Category Archives: people

NEWS: TV barn / flagpole? / dance in Draycott / Covid recedes

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in mid August 2021
In this post we have news of…: Cow barn on TV / flags for village centre? / welcome to new dance-school / the effect of Covid.

For news of what’s on in our area at this time, please click here

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Before, a barn; Now, a home

It’s a good bet that many people in Draycott watched the ‘Great British Home Restoration’ TV programme on More4 on Sunday night. It featured the Barn-On-The-Rocks house (opposite the Draycott Arms), which has been lovingly transformed over the last few years from an old cow barn into a family home.

Charlie Luxton, presenter, with Sarah & George Plant, and Bonnie (Pic: Channel 4)

Goodness though: what a lot of toil and trouble that Sarah & George Plant (and Bonnie the baby) went to, to get it done! At one point, as they dug down, they hit sheer rock before they expected to – that was a tough moment… All in all, a really interesting programme.

Barn On The Rocks
The barn, as it was originally

One important aspect, as far as the village as a whole is concerned, is that the 200 year-old barn still retains its character from the outside. The exterior conversion has been faithful to the spirit of the past, and that (for us, anyway) is quite important – thanks for that to the Plants.
For more reaction, check out the village Facebook page.
You can still see the programme (on Channel More4 catch-up); or do have a look at the photos, on the Plants’ Instagram account @thebarnconversion; or read the report in the Sentinel.
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To flag, or not to flag

Draycott Council seems unsure what to do with the ‘Village Centrepoint’ (the patch of ground surrounded by posts on the central junction). Though residents have come up with more than a few ideas, the project seems to lack a co-ordinated approach.
The latest suggestion from the council is to place an eight-metre high flagpole on it. The idea has been costed and will come to around £600.

Flagpole at Draycott Church

We’re not sure about this.
There is already a flagpole one hundred yards away, at the church (see pic above), so why another put up another, very expensive, one so close?
Public flag placements are very symbolic, and are subject to a number of strict procedures – so is there an individual to be found who can do the raising, lowering and changing of the flags in the necessary frequent, proper and respectful ways?
The centrepoint has already been subject to vandalism (when some of the posts were broken, two months ago) – so how will the flagpole be protected?
And finally, does the village want a flagpole there at all? The councillors have done no consultation on the matter at all, and we feel they should.

Incidentally, don’t forget that Draycott Council is currently looking for volunteers to come forward to sit on the council. You have until September 6th to put in a letter saying you’re prepared to serve.
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Welcome to the dance

Yes, welcome to the Garland & Pearce School of Dance & Performing Arts, which has now decided to take up residence at the Draycott Sports Centre after being based in Uttoxeter for some time. So, it sounds like we have our very own ‘Fame’ school!
Following their re-location in June, they are now underway with their classes, including a summer school (see our What’s On page for details).
Well done too to the Draycott Sports Centre, which is proving a very inclusive organisation, and is to be congratulated.

(By contrast to the sports centre, the so-called ‘communuity hub pavilion’ at the cricket club in Cresswell has barely made an impression on the life of the village. Surely the club needs to start fulfilling its promises…?)
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Covid – receding?

Without wishing to tempt fate – who knows what is still to happen? – it looks like we are over the worst of Covid. But all of us will know someone who caught it, and suffered. Some of us will even know friends who died.

Across the UK, the stats show that more than 130,000 people have died of the disease during the pandemic so far.
Now, local stats have also been collated, and the figures for North Staffordshire show that, during the two worst periods, there were 25% more ‘excess deaths’ in the population in our region. This means that, for every 40 deaths, eight of them were ‘excess’ to the normal pattern, and nearly all of these were of Covid-infected people.
It’s a very sad statistic – and North Staffs was not even the worst-hit…

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NEWS: Covid news / H Hartley RIP / no July fayre / Blythe Colours history

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in late-March 2021
In this post we have news of…: Covid good news / Harold Hartley – rags to riches / fayre postponement / new history of Blythe Colours.

For news of what’s on in our area at this time, please click here

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Light appears at the end of the Covid tunnel

Could this week have marked the end of the Covid pandemic – at least, so far as Draycott is concerned?
The latest figures from the government reveal that – for the first time – there were fewer than three new cases in one week in our district. This means that, in official language, Covid has finally been ‘suppressed’ in our locality.

