Memories from the Past

Would you like to submit your memories of Kingsland village life, now or then? Send your memories via the CONTACT US page. All contributions welcome!

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Over the past few years we have collected a huge number of memories of living in Kingsland so have created an index so you can jump to articles that interest you. Most recent at the top. Hope you find it useful!

Article Index: Click the article name to jump straight to it:

NEW!!! The Red Lion and The Crumps 
NEW!!!  Moving to Herefordshire in 1942 by Rick – Part 3 
NEW!! Moving to Herefordshire in 1942 by Rick – Part 2 
Kingsland Carnival and Flower Show 1953
Moving to Herefordshire in 1942 by Rick – Part 1 
Memories of Maurice Markham – a letter from Gordon Roberts to Bryan Markham
Lighting Up Time
 The Peewit
Iron gates and Railings
Memoirs of Bruce Hepburn – an Evacuee in Kingsland 1940-1948
The Otter
Memories of Lewis Davies’s family
My First Bike and La Tour de A4110
The memories of Harold Gough the Cobnash wheelwright
Eric Wall’s memories of a Childhood in Kingsland before WW2
Milk Churns
Football Mad
Jobling and Jobling
The Winter of 1946/47
Public Houses and Inns in Kingsland
Pinsley Brook
The memoirs of a Land Girl
A drowning in the River Lugg and Village Cricket
Football in Kingsland
Alfred Traylor’s memories
Summer Holidays and the Harvest
The memoirs of Mollie Bosworth-Dade
No television, computers or social media
Radio Luxembourg
Hop Picking
Two Happy Farmers
Lady Day at Angel House
A Visit to the Doctor
Spot The Bus Driver
The solitary grave at the Methodist Chapel
The Post Office
Facts of Life
The River Lugg
The Home Guard
Wartime Rationing
The stained glass window in Kingsland Church
Farming and some Herefords History
More on Working Horses
Working Horses
Kingsland’s Harrods and Dancing at the Coronation Hall
The grave at the Methodist Chapel
The build up to D Day
Kingsland School photos 1940-41 and 1943
Kingsland School Memories
The arrival of Television
The memories of a wartime evacuee
Memories from Eric Wall
Memories of Ned and Arnold Stephens
Memories from Gordon Roberts
A bit of Kingsland History
Women’s Land Army – Nellie Bagley

NEW!!  The Red Lion and the Crumps (first published in Village Talk 2013)

My Great Great Grandfather (Thomas Crump) emigrated to Australia with his family in 1850. His father (John and, after his death in 1855, wife Elizabeth) where publicans of the Lion (aka Red Lion) Inn, Kingsland for many years. I have traced this inn in Kingsland through online historical directories from 1835 when the publican was John Crump, through various innkeepers (Elizabeth Crump 1856, John Bray 1868, William Reece 1876, James Reece 1890 and Elizabeth Evans 1913) but can find no information about what happened to it. Hopefully one of your readers may be able to shed some light on it for me. I can be contacted by email at or by ordinary mail at Gary Ladiges, 62 Lincoln Rd, Croydon, Vic, 3136, Australia.

For those of your readers who may be interested in Thomas Crump’s story he was born in Kingsland about 1819 to John Crump (of Brampton Bryan) and Elizabeth (nee Wollaston), the daughter of an innkeeper from Leintwardine.

The 1841 census shows Thomas and his brother John living with the local blacksmith Thomas Caldicourt and his wife Sarah. Also as part of the household were Thomas Caldicourt’s widowed daughter Sarah Harper and her daughter Eliza. On 23 Jan 1842 Thomas married Sarah Harper (13 years his senior) and they set about raising their family. In 1846 one of their sons Thomas Caldicourt Crump died aged 2.

On the 21 May 1850 Thomas and Sarah and their 4 surviving children (Edwin (my Great Grandfather), Angelina, Isaac and Amelia) and step daughter Eliza Crump (Harper) set sail for Port Phillip (Melbourne) aboard the Bernicia.

When the Bernicia arrived in Port Adelaide on 8 Sep 1850 the Crump family disembarked, never rejoining the ship but rather setting up base in Prospect Village (now the northern Adelaide suburb of Prospect).

A little over 8 months after arriving in Australia Thomas’s wife Sarah died (4 May 1851), 2 days later his 7 year old daughter Angelina also died. The cause of their deaths is not known.

Following these tragedies it appears that Eliza left stepfather Thomas to fend for herself – whether voluntary or otherwise is not known. Her short life came to an end on 10 Sep 1853 when she died in the Destitute Asylum, Adelaide aged just 16.

By 1856 Thomas had made the move to Victoria and was living in Richmond (an inner suburb of Melbourne). In 1860 he married Margaret Murphy with whom he had 3 more children.

Thomas worked as a blacksmith all his life until his death in Richmond in 1906 aged 87.

Whilst Thomas’s story ended in Australia it started in the Red Lion in Kingsland.

Any information about the Red Lion or anything else in this article your readers may have would be much appreciated.

Warmest regards from Aus

Gary Ladiges

29th November 2013

NEW!!  Moving to Herefordshire in 1942 Part 3 – by Rick (first published in Kingsland News March 2021)

Those of you who read the two previous episodes will recall that, to escape from the bombing in Coventry, my mother, father and I came to my uncle’s house in Ledicot in the summer of 1942.  There was an immediate bond between my cousin, Jean, and I . We had a delightful summer, experiencing the delights of the countryside, the world of farms and livestock etc. Inevitably the time came for us to go to Kingsland School for the Autumn term………

We were greeted at school by the head master, Mr C.T. Jones, who made a point of seeing us arrive on the bus and making sure that we behaved ourselves.   We were then regulated into lines on the playground and at the strike of 9 o’clock were let into the three classrooms that were available.   The small classes made it possible for the teacher to get to know the pupils in detail and so they were very aware of our background and relatives.  I remember sitting next to a friendly girl, Marjorie Williams, for some of my stay there. (Remarkably, I still see her in the village more than 70 years later!)

The pupils were divided into the sporty ones who disliked any academic studies and did their best to upset the classes with their mutterings and kicking under the desks – and the academic ones who hated going outside where it was usual to fight with all and sundry!   However the headmaster reined supreme and if you were caught in any awkward situation you had to go to visit him in his office.   I did it several times and found him very fair and didn’t have the cane at all!

The school had a great relationship with Kingsland Church and we  were often taken in columns along the pavements to the church either for instruction on history or for a school service, as it was a Church of England school.   Our headmaster, Mr Jones, had a personal relationship with the church, being a regular member of the choir and holding various other responsible posts on the church committees.

Compulsory church attendance had always been encouraged by my parents.   I think, possibly because they wanted me out of the house on a Sunday afternoon to give them some freedom.   Being evacuated to Kingsland made religion no more attractive, and when it was suggested that my cousin Jean and I should go to Sunday school, there were some long faces at lunchtime.

It was surprisingly different!  There was a long walk, of a mile or so, to the house (not church) where the Sunday school was held and it was surprisingly good to walk through the fields after a hearty Sunday lunch and to see the farm animals and the orchards of  trees in the height of the summer.  Also Jean and I picked up other children from intervening houses and we went along as a crowd – only half a dozen or so.  We eventually reached the main Mortimer’s Cross  to Shobdon road and, crossing it, entered the short drive to a small cottage which I  learned later was occupied by two ladies of indeterminate age.  They had the dress and atmosphere of a Victorian period and their house was furnished in the same way.   We were shown into a large room where the table had been pushed back and the various chairs arranged in a semi-circle.  In one corner was the harmonium at which one sister sat whilst the other led the service, very carefully explaining how it was all to be organized.   We were each given a hymn book and a record card which showed the number of attendances made in the year.

We started off with a hymn and the two ladies both sang with the accompaniment of the harmonium and we all, rather tentatively, joined in.           After that there were some very simple prayers – generally relating to the health and well-being of our family and friends.  Another hymn was followed by a short talk by the leader, who subsequently issued stick-on religious stamps, to put on the attendance card which was provided.   I was quite intrigued by these and asked why we all had different stamps and the answer was so that we could look at each others and she would explain what they were.   The final hymn and the service was soon over and there were iced buns and a glass of pop.   We were then let out and ran giggling and screaming across the main road smd across the fields.  On the way we would pass the walnut tree where, in season, a few walnuts were lying on the ground – but in order to get more, we found short branches and hurled them up the tree to dislodge the fruit.  But then of course we couldn’t open them – so took them home as prizes.   Religion wasn’t too bad after all!

In fact, I found that I was really enjoying this country life, and that my cousin Jean and I had bonded together like brother and sister, and spent most of our spare time together!   She would bring me up-to-date with all the local gossip in Kingsland and the surrounding area – and I would help her to understand about the bombing and other war-time happening which had shaped my young life.  She helped me to acclimatise to the country ways –  even introducing me to the enormous cider cask which resided in the under-stairs cupboard – access to which was available to us all!  So many an evening would end with us both having the giggles, before retiring to bed!

My regret is, that after meeting up occasionally for the next 5 years or so, Jean and I lost touch.  We both moved from Herefordshire, married and left behind the carefree country life that we had once enjoyed.

In all I had six or seven months at Ledicot, including an idyllic summer and excellent tuition at Kingsland school. Then, as I had somehow passed the ‘eleven plus’ exam, we moved to Leominster so that I could go to the Grammar School there.

It was many decades later –  in the mid 1980’s – that my wife (also named Jean) and I, decided that we should settle down somewhere quieter than the many cities where we had lived and worked.  We headed back to Leominster. We were persuaded by our good friends, Bill and Barbara Bengry, to buy a house in Kingsland.  Although we moved around a bit since – even a spell in Australia – Kingsland always drew us back.

Where else would anyone want to live?

NEW!!  Moving to Herefordshire in 1942 Part 2 – by Rick (first published in Kingsland News February 2021)

Those of you who read last months magazine will recall that, as a 11 year old boy from the war torn city of Coventry, I had moved to Kingsland with my mother and father to stay with my mother’s brother, William Jackson, and his family at Ledicot.  It was really exciting, helping Uncle Will on the farm!

Rabbits were, to Uncle Will, an unsolvable problem. There were rabbit warrens everywhere – a scourge to the farmers, whose crops were threatened, and a challenge to Uncle, who was determined to keep the numbers down in his domain!   It was not long before he enlisted me to assist him and to learn the tricks of the trade in this private war that he waged against the rabbit population.

The first step was to introduce me to his two ‘secret weapons’.  They lived in a hut behind his house,  and they were two yellowish ferrets (or polecats), whose ferocity, energy and urge to bite and scratch anything that moved, made them difficult to hold.  He put a mighty hand into the hutch and grabbed one of the ferrets by the scruff of the neck and yanked it out of the hutch, instructed me how to hold it so that it didn’t bite me, or get away – and then thrust it to me.  I grabbed it as shown, whilst Uncle unfurled a large blue linen drawstring bag. Opening it wide, he said, ‘Drop ‘er in!’  Having treated the second ferret in a similar manner, we had two ferrets securely in the bag ready for our adventure.  We retrieved a second bag, full of nets and snares, pegs and a large hammer and then Uncle went indoors and re-appeared with a very large and heavy 12-bore double-barrelled shotgun and a pocketful of cartridges. This really was ‘war’.

The object of the exercise was to get to a field some half mile away.  We dragged our cumbersome load into a field and across to the remains of a hedge on a mound and dumped the massive equipment in preparation for our attack.  The first thing was to net up the various rabbit holes that were in profusion across the mound.   Uncle Will showed me how to arrange the nets across the hole and secure each one with a large stake driven in securely with a mallet.  When we ran out of nets there were slip loop snares fixed in a similar way to the remaining holes.   Uncle then produced the ferret bag and, uncovering one of the holes, put the lead ferret in.  Without waiting he loaded his double barrelled shot gun and told me to stand behind him.  There was a short delay and then we could see rabbits erupting all around the mound.  There were many in the nets but several were running for their lives. I reeled away when the gun blasted in the direction of the escaping rabbits…. two immense bangs and the spent cartridges flying out of the gun…Uncle re-loading and firing again.  Bang. Bang.  With no more sign of rabbits on the run, it was my turn to get the rabbits that were in the nets or strangled in the snares.  Uncle showed me what to do.  Holding the rabbit by its rear legs he would stretch and twist the rabbits neck and then hit it with a blow to the neck, which finished it off, and  then threw it on the ground.  In no time we had collected the rabbits, tied their legs together and hung them from a small stick, for carrying home.

Unfortunately, we still had a problem. The main ferret which had caused all this devastation did not re-appear on ground level.  Possibly it had caught a rabbit deep down into the burrow and was busy eating it.  Thankfully, Uncle was taking the second ferret out of its bag, and putting it down the same hole– I noticed that this one had a collar and line on it marked off in measurements to see how far it went down into the warren! Once it had stopped I realized that it was going down to where the other ferret was eating away and that we could find that by digging down.  Uncle applied his energies to digging for about 10 minutes and broke through into the chamber and sure enough both ferrets were there.  Suitably retrieved they were put back in the blue bag and we gathered everything to go home with our catch of 7 or 8 rabbits.

Uncle explained that the rabbits he had shot were likely not get the approval of his wife, Cissie, because they would be riddled with shot and, when cooked, the lead pellets  would have to be picked out from the flesh before eating.  We walked home triumphant with rabbits hanging from Uncle’s shoulders – he tended to call them “varmints!” -a  great adventure!

Another daily interest for the local children was to follow the meanderings of the various aircraft in the sky, which came from the nearby Shobdon air strip.  They were nearly all towing a glider.   The smaller planes were Miles Magisters and they towed the small, Hotspur, practice glider with room for about ten men.  More rarely seen were the more powerful planes which towed the much larger Horsa glider with space for 28 men and their equipment.  (These were used in the later stages of the war, to carry troops and equipment behind the lines, after the Normandy landings.)

At Shobdon, they were all on training exercises, and once the towing planes had reached a sufficient height the gliders were released and then, with no power of their own, had to do a circuit and hopefully land gently on the Shobdon airfield.  As one might expect, as learners, they had a habit of landing in the most unlikely situations, a mile or to away from their destination and often in the middle of ploughed fields or with noses in hedges –  and some upside down.

We were all interested in these happenings and would race across to where the glider had come down. If it was at all damaged, we would get away with some of the debris as our ‘spoils of war’.  We knew that within an hour or two there would be a recovery convoy in the lanes to pick up the pieces and hopefully the entire glider – and there would be a shamed-faced glider-pilot reporting to his superior.  It was all like a cinema show.  If it was during the school term we would get information from the locals to where such landings had occurred and go, in our school clothes, to the location en masse.

