February 2010 - Posts
In the loft above this small cowshed was, I was told, at one time the village mortuary, where if any outsiders who died or was killed in the village, would be taken to await burial.
Its funny how other peoples rubbish can be so interesting, everyone looks at what would not fit into your dust bin. Now take a skip that you will pay through the nose for and given the chance most people will want something you've thrown out , or on the other hand may in the dead of night add to it.
When you have the room to store things for future use, or it is too good to throw away, or been out dated by so called a better product, you keep it incase the new one breaks down.
In the back of our outhouse is an Electrolux vacuumed cleaner, these are the bomb shaped ones that you drag along on two skids with the pipe. I remember when mother had this new, she could fill the bag in one session almost without moving the plug to the next socket (where we took our boots off).
It was when we kids were too young to dry our own hair, out would come the Electrolux, and the vacuum pipe would be attached to the other end and after a few minuets of running it would blow nice warm air. It was by chance that if you bumped the cleaner or its pipe when on its hair drying cycle, and you were the first one, you may have to wash your hair again.
For 40 years of its 60 years life it has hung on a six inch nail ( which is rusting away and needs a new one) in our shed on standby, in fact it was brought out recently to help clean the soot out of the Rayburn, and before that we had a Jackdaw stuck in the chimney and used it to get the worst of the mess & soot up. It still blows hot air out tuther end but unless you want to get rid of your grey hair, I would not use it.
Another item uncovered was an old washing machine, one with the wishy-washy paddle and a mangle, The mangle would in fact swing over your sink, to squash out for rinseing from what you have washed,or stay over the machine to recycle the soap suds for the next load.
Monday mornings over breakfast time, you could hear the Burco boiler struggling to get the first ten gallon of water singing and eventually boiling. Amid clouds of steam this would be ladled or bucketed into the ADA wash machine, in would go all the whites along with the soap flakes. By 9.30am the whites would be on the line on a fine day, and the next load of washing put in.
While the leftovers from yesterdays Sunday lunch ( it was always double veg taters mashed with cabbage, carrots and coli, as father prepared it on a Sunday morning) were sizzling in a huge frying pan, popularly call bubble and squeak with cold beef with pickles',
I Remember Mother's Monday bubble and squeak
On Mother's washing day, she had not much time to prepare a meal and this was regular Monday fare . When it began to smoke it was time to turn it over in the pan, and heated in minuets.
At lunch time every Monday, mother made bubble and squeak,
Potatoes' and cabbage and other veg, sometimes even a leek,
All ingredients left over's from Sunday, put in big pan to fry,
Crisping on the bottom then turned, plenty of heat apply.
Cold beef sliced and put on plates, contents of pan dealt out,
Pan was a big one, it had to be, six plates to fill no doubt,
Pickled onions and pickled red cabbage, went with this a treat,
All home made stored in big jars, made the meal complete,
Jug of gravy thick and hot , often a skin on top,
All of it devoured with relish, plates cleaned off the lot.
Mother would be getting all the overalls out of the washing machine, a good three hours after she had started work. The water that was drained out into a bucket from the machine was dirty, so dirty and silty that another bucket or two were used to rinse it out clean. With bits of straw and chaff a bit of stick was kept at hand to clear the drain tap if it blocked.
Its still runs, and was brought out at times when our modern one burnt out or broke down, it was never brought in to use as stand by , but used on the back yard by the outside hot tap. Its never been out for seven or more years so its ready to be chucked now.
Every item you trip over in the back shed has a history, in the first stride there is a very old electric motor, this used to drive an old potato riddle, that had been converted from hand wind to motor driven. It also has a push button switch box bound with tape and string , the health and safety people would love that. The wooden riddle has been gone now twenty years ago infested with woodworm, although we do have its cast iron fly wheel knocking about somewhere.
A cast iron pig trough, big enough for a sow and litter is making the foundation of a small scrap pile along side the wall, not having been moved or used since we stopped pig keeping some twenty eight year hence. It is a bit chipped but still useable.