Official government map for March 28th. The Draycott-Caverswall-Forsbrook district is marked in white, meaning Covid is ‘suppressed’ here

This is amazingly good news and cause for a bit of celebration (if it were allowed!).
Of course, everyone knows that Covid is not going to go away quietly, and that new ‘variant’ strains are coming along, which current vaccines may not be able to handle. So, yes, we have to be watchful for some time to come.
But – it’s still good news!

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From rags to riches

The recent death of Harold Hartley (see pic right), who lived in and around Draycott nearly all his adult life, reminds us again of that generation of working-class entrepreneurs who hauled themselves up from poverty to success.

Born in 1933, Harold remembered picking coal as a child in Stoke. After leaving school he started up scrapping vehicles (on the side of the road!), which eventually turned into a small-time business when he took a yard at Boundary (which is just beyond Draycott Cross). In those days, he and his young family didn’t even have a water supply.
As we all know, he then went on to build a large scrap and skip business in premises at New Haden (also just beyond Draycott Cross).

But surely one of his proudest days must have been when he moved into The Old Rectory, the large house down the green lane from St Margaret’s Church.

Draycott’s Old Rectory sometime between the wars

This eighteenth-century listed building (which has the remains of an ancient moat) had been home to the church’s vicars until the 1960s, when the church could no longer afford to keep it up. What a day that must have been for him – him, a working class lad, moving into the village’s ‘manor-house’!

Especially in later years, Harold did not take much of a role in the life of the village, but everyone knew his name; and his funeral at St Margaret’s on March 26th was, though it was a private family affair, very well attended indeed.
For more about Harold’s story, click here.
To leave your condolences, click here.

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September fayre?

Despite the good news about Covid in this district, no one is taking anything for granted, and the organisers of the annual Draycott Summer Fayre have decided there is no safe prospect of holding the event on its usual date in mid-July.
However, the main organiser, John Clarke, said: “We are hoping that it will be possible to organise an event in lieu of the summer fayre in the autumn -provisionally the weekend of 18th/19th September.”
Here’s hoping.

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The history of Blythe Colours, told in five minutes

Another event that has had to be cancelled is the Blythe Colour Works 100th Anniversary Celebration. This decision was massively disappointing for the organisers.

Blythe Colours Exhibition poster

However, they were determined not to let the historical research go to waste; and a little video has been put together telling the the story of the famous Cresswell factory. The video is a five-minute talk by one of the experts on all aspects of the colour works, Ivan Wozniak, and is punctuated by some fascinating old photographs. It’s definitely worth five minutes of your time!
To see the video, click on this link

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NEWS: dog of year / Covid rules latest / Rev Sam! / green group

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in mid October 2020
In this post we have news of…: Arms’ top dog / Covid rules – better for some, not all / saving the planet, locally / church man gets upgrade….

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Top dog

Indeea, of The Draycott ArmsFirst things first… anyone who goes into the Draycott Arms will know that the most beautiful sight in there (…sorry Brayn!) is a dog called Indeea (pronounced: india). Indeea is not only beautiful but always calm, dignified and proud; a real asset to the pub.

But owners Zara & Brayn (and us) are not the only people to have recognised this.
Now, the Staffordshire online magazine The Mark has also honoured Indeea (in its current issue) with the title ‘Pub Dog Of The Year
Totally deserved!

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Covid affects events

It’s getting hard to predict what’s on and what’s off right now.
The latest bad news is that the annual Festival & Procession of Lights in next-door Tean has now been definitively cancelled, which is a blow.
Meanwhile, the Cresswell dance-hall, Quick Quick Slow, is still badly affected. The government is still not permitting tea-dances (even when same-household couples are socially-distanced from other couples…) so the venue has now announced that there is no chance of social-dancing returning until the New Year at least, though classes are still happening there.
One feels very sorry, not just for the venue but the people who relied on QQS as a way to get out of the house and have an afternoon of pleasant exercise.

One thing is for sure, and that is that the Draycott Brownies project is not returning. After a successful couple of years, it was faltering due to lack of numbers, but, what with Covid etc, the Threapwood Division Of Girl Guiding, which oversaw the Draycott Brownies troop, has definitely decided it is unsustainable.
Funnily enough, Draycott Brownies were once one of the most popular troops in the area – this with older memories may enjoy clicking here for pictures from its past.

However, there is good news too. Our local library, at Blythe Bridge, is now fully open again, albeit on limited hours; Draycott Sports Centre is holding tournaments again and re-opening classes; and St Margaret’s Church is once more welcoming people back for its Sunday morning service (though you must book in advance via admin@stmargarets.org.uk) as is St Mary’s in Cresswell (though, with only 20 worshippers allowed in the church, it’s a case of ‘first come, first served’).

