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Hansford - Photographer of Charmouth
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At the beginning of the 20th century Samuel, the father of Barney Hansford would take superb photographs of Charmouth and the surrounding villages. Amongst these were some that were produced as postcards to commemorate the coronation of King George V in 1911.There follows just a few of the lively procession down The Street which provide a marvellous record of Charmouth at that time.
Samuel ran an undertakers which was connected to his building business. He was a gifted craftsman. He could build a house, carve a gravestone and run the two businesses - and he was also a great early photographer. One of the stone carvings that Samuel undertook was the gateway to the cemetery at Wootton Fitzpaine. It is carved with the words "The rich and the poor are gathered here together." In the cemetery is a six-foot high stone cross that Samuel carved in Portland stone. At night, Samuel would take his small hammer and a piece of round metal, either copper or iron and, sitting at his kitchen table, he would create beautiful metal plates in assorted designs. These plates were sold to raise money for hospital fees for his daughter, Mabel-Martha, who tragically died at the age of 15. Samuel died in 1920.
Charles Hansford. Charles was the blacksmith at the forge in Wootton Fitzpaine. He was a skilled man who died young after being kicked in the stomach by one of his horses. His widow Martha and their young son Samuel returned to live with her parents in Ryall. In 1950 Barney bought the lathe from the then blacksmith at Wootton Fitzpaine, Eddie Genge. Although Billy rarely used the lathe, it took five years of asking until he finally gave in and sold it to Barney. After a bit of searching, Barney found an old washing machine motor, which he used to power the lathe. With coats of green and silver paint and a new set of legs, it was once again ready for use. The lathe was later put on display and was used regularly in the Fossil and Country Life Exhibition where both Barney and I would do working demonstrations in the blacksmith's area. Over the years the exhibition was open, Barney and I turned numerous bowls and lamp stands, during demonstrations. In 1986, before the exhibition was sold, my daughter Davina used the lathe. Aged nine at the time, Davina had spent hours watching Barney and I use this family heirloom
and didn't want to miss out. So the night before the exhibition was auctioned, I took her to have a go. The piece of wood Davina turned that day never become a lamp stand, but sits in my sitting room along with copper plates that Samuel made and the first ever fossil Barney found when he was just eight years-of-age." - David Hansford - Charmouth through the Generations.
Samuel was born in 1870 to Charles and Martha Hansford who was the village Blacksmith in Wootton Fitzpaine. His father died in 1871,aged just 37,after being kicked in the stomach by one of his horses.He then went with his mother to live with his grandfather in Ryall. He married Isabel Louisa Bartlett in 1898 when he was 28. They lived for a lon gtime at Nutcombe Cottage in Wootton Fitzpaine, where he was decsribed as an estate Foreman and Carpenter in the 1901 and 1911 Censuses. and His daughter Mabel Martha was born in July 1899 in Whitchurch Canonicorum, Dorset. His son Samuel Barnard was born in October 1900 in Wootton Fitzpaine, Dorset. He later moved to Mintaka on The Street in Charmouth.
He tragedically died in 1921 aged just 50 by taking his own life.
His son, Barnard was born in 1900 and died in 1986.
1841 Census
 
