This page gives some personal memories of Beckford from people who either visited Beckford or lived in Beckford. If you would like to add your own memories, please use the feed back form as an initial contact. We will then contact you and discuss what you would like to see on the site.
Jef contacted us in the early days of our web site and wanted to tell us about his father's recollections of the time he spent in Beckford during and after the First World War. This submission was written and submitted by Jef.
My father's family consisted of Petrus Van Beeck (my grandfather), his wife Julia Baum and their children Karel Van Beeck (called John) 1903-2001 and Maria Van Beeck1901-1997. When the Germans invaded Belgium in 1914 my father's family fled to Holland,where they took the ferry to Hull, England towards safety. They were there alone,couldn't speak the language - but a very wealthy family named Wils, who owned a large tobacco factory in Antwerp (their home town) came to their rescue. They hired my father's family to work for them on their estate in Beckford. When they arrived in Beckford, after a long and complicated train journey, they had to sleep in a hay loft, next to the village shop. After a few days,they were given a cottage "up the hill" where they stayed for the rest of their time in Beckford. My grandfather worked as a gardener for a Mr Howland, also for a Captain Case, who lived in Beckford Hall. Mr Howland was married to a daughter of the Wils family.
My father recalls the names of two other families - the Bennet family and the Whittle family (photo). Mr Whittle was a game keeper and looked after my family.
My father was only 11 years old and attended the school (photo). He is the one,in his best clothes, very proudly holding the slate. My father had also a very good school friend, Bertrand Carter (Bert), who went into the navy but sadly died of the spanish flu.They were both ''bell ringers'' in Beckford Church. After school when he was 12years old he had to work also as a gardener for Mr:Howland and to do chores at the Manor. He always spoke with much admiration of the cook, probably with good reason as it was hard for an growing boy during wartime, food wise.
My aunt however became a nanny for the children of Mr and Mrs Howland, probably because she could speak French. My aunt became involved in social work and in giving aid to the soldiers (photo of nurses).
After 5 years, when the war was over, they returned to Belgium. I always had the impression that my aunt would have liked to stay in England, but in those days girls still did what their fathers told them. My father always told me stories about good old England. He had a very happy childhood there and nice memories of the people of Beckford. My wife and I spent several short holidays in England, and in1992 we visited Beckford. We stayed in Evesham for a few days and of course we came to your village, we took with us some old photos and postcards and showed them to the people in the shop and to several elderly people - one of them recognised himself in the school photograph. We had a chat with a Mr Clark from Cross house. I could even show him a very old picture of his house, which was in those days was the bakery for the village, when a Mrs Ninth was then living there. She is the one standing in the photo with the nurses.
I have written these few words from my memory of what my father has told me as he didn't leave any written notes about his time in Beckford - I just have the photos and my memories, which I would like to share with the people of Beckford.
Jef Van Beeck
Serena, who lives in Peterborough, contacted us via the guest page to say that she had traced some of her ancestors back to Beckford, but some of her data is still missing. If you have anything to add to Serena's family history, either post it on the feedback page (Guest Book) or email it directly to the website at email@example.com and we will pass it on to Serena. Perhaps someone knows where Charles and Ann lived and even a picture of their house?
Charles Clements, Tailor, Beckford
Charles Clements & Ann Evins were married in Alderton on 26th July 1826. A son, Henry, christened in Overbury in 1827, also became a tailor (census returns and local PRs). My great grandfather was Charles Clements, son of Charles & Ann. He was christened in Sedgeberrow on 1st November, 1835. Three siblings were christened in Sedgeberrow. The younger children were born in Beckford. Charles senior appears as a tailor under the entries for Beckford in the Post Office Directory for Gloucestershire, Bath & Bristol, 1856. Local census returns confirm that Charles and Ann lived in Beckford for at least 30 years. I do not know the location of their house or Charles' workshop.
