Arthur Randall (Hairdresser)
Yvonne Brown recalls Arthur as being 'a kind man'. She writes, 'London
born Arthur moved to Badsey in 1964 having bought a newly built house at 8
Bretforton Road. He was accompanied by his wife Joyce, whom he married in
1947, and their 16 year old son Paul. Arthur found employment at the Long
Marston Army Camp and remained there until he retired. Arthur was also
granted permission by the council to use his garage for gents
hairdressing, and ran this alongside his day job, opening from 6 pm to 9
pm weekday evenings, and all day on a Saturday. By the time Arthur retired
Paul had emigrated and Arthur and Joyce reluctantly sold up their Badsey
home and joined their son in New Zealand. Arthur died about nine years
ago, but his wife and son still live out there.' Will Dallimore
adds, 'I can still
remember the smell of the bay rum he sprayed on at the end of
the haircut and I won't forget one
embarrassing moment which happened to me on my way home after visiting
Arthur's. I started riding my old bike back home towards Horsebridge (I
think it was a bike our old chap had picked up off the dustcart)
when I heard something rubbing on the back wheel. I noticed a large
crowd at the bus-stop as I crossed over to the path by John Austin's
shop. The rubbing noise was getting louder, I glanced down to see the
the inner-tube poking out of the tyre like a balloon, and getting bigger
by the second. As I passed the bus-stop it went 'BANG!', much to the
amusement of the waiting crowd. I put my head down and kept pedaling until I got to the relative safety of the Avenue, the sound of laughter
still ringing in my ears.'
Fish and Chips
Ian Major has memories of fish and chips, he writes; 'I certainly remember
Turner's fish and chip van (later Tayler's). We were all summoned into the
road by their hand bell. They were dangerous vans since they contained hot
fat, the chips being cooked as they went along. An old Turner's chip van
ended its days in Wakefields nursery on Blackminster Bank. I used to pass
it when I walked to Badsey Growers. The chip shop down Synehurst was
re-opened for a time in the 1960's, and I believe it was run by the Knight
Ian Major also remembers other regular visitors to Badsey. The mobile
ironmonger's lorry, selling buckets, mops, brooms. Paraffin was sold from
tanks behind the cab. I can still smell it now. There was a weekly
(Chinese) laundry delivery, also the Corona pop lorry, and Johnson's milk
delivery. They had an Austin pick-up with milk churns on the back. They
always delivered as a family, with Mr. and Mrs. Johnson and their son,
Walter, in the cab. Their farm was at Bower's Hill.
Grower's Collection Boxes
Michael Barnard remembers a wooden box on the wall of the Blacksmith's
Shop which may have been green and was used by market-gardeners to leave
notes for the transport firms that collected produce for market. Do you
remember it? Was this the only one in the village? Do you know anyone
who used it?
During the last war many girls came to the village to work on the land.
Many married local lads and have lived in the village ever since. Were
you, or did you know, a land girl?
Will Dallimore remembers Aldington Chapel from his teenage years, he
writes; I attended Aldington Chapel on a rather irregular basis, it was
usually when my father, George, who was a lay preacher was due to preach
there. As I remember it the chapel was a single storey building, which
was entered by climbing a couple of steps. Inside, the lower half of the
single room had a wooden dado. Turning left, an aisle led up between
rows of wooden benches, with moveable backs. Halfway up the aisle stood
a tortoise stove, its metal chimney rising up to the gabled roof. There
was a small stage at the front of the room on which a wooden pulpit sat.
The organ, technically a harmonium, with two pedals to pump the air, was
found to the left of the stage. One of the highlight's of the Christian
calendar is Harvest Festival, and at Aldington Chapel, as at other
churches, fruit, vegetables and flowers were bought in to decorate the
chapel. The centrepiece of the display being a large harvest loaf
incorporating wheatsheafs amongst its highly-decorated crust. Year after
year I had drooled over this loaf and then one year we finally outbid
all others at the Tuesday night sale of produce. However, the loaf may
have looked appetising, but in truth it was stale and like eating
cardboard, and we never bid for it again. Some of the people I remember
from Aldington Chapel were organist, Trevor Jones, and Percy and Mrs.
