ON Wednesday, December 18, members met at Eype for their monthly meeting.

Having survived the drive to the hotel through driving rain and a very strong gale from the sea, we were rewarded with a fine Christmas lunch.

A fascinating talk followed, ‘Villages and Village life at the turn of the 20th century’, by Bruce Upton, who had painstakingly compiled a most interesting series of photographs, based on material held in the Bridport Museum.

The lecture was particularly interesting to those Probus members new to West Dorset. The first photograph shown was a view of Askerswell, similar to the view from the upper deck of a 31 bus travelling towards Dorchester.

The point was made that most villages in Dorset in 1900 were quite small and, of course, the majority have been developed now, changing the ambience and demographics.

Moving on, we toured around the local area to show the range of old buildings, typically thatched and facing directly on to the road.

Roads at this period were generally not surfaced and suffered badly in wet weather.

It was fascinating to see Chideock, for example, with cottages and small garden patches defining the limits of the roadway, as they do today.

Another striking aspect of life in West Dorset was the high level of manual labour required by the farming industry.

Horses were the main power source but there were signs of mechanisation, early tractors and larger reaping machines, the latter still pulled by horses of course.

We saw out-workers in Bothenhampton, for example, making nets but working just outside their front doors.

Members are reminded that the next meeting will be at The Eype’s Mouth Hotel on Wednesday, January 22, one week later in the month than usual.