GEMMA and TOM WRIGHT
Ravensitch Farmhouse is semi-detached and when my Grandparents came to live here almost a hundred years ago they were given the choice of which house to have. They decided on the one nearest the cowsheds. The Trevis Family lived next door with their children: Arthur, Adam, Felix, Alfred, Alice, Priscilla and Maud. One day, Priscilla and her fiancée doing a spot of courting in the parlour were suddenly rudely interrupted by a cow pushing her head through the window! The Trevises complained and a fence was erected to prevent any more embarrassments. After their parents had died and the girls had married, Arthur, Alf and Felix stayed on. Adam was married to Kate who used to come and do a spot of housekeeping and later Maud, who lived in a cottage at the top of our drive in Amblecote Road, did the washing. It was Alfred who stayed at home to look after his brothers.
I remember Polly Skelding, a real character with a wicked sense of humour. She lived in Ravensitch Cottage on Woods Lane not far below where the shops are now. Originally it had been her parent's home. The huge japonica tree by the back door which had massive flowers twice a year had been grafted on apple stock by her mother, I was told. Most of her garden was down to soft fruit, particularly raspberries, which she sold.
Until the POW camp was built in 1943 her water was drawn from a well. She was talking to me one day and mentioned that Richie did her washing! I was flabbergasted and lost no time in telling Tom, my husband. He duly informed this ignoramus that Polly was referring to white-washing her kitchen and outbuilding walls!! Richie was a local handyman/decorator.
Polly always had a boisterous dog Rover; the only admonition I ever heard her make was "Down Rover"-- of which he took not the slightest notice.
When my brother Vince and I were little boys, we both had black hair, and without fail were coerced into bringing in the new year for Polly Skelding. "Pipe it up, lads" she would order, as we presented the requisite piece of coal, and was not satisfied until we'd been all through the house. We were then rewarded with a mince pie. One year we were sent to Sarah Smiths to do the honours. She was very upset and irate, much to Polly's amusement when we returned home.
Another memorable person was Teddy Hoskins, a bachelor who lived with his mother, along Caledonia before you got to the Staffordshire House Pub. He was a shoemaker and repairer and he worked in a shed at the back of his cottage. He delivered the repaired shoes in a little black cloth bag, on foot and at great speed!
On Sundays in the summer he often cycled into the country, chiefly round Martley near Gt. Witley. And I remember he always gas-tarred the side of his house against the S.W. prevailing wind.
The Prisoner of War Camp was built on our ‘swing field’ (so called because there was a swing fixed to the oak tree) in 1943. When it was being built Mrs. Lizzie Wright - my mother-in-law, was talking to the sergeant in charge and said she didn't want rubbish to be thrown over onto the rest of the field. "Oh, no!" he replied, "You'll find they're a tidy lot". "There's no such thing as a tidy lot--there's always some!" she retorted.
In the middle of what is now Astons Close, lived Sam Fletcher in Kimberley Cottage. His haulage business was started from there. Mrs Fletcher used to have her milk delivered by one of the Wright lads twice daily. She'd put her thumb in the basin and if it wasn't still warm refused it as 'not fresh'.
At No. 7 Astons Fold, later moving to No. 8, lived Mr. Homer. His son Arthur still lives there. He made frost cogs for horses shoes. And at No. 9 there was Mr. Aston, a cripple, father of Lydia who was Kath Wright's mother (no relation to us). Dick Aston also had a house in Astons Fold. Another Aston, Bob, lived in a cottage just a stones throwaway. Some of these cottages are still in existence, tucked away opposite Caledonia (Road).
Then at Ravensitch House, in between our farm and Astons Fold, the Dunn Family lived, as I recall.
Just over the Quarry bank border off Stamford Road was Stamford House ¬originally inhabited by the bailiff for Enville Estate (one being a Mr. Skidmore).
Looking towards Amblecote Road C 1960.
© M.P.L.H.G. 2012