 
1871 Census shows Charles Hansford, A Blacksmith aged 37 from Chideock married to Martha, aged 31 from Whitchurch, Anna, aged 9 and Samuel 7 months.
An interesting photograph taken by Samuel Hansford in the early 1900s, of the old smithy which was at the bottom of Long Lane. It is now demolished and on its site is the bungalow called Byways.
Samuel Hansford, who was the father of Barney Hansford of Charmouth, took the picture between 1908 and 1914. Samuel was bailiff on Wootton Fitzpaine Manor Estate (died 1920). The man on the horse is a Mr Evett (head groom to Mr Pass) and father of Brian Evett of Axminster.
Charles Henley has just put an iron tyre on the wheel. Next smith after Mr Henley was Mr Genge in the early 30s. The smith in 1870 was Charles Hansford, he was kicked by a shire horse in the stomach in 1871 and died the same day. He was aged 30. His father Samuel Hansford was smithy there before him. This Samuel was born at Netherbury and had thirteen brothers, eight were smiths, one a thatcher. There were no sisters. One other brother was a silversmith at Westminster, London.
Blacksmiths in the past were always held in a position of esteem in the community for their ability to make all the necessary tools of that time including the shoes for horses and oxen. The blacksmith also made nails, hinges and handles for doors, wheel bonds and many other items and were among the more literate members of the parish.
1871
Barnard Conway, Widower, formerly a Butcher, aged 71 living with Martha Hansford, Widow, Dressmaker, aged 41 and Samuel Hansford aged 10, in 1881 living in Greenway, Ryall, Whitchurch. Barnard died in 1887.
1861 Census shows Martha Conway, aged 22 as a Dress Maker living with her parents in Ryall, Whitchurch Canonicorum.
Bernard Conway and his twin brother John were born in 1811 in Netherbury, Dorset. He married Joan Pitfield on 23 June 1835 in Symondsbury, Dorset. They had one child during their marriage. He had three brothers and two sisters.
When Martha Tolley Conway was born in January 1839 in Whitchurch Canonicorum, Dorset, her father, Bernard, was 28, and her mother, Joan, was 42. She was baptized on 17 February 1839. She had one son and one daughter with Charles Handsford between 1862 and 1871.
When Samuel Hansford was born in 1871, his father, Charles, was 38 and his mother, Martha, was 32. He had one son and one daughter with Isabel Louise Bartlett between 1899 and 1900. He had one sister.

The following census returns for Wootton Fitzpaine show:
16 June 1841_- William Bridle, blacksmith, aged 20, living at Wootton Farm. Samuel Hansford, blacksmith, aged 40, living at Wootton Cross with wife Martha and four children.
30 March 1851 - Martha Hansford widow aged 51, occupation smithing at Smith's Cottage.
John Shepard aged 36 at Longlane, blacksmith.
William Chedd aged 58, widower and two sons at Catherstone cottage,
occupation blacksmiths.
6 April 1861 - Charles Hansford aged 27, blacksmith. William Henley
blacksmith, both lining at Longfane.
John Shepard aged 47, blacksmith at Longlane.
2 April 1871 - Charles Hansford aged 37, blacksmith employing two men.
3 April 1881 - William Henley aged 44 and son James aged 19 both blacksmiths. 5 April 1891 - William Henley aged 53 and son Charles Hansford Henley aged 23 both blacksmiths.
Samuel Holmes aged 30 blacksmith at Penn Cottages.
Charles Neal aged 20, blacksmith lining next door to Sam Holmes.
31 March 1901 - William Henley aged 63 and son Charles aged 33 both blacksmiths lining at Wootton Cross.
Charles Neale aged 25 blacksmith lining at Penn Cottages.
1871 Census
 
 
 
 
1901 Census has Samuel Hansford living in Nutcombe Cottage with hia wife, Isabel and Mable and Samuel - his children
Mr. Samuel Hansford was living at Nutcombe in 1911 with his family.
 
 
David Samuel Hansford married Mabel Brown in Whitchurch Canonicorum, Dorset, on 8 February 1928 when he was 25 years old,he died in 1930 in Dorset when he was 27 years old.
 
 
 
Barney Hansford as a child with his Grandmother outside Greenway, Ryall, Whitchurch where his father lived when his father died in 1871.
The same view today
Samuel Hansford is shown as living at Mintaka on The Street in Charmouth in 1921. His wife Isabel died in 1944.
 
1924 Rates showing Samuel`s wife Isabel living with her son at Mintaka
"The Lilacs" was another house with an extensive garden and was the home for many years of Fred Penny and his family. The next house "Mintaka" was built by Penny and is now occupied by his grandson Andrew Peach. - Reg. Pavey 1972.
1901 Census has the family living at Nutcombe Cottage in Wootton Fitzpaine.
1911 Census has Samuel aged 40 - Clerk of Works (Carpenter) born in Wootton Fitzpaine. Isabel, wife aged 42 from Sidbury in Devon. Mabel, daughter aged 11, born in Whitchurch, Samuel aged 10, Isabel, aged 8 and David aged 7. They are still living at Nutcombe Cottage in Wootton Fitzpaine.
Nutcombe Cottage, Wootton Fitzpaine
Nutcombe Cottage, Wootton Fitzpaine
 
 
 
Samuel Hansford
Samuel, Samuel Barnard (Barney), David, Mabel, Isabel and Martha(Mother)

Samuel Hansford`s Children: Mabel with her doll aged 11,Samuel Barnard (Barney) aged 10 with his toy train,Isabel aged 8 with her doll and David aged 7 with the family cat in 1911.