Following the death of his first wife, Helen (Ellen) Tandy and two small children in Beckford in 1864 (death certs), my great grandfather moved to Nottinghamshire. He and my great grandmother married in 1870 at St Nicholas' Parish Church, Nottingham (marriage cert).
Charles and Ann relocated to Tewkesbury in old age. Ann died in 1882 (death cert) at a private address. Charles died in Tewkesbury Union Workhouse in 1886 (death cert). The Workhouse Minute Books (Gloucestershire Archives) contain three references to 'the tailor', dated between 1882 and 1884.
One mystery remains. Census returns from 1851 give Charles' birthplace as Exeter. Two visits to Devon Record Office and numerous enquiries have failed to yield further information.
You may have noticed Ron Richards comments on the guest page. After the initial contact, he send in a little more information about his connection with Beckford together with a photo. I have included his comments and the photo here just in case someone can recognise any people on the photo or add anything of general interest...
"As my Mum was born in Beckford,the villiage has always been of interest to me,especially the church were my great uncles Arthur Bygrave Royal Warks Regt and Edward Thomas Bygrave Second Batt Grenadier Gaurds 1914-18 are both mentioned.Mum who is now 86 sends her wishes.
You may be interested in this this photo of my mum (Dorothy Bygrave) taken around 1928 at the old school next to St Johns parish church Beckford. Mum was born in 1923 the daughter of William George Bygrave and Agnes Robertson Bygrave (nee MacMillan) of 7 council houses Beckford. Mum is near the middle in back row seated.The young boy standing next to girl seated third from right is Basil Bunn. Also note the twins in the front row (who are they?). The time taken 09.00hrs. Mum has since lived in Liverpool,Bath,Corsham and now lives in Chipping Campden since 1953. During World War 2 she served with the ATS 443 Heavy Ack Ack battery."
Best Wishes Ron Richards.
Pete White, who currently lives in Little Beckford was born in Great Washbourne, but has lived in Beckford for over 70 years. At a recent nostalgic evening at Beckford Village Hall he gave a short talk about his memories of the early years of living in Beckford. Here is his notes for the talk he gave...
"Does anyone remember a Chapel at Beckford?
Does anyone remember a hand drawn bier?
My first memory is after being washed and dressed by my mother I fell in the bowl of water and got wet. I am well aware I was born at the best time; a lot of these memories may not be in the correct order. At great Washbourne where we lived originally I remember our neighbour Mrs Aston, we could listen to her kettle through the wall they were so thin. I had a sister Shirley about 18 months younger than me.
When my parents married 1933 they both rode their bikes to a registry office at Tewkesbury, their weekly wage then was 30 shillings per week out of that they had to pay house rent about 4-6 shillings weekly, their house owner at Great Washbourne was Frances Larner (more about him later) who was a farmer. When he stopped farming a few years later the new farmer who was Mr Albutt needed the house for a worker; but he was not in a hurry. At this time my grandfather Charles Henry White had 2 blacksmith shops, one at Alderton and one at Beckford. My father Edward Charles White could shoe horses and my guess is he spent time at both places working. ln those days there was a lot of horse shoeing to be done and my father probably rode his bike a lot between Alderton and Beckford. One day he was riding past a farm called Captain Stables and a dog ran out in the road and father fell from his bike and broke his one arm. This broken arm can illustrate to you the desperate financial situation these people were in those days. Father had an appointment at the general hospital and it was on a Saturday morning and they lived at Great Washbourne.
Charlie Pitt and his wife lived at Beckford and they had a small shop and garage and did car hire. My parents decided to use this car hire to take father to Cheltenham hospital. Mother made sure he had money to pay, my father was afraid to spend his money, they got back about midday and I remember Mr Pitt complained to his wife about his lack of earnings, he needed the money, so Mrs Pitt travelled from Beckford to Washbourne and my mother paid her. There was a by-product from this broken arm, which was the future renting of jubilee cottage, as the dog belonged to Stan Hawker and his father Adam Hawker who lived in Forge cottage at Beckford which was next door to Jubilee cottage the home of Mrs Brown who had recently died. Adam put in a good word and my parents got jubilee cottage for about the next 40 years the rent was 2 pound 12 shillings every 3 months to someone at Buckland near Broadway. A lot of household goods were in this cottage when my parents moved in and during WW2 years my mother was desperate at times for fire fuel, so all this original furniture was cut up with an axe in the house to cook meals I can still remember moving from Washbourne to Beckford and father borrowing a horse and dray from someone, its size was about 11 foot by 7 foot at the most."