Blythe Bridge Library

Blythe Bridge Library is back

The rules are changing all the time. What will it all look like by Christmas?

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Keep it green

In the midst of a pandemic and an economic crisis, it’s easy to forget that the planet is still under threat, so it’s good to welcome a new, locally-based environmental campaign, called Green Tean (& Draycott).
The driving force behind it is Alana Wheat, well known in the area for her girl-guiding and youth-club involvement.

At the moment it is basically a supporters’ forum working online (on Facebook), but it says that that its hope is to produce more ‘sustainable practices’ in the neighbourhood – especially regarding recycling, sustainable gardening, wildlife and more.
Its Facebook page is open to anyone to join..

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Revving up

Rev Sam CrossleyMore good news from St Margaret’s is that the curate for this benefice, Sam Crossley (pic right), has finally got his upgrade (‘ordination’, if you want the proper term!). He was created a fully-fledged ‘Reverend’ a couple of weeks ago.

Sam is of course a Newcastle United supporter and, curiously, his team has been doing very well in the last couple of years – in fact, ever since he arrived here. Could the two facts be mysteriously connected?!!!

A piece of news that Sam might well be intrigued to hear is that the village council has discovered that the lane leading up to St Margaret’s Church is not called ‘Church Lane’ at all, which is what we had all thought. In fact it has no official name; and the council will be discussing the naming issue soon.
(But let’s not ask Sam for his ideas; we suspect he may come up with ‘Alan Shearer Lane’ or something like that…!)

Does any reader have ideas for a new name for the lane? Add your thoughts in the comments-field further down this page.

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Thanks to The Draycott Arms and St Peter’s Benefice for use of photos on this page

Want to comment on any of the items on this page?  Just use the comments box – scroll down to near the bottom of this page.
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WW2 Memorial – Bernard Stubbs

Back in the 1960s, the congregation at Draycott St Margaret’s put up a war memorial plaque in the church. It named the forces personnel of the parish who had died in both world wars.
See – the story of Draycott’s war memorial.

Draycott war memorial

Draycott war memorial plaque inside St Margaret’s

This is the story of Bernard Stubbs.
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All stories of deaths in war are tragic, but the story of Bernard Joseph Stubbs is especially so.
Just 25 when he died, he had survived two years in the appalling conditions of the Japanese ‘Burma Railway’ POW camps when he was killed in 1944 in a bombing raid – carried out by planes from his own side…

Cresswell-born

Back in 1919 when he was born, Cresswell had a railway station, where Bernard’s father William probably worked, as he listed his profession as ‘railway porter’. Perhaps he worked also at Totmonslow station (oddly, the station there was called ‘Tean Station’ at the time).  Both stations have since been demolished.

William and his wife Annie had married in 1897, having seven children in all, with Bernard being their youngest.
The family lived for many years at ‘School House, Cresswell’ a house within the grounds of St Mary’s Catholic Church on Cresswell Old Road. Over a century ago, the church ran a small primary school (which closed around 1918), and the School House was so-called because it was where the teacher lived. (The house next door – St Josephs House – was the old school itself).
William & Annie Stubbs were Catholics, which is presumably why they got to live in the house.

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(Courtesy the Thorley Collection for all the black-and-white photos above).

War

In 1939, Britain declared war on Nazi Germany, and, two years later, on Japan too. The Second World War would last for six years.
It must have been heart-breaking for William & Annie to see their youngest go off to enlist. Bernard joined the Royal Artillery, where he became a lance bombardier.

We know little of his war career until 1942. In this terrible year for Britain, one of the greatest blows was the fall of Singapore, a British colony at the time. With its fall, control of the Far East – from the Pacific to the Indian border – was now in the hands of the Japanese.
Bernard was one of the British troops in Singapore at the fall, and so he became a prisoner-of-war of the Japanese.

Film

The Japanese POW camps were notoriously brutal, partly because they worked the prisoners so hard. One construction project these prisoners were forced to undertake was the building of the infamous ‘Burma railway’. This huge project saw the deaths in terrible conditions of thousands of Allied prisoners – mostly British, American, Australian and Dutch. The story is the basis for the famous war film ‘Bridge Over the River Kwai’.

