Michael Handy explores how much, and indeed how little, the Saxon town has changed in a century

The pre World War 1 era picture was quite heavily retouched; walls, chimneys, kerbs and roofs have been painted in or over in some places. What looks like a sign for Bank of England is the old National Provincial Bank of England, which merged in the 70s to form NatWest. The Red Lion's top floor windows have changed too, as have chimney stacks here and there.

Looking around 21st-century Wareham, one could be forgiven for thinking that an awful lot has changed over the last 100 years.
In very many ways, though, the layout and buildings of the town would be easily recognisable to a time-travelling visitor from just after the reign of Edward VII.

The ivy has been removed and the roof of St Martin's Church repaired but that (and the disappearance of the cows from the road and the Lord Nelson Inn) is pretty much all that has changed in a hundred years

Other than the names of the shops and the materials and colours used in their signage, the biggest change to the town as a whole has been the growth of trees. Once open views have been closed in, not by rampant development, but in a year-on-year expansion of foliage – what one might call a root and branch expansion. The other major changes are the introduction of the bypass and its influence on the routes of roads by the periphery of the town centre.

An attempted picture today from the original viewpoint showed only trees on the photographer's side of the River Frome… and St Mary's Church completely obscured by trees on the other bank; this alternative viewpoint at least shows some of the church and river

The South bridge over the River Frome, whose raised structure and semicircular arches of the 1910s were less than ideal for the heavier traffic of modern times have been replaced by the shallower arches and flatter road of the present river crossing by the quay.

The carnivals of 1913 and 2013 are different in their character, if not in the wholehearted way in which participants have thrown themselves into their float's theme. The politically incorrect 'blacking-up' has, astonishingly, not entirely died out over the last century either.

The other change is not so much a physical one – although it has resulted in a lot of building, as a human one. The population has grown steadily – other than a dip following World War 1, from around 2000 in 1911, to 3100 in 1961, to around 5500 now.

Probably the biggest change of all in this series of pictures is the route that Station Road took. That, and the fact that trees have grown over the intervening 100 years make the original angle impossible to replicate.

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