Looking up the Axminster Road in 1911
Looking down The Street in 1911
The junction of Old Lyme Hill with The Steet with The New Inn on the right in 1911
The junction of Old Lyme Hill with The Steet with the thatched cottage on the left in 1911
The progression moves on down The Street passing Askew House in 1911.
John Hodder leads the Procession passing The Coach and Horses on the left and Charmouth Stores on the right.
The Procession passes Devonedge on the left and Pryers Monumental masons yard on the right in 1911
John Hodder with the beard and Mary and Fred Penny standing on the right of him outside the George Inn in 1911.
The procession passes The Queens Armes (Abbots House) in 1911.
The procession passes The George Inn on the left in 1911
A group of villagers on the County Bridge in 1911
Mill Cottage during The celebrations of King George V Coronation in 1911
John Hodder stands outside his house, Rose Cottage in Mill Lane in 1911
Charmouth Coronation Festival in 1911
Samuel Hansford`s Studio Stand with some of his many portraits which included his daughters.
Barney Hansford and his brother, David in their Workshops. Opposite can be seen Firlands on The Street in 1911.
 
1841
1867 Auction
1887
1901
1928
2017
   
   
 
mmediately east of " Bow House" is a row of cottages, which were at one time thatched. How old they are is difficult to say and they changed hands at the turn of this century in quite a romantic fashion. They were owned by Frank Coles at that time and one day he and John Toms, the miller, drove to Axminster and on the way they discussed the cottages. Before they reached Axminster the cottages changed ownership. Frank Coles was prepared to sell them for £500. The first cottage with a covered entrance way into the land behind had good, sheds which Toms was able to use as a store for grain. A room upstairs was built over the entrance and the cottage was let to Hiss Membrey, an aunt of Fred Penny. It was later acquired by Barney Hansford and became his grocer's Stores. The other cottages were all similar in build. Joe Turner occupied one of them, when he was Tom's dairyman. The gardens extended as far as Charmouth Meadows (now the Playing Field) on the north side. 
The building adjacent was quite different. Its windows were an ecclesiastical appearance and people used to say that it was once a chapel. I could never find out that this was so. When I wrote to the Wesleyans they replied that it had never belonged to them. I can only remember it as the drill hall of the local Volunteers with a workshop belonging to Jesse Rapsey in the ground behind. According- to the Bridport News for 20th April 1886 the Volunteers first took hold of public favour in 1863, but the first official record of those of Charmouth appear in the army list for January 1866, where they are entered as the "5th Charmouth of the 1st.Dorset Artillery Corps, R.G.A.," and united to "I.A.Br.Devon Artillery Volunteers". In this entry no officers' names are given, but in the list for April 1866 Charles Brown is entered as First Lieutenant and in July 1866 Henry E.Norris as Honorary Surgeon. Later Dr.Morris was captain and George Pavey, lieutenant. In 1891 the corps was without officers.
The New Commercial Inn at the top of the Street can be seen in the background covered with Ivy.
Harry Pryer who owned the Memorial Stone Masons yard at the corner of Lower Sea Lane ad The Street is seen here with his grandchildren.
John Hodder who lived at Rose Cottage in Bridge Street is shown here between two of his working horses.
Charmouth Tunnel can be seen in the Background, which is now a Fireing Range.
The Jubilee Shelter that was built round the former solid "Battery" which existed from 1895 to 1904. John Hodder foreshortened the distance the rivers path and it was named "Hodders Gap" after him. The original rickety bridge formed out of Tree Trunks can be seen on the left.
Charmouth Beach
The Curtis family who lived and operated their fishing boats from the foreshore of Lyme Regis are seen here with a net of Herrings with a crowd of visitors watching on.
This is the Steam Engine installed in the former Cement Works in 1854 by George Morcombe. The business ran for almost 10 years, but the building has survived to this day as The Heritage Centre. Reminders of this lost business can be seen in the giant Mill Stones which ground the stones behind the Centre.
A procession passes Sunnyside (Devon Edge) during the annual "Club Day" which finished at Fountains Mead opposite "The Court".
Picnic at Lamberts Castle. John Toms by dog. Mrs Toms with umbrella,Mr. & Mrs. Smith sat in front, Frank Coles in cap with his sister, Miss Nichols far right. John Toms was living at Firlands in 1911 with his wife, Rose. He is described as a Corn dealer and worked at the Mill then owned by the Bullens. Wilfred and Edith Smith lived at 2 Firlands in that year. Frank Coles ran the Bakery where Devonedge is today, whilst his wife operated a Boarding House above it.
Barney Hansford bought Firlands House and the yard behind which he converted the premises for his fossil exhibition. It had orignally been the Drill Hall and later became the Telephone Exchange.
A photo of Charmouths foreshore showing the winches that were used to bring the boats in and out.
A group of over dressed young ladies with their children looking for shellfish on the beach at Charmouth.
Barney Hansford in his younger days about to enjoy a stuffed apple dessert.