By the time of Bernard’s death in 1944, the project had been completed, but many prisoners, including Bernard, had to stay in these camps in order to carry out maintenance on the railway.
What a strange irony – a father who worked on a railway, and his son also working on a railway – but in such different circumstances…
And it was here on the Burma Railway that Bernard died. In an Allied air-attack on the railway in September 1944, Bernard was killed. In other words, he survived the camps – but only to die in an attack by his own comrades…

Kanchanaburi

Bernard’s remains are now in Kanchanaburi War Cemetery in Thailand, the main POW burial ground for those victims of Japanese imprisonment who were forced into labour on the Burma Railway.

Bernard Stubbs grave, Kanchanaburi

Bernard Stubbs’ grave, Kanchanaburi

It is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. In there are buried almost 7,000 POWs.
Near to it is the ‘Burma Railway Centre’ a small museum about the railway and the prisoners who built it.

Every year hundreds of thousands of British people holiday in Thailand, and many take time out to visit this site in their time there and pay their respects.

With thanks to Bill Pearson for researching the records.

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Can you add any more to this account? We’d be grateful for any knowledge anyone may have. Use the Comments-Box below or email us.  Bernard’s service number was 1426651

For the stories of all the other service-people whose names are on the war memorial plaque in St Margaret’s, click here

WW2 Memorial – Joyce Atkin

Back in the 1960s, the congregation at Draycott St Margaret’s put up a war memorial plaque in the church. It named the forces personnel of the parish who had died in both world wars.
See – the story of Draycott’s war memorial.

Draycott war memorial

Draycott war memorial plaque inside St Margaret’s

This is the story of Joyce Atkin.
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Joyce Atkin (not Atkins) was a nurse, and is the only woman on the Draycott memorial.

She was on a troopship, part of an Allied convoy sailing from East Africa to southern India in February 1944, when her ship, the SS Khedive Ismail, was attacked and sunk by an enemy submarine. The ship went down almost immediately, with a terrible death toll – only some 200 people survived, less than one-eighth of those on board. It was Britain’s third worst mercantile disaster in the Second World War.
She was just 28 years old.

Brookwood Military Cemetery

Joyce’s official stone is at Brookwood in Surrey

The role of women who die on active service in war is often overlooked by those who construct war memorials, so it is to the credit of the Draycott memorial committee that they ensured Joyce’s name would be there too.

Bromley Wood

Joyce was born to a farming family in the spot known as Bromley Wood, which is halfway between Cresswell and Hilderstone. Her parents Sidney and Annie had married in Uttoxeter in 1913, and she was born two years later.
(Sidney and family later moved a few miles to nearby Morrilow Moor Farm; he died in 1957).

Leigh Church War memorial

We think Joyce worshipped at Leigh village church as a girl

Joyce seems to have had an adventurous spirit, as, in 1936 at the age of 21, having left Bromley Wood Farm and her parents and three brothers, she enrolled at the Colindale School of Nursing in north London.
Qualifying in 1941, at some point she joined the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service and later took on war duty, in the course of which she met her tragic death.

Shock

The incident in which Joyce died brought home to the British public just how involved women had become in the frontline effort in the last years of World War Two.
More than eighty service-women, including medical staff, died in the attack on the ship – and this turned out to be the highest ever death-number of British female military personnel in one single attack.

An extra tragedy in this event was that, although the ship that Joyce was on had already been sunk, the other ships in the convoy were still of course just as much at threat from the enemy submarine; and so two warships in the convoy immediately went after it. The depth charges these warships used against the submarine may well have injured or killed some of the survivors of the SS Khedive Ismail who were still in the water. It was one of those terrible dilemmas of war.
The submarine was eventually forced to surface, when it was destroyed by the warships’ torpedoes.

The news came as a terrible shock to the nation – so much so that the incident became the basis of an incident in The Cruel Sea, a best-selling book by Nicholas Monserrat (which was later adapted into a film of the same name).
Since then the full historical account has been written up in the book Passage to Destiny’  by Brian Crabb.

Remembrance

Though Joyce’s body was never found, she does have an official war-marker. You will find her memorial stone at the Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey.

Interestingly, Joyce, as well as being remembered at Brookwood and at Draycott, is also remembered on the war memorial in Leigh village (near Tean). The parish of Leigh is adjacent to the parish of Draycott.

Joyce Atkin's name on Leigh War memorial

Joyce Atkin’s name is also on Leigh War memorial

It is not unusual for someone to be on more than one war memorial: most village war memorials were erected, not by the local authority, but by local people, who would nominate any war-dead who had been born or lived in and around the district. Joyce had lived on the ‘border’ between Leigh and Draycott.

With thanks to Bill Pearson and David B Atkin for researching the records.