A cylinder head off an old tractor that had been replaced and stored, this tractor eventually set on fire way down the fields, when it got over heated. I remember climbing onto the top of a load of hay that it was pulling off the meadows, when I saw smoke. A spark from the exhaust had set it on fire, and I got up just in time to grab the handful of hay that was smoldering and put it out. I uncoupled the tractor, and it took more time for me to call the fire brigade (I was half a mile down the fields) than it took them to come from Stafford. No mobile phones then.
Hanging on the wall is an old scythe, I doubt if many people could even sharpen one properly now. This one has a binding on the shaft where at some time it has been weakened or cracked.(more likely run over with a cart wheel).It has a long blade, and was used to cut the first swath from round the corn fields to enable the binder to do the first circuit without running down the growing crop. Shorter blades were used to badger (cut the grass) the hedge banks when the hedges were cut by hand. The hedge cuttings and badgerings were collected and used to keep the frost off the mangol hog during the winter.
On one of the lofts are a set of sale sticks, six still wrapped in brown paper brand new for a Massy Harris binder, and a couple of sales as well. Also a set of binder canvases, these had been well used, it was always important to keep these dry particularly during storage. It looks as if the moths have had about near on fifty year of chewing at them and are now only patterns if some one wants to make replacements. Father always rode the binder, firstly with three shires pulling it, then his standard Fordson, which as school kids we were conscripted to steer and drive when corn cutting. Every now and then we could not recover from a steep turn at the corner, and put a wheel ( or more) into the crop, this would prompt a savage scowl and if a whip was at hand as in the horse days, this would have been used liberally.
Looking up in the beams of the shed are two old combine blades, sixteen foot long. These are dangerous thing if left where they could trip you up. They had been worn away so much sharpening , that a new blade was ordered. The carriers would only carry a parcel maximum of twelve foot so that was the length that came. Four foot of the back bone of the old blade was cut off and welded on to the new one to make sixteen foot, and new sections riveted on.
The old combine went on for a few more years before being scrapped. (See "My old combine" story).
On the wall in the old dairy is the rack on which you used to hang all the milking equipment to steam the lids and rubber pipes. Other items such as milking buckets lids, pulsators, sieves, churns, a vacuum pump, a vacuum gauge, none of which have been used since milk went into bulk tanks over forty years ago. The rubber pipes and liners have badly perished now, but all the metal items are still as used, and usable. The area in the shed next to the dairy has the outline in the floor where the old coal or coke fire boiler stood, and you can see where the pipes went through the wall to the sterilizing chest. In here the larger items such as buckets and cooling fridge and receiving pan would be sterilized , no chemical cleaners in the early days.
In the loft was a long three inch drive barn shafting going from wall to wall with bearings at each end set in the wall, and one in the middle carried on a fancy cast iron bracket. These had bronze bushes and an oil cap for lubrication.
Along the shaft at the drive end was two pullies, a fast and loose one, as in the days of the first hot bulb open crank engines could not be started under load. The belt drive would be diverted onto the loose pulley to start the engine and a stave of wood used to bring in the drive by pushing the live belt onto the fastened pulley and bring everything into work that was belted on the other five pullies. There would be a chaff cutter, a root pulper, a cake crusher, a roller mill, and of coarse the milking vacuum pump. All of these original machines have gone except the last one. Not all would be used at the same time. When electricity came into the village a large electric motor was fitted in place of the open crank engine. Again this would drive all the machines in the barn one or two at a time.
In one of the back sheds is a cow shed lost in a time warp, it still has its brick coble floor and oak cow stalls, blue brick mangers and wooden racking across the front of the stalls, and a fodder bing along the front. Where the cow chains fasten to the stalls, they slide up and down an oak stave, and in the nineteen forties a vacuum line was added, along with self fill water bowls it also has a low loft, As it happens no items for storage (rubbish) have ever been stacked in that shed, so apart from swallows and the odd farm cat having kittens in there, it still remains the same.
In the loft above this small cowshed was, I was told, at one time the village mortuary, where if anyone from outside the village who died or was killed would be taken to await burial. It had a set of brick steps leading up to the loft door from the pub (the Holly Bush) side of the building. In my memories of this room/loft it was always used as a store for the pub, for crates of bottles and the like.