"There were no road signs posts to help any enemy invaders. I can remember the construction of Ashchurch Camp. l remember riding my bike with Father on a Sunday when I was about 10, to Ashchurch depot G25 and seeing lots of crashed vehicles in the mud there, the Americans seemed to be forever crashing their vehicles, they ran into pedestrians and killed them at Ashchurch on the narrow railway bridge and footpaths were constructed to help stop this happening. There was a dormitory at Teddington for them to stay in so they were not at risk if Ashchurch was bombed. At that time there were a lot of WW1 veterans who knew what to do from their training.
We had no clock in the house, if any were available we could not afford them, but luckily we lived near a railway line and the trains were a good way of letting us know the time. One thing I never forget is having no money for about 10 years from age 5 to 15. As children we did carol singing and happy New Yearing and we helped pick and harvest everything and when we got home with a few coppers mother needed it for bread or coal.
The only music in Beckford Village Hall was Ken Larners’ Bluebird band - it was very good. Ken played the piano and his sister Molly played a wind instrument probably either a clarinet or saxophone. Harry Chapman played the drums. The Americans liked it and they came in lorry loads, sometimes twice a week and brought their own microphone and sound equipment, I heard it said they probably paid most of the mortgage on the Beckford Village Hall. What you must remember is they had plenty of everything and we had nothing. When they had times at the weekend they would drive to Teddington and to Beckford Hotel and us children who had nothing were waiting for them at the entrance to Beckford. They gave us things the depot had at Ashchurch G25 and at Teddington the sub-depot of G25. During these years my mother, for money reasons, usually had two jobs of work, at one time one of them was charring at Teddington cross hands pub. About the end of the wartime an American wanted to take for us the first colour photo of my sister and I, we waited all one Saturday morning in our best clothes, he did take photos, not very good, but there was a bit of colour in them, the first we had ever seen.
During WW2 there was a searchlight at Great Washbourne. One bomb was dropped in this area, near Hill View cottages, a few days later it exploded, while I was in Beckford school, it was probably aimed at the railway, a German plane returning to Coventry and wanting to get rid of the last bomb, we could tell the type of plane and if they were carrying heavy bombs, luckily at Beckford school we had brown paper tape stuck on the inside of the windows. I remember seeing the red glow in the sky at night which was the bombing of Coventry.
As you know during the war we had food and clothes rations books, it was that tight that if you kept poultry you could not have an egg ration it was one or the other. During the war at one time the only thing mother had in the house to put on our bread was sugar to make it taste a bit better we never had enough ration coupons. Towards the end of the war mother found out about Wards van, who came round once a week selling paraffin and hardware and one thing he always had was extra tea leaves that we needed.
Now a bit about the home guard in this area during WW2 my father was a member of this organisation.
Their only transport was Cecil Collins’ coal lorry, a four wheel Bedford not very big .During the war years father always had in the bedroom drawer a rifle and 5 bullets, mother did not like this. The Home guard dug themselves a trench on some high ground at Beckford Market, overlooking the Evesham and Washbourne entrances to the village. One of their members got killed when an army lorry turned over on Madeleines corner. It must have been travelling too fast, his name is on the Kemerton memorial, The Home guard used to spend time at Lalu Farm, near the top of Bredon hill from that point it is possible to see a very large area, it is near parsons folly the highest point.
