Godfrey Jellyman (born 1923)
(After the war) things were getting worse (at the farm) so we sold up. I saw there was a job up on the aerodrome and they said you got to go to the Labour, so I went to the Labour and they said you got to go to the Aston so I give up on that. So I took a job down in Stonehouse making brushes, only I was on the maintenance. It was a wonderful place really. All sorts of brushes, shaving brushes, brushes for the army. I had been there a while, it was quite good, we used to pay in for a Christmas club, but if people were sick they could draw it out, so depending on how many people were sick would depend how much we got at Christmas. It was run by someone who worked down there not anything to do with the factory really.
Mr. Humphries lived at the end of the row and Mr. Pritchard lived just over the back and they worked at Longfords. Well I worked at Longfords and I was there 33 years but in them days they started at 6.0. The workers walked down and up to Minchinhampton, down into Avening and of course they had to walk back home at night. Mr. Aldridge was a foreman, Mr. Pritchard was a blacksmith.
I think it was a very good time to live here because all my working life things gradually got better and now everything seems to be getting worse, so I think we saw the better times, or at least I did. Holidays got longer and wages went up, you know. There was plenty of work. People who were on the Labour, dole, the foreman would see a couple of people a week. Anyway, this chap he made an appointment and he was up there with the boss who was asking him questions and he said ‘Oh, just a minute, I forgot my fags’. He didn’t get the job.
I went to the Technical College in Stroud and took a commercial course for office work. When I left there, (about 1944?) I went into the bank, Lloyds Bank in Stroud, for four and a half years until I got fed up with the hours. On more than one occasion I caught the last bus out of Stroud at midnight. In those days anything that went over the counter had to be on the books and balanced by the penny before we could come home at night, and if it didn’t balance you just had to stay. There was the war on as well and we used to get power cuts and so consequently couldn’t use the machinery to do the ledgers, and we just had to wait for the power to come back.
From there I did take a little job in Gloucester because if you didn’t take a job when leaving anywhere, and you hadn’t got a job, they put you into a factory. So I took this little job in Gloucester, but I didn’t like it and through Pam (Skinner), who was secretary to the principal of the Technical College, Mr. Fuller, I got back to Stroud. Daniels rang him up and asked if he knew anyone with some experience and he said ‘no’, but Pam, being in the office, overheard the conversation and poked my name under his nose and he said ‘wait a minute, I think I might know someone’. Next day I had a letter from Daniels saying could I go for an interview and I was there nearly 40 years. Of course we were made redundant so I really retired a year earlier but I was still on the books for another 6 months after that so it was nearly 40 years. When I first went to Daniels I was in the costing and accounts office. Then I was moved to the wages office and I ran that, then I became their Company Cashier. We had contometers (?computers) to work on, then the ledger machines then, when I went into the wages office, they had a special ledger machine that would do the payroll. It was all printed on a long sheet.
I used to walk, or run because I always left it to the last minute, into Chalford Valley and get the bus into Stroud and a connection to Nailsworth and I used to get to Lightpill like that, until I had the car in 1963. I had it for 25 years.
Anne Sutton (born 1927)
When I left the High School, it was my primary aim to go into the Bank. I liked figures but there weren’t any openings right then. My friend suddenly announced she was going into the Post Office and they would take on another one, so I went there. I stayed with the Post Office until I married, but did do another year. My husband was in the Air Force, he went to Germany so I was thinking I would be going there soon. So I left the PO but still stayed at Chalford and I was used as relief for them occasionally.
When he came out of the Air Force in 1966, we took on a Post Office in South Petherton, Somerset. I still love the post Office and am very supportive of them, I always say ‘ if you can do business in the Post Office you should do’. I’ve lectured all of my friends over the years. ‘You mustn’t pay your telephone bill by post, you’ll groan if the Post Office goes’. I expect they do it all on line now.
George Gleed (born 1930)
I was apprenticed carpenter and then supposed to do National Service at 18, so I had to stop my apprenticeship for a while.
I remember every house I worked on as a carpenter/builder. I was very interested and keen and done very well. I worked for Gardener Franklyn and Lusty. There was three partners. After I come back out the navy I worked at the Manor House, Lypiatt. We didn’t have insurance just had to be jolly careful. I always got on well and never got the sack! I worked at Nether Lypiatt Manor for three or four years. Some jobs were small, we didn’t get too many big jobs round here. I helped build my father’s bungalow just after the war had finished.
Cynthia Gleed (born 1933)
I left school in 1948 and went to work in Woolworths, then I went to the International Stores as they paid our bus fare from Bisley to Stroud, which was a lot for us then.
Then in 1953 I got married. I heard they wanted someone in the big house, cleaning. I worked up there for £1.50 a week in the mornings, cleaning all these rooms. Major Gwynn lived there then with his old mother who had a rotten, tatty four poster bed! I was only there for a while before I got pregnant. Then I used to walk up there in the summer and the cook used to weigh him on the kitchen scales.
We had two children, the boy born in ’55 and the girl in ’56, and then I learned to drive and I delivered for the local butcher (Duttons) for 11 years, and then I left there and went to Critchleys for 16 years, it was more money. I was there until I retired. I wish I had gone to Critchleys years earlier. It was a much better job. They took care of you more, it was a bigger concern.
Grace Banyard (born 1930)
Mr. Blake came round to see me one day and said he had a job for me in Stroud at a drapers, Mr. Gibsons or Mr. Johnsons in Stroud. I said I’m not going because I already had a job! I am going to work for Bob Wills who had a shop at the top of Marle Hill. It was a greengrocers and paraffin, methylated spirits. We called it Chalford Hill shop. Mr. and Mrs. Browning worked for him as well. Mr. Browning years ago had done the papers. I used to go to work at 7.0 and do the papers all around France Lynch and Bournes Green, then go back and work in the shop; then when it was haymaking and harvest I had to go and work in the fields at 6.0 when I left the shop. It was light until 11.0 at night.
Lypiatt Park was owned by the Dorringtons and Judge Woodcock lived there; then he and his daughter came to live at Jaynes Court up here. She was a proper old maid. I went to work for her and she told me to clean the fireplace out which I’d done, then she told me off because you weren’t supposed to clean a wood fireplace!
