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.
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.
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.