Hertfordshire Postcard Artists, Photographers, Publishers, etc.

Wrench Post Cards

(Hertfordshire cards from 1902/3/4)


Sir John Evelyn Leslie Wrench (1882-1966) was actively interested in the unity of the British Empire and his post card activities only occupied a few years of a very active life. He left Eton at 17 planning to enter the diplomatic service and travelled on the Continent to learn languages. While there  he noticed how advanced the Germans were in the production of post cards and decided to publish post cards. His first post cards were ready for sale by the end of 1900 and the company expanded very fast to become perhaps the largest post card publisher in the country with a very wide range of cards - including many view cards including some of Hertfordshire. However it expanded too fast, with too much money locked up in the stock of some 10,000 differed subjects, and despite support from Amalgamated Press  it was liquidated in July 1904. Evelyn became editor of the Overseas Daily Mail and while the company was reformed as Wrench Postcards Ltd at the beginning of 1905 this company closed down in 1906. Two of the employees who were with the company in 1904, Watson & George Knight, began their own business as the Knight Brothers, and their output includes the "Mirror" series of view cards. They set up a limited company in 1906 and ceased trading in about 1908.


In 1934 Evelyn wrote an autobiography (Uphill, The First Stage in a Strenuous Life) which includes his experiences as a post card publisher and there is a detailed section on his publishing career in Picture Postcards and their Publishers by Anthony Byatt. The Daily Mail published an interesting article describing the company in 1903 and there is more information on the Postcard Collecting Bulletin Board.


So what about the Hertfordshire cards? Because of the history of the firm one can say with confidence that all cards showing views in the county must have been published between 1901 and 1906. So far I have not seen a Hertfordshire card with an undivided back - so the earliest could be 1902. With one exception all have basically the same back with the  words "This space must be used of communication in the British Isles only (Post Office Regulation)" over four lines - although there are some minor typesetting differences. All but one appear to be printed in Saxony.


The layout of the pictures vary, some being in colour, and there are alternative versions of some cards. All cards carry a reference number in the Wrench series but the location of the number, the Wrench name and logo, and the printing details vary. In particular some cards have been noted which are not labelled as being Wrench cards - but they have matching numbers and backs which indicate that they are, and some cards have the names of local shops as publishers.


It seems likely that all the Hertfordshire cards so far identified would have been photographed in 1902/3 or early 1904, but a few may have been republished as late as 1906.


Some (and perhaps all) post cards in "The Hatfield Series" and "The Hertford Series" would appear to have been printed by the same Saxony printer to similar specifications at about the same time. Could these series also have been published by Wrench? More investigation is needed.

If you can help make this list more comprehensive by sending details of other Hertfordshire Wrench cards I will be very grateful.

London Daily News, 20th DecemberR, 1907

Click on images with blue boarders for larger images. Click on blue text for more information about the subject of the picture


Undivided Back Examples (Not Hertfordshire)

205 Eton - The College Dining Hall


363  Winchester Cathedral

posted December 1901



undivided back, posted August 1902



Back of 363

1546 also has printing detail on left margin




Divided Back (1903/4) Hertfordshire & Some Adjacent Towns


2194 High Street, Watford


Typical Back circa 1903/4 


Watford Parish Church - Wrench Series

2195 The Parish Church, Watford

2196 The Fig Tree Tomb, Watford

    The version on 2195 illustrated here has a later back and I suspect that there was an earlier version with a white space under the picture.

2197 Cassiobury Park Gates


2198 The Footbridge, Cassiobury Park, Watford (also uncoloured)


2199 The Swiss Cottage, Cashiobury Park, Watford (also uncoloured)


2664 Woodcock Lane, Hertfordshire

[Known posted Oct 1903]


(There is a Woodcock Hill in Berkhamsted)


2665 Beckhampton Place, Herts


Beckhampton Place - Postcard by Wrench

2665 Beckhampton Place, The Park

The above picture also occurs on the Raphael Tuck & Sons "Country" Postcard No 2275  which contains two views "Berkhampstead Park" and "Egerton House" - copy known posted 1901.

See Erroneous and Misleading old Post Cards

Over the County Boundary into Bedfordshire

I decided to check for towns in Beds, Bucks, and Essex close to the Hertfordshire border  I found some for Luton & Dunstable (Beds) but so far none for Aylesbury (Bucks) or Waltham Abbey (Essex).

3759 Luton - Park Road

Photo Anderson, Luton


3431 Luton - A Bit of Old Luton

(also version with Photo: Anderson Luton)


3432 Luton - A Bit of Old Luton

photo: Anderson, Luton


3760 Luton - Why-Ax-Ye.

Photo Anderson, Luton

[also with printed Xmas Message]


3768 Silsoe Church Interior (Bedfordshire). Photo Anderson, Luton 

Trains that would have run through Hertfordshire


4512 Euston Station, L & N W R




Kings Langley



4917 Langley Hill, Kings Langley

{W. Baldwin, Kings Langley}


4918 The Lock, Kings Langley

{W. Baldwin, Kings Langley}


4919 Church, Kings Langley

This group of cards is interesting and suggests some problems in selecting and labelling the cards. The titles of the church cards seem to have been interchanged - with the exterior being labelled the interior. There was a palace and never a castle at Kings Langley. For two of the cards the Wrench logo and "Wrench series" text have been omitted - but the numbers and address sides suggest they are part of the series. Card 4924 has both the Wrench logo and the name of a local shop.