When the farmers gave up, Alan (husband) and his friend went on as foresters, cutting trees, and he was injured very badly and ended up in hospital – broke his leg in 2 or 3 places when a tree fell on him. The saw was still going, so he cut himself out and crawled up the bank and got in the landrover and got as far as the gate and then caught the attention of someone. He was in hospital 6 weeks. Before that, he got injured too when a piece of wood shot off the winch and hit him in the side of the head. Then he was rushed to Frenchay. He always worked hard and rarely grumbled.
Ron Smith (born about 1939?)
I wanted to be an engine driver. I started in Gloucester as a boy but I couldn’t do nights as you had to be sixteen. That would have been about ‘54(?). I went to the Station Master at Stroud and he got in touch with Swindon and gave me a pass to get there so that I could have a medical.
When I went for my interview there must have been twenty applicants and they only took two on. It was a very sought after job. Don’t forget you had your free passes and everything there. You had a written paper and they liked you to have a Red Cross certificate for first aid. No exams from school or anything.
It took a long time to become an engine drive, twenty years plus. You had to wait for somebody to die. You had to apply and there was a preference system. There could be five or six people waiting for each job. You went from being a cleaner to a fireman to a driver. What was nice in them days is that they taught you first aid. It was St. John’s Ambulance or Red Cross and it was very competitive. I enjoyed it and that’s how I got my job when I finished up.
There was a driver, a fireman and a guard. We took water at Stroud. Chalford had no water but Brimscombe had water. It’s all gone. The water tower at Kemble is still there. The fireman stayed with the engine all the time and the driver went across to the accelerator which also linked up to the brake. The guard was collecting tickets and helping people on and off. Funny thing about it is we used to drink a lot of cider. At Stroud, they’d give you a couple of flagons of cider and by the time you’d got to Chalford they’d gone.
They supplied all your clothes look, your trousers, jackets and a lovely overcoat which I still got now. You had good holidays with them. They had these apartments you could go on holidays, Penzance and places like that. You were your own man, no-one really interfered with your job.
5.0 o’clock in the morning, by the time you got that engine filled up with water, built the fire up, you’re up to Chalford for 7 o’clock. The first one was about quarter past seven, half past seven. Got into Gloucester for 8.0 o’clock. Once you’d got that fire right look, built up and nice and warm, you could run for an hour on that.
My shift started 5.0 o’clock in the morning and when you went down on the 1.0 o’clock that was the end of your shift. Then 1.0 o’clock until half past 10.0 at night. Eight hour shift altogether . We used to work alternate one week on early and the next week lates. If there was any overtime on a Sunday, that was our job.
Then I went on to the railcar. We used to (take) the first railcar down to service the engine at Gloucester at lunchtime, back up to Chalford. The best bit about it was you knew everyone by name. I would help put the prams on and things like that. Put the mail on if we were taking the mail through. It was a lovely job and I could do it now quite easily. I did a morning shift and an afternoon shift and had every Sunday off. You got paid more mileage on a Saturday than the chappies that went to London and back with the express. It was Gloucester and on to Cheltenham on a Saturday. Busy little job. The early shift meant getting up at 5.0 o’clock in the morning. We’d service the engine, fill up with water and heat the coach up so we could run the first lot of workers through to Gloucester. It was a busy little train that first one down through the valley.
When Chalford station closed, I was dead lucky. We used to work to Ebley School and the caretaker there was Frank Cook. His wife was the escort on the ambulances when we first started and Peggy, my wife, had just started teaching at Ebley School in them days. Frank Cook says to me one day ‘I’ve got just the job for you’. ‘On the ambulances, we’ve got a vacancy’. I went on the ambulances and I stuck it till I retired. We had to go to France Lynch, we always went into the Kings Head to turn round and we always had a drink there. Night or day, ‘cause you didn’t know when you’d get another. We covered the whole county in them ambulances. Moreton in the Marsh right down to Bristol, Tetbury, Tewksbury. You had a lovely cap badge which I’ve still got on a cap.
Jenny David (born 1933)
(Jenny) My brother Tony, he was seven when I was born. He was very clever. He went to Marling until he was 16 or 18. I don’t remember where he went to work initially but he then went to Clark’s at the top of Stroud. That’s when he did his engineering bit. And then he changed to the big – down country somewhere. Electronics he was in, wasn’t he? Where they had the big labs – Berkeley Power Station. He went down there to do the main job. And he was in there till he retired.
After High School, I went to be a hairdresser in Stroud, Pankhurst’s. I was trained basically on the job and then, when it came to perms, I went to London for a fortnight. It was mainly perms, colouring would have been done by the sisters. Just wash and set, and perms mainly. Hair was all very controlled. In those days, when you’re 15 it’s the law; you left school and you got a job. I had an apprenticeship though, and I couldn’t break it, so I left when I was 18 (got married?).
Shirley Bushell(born 1943)
My grandfather came to Chalford to work as a baker’s delivery man for the Co-op – where Lavender Bakehouse is. He used to take the horses all up round the lanes and the roads in Chalford and deliver bread all round Oakridge.
My grandparents lived in the end of the row – next door but one. I can remember the mill as Fibrecrete. All the sacks of fibre. Chalford Building Supplies and all that was part of the mill. They used to cut all the sheets of asbestos. There used to be lorry loads of offcuts of asbestos and bits and pieces. Chalford is built on asbestos! Lorry load after lorry load used to go out.
My father was pipe laying when he came here from Yorkshire and then met my mother and never went back to Yorkshire. He had various jobs. He was on the buildings for a long time. I think he did work on the Fibrecrete for a while, but it was never his thing.
Gerald Gardiner (born 1933)
My dad worked for the gas company, laying new services to the houses. I worked with him for a while. My mum stayed at home until after Ronald and then she started work. She was down at Tylers and they were making gliders for the war. She was a sprayer – spraying ‘dope’ – you could wash your hands in it as well. Tylers was not far before you get to Bowbridge – between Thrupp and Bowbridge, on the left. That was war work and after the war she worked in the cake shop, Fowler’s, in Stroud.
I had a Sunday morning paper round from the newsagent at the bottom of the hill. Most of it was walking. I used to walk right along that Cirencester road to deliver one paper and right round the back of the aerodrome. I did leave say 9.0 and get back about 12.30. I think a got about three shillings and sixpence. I was at the Marling then so probably over 11 years old. You had a big bag. The papers were big enough in them days.