Harrison and their pekinese dogs.
The Badsey Pike
- A Fishy Tale
Chris Flanagan was born in his Grandad's house in Synehurst in 1941,
at the end of the war Chris moved to Birmingham with his parents, Jack
and Dorothy, and his brother Mike. Chris's Grandfather was William Sandford
who was married to Alice Knight, they lived at what is now 25 Synehurst,
it was then number 11. Chris has recently written his autobiography called
'Brummagem Days - Brummagem Nights',
here is an extract entitled 'The Badsey Pike', the year is 1953.
Saturday was a grey, damp and doleful day.
As a Summer's day it just wasn't up to it.
It really belonged some place else.
Like in February.
There it would hardly have been noticed. It would have just been your
standard-issue wet blanket of a winter's day. But
instead it just wanted to hang around here in August getting up
everybody's nose and down everybody's drainpipe.
And it did.
It was wet, and it was getting wetter.
By dinner time the sun had got it's rainhat on, and I'd got my Pakamac on.
Of course we should have reckoned on a bit of rain. We'd been well warned.
The plaster souvenir on the kitchen cabinet that was supposed to bring us
'Good Luck From Cheddar Gorge' had the bloke in the bowler hat edging
forward with his brolly, while his missus in the bonnet skulked behind the
doorway with her parasol.
I showed it Dad, but he only grunted, 'This'll tell you nothin' you
couldn't find out by having a shufty out of the window. What you want is
one of those mahogany an' brass barometers like your Aunt Rene's, and then
you'd be getting summat, but stuff like this'll tells you nothin'. It's
just a fiddle like the tat they give you when you win on the 'Hook A Duck'
stall down at the Flower Show.'
Dad was just ahead of Mom, Maureen and me, trying to haul an groaning
suitcase up the steps to the bridge that would take us over New Street
Station to the No. 148 Midland Red Evesham bound bus. He'd got everything
in it except the kitchen sink plunger and his tools, and Mom was right
mithered about that. Grandad's plumbing was up the spout because nothing
was going down the spout.
'Our Dad,' she worried. 'Our Dad was relying on you not forgetting that
plunger and that. What's he going to do, else ? Him at his age. Nothings
flushing proper, and he isn't up to fixing it himself, him being on the
liquid paraffin and having to work on his bit of land. And that's only
when he's not in the lav.'
Grandad, that's Mom's Dad, lived in Badsey village just a plum stone's
throw from Evesham town, and if we managed to get what was left of Dad,
and the reluctant suitcase, onto the bus in Station Street by noon we'd be
knocking on his back-door well before two.
The bus heaved into the kerb outside
Grandad's at just after half one. He lived at number eleven Synehurst, but
nobody in the village ever called the road anything but The Pike. Maureen,
who'd been sleeping with her head of dark curls trembling against the
window, woke suddenly.
'Are we at Studderley yet, Mom ?' she mumbled, still adrift in a dream
she'd never remember. Can I have a cornet instead of a choc-ice ?'
'We've already been through Studley and you've had your ice-cream,'
soothed Mom as she buttoned Maureen's pink cardigan and straightened her
ankle socks. 'Pick up your stuff. This is Grandad's stop.'
I hit the pavement and within seconds I was swerving down the gravel path
of number eleven with Maureen stumbling breathlessly behind. Side-stepping
the front door found us down the side of the house, brushing past the
swaying hollyhocks and the heavily scented silver lavender, until a second
corner brought us to Grandad's shed. I heard him before I saw him.
'Is that thee, ower Tiffer ? Ow bist thee then ?'
It was me alright. I peered into the dark until my wide eyes found him sat
on his wooden box whittling at a piece of wood, his jack-knife held in
ancient hands. His weathered face crumpled with a smile as he nodded to
'Well I goo to 'ell.' He said quietly, his slow eyes moistening. 'It's
ower Tiffer and ower Maureen, then.' I was always Tiffer when I was in
Badsey. Another kid, a village kid, was also a Christopher, and they
called him Chris. Me being born just a few days later meant I was called
Tiffer, so together we were Chris-Tiffer.