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Can you add any more to this account? We’d be grateful for any knowledge anyone may have. Use the Comments-Box below or email us.  Joyce’s service number was 270574

For the stories of all the other service-people whose names are on the war memorial plaque in St Margaret’s, click here

WW2 Memorial – Paul Dobson

Back in the 1960s, the congregation at Draycott St Margaret’s put up a war memorial plaque in the church. It named the forces personnel of the parish who had died in both world wars.
See – the story of Draycott’s war memorial.

Draycott war memorial

Draycott war memorial plaque inside St Margaret’s

This is the story of Paul Dobson.
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The story of how Paul Thomas Dobson comes to be on the Draycott War Memorial is also the story of his cousin, Barbara Dobson (married name Black).

On Armistice Sunday, Barbara, who was a standard bearer for the Royal British Legion in the 1970s, did not go straight to the main RBL Remembrance procession – which, in our district, is held in Blythe Bridge.
No, she went up to Draycott Church, in uniform (she had been in the ATS in the war), and paid her respects there first… to her cousin “our Paul”. And she did this faithfully each year as long as she was able; she died in 1997.
And… it is possibly because of Barbara that Paul Dobson is on the Draycott memorial at all…

Parachute Regiment

We still know very little of Paul Dobson’s life and death, though his father and brother are recorded as living in Cheadle in 1939, which was the year that war broke out; Paul was just 14.

He probably joined up soon after turning eighteen, in 1943, and the next we come across him is in the March of 1945, the last year of the war, as the huge armies of the Allies move across Europe, slowly pushing back the enemy forces, fighting every inch of the way, making the final assault on Nazi Germany.

Paul is a young sapper in the Royal Engineers, attached to the Airborne (Parachute) Regiment. He is now just 19 years old – and has been thrown into this absolute maelstrom of conflict.

His was a short war. It seems he was killed parachuting into Germany as part of a forward operation during Operation Plunder.  Operation Plunder was the (successful) attempt to cross the River Rhine under the overall command of General Montgomery.

Reichswald Cemetery

Reichswald Cemetery, where Paul is buried

Paul is now buried not far from where he died, in Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, the largest war-graves cemetery in western Germany.

Draycott Memorial

One little mystery is: why is Paul on the Draycott Memorial? He never lived in the parish, and his name was already on the Cheadle Memorial; and he was most likely born in Cheadle.
However, when the memorial at Draycott was erected in the 1960s, his cousin Barbara Black happened to be living here, at Draycott in the Moors (in Cresswell), with her husband Robert Black.

So … could it be that Barbara heard of the project to erect a plaque in Draycott, and pleaded for Paul’s name to be listed on there? She seems to have been very proud of her cousin. Also her father (and Paul’s uncle) Harold Dobson, who had died in 1960, was already buried at St Margaret’s.

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This story is quite possible. You didn’t always have to have been living in the parish or even born in the parish to have your name on its memorial; you only had to have a family ‘association with the parish’.
Anyway, we like to think it is because of Barbara that Paul is on the plaque.  And to think of Barbara going on her own to the plaque to remember him each year – because she was responsible for him being on the plaque – is a touching image.

With thanks to Bill Pearson for researching the records
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Can you add any more to this account? We’d be grateful for any knowledge anyone may have. Use the Comments-Box below or email us.  Paul’s service number was Sapper 14429264

For the stories of all the other service-people on the war memorial plaque in St Margaret’s, click here

WW2 Memorial – Lawrence Cyples

Back in the 1960s, the congregation at Draycott St Margaret’s put up a war memorial plaque in the church. It named the forces personnel of the parish who had died in both world wars.
See – the story of Draycott’s war memorial.

Draycott war memorial

Draycott war memorial plaque inside St Margaret’s

This is the story of Lawrence Cyples
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Lawrence Cyples (sometimes spelt Laurence) went to war in 1940, leaving the family home in Draycott. But, within just a few months, he was destined to die, five hundred miles away.

Cyples grave in St Georges , Oleron Cemetery - courtesy B Crabb

Lawrence Cyples grave – courtesy B Crabb

His body is interred in a tiny cemetery near the village of St Georges on the island of Oleron, just off the west coast of France in the Bay of Biscay. Here, kindly villagers rescued and buried his body when it was washed up on their shore. Lawrence is one of twelve British servicemen buried there.

He died after one of the most devastating attacks on British shipping in the whole war – the disaster of the SS Lancastria.

