Sunday, March 22, 2015

"Between Bridgers" by F. Mary Wilson - A request for information

A group of local residents were recently discussing Mary Wilson's book Between Bridgers.  I know of only three people in Rotherhithe who have copies, all of whom come from long-standing Bermondsey and Rotherhithe families, but I am sure that there must be more copies squirrelled away and much-valued in local homes.  It would be great to see the book back in print, or made available online, but that depends on obtaining permission from the copyright holder. 

For those unfamiliar with the book, Between Bridgers was written by F. Mary Wilson in 1966, and was illustrated throughout by Mary Want.  I only got my paws on a copy recently, and I really could have made good use of it before.  Mary Wilson was a resident of Rotherhithe's Downtown area, the Head Teacher of Redriff Primary School and had expert knowledge of the area.  More than that, she had a real feel for the place, its present and its past. The "bridgers" of the book's title are the swing and lift bridges that crossed a number of cuts (links between different docks) in the Surrey Commercial Docks.  Although the book is not exclusively about Downtown, it does take a distinctly Downtown-centric view of things, and that's really refreshing because most books about Rotherhithe focus on the area around St Mary's Church, which is nowadays referred to as Rotherhithe village.

The book is divided into a number of chapters, which of which explores a different aspect of life in Rotherhithe:
  1. Rotherhithe Street - The Heart of Down Town
  2. River Mist
  3. Religious Life Down Town
  4. Education
  5. Surrey Commercial Docks
  6. Floods and Disasters
  7. Redriff in Literature
  8. Signs of the Sea
  9. Epilogue

The book was printed in 1966 by Copyprints Ltd of Borough High Street. Copyprints continue to do a good job from their new Borough High Street premises, and they tell me that as they only printed the book the copyright remains with F. Mary Wilson and her descendants.  Effectively, it was self-published.

So the question becomes - does anyone know F. Mary Wilson's family?  If they are still in the area, perhaps they too would be interested in seeing the book become available once more.  And if so, would it be possible to help me to get in touch with them to talk about getting the book either reprinted or published online, so that local residents can once again benefit from Mary Wilson's personal insights into Rotherhithe peninsula?  All help would be gratefully received.  It would be really nice to see this local classic available once again, for the enjoyment of all.


Michele said...

Hi Andie
We have a local history meeting on Wednesday so I will ask our Chair, Claire, to ask if any members know of the Wilson family & their present day whereabouts

Andie said...

Thank you Michele. I will be crossing my fingers.