I went labouring and had two or three jobs before I was called up; for National Service at 18 in 1951. After National Service (and marriage to Maureen), Maureen worked at Bensons on a machine. They made things for ring binders in Brimscombe Corner. It’s the long building up the side of the road. That was called Fromeside. She did that until ’53 when she had her first child.
I mainly worked in asbestos for Fibrecrete and they got taken over, taken over and taken over and after all them years of washing my clothes, Maureen got the disease that killed her look. She died 11 years ago. I worked from ’55 to ’67 with asbestos. There’s lots of asbestos buried around. There was a chap from Oakridge and all he was doing was taking asbestos waste away. They broke it up and put it on a wagon. The car park at the Old Neighbourhood is all asbestos. It was like a little quarry and they filled it in deep with asbestos. They closed the one by the road as you go along towards the top club because the asbestos started coming up by the track people used. Fromeside, that’s all asbestos along there. We didn’t have a mask or nothing. They did know it was dangerous from the ‘30s. I found that out after. When I finished off working, I was on the beater floor – it wasn’t a dirty job it was just dusty but you were breathing in bits of fibre like feathers – the bad stuff look. I’ve got something on the right lung – plural plaque. Asbestos like Maureen had turns nasty and you can’t get over it.
Then I worked at Bensons. Maureen worked in the canteen up the ‘drome and then started working down at Elbesee where they did the embroidery stuff. I was down there until I retired at just over 65, but Maureen worked until she was 71.
Margaret Mills (born 1934)
My father was an engineering draughtsman at Critchleys all his life. They took some women in munitions in the war. He lived in Minch as a boy, when he first went to Critchleys.
I went to work at the Bon Marche in Gloucester and trained and worked as a window dresser. It was one of the best times of my life. Absolutely wonderful. I went on the railcar from Chalford to Gloucester every day. Ten shillings a week that cost me but I was only earning £2.10 shillings anyway so it was quite a lot. I caught the 8.0 from here to get into Gloucester for 9.0 and caught the 5.0 home. I was allowed to leave a little early to catch it. It was a good time working there. It was quite something for someone living in Chalford to go to Gloucester to work. I worked there eight – ten years, at the old Bon Marche, where Debenhams is now. I still keep up with a couple of the people I worked with there after all these years.
The canal we always took for granted – there was a lot of activity, a lot of industry in the valley and a lot of people worked there, they didn’t go away to work like they do now, but they worked in the valley. Stroud Valley was very full of industry. I suppose it probably was noisy but we didn’t take that much notice.
During the war the factories were manned by women. A lot of work was taken into people’s homes to do, like Critchleys they did a lot of things like hairpins and needles and you used to pack it up at home.
John Hemmings (born 1934)
I had a wonderful grandfather who worked for the Stroud Co-op as a baker delivery man. He was respected as a gentle man. Wherever you went everyone gave him a good reputation. We had some poor people around here in the thirties and forties. One family who were particularly poor, he left them bread rather than let it go to the horse on a tree!
My mother worked in several of the mills and ended up in the Army forms which was in Chalford Building Supplies, and during the war it was full of American and English forms.
There was Cook had the Post Office, and at the age of 15 I did a paper round for him at 6 o’clock in the morning. You started in the Post Office and went up to Springfield House, and all the way up Marle Hill and up to Poole’s Ground, and to the school and Rack Hill, then went home for breakfast, then to school. I had a pushbike and in the evening I’d go to the Post Office and asked if there were any telegrams. Cook was a right old miser. If there was a wedding at Frampton Mansell you may get 6 or 8 telegrams and say if you got 10p for taking one, it was the same 10p for all them. But he got paid for each of them. He should have never have given me a telegram to take to a mother at the top of Dark Lane to say her son was missing in the war. He should never have given a child a telegram like that.
(When I left school at 15) just down the road I did my apprenticeship but the firm went bankrupt and I had to find a job, and got one at a place called Hoffmans in Stonehouse, where they make ball bearings, and I was on piece work. I was young and hungry so I put my back into it, and on the fourth week I was there, two of them come along to stop the machine. ‘Have you seen your figures?’ They said. I was earning more than the others so that was it, I was finished.
I got a job in Gloucester to learn to be a trimmer – car work. I learned a lot. After about 4 years it was getting a bit much. The boss was a First World War corporal – still liked to be a corporal! So I finished there; then we had an upholstery company in Brimscombe called ‘Put You Up’. Got that job but same thing happened again. I was working with another chap, one week I worked for 4 days and he did the next week. Then the Union jumped up and eventually said that’s enough, so I started by myself 1938, the following week. No signing forms or anything else.
For the first three years we never had a telephone. I had £37 and an old treadle sewing machine in Chalford. Back of old pub in club room. Then my relation Cyril said we could buy his house. I’d been going 4 or 6 months, went into Lloyds Bank when manager came in asked what I was doing as he noticed I was doing well. ‘Who’s sponsoring you?’ he asked. But no-one was. He was surprised! I was paying for mortgage, wife myself. He said ‘we had a discussion and we have decided to make a £50 overdraft available, if you need to, and will you go and see my wife she wants a chair done’ and it’s gone on from there. I’ve enjoyed 90% of my working life and sometimes would work 36 hours without going to bed, but I enjoyed what I did. Times I’ve sat down and thought ‘bloody hell – what done this time.’
Chalford Chairs moved into Victoria Works about 15/20 years ago. The area knew me and when they want something done they always come. Wallace King had been in the business and bought the upholstery company. I bought it off him.
Then if you worked you did well – none of the codswallop of Health and Safety. If I had 50 people now it would be a terrible amount of paperwork. Jean and I worked the local shows – Stroud Shows. Then it came I’d just bought the company when Maggie was in power, and in one week inflation shot through the roof, and inflation went from 7% to 40% for borrowing money, and my men had a 21% pay increase – bit of a shock. I repriced everything in the company at that point. George said he’d do that for me but he didn’t know the business like I did. Rita Gorney was in the office. I made her a director and she looked at the figures and said we’ll never sell another bloody thing but actually, with money in the building society, you were making 18% and my customers were conservative and they bought what they wanted and we didn’t look back.
