Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Peterborough, Here and There

We recently had some guests visit from Peterborough, England and they brought us a special gift... a book, "Peterborough Through Time, A Second Selection" about their Peterborough.  The book, written by June and Vernon Bull and first published in 2011, gives some of the history of the town, primarily through photos, illustrations, and postcards from the past and present, with short descriptions.  As I looked through the book, it wasn't the differences between the "then" and "now" photos that fascinated me as much as the similarities, and I couldn't help but think about the similarities and differences between "here" (Peterborough, New Hampshire) and "there" (Peterborough, England).

Although the two towns share the same name, their size and age are quite different.  According to Wikipedia, Peterborough, England has a population of about 184,500 (2007, estimated) whereas Peterborough, New Hampshire is home to only 6,284 (2010 US Census).  Human settlement in Peterborough, England dates back to before the Bronze Age, with the name Peterborough being adopted sometime after the 10th century.   In New Hampshire, Peterborough was first permanently settled in 1749 and later incorporated on January 17, 1760.  As for similarities, both communities lie along rivers - in England, it is the River Nene, and here in New Hampshire it is the Contoocook and Nubanusit Rivers.  Not surprisingly, it was those rivers that helped developed the early economies - Peterborough, England was known for brickmaking and other manufacturing, whereas Peterborough, New Hampshire first developed as a mill town.  Another interesting connection between the two cities is mentioned in a book on Peterborough, New Hampshire's history called "Our Changing Town, Peterborough 1939 - 1989, Vol. 1 Narrative" that describes a friendship between the two cities that developed during the 1940s.  In addition to raising money to purchase an ambulance for the city in England, schoolchildren and residents exchanged letters and visited, including stops by the Historical Society and the Monadnock Chorus while on trips to the UK.

Although we don't have full sets of corresponding photos of "then" and "now", we have collected a few vintage postcards over the years so I thought I'd share them here... along with some photos we've taken ourselves.

View from East Hill, postmark on the back dated 1927
View along Grove Street, 2008 (not the same perspective as above)
Peterborough Town Library, 1906
Peterborough Town Library, 2006 (Portico added in 1914)

Mount Monadnock, 1916 or earlier
Mount Monadnock from Miller State Park, 2010

And I must admit, I probably spent way too much time doing background research for this blog posting, but I found quite a few interesting resources for old and new photos and the histories of both Peterboroughs (England and New Hampshire) and more.  If you are interested, here are some of the links:

www.peterboroughimages.co.uk (England)
The Monadnock Center for History and Culture at the Peterborough Historical Society (NH)
Exploring Peterborough, New Hampshire (Yankee, blog)
The Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library (Historical Maps)