The other snags were that farm carts pulled by horses were the last thing the RAF personnel would want to meet on the small lanes when they were on their way to recover a fallen glider. The large RAF recovery vehicles, with long trailers, sometimes blocked off the only access to the village.  The locals were not amused.  Because we were in the heart of the countryside, these were the only war time manoeuvres that we came across.  In fact, our existence as children were untouched by the serious war occurring in other parts of the country and to add to this, our diet, although meant to be rationed, was enhanced by all the local foods available so that we could have as many eggs, as much bacon and butter and other rationed goods as we wanted because these were all produced in the local farms.

On school days, all the children gathered near to the house on the little country road to await the ancient and groaning bus which was to take us for 2 or 3 miles to the school in Kingsland. we would climb on with our satchels and bags chattering and enjoying the journey.  Once we were on our way, we drifted around from one seat to another to converse with our friends. (to be continued)

Kingsland Carnival and Flower Show 1953

We were sent a link by Jackie Taylor to this brilliant film of the 1953 Kingsland Carnival and Flower Show which we hope you enjoy!

Moving to Herefordshire in 1942 – by Rick – Part 1 (first published in Kingsland News January 2021)

Having spent my childhood in Coventry, where we had experienced the intense German bombing raids during the past two years (the blitzkrieg) and where close relatives and friends had been killed, it was no surprise that my parents decided that we should move to a more peaceful country area.

It was fortuitous that my mother’s brother, William Jackson, lived near to Kingsland and knowing our some-what dire situation, had invited our family to share his house until such time as we could find our own accommodation.  For us all, it was a major upheaval….for me at the age of 11, it was also a great adventure

Just getting to our destination was quite difficult, as we had several changes to make on our train journey and we had a pile of luggage to take with us.  I  enjoyed the train, rattling along, with the smell of steamy smoke sneaking into our compartment through the partially open windows as the countryside and then the urban sprawl of large cities, moved past. We changed at Birmingham, again at Hereford, and lastly at the market town of Leominster, where we caught a two coach local train which took us, finally, to Kingsland.  By this time it was early evening. We were all exhausted, especially Dad who had been responsible for the heavy suitcases and, as the train puffed out of the station, and the few other passengers hurried off the platform, we looked at each other. What next?

We need not have worried.  Uncle Will was there to meet us! He was a big man. Not exceptionally tall, just generously built, strong and fit.  A reddish, happy face, topped with a generous helping of greying curls.  He was so pleased to see us all.  He had arranged transport and soon we were at Ledicot, which was to be our home for several months. I remember being welcomed to their house by his wife, Aunty Cissie, a small spare woman, strong, tanned and always busy – and their daughter Jean, of my age and somewhat uncertain about this invasion of relatives.  We were to become good friends.

I remember little of that first evening, except for the good food and the welcome, a quick tour of the house…. and then I was in a comfortable bed.  This was my new home!

The next morning was a revelation.  The house was larger than I imagined and the spacious dining/kitchen was a joy. The fire was going in the big black range and there was a delicious smell of frying bacon as I rushed in. I was last down and, having been used to the strict rationing in Coventry, (one egg per week) couldn’t believe it when my Dad was asked how many eggs he would like with his meal. There was a big block of butter too and then I looked up to the high ceiling and there was a large slatted platform, called a cratch, suspended high over the table.  On it were joints of bacon and a ham. Uncle Will reached up, pulled a bacon joint down, and with a long and very sharp knife, sliced off a few more rashers for the meal.   The milk was thick and creamy.. straight from the cows?

It was almost magical, those first few days. The sun shone. My cousin Jean showed me around the house, the chicken run, the large and productive garden and introduced me to what I thought was a rather tall, but small, shed.  It was the toilet.  It was the only toilet! The ill-fitting door provided some light and ventilation, but there was a strong smell.  I looked at the wooden plank seat and down the bum-shaped hole with some doubt…. but after a few days was quite used to it. I met the neighbours and friends in the locality. They all spoke with the same Herefordshire burr. They knew at once that I was a ‘foreigner’ and possibly an evacuee.

The real joy was the space and openness of the landscape – the vistas of fields, orchards and massive trees.  I was more used to terraced houses and narrow city streets.  It was a revelation!

As it was the summer holidays, there was no school and Jean wanted to show off her cousin (me) to all her friends.  She would say ‘Come on! We’ll go to see Joan (or Mary, Gilly or whatever’).   I lost track of the names of, mainly, girls she knew in the vicinity. The sun shone and we walked for miles along narrow lanes and across fields.  There was always a warm welcome, although I was wary of some of the farm dogs which seemed anxious to take a bite out of this new-comer.  The introduction was always the same ‘Hello!  This is Freddie he’s come to stay at our house because the Germans dropped bombs on him in Coventry – he might even come to our school!  (pause)  You can give him a kiss if you like.’  Thus, I was accepted by a gaggle of girls, all about my age, all sturdier and more fit than the thinner and paler city girls I had previously mixed with.  Their kisses varied from a peck on the cheek to a splodgy kiss on the lips. I was intrigued.

Sometimes, if something was needed from the local village, Jean would sort me out a dilapidated bicycle from the assortment near to the back-door and we would speed off downhill towards Kingsland and the local shop and bakery near to the school.  She would know who lived where and would give me quite a tour, pointing out the several pubs and the local garage, which provided the school bus.   I soon became familiar with the local roads and tracks and would sometimes go off on my own to explore.  Hardly anyone owned a car, a few rode motor-cycles – but all were restricted by the petrol rationing.  The roads were quiet, except for heavy trucks used by the army and air-force personnel, which could be a hazard on the main roads.

There was always something going on.  My Dad found a temporary job at the bakery in Kingsland.. which meant a 6am start for him, so that the bread and fancies could be ready when the shop opened at 9am.  Aunty Cissie and Mum would go out and work on the farm, potato picking or fruit picking on several days of the week.  Sometimes Jean and I would go with them and ‘help?’    We were more interested in running around, keeping the fire going to boil the big black kettle, which provided endless cups of tea for the workers, and running errands – to fetch and to carry and to ride on the backs of the carts taking the produce back to the farm.

For one period of some ten days we were sent to a farm some miles away for hop-picking and we all picked hops off the cut vines as fast as we could into the sacking ‘crib’.  It was important to get as many hops as possible into the crib before the hop-measurer came around with his bushel measuring basket, because payment was made for each basketful picked! Some pickers lived in temporary accommodation on that farm, but we went home each night to our own comfortable beds.  Again we had to find wood for a fire between the rows of hops and keep the kettle boiling, and at lunchtimes warm up the large black saucepan containing the stew or soup for our lunch.

Uncle Will was big and generous in every way and was anxious that I should get to know what was going on in the farm. The owners, the Mortimer brothers, were ‘Gentlemen Farmers’ and did little of the practical farm work.  They employed Uncle Will as their Bailiff, or Overseer, to see that the farm was properly run and that the animals, farm machinery and the farm workers were all used properly and efficiently. He had years of experience and managed the farm with consummate ease.

About a week after my arrival, he took me to one side and asked if I would like to do the rounds with him that morning. ‘Yes, Please!’ I said.  We walked across the road to the yard and stables behind the ‘Big House’. There was a stable block to one side and across and on the other side of the yard were sheds and barns.   The stable doors had the lower half closed and the upper part open. The horses names were roughly printed in bold letters on the woodwork. I remember that one was Mabel.

The yard man came across to meet us and, as Uncle Will was introducing me, three gigantic horses heads appeared , looking out from their stables, obviously wondering what all the chatter was in their yard.   One of them shook his head and snorted.  We all went over to see him.  I had mixed feelings about this horse, having never seen one of such a size, but was reassured by Uncles laughing face as he said, ‘this is Sam, he’s a cart horse – and needs to be big and strong to pull the heavy loads.  Mind you, you  need to keep at a distance from him at all times.  He wouldn’t mean to hurt you, but if he swung his head round suddenly to look at you and you were close to him, it would knock you down.   Oh! And another thing. Keep way from his feet.. look at the size of ’em.  If he trod on your foot, you wouldn’t be able to walk again!’   He ruffled my hair. ‘  Don’t worry, you’ll get use to the horses – they do most of the work around here.’

With that, they opened the stable door and led Sam out. I stood well clear while they harnessed him and got him between the shafts of a dray (a flat wagon with a bench seat on the front for the driver) which was already loaded with empty crates. ‘  I’m going to take these boxes down to the orchard, where they’re fruit picking. D’you want to come?’ I nodded.. ‘Yes Please,’ I said.

Uncle was right. I soon became used to the horses, and to workings of the farm and the trips out with the dray, or one of the carts. It was always a bone-shaking ride at a steady pace. As my confidence grew, I could go right up to the horses and, even better, I sometimes rode on Sam’s broad back. It was a bit of a stretch for my short legs!

We often had to go into Kingsland either to the railway station or for local deliveries. Uncle Will always seemed to time it so that we finished the particular job around lunch-time. He would park-up somewhere near the crossroads in the village, put a nose bag on Sam, and say to me, ‘You’re in charge!’, and would head off to the Corners Inn for a pint (or two) and a snack.

A few minutes later he would be back with a soft drink and a bun or a pastie for me, ruffle my hair and say:  ‘You OK?  I’ll be back shortly.’ and disappear back into the pub.  Content with my lunch and knowing that Sam was enjoying the rest, I would sit a’top the apple boxes and just take in the village life.  As Uncle liked having a chat in the pub, it could be a long time before his beaming face came out of the pub door. ‘Home now,’ and we would be plodding back towards the farm.  After we left the village and going up the quiet lanes, he would say ‘You take him for a bit. I’ve got a call of nature!’ handing me the reins, he jumped down, to walk some way directly behind the dray and settle the dust.

NEW!!  Memories of Maurice Markham – a letter from Gordon Roberts to Bryan Markham

Dear Bryan,

I was just a boy so I didn’t get to know your father personally, but everyone knew of him and of course he was an integral part of village life.   I didn’t use his bus to get to school, but I made quite a few trips with him on outings arranged by the school, the Baptist Chapel Ladies Fellowship, and the football team.   We didn’t have a car, so the only reason to do any business with him was to exchange an accumulator battery for my Aunty Annie Price of Shirlheath before they had electricity there.   I didn’t know until I listened to Jackie’s interview with Lewis Davies that your father’s first garage was by the railway station, but I do remember an old derelict hand operated petrol pump by the side of the road and some signs advertising Castrol and Valvolene on the wall of what must have been the workshop.

Trips, particularly organised by the school were always great fun and perhaps the journey was the best part of the outing.   I remember one occasion in particular when we were motoring up the rock at Mortimers Cross.   Your Father must have geared down about three or four times and had come almost to a stop.   From past experience we knew that he always found one more gear, so we would call out “one more gear to go” and indeed there was, your father remaining unperturbed all the time.   He also sometimes wore glasses without any lens and we would curve our fingers through where the lens should be just to be sure or prove a point whilst he carried on driving.   There was ( and still is of course ) a long straight stretch of the A44 road somewhere before Rhayader.   You can imagine how we would call out “put your foot down, Mr. Markham”.

I suppose my earliest recollection of a journey with him must have been during the war or perhaps at the end of it when my Mother and I went with the Baptist ladies to the Elan Valley.   We picnicked under some trees and for years afterwards I tried to locate where this actually was.   Eventually, and not that long ago, I ventured into Elan village and there it was.   I also remember a family holiday a few years later, to your father’s old bus in Borth masquerading as a caravan.   After a long journey, and walking the whole length of Borth to find our accommodation I dropped the bag of eggs which I was carrying out of sheer tiredness.   My mother was not in the least bit cross with me.

In order to compile some of the bits and pieces which I send to Kingsland Life, I have read online, many editions of The Leominster News searching for news of Kingsland people and purely by chance I have come across details of two brushes with the law incurred by your father.   I do hope you don’t mind me telling you about them.   Firstly The Leominster News of June 4th 1920 reports that “Mr. Maurice Markham of Kingsland, was summoned in the Leominster Magistrates Court for allowing a car to remain in Victoria Street on 21st May 1920 for a long and unreasonable time and causing an obstruction,   Fined ten shillings”.

“In The Leominster News of February 2nd 1945 at Leominster County Magistrates Court, Maurice Markham was charged with making a false statement for the purpose of obtaining a license to kill a pig.   The matter was considered quite serious and deserving of a prison sentence or a fine of £100 but in the end Mr. Markham was fined £4 with costs of £4 – 14s -6d   Finally, have you looked at the article and photograph in Kingsland Life – memories from the past – under the heading “spot the driver?”.

I hope reading this will give you some pleasure hearing about your father Maurice as it has for me thinking and drooling over old times and putting it down on paper.

Best regards

Gordon Roberts

NEW!!  Lighting Up Time by Gordon Roberts

I wonder how many people today have heard of the Lighting-up-time and those that have are unlikely to have any reason to pay any attention to it.   It was originally introduced by the Government in the late nineteenth century and made into law by the Lights on Vehicles Act of 1907 and later by the Road Traffic Act of 1956 and the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations of 1989.   The purpose of these regulations was to determine and enforce the time when all vehicles on public roads, including bicycles should have lights displayed.   This time was originally one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise but amended in 1956 to half an hour respectively.   For a time, service stations had signs which displayed the lighting-up-time and the same information would also be given in national and local newspapers and also on the radio.

Very little if any attention is given today to lighting-up-time.   Most vehicles now have lights which come on automatically when it begins to get dark and no one seems to care too much if a bicycle has lights on or not.   If all five of us were visiting our grandparents at Christmas torches had to be found for the rear lights and then a red piece of cloth placed in them and then tied on to the bicycle at the rear so that its light was red and lawful.   All this was quite a performance but we never knew whether PC Edwards would be out looking for people without the correct lights even on Christmas Day.   Being caught without the correct lights would mean a summons to the  Magistrates Court in Leominster and a fine of five shillings

The front bicycle light usually fitted on to a bracket in front of the handlebars and consisted of an Eveready carbon-zinc double celled battery, but soon generators (dynamos) were developed which generated a powerful light by through a roller on the side wall of the front tyre.   As a matter of interest, sunset in London on August 28th was 7.54pm and sunrise was 6.07am the next morning so readers can work out the lighting-up-times when vehicles must use their headlights.