Now I'll move to during and after WW2, in Beckford Main Street there are some architecturally good houses, one of these is named The Grange, my great grandfather William White was involved in building it, he was probably slightly better paid than some and therefore he could pay a few coppers for his son Charles Henry White to be educated. This made a big difference and Charles Henry White went onto something special. He was trained at Shipston-on-Stour in shoeing horses and how to be a Farrier. He was along the way employed by someone to transport with a horse vehicle bricks from Dumbleton to build the Wrens Nest house on which we call the Stow road but one day at Shipston he had too much to drink and he signed on the dotted line for a career in the Gloucestershire regiment.
He never regretted it though because as he could shoe horses he was soon transferred to the artillery regiment where he served in the Boer war and went all over the world with his military career and was due to end about 1914, but the military would not release him until the end of the
1914-1918 war, he always said he got his own back by drawing his pension for more years than he served. For some of his time he served at the best postings in India and in those days all the career soldiers wanted to go to India. Whilst in India he met and married Sarah Ellen Humphries. She was dutch portugeuese and she was very special to us grandchildren at Beckford during WW2, there was 4 of us and she bought us all sorts of things when we were children.
For extra income father often swept chimneys frosty weather without complaint before he went to his day job at the blacksmiths. He got up early and rode his bike long journeys and swept chimneys for 2/6 or 3/6 he went to work with a blackface.
My grandmother Sarah Ellen and 2 sons came back from India to Beckford in England for their first time. Their ship past the Titanic going in the other direction, Grandfather Charles Henry was still in the military for the 1914-1918 war and he was probably released in about 1920. He lived in a cottage at little Beckford and about this time Adam Hawker was blacksmith at Beckford and Adam and Charles Henry White had a gentleman’s agreement to not compete at Beckford . Grandfather worked at Alderton it was probably about this time Charles Henry had a Villiers engine 2.5 or 2 stroke maybe motorcycle from Charley Pitt with instructions to take it back after 3 months for a decoke. He found he could never start it and he eventually gave up. Many months later he dismantled this engine and found the problem, in those days this model had a piston with a defector head and when Charles Pitt decoked it he had put the piston the wrong way round!
About 1928 I assume Adam Hawker had decided to retire and most of Charles Henry Whites customers were at Beckford and the ones at Alderton did not pay very well and he decided to move to Beckford, the premises he bought at Beckford were previously occupied by Hubert Saunders, a wheelwright, I have seen his gravestone in the churchyard at Beckford, he died 1902 aged 88. Miss Saunders who he brought from was virtually penniless.
Frances Lamer who lived at Great Washbourne was a farmer and to make more money he did bricklaying. He built the Blacksmiths shop at Beckford which is still standing. Uncle Len White in the 1930's built his own 3 bedroomed detached house next door for £350. For the bricks for it, he demolished a brick built pump house somewhere by Carrant brook at Beckford and transported by handcart. That is why it was rough cast, he only employed 3 people: F Lamer the brick later, Mr Hopkins for the electrical work and a plasterer, Bill Green. He did the labouring, woodwork and plumbing himself. He mixed the mortar before he went to work in the morning. That is what you call hard work.
When I was a schoolboy, about late 1940 and early 50's, mains water became available so most farmers wanted a half inch bore galvanised pipe laid to their fields. In Beckford at this time, were 2 gents both aged about 80 in Adam Hawker a retired Blacksmith and Joe Salis who had difficulty walking, he was probably a WW1 trench veteran. When they wanted to cross a narrow country lane, the powers that be wanted more money from them. Rather than pay them Adam Hawker made an auger to bore under the road. I saw this devised and think I have always had some sort of Agricultural bias.