John Hodder standing outside the entrance to Rose Cottage at the junction of Bridge Road and the Street. As well as a carrier and furniture remover he manufacturered ginger beer. In addition to his wagonette he owned a wagon and was the general Haulier of the village.
A view from Claremont looking down the Street. On the left is Miss Tarr`s shop.
The old Cement Works (Heritage Centre) in 1911.
Children paddle in the sea at Charmouth.
Children paddle in the sea at Charmouth.
A group of well dressed villagers look over the old bridge which went over the river by the Heritage Centre whose path was altered to its present position in 1904.
The former Cricket Pavillion in Charmouth near the present Playing Fields.
When Albert Capper Pass died in 1904 he left his Estate and business to his son Douglas who lived at The Manor in Wootton Fitzpaine. But the mother moved into this fine house near Charmouth which is a residential Home today.
The Bathing Tents operated by the Hunter family which replaced the Bathing Machines are seen on the left of this photograph of the beach at Charmouth looking towards Golden Cap.
A view looking on to the Beach at Charmouth showing that coastal erosion is nothing new.
It is lways astonishing how over over dressed everyone was in Edwardian times when they went on the beach at Charmouth.
George Bugler lived at Grange House at the bottom of the Street and is here shown with his workmen and friends with his traction engine at work in he neighbouring fields of Charmouth. The engine would have been a familiar sight with a man in front carryimg a red flag.
The following photographs are a selection of photographs taken by Samuel Hansford mainly of where he lived in Wootton Fitzpaine and surrounding villages including Whitchurch and Morecombelake.
A close up of the Bell Tower at Whitchurch Canonicorum.Local Taylor, Charles Taylor who was the Bellringer foreman is seen here at the Church.
Local Wootton Fitzpaine Postman is seen here with his wife and daughters.
A moment in time before automobiles arrived to disturb the silence.A donkey is seen on the right towing a cart piled high with Hay.
The former "Ship Inn", which is now an Art Gallery is seen here on the left of this view of the main street in Morcombelake.
The Ship Inn at Morcombelake when it was still operating as a pub.
Barney's father's second cousin—the late H. O. Pitfield—kept the village inn in Morcombelake and, at the same time, ran a building business.
The lane from the Ship Inn, Morcombelake to Whitchurch Canonicorum showing Manscombe.
A tree lined lane in Wootton Fitzpaine.
Samuel Hansford stands proudly alongside the Stone Cross he carved in memory of his beloved daughter, Mabel Martha who died at the age of 15 in 1915.
A marvellous record of an ederly couple sitting by their wood fire, kettle boiling while she knits and he reads his paper.
George Dare is seen here with his wife, Annie of Mearhay Farm in Wootton Fitzpaine with their 12 children.
A wonderful record of an interior of a famhouse fireplace with a mother and her daughter stroking her cat. The photo graph is so sharp that you can see that the Thorleys Food Calender on the left of the overmantle is for the year 1912.
This evocative photograph shows Moores Bakery behind the young lady, very little changed from how it appears today.
The Old Post Office on The Green in Morcombelake managed by mrs miller.
Mr. Warren from Lyme Regis is seen here driving the Bus that ran from Lyme Regis through Charmouth to Bridport. Mr Welsh can be seen to the right of the bus which has stopped outside The Ship Inn in Morcombelake.
The photograph is described as "London Nurse and Dorset Farmer, Wootton" by Samuel Hansford. On the left is Samuel Miller is seen here taking his medicine from the young nurse. He lived at Champenhay Mill with his wife, Frances and their three children.
Members of the Hansford Family are seen here. In the front second from right is Miss Weeks, who commsioned Samuel to take photos of Chapels in Nottingham.
Simeon Symonds , aged 75 in 1911 living at Griddleshay Farmhouse, Bluntshay Lane in Whitchurch Canonicorum with his family.
The photograph above shows Rachel Case `s entry in 1911 Census aged 95 living with her daughter, Emma and son, Job Case a Maosn and labourere on the Estate at that time owned by Douglas Pass living at the Manor in Wootton Fitzpaine. The entry shows that she had 9 children. She finally died when she was 100.
The Old Five Bells at Whitchurch Canonicrum. This later eas lost ina fire and rebuilt.
Timber Hauling at Wootton Fitzpaine.
Mr William Huxter of Knapp Farm in Wootton Fitzpaine and Mr. Thomas Spurle of Seatown Farm in Chideock who were horse dealers and farmers.
Lunch Time at Monkton Wyld. Men sitting:Joe Studley, Frank and jack Woodman standing left. Standing Left - Joe Case. standing right - Jim Powell known to have broken his leg when braking up the fly-wheel of the steam engine at the Cement Works at Charmouth.
John Hodder is seen here with the Hansford family outside the Hunters Lodge, near Axminster. The Postcard must have been used as a form of publicity for Hodders carrier service from his house Rose Cottage in Charmouth.
Whitchurch Canonicorum main street with its Post Office in the distance behind the Telegraph Pole.
Whitchurch Canonicorum Church Bell Ringers left to right are: Harry Julles, Frank Pitman (Carpenter), Walter Christopher, Charles Knight snr., Charles Knihght jnr., Dan Taylor, John Diment.
Joe Studley, butcher by trade, sheep shearing at Monkton Wyld.