BEF

Lawrence (sometimes identified as Laurence) was born into a potter’s family in 1906, in Forsbrook, the next village along from Draycott. By the time of the 1911 census, his family had moved to Stallington, the other side of Blythe Bridge.
In 1930, Lawrence married Violet Evans and they had a son in the next year. They then settled at The Rocks, a house opposite the Draycott Arms.

However, in 1940, at the relatively late age of 35, Laurence was called on to take part in the British Expeditionary Force campaign’s to stop the German advance into France; this was the first major encounter between the British and the Germans in World War Two. Lawrence was a sergeant in the RASC.

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Retreat

The BEF were simply unprepared for the speed & ferocity of the German onslaught, and, in May of that same year, the troops had to retreat quickly, with many of its soldiers heading, famously, to Dunkirk, where a fleet of small ships had to hurriedly ferry them back to England.

The remaining British soldiers in France, including Lawrence, were still in trouble, cut off by the speeding German advance, and had to head for the other, west side of France, and to the port of St Nazaire, where they hoped for transport home.

Lancastria

So it was that, a month after Dunkirk, the SS Lancastria, a converted cruise ship pressed into Navy service, arrived off St Nazaire to pick them up … eventually squeezing Lawrence and at least five thousand other personnel aboard a ship meant only to carry two thousand.
However, by now the German air force was already in the skies above western France – and the Lancastria was simply not able to get underway fast enough. The ship was bombed – a direct strike down its funnel – and sunk in minutes, taking virtually all on board down with it.
It was to be the largest single loss of life to British forces in the whole of World War Two. A full account of the incident is written up in Brian Crabb’s book The Forgotten Tragedy.

The news of the Lancastria’s terrible death toll, coming so soon after the complete retreat from the European mainland, was felt by Prime Minister Winston Churchill to be more than the British public could cope with: so he had the news suppressed.
(The account was only eventually released five weeks later).

The lost lives are still commemorated by the few who remember; in fact, an 80th anniversary service was due to have taken place this year, only to be called off because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Violet

It’s not known whether Lawrence’s wife Violet was ever able to visit her husband’s grave on the island in the Bay of Biscay after the war. Probably not; people didn’t have the money to travel abroad in those days.
Eventually, more than a decade after her husband’s death, she married again, to Leonard Ridge, a neighbour. The wedding was held at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Cresswell.
Violet lived to a great age, and is now buried in the graveyard at the same church.

With thanks to Bill Pearson for researching the records
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Can you add any more to this account? We’d be grateful for any knowledge anyone may have. Use the Comments-Box below or email us.  Lawrence’s service number was 5041642

NEWS: turning worries / badger cull / housing plans / RIP Carole & Mary

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early July 2020
In this post we have news of…: concerns about the Blythe road turning / end to cull / more housing on the horizon / St Mary’s loss

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Junction issue

Now that traffic flow is picking up again with the easing of coronavirus lockdown, we return to the issue of the new road-layout on the turning into Blythe Bridge. Already there have been collisions there, and one councillor has expressed serious concerns.

Road map: A521 turning

Road map shows the sharp hairpin bend turning

For traffic coming into Draycott from the A50 roundabout, the turning into Blythe Bridge is quite a nasty left-hand hairpin bend – so, up until the end of last year, there used to be a slip road, to make the turning easier.
But the slip-road has now gone; a new pavement has been built on top of it. (This new pavement connects the new Blythe Fields estate to the junction).

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But, the new arrangement causes two problems.
First, large wagons have to move into the dual carriageway’s outside (right-hand) lane, then slow down considerably, and then take a large turning circle across the inside lane just to get into the turning.
Secondly, because the turning is so badly signposted on the dual carriageway, motorists unused to the area see the turning late, and have brake a lot as they approach the turning, just to make this sharp manoeuvre.

Councillor Barry Yates, of next-door Forsbrook Council, is so concerned about this that he’s asked for a formal site visit & report from the local county councillor.
We’ll keep you posted.

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Recovery means … more homes

Many of us will have heard in the news that one of the ways that the government wants to solve the homes crisis and also to get the economy on track is to spend ‘billions’ on enabling construction projects.
That sounds great at first, but Draycott people may want to just think a second about the implications.

(The government has also promised the “most radical reforms of the planning system for 60 years”. We all know what that means – huge developers will get even more of their own way – for example, SMDCouncil has been humiliated more than once already over the Blythe Fields development).