The Peewit by Gordon Roberts

On a frosty morning with the total peace and quiet of the Kingsland countryside, the haunting cry of the peewit in the Day House fields leading down to the river, would pierce the air.   It’s correct name is the Northern Lapwing which it derives from a flappy, instantly recognisable style of flying with broad rounded wings.   it is a very sociable bird and it’s breeding habitat is in loose colonies on uncultivated land and other short vegetation and lays three to four eggs in a ground scoop.   The nest and the young chicks are defended noisily and aggressively against all intruders both humans and animals.   Outside the brewing season, it forms large flocks on fields and pastures.

The name Peewit, refers to the bird’s characteristic call of Pe-e-e-wit.   During the breeding season, the bird is very vocal with constant calling and the crazed tumbling display performed by the male to mislead and confuse strangers and intruders and to divert them away from the nest.   It feeds on insects and invertebrates and it can be recognised by it’s long crest, black and white pattern and very broad, round wingtips.   Although at a distance, it looks black and white, a close view reveals greenish underparts.   Sadly the peewit’s name is lampooned in the Smurfs cartoon show and the Johan and Peewit comic book story, The Goblin of Rocky Wood.

Finally in the words of Rev. Francis Kilvert, curate of Clyro Church from 1865 to 1872 “The peewits were sweeping, rolling and tumbling  in the hot blue air about the tall trees with a strange deep mysterious, hustling and quavering sound from their great wings”.   And again.   “When I got out on the Little Mountain, the lapwings were wheeling about the hill by scores, hurtling and rustling with their wings, squealing and wailing, tumbling and lurching on every side, very much disturbed, anxious and jealous about their nests”.

Iron gates and Railings by Gordon Roberts

There was an article in the Daily Telegraph recently about the restoration of iron railings in St. James’s Park in London which were removed during the war and then to be smelted down to make munitions and aircraft parts.   It has often been rumoured that in fact, the railings were dumped in to the River Thames.   The wartime Government authorised contractors throughout the country to remove railings, gates and other ironwork from public and private premises without permission or notice.   Kingsland didn’t escape and I remember on my way school one morning, the beautiful iron gates of Lorne House and some nearby railings, being cut down by the contractors acytylene torch.

Mrs. Powell ( I think that was the name of the people who lived there at the time ) came across the workmen and then frantically called her husband to come and stop them, but to no avail.   It has often been said that much off the ironwork collected in this way, was never smelted because it was not of a good enough quality for the purpose intended and so it was just dumped.   Piles of discarded iron were to be seen after the war.   Even today, it’s possible to come across a wall or an entrance to a villa, with iron stumps or sawn off hinges.

Memoirs of Bruce Hepburn – an Evacuee in Kingsland 1940-1948

Bruce was evacuated as a four year old to Kingsland from Bristol in 1940  to live with his Grandmother, Miriam Freeman, who lived at 4 Council Houses (now Lugg Green Lane) and her daughter Audrey.  He stayed in Kingsland until 1948 then later joined the RAF in which he served for 37 years. He has lived in Hampshire with his wife Renate for the past 30 years. He has kindly sent us his wonderful memories of living in the village during that time and his later visits as a young teenager, together with photographs.  If you remember Bruce and would like to contact him he would be pleased to hear from you via his email

To read his wonderful memories PLEASE CLICK HERE

The Otter by Gordon Roberts

How many of the Kingsland children, or their parents for that matter, have seen an otter in the River Lugg.   When I was young, it was common place to see one, but now it’s very unlikely because of the lack of fish in the river which is the otter’s staple diet..   The otter is a playful animal and only enters the water to hunt for food and to travel.   There are thirteen different species in the world and they belong to the same animal family as weasels, badger, mink and martens.   The otter has a long slim body and relatively short limbs.   It has powerful webbed feet for swimming and a long muscular tail.   It’s den is called a holt or couch.   Male otters are called dogs or boars and females, bitches or sows.   They can live until they are sixteen years old.   The holt is usually built under tree roots and lined with moss and grass.

Otters  were hunted for their pelts from at least the 1700s but in more recent times right up to the passing of the Wildlife and Countryside Act passed in 1981, they were also hunted by hounds for what was called “sport”.   There were eleven packs of otter hounds in the country one of which was based in Herefordshire, and the writer remembers them hunting the length of the River Lugg from Lugg Green to Aymestry.   Between 1958 and 1961, these packs of hounds are reported to have killed just over one thousand animals.   Today, it’s hard to believe that this practice went on.   The otter, like many birds and animals, has been romantised in children’ books and films.   In 1927, Henry Williams wrote several novels about Tarka, the otter, some of which remain in print.

These books are based on the adventures of Tarka in and around the Devon rivers of the Taw and the Torridge.   The impact of the books has been such that the name of Tarka is used for numerous promotional and marketing activity in the area.   There have been efforts in recent years to return and restock the otter to its natural habitat.   This has met with limited success except perhaps in the River Tweed which has been chronicled in a book by Laurie Campbell and Anna Levin, aptly entitled Return to the River with splendid photographs.   I am not aware whether any attempts have been made to put otters back into the River Lugg but the last one I have seen was about twenty years ago near the river bridge at Covenhope.   Perhaps this one had been introduced.

Footnote from Sally Deakin – I’m pleased to report otters have been seen this summer at the Lugg Green bridge and I have seen them in the last few years up the Lugg from Lugg Green.  Below is a photo taken in 2014

Memories of Lewis Davies’s family, by Gordon Roberts

I have just listened to the enthralling conversation between Lewis Davies and Jackie Markham.   I have known Lewis since we were boys.   My Auntie Annie Price lived at The Bank opposite and Lewis and his siblings were frequently there having tea and cake much of the time.   They were the family which my aunt never had.   Lewis has always been a lovely person just like his parents and all the family in fact.   Father Alfred, so gentle and kind, had no compulsion in slaughtering animals and for many years during and after the war, he would kill a pig which we had reared from about eight weeks old and had become more or less a family pet.   This would usually take place on Boxing Day which was a day I dreaded and I would get on my bike and go to the other end of the village so that I wouldn’t hear the poor animal’s distress.

The carcass would then be taken into the house and hoisted up with a rope through two small holes in the floor boards and up and over a beam where it would hang nose to the floor for about a week,   Mr Davies would then come back in about a week and carve the animal into flitches and hams.   These would then be salted and eaten by my Father for his breakfast during the course of the year.   The bacon was too salty for the rest of the family.   On the day the pig was slaughtered, there would be quite a lot of fresh meat which had to be eaten quite quickly, but it was too much for us, so it was swapped with other families for favours or services rendered.   All this was of course, before deep freezers.

(PS you can hear the wonderful conversation with Lewis on the Oral History page here)

My First Bike and La Tour de A4110, by Gordon Roberts

I was eleven years old coming on twelve when I became the proud owner of a bicycle.   It was a “sit up and beg” type of machine made by Raleigh in Nottingham long  before Raleigh moved their production overseas.   It was a sort of reward I suppose for passing my eleven-plus examination which made it possible for me to attend Leominster Grammar School along with seven others from the village.   The bicycle was a man’s size and far too big for me so that my feet couldn’t touch the ground which would be considered very unwise and unsafe today.   To get off, I more or less had to fall off unless there was a high curb.   I think my parents bought it from Beaman’s shop in Leominster, probably for about ten pounds which was  quite a bit more than my Father’s weekly wage.

My Father fitted blocks on the pedals so that I could at least reach them.   It also had a bell on the handlebars with a very loud ring and a bracket front and back for the compulsory lights.   However, it wasn’t long before I had grown enough to ride the bicycle safely and in comfort.   The bicycle had no gears so cycling up hills was quite an effort and sometimes I had to dismount and push my bike to the top of the hill.   Fortunately, the roads around Kingsland were very flat and almost entirely free of cars and other vehicles, so it was no time before I was cycling in to Leominster or along the A4110 ( it was the B4110 in those days ) either to visit my cousins who lived at  Mortimers Cross or to my Aunt and Uncle Amos Price at Shirlheath.   The uphill at Stanley Villa was a challenge to ride to the top without getting off.

These rides along the A4110 were full of interest and adventure which I hope to be able to describe in Kingsland Life in stages during the weeks and months to come as though it was The Tour de France.   The photograph along with this article shows the recent winners, Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas, alias (from left to right), Cliff Davis, Gordon Roberts and Bob Whittall  outside the Methodist Chapel in their “sunday best” short trousers, ready for the roll-out of the first stage.

The Memories of Harold Gough, the Cobnash wheelwright

Harold Gough © Chris Chapman from                                           ‘The Right Side of the Hedge’.

You can read the transcript of a conversation between Jean Scott and Harold Gough about his memories of living and working in Cobnash and Kingsland. Just click here to read the transcript.

Harold Gough was born in 1896 and died in November 1987 and was the wheelwright at Cobnash. The book by Chris Chapman (The Right Side of the Hedge) documented that, after serving his apprenticeship in 1911, he started his own business and at one time employed coach builders and painters. Refusing to retire he then earned a living making gig wheels and hay rakes.

This conversation was recorded by Jean Scott sometime in the early 1980s.  As a small child Jean had lived in the back part of Cobnash Cottage with her family, the Davis’s, before they moved to The Angel Inn.  At the time of this interview she and her husband Jock were living in the whole of Cobnash Cottage. Harold had lived all this time at the Wheelwrights (now called Cobnash House) so Jean knew Harold all her life.

Cobnash Cottage and Cobnash House are opposite each other on either side of Broomy Hill Lane and the Moravian Chapel mentioned in the conversation was a little way up on Harold’s ground.

Many thanks to the Markham family for the transcript and Chris Chapman for permission to reproduce the photograph of Harold from ‘The Right Side of the Hedge’.

Memories of a Childhood in Kingsland before WW2, by Eric Wall

Eric has kindly lent us this piece that he wrote for his grandchildren. It  gives his memories of living in Kingsland as a child from 1932 – 1939 covering amongst other things, what it was like living in a village without electricity where there was only one tractor and the telephone system worked very differently. You can find out more about Eric who started one of the biggest tomato growers in the UK on our ‘People from Kingsland‘ page.

To read his memories please click here

Rabbits – by Gordon Roberts

Love them or hate them, rabbits have always had a large part to play in country life.   They are an animal of prey and constantly in danger of being hunted, caught and killed in several different ways.   It could be ferrets, dogs, snares, traps and shotguns, not to mention the household cat.   Partly as a result of their prolific breeding, the rabbit has been vulnerable to the spread of viruses such as myxomatosis, which has sometimes been deliberately introduced to cull the rabbit population.   Despite the damage to gardens, lawns, grasslands and crops, the rabbit’s persona is high indeed.   It provides much love and jollity, and has long been associated with Spring and Easter, as the Easter Bunny.   The rabbit has few defences and this evokes vulnerability and compassion, and in folk lore and children’s stories, they often appear as characters with which to sympathise such as Thumper in Bambi.   On the other hand, the Playboy Bunny is hard to fathom, but perhaps it derives from the rabbit’s breeding habits which suggest sexuality and innocence.

The rabbit has always been an valuable source of food and a saviour to many poor rural families.   It was always a cheap meat product and a lean source of high quality protein.   It could be found in most butchers’ shops and markets and would hang upside down often unbutchered, next to pheasants or other game.   Rabbits are also used for their wool, fur and pelts, but nowadays domesticated breeds such as the Angola, are used.   Children, even today, get much pleasure from keeping a pet rabbit.   In the past rabbit shows, like dog shows, were very popular and writer remembers one held at St. Mary’s farm, but his own rabbit didn’t win a prize.   To the best of my knowledge, I have never eaten rabbit meat unless by mistake when eating some local dish in France such as potage or ragout.    The reason for this is because my Father who had to leave school before he was even a teenager and went to work and to live on a farm, was, in his words “ Given rabbit to eat morning noon and night”.   As a kind of tribute to him, I have carried on in the same vein.

Another way in which rabbits were killed was practised at harvest time.   In was our custom as village boys to go to a field where the corn was being cut.   As the binder’s work was nearing completion, and only a small square of uncut corn remained, the petrified rabbits had no option but to bolt from the corn, and run for their lives.   They have reputation for speed, agility and endurance, but the long stubble and sheaves of corn on the ground, slowed them down and we often caught up with them.   They would be dispatched with a sharp blow to the back of the head with our sticks from which the expression “rabbit punch” is derived.   For each kill, we carved a notch in our stick.   Today this seems very barbaric, but that was country life at the time.   To finish this rambling tale of the poor rabbit, I remember being in the Corn Square in Leominster and someone I knew went into the Post Office carrying a rabbit, presumably to post it.   There was some brown paper around its middle and its head and forelegs protruded from one end and the hind legs from the other.   He was a man of the church, so perhaps he was sending it to a needy member of his congregation.   The Royal Mail does not now accept animals dead or alive for posting.

It all goes to show what an impact this fluffy persecuted little animal has on our lives.

Cider- by Gordon Roberts

Herefordshire has been famous for its cider for a long time.   The firm of HP Bulmer was founded in the year 1887 by Henry Percival Bulmer, the son of Rev. Charles H Bulmer, the vicar of Credenhill.   It has long since become the main brewer of cider in this country and probably in the world, but it is no longer a family run business.   There are many more brewers in the county, including Westons, Symmonds, Dunkertons, Olivers, Gwatkin, and Newton Court.   Most farmers made cider and sometimes perry as well.   It was the main drink on farms particularly during the harvest and farm labourers might be given as a much bottle a day depending on how strenuous the work was and the length of the day.   It was supposed to give strength so that labourers could work longer especially when there was what was called double summer time during the war.

The farmers would make cider from their own fruit which would be crushed in a cider mill using a very large stone which would be pulled around by a horse.   If they didn’t have a cider mill themselves, they would share the cider mill on another farm.   Some of the pubs had cider mills and the writer well remembers perry being made at the Corners Inn.   Being curious, a school friend and I popped in to see what was going on and we were offered a small taster.   Perry has a high alcohol  content and my friend was more thirsty than I was and apparently fell off his bicycle into a ditch on the way home where he was found by his parents, but he was at school the next day.

What fruit the farmers didn’t require for themselves, would be sent to Bulmers.   Many cottages in the village had small orchards and their apples would be pooled together to form a lorry load and in due course a very useful cheque would arrive from Bulmers just in time for Christmas.   Picking the apples off the ground was back breaking work.   They would be picked at first into buckets which were then emptied into hessian sacks.   These would then be stacked against the tree trunk to await collection.   Often the apples would be in long wet grass with lots of stinging nettles.   Apples which hadn’t fallen, were shaken down by long poles with a hook on the end to catch onto the branches.   Every type of apple went for cider although a small quantity of the best cooking and eating were kept and stored and used during the winter.