Mr and Mrs. Wells
Mr. Northcott Doble of Manor Farm, Wootton Fitzpaine.
Mabel, David and Joan Hansford with Frank Rapsey play in the fields.First house in the pincture in the 1940s was the home of Mr. & Mrs Burt. Mr. Burt was the Estate Manager, and Mrs Burt produced plays locally. Frank Rapsey lived at Whittey Knapp.
Nutcombe House, Wootton Fitzpaine.
Many people visiting this exhibition have inquired about the life of the collector, Barney. Briefly, he is an ordinary countryman who has gained knowledge through his own efforts and that of others. Although he left school at 14, with no 'O' levels and no 'A' levels, he admits he is still learning today. He possesses a great respect for other peoples' knowledge, and both the professional and the layman receive the same treatment.
But to understand the man, you must be taken back one or two decades and get an insight into his forefathers.
Grandfather Charles Hansford, a skilled man and the local blacksmith in the centre of the farming industry, was noted for miles around for his perfection in the trade and, in fact, made the first hay-making machine ever seen in the district. Many examples of his work are still to be seen in the village of Charmouth.
But he was destined to die young. When his son, Sam, was only 14 months old, Charles Hansford was severely kicked in the stomach by one of the horses he loved and was dead on arrival at Lyme Regis hospital. They buried him at Morcombelake, and his wife, Martha, sold the business. Martha and baby Sam returned to her parents in Ryall to live.
Grandfather Barnard Conway (1810-1887) was a great character. With a butcher's shop in Ryall and one in Bridport, he also ran a butcher's round in Charmouth. Although horses were the 'mode of the day', Barney kept a pair of donkeys for his own personal use and for smuggling, and would boast that "they could race the horse bus from Morcombelake to Charmouth any day".
He boxed and he wrestled and was a keen cudgel fighter. He was one of the last men to fight in Charmouth. A special stand was erected outside the Coach and Horses Hotel and in those days they fought until they were declared beaten. The tale has it that one year a fair came to Lamberts Castle, and with it, a boxer, boasting that he was the "unbeatable" champion of England. This was too much for Barney. He fought this man for a week and neither would admit defeat. The fair travelled to Dorchester and Barney walked the 20-odd miles to the town to continue the fight, until the boxer gave in. He then walked home again, the victor.Years later, his great-grandson was to employ a man who turned out to be the grandson of Barney's opponent at the fair. He told the tale of how his grandfather's leg had been broken in wrestling and, although he was under no obligation to do so, Barney visited him regularly to see he had money and to bring him food. His wife, Joan, must have put up many food baskets in her time.
So young Sam was brought up by his mother and grandparents. In his old age, Barney delighted in teaching Sam to box and wrestle and made the young boy promise that if he ever had a son, he would name him Barnard.
Sam started his working life with six long, hard, gruelling years as a bound apprentice to W. Hobbs of Wootton Fitz-paine. Like his father he had skill in his fingers, and could carve and make anything. He was employed as an improver carpenter, and when he thought he had had enough experience, began to feel he wanted to improve his position. Making up his mind to go to Bristol to work, he told Jesse Rapsey, his employer, and immediately pandemonium broke. Sam was, at the time, carving a crest for the Bullen family at Catherstone. So that he would stay and finish it, Jesse Rapsey offered him £1 per week.
What a scandal. No craftsman had ever earned that money before. What was the world coming to? It was the year 1897. He completed the crest, which is still in the possession of the Bullen family, and arranged yet again to go to Bristol. And then the Wootton Estate was bought by a Mr. Capper Pass, from Bristol.
Life changed once again for Sam. He was offered a job as foreman to manage the estate, which was in a very neglected condition. The ensuing rebuilding and repair work suddenly made employment for a huge crowd of men. A staff of indoor workers arrived with the Pass family, among them a nurse for young Douglas Pass.
She and Sam fell in love and were married within the year. They had two girls and two boys, and Sam honoured the promise made to his grandfather so many years before. His first son he named Barnard.
Sam Hansford, an only child, delighted in his children. He taught them to love nature and all things made by hand. He and his sons would walk miles over the estate and, as they walked, he would name every bush, tree or flower, and teachthem to notice the wild life. Charmouth foreshore once belonged to the estate and so the family came into close contact with the local fishermen.
Isaac Hunter, Bill Lock, Nobby Clark, Jack Lock, Bill Gorge and Brandon Hann. These names still linger in the memories of real Charmouth folk.
Young Barney listened, fascinated by their tales, as he 'helped' them with their nets. They told him of the prehistoric animals which once roamed the earth and of the mammals in the sea. And they told him of the casts they had left behind.