A local who you may remember, Fred Newman, was always laughing and joking. He drove a Case tractor on Overbury farm estate, it was 4 farms in those days but is now a large estate. The tractor I always liked was model D or Dexter, it was on spade lug wheels, petrol/paraffin fuel and always used for cultivating. It was an overhead valve engine, slightly better than the side valve Fordsons. The Fordsons would pull a 2 farrow plough. The Case 3, I liked the sound of it, I would ride on the left hand mudguard, no health and safety in those days! I was out of school at 3.30 and I could usually find him by 4.00. If I was not sure where he was I could usually follow the wheel marks, sometimes Des Aston was on the mudguard, he was good at catching rabbits when binding, I could never catch them. When it was time to come home Fred would carry me side saddle on his bike cross bar. One day at a ploughing competition Jack Greaves said he didn’t know what they had been drinking, Fred soon told them - cold tea from a glass bottle! One day, to save them putting the wheel bands on the tractor, Fred drove it slowly from Windmill corner to the chapel ground, about half a mile, foreman Bill Morris said if anyone says anything, send them to see me. I used to spend a lot of time on the tractor and my school clothes ended up smelling of paraffin. Later on, Fred Newman drove a Caterpillar tractor, one dark foggy day he changed the engine oil in a barn below Madeline’s corner and then with a corn drill sideways on a trailer drove it up the road to Park farm at Overbury, we couldn't see anything in the fog, good job there was little traffic in those days!
We got to the farm near the top of the hill and ate our sandwiches around a fire. We were shown a field gate and went through and round the edge of the field and the drill showed we had drilled 2 acres.
My mother, who originally came from Meysey Hampton, finished her schooling and one day travelled on the bus to Beckford Hall and got a job there in domestic service and asked the bus conductor to let her know when they arrived there. Beckford Hall in those days belonged to Captain Case. When the girls there had the occasional half day off, they visited Mrs Jane, who lived in Cobblers Cottage near the top of the hill at Beckford with several children. Sometime later she moved to a big house at Mitton near Tewkesbury.
While living at Jubilee cottage I once saw a Bier being used to carry a coffin, ditto a 4 wheel vehicle using a cast iron skid pan down the railway bridge.
When I was at Bredon secondary modern school aged 11-15 we had a woodwork class one day a week which was good for us. When I left school at 15 I was told I had a place at Russell’s at Broadway, but there was no way I could get there. Luckily though my Uncle Len at Beckford blacksmiths was up to his neck in woodwork and couldn't cope with it all so my grandmother Sarah Helen put in a good word for me. We got on so well together that I was there for the next 50 years, minus 2 years national service!
Now a little about the work I have been involved in. My first job as a boy was at a big house near Teddington cross roads at the end of WW2. Captain Burberry was the chief man there. I blame a friend of my mother’s Mrs Philips for this job! There was always a lot of muddy shoes for me to clean. I was there for around 2 years and did a variety of odd jobs. My 2nd Saturday job as a teenager was for Stan Hawker at Captain Stables, I nearly always got the job of letting out about 20 milking cows to feed from the lush grass verges between Washbourne and Beckford Hotel, the cows loved it and got well spread out, Des Aston told me to always use my bike so that I could overtake them when I needed to. Another thing I did at the stables was ride on the ex-horse mower pulled behind the tractor, to lift the cutter bar on the corners.
During my 50 years at Agricultural engineering there were 2 working sand and gravel excavations at Beckford. Gloucester Sand and Gravel and Woodwards, which was later sold to Huntsmans who worked it out.
We had to invent some of the tools for them to keep them going. They were forever breaking down, trying to get more sand and gravel through the machinery than they were designed for. Lots of experimenting took place. From the early 1930s there always had to be new tools and equipment to deal with all the new problems coming along. A lot had to be overcome by trial and error as a lot of the machines were designed for horse use and had to be converted for tractors. Another problem was welding, the malleable castings that were originally fitted couldn't be repaired effectively so we had to come up with a different method using low hydrogen electrodes as the customers were always in a hurry to use their machines and wanted them fixed immediately and efficiently.
In later years we made lots of lorry bodies, they would bring a new chassis cab to us and we would have to make specific bodies to suit their needs which couldn't be produced at the manufacturers.
In all the years we were always busy and inventing things to keep everybody happy and people used to just turn up and want things fixed immediately. It was certainly a diverse and interesting career, never a dull moment, something new every day."