As Grandad stood up and flicked the wood shavings from his trousers Mom
and Dad dragged into view with the luggage.
'Alright then, our Dad ?' said Mom. 'Have you been taking your medicine
an' that, like I said ?' Grandad had
been taking it like she said. He looked across at Dad. 'Did thee manage to
bring the plunger. Jack?'
Dad, who was always Jack in Badsey, and John everywhere else on earth,
shuffled awkwardly until Mom spoke.
'He's got everything but, Dad, but I thought he might bike it into Evesham
to see what's what at the ironmongers in Bridge Street.'
'They'll 'ave 'em in Asum, Dorothy, but we wunt want 'im a-gooin now. 'I
spec e'll be wantin' 'is tea fust.' said Grandad , leading us up the
back-door step into the kitchen. I
stood in the doorway breathing in the smell of fresh mint and stale water.
As the others creaked into their chairs and started to trade laughs and
arrowroot biscuits, I looked back at the shed.
Grandad's shed was my secret. It
always had been.
I was born in Grandad's house during the
War, and ever since then his shed had been where I'd sneak out to and
hunch myself up on his box and wonder why I was me, and not anyone else,
and why only I knew what I knew about secret of the shed, even if I didn't
know what the secret was, or even if there was a secret. For
an eternity, if there's such a thing as eternity, it had been cluttered
from the earth-trodden floor to the creosoted walls and ceiling with a
jumble of rakes, hoes, peck baskets, onion and sprout nets, dibbers and
dubbin, bags of hoof 'n' horn, fish manure, asparagus knives for cutting
sparra-grass, seed drills and seed catalogues, and stacks of sacks, and
things I knew, and things I didn't, that leaned against this over here, or
that over there, and some of it was cobwebbed, rotting and rusted, and
bundled herbs hung from butcher's hooks
just above your head and touched your hair whether you were looking or
Later on, straight after my tea had gone
down, and Maureen had gone for a lie down, I crept across the grass which
was now gently steaming as the sun, fiery and promising, warmed the good
Badsey earth. I slid into the cool of
my secret shed and swiftly hid the matchbox in an old Golden Syrup tin
behind a jar of brown paint. I wouldn't need it until later. I
found the bamboo fishing-net and the jar where Grandad had said, and I was
A blistering sun, now as high as summer,
ran with me from the Horsebridge stile, across Badsey Brook meadow through
the whispering yellow grass and the scattered moon daisies and buttercups.
I stood silently at the water's edge.
I waited awhile.
Badsey Brook was as timeless as a dandelion clock.
Grandad had listened to it for a whole lifetime, and he heard what no one
Maybe I could.
I knelt down in the shade of a branch that trailed it's fingers in the
water, and slid my net carefully into the steadily swirling stream. A
couple of grey minnows darted beneath my net before I could snatch at
them, so I tracked them to a bend in the brook where the water was almost
still, almost dark, and almost mysterious. Again
I slipped my net into the brook and swept it slowly backwards and
forwards, withdrawing it only to clear it of waterweed. I'd only returned
my net to the water for seconds when suddenly a clutch of sticklebacks
quickened towards the cover of the overhanging bank as the shadowy shape
of a flat snouted fish thrust at them. With
a gasp that even I couldn't hear, I netted it and tipped it quivering into
my large onion jar. I quickly clasped my hand over the top. This wasn't
going to be the one that got away. With my head down I scuttled for home
across the droning meadow.
Grandad looked at me and then at Uncle
Billy, who stood sweltering in the deep pocketted overcoat he wore nightly
when rabbiting or laying night lines for eels.
'That's a young pike you've got 'ere. Tiffer.' he said. 'A fresh-water
shark. Ent that so Billy ?'
'Aye, Dad. All on the kids in the village 'ave bin after the little
bugger, I can tell yer.' Grandad had
filled a zinc bathtub with water from a hose and we were watching the pike
nosing vainly for it's prey.
