Earlier this year a book was donated to the CADT which was discovered to contain copies of the first ever St. Bart’s Church Magazines published in our parish dated 1883. It was introduced by the Rev. George Linton, the cover was printed by Lewin Spackman and the stationer was Mr Francis Baines. It cost 2d per month and sadly only remained in being for one year. The book has since been presented for safe keeping to the new Rector Reverend Andrew Johnson.
This discovery brought forward a story of the Baines family who lived and worked at 36, High Street and their descendants, who still live in the town. The premises at 36, High Street are now occupied by Allen & Harris and were previously known as the Wine Lodge. Francis Baines was born in South Hamlet, Gloucestershire. His father was a chemist and a bookseller. In the 1881 census Francis, aged 23, was following in his father‘s footsteps and had set up in the High Street as a chemist. In later records he is described as being a chemist, a bookseller, stationer, and seller of wine. It is understood he produced his own photographic postcards of Corsham for sale in the shop.
As the only chemist in Corsham at that time, his advice on ailments was often sought. (It probably saved many an expensive visit to the local Doctor, before the advent of the National Health Service.)
His work in and for the town did not stop there. He was a stalwart and very respected member of the local community. As secretary of the Corsham Gas Works and the Water Company he also subscribed to the fund to convert the Market Hall into the Town Hall in 1882. In 1894 he was a founding member of the Corsham Parish Council. Francis and his wife Martha are buried in Corsham churchyard.
Herbert Baines, his son, carried on the retailing tradition with two shops next to each other in Pickwick Road, selling grocery and confectionery. He was also instrumental in starting up the glove factory at the corner of Paul Street. Herbert‘s sister, Winifred, married Richard Knapp, who farmed at Great Lypiatt Farm, Neston. This brings us to Geoff Knapp, son of Richard, who also farmed at Great Lypiatt, and their work has also done much for the town. Geoff has served the Corsham Civic Society for many years. He is a member of the Corsham Area Development Trust and also works tirelessly for his church.
Just an everyday story of local families who worked for themselves, their families and the local community, and continue to do so.