Around the yard are four heavy cast iron wheels, this is all that remains from a wooden elevator of the 1920's era . my predecessor ( the bloke who farmed here before me) used to thatch a roof onto it every year when they had finished harvest. But when bales came in, it got set on one side and forgotten. I took to it as a heap of rotting wood and thatch, and some iron fittings and wheels. Each wheel weighs about 85kg ( in my speak that's about a hundred weight and half). Two front wheels are slightly smaller than the rear.
Some more iron wheels about the yard were off a Massey Harris corn drill, these are 4'-6" tall and was a drill that could sow fertilizer as well as the seed corn. The absolute bees knees around 1950, later, twenty years later they were fitted with rubber tyre wheels. Unless they were well looked after, the fertilizer rotted and corroded the metal hopper and spouts. The wheels out lasted the drills, and now set around the garden as ornaments.
The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.
H. L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)
The long arm of the hedge cutter whiplashes forward past the pole and back again, giving the flails a second bite at it.
The Garden Telegraph Pole Blog. Yet Another Embarrassing Moment (or should I say weekend) --
It was July and the front garden hedge was looking a mess, and with it being in the centre of the village, and on the village green and next to the school and church, we like to keep it tidy by trimming it three times in the season.
Being almost a hundred yards in length, the hedge was in easy reach for the tractor hedge cutter, so this is how it's done.
So on with the hedge cutter for the first time this year, taking great care on reversing up to it, (you see the tractor has got a very sharp clutch), it takes a good half hour to fit to the tractor, with all the controls and PTO and stabilizing wishbone, run it up to test it, then out onto the road to make a start.
The first run along the shoulder of the hedge, included lifting out a little round a telephone pole, so I go gently inch up to it, then another few inches, but the tractor lurched forward six inches, (the sharp clutch you see) stab the brakes and the head of the cutter out on its long arm whiplashes forward over a foot past the pole and back again, giving the flails two bites at the pole. (A new set of sharp flails had not long been fitted)
Our garden hedge runs up to the school, that's it on the right and that's the new pole with the cable running up almost hidden behind it. Two inches had been planed off this side of the old pole along with rising the cable.
Up my side of the pole was an underground cable rising to the top for distributing telephone wires to all the houses at our end of the village, there is the Vet, the school headmasters house and the a lecturer at British Telecom, also the vicarage and the school, but not our house.
The head of the machine was perfectly vertical, but not quite out of the hedge enough to clear the pole cleanly. So the few inches forward turned into a foot and it chewed into the pole like a plaining machine in one swift movement, and twenty yard up the road was a four foot length of twenty four strand cable, in shreds.
Although it was in a very public place, no one saw what happened, so in consultation with my assistant, we drew a large grain trailer close on the pavement by the pole to hide what we were looking at, and proceeded to examine the possibilities.
One, we tried was to pull the ends to meet and twist the colour coded wires together, so we pulled the cable down the pole a little way, then proceeded to pull surplus cable out of the conduit from under ground . One huge heave and it would not budge, but all the insulation stripped off the cables.
This option not being possible we hid the broken wires behind the pole, and gave up, thinking that we could blame the council grass verge trimmer who had passed through a few days prior.
All this happened on a Friday evening, no one complained about the phones being off until Monday morning. The Telecom, man at his house was away sailing, the Vet was on duty, and had a quiet weekend, the vicar was busy, and the school was closed. (A new eighteen point computer had just been commissioned at the school and a direct on-line internet connection via Telecom set up, and I had cut it off).
I spent all Monday morning carting muck, past the scene, to see what developed. A junior technician arrive at 10.30am and could not find the fault , a more senior technician arrive and did no better, the area manager arrived and found the fault and guessed what happened. I made myself scarce and went a long way around to arrive in our yard for lunch so as not to go past the pole. By this time the area manager had worked his way down the village talking to Reg at the blacksmith's shop, and when I drove by on the tractor Reg innocently pointed shouting that's him ,
I had been rumbled, and even the council verge cutter story did not wash, two weeks later I received a bill. The junior was £28 an hour, the senior man was £42 an hour and the area manager was£84 an hour, and £12 worth of new cable, it came to almost £400 (which was claimed off my insurance). Then two weeks later they came and replaced the old pole and put in a new one, this time they run the cable down the back of the pole. I asked for the old pole but they declined, if I had had to pay for the new pole I would have insisted they leave me the damaged one, but I thought I'd better not push my luck, they obviously did not want to reward "flialgrant" damage.
