OSW-NM-O-5-72-5 – 25 Victoria Road c1930

“The house in Victoria Road where I lived with my paternal grandparents in 1940/41 had a third floor attic and this was my bedroom, with an opening  roof light which, if I stood on the bottom rail of the bed, gave me a glimpse of the football field, shown on the above numbered picture.

The house seems to have hardly changed since those days, although I’m sure that electricity has now been installed! My grandfather used to light the gas lamps at dusk each evening, although, as the youngest child in the house, my attic room didn’t even have that luxury! My only illumination came from a candle! Health and Safety rules hadn’t been heard of then! We listened to the radio in the evenings courtesy of a huge battery which needed to be re-charged periodically,  involving a certain amount of care about the movement of the acid on its journey to somewhere ‘in town’ where this mysterious “charging” miracle was performed!

My attic room contained cupboards under the roof which were full of my grandmother’s jams, “preserves” or bottled fruits and pickles and gave a very welcoming aroma to the room!

My cousin, who was also “evacuated” with me, had the luxury of a first floor bedroom and I remember one day around 1940 being mesmerised by the view from her window of a huge chain of men walking down Victoria Road. My grandmother rushed us away from their view explaining that they were prisoners of war, which clearly worried her! I now realise that they were Polish prisoners being marched to Shrewsbury Road!

In 1941, I spent one term at the school on Welsh Walls (which is, I think now a restaurant) My memory is of one huge room with sliding doors to separate the two classes and my cousin and I walked through the Cattle Market in order to go through the Broad Walk. I used to find the drama of unloading and herding all those animals on Market Days, very scary! Watkins (Watkyns?) shop was on the other side of Victoria Road but we used to pass the Garage on “our” side, which belonged to Gittins in the 1930s. The photograph was probably taken around 1930 as the gate, which proudly carried the house name of Capel-le-Ferne, was made by my father who, by 1928 had already moved to Birkenhead where work was more plentiful. Capel-le-Ferne was the village in Kent where my father was born and he, his sister and parents moved to Oswestry, again, probably for work around 1908. Through research, I’ve discovered that my grandfather, Harry Smith (christened Henry) first worked as a painter and decorator employed by a Mr Phillipson from Whittington but later as a coach painter at Oswestry (possibly Gobowen) railway works.

See her picture in “Oswestry Racecourse”

Norma Roberts Family information

The parents of my father (Maurice Smith) were Harry Smith (born in Folkestone, Kent 1877-1958) and Rosetta Smith (born in Folkestone 1877-1967). He was a painter/decorator but was a coach painter employed by the railways at either/or Gobowen/Oswestry. They arrived in Oswestry around 1908 and were living at 50 Ash Road, Oswestry in the 1911 Census with two children who were born in Kent, including my father, and a daughter, Vera born in Oswestry in 1910. My grandfather served in the 1914/18 war as a truck driver, I think and, although he was always known as Harry, his birth certificate shows him to have been registered as Henry!

The parents of my mother, Amy Smith (nee Dudleston) were Samuel Frederick Dudleston, born 04/09/1871 at 9 Gate Street Oswestry and Elizabeth Foulkes, born 12/01/1873 also at Gate Street. However, the closeness of their addresses must have led to some early blossoming of their romance as they hastily left Oswestry in 1890 to marry in Birkenhead shortly before the birth of their first son in 1891! The father of Samuel Dudleston (1871) was George who was the corporation Scavenger and, tragically,  killed when his horse and cart ran over him. The brother of Samuel Dudleston (1871) was George who worked as County Court Bailiff until he became blind around 1930. He was also Grand Master in the Oswestry Oddfellows.

The family of Elizabeth Foulkes, my mother’s mother, arrived in Oswestry from Llanfyllin some time between 1841 (Census) and 1871 when her father Robert Foulkes was living at 22 Gate Street and 1881 when he’d moved to 18 Gate Street.  Robert (my gt Grandfather) was a driver with Cambrian Railways in Llanfyllin/Oswestry. I did attempt to visit the Railway museum a few years ago when on my last trip to Oswestry but unfortunately it was closed. He had two brothers, also rail drivers who emigrated to Canada.