This contribution from Cyril Richardson is in the form of a letter he wrote in 2005 to John and Madelene Clifford, shortly after he visited Beckford with his wife Grace. Both Madelene and Cyril have given permission for this to be published on this website in the hope that it will bring back even more memories of 'Old Beckford'. The photo I have embedded was send in 1998, along with the following comments by Cyril...
"The print enclosed has been reprodiced (at considerable expense!) from a faded and badly damaged orginal which has somehow survived the years and many moves. It dates from c 1929-30 and features (Left to Right) Monica Bewick, Joan Richardson, myself and - I think - Pauline Bewick. Ernie Yeates, our neighbour and another postman, was a keen photographer and did hid own developing. I think he would have taken this picture. The car belonged to the Woodward boys. I don't know whether the elm tree survived long enoght for you to have known it? When I was old enougt to climb it, I spend many hours aloft and unseen by the folk who came to view the notice board affixed to the great trunk! Note the signpost in the background, adjacent to my own playground, The Pound. The 'Green' still had some grass visible in my boyhoods days, but the area took some punishment as the school playground cum football and cricket pitches."
Sadly Cyril died in 2018.
"Dear John & Madelene
Many thanks for the pics of old Beckford you have sent to me by David; they make for interesting comparison. Somewhere I have a copy of the photo (?) which appears to have been printed from a glass plate which has a crack across it. I find it puzzling to imagine the position of the photographer and why be chose such a narrow angle, obscuring entirely whatever kind of building replaced the burned-out Red Lion, except for the end gable and the roofline, which raises other questions. One thing is certain; it could not have been taken before c.1840
The door in the stone wall is not in the position I remember it, which by a footpath from The Hall gave access to The Green. Captain Case used this route when he wished to visit the shop, then owned by Reg Smith and where Percy Hawker was one of the senior assistants and also the van driver. I remember the Captain very well, and have a clear picture of him 'in my minds eye'. His attire was that of a country squire of the day; he favoured a homburg style hat, tweed jacket and plus-fours and stockings, all in grey. I remember his death in about 1935 and watched the cortege wending its way down the lane on its way to Kemerton.
The horses were decked with plumes and I seem to recall the hearse bad glass sides and may have been provided for the occasion by Butchers of Winchcombe. I cannot remember whether the procession went to The Cross or whether it used the driveway the Captain bad laid down across The Woodfield after his car had been involved in an accident at the cross roads. George Bewicke was the Captain's chauffeur and I think it was Dyco Cooke who was injured when one of the door handles of the car became embedded in his arm.
I believe the present church clock to be the one I remember being fitted in the late 1920's to replace the previous one which, of course, had stopped working. I have a very clear recollection of the timber scaffolding lashed together with cords and ropes, the more so because one day I ascended it until I was up with the clock face. It was all right going up but I was very nervous making the descent and remember feeling I had been too venturesome. Of course, I was assisted by the workmen after I bad badgered them into letting me make the ascent, but I did not tell my mother beforehand.
