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Showing posts from 2012


Maybe it was Santa Claus? As the twelve festive days of Christmas now fade away into memory and we start once again to work on our extended waistlines whilst wondering where we will spend our next holiday in the sun, let us spare a moments thought for the cash-strapped residents of a Melton Mowbray of more than a century ago who worked as hard as they were able at this changing time of year to provide some form of extra income to invest in a little happiness for their families, maybe on the train to the East Coast? In December of the year 1900, many people would hove been employed locally at the business of hand-raising the traditional and local delicacy of the ubiquitous Melton Mowbray pork-pie. It would certainly have been a case of 'all hands to the pump' as efforts were traditionally increased during that month to assist in the process of manufacturing these popular food favourites, a great number of which would have been required not just locally, but to export t


A MATTER OF CONSCIENCE “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” (George Orwell, ' Animal Farm') As a concerned and conscientious senior citizen, and local bird-lover to boot, I like to think that I perhaps do apportion my proper share towards supporting the avian population of my town during these increasingly cold winter days, but recently I have been grappling with a resolution of conscience as to whether I really do believe that all of our feathered friends are equally as lovely - and as welcome - in my garden as each other. As a caring human being I was brought up to love my fellow man and not to differentiate, favour or show other bias but recent occurrences at home have led me to think otherwise. My problem is the almost permanent presence of two very obese pigeons - Pete and Pat(ricia), I sometimes call them - which are fairly recent incomers to the otherwise tranquil surroundings of my bird table upon which I spy quite


 THE BALDOCK FAMILY OF CRAVEN LODGE As you might well be aware by now, the rejuvenated Craven Lodge which sits opposite my window in all its glory and now re-branded ' Craven Court ', is currently one of my very favourite subjects and while this warmth remains I have been digging out some related stories of the past which you might wish to share. The rich history of this residence and its owners has been well documented of late and since local doctor, Mr Keal, first had the foundations laid as long ago as 1827 there have been nine further owners of the property. Each of these incumbents seem to have been of interesting character and perhaps are all worthy of having their personal stories told, but I recently came across a newspaper article that started me off on yet another merry chase to discover all I could about the lives and times of one of those families in particular. In 1884 Mr William Younger of the famous brewing family of Scotland sold his interest in the Lo

A MOMENT IN TIME - Temperance

Brewster Sessions of Melton Mowbray, 1900. Rural life was fairly uncomplicated in the final years of Queen Victoria's long reign and without any doubt or argument there was only one true form of popular entertainment for her subjects. Without the cinema or television to entertain them during their precious hours away from work, attending at bare-knuckle boxing or perhaps a few hours of cock-fighting, followed by some bull baiting, the great majority, especially the males but certainly not only them, took their just about affordable pleasures from the liberal consumption of alcohol in all of its guises and from wherever they could locate it.  Suffice to say that the local pub was the place to be to consume this 'nectar' when work was over for the day, away from the prying eyes of the wife and kids and the constant demand for money to buy the children food, they shared their spare hours with their pals.  We should all understand and appreciate today, soberly, what the Women


Simon Johnson and Peter Burrows at Craven Court,  PHOTO: Tim Williams (Melton Times) ONWARDS AND UPWARDS A year has already passed since I last waxed lyrically about the ongoing rescue and timely regeneration of Craven Lodge, the beautiful old house on Burton Road which was pretty well consigned to the fate of the demolition gang only two or three years ago. Thank goodness for the foresight of developer Peter Burrows of Rochford Homes who was to arrive from out of town equipped with the required will and business acumen to confront and eventually rebuff all complaints of and obstructions by, a combination of ' angry local residents ' who were ably supported by a stuffy and 'apprehensive' Council committee, to heroically rescue this historic jewel of the town for future generations to admire. As I have previously stated, I live as close to this building as anyone else in the town and have always supported the project with a passion. Now, as the months have pas


PATRIOTS WE. I wondered recently, if our beloved nonegenarian Queen Elizabeth was aware of the 100 or so almost frozen souls who were ensconced under leaky tents or the sagging canvas sheets which had been painstakingly erected on the empty spaces of the little track which services the rear of our gardens here in our little part of Melton Mowbray? The memorable occasion was the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty's  accession to the throne following the untimely death in 1952 of her beloved father, King George.  Dutiful and royalist citizens that we were that day - and remain so of course - ensured that close to a 100% uptake of those invited to the bash from the houses linked to the track by the residents of Ankle Hill and Burton Road, arrived in good time and gritted teeth humour to assist in setting up the plastic barricades against the relentless heavy rain which showed great promise of remaining for the rest of the day. In a hastily thrown together area nearby which


FOREWORD People of a certain age in the market town of Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire will occasionally speak of a ‘murder’ which occurred in their town during the last war when a local and popular tailor was brutally attacked and robbed of his earnings at his place of work. Although the victim was left to fend for himself in a battered and unconscious state, the occurrence fortunately did not end up as a murder though it could well have done if different circumstances had prevailed. This is re-telling of that incident which happened during those anxious ‘blackout’ days of World War 2 during which this small market town in the East Midlands of England had remained largely untouched by any aggressive war situations or the usual and expected going-ons common to the the larger cities nearby. Melton was in those dark days, home to an increasingly eclectic mixture of armed forces personnel and civilian 'Dad's Armies' who were currently grouped in great numbers across the