'Look at "is teeth, Tiffer. Sharp and pointed they is. When 'e's a
big 'un 'e'll have gudgeon, roach, frogs an' even water birds if they'm
small enough, 'e'll grab 'em sideways on and then 'e'll jerk "em
around and swallow them yud first.''
Grandad pointed his pipe at our prisoner. 'Look at 'is colourin', an all.
Mottled green and brown so's 'e can can 'ide in weed and reed beds. 'is
eyes be 'igh so 'e'll be able to slide under 'is prey
and strike....a bit like a U Boat eh, Billy?'
Uncle Billy, who had braved Dunkirk, winced, sniffed and nodded.
'Pikes can smell out anythin' in the water.' Grandad continued.' I used to
put a bit o' kipper as deadbait on a line, and even if the water was muddy
'e'd pick up the scent and 'ave it. And I'd 'ave 'im.'
Uncle Billy nodded again.' 'e'd taste good an' all, wouldn't 'e , Dad ?
Specially if 'e'd bin baked slow' like.'
We watched my pike for sometime before I asked the question I really
didn't want to ask.
'Can I keep him, Grandad?'
Grandad took out his black leather tobacco pouch and carved off a plug
with his pocket-knife. He spoke quietly as he rubbed the baccy in his
'Trouble is Tiffer is that 'e'd die if we tried to keep 'im. 'e needs
running water and live food. I think 'e'll be better off back where 'e
come from. He needs to go back wum. The Brook'll need 'im more than us'll.'
For the second time that day I stared down at my sandals. I pulled up my
left sock. Grandad was right. He always was.
After Dad and Uncle Billy had fixed
Grandad's waterworks we all sat up at the kitchen table for tea. We had
two Hartwell's faggots each and spuds and runner beans off Grandad's
ground. His potatoes were even better
than those that Dad grew on our allotment up the back of the Uplands Pub,
and our Dad really knew what was what when it came to spuds. His
very first job off the cattle-boat when he came over from Derry was on a
potato farm just outside Liverpool. When it came to spuds Dad knew his
onions. When the time was right he'd manure, trench and water
them carefully, and then he did everything else you were supposed to do to
them apart from taking them for a walk. For
afters we had rhubarb tart and condensed milk, but I could only shift half
of mine because I'd sneaked a dripping sandwich when no one was looking
and my stomach just didn't want to know.
'We'm off up to the Oak, then,' said Dad
once the crocks had been washed, rattled and stacked. 'Yer Grandad hasn't
been out for a cider for weeks.'
As the back door closed behind them Mom took off her pinny and sat down to
finish off the cold potatoes left in the saucepan. We
watched her in silence until the pan had been scraped empty.
'Mom,' said Maureen, trying to hide a yawn behind her hand.' Could you
tell us about when you were little, like you always do?'
'Well I've never been really little, have I ?' said Mom. Even when I was
little I was big. The others used to call me the big'un. I was a bit of a
steamed puddin' of a wench, if you ask me..too many drippin' cakes.'
I tugged my chair tight under the table.' Go on, Mom.Tell us. We'll go to
bed afterwards. We've got our comics an' that.' Mom
wiped her hands on her pinny and licked her lips.
'Alright,' she said at last.' Where shall I start ?'
' Anywhere,' I said, because I knew that was where Mom's stories always
started. And anywhere was where they always ended. Somehow her stories
were always the same, yet strangely they were always different. Even when
we knew what was coming next, we were surprised. Only our Mom could tell
our Mom's stories, and us kids could never go to where they come from,
unless Mom took us. She used to tell us
her old teacher at Badsey School used to say 'You can never step into the
same river twice.' And it was the same with Mom's tales from her past;
they were different everytime we walked into them.
Mom looked up at the cuckoo clock above the range as it measured the
'Did I tell you about old Silas Hyde ? If I didn't I'll have to make it
quick. Look at the time.'
'I think you did tell us, Mom.' I said, but immediately wished I hadn't.
'I don't think you did, Mom.' Maureen wasn't going to bed that easily.