I had an intimate knowledge of the entire church building, as well as the 'stoke-bole' which housed the central heating boiler. In the first place, my mother was the church-cleaner and I used to help with the cleaning of the brasses, not to mention getting under the pews, lifting the hassocks, etc. My knowledge extended to the interior of the tower above the belfry, because I used to accompany my Uncle Alf in the bell chamber with his oil can and of course there were the ropes to be attended to as well. The chamber floor consisted of old boards (the bells being bung from a huge and entirely separate frame) and there were gaps which made it necessary to choose carefully were ones feet were placed. I have been in the chamber when the bells have been ringing - it's a wonder my hearing isn't worse than it is - apart from the noise, the vibration was terrific. I was taught bell ringing from about age 13 and when on school holidays or after I had left school and before I went off to seek my fortune (as they say) I used to toll the bell for funerals. I was also an accomplished ringer with the chiming apparatus which was fixed to the back of the organ. I would like to be able to put my hand on as many tenners as hours I spent pumping the organ. When Ken Lamer took over as organist after Gertie Smith retired (she also wrote the choir's vesper cards and was a lovely writer as well as a very nice lady, as they all were) I pumped for him from his very first practice night. Ken was a fine musician and ran his own Blue Bird Dance Band. Ken was on the piano, Molly the banjo, George Sims the violin and Harry Chapman the drums. Ken's job was looking after the cows the family had at Great Washbourne, where my paternal grandparents lived 'in retirement' before moving to Strensham where they spent their last years. I can picture Ken in his mac and wellingtons herding the cows. In his spare time he was a Harrier for which purpose he had to be very fit. He used to take we choir boys for a run over Dow(?) Bank to Washbourne, where his Mum would put on a tea for us. Ken's dad, Francis, known as France, had threshing tackle and when he used to be at Woodwards rickyard I used to do a stint on the top of the machine cutting the string, by which the binder had secured the sheaves at harvest time, as part of the threshing process, which resulted in the wheat (or whatever) gushing out of the chutes into the sacks. Of course, in those days ricks were thatched and were a haven for rats and mice. I well remember watching France fry his bacon and egg breakfast on his shovel in the firebox of his steam engine - that was a mouth-watering sight!
Before leaving the church, I have often wondered whether the lead covering the roofing boards at the top of the tower has needed replacing. I was very often up there and one occasion was when the Graf Zeppelin was on one of its spying missions. I believe the photo I have of that machine was taken from that vantage point. Regarding the 'stokehole', I was never very happy about going down there late on a Saturday night to fuel the boiler to ensure there was some warmth in the church for the Sunday morning service but it had to be done; even if it was a bit spooky. The next time you have a stroll round the churchyard have a look at the iron doors which are still there on the flat concrete roof and pause for a few minutes and think “Ah, Cyril Richardson knew all about this job when he was a lad!”
Turning to the school building, a close study of the brickwork of the gable end as shown on an old calendar photograph suggests some other structure stood proud of the present front and that this was removed to install the larger window. Might you know anything about this?
The pie and account of the Beckford fire brigade and 'engine' is very interesting. I remember the latter was housed in the building which stood in the grounds beyond The Gables where the Misses Smiths lived. The grounds and gardens belonged to Captain Peters who lived at the Grange. One of the gardeners was a Mr Carr, Kathleen Carr's father. As I expect you know, she became head mistress at Beckford School, but after it became an infants and primary school only. On one occasion, not all that long before her death, Grace and I took her out to Beckford for a last look around and Ken happened to be in the churchyard and invited us to his bungalow for a cup of tea. That must be all of 30 years ago. The only member of the fire brigade I can claim to know is Jim Burge who lived in the house on the corner by The Pound. Molly Larner lived there after Jim's time. I knew the house well for Jim was always very kind to me and he had some interesting things in the old stables. He used to let me borrow his small four wheel pony cart to bring the potatoes from the allotment. I think we stored them under the stairs - with the coal! Later I built my own 'trailer' using old pram wheels. I towed this trailer behind my (second) bicycle (which came from the Vicarage stables-cum-garages) and one day when I was giving my sister a ride on the trailer I went round the corner from Rabbit Lane too fast and she came off. I never lived that down.
I am rising 84 (DV) and can remember back to when I was four. I dare say there are a few still living in Beckford who can remember things that happened in the village 80 years ago and who have lived there ever since, but in the nature of things they must be rather thin on the ground, which is what I discovered when Grace and I spent a few hours in the village last June, which we thoroughly enjoyed.
I have good reason to understand the meaning of the saying 'nothing is forever' but I do think the removal of The Pound was an act of wanton destruction and along with the removal of the old elm tree has done much to destroy the charm and character of old Beckford.
I hope you will find some, if not all, of what I have set down of interest, but I also hope you had a supply of Rennies to hand before you began reading! With renewed thanks for what you have sent me and for your continued interest,