Milk Churns by Gordon Roberts

Milk churns were are a common sight outside the farm gate full of milk from the morning’s milking or from the night before.   They were made of aluminium or stainless steel and had a tight fitting lid.   They kept the milk cool to a reasonable degree and could hold up to ten gallons.   On the side of the churn, there was a clip where a label giving the name of the farm could be securely attached.   The churns would be placed on to a platform so that they could easily be rolled on to the flatbed of a lorry which came to collect them every morning and take them to Cadbury’s factory at Marlbrook where the milk would be blended with water and cocoa to make chocolate crumb which was then transported to Bournville to make the famous Cadbury’ chocolate bars.

Not all the milk produced by local farmers ended up in this way and there were several commercial dairies in the area supplying the household delivery market and schools.    Doorstep delivery of milk was the only way of buying milk then.   Since there was little if any refrigeration, the milk had to be delivered daily.   Some farmers had a delivery round.   In Kingsland, Mrs Taylor was the milk lady.   She delivered milk on her bicycle with large metal cans on the handlebars from which she dispensed with measuring ladles into jugs on the doorstep.   This was long before homogenisation so that there was a thick top of cream on the milk.   At school, we drank milk from small glass bottles of one third of a pint using a straw which was pushed through the cardboard top.

The name CHURN incidentally comes from old wooden containers which were used to “churn” milk into butter before the invention of the separator.   I remember at the Old Hall in Kingsland, the farmer’s wife made butter using the separator, which had a distinctive and very salty taste which some people particularly those living in large urban areas and not used to farm butter, did not always find very palatable.   Increased concerns about milking shed hygiene, pasteurisation and the effects on health, forced farmers to perform certain procedures on their milk before it left the farm and this gave rise to the installation of milk tanks which were then emptied by a milk tanker which replaced the flat bed lorry.   Milk churns quickly became redundant and many small producers could not afford the new equipment and no longer kept their few cows.

The churn has now developed a cult of its own and can be bought at establishments specialising in antique ornamental hardware or online of course, at a cost of something in the region of seventy pounds.   It is in demand for planters in the garden or just to stand alone somewhere around the house   Just imagine the hundreds still buried under the piles of old machinery and other detritus in farmyards today.

Football Mad by Gordon Roberts

It’s difficult to say exactly when I became football mad, but it was definitely before I was out of short trousers.   We played for hours on the Greens and there were usually about eight or ten of us who were divided into two teams.   The goalposts were a pile of our jackets.   Kingsland had a mens’ team then and they played in the North Herefordshire League on the field where the fire station now is.    Dolyhir which is hardly in Herefordshire was their “bete noire”.   They were a team consisting of bandy legged quarrymen who were just as good at breaking legs as they were at breaking rock.   Once is a while, there would be a cup game a little further away which meant that Markham’s bus would be used and I remember going as far afield as Hoarwithy and Glasbury-on-Wye which was very exciting.

Over the years, one thing led to another and in particular a girlfriend in Hereford, so I moved on to greater things and became an enthusiastic fan of Hereford United and so was she.   I would get the bus from Kingsland the North Road to Hereford via Canon Pyon and back again and for a couple of years, a special train ran from Kington through Kingsland and Leominster to Hereford for United’s home fixtures, but it was never patronised well enough to be sustainable.   It’s engine even had a coal tender and the carriages were quite luxurious. unlike the usual trains which plied the Leominster to Kington line and there was even a first class section so on Saturdays when I was not playing rugby for my school, I could indulge my passion for football and trains at the same time.

I don’t remember all that much about the games at Hereford United’s Edgar Street ground where they still play to this very day.   They played in the Southern League and there were local derbies against teams such as Worcester, Gloucester, Cheltenham and Merthyr Tydfil, which were always very hard fought competitive games in front of a large crowd.   Hereford’s star player at the time was Charlie Thompson, a former top scorer with Sheffield United whose career had been blighted by the war.   I remember he visited the Youth Club in Kingsland which was very exciting since he was one of my heroes.   Other top players a bit later were Tommy Best and John Layton both of whom stayed with the club for many years.

I also remember a left winger who was very quick and could beat any full back and then deliver a precision cross into the goal area and on to Charlie’s head.   This was quite remarkable, because it was said that this winger didn’t have a left knee cap but maybe this give him some extra flexibility in his leg to get those crosses over.   He also came with Charlie Thompson to our Youth Club and I still have their autographs on a scrap of paper somewhere in the loft.   Hereford United have had their ups and downs over the years but their victory over Newcastle United in 1972 and promotion to the Football League have gone down in history.   Now following severe financial difficulties they are known simply as Hereford FC but are resolutely climbing back towards their rightful status.

Football in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s were golden years for this young boy.   Every available photograph in the newspapers was cut out and pasted in to a scrap book.   The England team was unbeatable and the players were household names namely

Frank Swift   Billy Wright   George Hardwick   Laurie Scott   Neil Franklin   Harry Johnston   Tommy Lawton   Stan Matthews   Jimmy Mullen   Raich Carter   Wilf Mannion

Jobling and Jobling by Gordon Roberts

In the 1940’s and 1950’s there were three churches in Kingsland, St. Michael and All Angels which has had a rector from at least the year 1285, the Methodist Chapel built in 1857 which incidentally was the year the railway came to Kingsland, and the Baptist Chapel opened in 1903 on land not far from the railway station on the A4110 road.   The Methodist Chapel on the north road now doubles as a place for community events whilst the Baptist Chapel has not been used for a long time and is now in a forlorn and dilapidated condition.

The Rector at Kingsland from 1925 until 1954 was George Henzell Jobling who succeeded his father James who in 1917 had finally taken over as Rector from John Thomas Hamilton-Baillie.   He was obliged to leave the parish because of his severe financial difficulties brought about by a life of extravagance and lavish entertaining.   During his incumbency, the church was robbed of its precious pre-reformation plate, but the perpetrators were never detected.

George Jobling, who enjoyed the sponsorship of Mrs Hamlen-Williams seemed to the writer, a young lad at the time, to be an unsmiling, stern, remote and distant person.   The old vicarage where he lived didn’t help to moderate this opinion.   It was hidden from the road by thick vegetation of shrubs and trees and created a feeling of fear and forbidding for those who entered therein.   Sometimes curiosity to take a peep at the house prevailed but the thought of being seen and caught was frightening since there may not have been an escape for sinners which most of we village boys probably were.

The ministers for the two chapels were based in Leominster and they could not always take the services in Kingsland as they were required to preach in Leominster or elsewhere in the area.   Local preachers took the evening service at the Methodist Chapel with their brand of hell, fire and damnation which for one young man had the opposite effect to what was intended.   Preachers such as Mr Tweedy form Ludlow and Mr Williams from Leominster are not easily forgotten for their fervour.

There seemed to be a connection between the church and cricket and the Joblings were proof of this.   In a cricket match played on Thursday August 14th 1919 between Kingsland and Kington, both father and son participated, with father James scoring thirty-five runs but Rev George was out without scoring.   Did Rev James have a runner it could well be asked, because he must have been over sixty years of age at the time.   Kingsland won the match by ten runs.

One legacy left by George Jobling was a short history of the parish of Kingsland.   He knew his Kingsland well, but the history has never been published unfortunately but it proved to be a very helpful document for Norman Reeves in writing the “Leon Valley” which was published in 1980 and which gives a very good account of the history of Kingsland.

Message for Andrew Stephens (or anyone who can pass the message on),  about his Great Grandfather George Stephens

We’ve had a message from Rob Garner about your Kingsland History post in 2013 about The Bell Inn. Unfortunately I do not have your e-mail address. George Stephens is Rob’s wife’s great, great, great grandfather and they are happy to explore connections with you. You can contact them on

Many thanks from the webmaster.

The Winter of 1946/47 by Gordon Roberts

Reading of the closure a few weeks ago of most of the primary schools in Herefordshire, including the  village school in Kingsland because of snow, reminds the writer of the winter to end all winters in 1946/47.   Throughout that terrible winter the school in Kingsland remained open every day for those children who could make it there and what fun we had playing in the school yard with snow every where.   Of course it helped, that the schoolmaster Mr C. T. Jones lived next door so at least one teacher would be there to open up and supervise those children who had made it to school.

The winter began with two periods of very cold weather in December and January but the coldest period of all and with huge amounts of snow, did not begin until 21st January 1947 and was to last until late March.   Severe hardships in economic terms and living conditions resulted.   There were total blockages of roads and railways all over the country which prevented coal from being delivered to the power stations and this situation caused power shortages and the closure of factories and businesses.   Animal herds were frozen or starved to death.   The morale of the entire country became very low.

The effects of the winter were devastating for the sheep farmers of the Welsh uplands.   As Sid Wright wrote in his book “Up the Claerwen”, a succession of six mild winters had lulled the hill farmers into a false sense of security, added to which was the wet summer of 1946 when very little good hay was harvested.   This resulted in the farmers having practically nothing to feed to their flocks when the winter set in and the frost and snow made it impossible for the sheep to forage for themselves.

Two sheep farms in the Claerwen valley {this was before the dam was built} owned by the Edwards family, suffered a total loss of sheep and lambs totaling three thousand, four hundred and twenty nine, which was about 70% of their flocks.   The celebratory shearing day when a hundred shearers sheared five thousand sheep was not held in 1947 for obvious reasons.

But to return to Kingsland.   Janet Morgan’s book written in 1996 to mark the 150th anniversary of Kingsland school, reports that heavy snow fell during February 1947 but the school children made great efforts to get to school.   However, conditions became much worse in March with very heavy snowfalls and on one occasion, Markham’s bus was unable to operate and school dinners not delivered.   One day, only thirty-seven children made it to school out of one hundred and sixteen.

The snow finally started to melt, but this caused the new problem of flooding in the area and particularly at the old Rectory, Lugg Green and the Brook.   There was one benefit however, the mountains of snow and then the flooding caused the County Entrance Examination, otherwise known as the Eleven-Plus which was held at the Grammar School in Leominster to be postponed four successive weeks which allowed our Headmaster more time to get us ready for the Exam.   Consequently, all eight of us passed which was a remarkable achievement and we all went on to the Grammar School or Lucton School in September.

Life must have been very hard that winter for our parents and working people.   Mains water and sewerage had not yet come to the village.   Central heating was unheard of and coal supplies were running low although logs were plentiful.   The outside pump from which we obtained our water, was frozen most mornings and needed some hot water thrown down to thaw the ice.   Washing froze solid on the clothes line.   We survived somehow but if a winter like that comes again, we may not suffer such hardships at home but what’s the betting that the country will still come to a standstill.

Public Houses and Inns in Kingsland by Gordon Roberts

At one time there were seven pubs and inns in Kingsland Parish and two remain today, the Corners Inn and the Angel, both of which have histories dating back several centuries.   One of their most important functions was to act as a meeting place in which men could transact business during markets and fairs.   They were also, in many cases, the place where the court leet and parish vestry met.   Today, they still provide a facility for people to meet but in much more comfortable surroundings, to discuss matters of mutual interest between friends over a drink and wholesome food.   Not that long ago, the food on offer would have consisted of nothing much more than a crusty bread roll with a thin slice of ham or cheese.

The Bell Inn 1905

The other five establishments were, the Bell on the crossroads opposite Croase House, the Monument which was often referred to as the Horseshoes which was situated on the fork of the road across from The Luctonians and next to the memorial to the battle of Mortimers Cross.   The Red Lion was located just beyond the bend in the road at the Shrublands. the Dog at Cobnash on Dog Lane and the Crown on the main road at Shirlheath.   The Bell, the Monument and the Red Lion have been converted at various times to private houses.

The licensee of the Monument was a formidable lady who seemed very intimidating to a young boy who just wanted to buy a packet of Smith’s crisps, with a little blue bag of salt inside of course to sprinkle on the crisps.   Her establishment was what has become known since as a “parlour pub” where there was no bar or formal room for drinking, but instead the customers would gather in what was in reality, the front room of a house.   There are still a handful of these around the country and up until ten years or so ago, the Sun at Leintwardine was one of the best examples  before it changed hands and is now more like a “gastro” pub.

It is interesting to learn that parlour pubs are making a comeback and at least two have been proposed for Leominster, but it will be impossible for them to recreate the intimate, cosy smoke laden atmosphere of old although there is nothing to stop them having a sawdust covered floor.   Ownership and management of the public houses and inns, changed fairly frequently and sometimes they may have gone out of business for a while for some reason or another.   The following is an extract from the Leominster News dated Friday 29th August 1919:

Mr. R.H.George of Croftmead Kingsland. will sell by auction at the Royal Oak Hotel Leominster on Friday September 26th, the freehold fully licensed roadside inn known as the Lion in the village of Kingsland within a few minutes walk of the railway station and the post office in the occupation of Mr. Thomas Prosser, with large garden, convenient buildings and excellent pasture, orchard and meadow land comprising five acres, one rood and eight perches and having a frontage to the main road of 300 yards.

The auctioneer, Mr. Richard Henry George, seems to have had a very prominent position in the business of selling properties in North Herefordshire.   He was born in Bircher and trained to be an auctioneer and estate agent in Shrewsbury, before moving back to Bircher where he established his own business and then later to Kingsland.   He bought the Upper House which was one of oldest properties in the village and then changed the name to Croft Mead.   Like many professional men of his era, he found time to indulge in some unrelated interest, in his case antiquarian studies, and he is chiefly remembered for his book, “A history of the Herefordshire Borderlands” and for various papers on local history which he delivered to the Leominster History Society and the Woolhope Club.

Wartime by Gordon Roberts

The people of  Kingsland were not affected very much by the war compared to other parts of the country especially the large industrial cities.  Life carried on much as it always had, and we went to school every day completely unconcerned about the possibility of a German invasion.   Our teachers and parents showed no outward sign of anxiety although they must have been more than a little worried about what might come.   There is no doubt that they got great comfort from the encouragement and belligerence of Winston Churchill.

Food rationing was in force but it was more of a nuisance than anything else.   Farm workers received extra.   Rations were supplemented by dairy products such as butter and milk “straight from the cow” from the farms and most people grew their own vegetables and often kept chickens for eggs and to eat. wild rabbits were in abundance and some households kept a pig for as a source of bacon for the whole year.   Fruit was plentiful in season.