I Remember the New Telephone Pole
Decided garden hedge need cutting, out with flail cutter,
No small thing on big tractor, one wheel was in the gutter,
A pole it stud right in the middle, blocking my clean run,
The tractor has a clutch so sharp, think formula one the race begun.
I pull right close up to the pole, six inches, to myself I said,
Lift the clutch, the rev were sharp, a foot it whipped the head,
Up near side of pole was wire, to the school out of a hole,
It ripped clean off four foot of this, and dug right in the pole.
The wire we did run retrieve, from way off up the road,
It contained twenty four wires, easy matched up all colour code,
So with strength we tried to pull, more wire out of hole down there,
With sudden pull we stripped the lot, and had to leave them bare.
For two days over weekend, the neighbours had no phone,
While carting muck out through the yard, out away from home,
Telephone van drove slowly by, he didn't find the fault at first,
So he called out senior, who couldn't find it, all was in mist.
Area manager he came by, spotted pole with chunk out split,
Wires he found and came to look, for who he thought was culprit,
Taking notes he did asked the question, did you do it with stern repore,
Yes was my reply, I will bill you for repairs wire pole and labour.
The minion who did come the first, had set upon repairs,
A lorry with new pole arrived, up lifting pole in the air,
Asked for old pole to be left, for me to use at home,
That is not our policy, to encourage damage to our poles,
The bill did come, minion's price, twenty eight pounds hour,
Senior's price but nil he did, forty two pounds for all his power,
Area man was double again, for he did find the fault,
It added up to quite a sum, new pole made it tidy by default.
Policy now is give wide birth, and fit new clutch the tractor needs,
School computer newly fitted, the wall more closely with shorter of leads
Vet across the road on duty, had a quiet weekend tend his dog,
And I did work and sweat and fret, to tell the man it was bad fog.
Experience is a marvellous thing that enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.
Franklin P. Jones
As well as drink you can get, a little bit of grub,
For a gathering of the locals, this was the hub,
News and gossip turned around in the village pub.
As in all small villages it changes over the years, in some way for the better, in others for the worse. The village pumps went some fifty years ago, these were a meeting point for gossip, and news was soon spread from end of the village.
The school on the other hand has expanded, the frontage is as it was in years gone by, but round the back a complete new complex of class rooms has been developed.
The blacksmiths shop closed with decline in the Shire horse population and tractors took over the heavy work about the farms.
The village wheelwright's work shop closed when the wheelwright retired, which coincided with the metal hydraulic tipping trailers and the popularity of the light metal gates and wheel barrows. The coffin making gradually ceased when the in town undertakers took over with the motor hearse. In the early days the hearse was a four wheel trolley housed behind the church, and the wheelwright took the coffin on the hearse on foot to the house or cottage. For the years I remember he worked with one of the town undertakers, he made the coffin and dug the grave, they did the transport. Now that craftsman and his trade has disappeared from the village.
The village pub has survived up until recently when it closed for some months at the end of 2009. It has been hit by the recession along with a lot of other country pubs, it now opened again for food in February, and seems to be bumping along, only just surviving. It is hoped that it will pull through as it will take the heart out of the village if it closes for good.
The post office shop closed some years ago when the GPO decide to do away with many rural post offices, that again is or was right in the middle of the village, the shop itself went into decline with the rise of super markets and the improvement of transport. Near every household has at least one car.
The postman used to come on his bike four miles from the sorting office to deliver mail and parcels, that changed over to a van a long time ago, in fact some forty years its been delivered by van.
The farms have reduced, ours is the only one left in the centre of the village, four other "in the village" farms have been closed and the land amalgamated with the surrounding farms. Where at one time all the cottages had farm workers in them as they were all tied cottages to the different farms. Now nearly all the cottages have been sold off or let to folk who work outside of the village.
The church itself has not changed but the vicars job is now spread over three other village churches, spreading his message to a greater number of people over a wider area.