I had a phone call once from the Bishop of Gloucester. They had 10 chairs where the monks sat and they were different from anything else. Leather seats, straight back convex rather than concave seat. They were interesting so I took them back and I said those chairs going to be there 100 years after I’m gone so allow me to donate my work. Thank you very much indeed. About 7 years later I was asked to do another 25 chairs and I said no!
I got on well with the garage in Stroud and they had partners and one was a naughty boy and I was invited to invest and to be a director, so all of a sudden I’ve got 2 companies. So I finished up employing more than 50 people, in Stroud and in Chalford.
I made a silly mistake, running 2 businesses plus directorship was too much. Because I have to be involved. Then I employed a man who had worked for Parker Knoll for 18 years and you can’t get much better than them. He rung up for a job so I said ‘why don’t you buy the business?’, and I left it in very good stead; but he wasn’t prepared to work 18 hours a day when it was necessary. Great shame that, all the little businesses closing down in the area.
The amount of factories we had. There’s one along at the end of the valley, now turned over to housing. They were the ones that used Rack Hill for drying the cloth. Then you come down to the one renowned for very good carpentry. All the big houses used them. Peter Waals did the wonderful work in the church.
Mr. Smart, who had nothing at all to start with, had the coal merchants. They had barges but by the time he died he owned one third of all of Chalford, all from nothing.
Walking stick factor in the valley made a fortune in the late 80s, then Critchley, which was knitting things, then the Dark Mill which was knitting needles, Wallers big engineering company and below that carpet works then the next one which split up into units where they built wooden gliders in the war, then Bailey’s paints then a very big caravan company – after the war.
Heber Mill was Clark Mill, by the mill pond. That’s where I did my apprenticeship. The waterworks worked. They had steam engines going, 15 ft cast iron wheel. The Old Silk Mill became flats. 1870 start of bottom falling out of wool trade ruined this area.
Beryl Freebury (born 1941)
My mother’s father was a gardener at Lypiatt Park when it was owned by Judge Woodcock. I remember my mum worked at a post office. There is only one shop where it is now. (Later) my mother used to work as a waitress up at the pub by Thomas Keble. We have photographs of her in her hat and her little apron and dressed in black.
After the war, my father worked at Greaves and Thomas by the Round House in Chalford. It made three piece suites. My father taught the original owner, John Hemming, of Chalford Chairs; he was dad’s apprentice. One of the settees was made for Buckingham Palace. When Greaves and Thomas closed down, he worked at Critchleys. But his job was an upholsterer. He had a special hammer with a very thin top and would keep all the tintacks in his mouth! He was always renovating chairs.
I took GCE and I left when I would have been sixteen in the October. I had a choice of three jobs. I could have gone along to Bowne’s on the Slad Road – office work. I could of gone to Waller’s in the office where Derek worked, but as we were going out we thought it wasn’t a good idea. Then I had an interview at Benson’s in Brimscombe where they made ringbinders and exported all over the world, and I worked there for five years. Our eldest son was born in ’64 and another in ’67 so I didn’t work then until the youngest one was three and a half, then I worked at the local doctor’s surgery just two mornings a week. When he was 14, I worked full time. I worked there for thirty three and a half years until I retired. As the surgery grew, I became practice manager and finished in 2001.
Derek Freebury (born 1938)
I left school at 15 in July and started work on 10 September at George Waller and Sons. They used to make steam engines and blowers for the gas industry for pumping the gas around. It was down where Stroud Brewery is. I caught the bus at 7.20 and got there just before half past. 7.35 we used to start. There were two buses, one round France Lynch and the other started at Eastcombe. If they were short staffed there was no second bus so we had to walk.
In 1960 I finished my apprenticeship in engineering. I was on a big heavy lathe. I didn’t get called up till I was 22. I got deferred for so many years.
(Living at Baker’s Mill and keeps otters)
I now do little books for children because hidden within the true stories there are facts about otters. I had a terrible time then, I got my manuscript together and didn’t know what to do. There was a man, long since dead, who ran Octopus Books, Paul Hamlyn; he had a manor house in Edgeworth, so I wrote a polite letter, ‘ Dear Mr. Hamlyn, I have an otter and I have written a book.’ And so an invitation to tea came. She was very tame that otter, I was standing at his door clutching my manuscript with the otter on my shoulder………He reluctantly took my manuscript but anyway, three months later, it appeared in the post. I sent it to Hodder and Stoughton but they weren’t interested. We had a very nice family called the Hawkins and they had a printing shop in Stroud. Anyway, I had this phone call from a young man who said he would like to be a publisher and asked if we should get together. So we did and each put in some money and we borrowed some more from Midland Bank in Stroud. He got it all made and did all the many processes and everything. I couldn’t believe it when it came out.
Bob Messenger (born 1950)
I started work at 15 straight from school down at Hope Mills. I was there for 21 years. Wood machinist, they used to make caravans and ladders. Nice company to work for. Nice canteen, nice workforce, nice managers. Good money, used to get bonus. Used to be 8.0 to half past 4.0. Used to catch the bus. I remember the railcar, getting on at Chalford. Didn’t have a stop at Brimscombe. Used to walk down Marle Hill, struggle back up nights! Different times now.
We was all made redundant. Then I went into Chalford to work at Elbesee, same work, machinist. They make embroidery rings. I used the machines, making them, cutting them for about 10 years.
My mother didn’t work. She stayed at home looking after us. I got an older brother at Stonehouse; he retired from the Milk Marketing Board. I got a brother at Malmesbury, works at Dyson, two in Stroud work for the building.
Audrey Bishop (born 1932)
My grandfather was a stick worker, whatever that means, down at the stick factory.
When I left Chalford Hill School, I worked at Woolworth’s. A bus down Chalford Valley. I had to walk down the bottom, up at night. I was working on the tills at Woolworths, then I just climbed the ladder till I was ill (for 4 years).
(I eventually made it back to Woolworths) They were very good to me. They never let me go at all. And I mean I was 17 when I left there and was ill. I was away 4 years, definitely 4 years, and they visited and sent cards. One thing and another – in other words kept in touch. If I hadn’t been any good, they wouldn’t have bothered ,they would have jolly well got rid of me. I said well, they seem to want me to go back, so I did.
