Review of ‘Images from a Fairfield Camera’, by David Owen

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

IMAGES FROM A FAIRFIELD CAMERA

Author David Owen has created a niche in researching the history of villages normally in the shadow of Buxton. This new publication concentrates on the ancient parish and township of Fairfield, the village where David went to school.

People living in Fairfield today may be surprised to learn of strange and long-disused place names, their meaning difficult to fathom now: Gainelif Lane, Onward Cottages and two fields known for some reason as Long Tongue and Little Tongue. Yet local tradition offers an explanation for Nunsfield, whilst WW2 prefabs (remember those?) only survive in memory now, except for the occasional surfacing of pieces of their yellow and blue asbestos boarding.

With an obvious degree of sadness, David chronicles the changes that have taken place in Fairfield, including long-lost traders and farms, or inns such as the Horseshoe, the Whitehouse Inn and the Swan with Two Necks. And wherefore the Cork Club with its peculiar system of fines?

A special chapter is set aside for the story of Orient Lodge and its residents, one of whom spoke seven languages and had business interests in distant lands. Samuel Swann Brittain began his education at Fairfield and became perhaps its most generous benefactor. Many local people were employed on his Orient Lodge estate and the property was uniquely grand. Built in Gothic style with marble fireplaces and beautiful stonework, the house had 12 bedrooms, an orangery and a large range of farm buildings. Some years before its demolition the property passed to the Bingham family, whose legacy is the charitable Bingham Trust, which has sponsored publication of Images from a Fairfield Camera.

Illustrated with historic photographs and postcards covering the past 100 years or so, the book is available from Bells (Clarks) Shoe Shop in Spring Gardens, Buxton at £7.00 (ISBN 978-0-9554845-1-3). All profits will go to St Peter's Church, Fairfield.

Review by Julie Bunting


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