A Tour of the Village (1950's)
The Village has its own clock, for to tell the time,
On the tower of St Chads, every half hour it does chime,
This its done for many years, and to wind it up you climb,
Three big weights on cables, crank it many times.
In the tower set in oak frame, sit its ringing bells,
Ropes and wheels for swinging, its congregation tells,
Come to church for service, to have your sins expelled,
All the parish can hear them, peal of Village bells.
The vicar has his job to visit, all parish elderly and the sick,
Take all the Sunday services, with sermon long and epic,
Christmas Easter Harvest, Christenings funerals and weddings quick,
He is kept so busy looking after, all village elderly and sick.
Out and down the church path , is the village green,
Under the lych gates, standing all serene,
Looks a little weathered, for all the years its been,
Guarding the church yard, on the village green.
Also on Village green, was the village pump,
Standing in the corner, on a grassy hump,
To prime it work the handle, almost had to jump,
Water all the cottages, from this well and pump.
Across the road to educate, is the village school,
Teacher at the blackboard, sitting on a stool,
There to help the children not to be a fool,
Basic reading writing, maths in the village school.
Further down the village, was the blacksmiths shop,
Making all the horse shoes, on the anvil hot,
Hammer always ringing, shaping metal without stop,
Give the horses new shoes, to make them clip and clop.
Undertaker in the village, is at the wheelwrights shop,
Lays out and measures them, makes a coffin non-stop,
His brother digs the grave, and family lines the coffin
All the week they make farm carts, in the wheelwrights shop
Next again is Holly Bush, our local village pub,
As well as drink you can get , a little bit of grub,
For a gathering of the locals, this was the hub,
News and gossip turned around in the village pub.
Down at the post office, in the village shop,
Sells all essentials, also chocolate sweets and pop,
Letters parcels postal orders, have a hefty whop,
Rubber stamp saying S------d, in the village shop.
The postman comes on his bike to visit, six days of every week,
Delivering post and parcels, each morning his bike it creaked,
Collecting all the gossip while, having cup of tea he'd speak,
All about what he'd learned, on his round six days every week.
On all the farms they have cows, and they produce the milk,
Beef and chickens hens and geese, sheep with fleece smooth as silk.
They have mixture of everything, corn for cows and pigs,
Hay and roots, rolled oats and peas, feed the cows produce the milk,
In all the cottages were the families, men who work the land,
Herdsmen, n' wagoner's, n' those to anything can turn their hand,
Early start in all weathers, generally a happy band,
They work late at harvest time, all these men who work the land.
A sense of curiosity is nature's original school of education.
Dr. Smiley Blanton.
This is one of a pair of cottages known as "Spight" cottages, supposed to have been built to prevent a view, from the old vicarage to Seighford Hall. The occupants of the Hall did not get on with the vicar.
The earliest people I remember living here were Mr and Mrs Breese, who were the parents of Mini Clark, Flossy Brown, Vera Doughty, and one son, Percy who was a motor car mechanic at Bridgeford Garage for Herbert Bennion. They all lived in the village. When old Mrs Breese died in the 1950`s, Sam and Lotty Fox moved in, moving his pigeon loft and tool shed from the old thatched house on the west side of the church
Sam Fox and his Wife Lotty
Old Sam Fox and his wife Lotty, lived in the old Church Cottage,
Sam he was a tractor driver , to earn his weekly pottage,
This he did at Green Farm, on a Fordson TVO,
Steady progress all day long, when out to reap and mow.
A tall thin man five foot ten, his clothes hung loose around him,
Hung his head forward and looked at you, underneath hat brim,
Could not turn his head, looked round with his sharp eyes,
Perfect stance for using, his twelve bore with his demise.
He wore a long grey smock, for eve-ry occasion,
On his bike into town, in the belfry did not loosen,
His boots with spats, rarely got into the muck,
So careful was old Sam, not quick enough to make quick buck.
He had brown piercing eyes, through bushy eyebrows looked,
Quick spoken man was he, fast response as he joked,
What little smile he had, turned his thin lips almost level,
Two little creases either side, midst his talking babble.
Lotty his wife worked hard, in her Churchyard cottage,
Took in washing half the week, from houses in the village,
Her washing line always full, all the way down her garden,
Dried and ironed and folded up, and parcelled in her kitchen.