I didn’t relish going back after all that time. I was nervous of going back, but yeah, you soon get into it again. (I worked my way up there) up to deputy staff supervisor. I got as far as there. If I hadn’t have been away, I’d have been up the top, or course, but you can’t knock …if you’re ill that’s just hard luck. (I saw quite a few changes in the store over that time) I can’t really remember a lot of them, but there was a lot of changes by the time I started back until I left. I enjoyed my work there actually. But of course missing out the years I did miss out, people was starting so I never got staff supervisor because people were in front of me. Well, those that stayed – that came and stayed. Anyway, it didn’t make any difference to me. We had cooked meals here. Good cooked meals. Well-fed, well looked after. A good firm to work for. Providing you pulled your weight, otherwise you were kicked out. They didn’t sort of keep you there if you weren’t doing your job. I worked until I was 60.
Maurice (brother) went off to the grammar school. He passed the scholarship. He went to Daniel’s to work. I can’t remember what he was doing. He was at Daniel’s all the time he was living here, but (later) he might have left there and gone elsewhere, I can’t really remember. I don’t think he finished off at Daniel’s, I think he must have moved on some place. I’ve got a feeling he went to Cheltenham, but I’m not sure.
Nancy Gardiner (born 1924)
I did some teaching before I was married. They were calling out for teachers at the time. I had to do a year in the school, training. I did that at Thrupp School then an HMI came out and examined you. They threw you in at the deep end, before I’d finished my year’s training, they sent me to Stonehouse for 5 shillings a week! Then they raised it to £1.10s which helped with the bus fare. When I was at Thrupp I rode a bike all the time. I was at Stonehouse School for about a year. I had 43 children at one time and I had not been trained properly. My training was watching and helping the other teachers. So to be dumped with 43 children and Stonehouse! I didn’t want to finish it but my dad give me a good talking to saying ‘you’ve got to get on with it!
Mr. Ballinger heard of a job going at Uplands for an infant teacher and I got that until I got married. They were so desperate for teachers. Much nicer school, smaller class. This was towards the end of the war. I stayed for a year after we got married, but then Stan took on this university training so I gave it all up to help to do the gardening and save him a lot of the home work.
When he left Marling Stan (husband) went to Erinoid. They had to keep jobs open for the men when they got back from the war. So he went back there and was in charge of one of the labs. They made all sorts of plastics, buttons, buckles and stuff.
He took his degree through London University through post. It was a nightmare. We’d just got married. They sent these things you had to work at by the next month. He went to Tech. Two nights a week. He got his BSc then he got a Masters. He did work hard. He had his name down for Uni at Bristol before he was called up. But I wasn’t going to wait any longer after the war! We had a bit of a tiff! So when he was working and studying, I did all the gardening and painting and did everything at home.
Stan was at Erinoids all the way through then he was made redundant nine years before he would have retired. The kids looked in the Stroud News for jobs for him! They saw a job as a porter at the hospital but he was quite happy to retire. He had lots of interests. He made steam engines and lots of things. He didn’t want any work. We managed.
My big brothers went (to school) in Brimscombe. They left at 14. One went into engineering, draftsman at Wallers at Thrupp. The other one went on the railway as a signalman.
May Smith (born 1924)
I left school and went to hairdressing from 14. I done my apprenticeship there for two and a half years and then during the war they moved us. I went to Tyler’s, along London Road, Thrupp. It is now a wood place, I believe, and all different businesses there now, ‘ keep fit’ things, art and all that. Then it was all wood, making things for the war. I was in the wages office. We used to do the income tax as well. I was there for about 12 months. Then I was sent up on the aerodrome (during the war).
When I worked up on the aerodrome during the war, I used to run down Marle Hill to get the double decker to the Aston Down at 7.0 in the morning. I was working round on D site by Cherington, right out of the way. We were working on the gliders, big gliders that the Lancasters tok over. They carried all the equipment over abroad somewhere. I was the carpenter’s mate. All I had to do was hand tools to him. My friend up there was working with the electrician and that’s what she was doing, just handing him the tools. We took the gliders over onto the airstrips, runways, and watch them being tested and then there was test pilots up there, French, Polish, English, all sorts. They were flying these little two seater Austers. They used to take them up for flights. We’d be court marshalled if they knew. My friend and I used to rush across and ask them to take us up for a flight. I went up 12 times and my friend pipped me and went on 13. We used to race one another to get the pilots to take us up. I remember one pilot and we both had joy sticks and all of a sudden we was going along and he put his feet on the front of the plane and said ‘now you can fly it’. You know what I was doing, the plane was going up and down! It was great fun. I mustn’t say that really but it was.
I moved over here (Eastcombe) when I got married to Alan. When my children went to school, I continued doing the hairdressing at home, then a friend said ‘would you like to open a shop?’ Alan was building a bungalow by the church at Eastcombe where the hairdressing shop is now. That’s what my husband built for myself and my partner. She didn’t want to do it after 12 months so I bought it off of her and ran the business for quite some time. Then I said I didn’t want to work any more. I was going up and down, up and down, leaving the poor patients under the driers, while I come down home putting the tea on for the family, rushing back combing their hair out, coming back down home and getting their tea! That was my day, Tuesday till Saturday. I started taking apprentices. I took one, Joyce Curry, she lived just next door to me. The second one I had was Anne Shaylor, Keith and Beline Shaylor’s daughter. I said to her one day I didn’t really want to do it any more. So she rented it off me, and then she decided not to carry on so I rented it to some other hairdresser for about two or three years, then another took it over. Then the lady that’s there now, Penny, she bought it off me, ten to twelve years ago. I did work hard down there. Never mind, I enjoyed it!
Judith Newman (born 1943)
My father was on the railway, based at Brimscombe, he drove the banker, which pushed the big goods trains up the bank, because it was a steep incline as far as Kemble, up to Sapperton Tunnel. I don’t know if he went further than Sapperton Tunnel, but anyway, when he finished pushing the train he would uncouple and come down, rattling back down the railway line at high speed, backwards, back to Brimscombe, and that was his job, up and down, up and down, up and down
He worked from 2.0 till 10. It was three shifts a day you know, like night shifts, coming in in the early mornings, as we were getting up he was coming home; I’d sometimes get back from school at about four, half-past four, five, and he was just going to bed. And I wouldn’t see him, for hours, days sometimes. Very unsocial hours. We had three holidays, or was it four, in my life when we lived in Chalford because not only my dad’s shifts were like that, but his holidays. I suppose they would have been March/April, he could have them in September, November, or he could have them in July or August. Every third or fourth year he could have a holiday that we could go on as children because we were at school.