Another measure in force was the blackout.   It was introduced to make it difficult for enemy bombers to locate a target on the ground although why they would be interested in Kingsland is anybody’s guess.   Street lighting was turned off although the village didn’t have very much of that at the time.   Cars of those people lucky enough to get petrol had to have their headlights dimmed so that the light was almost obliterated by a special contraption attached to the headlights.   We had a thick black curtain covering all our windows.   It was forbidden to have a light on which could be see from the outside.

US Army 76th General Hospital, Barons Cross, Leominster

There were signs of military activity in the area.   The United States Army hospital at Barons Cross was constructed and much of the building materials were brought from Aymestry quarries by reckless American soldiers often driving on the wrong side of the road.   Also, in the build up to D-Day, long convoys of American troops moved through the area, and some times we were lucky enough to get chewing gum, chocolate and an orange  which most of us had never tasted before.

The Home Guard exercised on Sundays and when the fear of an invasion was at its highest, took up positions at strategic locations in the village.   The construction of Shobdon airfield took place to train glider pilots who would be asked, just once to land their gliders carrying up to thirty soldiers or even small vehicles “on a sixpence” next to the famous Pegasus bridge or into the hell of the Battle of Arnhem.   How many of those brave men returned home, I often wonder.

Occasionally whilst on a training run, the glider pilot might not make it back to the airfield for some reason and he would land his glider in a nearby field.   Word would spread very quickly that this had happened and if we weren’t in school, we would be at the scene in a flash.   It would be a race to see who could get there first, the authorities in the form of Mr Webster, the village Air Raid Protection warden or PC. Edwards, the village bobby.   They would shoo us away from the scene, just in case we might give some information to the enemy.

There were never any bombs dropped in Kingsland, although a bomb fell near the station in Leominster, probably some malfunction of an enemy bomber who was following the railway line in order to navigate its way to  Liverpool where a bombing raid was due to take place.   Also, some Ministry of War boffin thought that as a precaution against window panes being blown out and causing injury from flying glass, we should all put sticky tape across the windows just in case.   As a result, we could hardly see out of our windows.

The war finally ended.   The evacuees had gone home – well most of them but a few preferred to stay, there were celebrations in the village and we had two extra days holiday.   But to this day, a few memories still linger.   The most poignant of which was going outside the house on a cold starlit night with my Father to listen to the sound of bombs falling on Swansea.   It seems hard to believe that the bombing could be heard so far away but it was real.

Pinsley Brook by Gordon Roberts

The Leominster Grammar School song which we sang with great gusto on Speech Day at the Clifton Cinema and on other special occasions starts with the following lines.

Where beauty now and peace abide
By Arrow, Lugg and Teme,
Where browse our famous kine beside
Each grayling haunted stream.

Pinsley Brook from Brook Bridge
      © Roger Davies

I have always thought that the composer Mr. John Lodge should have said “By Arrow, Lugg and Pinsley” because the River Teme is not exactly a local river.   I suppose however, he found it difficult to find a rhyming word for Pinsley.   All the same, the Pinsley Brook which has never had the status of a river, has contributed so much to the beauty and charm of Kingsland as it flows the short distance from its source in the Shobdon marshes.   Its water has always been crystal clear and in fact water from the Pinsley was sold to the residents of the wealthier areas of Leominster whose wells were often contaminated through the lack of proper sewage treatment and disposal in the town.   Those citizens who took their water straight from the Pinsley faired better during the serious outbreaks of cholera, typhoid and scarlet fever in the nineteenth century.

The water level in the Pinsley always seemed more or less the same throughout the year which is probably because it is not fed from the rain of the Welsh hills like the Lugg and the Arrow, so it does not flood on its way through the Parish.   However, it was a contributor to severe flooding problems in the Bridge Street and Mill Street area of Leominster, until the flood relief scheme of the 1960’s was put into place.   For most of its journey, the Pinsley follows the route of the old Leominster to Kington railway and it also forms the boundary of the Parish to the South.   There are road bridges at The Brook, on the main road near the former railway station and at Waterloo Mill where it dives under the mill.   These bridges provided hours of pleasure looking for fish and watching the river go by.

The Pinsley also flowed close to the hopyard at Street Farm.   Whilst hop picking in September, it would be my task to go down to the Brook with our blackened kettle and fill it up with water which would then be boiled on our bonfire to make tea.   Before returning, I would cup my hands and scoop up enough water to quench my thirst.  The Pinsley also flowed along some of the fields where my Father would be working and if I was with him, I would have another opportunity to enjoy the river.   Skimming flat stones on the water and counting the number of bounces, was great fun.

The Memoirs of a Land Girl in Kingsland – from Jackie Markham

This memoir was kindly passed to us by Jackie Markham. Mitzi was a Land Girl in Kingsland during WW2 and her memoir, written by her son, are wonderful.  You can read it by clicking the link here. You can also  read more from Mitzi on the BBC Land Girls archive by clicking here. 

A drowning in the River Lugg and Village Cricket by Gordon Roberts

River Lugg and Aymstrey bridge

The website, Herefordshire History provides a wealth of information including reprints of old newspapers such as the Leominster News.   The issue dated August 15th 1919 is particularly interesting for the writer because it reports the death by drowning in the River Lugg near Mortimers Cross, of his Uncle James George Roberts aged just seventeen and his friend Seymour Edwin Owen aged twenty.   It’s difficult to imagine how anyone could have drowned in the River Lugg which today flows gently through Aymestry and Kingsland and in which the Kingsland boys traditionally learned to swim.   But many years ago it had its fair share of whirlpools and eddies and fast flowing water.

The two young men, were well known in the area and worked as waggoners at local farms.   There was a joint funeral service in Aymestry Church and the wreaths numbered over eighty.   They were both members of the St. Michaels Lodge of the Oddfellows and the funeral service of the Oddfellows was read by Brother F Reynolds.   On the following Sunday, there was a Memorial Service to the two young men also at Aymestry Parish Church.   Long before the appointed hour for the service to start, the Church was already crowded and many people were unable to find seats.   Attending were the writer’s Grandparents and Father aged fifteen who witnessed the tragedy.   The Vicar, Rev. W.L. Johnson conducted the service.

W G Grace

By contrast and on a much happier note, the same issue of the Leominster News reports a cricket match between Kingsland Cricket Club and the ladies of the parish played on the Recreation Ground.   The men had to bat left handed and there was a penalty of two runs for each breach of this rule.   The result was a win for the men (surprise, surprise) who scored one hundred and eighty-two runs and the ladies just fifty-eight.   The last person to bat for the ladies scored twenty-seven of their runs which seems a bit difficult to understand.   Perhaps this was the a ploy to make the ladies score look better.   Maybe the twelfth man had something to do with it.   The last match of this kind had taken place eight years before, so the ladies the report continues, were somewhat out of practice and possibly on the next occasion, the result might be reversed.

Football in Kingsland by Gordon Roberts

– Jim Finney 1962 Cup Final

To the best of my knowledge, Kingsland has not had a football team for some time, but immediately after the war, the club was reformed and they played in the North Herefordshire League with teams from several of the other villages in the area.   The games were played on the field where the fire station is located.   Sometimes the referee was none other than a very young Jim Finney who later became an international referee and was in charge of the 1962 Cup Final at Wembley between Burnley and Tottenham Hotspur and was one of the referees for the 1966 World Cup.   Also present sometimes would be Ted Woodward who reported on the game for the Leominster News and later joined the Hereford Times where he was the doyen of sports writers in a wide area for many, many years.   There was usually a bit of “needle” in most the games, but a team of bandy-legged quarrymen from Dolyhir “took the biscuit” and were always a thorn in the flesh of the Kingsland team and they usually won by fair means or foul.

A report in the Leominster News of the 3rd of November 1922 describes a game between Leominster and Kingsland played on the Worcester Road ground where there are factories now, which was marred so the report states, by the failure of the referee to turn up.   The teams waited for three quarters of an hour and as there was no other registered referee available at the ground, Mr. P. S. Edge was prevailed upon to take the whistle.    The game which finished in doubtful light, resulted in a win for Leominster by three goals to two.   This was Kingsland’s first defeat of the season and in view of the absence of the referee, the result naturally gave rise to dissatisfaction

Kingsland boys – bad losers – never.

Memories from Alfred and Fred Traylor via Fred’s daughter Gill

An introduction by Alfred Traylor’s daughter, Gill….

My father Alfred Traylor was born in and grew up in Fir Tree Cottage, Shirlheath with his mother Agnes, father Fred and siblings Douglas, Ronald and Sheila. He went to Kingsland school and recognises some of his classmates in the pictures on this page. He moved to Ludlow at the age of 10 and has lived in Birmingham since 1957 but often speaks fondly of Kingsland. Indeed his father and uncles worked on the railway in Kingsland.

Alfred is now 82 and if anyone remembers him or members of his family he would love to hear from you. As he is hard of hearing it is best to contact him on his email address

Meanwhile here are some of my father’s memories…….

My father Fred Traylor was a sub ganger on the permanent way length, and also my two uncles Will and Geoff Traylor were engine drivers, one living in Kington and the other in Leominster. Both worked on the New Radnor line.  I had been on the footplate with Uncle Will shunting in Kingsland goods yard.

With the formation of the LDV my father Fred was the senior NCO and Bill Bengera was the Corporal; and with the name change to the Home Guard my father remained until he died in August 1941. Four of the Home Guard were pall bearers, one being Mr Gunthorp.

I remember Mrs Kelly had a sweet shop opposite the school and sold ice creams in the summer.

Mrs Taylor delivered milk, she had a cycle with a side trailer to carry milk churns.

My mother worked at the Women’s Land Army hostel and was also the caretaker of the Baptist Chapel. She was also caretaker at the school for a while.

The mothers of some of the land girls would visit and some would stay at our house for a few nights.

Every Christmas there was a choir supper at the vicarage, any new choir boy after dinner was taken into a side room and asked by one of the older choir boys to stick his tongue out, and a small spoon of mustard was placed on his tongue!  This was the initiation into the choir.

In about 1942, just prior to my family moving to Ludlow, a company of Royal Artillery were stationed in Shirlheath.  The search light battery was at Lawton crossroads.

Potholes! by Gordon Roberts

Driving around Kingsland last week, I was appalled at the state of the road surfaces.   Pot holes are nothing new as the following extract from a report in the Leominster News dated December 5th 1919 of a meeting between Weobley and Leominster District Councils with the County Surveyor, Mr Jack explains.

“The Chairman of the meeting said that horses were falling over owing to the state of the roads especially pot holes and not onto their knees as many people would expect, but on to their sides which made it very difficult to get them up again especially when it was wet or icy.   The Surveyor protested that there weren’t many pot holes around except on the Pyon Road but the Chairman said there were some bad ones around Moorhampton.   Mr Jack said that if he put some stone into small holes, the fast traffic would just throw it out.   In the Leominster area, they had a small tar mixer which they took around and filled the holes with tarmac, but this was a slow and expensive game but it did remedy the problem.

The Chairman, said what was wanted was some stone along the ruts, but the surveyor said he had done this but there was constant criticism.”

Perhaps there is worse to come for the Kingsland people……

Summer Holidays and the Harvest by Gordon Roberts

Of all the school holidays, the summer break was the most enjoyable. Vivid memories recall days which were always long and warm and the evenings quiet, soft and balmy. Farm activity was at its height and the harvest in full swing. How different it was seventy summers ago before the combine harvester which wasn’t readily available until a few years later. The binder was the machine which cut the corn in those days. It was introduced before the First World War and became universally available in the 1920’s. It was a combined reaper and binder but it did not thresh the corn, but for the first time, cut the corn and gathered it and bound it into sheaves. The binder was usually drawn by a tractor, but some farms still used shire horses of immense strength, but because the machine was driven by a ground wheel, it was very heavy to pull and three horses were sometimes required. Although the corn no longer had to be cut by hand, a tremendous amount of manual work was still required to bring in the harvest.

The bound sheaves had to be stooked in sixes or eight forming the shape of a small pyramid known as a stack which were left in the field for a week or two to dry out before being picked up with a pitch fork on to a trailer and taken to the farmyard where they would later be threshed by the local contractor. On a large farm with several adjoining fields, the sheaves might be formed into ricks and threshed there. After threshing, the straw would be baled and and stored for winter fodder. The stooks were made by taking two sheaves, one under each arm which were then slid down the arm and the butts placed firmly on the ground so that the ears of corn for each sheave were resting against the others. This was so that they would remain standing up and if it rained, the water would be thrown off the grain. Stooking had to be done by a pair of labourers working together in tandem. It could be a painful business because the sheaves might contain weeds and thistles which would scratch the flesh of the arms and make them sore. Fortunately the combine harvester came along by the early 1950’s and the binder and stooking became redundant.

The days of the harvest before tractors came into general use, were long and they tested the strength of the farm labourer and the horses. During the war, double summertime was introduced as a war time measure, so that there was an extra hour in the working day. Typically, a farm labourer, at harvest time, might start work at 7.00am, stop for his bait around 9.30am, go home for lunch at 12.30pm if he lived close enough to the farm, and stop for tea at 5.00pm which would be provided by the farmer’s wife.  Copious amounts of bread, cheese and cold meats made up the typical meal. Drink would often be tea which had gone cold in a glass pop bottle, although some farmers would provide cider made on the farm but this was a practice about which not all farmers felt comfortable. The day would not be over yet by a long way. Plenty of daylight remained before nightfall.

Finally, a halt was called. Men and horses were tired. The men might admit their tiredness but the horses could not and the way those gentle giants, Boxer, Captain and Norman eagerly and quietly went to the water trough and then to their stalls for water and hay to gain their strength for another hard day, said it all. Who said animals can’t speak?

The memoirs of Mollie Bosworth-Dade contributed by Andrew Rowland-Jones

You can read her memoir here

Mollie Bosworth-Dade, nee Crump, wrote this account sometime in the early 1980s after she returned to live in Kingsland for her retirement in 1978. She was one of the first people to live in newly built Highfield Close.

Though born in South Wales on 23rd January 1918, Mollie grew up at Bank Farm and attended Kingsland School from where she won a scholarship to the Grammar School in Leominster (Lucton scholarships were not open to girls in these days!). She then went to University in London to study domestic science. Her working life as a teacher of domestic science was spent first in Bromley, Kent and later in Bracknell.

During her retirement in Kingsland she helped in the making and embroidering of several church alter fronts which are still in use today and was a regular member of the church choir.