The implication of the announcement is that St Modwen Ltd will be able now to more easily hurry through the next phase of its development in Draycott, building even more homes along the ridge overlooking Uttoxeter Road. As the planning officer said at the time: “Having built the access road (to build the first part of the site), it’s now much easier to work on building the second part.”

Planned Blythe Vale / Northern Gateway sites

Planned Blythe Vale / Northern Gateway sites – Draycott on left

There is outline permission for building all along the ridge, on both sides of the A50, as far as Cresswell (see yellow zone in pic above). Watch this space.

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Badgers update

What with the coronavirus crisis, other news has got lost a bit.
One item was that the national badger cull has now been called off.  The experiment, of trapping and killing badgers (humanely) inside special zones, was to try to see how much badgers spread tuberculosis to cattle. Farmers were largely for it; animal conservationists against it.Badger (pic from Wikipedia)
The reason it matters to Draycott is that, although the details of the ‘killing zones’ were secret, some locations were leaked – and we know that one such zone was not far from here.

The project was called off just as female badgers were producing litters – which will please the conservationists, but not the farmers…

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May they rest in peace

Finally, we have lost two long-standing members of our community.
Mary Crowther, who was 97, and Carole Toft, 80, both died last month. Both worshipped at the small Catholic church of St Mary’s in Cresswell, where they will certainly be missed by the remaining congregation.
RIP.

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WW2 Memorial – Bede Vavasour

Back in the 1960s, the congregation at Draycott St Margaret’s put up a war memorial plaque in the church. It named the forces personnel of the parish who had died in both world wars.
See – the story of Draycott’s war memorial.

Draycott war memorial

Draycott war memorial plaque inside St Margaret’s

This is the story of Bede Vavasour.
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Bede Vavasour wasn’t even twenty years old when he died in 1942, serving in the RAF Volunteer Reserve Squadron 12 (part of Bomber Command). He was the navigator on a training flight, part of preparation toward becoming a full bomber-crew member, when the plane he was on went out of control and crashed. He and three other airmen died in the incident.
He never even lived long enough to see active service.

Bede Vavasour gravestone at CresswellHis body was brought back to Draycott, where the family lived, and he was buried in the small graveyard at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Cresswell, where his official Commonwealth-War-Graves stone (right) is cared for to this day.

The Vavasours

Bede came from Draycott’s leading family. The Vavasours were the most distinguished family in the district in the early twentieth century, owning land and wielding much influence.
In fact, the family could be traced back three centuries, to the Vavasour Baronetcy of Yorkshire; in 1848, Bede’s own grandfather, Oswald Hugh, was born at Hazelwood Castle, the family seat.
By a slightly complicated procedure, the Vavasours had merged, some years before Bede’s birth, with the Stourtons, who had been the main ‘gentry’ hereabouts in the 19th century, and thus the Vavasours had come to own lands in Draycott.
This is why Bede’s full name is Bede Joseph Stourton Vavasour.

The Vavasour family story took a twist when, by chance (?), the famous potter Bernard Moore came to live in Draycott in the 1890s. He and his family lived in great comfort in the twelve rooms at The Grange, the very large house which is still there on Cheadle Road.
Here, Bernard’s daughter Dorothy came across the Vavasours.

In 1915, Dorothy married Oswald Joseph Vavasour, who by then had settled in Canada, and there they had a child – Bede. The family returned to Draycott sometime in the next few years; they were definitely back in 1928.

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They made a home for themselves at Draycott Cottage, not far from The Grange. Dorothy was still living there when she died in 1952 – though, by this time, the Vavasour money and influence had waned.

Mr Hugh Vavasour 1976Bede’s father Oswald lived until 1973, in a house in Cresswell Old Road.
Bede’s brother, Hugh Bernard (right), who also served in the war, in the Royal Artillery, went on to work as sales director for Blythe Colours; he died in 1990.

RAF

We haven’t found out yet when Bede joined the RAF, but it’s likely he finished his education (at Stonyhurst College in Lancashire) before joining up – the RAF reserve did not accept recruits until they were aged 18.

The fatal flight took place on 12th June 1942.
The crew flew a Vickers Wellington out of Chipping Warden in Oxfordshire only for the plane’s wings to ice up. (Though it was summer, temperatures at high altitude can get to below freezing). The plane plummeted down over Chipping Norton – with no survivors.
Bede’s body was brought back to his home village.

The Vavasours were strong Catholics, which is why Bede is buried at St Mary’s RC Church in Cresswell.
Each year, Bede’s sacrifice is remembered at the church on Armistice Sunday, when the parish priest, accompanied by the congregation, carries out a ‘blessing of the grave’.

