AS IT’S that time of year, I thought a suitably Christmas theme was apt for the local history column this week.

Here we see Santa arriving in the town, not on a sleigh but on a vintage vehicle.

Former Andover photographers Edith Howard of 74 High Street took this shot from what appears to be a first-floor window of Plummers, now The Redbridge.

The car is a 1905 Vauxhall 3-cylinder Phoeton that belonged to Anna Valley Motors who had premises in Bridge Street opposite the Broadway from 1925 until 1962. The area is now the site of Clarence Court flats.

The car was bought as a wreck in 1935 to restore, and was subsequently used for advertising and as an exhibit in carnival processions, both in Andover and Salisbury.

The seating had been renovated by the Andover Family Repair Service and the paintwork was bright red, on this occasion toning in well with the colour of Santa’s outfit.

Beside him sits the driver - works manager Horace Needle. Perhaps Santa that year was one of his staff.

Excitement on people’s faces is evident enough but people are well wrapped up in thick winter coats on what looks like a damp and windy Saturday sometime after World War II.

Despite being December, many people are hatless, something that would have been almost unknown before the war when almost everybody wore some type of head-gear.

The stall coverings look well blown about by the weather but market traders are a hardy bunch and none of them would want to miss a Saturday’s trading near Christmas.

The market had returned to the High Street in 1947 and this was no doubt better for trade than the earlier war-time sites, firstly in the Walled Meadow (which proved too wet) and then the Corporation Yard, south of Bridge Street. It was also in 1947 that market days were changed from Friday to Saturday.

To date the picture precisely is difficult but it can be narrowed down. We can see that traffic lights had been installed and the vehicles, including the bus, are indications of date for motor enthusiasts. Business changes also provide clues: Holmes’s shop at No 10 still had its old shop front which was completely revamped in 1956, while next to the hotel archway is Mair’s – two shops belonging to the sisters who sold almost everything.

Their old business had been bought out just before the war but the original name was kept above the doors until 1954 when the two premises became Shoecraft the boot repairers and Lavell’s the newsagent and confectioners.

On the opposite side at No 7, the shop-front and over-hanging sign of T Dowling and Son is just visible. The shop became Arthur Cooper’s by 1953 and later in the mid-1960s was Saccone and Speed.

All these successive proprietors were wine merchants but the shop has lately turned tee-total, to become a travel agent. So, the date is between 1947 and 1952; perhaps readers can pinpoint it more closely.