She died on 20th October 1990.

No television, computers or social media by Gordon Roberts

How did a young boy spend the long winter nights without a television, a computer or a mobile phone?  The answer is very simple, he listened to the radio. One day before the war was over, my Mother returned from shopping in Leominster as she always did on a Friday morning, with a brand new radio, probably a Ferguson or Bush provided at a very reasonable cost by the Ministry of (dis)Information. The reception was good enough to listen to the three bands, short, medium and long. Before I was allowed to switch the radio on, tea had to be served and then at least two hours of homework completed by 6.45pm when the radio came alive to the thrills of Dick Barton Special Agent and his side-kicks, Snowy and Jock.

There wasn’t a great deal else to do. There were no after school activities because as soon as school ended, it was a dash to get the Yeoman’s bus home to Kingsland. There were no clubs in the village until a Youth Club opened in the hut at the school a few years later. The Coronation Hall hadn’t been built and The Bungalow had burned down so there were no facilities where clubs could be held except for the village school. An attempt was made to start a Boys Scout Troop but there were not enough boys in the village of the right age to make it viable. The answer was to make your own amusement. Even so, Kingsland was a wonderful place to grow up but its boundaries seemed to be getting shorter and closing in as the years rolled by and the world outside became more curious and interesting and needed to be explored.

The radio heightened this curiosity and aroused dreams of exploration in later years. Europe, The Americas, The Middle East, Africa, Asia and even Australia.  Sunday School outings to seaside locations where I was allowed by my parents to wander off and explore as long as I returned from time to time for food and drink, were a start. Part of the summer holidays spent with relations in London wetted my appetite to live and work in London when the time came. On the short band of the radio, I could pick up stations from around the world. Many of them were in French which I couldn’t understand very well with my schoolboy French. One station however which filled me with imagination and this was the American Armed Forces Network broadcasting from Germany.

I listened to this station whenever the reception was good enough for me to hear.  In particular, there was a fifteen minute programme every evening which gave the football (American style) and baseball results from the United States. The Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Princetown University, Georgia and Stanford, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Yankees. Where were these teams actually located and would I be able to go there one day?.

The Medium Wave, provided me with opportunities galore to listen to music, news bulletins and variety programmes such as Much Binding in the Marsh with Richard Murdoch and Kenneth Horne.  Take It From Here with “Professor” Jimmy Edwards and ITMA with Tommy Handley. Family Favourites and Two-way Family Favourites with Jean Metcalfe and Cliff Michelmore were not to be missed. Most exciting of all was Radio Luxembourg which broadcast a wide mix of programmes of a light hearted nature which had a great impact on young people at the time.

Finally, the Long Wave was the band for sport in this country.  Much of it was live and commentaries on football matches, cricket and boxing were immensely popular. At 5.00pm every Saturday, just like today, the football and rugby results were read out. Tranmere, Hartlepool, Accrington Stanley, Rosslyn Park, Blackheath, Fylde, East Fife, Cowdenbeath, and Stenhousemuir. Where were these places?  I would consult my A.A. gazetteer to see where they were, or a railway timetable with its map which I was sometimes able to get from W.H.Smith in Leominster, although my search for the place wasn’t always successful.

The years rolled by, until Her Majesty called for me to be in her service, and my wanderlust was at last being seriously attended to. Later, my business career working for an international organisation fulfilled many of my dreams to go to the places where the radio pointed me.

Radio Luxembourg by Gordon Roberts

In the days before television, the radio played a vital role as a source of information and entertainment. The BBC had a monopoly of radio broadcasting in the UK and all forms of advertising on the radio were prohibited.    It also had a very restrictive agreement with the musicians’ union that all music should either be played live or specifically recorded for the programme.    In other words, records were banned.  Quite naturally, ways to get around this restriction were developed and Radio Luxembourg fitted the bill.    The radio station’s English language service began in 1933. It was one of the earliest commercial radio stations broadcasting to this country and was in many ways the forerunner of what was called pirate radio such as Radio Caroline which broadcast from a ship offshore in the North Sea.

In the years from 1933 to 1939, Radio Luxembourg gained a large audience of radio listeners who preferred its’ light music and variety programmes to that available on the BBC.    Many British companies advertised on Radio Luxembourg despite opposition from the BBC and the British Government and this exposed the people in this country to commercial radio which in turn led to the creation of commercial ITV during the 1950’s.

Radio Luxembourg closed down on 21st September 1939 for the duration of the war to protect the neutrality of the state of Luxembourg but it was soon taken over by the invading German forces and was used to broadcast propaganda in the English language by William Joyce, better known as Lord Haw-Haw, who later paid for his treachery with his life.

After the war, Radio Luxembourg restarted transmissions to the United Kingdom as a full time commercial radio station using the long wave band but from the start of the 1950s, it moved to the medium wave band of 208 metres and its popularity with the younger audience of the UK increased enormously.  Programmes of music and variety started daily at 6.00pm under the slogan of “208 – your station of the stars”.

The number 208 became synonymous with the name Radio Luxembourg. Reception on my radio at home was not always very good but it was at its best after dark when it was able to strike the atmosphere and bounce the airwaves back to the United Kingdom. Even so, I was a frequent and devoted listener to the station which helped considerably to fill the long evenings during the winter before we had our first television set.

Among the resident announcers at various times were people who later became well known on the BBC such as Pete Murray, Noel Edmonds, Kenny Everett, Johnny Walker and others. Some of the regular programmes were “The Ovaltineys, “Leslie Welch the Memory Man”, “Top Twenty” “Movie Magazine” and “At Two O’ Eight” and dance music with Pete Murray. These programmes might seem very mundane today but were far more appealing than the music and entertainment the BBC had to offer.

The programmes were listed in the 208 magazine which was eagerly awaited each week and could be bought from W H Smith in Leominster, just as The Radio Times can be bought today. In the 40’s and the early 50’s, there was no television, no computers, no mobiles and no social media. The radio was the link to the outside world. It was very well used and treasured. Radio Luxembourg finally closed down after several changes in format in the year 2010.

Hop Picking by Gordon Roberts

For several years, we went hop picking at Street Court Farm.   As children, we did very little picking, but had a great time playing with other children, racing around the hop yard, finding wood for the bonfire and exploring the meadow which led down to the Pinsley Brook where we would paddle and scoop up the water from the brook with our hands to quench our thirst.

The hop bines were cut down from the overhead wires, although we often tugged them down ourselves when we couldn’t wait for the farm worker to come.   The hops were stripped off by hand into the crib which was made of hessian and fixed to a wooden frame which could be folded when it was time to carry it to a new section.   Twice a day, Mr Percy Pudge would come to measure up how much we had picked using a basket which when full, was a bushel.   He would drag the hops with his arm into the basket and the tally-man would record the number of bushels picked into his book and also the book of the picker.

Most of the pickers came as a family, some larger than others who would be the quickest to finish their section and moved on to the next area where they would set up again. The Miles family set the pace for everyone else and usually had two cribs on the go.   A fast picker could pick up to twenty-five bushels a day in fine weather and a very useful amount of money would be earned to supplement the family’s normal income.   After bushelling up, the hops were taken in large sacks to the hop kiln at the farm where they were dried by hot air from a wood or charcoal fired kiln and later used for making beer.

Before riding our bicycles to the farm, Mother would have to make lots of sandwiches and flasks of tea.   During the day, another member of the family might come to give a hand, and bring more food.   When we ran out of tea, from the flasks, it would be my job to go down to the Pinsley and bring back a kettle full of water which would be boiled on a bonfire to make fresh tea which was always so much more delicious than from the vacuum flasks.

Nowadays, hops are picked by machinery and the hop drying process is now usually done at a facility which serves several different growers but of course growing hops is now almost a thing of the past in this country and it is remarkable that the hop yard at Street Court has had such a long life.   When the hop yard had been picked out, there would be a delicious tea at the farm and best of all, it would be pay day.

Two Happy Farmers by Gordon Roberts

Happy Farmers 1 smallIn 1979, The Logaston Press published a book entitled “The Happy Farmers”. This was the autobiography of Sheila Wenham and her companion and partner Mary Elliott. Sheila Wenham started farming in 1934 and moved to Herefordshire and bought Brook Farm with its 25 acres around 1944 for £5,000. Mary Elliott joined her just a few years later and formed a 50 – 50 business partnership.

The book is the story of two women who proved that they could be successful farmers in what was essentially a man’s world. My Father knew them quite well and they often complimented him on his artisan’s skills at Ledicot farm. As time went by, they bought more land and properties at the Brook including Brook Bridge Farm and became top breeders of Kerry Hill sheep, Hereford cattle, Welsh Mountain ponies and sheep dogs. Poultry and pig farming also featured largely.

Finishing Touches at the Kerry Show and Sale 1955
Finishing Touches at the Kerry Show and Sale 1955

Sheila Wenham became one of the most respected show judges of Kerry Hill sheep in the country and later the Chairman of the Kerry Hill Flock Book Society. This breed of sheep once very popular in the Welsh Borders around Newtown and Bishops Castle was until recently listed as a “rare breed” but is now making a comeback and is very popular with smallholders. The two ladies were well known at agricultural shows around the country where they won many medals.

Work was a full time occupation, leaving them little time to socialise around the village but their farming activities and existence at Brook Farm was talked about in the village as was their co-habitation which was accepted but not discussed. Diversity didn’t have such a broad meaning then as it does now.

In their book, they bravely describe how in later life, they attended a study group sponsored by the Diocese of Hereford where they discussed in forthright terms, education, race, religion, morality and sex. They were heartened to hear a young vicar say that there is so much male and female in us, that the balance is very fine and homosexuality is a fact of life.

In 1970, they moved to Hill Farm near Lucton which Sheila Wenhan had bought in 1945 fo £1,250. They later bought nearby Hill Croft where so many acquaintances came to stay and it was at Hill Farm that they retired. Their lives were not ordinary and didn’t fit the pattern of a conventional village like Kingsland, but were an example of true commitment, devotion and harmony to work and to each other.

As Ann Roberts mentions in her article below, the two women paid for the chairs in the Coronation Hall when it was first opened.

Lady Day at Angel House from Gynor Brindley

In England, Lady Day (the first of the four traditional quarter days) is March 25th. It was New Years Day until 1752 when January 1st became the official start of the year.  However it remained as the day on which year-long contracts between landowners and tenants would begin and end. The term Lady Day being derived from ‘The Annunciation of our Lord to the Blessed Virgin Mary.’

When I was a child my uncle, Captain Hamlyn Williams and his wife Dolly and my cousins Diana and Bill lived at Angel House. On March 25th each year all his tenants would arrive up the steps into the hall where they would be given a drink, possibly sherry or beer, they were mostly men and it was very jolly!

One by one they would speak to the Captain, who was seated behind a large desk,  and pay their rents, in advance, for lands and farms and some houses and cottages. Contracts would be reviewed and renewed. A good start for all to their new year!

Gynor Brindley.

Incidentally I was born on Lady Day 1923

A Visit to the Doctor by Gordon Roberts

For the prosperity and success of villages such as Kingsland, it was essential to have people who provided vital services such as the wonderful C T Jones (Headmaster), Rev, Jobling (Church), Mr. Edwards (Village Bobby), Mrs Taylor (milk delivery), Percy Edwards (newspapers), Sidney Williams (Postmaster), Maurice Markham (garage, school bus and outings)and others such as farmers, The Saw Mills, The County Council and The Railway who provided employment. At the top of the list however, is Douglas Vaughan the Village Doctor.

Old medicine bottlesHe was a rather aloof and stern man as most professional practitioners were in those days and was a one man practice holding surgeries morning and evening.  Appointments weren’t required.  He was not only the doctor, but also the dispensing chemist and sometimes mid wife’s assistant and dentist. My Father had an extraction of a double tooth without a pain killer and felt quite proud of himself but at least the extreme tooth ache had gone. After hearing your problem, he would usually tell you to come back later and he would have a prescription ready which as he always said, would “put you right”

The prescription would be a bottle of medicine left on the window ledge of the waiting room. There were few tablets or pills available in those days.  Later in the day you returned and just helped yourself to your bottle and went home to start taking it, but not before you had looked at the other bottles waiting to be collected and read the labels to see who else was feeling unwell. They came in four different colours, white, yellow, green and red. Each tasted differently, sweet, or sour and the green one was so horrible to taste that you felt sorry for the person who had to take it.

Spot the Bus Driver! by Gordon Roberts

Bus Trip May 16 cropped

This photograph was taken at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Stuart Goodman near Berrrington in the early 1950’s. and the outing was arranged by the Kingsland  Baptist Chapel   There is just one man shown so it would appear and that is Mr Goodman in the front row, but look carefully and you will see to the right and back of the picture, the face of Mr Maurice Markham who had driven the ladies there in his bus.   Had he anything to do with the happy and laughing faces of everyone else?.

The solitary grave at the Methodist Chapel, Samuel and Ellen Small, by Gordon Roberts

A little while ago Gordon Roberts wrote about his memories of this grave (further down this page). We are delighted that we have been sent more information on Samuel and Ellen Small which tells you more about them and their relationship with Kingsland and the Methodist Chapel. Many thanks to our contributor! Webmaster

Samuel Small was born in Caynham, Ludlow, Shropshire in 1835, the son of Richard and Elizabeth Small. He married Ellen in Caynham parish church on 11 May 1861. Ellen was his first cousin, the daughter of Edward Small and Mary (nee Hince). Richard and Edward Small were brothers, and both farmers.

Photo Samuel & Ellen Small croppedSamuel and Ellen had 7 children – Emily born 1862 (died aged 15 and is buried in Caynham Chapel churchyard), Herbert 1864 (emigrated to Indiana, USA), Ellen Kezia 1866, Selina 1867 (travelled to Australia, New Zealand and the USA,and became Mrs Graham, died in California, USA), Baxter 1869 (also emigrated to Indiana, USA), Edith Rebekah 1870 (became Mrs Williams), and Hester Olive 1872 (became Mrs Lewis), all born in Caynham. The 1871 Census shows the family living at Caynham, where Samuel was a farmer. In 1881 the family were living in Hope Bagot, Shropshire.

By the time of the 1891 Census they were living at Shrublands, Kingsland, and Samuel was a farmer and Wesleyan Methodist local preacher. They were still living in Kingsland in the 1901 and 1911 Censuses.

In 1929 Samuel was presented with a certifcate of congratulations for being a Methodist local preacher for 70 years.