With thanks to Bill Pearson for researching the records
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Can you add any more to this account? We’d be grateful for any knowledge anyone may have. Use the Comments-Box below or email us.  Bede’s service number was 117114

For the stories of all the other service-people on the war memorial plaque in St Margaret’s, click here

NEWS: scarecrows / speeding / homes for sale / Old Lane restored

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid May 2020
In this post we have news of…: scarecrow happiness / speeding on empty roads / historic homes for sale / Cresswell Old Lane is back!

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Scarecrow togetherness

Congratulations are due all round for the wonderful Draycott-in-the-Moors Scarecrow Festival  that took place across Draycott & Cresswell on the bank holiday weekend this month.
Nearly fifty households took part and there were some stunningly inventive and very humorous creations! Most importantly though, it brought people together.

Three people should be singled out though.
Chief among them is the main festival organiser Kate Bradshaw, who was tireless, despite the fact that she has plenty of other responsibilities.
Also, Helen Bickerton, who heads up the team at our local community-library centre at Blythe, deserves praise for stumping up the prizes, and taking part in a long day of judging.
And also Lee Warburton. Lee is basically the main man behind the village Facebook page, which has been so vital a lifeline during this current crisis, and it was he who collated the photo album of the festival. If you haven’t seen the album, click here and check out the brilliant entries.

Draycott Scarecrow 2020 First prize to Norman and Nella at 95 Uttoxeter Road

Scarecrow 2020 first prize to Norman and Nella on Uttoxeter Road

It’s not a coincidence that it is these same three individuals who have also pulled together the local Coronavirus volunteer support groups which have been working across the district to make sure no one who asks for help goes unaided.
Yes, each team’s individual volunteer plays their part and we shouldn’t forget that, but a big debt of gratitude is owed to these three in particular.
If they don’t each get a Certificate Of Thanks from the village council at the end of this year, then there’s no justice in this world.

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Speed-crow

One scarecrow in the festival was about more than just fun, it was making an important point.
The empty roads of the last two months have, unfortunately, encouraged some complete idiots to treat some our long stretches as racetracks. Two long straight runs, one along Uttoxeter Road from Blythe roundabout and the one to the railway crossing in Cresswell, are both 40mph limits, but sometimes you wouldn’t have believed it.

This clever scarecrow (pic right) on Cresswell’s Sandon Road, with its silver foil speed-gun and frowning face, didn’t fool anybody of course, but let’s hope it made the idiots think, at least for a second.

In the meantime, we are still waiting for the two speed-warning signs which should have been up in Draycott by now. Nearly eighteen months ago, the village council were given £5000 by the Staffordshire Safer Roads Partnership to purchase and erect them – but the project only limps along.

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Historic homes for sale

The recent easing of the restrictions on the property market means that three of our most interesting and historic homes are now properly back up for sale.

First: the old School House in Cresswell, which is so called because the Catholic church in the village maintained a small primary school on the site for many years.
Second:  Totmonslow Farm Cottage (seen from the back, right), which would once have belonged to the farm estate, but now it is separate.

Totmonslow Farm Cottage from the back

Totmonslow Farm Cottage, from the back

And then there is the 200 year-old Izaak Walton pub in Cresswell. It has been ‘dark’ for some time now, so it was no surprise when the brewery-owners sold it last year.
However the individual who bought it managed to get planning permission to re-develop it (with support from the village council) as a family home – which was a surprise, as it is Cresswell’s only ‘community asset’.
However, again, it is now back on the market, and goes to auction on June 1st.

Incidentally, it is hoped that the memorabilia from the Izaak (regulars will remember the old photos that used to line the walls, the old fish-figure weather-vane etc etc) might be saved for the village. The clerk of the village council, Denise Wheat, is on to the job – good luck Denise.

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Cresswell gets it right

Finally, the long-running saga of the road-sign on Cresswell Old Lane is over.
Some eight years ago, a keen-eyed resident noticed that the eastern half of Cresswell Old Lane was wrongly called ‘Cresswell Old Road, not just on Google Maps, but even on one of the official road-signs. And so he reported it to the authorities.
The details of this long-running saga to get the name corrected have been tiring and frustrating (even if a bit humorous at times!), but at last the sign has been corrected.

Cresswell Old Lane sign – right at last!

But… safe to say that the residents of Cresswell Old Lane can sleep sound in their beds at last, knowing that they are now definitely living in the road that they are supposed to be living in…

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