Local Characters


Name withheld

When the plane crashed (WW2) people were taking bits of it and then the Home Guard made a ring round it so the powers that be could come and inspect it.   George Juggins turned up.   He had his bowler hat on, with walking stick with silver end and his cravat and he went walking up to one of these guardsmen and docked his hat, and the guy thought he was the local mayor so he was taken round to inspect everything!   He always said he was the yard foreman at the stick mill but in fact he was the only one who worked there!   He lived along at Ashmead in a rundown cottage.   They had a lodger, Bill something.


Name withheld

One fete was held in the field opposite the Doctor’s surgery,   Dr Middleton and his family had just moved into the surgery and at this fete he played the bagpipes whilst his wife and daughter did sword dancing.


Cynthia Gleed (born 1933)

I remember George Juggins from Chalford who used to come up to Bisley with his baby’s pram to do the shopping in the Co-0p.   At election time he was shouting out by the Stirrup Cup.   He got up on the table with his big blue rosette.   I remember Dorcas too.

Dr. Middleton lived along the road by where we lived in the council houses.   When I was 29, I had to have my varicose veins done in hospital.   I was told I could go home and have a bath, and I had all these red blotches on my legs and George asked if he’d come and have a look.   George made a fuss, like he always did.   The next morning he come in the gate at the bottom and shouted ‘who is that making a fuss?’   George told him to get out.   We changed doctors then.   He (Dr. Middleton) was so unpredictable.   We know that people used to go into the surgery and he started playing his bagpipes and people started laughing and he told them to clear off, that there’s nothing wrong with them, and he’d clear the surgery.

In the early 60s there was a polio scare.   He sent us a postcard when we were at the Skiveralls to say he’d got the vaccine in and when we got there, he was in the road waving this needle around.   He was drunk but we had to have it done but we didn’t know what was in that syringe!


Grace Banyard (born 1930)

Sid Barner from Bisley, a cider man and always wore wellies.   He was harmless but he did make me laugh.

There was Dorcas and George.   They used to come up to Bisley every week with their pram to get their shopping.   They were funny.  George was caretaker over by the reservoir and we used to go and sit in the shed and he had us in fits of laughter.   I think he used to work at the stick factory.   Dorcas was an Oakridge girl.   She used to come in the shop at Chalford Hill to get their snuff.  She used to have her purse under her clothes somewhere.


Shirley Bushell (born 1943)

Main village characters were George and Dorcas Juggins, who lived along Ashmeads.   George and Dorcas were characters in the way they dressed and acted – their house isn’t there now as there was a fire and it burnt down.   George used to work at St. Mary’s stick mill.   The used to go to Oakridge with this pram once a week and go to the pub and get worse for wear!


John Hemmings (born 1934)

One man, who was a bargee and had a young son 8-10 years old, and they came into Stroud Water and the man fell off the barge, drunk, and drowned, and the boy went home to be together with his mother and two other boys.   He looked after them all his life.   He had nothing at all to start with but – this was Mr. Smart who had the coal merchants.   They had barges but by the time he died he owned one third of all of Chalford, all from nothing.

Dorcas and George Juggins were characters.   Dorcas could hoe a turnip field faster than anyone.   She had thick glasses.   They only had 2 rooms in the house.   One downstairs, where the animals lived, and one upstairs for them.   In the war they took a lodger, Dukes he was called, who slept between George and Dorcas!   George used to come with his donkey, down for his coal to Smart’s, and when the donkey stopped he had a stick with a piece of rope and a can.

There was one man called Jessie Miller who had a child from about 18 months old and lived in benders in coppices and the tale was he could fell trees brilliantly.   They found him dead up by Aston Down in an old shepherd’s hut.


Graham Hobbs (born 1953)

The curious thing about Eastcombe is that some obscure Welshman turned up in 18 something or other, and at a place where the local pub would empty out onto on a Sunday afternoon and start fights   This guy in 1807 stood there and preached and got 7 converts!   So he started Eastcombe Baptist Church.   His name was Thomas Williams.


Daphne Neville

This is a picture of George and Dorcas (Juggins) outside their house.   He was known as the Charlie Chaplin of Chalford.   The boys in Chalford had been so horrible to him, for a while they lived with Mrs. Townsend, Dorcas’s mother.   She used to make George push her all the way from Chalford to Stroud.   The boys took the split pin out of the wheels or something and the poor old lady was thrown on to the road.   He was terrified so they got an old pram and would go up to Bisley.   People were horrid  to them.   That picture was in the newspaper.   He would work at the walking stick factory which my husband resurrected.   Peter Turner used to take photographs of them, this is one with the donkey they used to have.   This is an article, ‘Woman Dies in Blazing House’.   George had died and she would not go to an old people’s home, she threatened to pour the night bucket over anyone who interfered with her.   Her friend Duncan Young used to make the fire up.   Mrs. Clarke, who lived in the house, which has been done up at the end of my field, and I used to take it in turns to give her a good lunch.   But Mrs. Clarke wouldn’t empty the po so I used to have to do that when I went.   So that continued for ages.   Of course, there was no electricity so she had candles.   She was told she must sleep in the chair downstairs by the fire and never to try to go upstairs.   We think what happened was that one day she took a candle and decided to go upstairs.   There was nothing upstairs except the remains of the bed, you could hear the rats up there.   But it was her home, you know, and it never smelt because it had an earth floor and the fire would fumigate everything.   We think she probably went upstairs and caught the curtain or something.   We had this pounding on the door in the middle of the night.   There was masses of stuff about it in the paper.