The smallest lady in the village, smoked woodbines all the day,
Washing money kept her in fags, the shop she went to pay,
In the pub sometimes she called, had a drink bought for her,
Nothing strong to make her wobble, just a half of beer.
House cleaning too was on her menu, bucket brush and mop,
If she came across a bottle , only took a drop,
When she stood to have a natter, leaned heavy on the brush,
Lit up her fag to have a drag, on woodbines she had a crush.
She always wore about the village, cross-over pinafore,
Tied around the middle, hem almost to the floor,
Her skinny legs and wrinkled stockings, plus the ankle socks,
To reach when ironing with her fag, should have had a box.
Their garden it was tended, with the greatest care,
Produce for the larder shelves, a few flowers and roses flare,
Grassy path down the middle, wash line tied from house to tree,
Hedge all trimmed and tidy, brick path swept to outside laver try.
Sam had not retired so long when he past away,
And Lotty kept on working , in her quaint old way,
Bought her fags one at a time, as she got some money,
Called at the pub most dinner times, with her nose so runny.
Everyone respects her courage, working to the end,
To keep her woodbines in her fingers she would sometimes lend,
Always paid back a little later, next week do the same,
Moved to Smithy Lane bungalow, and end her working fame.
Along the churchyard hedge of Church Cottage were two very large lime trees, these were blown down in high winds, one just skimming the side of the house, dislodging only a few tiles. This happened relatively recently, in the early 90`s, and took some time to clear up and settle the garden down again.
This is Ivy Cottage on the end of the vicarage drive with Church Cottage on the right in the picture with two big lime trees can be seen towering over its roof, it looks as though they had been "crowned " (topped off) back in the 1950's, forty years later they blew down in a high wind narrowly missing the cottage.
The second of the "Spight" cottages, was built at the end of the vicarage drive, sister cottage to Church Cottage. This was a farm cottage to Yews Farm, and lived in by the cowman Mr. Hill, until he retired and moved down the road. Albert Hine moved in with his family, and was wagoner for the Yews Farm. There he grew tobacco, among the many things he grew in the garden, until he retired when he moved into one of the new council houses in Bramall Close.
I Remember Albert Hine
Dated in the 1940's and 1950's
Albert was a Waggoner, for Charlie Finimore,
A strong and healthy man he was, and stood at five foot four,
In his younger days it's told, he would walk out of the hills
With a ewe under each arm, in winters cold and chills.
He lived at Ivy Cottage, where he grew his own bacca, (tobacco)
For to keep his pipe alight, it was not a laughing matter.
As the summer days got longer, so pick leaves did he,
And hung then in the living room, the ceiling could not see,
When dry and almost crisp they got, into a draw he pressed
To keep them through the winter, by large old chimney brest.
He rang church bells on Sundays, with a team they were so loyal,
They practice in the mid week night, as if expecting royal,
He had a box, of twelve inches, though he was in his prime,
The little man he rang the tenner, keeping stead time.
The team with him at that time, they are well remembered,
It written in the belfry sill, names and bells all numbered.
All day he worked with horses, a carting muck with two,
He had the one up in traces, as the load was from the Yews,
Up to the Noons Birch field, where he hooked it out in rucks,
Ten paces up, ten paces wide, so even was the muck.
Descibe the man were looking at, a jerkin he did ware,
Tied round the middle with binder twine, to hold more than just a tare,
Cordroy trousers tucked in spats, round his hob nail boots,
Cap raked left and pipe raked right, pouch and matches in a box.
His old waist coat worn and taty, kept his big watch n matches dry,
The shirt it had few buttons , and the colar he kept it by,
For high days and holidays, when everything was clean,
And home guard duty, when the sergeant, he was very mean.
His platoon was made up of men, who worked around the farms,
They mustered in the village hall, to train as fighting men at arms,
The pork and bacon beef and taters, butter eggs and creme,
All of these were traded, mongst the brave old fighting men.
Albert kept his pipe and bacca, it was woodbines for the rest,
As the smoke it was so dense, no room for enemy they jest
This ploy worked well , no men got lost, and warmer they could keep,
Til sergeant came and caught them, so loaded up his jeep.