At the tender age of eight, Barney found his first fossil. He was encouraged by his father to start a collection, for Sam, himself, had once chosen a spot to open up for gravel drawing, which had revealed small pockets of round stones. These were identified by the British Museum as sling stones, which our forefathers had used against their enemies. And so the interest began.
Meanwhile, Barney grew up and was apprenticed to a carpenter, as was his father before him. But he had also inherited the strength of old Barney. Excelling at all sports, he was thought highly of by the author, Victor Macclure, who tried to get him to take up athletics professionally. He stayed 'local' however, and joined the Lyme Regis Athletic Club,he founded, with the late Mr. William Dampier, of Charmouth, the local football club and was a playing member for years.
In his youth he took part in many of Charmouth's activities. A member of the Scout troop, he was proud of the fact that he shook hands with Lord Baden Powell in Charmouth High Street!
The family moved to Charmouth in 1916 and started a building business. Barney rose early in summer and winter to walk the beach and search, and after the 1914 -18 war, when cars 'took over' from horses, and visitors started to appear in the tiny seaside village, he talked with them and all the time learned more about his hobby. As the years passed, so his interest grew. In 1920, Sam Hansford died and Barney lost the help of this clever man. He and his mother moved to Ryall, but he was still within walking distance of Charmouth beach and never lost interest in fossils.
Always searching, he was once nicknamed the 'stonecracker'. He was working with a London building firm at the time, digging foundations for a milk factory at Milbourne St. Andrew. A Roman villa was discovered and Barney would spend all his breaks down searching.
How envious he was that he could not take home some of the remains which were buried.
About this time, Barney's father's second cousin—the late H. O. Pitfield—kept the village inn in Morcombelake and, at the same time, ran a building business. He begged Barney to come home and start up on his own. Eventually he won and Barney re-rented premises in Charmouth that his father had rented to start his business. These he now owns—Barney Supermarket.
He was still learning and adding to his collection of fossils which, by now, was beginning to be of great interest to geologists.
In 1935 he married the only daughter of H. O. Pitfield and eventually came back to Charmouth to live. We have two sons, David Barnard (that name again) and Patrick.
At first I did not take much interest in the 'stones'. I had married a sportsman and just couldn't connect this with the keen collector of fossils he was rapidly becoming. But when I saw the pleasure they gave him and how absorbed he was in them, I joined him in his hobby. More and more time was given to collecting as the years went by. We didn't make records of the dates of species he found, as we didn't think, at that time, that the collection would become so important. When the word got round, people from all over the world started calling and many wanted to buy the collection. Barney was adamant. He wanted them to stay in Charmouth. He was regularly attending and showing at the Geologists' Association in London and elsewhere, and was begged by geologists to make a permanent show of the collection. He found all kinds of people wanted to see the ammonites and, at the same time, found that he gained great pleasure in showing.
The idea grew. Could he make a go of a permanent show? He had previously re-purchased premises in Charmouth on which had stood the old telephone exchange and which had been compulsorily bought from him during the war. Our friends suggested we start the show there.
Finances proved difficult. Much money would have to be spent on the building and we would have to employ somebod-to be there all the time. The only way out was to make an entrance charge. This was much against Barney's wishes and right up to the very opening, in 1968, he hesitated.
In the end, I opened the exhibition, and the response been overwhelming. The show cases were made by and our son, David, and the whole layout presents a view of every 'piece' collected through the years. One collector thought it was too little to ask for such an exhibition, but Barney said that he was catering for the beginner as well as the expert.
One specimen, photographs of which can be seen here, have been given to the British Museum. It is much older than usual ones found here and they have named it 'Hansford". He also found footprints which cannot be identified.
Over the years we have corresponded with several people abroad who have previously visited us and, among the local pieces exhibited, are minerals and fossils from many countres..
If we accepted all the invitations extended to us by foreign friends visiting the exhibition, we would be travelling for the next 20 years. We travel abroad, but we go independent!. Visits to museums are high on the list of attractions, as you can well imagine,and Barney was very proud to be asked to sign the V.I.P.'s visitor's book in Rome Museum. While other people admire the scenery, we tell of the thrill of seeing how the Romans lived all those centuries ago. Brussels was a very good museum, but the best specimen we ever saw on the continent was a dinosaur at Vienna Museum.
This exhibition, now on its feet, is proving very popular, and I hope this has given an insight into Barney, the man who lives with the hope that he may find a new 'find' any day.
by Jane Hansford 1969 - wife of Barney Hansford
 