Bob Messenger (born 1950)

George Juggins and Dorcas.   He used to come up to the Mechanics’ when it was open years ago, with his snuff.   He was a talker.   They used to have an old metal bedstead as a gate.   She died in a fire.

Used to be a doctor along the road, along by the Mechanics’ years ago, and one at Frith Wood.   I remember Doctor Middleton, used to be on the whisky.   He used to be a surgeon at Stroud hospital didn’t he? – good doctor he was, when he wasn’t drinking.   He used to live down the Weavers.


Audrey Bishop (born 1932)

There was one (character I particularly remember).   My Sunday School teacher had a brother, Ernie his name was, and he was xxxx but a proper tramp.   And he used to frighten me to death.   No earthly reason why he should.   But he was dishevelled, always walking up the roads, you know.   He was called Ernie, he lived up the road with his sister, I think.   Further up the road and round the corner, before you get – well, I was going to say before you get to the post office, but it’s not there anymore.

Our doctor was Dr Middleton.   He was a right character.   He was very good to me, though he was very naughty to start with because he didn’t get moving.   And I think our mum threatened him in the end, you know, because he kept signing me off to work, and my mother knew I wasn’t the type who didn’t want to go to work.   Cos I didn’t want to go.   I didn’t feel well enough to go.   So she went along and tore him off a strip!   And he came back and examined me and said to our mum, ‘she’s ill’ and she said ‘what do you think she’s been trying to tell you for…?’   That doctor, mind you, he might have been worried himself, you don’t know what he thought when he knew what was wrong, but thereafter, sweets were on the ration, but I was never without a sweet.   But he couldn’t do enough afterwards.   He realised, I suppose, it was his fault I got a poorly as I did.   ‘Cos I could have been away from work a month earlier.   Instead of that, I was giving it to everyone else.


Judith Newman (born 1943)

Dorcas and George were the obvious ones, you couldn’t miss them because they would often come round.  They had a donkey or horse and they would take their cart downhill.  They had a shoe on the wheel to stop it running away.   They were a grumpy couple.   I remember him being on the bus sometimes and she being on the bus, sitting on the front seat of the bus – there were bench seats on the bus upstairs then.   And she’d be, you know, growling at us.   She always wore a cloche hat and a long gabardine raincoat and wellington boots.  And he always had his trilby or bowler and stick, spats, moustache, all very smart.   But they used to swear at each other.   He would talk.   I don’t think I ever spoke to them, they used to frighten me.

Dr. Middleton, he was scary.   He was qualified as a surgeon apparently, very, very good doctor, but he drank.   He did end up in Gloucester jail for drink/driving and he was a very grumpy doctor, you didn’t go there very readily.   I don’t remember ever going to his surgery, except once when I had tonsillitis.   Once, when my sister got a little metal thing stuck in her finger, like a little fish hook, and on Sunday morning my mother knocked him up and he was in such a mood he just ripped it out of her finger.   He was a difficult man.  He kept on saying there was nothing wrong with my father, just indigestion you know, he just scoffed, and my father ended up with peritonitis.   So he wasn’t my favourite doctor.   There was a surgery where his house was, a double fronted villa, it was called first ‘Zenu’ and later ‘Zetu’.   That was his surgery.   I may have gone in there, I don’t remember.


Peter Clissold (born 1931)

A huge crater came in the road just below where the Men’s Institute was (Bussage), and everyone thought ‘ooh, naturally a bomb.’  So it was guarded day and night by a dear old chap, who was supposed to be the Special Constable, who we children named ‘Tin Washer Butler’!   The same ‘Tin Washer’ used to come round and tell people if their lights were showing (WW2).   But he’d come in and make sure he had a supper and a cup of tea first.  Then he’d say ‘ Oh by the way, I meant to tell you that your light was showing’.

We had a chap called Jessie Phelps who was a one armed man, who was one of the best men at shooting – now can you imagine a man lifting up a rifle with one arm and being a dead shot!   He’d hit anything.   He lived in the little Cot (next to the Ram).   He used to send his wife along to the pub every day to get his bottles of Bulmer’s cider.   She had to walk along keeping them all under her pinafore so that nobody would know, but you could see her coming a mile away and you knew exactly what she was doing!

I remember the barber down at Chalford bottom – he was an interesting man.   A prisoner during the war while they were retreating at just the top side of Berlin,…..they were taken prisoner and thought they were going to be shot by the British…but he said’ I came to be a prisoner back over here, had better food than I ever had in the German army, married a local girl from Stroud and had a happy family business as a hairdresser’   Someone said to him ‘have you ever thought of going back to Germany?’   ‘What for?  Give me one good reason why I ought to go back to Germany’.