Ellen died on 7 May 1921 at Stone House, Kinglsand, and was buried in Kingsland chapel yard. In 1921 Samuel’s effects at The Stone House, Kingsland were sold, and he went to live with his daughter Ellen Kezia and family in Hereford. This is where he was living when he died in 1933, and was buried with his wife in Kingsland.

Ellen Kezia Small married James Pryce Griffiths in 1895 in the Wesleyan Chapel in the district of Leominster. James Pryce Griffiths was living at Prospect Cottages, West Town, Kingsland with his parents James and Anne Griffiths and siblings in the 1891 Census. He was variously a teacher of music, a farm bailiff, and a smallholder. Ellen Kezia and James Pryce Griffiths were my great-grandparents.

I hope the readers of your website find this information of some interest.

The Post Office by Gordon Roberts

Post-Office-picThe Kingsland Post Office has always been a focal point of the village and its survival is so important. Step inside and see how it has changed from seventy years ago. The Postmaster at the time was Mr. Sidney Williams who was very efficient but hardly soft-hearted towards children.   He was the son of the village midwife who lived at the Croase House.  Heaven forbid, Post Offices did not operate shops in those days, but in any event there was a perfectly adequate shop at Edgefield next to the school, which was run by the Gibson family.

Not only did Mr. Williams manage the Post office but he also ran the telephone exchange, such as it was in those days when very few villagers had a telephone. The telephone service was owned by the Post Office before it was privatised and BT came into existence. If you were lucky enough to have a telephone, it was impossible to dial another number, so you had to pick up the receiver and wait for Mr Williams to say the magic words, “number please” and then wait for him to connect you.

If you didn’t have a telephone, but wanted to make a rare call, it was best to go to the Post Office and use the Public Call Box outside and Mr Williams could see through a window who was making the call. The first time I wanted to make a call was to arrange a cinema date with a girlfriend in Hereford when I was home on leave from the Army around Christmas time, and even now, I wonder whether he listened in to my conversation.

GR PO Savings Book 3 cropped GR PO Savings Book crtoppedIn addition to selling stamps, the Post Office sold Postal Orders which was the main method of paying bills, since few people had bank accounts. They were treated much like cheques are today. Giros and Direct Debits were unheard of. Another important function was to operate the Post Office Savings Bank (POSB). An account with POSB was usually opened soon after a child was born to save small amounts of money received as presents and gifts. In this way the saving ethic was implanted in the child at a very early stage of their life. Some years ago, POSB became part of National Savings and Investment (NSI).

The Post Office provided other essential services such as issuing a licence to have a dog (yes, you had to have a dog licence) but farmers were exempt. Also fishing licences and radio licences and later TV licences. It was also possible to buy savings stamps which were stuck on a card and cashed perhaps at Christmas.

Facts of Life by Gordon Roberts

It was not unusual for farm animals to be driven along the roads. Such a thing would be impossible and very dangerous with today’s amount of traffic. Farmers would move a complete flock of sheep from one pasture to another along a main road herded by a couple of sheep dogs. Cars would have to stop and patiently wait for the animals to squeeze past. Working farm horses would be seen on the roads as regularly as tractors are today.

As mentioned in a previous recollection, the Karlsson cows walked twice daily from the Greens to the farm through the centre of the village.  Mr Edwin Jenkins of the Old Hall exercised his beautiful Hereford bulls up and down the North Road in order to get them used to traffic noise, before they went to a show or an auction.

The writer remembers helping his uncle Mr Amos Price, move his small flock of sheep from Shirlheath to our orchard in Kingsland twice a year so that they could eat, enjoy and get into good condition, on the lush grass. He did not have a sheep dog so it was my duty as a young boy to help him drive the sheep the two miles or so along the A4110 road. We must have made a silent prayer that the level crossing at the railway station would not be closed for a train to pass.

It was my job to make sure the sheep did not turn up a farm track or private drive so I would ride my bicycle as fast as possible to stay one step ahead of them and make sure they headed in the right direction. However, my job was made quite easy by a wizened old ewe of indeterminable years and many lambs. She set a steady pace and never stopped looking straight ahead. She had done the journey before and knew exactly where she was going. The others followed without question.

On another occasion, I was in effect told by my Father, that I was to help the two Miss Williams who farmed a few acres and lived in a dilapidated house at the Arbour corner to take their heifer to a bull in residence at a farm on Hereford Lane and help to bring it back again. The cow wasn’t being led with a halter and apart from giving the poor cow some words of encouragement and the occasional prod with a stick, there wasn’t much for me to do. Some years later I realised it was the country way of learning the “Facts of Life”.

The River Lugg by Gordon Roberts

The river Lugg rises at Llangynllo in Powys and flows 45 miles until it joins the Wye at Mordiford, collecting the waters of the Pinsley Brook and the Arrow on the way. It is now much less turbulent following extensive dredging and flood control measures over the years. An uncle of mine, was drowned in the river near Mortimers Cross which indicates how dangerous it could be to swim in the river at the time

The river was our summer playground when I was a boy. We swam at the weir where the millstream runs to the mill at Lugg Green but later we swam below the bridge in an ideal spot where deep water gradually became shallow. It was there that I learned to swim

We jumped or dived into the river from the bank of the meadow owned by Mr Cecil Price of St.Mary’s farm. He was only too pleased for us to swim there. He was a much respected “gentleman farmer” and a keen environmentalist. Today, the land is an arable field.

The river was full of fish. Birds were abundant such as warblers, fly catchers, finches, wagtails, buntings, dippers and yellow hammers. There were otters too which were hunted by packs of hounds followed on foot by huntsmen and their followers which fortunately is not allowed now.

The Home Guard by Gordon Roberts

The Second World War affected the lives of everyone in the country. Food was rationed and at one time, there was a very real threat of invasion by the German forces. Industrial areas and ports were heavily bombed and we had to observe the “black out” of all lights after dark.


But it did give rise to the formation of the Home Guard which, because of the famous BBC television programme is now affectionately known as Dad’s Army. There was a company in Kingsland under the command of Major Thomas, a teacher at Lucton School who lived in a house opposite The Showers and the senior NCO was Jack Preece, a first class wheelwright and the local undertaker, whose joinery and forge still stand on the North Road.


Each Sunday, the men of the Kingsland company, would be taken by Markhams bus to Eaton Hill near Leominster for shooting practice and at other times, they would meet during the week for drill and to discuss plans for the defence of the village should the German invasion happen. When this became a real possibility early in the war, a sentry was posted outside the Post Office and it is not a myth, that the sentry’s only weapon was a pitchfork. Fortunately, the the German fallschirmiager and panzers didn’t try their luck!


Four sided slit trenches were built in various places around the village, one of them being opposite the Wardens on North Road in an orchard belonging to the Old Hall. They provided great opportunity as a play area for children, but not for young lambs who could not get out again once they had fallen in.


By 1944, the war had changed from defence to attack and the Home Guard was disbanded.


Wartime Rationing by Gordon Roberts

Kingsland History_Memories_Rationing July 15There was severe food rationing during the war and many other essentials such as clothing, petrol and household goods were also rationed or impossible to obtain.   One of the main reasons was the shortage of shipping caused by the German blockade of the Atlantic and the resultant problem of food reaching the country with any regularity.   Every family was issued with a ration book which consisted of coupons to be given to the grocer or shopkeeper when buying anything.

It was necessary to register with a specific grocer which for Kingsland people would have been almost certainly in Leominster at such shops as Home and Colonial, International Stores, Maypole, Bache’s or Saxby’s but some villagers would have used the village shop and bakery which is now called Edgefield next to the school.   It was run for some time by the Gibson family who came to the village for this purpose.  My family’s choice was Saxby’s because of a family connection.   Their shop was on the Iron Cross where the restaurant of the Talbot Hotel is now.   Our weekly order was delivered on Monday’s without fail by Mr. Jim Beard.   There were no supermarkets then.

Kingsland History_Memories_ Sample_UK_Childs_Ration_Book_WW2Some examples of the weekly food ration per person were as follows.

Bacon and Ham     4 ounces
Butter                      2 ounces
Margarine               4 ounces
Cheese                    2 ounces
Sugar                       8 ounces
Lard                         2 ounces
Tea                           2 ounces
Milk                          3 pints
Sweets                     3 ounces
Eggs                         one every week.

As a farming village, the residents of Kingsland were much better off for food than those living in the towns and cities.   Dairy products were in plentiful supply from the farms and small holdings.   Farm labourers received extra rations and gardens provided ample vegetables.   Some households kept chickens for eggs and the Sunday roast occasionally and in some cases including my own family, a pig for slaughter which  provided bacon for the whole year.

Petrol rationing ceased in 1950, bread in 1948, sweets chocolate and sugar in 1953 and everything else on 4th July 1954.

The Stained Glass Window in Kingsland Church by Gordon Roberts

Kingsland church has the most beautiful stained glass in its east window which dates from the 14th century.   It bears the arms of Dame Matilda Mortimer who presented the first known rector of Kingsland, Geoffrey de Balecote in 1285.   The four main panels of the window represent the four great archangels, Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, and Oriel.   Christ is shown holding a cross and shield on a rainbow.

That the window has survived for over seven centuries is quite remarkable given the wars, conflicts and rebellions which this country has suffered, not least the Second World War with its threat of bombing and invasion.   As a precaution around the time when war broke out in 1939, the window was removed and sent to a secure place elsewhere.

I remember visiting the church during the war with the entire village school and on other occasions and seeing the window boarded up.   Headmaster Jones made a point of reminding us of this but never once gave a hint of where it had gone for safekeeping.   My imagination would become very vivid and I felt sure the window was in some deep coal mine in South Wales or perhaps in a slate quarry in Snowdonia, or even buried deep in a field somewhere in the North of Scotland or in the dungeons of Ludlow Castle.   So imagine my surprise when I recently discovered from the Leominster News of September 9th 1945 that it had gone no further than Eyton Hall.

Some Farming and Herefords history by Gordon Roberts

The farmers of Kingsland on their well watered and fertile land, were renowned for their arable crops of wheat, oats and barley, but also for their animal husbandry. Today, farming mirrors the demands of the food producers, the supermarkets and the preferences of the public. Thanks to companies such as Walkers, McCain and Tyrells, potatoes now grow where cattle and sheep safely grazed before.

Memories hereford BullBeef cattle were predominantly of the Hereford breed, the beautiful white faced, brown coated animals who thrive on lush grass, and are the pride of the county. Although many new breeds have risen in importance, the Hereford is still to be seen grazing in almost every major beef producing country of the world. Some of the well known Hereford herds in the past and present are the de Quincey herd at Pembridge, the Weymouth-Jones family at Bodenham and the Haven herd near Dilwyn and many more.

In Kingsland, Mr E. A (Ted) Jenkins at the Old Hall bred pedigree Hereford bulls for over thirty years and was awarded the herd name of Kingsland by the Hereford Herd Book Society. Two of his earliest bulls were named Kingsland Pilot and Kingsland Comrade.

Prior to showing the bulls at at an agriculture show or selling them at a auction, he would walk these gentle beasts along the North Road as far as the Monument Inn where no doubt in addition to buying a pint of Ansells for himself, he would also buy one for the bull. The bulls would in this way get used to crowds and noise and look and behave their best at the show or auction where they would be sold and go to a new home perhaps overseas and enjoy a life of sublime indolence among a herd of heifers.

The Kingsland herd name is now held at St. Mary’s farm but currently inactive.

Gordon Roberts, March 2015

Some memories of working horses from Gordon Roberts

I remember going to the Kingsland Foal Show off the Lugg Bridge road probably in the year 1946 or 1947.   There were not many foals there and in fact not even one sale was completed by the auctioneer.   I think that was the last year it was held.   I also remember well, Sheila Wenham and Mary Elliott and they were indeed ” happy farmers” which is the title of their autobiography.   In the near future, I hope to send Kingsland History, a brief account of their lives at Brook Farm.

Gordon Roberts.

March 2015

Some memories of working horses from Ann Roberts

Kingsland History Ann Roberts mare 10 3 15The mare in the photograph was a bay called Kit. I don’t remember the names of her foals, but they were shown each year at the Kingsland Foal Show held in October on Boarsfield by Russel Baldwin and Bright. The certificates show second place in 1944 and 1946

Victor’s father, George Evans of Westfield where we lived, used to lead the mare through the village to the show ground and when I was old enough I would lead the foal.

The mares mane and docked tail were dressed with ribbons but the foals fluffy manes were left plain.

Most years the foals were sold at the sale and if not they were brought home and would be sold privately later. The day was also the day the foals were weaned.

In time the foal sale was moved to Dishley Street Leominster and continues to this day on the present Brightwells site.

We had a bigger chestnut carthorse called Jolly. I used to be put on her back at the end of her days work when she was making her way back to her field. She used to rush off but never let me fall!

Jolly’s stable was in the barn where Tony and I now live! When I was very young, about five, I was forbidden to climb the steep wooden ladder into the hayloft above where the cat had had her kittens. Not to be defeated I would climb onto the manger, then onto Jolly’s head, and then into the hay rack from where it was an easy hoist into the loft! When asked if I had been up the ladder I could truthfully say ‘no’!

KIngsland History Ann Roberts 10 5 15Eventually Jolly was superseded by Victor’s first tractor purchased from Alexander and Duncan, an orange painted Alice Chalmers.  The day it arrived Victor’s father would not talk about it but when finally pressed during the evening meal he barked that it would only do the work that Jolly did and it would make more noise.

The metal wheels on Alice Chalmers were spiked and so a metal guard had to be fitted before it could go on the road. It is generally thought that his tractor was the first to come to Kingsland.

June 2013


Kingsland’s own Harrods and dancing at the Coronation Hall, memories from Ann Roberts

Between Yew Tree Cottage and the site of the old blacksmith shop at Cobnash was a black and white cottage belonging to the Goodwins.

Miss Goodwin kept a shop in their front room, which we knew as ‘Harrods’ as you could buy almost anything there. She kept pigs and would sell home killed and cured bacon cut from a carcass hanging from the ceiling and home made lard amongst other things. She kept a large jar of sweets in the window on which stood a candle, if this candle was lit then the shop was ‘open’!

When the Coronation Hall was first opened dances were held regularly on Saturday nights and Victor Evans and I would walk from Westfield Farm to the Hall passing ‘Harrods’ on the way. On our return journey, sometime around midnight, we would see the candle burning and call in for a drink of pop and a chat with Miss Goodwin.