 
In 1968 Barney Hansford opened his collection of fossils and later his Country Life Exhibition. He became a well-known figure and was often interviewed on T.V. Illness forced its closure in 1986.
This book tells a story of the life and times of the people around West Dorset in the early 1900s.
Samuel Hansford, a local 'craftsman', took this unique collection of over 120 photos of Charmouth, Wootton, Morcombelake, etc. just as his hobby.
Not only is the collection of just one man, but this book has had the input of four generations of the Hansford family.
Samuel Hansford was born in Wootton in 1870 and was the son of the local 'smithy', Charles Hansford.
Samuel bought a camera and took photos of the surroundings that were within walking distance of his home. He sold some of his photos as postcards to locals to help raise money to pay the doctor's fees for his sick daughter.
Sunday, the day of rest, Samuel and his wife would put their daughter in her bath chair, tuck the camera under the blanket, and Samuel would use the tripod as a walking stick.
Thankfully the photos have stayed in the Hansford family and were on display in 'Barney's Fossil & Country Life Exhibition', which was put together by Barney Hansford (son of Samuel) and Barney's son David. However, due to illness, the exhibition which was known the world over, had to be sold in 1986.
Barney's son David recognised the subsequent interest the photos generated when they were on show in the exhibition, and he felt it would be a suitable 'tribute to Samuel' to produce a book of his photos.
A saying of Samuel's, after putting on a show of his at the local village hall, was 'If you have enjoyed my photos a little bit, you have given me a lot of pleasure.'