He always had a very large, heavy bike. So he would cycle to work and he would push it back, cycle all the way to Brimscombe and push it back up the hill; and sometimes, when I was going out at night as a teenager, going off to a dance in the evening, and in the dark I would see a little orange glow coming towards me and ‘Hello, Dad!’ It was Dad coming back from work with his cigarette in his mouth! Yes it was very hard work, but that’s what work was about in those days.
He worked on Sundays, oh yes, and Christmas Day. He didn’t get any time off at all. He enjoyed it, it was just what people did then. It was just sort of accepted then. He’d have a day off, he didn’t work seven days a week, and when it was at a weekend we’d go off visiting relatives in Gloucester. Eventually he also became the railcar driver. But of course dear Dr Beeching took it away in 1964 and lost my father his job.
Then he worked for the Municipal, no, it was for the Air Ministry (Aston Down), stores for stuff that they didn’t use, or sending out to other places. I didn’t ask what he actually did, but it was admin. at a desk, allocating stuff, listing things, lots of people he knew, got very good friends with, all went to darts and skittles together, and he had a good time the last ten years of his working life.
He had friends who drove him up there (Aston Down). He had Les Darby, who used to have a draper’s shop between Belle Vue Terrace and the one which goes up to the school, and Dad used to have a lift with him up to Aston Down.
Peter Clissold (born 1931)
My father worked up at the Bussage Co-op – he worked there as a grocer all his life. ‘Windwhistle’ today. My father went there straight from school, worked there until he retired. He retired at 60, took early retirement – that was his career. He knew everyone, and he also knew their dividend numbers. He’d see someone coming down the road and he’d say ‘there’s 46819 just gone by’ – things like that! I can’t remember the date it closed. They used to have customers come even as far as Oakridge and Daneway, and all round that way, customers would come on their bikes and get their groceries for the week. It’s strange that, to come all that distance?
My father married in 1928 to a girl from Chalford who was a seamstress at the Holloway factory in Stroud, where they mainly made men’s clothing.
The mills here were of course cloth mills and rag mills – the one at Selwyn’s was a rag mill, where they ripped up all these rags, washed them and then they’d be used for stuffing beds and bedding, all that kind of work. People from Bussage and Chalford would walk there to work and you could hear the engine going down there, often when it started up you could hear it pumping away and the old boiler, yes.
I was in the RAF in ’49 and I came out in ’51; and then I went in again because it was the Korean War starting then. A lot of us had injections in preparation for going to Korea – and it all fizzled out, it never came – it was going to be World War 3 but it didn’t happen; apart from the Gloucester Regiment who got a rough time in the Imjin River fiasco. We had a chap called Jimmy Nibblet who was at the Imjin River disaster and he was captured for sometime – we always called him Imjin Jim!
A lot of people, especially the wealthy people who lived in Bussage, a lot of them had servants. I was always amazed (I mean you’d find nobody today with servants!) but a lot of spinster ladies who lived on their own often had one or two servants and when young ladies left school, they either went down to Holloway shirt factory, down in Stroud, or down the rag mill down there, or they went into service. A lot of houses like Bramley (where the new vicarage is) they had servants, and down at St Michael’s Garth (by the Ram) that was Founds(?) Luttrell, came from Dunster Castle to retire there and she had a servant. Down at the Old House, which was a sort of school – all sorts of places round here had girls in service.
Hayden Hunt (born 1941)
I used to help on my grandfather’s farm and later on, when I was just about leaving school, when they stopped doing the milk from the farm, Norman Crew, over at the next – Pontins Farm – took over the milk round and I used to help him out, delivering the milk. I used to help Norman on a Saturday, definitely on a Saturday; in the summer as well, we used to go to do the milk round and then we’d go up to the top field, where Chalford would play cricket. We had to prepare the wicket then for cricket in the afternoon. I got paid – it wasn’t a great deal of money but it was just, you know, I enjoyed doing it, specially getting ready the cricket wicket and that sort of thing. That was interesting.
I done a paper round and all that like you usually do, but that was sort of, you know, for so long and then you get fed up with that in all the different weather it’s hard, I can’t do that again.
(After going to Tech College in Stroud) I started on farming and I worked at Nash End when I was 14 at weekends and then carried on when I left school for a year, farming for Mr/Miss Wilby; then I got the chance to go to Hartpury College, the Agricultural College. I had a year there and then came out and started farming here for a couple of years.
Then I started on the building side. Unless you’ve got somewhere, like you are going to inherit something, you had no chance getting a farm otherwise, no chance at all. So I thought well, I’ll begin looking at a different trade. I started working on the building again with me Uncle Les at Bisley (Les Restall) and my other uncle, both uncles, and we worked there for I don’t know, for about two, a couple of years, maybe three, and we started working with me father and me cousin Mike Aldridge; we started working weekends on our own together and then it came to 1964 and we decided we would start on our own. We became ‘Michael Aldridge’ that’s when we started and then we went right through, then my father retired, then Mike retired, and I retired, over 40 years. We had a good reputation. It was all by mouth, by meeting and by people seeing what you could do. I watched me father, I mean he was a good builder. His brothers were all in the building trade bar one. I started off doing this, that and the other; the master of nothing and the master of everything sort of thing; just had to turn my hand to it. I built this house; you used to have to muck in and do, you know, and do what you had to do. I did a bit of everything in the end. You could do a little bit of extra work, if need be, only little bits and pieces, a bit of plumbing and things like that. We’ve done lots of building work in the area. I hate to think now, there’s a fair few round the area we done and wider.