George Rowles (born 1928)

I remember there used to be a man come ( into The Railway Tavern) and he had a tame fox, he used to bring the fox, he smelt a bit  mind.   And he used to come and bring it in.   I think it must have been on a lead, but he never, once he was in the pub, he didn’t hold the lead in the pub;  the fox was there, he come right in there.

Cecil Rowles:  My Dad was in the 5th Gloucesters in the 1914 war (when he was sixteen), and he was still in the army in 1928……   He was in the riots of Amritsar, a famous riot.   He said he never shot nobody, he put all the bullets into the buttress of the walls, you know.   Instead of firing down like that, he fired up like that.   And when he came back through the Indian Ocean, he chucked all his medals into the Indian Ocean, he was so ashamed about what happened.   And then he come out and he was a man that, well he did everything for everybody you know.   He became a left-wing socialist then.   And now that’s early in those days.   And he became that because soldiers that didn’t have a property, who fought during the War, in the 1914 War, well they didn’t have a vote.    So that was one of the things he started.   All his life he fought for other people;  he didn’t make any money at it.   And one of the last things he did, he fought for a long time, and sometimes it was the old men’s fault, not the council’s fault, and sometimes the men didn’t want to do it, but he fought for a pension for the manual workers on the council.   I’ll always remember, I won’t mention his name, he lived in Chalford, and I was walking down the street one day and my Dad had been dead about a year, and he came over and shook my hand and he said (my father’s name was Cecil) ‘I’ve got to say thanks to Cecil because,’ he says,’ I’ve just drawn my first pension’.   It was quite nice to hear that.


Keith Weaver (born 1932)

Friends met Dorcas with Ernie Dukes, their lodger who was very drunk, and Dorcas asked them if they would take him down home in the car.   So they went down home with him.   The friend was asked to go to the rabbit hutch to get the key for the door.   He opened the door and the chickens came running out.  We hear a tale or two.

Always chatted to this man who always had the cigarette cards.   He was a bit of a case – bit of fun.   One of the Halliday relations.   ‘Uncle Jack’ we used to call him.


Alan Mayo (born 1943)

We were so lucky to grow up in Chalford.   It was full of characters!   Absolutely jam packed.   Obviously George and Dorcas Juggins and their lodger Ernie Dukes.   There was a bloke from Oakridge, Ernie Monk, who looked like a tramp and he would pick up cigarette ends.   I watched him one day come by the Red Lion.   Then there was Percy Stratford,  who was leader of Chalford Band.   He lived up Rack Hill where the actor lives now (Patrick someone), up from the community shop and turn left takes you up to the bottom of Poole’s ground, and straight along there’s a cottage set back.   That’s where Percy lived.   Percy was quirky but very nice.

There was a big family on Chalford Hill, the Townsends.   Ferdy Townsend used to tap dance in the pubs, etc.   When I was courting, we’d been to a dance, walked up to the post office and got to the top of the hill.   Percy and Ferdy were talking and Ferdy was saying he was once the finest song and dance man in the country!   Ferdy lived in Eastcombe though they were a Chalford family.

Another character was Eric Russell, lived just up Marle Hill.   He used to drive the British Railways small delivery lorry.   Real character.   His grandson was Jack Russell, the English cricketer.   He played with us for a time and his Dad too.   He sent his regards just recently.

Chalford Valley residents:

Noah’s Ark – Les Sollars (General Grocery Shop)

Wickham Grange – Ken Lipfold (E.K. Lipfold Ltd. Printers)

Garage – Lionel Padin

Thanet House – Fred Hammond (local historian, helped Lionel Padin)

Rock House – Alphrick family (2 sons & 2 daughters)

Rock Cottage – Mr. & Mrs. Sidney(?Seddon)

House opposite Old Red Lion – Mr. & Mrs Williams & daughter

Station View – Alan Mayo & family, also Harry Grimet (grandfather – saved the day when there was a fire in the BR engine shed)

Adjacent to Station View – Able family

Tankard Spring House – Terry Morris & family

Saratoga – Mr Young

Next along, Tarn? – Mr Oswald & son Ronnie

Spring Cottage – Miss Davis & brother

Minnow Cottage – Mr & Mrs Glebe (also Charlie Close?)

Fleece Cottage – Patsy Shepherd plus parents.   Garrets next door (relations of Norman Rogers).

Anchor Cottages – Beard Family.   No.1 –  Webb family.

Anchor Pub/Anchor House – Tom Dean & family

Sevilles Mill – owned or rented by Mr. Hannan (package business?)

The Mount – Jim Samson & son Harry (dental technician)

Valley Cottage (up Dimmelsdale Lane) – Birt Chapman

Hillview (up hill) – Norman Rogers

Valley corner – Mr & Mrs. Bounds & son Alan.

Old Valley Inn – Whiting family and daughter Jean & her husband Mike Tanner.   Then Les Nutt.

Bungalow by Ashmeads Wood – Mr. Bubb

Wooden bungalow up Cowcombe Hill – Mr Pearce (railcar driver)



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