Dad’s grandfather was a Shropshire lad, too. He was born in 1861 in Marsh Wood, Wistanstow and the third of six children. The family were clearly not wealthy as his father was a farm labourer, and for a while, a game-keeper. His mother, Jane (nee Jones) died when he was 15 – so the older boys whilst living at home and in work would have helped their father, to some extent, in earning enough money to help with their three young sisters… the youngest of whom was just two years old.
William went to work for the Post Office and worked with them throughout his working life. He married Alice Lea in 1887 and the family lived in a series of houses in Shrewsbury… the last one being named ‘Clive House’ because of his admiration for ‘Clive of India’ who hailed from Shrewsbury, too.
Of the house dad wrote:
“Clive House (his grandparent’s house) was a detached house built about the turn of the century, 1900. Built to order, it was a very roomy house, evidence of someone in a high position at work. In fact he had been a Superintendent with the Post Office, and some measure of his position could be judged in that he received a pension from them of £5.00.00d a week, double the average wage then. There were four rooms downstairs, the front parlour which, in common with practice from long before I was born, was only used for special occasions; the “middle” room, which was a huge dining room and I have known fourteen of us to sit in comfort around the massive dining table. Next was the living room which might be called a breakfast room today, but it was too large for that. When we visited seven or eight would always sit around that table for meals. It had a beautiful range with a central fire and ovens on both sides. The top could be used for cooking if you wished, but was never without a large cast iron kettle with water ready to make a pot of tea. Projecting over that was a rack of polished rods on which clothes could be warmed or aired ready for use. The complete range was set into the chimney breast with only a matching fender in front to prevent damage should any ember fall from the fire. Grandma used much elbow grease and black lead to keep the black areas in pristine condition and polished the steel rails and edges until they shone. She did most of her baking and roasting in this stove, rather than the gas stove she had in the scullery (kitchen) which was the next room. The scullery itself was larger than my lounge and had the copper in the corner, though the mangle (wringer) was in a lean-to outside. Her pantry opened off the scullery, and that was in keeping with the rest of the house for size.
Grandma’s favourite chair was an old rocking chair to the side of her range. After dinner there was a quiet hour for her when she went to sleep in that chair. She had a fear of thunderstorms and would go round the house draping dark cloths over all mirrors before settling in her chair, pulling her apron up over her head and rocking back and forth until the storm had passed. The living room curtains would be drawn so she should not see the flashes from the lightning. That fear is probably why she would not have electricity in the house, sticking to the old gas lighting.”
He died in 1944 in Shrewsbury and Alice followed him the following year.