The biggest one we done, we built a house out at Adlestrop called Reality House. For somebody else. The guy was tied up with the Bridgewater Brewery; got bought out by Whitbreads, whose headquarters were at Salmonsbury in Stroud, that part, and he wanted this house built at Adlestrop. Well my father knew the chap who was in charge and he come to see us one day, we were working somewhere, and he said, he had this drawing; there was a lot of faffing around. And he said; ‘You don’t have to price it’, he said, ‘I want you to do it’. So I said, I thought, Oh bless us, that’s going to be a drive every day isn’t it! So yer, it was good. The wife was Peter Walwyn, the race horse trainer’s daughter, So there was money there, you know, as such. And they were very nice people actually, and it took us about, we went up and down for about six months building this big house. It’s the other side of Stowe, it took us three quarters of an hour every day. There were five of us. So that was a long day, I didn’t get up very early in the morning. You get a bit knackered by the end of the night I assure you! But there you are, we got there and back every day without any skirmishes, so it was all right, you know. That was an interesting house, that was a good job. We done the shell and all the rest of it, you know, there were different people did the carpentry and all that.
Gramp was born in Gloucester, a proper city man he was. Gramp was an engineer and I think there was more engineering work this way. For a while they lived in Minchinhampton, then they came here. He worked around Wallers, it was handy for the cottage; and he was also a night watchman at the aerodrome. Gramp was cleaning a machine and someone switched it on and he lost the whole of his right arm. So he couldn’t do very much after that but he did dig the garden.
My first job was at Hill Pauls because Gran said it was the right place to work – it was sewing wasn’t it – but I didn’t like it one bit. I could sew – Gran made sure of that. It was a long table with a bench each side and they all looked really ancient women sitting there, and if they wanted to say something and didn’t want me to hear, they whispered and I felt so out of place. I sewed the linings into the sleeves of men’s coats, that’s what I did. You had to do a certain amount every day. Mr. Paul was getting on a bit and he used to come round quite often and pat you on the back, and he’d say to the woman in charge’ how’s she doing?’ and he’d say ‘good girl’. He was quite nice.
I thought I couldn’t stick this anymore. I went to Stroud Brewery, the happiest place I went to and helped in the bottling department but because I used to run everywhere they put me on messages. Best job I ever had.
I worked at Ebley Laundry and Brimscombe factory – they made metal things. It was quite nice. Bit of variety. I got the bus into Stroud – I met my husband on the bus actually. He came from Gateshead where it was very different. He was in the RAF stationed at Aston Down. Actually we didn’t meet when he was in the Air Force. He was a lorry driver.
George Rowles (born 1928)
Brimscombe Basin – when the asbestos company at Fibrecrete was in there they dumped hundreds and hundreds of tons of asbestos waste in there; and it don’t do any harm, ‘cos I was in the building trade, if you don’t cut it or the wind don’t blow it, as long as it’s down there it won’t do any damage. But I knew lots of people who passed away in Fibrecrete. They knew in 1937 (that it was dangerous) but they didn’t make it public to the people working. ‘ Cos I was in the building trade and we had a couple of blokes died; it was pretty bad luck if you had it. Cos, I knew a chap in Chalford – he used to do asbestos roofing, you know, that’s all he did, him and his friend, partner then, they went and done big factories you know, the Honda factory in Swindon and all. But they had one chap that come once, twice a year when they had a holiday; he was saving up, I mean, he caught the asbestos, and these people that worked 50 weeks of the year, had just two off, he just went a fortnight in the year and he caught it. So maybe some people are more predisposed to it, I don’t know why that is, but it’s 50 years incubation period for it.
My wife was in the Land Army, then she went to Agricultural College and you know, cattle she did, it wasn’t arable land farming, it was cattle. She got a job looking after a small farm, it was up in Minchinhampton. We decided when we got married that she would stay at home, she wouldn’t go to a job because, as I told you, we got married in September and then Glynwen came along in July, you see, so when she had the baby we never even thought of .., of course today it’s totally different, you both got to work, ‘cos it’s so expensive.
A lot of people when I came here worked at the Pin Mill down at Brimscombe, you know, at the Bourne, and they used to go down and walk up and down here, and one of them Mr. Glebe, who used to live in the road, he said to my wife one day ‘do you want to make a bit of pocket money Anne?’ And we said, ‘so what’s that then?’ Well, he said, you can stick pins in cards. You know, you had the pins, the cards were here, and you had to stick the pins in, you know. Fold them over see. Well we only did it for a week, and people come like, if you came you see, ‘I’ll have a go at that’ and while you’re talking we’d carry on like. We made so little money, we never bothered after that. But there were lots of people in Brownshill that did that, you know, a cottage industry. Most of them worked down there at the bottom there you know, it was very poor.
I was in the building trade and when I got here, Mr. Glebe in the road said he had a couple of tiles out of his roof. He said ‘could you put those tiles back in the roof?’ And I said, ‘can’t you get your landlord to do it?’ ‘Oh I can’t ask her to do that’. Oh I put the tiles there, because she couldn’t make any money at it for the rent, so you know, so I put it in, I don’t think I charged anything to do it, I just did it, and that was it.
Most of my, of my what do you call it, my relations back, you know, they worked in the Stick Mill down at Chalford, because there were two thousand people worked down there then. My father before he went into the Army, he worked there and it says ‘Ivory Carver’ and things like that, on what was his profession you know, and it’s ‘Ivory Carver’.
The relations in my family came from the Huguenots in Belgium, France Holland, and they came over and they started in France Lynch weaving. I don’t know much about the religion, but I know they were silk weavers, and they came here and started in France Lynch and all my relations got ‘silk weavers’ or’ ivory carvers’, yes. Ivory carving for the sticks, on top of the sticks, you see.
Keith Weaver (born 1932)
Father was in the building trade with several different builders and finished up working on the building team for Stroud Brewery. He went to work on the bus. Mother more or less spent time at home until we got older and left home and then she was working as a dinner lady at Chalford Hill School, walking round the playground – until she retired
My sister left school and worked at the Air Ministry all her working life. She worked at the Subscription Rooms in Stroud during the war and then she went to Ryeford, where the Admiralty place was. She moved to Aston Down, moved to Quedgeley, got married and went to the Admiralty in Bath.
When I left school I wanted to work in a garage but the Headmaster, Mr. Elliott, wouldn’t have it because he said I’d be serving petrol all day, and he said I could do better, and he got me an interview at George Waller’s Ironworks at Thrupp.