These early dances were very well attended with busses coming from Presteigne, Kington and Knighton. Up to two hundred people would dance to a band called the ‘No Name Trio’. No alcohol was sold, just soft drinks.

By 1956 I had acquired a bicycle and would cycle to the dances. But I had also acquired a black taffeta dress with huge sticking out petticoats, no good for cycling in, so I would change at a friend’s house in Boarsfield and then we would set off to the dance together on foot and similarly attired, popping in to the Corners Inn on the way to put on our make up!

Later still Victor (Evans) bought a car and would drive me to and from the dances (‘Like a bat out of Hell!)

In the early days the Hall consisted only of the main floor, and stage. At various stages during the first few years the committee room, cloakrooms, porch, foyer and two side rooms were added along with the kitchen and annex. The right hand side room (currently the disabled toilet) served as ticket office and tickets for all events were sold through a hatch, now blocked up. The Hall was well supplied with red metal chairs donated by Sheila Wenham and Mary Eliot

Dancing lessons were given by Idris Basham and his wife.

Later a licence was granted and alcohol was sold from a bar at the dances. This gradually led to trouble and in the 1970s the dances were stopped.

The grave at the Methodist Chapel by Gordon Roberts

Since I was a boy, I have always been intrigued by the solitary grave at the Kingsland Methodist Chapel.    It was always in the way when my Father cut the grass in the front of the Chapel with sweeping strokes of his scythe.  The names on the headstone are Samuel Small and his wife Ellen Small, but who were they?  No-one was able to tell me.    I thought they must have been important people for permission to be given for them to be buried there.

The answer to this question came to me when I started work as a tour guide at the Methodist Central Hall in London.   In 1898 The Wesleyan Methodist Church launched the Million Guinea Fund to celebrate the centenary of the death of John Wesley   Between 1899 and 1904, the members of the Church contributed over one million guineas.   This money was to be used to further the activities and development of the Methodist Church and also to purchase a suitable site in London for a Methodist Central Hall.  Methodist Central Hall was subsequently built on the site of the Royal Aquarium in Parliament Square opposite Westminster Abbey and was opened in the year 1912.

The donors to the fund, each contributing no more than one guinea (one pound and five pence in today’s money), were invited to sign a list of contributors and these lists were later sent to the Central Hall and bound into fifty volumes of the “Historic Roll” .  This Roll has since been available for inspection and can be quite helpful for historians and genealogists.

The list for Kingsland Methodist Church shows the following donors –

Christine Brindley of The Post Office: Mary Anson  Vine Cottage: Ellen Pantall New House: Gwen Evans The Hill: Thomas Hodges The Hill: Priscilla Hodges The Hill: Steven Newing The Hill: Eliza Woodhouse The Hill: Eleanor Davies Upper House: Sarah Small, Ellen Small, Edith Small, Emily Small, Selina Williams, and Sydney Graham all of The Elms.

Although there is no mention above of Sydney Small, he was as Norman Reeves describes him in his book “The Leon Valley”, a grand old man and a comfortable speaker and lay preacher for most of his life.  Ellen Small died aged seventy nine in May 1921 and Samuel died aged ninety seven in February 1933 and was buried alongside his wife in the grounds of the Chapel he had served for so long. Their address given on the tombstone is Stone House to which they must have moved from The Elms.

Gordon Roberts : 13 October 2014

The build up to D Day by Gordon Roberts

Late spring 1944 saw many convoys of American troops passing through the area on their way from landing at Liverpool to the assembly areas in the south of the country for the invasion of Europe.   We young village children quickly learned to shout “any gum chum” and were often rewarded with chewing gum, Hershey chocolate bars and on one occasion oranges which we had never had before, all thrown from the passing troop carriers.

I remember one convoy pausing on the A4110 for a food break, between the Monument and the Showers.   They tried as best they could to get their vehicles off the road so others could pass and one half tracked vehicle backed up into the short drive of The Plausance whilst others  blocked off Chapel Lane or parked on the grass at the Criftins.   A young Jim Miles on his way home from work at the village shop bakery, pulled a fresh loaf of bread from under his jacket and gave it to one of soldiers who was extremely grateful.    One convoy of half tracks, severely damaged the level crossing at the railway station.

Little did we young children know at the time, what was about to happen across the English Channel but this last weekend has brought back these memories and I keep thinking about those young Americans so far from home and whether they got home again.

Gordon Roberts 09.06.14

Kingsland School photos 1940-41 and 1943

This is the last of Kenyon Jones’ school photos, from 1940-41. We’d love to hear from you if you can fill in any gaps or if you know, or have any memories of any of the children in this series of photographs.

By this time the school population had been increased by an influx of evacuees, I think from Bootle and Harwich, and as they were in the school a relatively short time it is more difficult to remember names, and there are more gaps.

Memories of the past Kingsland School photo 3 KJ

Top row > ??.??. Billy Gunthorpe. Donald Richards.Jeffrey Pratt.Sylvia Miles. Rachel Lewis. Michael Millard. Margaret Barrar. Margaret Williams. David York.
Middle row> Michael Williams. Audrey Mason. ??. George Bull. Bob Taylor. ? Robert Boreton. ??. KJ. ??. Tommy Smith. Eileen Broad. John Gwillam. Audrey Freeman. ??
Front row> Joyce Gwillam. Gordon Roberts. Frances Millard. Cliff Davies. Tommy Craig. Patti Williams. Molly Jones. ??. Mary Taylor. Joan Allen. ??

Sadly, not long after this picture was taken, David York, one of the evacuees, was hit by a car and died after getting off the school bus.

Another excellent Kingsland School photo from Kenyon Jones from 1943 –  names with some help from Cliff Davies – can you fill in any of the missing names?

Memories of the past Kingsland School photo 2 KJ

Teachers – the two Miss Morgans with….

Top Row > ?Ted Bryan. Audrey Freeman. Margaret Barrar. John Adams. Rachel Lewis. Bill Gunthorpe. Jean?Williams. Frances Bowen.
Second row > Graham Edwards. Tommy Williams. Jean Bryan. Bruce Hepburn. George Bull. ?Maureen Morris. Sylvia Miles. Donald Richards. ??. Dennis Jones. KJ. Audrey Mason.
Third row > Norman Mason. ??. Bob Bodenham. Bob Taylor. Patti Williams. Cliff Davies. John Postons. Sheila Wall. Molly Jones. Joyce Gwillam. Eileen Broad. Margaret Williams ??. Frances Millard. Jonny Williams.
Front row > Michael Williams. Gordon Roberts. Tommy Craig. Audrey Mills. Mary Taylor. Joan Allen. Margaret Postons. Tommy Roberts. Michael Millard. ? Jones. Tommy Smith.

My brother Lynne, too young for school, sneaked into the picture, bottom right, and sat there hoping no-one would notice him!

Kingsland School Memories from Kenyon Jones

(Many thanks to Gordon Roberts’ sister, Ethel, for identifying the girl in the second row as Joyce Cook)

Dear Kingsland Life

As you may know, my father CT Jones was headmaster of Kingsland School from the late 20’s until the late 60’s and I was born and brought up in School House which is now Outer Bailey.

This was the senior class in, I think, 1946. I will try and put a name to every face though my memory is creaking a little now.

Memories from the Past Kenyon Jones school photo

Back row L>R : Donald Richards, John Parry, Jimmy Bufton, Frank Mills, Brian Jones, Bert Brown, Bill Gunthorpe, Denis Jones, Kenyon Jones
Second row : Michael Williams, Tommy Roberts, Audrey Mason, Margaret Williams, Mary Taylor, Ruth Morgan, ??  (identified as Joyce Cook), Joan Allen, Mike Millard, Gordon Roberts
Front : Audrey Mills, Eileen Broad, Dorothy Baker, Margaret Barrar, Mary Miles, Betty Watson, Ethel Roberts, Rachel Lewis, Pamela Watkins, Ruth Grant.

The rather salubrious background in the girls toilet block!

Kenyon Jones

Memories of the arrival of television, by Gordon Roberts

Television, but only in black and white was available from the Alexandra Palace transmitter from the year 1936 but only for people living in London and parts of the South-East.   It lay dormant throughout the war period and came alive again when the war was over.   In 1956, it was superseded by the opening of the BBC’s new transmitter at the Crystal Palace in South London.

In December 1949, a new transmitter was opened by the BBC at Sutton Coalfield, north of Birmingham .   Kingsland was on the very extreme edge of the transmission range, but nevertheless it didn’t stop people in Kingsland buying television sets.   One by one, the large “H” shaped aerials appeared on the roof tops like a status symbol and making it clear that they had joined the age of television.

I remember watching television for the first time.   I was invited one Saturday afternoon to a house opposite the Showers Farm to watch a rugby game between the Royal Navy and the Army from Twickenham,   Playing for the Navy was Brian Vaughan, eldest son of the the village doctor.   Brian went on to play for England and managed the British Lions tour to South Africa in 1960.

The television set had probably been bought from Mr Beaman’s shop in Broad Street Leominster and had just a nine inch screen, made by Bush and set in a “walnut” bakelite cabinet.   The picture, in black and white was very grainy with constant flickering and loss of vision but a wonderful and  new experience for me.

Over the next ten years, owing a television set became quite normal.   Reception improved, the television screens were much larger and later still, colour television arrived in the 1960’s.

Memories of a wartime evacuee from Robert Kirk

Hello. I am writing to let you know how interesting your site is. My mother Margaret Kirk nee Savage and her sister Mary were evacuated  from Liverpool to Kingsland in September 1939 and stayed with a Miss Lewis and her father and lived in a house facing Markhams Garage. Miss Lewis married and my mother then went to live with Mrs Miles and her son Charlie in a house further along the road.

My mother lived there about 1 year and talks fondly about the village and the people who lived there during her time in Kingsland.

My mother along with myself and one of her other sons and daughter in law are visiting Kingsland on Thursday next week and look forward to seeing the places my mother remembers so well.

Robert Kirk

Kingsland memories from Eric Wall

In your railway reminiscences, you make reference to Mrs Knill as keeper of the crossing near Waterloo Mill. I was a near contemporary and friend of her youngest son, Bob, who took pride in the fact that Freddie Fox had previously lived at his home before becoming a jockey who went on to be champion flat race jockey in 1930, rode 2 Derby winners and 4 other classics.

Eric Wall

Memories of Ned and Arnold Stephens from Andrew Stephens

My Great Uncle was “Ned” Stephens. He actually designed and built Lancaster and York House out on the A4110 towards Mortimers Cross. I remember visiting him as a small child when he lived in York House .

Arnold Stephens was born at The Bell, Kingsland and later farmed Green Park and Bank Farm, Kingsland. He and his  brother George worked as coal merchants. They operated a bark yard near Kingsland Railway Station which became the Kingsland Saw Mills. He was joint founder of Kingsland Football and Rifle Club with Thomas Mitchell of the Corners Inn and Charles Sankey. He was reputed to have made and drunk a fortune at least twice. Joyce Crowl (at age 89) recalls her grandfather never had a bad word for anyone.  If anyone had a bad thought about another person, he would say, I’ve done worse myself.

Andrew Stephens

Happy memories from Gordon Roberts

Sitting outside the Angel a few months ago drinking some refreshment and reading the Hereford Times, I was distracted by convoys of green tractors with trailers full of potatoes, dropping mud from their wheels all over the road. I was reminded of the time when the Karlsson dairy herd made its sedate way twice daily through the village from the church drive to the farm and back again, waddling along with udders bursting with milk and depositing on the road  the results from grazing all day on the lush grass of the Greens.

Nobody seemed to object to the mess. The school said nothing, PC Edwards didn’t bring out his notebook (but then he rarely did ) and, after all, cows dropping their excrement wherever they happened to be was completely normal.

Then I read a report in the paper that the police would not hesitate to prosecute farmers and contractors found dropping mud on the road when lugging crops from the fields.

Imagine today’s horror and disapproval if those cows came back !

A bit of Kingsland History from Anon

Kingsland didn’t have the luxury of mains water and sewerage until the early 1960′s which prompted the building of some new houses particularly along the North Road and until then, the houses had no plumbing with running water and no w/c’s or bathrooms as we know them today. Water would be pumped from a well either by hand or with an electric pump. Electricity was available in the village itself but not in some of the outlying areas of the parish such as Shirlheath until the late 1940′s. There was no television until 1949 and then only a few people could afford to buy a television set and central heating was almost unheard of.

In the areas without electricity, cooking was done on a coal or wood fuelled range or a cooker which was fed from a bottle of paraffin. Lighting was obtained by a mixture of candles, torches, hurricane lamps and table lamps lit with a match put to a wick which was embedded in paraffin in the base of the lamp. Radios or more properly the wireless, as radio sets were known then, received their power from a lead acid accumulator battery, otherwise known as a storage battery . The popular brand was Exide . Householders would take their accumulators to Markham’s garage to be recharged although in fact they made a swap with one already charged so as not to have to wait or call back later for the recharging to be completed

Women’s Land Army – Nellie Bagley, from her daughter

history-memories-170 years ago in Kingsland: My mother (Nellie Bagley as she then was) was based at Kingsland with the Womens Land Army 70 years ago, and worked on several North-Herefordshire farms. A few days ago we celebrated her 90th birthday. Over the coming months I will be driving her around many of the places she remembers very clearly, including The Angel at Kingsland. Here is a photo of her taken this week. Although not as physically nimble as she was, she still gets around the shops and has an excellent memory. She recalls the names of all the farming families she worked for. After the war she lived in Leominster for a few years and knows the town and surrounding villages well.

Jan Latusek 9th October 2012

Dear Kingslandlife,

I have recently come across and will be a regular browser from now on.   I was born in 1935 in the cottage which adjoined and was owned by the Methodist Church. It was my parents’ duty to look after the Chapel and of course we were all very much involved in the religious side as well.   My Father had wider responsibilities for the Methodist Church in the area and also ran a Sunday School for many years after the end of the Second World War which was very well attended by the village children.   I attended the village school under the tutelage of the wonderful headmaster of the time, C. T. Jones who achieved in the year 1947, record success in the 11-plus examinations resulting in eight of us going on to higher education at Leominster Grammar School or Lucton School.   I joined the Army in 1953 to do my National Service, after which I moved to the London area where I have lived since apart from years overseas as part of my job.   I have frequently visited Kingsland  ever since.   The village has changed of course, but not as much as might be expected.   So many of the physical characteristics are just the same, but of course, it’s no longer the self contained, farming village that it was when I was a boy.

Gordon E Roberts (11th Sept 2012)