Two cows he kept and young stock, and a few old tatty hens,
The fields where he kept them, had sheds and tidy pens,
He mowed along the grass verge, all the way to Stafford,
To make his hay to keep them, and drew water from the ford.
All his life he worked dammed hard, but slower he did get,
Albert met his maker, he was one you can't forget,
Popular and cheerful, he lived to seven,tee
Buried in Seighford church yard , remembered by me and thee.
The two cottages across the road (the one nearest the corner) were lived in by Alf Worthington and his sister. Alf always worked in town in an office, his sister also had a clerical job.
The house next door was occupied by Violet Ashley a widow, and used to deliver the newspapers. She would be up at six o'clock in a morning, and walk down to Great Bridgeford to the post office, to collect all the papers needed for Seighford. These she carried in an old push chair this job took her till about nine o'clock. She was attacked and molested on a couple of occasions and from then on always carried the pepper pot with her, for protection. Violet wore thick lens glasses, like the bottom of bottles, and read the paper three inches from her nose.
On her paper round she always had her old gabardine mac on, along with her black beret with a chimney on top.She was a tall, slim old lady who walked quite briskly and very straight in posture. The biggest drawback with Violet was, that when she talked to you, it was you who needed the mac, as she talked with quite a splutter.
She was seldom ill and rarely missed her round, but one Saturday she fell down the stairs and broke her leg. No one missed her on Sunday as there was no papers to deliver, and it was not until she dragged herself down the garden path to the wicket, that she was discovered, after some fifteen hours on the floor. She was taken Stafford General Infirmary, where she had a difficult recovery, but never delivered another paper.
I Remember Violet Ashley
Violet lived in a cottage, next but one to the school,
Lost husband Bill some years ago, life had been so cruel,
For years now she delivered, the magazines and papers,
Carried them on an old pushchair, even in bad weather.
She walked over the bank, all the way Great Bridgeford,
Collect them from the paper shop, for very little reward,
This she did six days a week, every week of the year,
Bout four miles it was the round, she talked and got some cheer.
When she spoke you needed cover, for she talked so quick,
With not many teeth, she shplashed and lisped all as if in panic,
This is when she met everyone, and carried all local news,
Gossip she spread in record time, to anyone she choose.
Violet wore an old gabardine mac , with black beret on her head,
Carried old umbrella too, on her feet bootee's worn out in the tread,
Her hair was cut with beret on, clipped short up to its brim,
Beret had a chimanee on top, wet weather not looked quite so trim.
Some time ago Violet got attacked, when collecting paper money,
This did not deter old Vi at all, reported to the local bobby,
Now she carries a good defence, her pepper pot in pocket,
Carried it for years in case, and never did find a culprit.
When she'd finished her round one Satdee, fell and broke a bone,
Wasn't found till late on Sunday, she crawled out to her gate alone,
This was then end for poor old Violet, never walked again,
In the village everyone missed her, not long was she in all that pain.
This was a tied cottage to the blacksmith. Here lived Mr and Mrs Bill Appleby. Bill was a blacksmith in town; his forge was in Count Road, opposite the old Stafford General Infirmary. Here, he did no farrier work (horse shoeing) but did mostly fabricating and fancy iron work. Mrs Appleby was the school caretaker; this was very handy, as she had only to walk the length of her garden path.
This is Mrs Appleby's daughter Anne standing where the school playing field gates are now, taken around late 1950's
Their garden was all where the car park is on the front, by the school. The footpath from Coton Clanford came over the Cumbers from the Oldfords and right through his garden, bringing the kids from all points south of the school. This cottage had a few outbuildings for the odd cow and a pig sty, and an outside privy, opening out onto about two acres of paddock. What is now the school playing field.
This is the school as it is today, at one time it had iron railings along the front to protect the narrow garden where you see the green shrubs. The Blacksmiths cottage was between the end of the school and the pair of cattages ( now all one house) you see on the left of the picture. The right hand end of the school was the School House. A huge new block of class rooms have recently been built to the rear, over what was the school garden.
A sense of curiosity is nature's original school of education.
Dr. Smiley Blanton