I started my apprenticeship to be a fitter and was paid 8s.& 4p a week. We worked from 7.30 to 5.30 every day except Friday, when we finished at 4.30. We built machinery for gas works mainly, and before I finished my apprenticeship gas works were running down. So we started making for the grain industry.
I finished my apprenticeship and now I had National Service to do. I chose the Navy and when I joined I had to take a trade test which I managed to pass. So then I became a fourth class- Petty Officer. My depot was Devonport and after a while I was sent to Portland, and after a while I was sent to join a frigate, HMS Portchester Castle.
When I arrived the ship was being used to make a war film of ‘The Cruel Sea’, starring Jack Hawkins. By the end of that week they had finished the filming.
Nights and weekends we docked at Portland but most days we were out in the English Channel on exercise with the submarines. I was in the engine room. The seamen were trying to locate submarines using sonar.
While on the Portchester Castle, I had the chance to spend a day on a submarine and I went on HMS Upstart. We were 80 foot down in the Channel for 7 hours. On two occasions we were sent to Guernsey for a long weekend to show the flag. Once we went to Le Havre in France. Also we escorted the Queen in the Royal Yacht Britannia back from Gibraltar to Portsmouth, on return from Australia in 1954. Another time we had a 14 day exercise in the Atlantic. We left Plymouth and next morning we were being knocked about in a force 10 gale, which lasted 10 days. So no cooked food in that time. After 2 years service I was back home.
Ross Forsyth (born 1940)
I went to Art College as I could always draw. The college was partly in Stroud and partly in Cheltenham and, when I specialised in graphics, also in Gloucester. It was called the Gloucestershire College of Art then. I was there four years, two years to intermediate then two more years for national diploma, then an extra year for an art teaching diploma in Birmingham.
When we were first married we lived in Hereford because I took a teaching job. We loved it. I was teaching art supposedly and I used to get to teach everything. It was an old boys’ secondary modern and they had a load of kids there who were educationally sub normal. Some were trouble makers and some easily led so very hard work. Like a borstal without the discipline. One of the nice things was we took the kids rowing, through one of the staff who had a connection with the rowing club. Next thing I know I’m coaching the second four and it would be a case of me learning something, then teaching them the next day. It was really interesting and we were very successful , and we beat Monmouth. The Monmouth coach was absolutely beside himself.
I did the probationary year in teaching but then got the chance to go into advertising, self-employed. The reason we ended up back here from Hereford was one of my friends who had an office in Gloucester wanted me to try doing graphics, 1967. I shared a little office in Gloucester and part of the work I got was designing calendars and illustrations. I trained in lettering as a main subject and print making. Mostly wood engraving. I loved it. I had this huge folio of work because the tutor we had encouraged us to apply for the Royal College of Art and so you had to do 30+ pieces of work and so I had all this. I didn’t get into the College but I was touting that around Cheltenham, and I’d been to Cadbury’s printer up near the cemetery by bus and it was a stinking hot day, and the chap was too busy to see me, so I went back into Cheltenham and happened to walk past Hammer Tongues, the agency in Cheltenham; and I was talking to the girl on the switchboard and as luck would have it, the big cheese of the company was listening in and asked to see a few things and called art directors down; and they took me on two days a week on a freelance basis, then it increased to 3 days a week and after 2 or 3 years of that, they took me on as an employee. I’d realised by then there was a lot I didn’t know about working in advertising so I wanted the responsibility.
From then on I got headhunted to go to Bristol for 9 years, then head hunted to go back to Cheltenham, which was a big mistake because they two guys quarrelled, and the whole thing was gone in a year and so I was self-employed after that.
When I worked in Bristol it was the biggest advertising group in the country and I had the chance to go to London but we had the children and enjoyed living round here and we didn’t want to do it really.
Monica Ridge (born 1943)
My father became the manager of London Uni-Works at Air Plants in Briscombe, where they used to make these big fans and things, and they were used in the underground in London. They offered him places in Leicester, and then there was this small place where they actually made them. I’m not sure whether the building is still there. It was in the Industrial Estate; if you go along past Brimscombe corner and then you get the first turning to your left; if you go down there, it was right down there on the left hand side. Or you could go up Brimscombe Hill and there was a small track where the lorries used to go into the factory. So he just whizzed along there to work – he had a car.
When my parents bought the house, there was a lady called Mini, and Mini was employed at Springfield when she was 12 as a servant, and she always came to the house – she came with the house – she didn’t live in the house then, no she lived up Rack Hill. Her husband, Mr. Marks, died and then my parents made a room for her and she had a room at Springfield House and she lived there because she was on her own.
Alan Mayo (born 1943)
Wickham Grange is where I did my apprenticeship as a printer. Ken Lipfold was my boss. He started it in about ‘56/’57. I left school ’58 and our Dad went and got me the job. I was the first apprentice and when I left I was a director – after 23 years. General printing. Amazed who we worked for: Wall’s Ice Cream, police forces inthe Midlands, British Transport Police, Rank Xerox, all the hospitals. He sold the business to a big large group from Scotland and I stayed there for a few years, then I went on my own. It was called E.K Lipfold Ltd.
Mum’s father, he was the signalman, Harry Grimet (saved the day when there was a fire in the engine shed). My Dad was an insurance agent for Pearl, then he packed that in. Then he carried on selling, credit drapery. He didn’t like that as much. Then he worked at the Fibrecrete like most of the village. When he retired, he got a job at Sevilles Mill, part time packing. Our Dad worked there when Mr. Hannan owned or rented it – he had a package business or something. It was a big old place. A lot of girls used to work there. Then after that he went and got a job at Aston Down in the stores. Loved it up there and worked with people round about the same age as him.
Thanet House; Fred Hammond, local historian used to live there and he used to go round helping Lionel Padin. Mr. Hammond and his wife were very nice – she did piano lessons.
Halliday’s Mill – at the bottom of Cowcombe Hill: I can remember it as ‘Arnold Designs’ and it was a carpentry shop many years ago, where Peter Van der Vaals worked. But the best people for carpentry were the two chaps above the Co –op, They did some lovely stuff. I used to go down to get sawdust for the rabbits. One was Mr. Skirby(?) from Brimscombe, and Mr. Stephens from Bussage. I used to quite like woodwork and be intrigued watching what they were doing. That’s quite an old mill.