4920 The Old Ruins, Kings Langley

also with

W. Baldwin, Kings Langley


4921 Church, Kings Langley



4922 The Castle Ruins, Kings Langley  -{No Wrench}

4923 The Mill, Kings Langley

{No Wrench}



4924 The Mill Bridge, Kings Langley

{W. Baldwin, Kings Langley

[4925 High Street, Kings Langley]


5187 Pound House, Kings Langley

{W. Baldwin, Kings Langley}

Printed in Berlin



More Cards of Luton



5973 Corn Exchange, Luton

[No Wrench] {Dryerre's Series}

(also coloured Wrench version)


5974 George Street, Luton



5974 George Street, Luton

[No Wrench] {Dryerre's Series}

  Note that two versions exist of No 5973 & 5974 and that cards in the "Dryerre's series" do not carry the Wrench name or logo

5976 Park Road, Luton


5977 Luton Hoo


5978 Parish Church, Luton

(also coloured version)

Bishops Stortford & St Albans

6286 Church, Bishops Stortford  

6287 North Street, Bishops Stortford


6288 High Street, Bishops Stortford

(also noted uncoloured)

5289 and 6291 unknown


6290 On the Stort, Bishops Stortford


6292 South Street, Bishops Stortford

(also noted uncoloured)

6293 St Albans, Fighting Cocks  

6294 The George Inn, St Albans


6294 The George Inn, St Albans

6295 St Michael's Church, St Albans


6296 St Albans Abbey from S.W.


6297 St Peter's Church, St Albans

6298 The Lady Chapel, St Albans



6299 Clock Tower, St Albans


6300 Unknown

6301 St Albans, the Nave

6902 St Albans, St Albans Shrine

6905 The Gate House, St Albans

7218 The Modern School, Bedford (card has wide white border round picture)

6303 French Row, St Albans


6304 Sopwell Nunnery, St Albans


6307 Town Hall, St Albans




7759 High Barnet Church

Again there are likely to be some intermediate numbered cards which relate to Hertfordshire.



Wesleyan Church, New Barnet

7755 Council Building, New Barnet

7756 Hadley Green, Narnet

7757 Unknown


7758 Congregational Church, New Barnet


7759 High Barnet Church


7760 Hadley Church, Barnet


7761 High Street, High Barnet


7762 Church & High Street, High Barnet


7763 Hadley Obelisk 


  7764 New Barnet  


Wesleyan Church, New Barnet






Grand Staircase, Hatfield House, by Wrench

8584 Hatfield House - Grand Staircase



8584 Hatfield House - Grand Staircase

(another version has bright red stair carpet)


  There are some very similar cards - apparently printed by the same Saxony company - in "The Hatfield Series." Could these also have been published by Wrench? More research is needed.


Catherine notes the following similar "Hatfield Series" cards:

Birdseye view from the Tower 15
Park St 16
Hatfield Newtown church  21
Queen Elizabeth oak 46
Essendon Mill 60
Lemsford vicarage no number

Hatfield House

8586 Hatfield House - View from N.W.


South Front of Hatfield House, circa 1903, by Wrench

8587 Hatfield House - South Front

    More cards of Watford    

8631 Cassiobury Park, Watford



8632 The Chalet, Cassiobury Park, Watford [Also uncoloured]


8633 The Pond, Watford

8635 The Pond, Watford

8637 Tree growing out of Tomb

8639 Entrance to Cassiobury Park


8638 Watford Church

8634 Market Place, Watford 



8636 Waterfall, Cassiobury Park, Watford [also coloured]

Parish Church, Hitchin, by Wrench No 8833


Parish Church, Hitchin



8834 Walsworth Street, Hitchin


8837 Tilehouse Street, Hitchin

8839 High Street, Hitchin


8841 Coopers Arms, Hitchin


8832 The Biggin

8835 Unknown

8836 Unknown

8837 Tilehouse Street

8838 Bancroft

8840 Bridge Street


9599 Rickmansworth


9599 Rickmansworth (colour)


9600 Canal, Rickmansworth

9601 Canal Weir, Rickmansworth


9602 Moor Park, Rickmansworth


9604 Batchworth, Rickmansworth

9603  Moor Park                              9605 Batchworth


A Change in the Colour Printing

9776 of High Road, Ilford, Essex still in old style

11094 of Liverpool Royal Infirmary- in new style

Highest number noted 15197 of Upper Lake, Killarney Boat Mountains

12916 High Street, Dunstable


12917 Grammar School, Dunstable


High Street, Dunstable

12919 High Street, Dunstable

12920 Dunstable Downs


Higher numbered view cards in the Wrench series used a different approach to colour printing - as seen in these cards of Dunstable - but had the same or similar 1903/4 back. I have seen no Hertfordshire examples.




Later 1906 Back (by restructured company 1905/6)

Typical Back - Wernch Series of Postcards 1903/4

Later Back

  The numbering suggests that this picture was taken in 1902/3 but the back suggests a reprint in 1906, by the restructured company. This is the only Hertfordshire example I have seen.  

Watford Parish Church - Wrench Series

2195 The Parish Church, Watford

April 2015   Page created
September 2015   Various minor updates
October 2015   Tuck - Wrench use same picture
January 2016   Various updates, including more card image thumbs
October 2016   Various updates