'Well, anyroad,' began Mom with another glance clockwise. 'Old Silas lived
on rough cider and pickled eggs and the only job 'e had, that you could
call a proper job, was cutting the long grass on the roadside verges for
Evesham Council. One afternoon, after they'd chased 'im out of the
Wheatsheaf, he decided he could clear the grass quicker if he fired it. So
fire it, 'e did. Course the smoke got to 'im, and that, and the cider, had
'im gasping in the ditch. He must have fallen asleep because that was when
his jacket caught fire. That's when they found him.'
' Was he dead. Mom?' asked Maureen.
' No. But the village kids 'ad to put him out.' Mom's eyes still glistened
at the memory.' And he still wears that bugger of a jacket. Calls it 'is
Mom eyed us both.' Off you go, the two of you. And draw the curtains
before you get in bed because you don't want the moon shining on your face
when you're asleep.'
' Why not, Mom ?' asked Maureen.
' Never you mind.'
' Does it make you go mad like Uncle Billy said ?' I said.
' Up you go, I said,' she smiled, and then added 'and haven't you
forgotten something ?' I had. I'd
forgotten all about Mike's flamin' matchbox. I should have done
what he wanted me to do, and I should have done it today and got it
out of the way. Now I'd have to get up early in the morning and pretend
I was going down the village. Then I'd have to double back and head
for Badsey Station. And I musn't say anything to anyone. Nobody must
know what I'm doing.
' Night, Mom.' I murmured.
' Night Mom.' echoed Maureen.
It must have been dark when Grandad and Dad
came home from the Oak. Not that I
would have known as by then I was asleep. The early morning sun was
drawing mist from the dew-damp grass as I
scuttled past Cyril Bird's shop with the matchbox in my fist. If I'd had a
tanner on me I'd have gone in for a quarter of
something just to watch old Cyril serve
me because, despite being blind, he was a magician who could
jangle a pocketful of change in his hand and total it in his head as
quick as any bookie's clerk. And then he'd
reach out and place his hand on any
bottle or box behind the counter, almost before you'd asked for it -
and I'd seen him do it - and I knew that if he was ever on stage at the
Aston Hipp he'd be able conjure with silk
scarves and playing cards as skilfully
as he shuffled packets of Silk Cut and Players Weights from under
the counter, and as an encore he'd easily turn wine and water into wine
gums and water biscuits.
I rounded the Bretforton Road bend and
crossed over just before reaching
Buster Mustoe's sparra-grass ground, where me and Mike used
to hide from Ming the Merciless when the ferns grew tall. From
there I just had to get a shift on down the Birmingham Road. Nobody
or nothing was moving on the platform, or in the sidings, when
I finally pulled up breathlessly and crouched alongside a hedge near
Badsey Station. It was only when I glanced up at the signal-box that
I realised I'd be seen if the signalman took a break from wrestling
with his levers and took a shufty eastwards
along the downside line. I needed
cover, but I didn't have to wait long, because a village lorry loaded
with Pershore plums, pears, runner and dwarf beans choked up the
incline towards the level crossing. I quickly ran alongside it on the
blindside of the signal-box only pausing to
place Mike's matchbox on a rail near to
the gate. Once over onto the main platform side I sat on the bench,
took out my trainspotting pencil and a bit of paper, and waited. And
waited. I heard the train's whistle
first, and then came the grating sound of the
level-crossing gates as they lurched across the track and stopped with
a shudder. As I stood up I caught sight of the train's smoke trail in
the distance as it hustled it's way down
Camden Bank from the Cotswolds. In
moments it had crashed through Badsey Station on its way
to Evesham leaving behind nothing but a swirl of cinders and a flattened
matchbox on the whitewashed pebbles along the track. Swiftly looking
towards the booking-office I was on and off the track in seconds,
and halfway back up the Birmingham Road in minutes. It
was only then that I opened the crushed matchbox and took out the two
pennies that were now as flat as cow-pats.
One for me.
One for Mike.
(c)2004 Chris Flanagan
With the village having no paper delivery service can anyone remember
Aubrey Syril and his push-bike overflowing with newspapers, or what
you can add anything to the above then let us know, also if you have
memories or anecdotes of people and places in the village from your past
that you think may be of interest to others then contact Will Dallimore
by email at