I thought I would test my memory
recall without notes:
I see there is to be a TV
program on Neville Chamberlain - what can I remember...
At the present time Neville Chamberlain, the pre-war
Prime Minister is sneered at and written off as an appeaser. In fact he
was only too aware that the shadow aircraft, & tank producing factories
needed at least a year to be brought into production. So the inevitable
war with Germany had to be postponed, hence his efforts at Munich.
In 1938 Preston, Lancashire, schoolchildren, were given
a tramcar ride to “Dick Kerr’s tramcar building factory” near Preston
Docks. After watching new flanges being shrunk onto re-profiled warn tram
wheels, we were given a bottle of ‘Pop’ and bag of sweets. The bulk of the
factory had been Partitioned off, huge sliding doors in the partition,
were marked EE Ltd. Our teacher said this referred to English Electric
Ltd., who now owned the Tramcar Works. I told dad about this day out, only
to be told “Never, Never mention this English Electric Ltd factory to
anyone, this information would be important to German spies. Mr Seed” (who
lived nearby) “drives one of the low-loaders at night, that take parts of
Handley-Page Hampden Bombers to the airfield for final assembly & flight
Enough of that!!!
Dad was born on 18th March 1897 anniversary
tomorrow what can I recall?
I was born on the 15th
November 1926, my Mother, Daughter of Mary Ross, unlike her elder sister
who was the first female to work in a Bank, was considered to be an ‘over
educated’ infant’s teacher, having graduated at Warrington college of
Liverpool University. (paid for by winning scholarships and exhibitions).
Dad was the second son of a farm labourer, (who through
sheer hard work, had become a Tenant Farmer). with 5 brothers and 3
sisters, Dad was called-up in 1914 to serve in the army, at his medical he
mentioned that he was deaf in his left ear, following an accident whilst
laying an old Hawthorn hedge. The Doctor told him that the thorn was still
there, and a huge abscess had formed in the inner ear which would prove
fatal, so he was rejected by the Army. A second doctor said “Why not admit
him to hospital, remove the thorn and drain the abscess” “But he is not an
Officer” was the response, “I’d like to try to drain it anyway, for
although he is not an Officer nor is he yet an Enlisted man”.
The operation was a success, although that ear was ever
after stone deaf.
Whilst convalescing, Dad read to others from his works
of Burns, and worked through Todhunters Algebra from cover to cover. Also
making life-long friends among the Gentry, with his developing skill as a
In Winter three night a week, after a day’s work on the
farm, Dad would cycle to ‘Night School’ (Mother taught his Night School
class, to build up her savings). At nine o’clock he would visit either the
Vicar or the Squire to play Chess and borrow text-books he could not
afford to buy. Then home for a few hour sleep, before it was time for the
Dad needed an extra source of income, having set his
heart on marrying his teacher. In the early post war years (after 1918),
dairy farmers had little security, the men who delivered milk in the
towns, demanded a steady milk supply all the year round to be delivered to
them twice a day in summer. In winter, at times it required the farmer to
purchase extra down calved Irish milk cows to maintain the milk supply the
town dairyman, In summer the surplus milk was made into cheese and the
whey used to rear pigs.
Dad was sent to Longridge Cattle market to buy a cow, He
overheard three farmers complaining that the local seed merchant had run
out of turnip seed, and would have none until the next year. He walked
over to the Longridge Hotel, announced that he was waiting for someone. He
picked up a copy of the ‘Farmer & Stockbreeder’ and found that Toogoods
Seeds of Southampton, were offering the turnip seed, he wrote a letter
asking to be sent sufficient seed for twice the acreage the two farmers
required & a seed catalogue. To be delivered via the overnight mail train,
to be collected at the Preston railway station post office.
Word spread, and at the next weeks Longridge Cattle
Market, he took a dozen seed orders. He forwarded these to Toogoods,
asking for Commission on these sales.
Mother said to him that he would have to either pay an
accountant, or study Book Keeping, and obtain Qualifications. So he
elected to work one day a week for no pay, assisting the accountant of a
corn mill. In return for tutoring to gain a qualification. At 65, a
Pensioner with time on his hands, singing in the Church Choir, and a
School Governor, He repaid Longridge Corn Mill by keeping their Books
until within a week of his death.
In 1924 now Toogoods Seeds
Lancashire Representative, whilst playing Chess with the local Squire, he
was asked if he would still play chess after he married. He said to marry,
first we will have to find a home. No problem said the Squire, “My fool of
an agent sold two farms for me, but forgot to include one of a pair of
cottages, the other cottage I had given to my Gamekeeper. Would you like
to rent Ivy cottage”, it would be handy for us to play chess after you
and so it came to pass.