Broad­way, 50 years on

Fifty years ago the first is­sue of Cotswold Life rolled off the press and Nigel Smith came kick­ing and scream­ing into the world… in the very same house his mother had been born in. Tracy Spiers re­ports

Cotswold Life - - COTSWOLD LIFE 50TH ANNIVERSARY -

As prin­ters pro­duced the first copy of Cotswold Life 50 years ago, in Broad­way 23-year-old Mary Smith was cel­e­brat­ing the birth of son Nigel in the very home she was born in.

So, who bet­ter to ask what Broad­way was like in 1967 than Mary, whose fam­ily goes back five gen­er­a­tions in this pic­turesque quintessen­tial Cotswold vil­lage?

I meet her at a for­tu­itous mo­ment and find her sur­rounded by old post­cards, pre­par­ing a talk she and Nigel, rep­re­sent­ing Broad­way His­tory So­ci­ety, are giv­ing that af­ter­noon about the very sub­ject I have come to see her about. Two years ago Mary and her friend Deb­bie Wil­liamson set up the so­ci­ety with the aim of shar­ing Broad­way’s her­itage with new vil­lagers.

Talk­ing to Mary I recog­nise that what was present tense in 1967, is now his­tory and its in­cred­i­ble to re­alise just how much our world in terms of tech­nol­ogy, shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ences, com­mu­nity life has changed within five decades. Broad­way re­flects this, and yet there is an air of time­less­ness about the beau­ti­fully pre­served vil­lage, helped by the fact build­ings lin­ing the main High Street are Grade II listed. The in­fra­struc­ture and out­ward ap­pear­ance looks as it did to a cer­tain ex­tent in 1967. What has al­tered is what lies within – and it these in­ter­est­ing de­tails I look to Mary to pro­vide.

IN­DUS­TRY

“Broad­way was a hive of in­dus­try then. We had the Gor­don Rus­sell Fac­tory based at the back of the High Street, where the Mu­seum and the Tourist In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre is now. That is the only part left of the old fac­tory. The show­room was on the main street, where Rus­sell’s Fish and Chips, Trin­ity House and Rus­sell’s Ho­tel and Restau­rant are.”

“I re­mem­ber Gor­don Rus­sell. He was very hands on and a fine crafts­man of his day. His brother Don was pro­pri­etor of the Ly­gon Arms in 1967.”

In­ter­est­ingly the le­gacy left by Sir Gor­don (1892-1980), who was awarded a knight­hood for his ser­vices to de­sign in 1955, lives on thanks to the mu­seum named af­ter him. Opened in 2008, the mu­seum is in Rus­sell’s orig­i­nal Grade II listed draw­ing of­fice and work­shop.

“He em­ployed a large num­ber of peo­ple at the time. He had been in­spired by the Arts and Crafts move­ment but wanted to make good de­sign ac­ces­si­ble to as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble. From this base, the com­pany had a pro­found in­flu­ence on Bri­tish de­sign, through­out the coun­try and world­wide,” says Ver­ity El­son, man­ager of the Gor­don Rus­sell De­sign Mu­seum.

“Ed­u­cat­ing the next gen­er­a­tion was such an im­por­tant part of Gor­don Rus­sell’s life. He was Direc­tor of the Coun­cil of In­dus­trial De­sign and as a mu­seum we are con­tin­u­ing his le­gacy through our schools pro­gramme and by sup­port­ing young de­sign­ers. We sup­port de­sign prizes for young fur­ni­ture mak­ers and we are about to launch a na­tional de­sign prize.”

SHOP­PING

So, what about the shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence in 1967? Ac­cord­ing to Mary, apart from two main land­marks – namely The Ly­gon Arms and Broad­way Ho­tel – the

rest of the build­ings have changed in terms of what they are used for to­day.

As I look at her post­card col­lec­tion, it is fas­ci­nat­ing to hear about H.h.collins, the butcher’s which had a pie fac­tory and slaugh­ter­house. To­day it is an es­tate agent’s. Mrs Thomp­son’s Knit­ting Shop used to be in the build­ing where Trin­ity House mod­ern art gallery is. St. Pa­trick’s Tea Rooms was also a wellvis­ited venue in the 1960s. Fifty years on, the build­ing is still as pop­u­lar as home to Broad­way Deli and Café.

“Back in 1967 we would have had three or four gro­cery stores. There was J.B Ball’s Store, which is now the Ed­in­burgh Woollen Mill; there was Dickie Franklin’s gro­cery; the Mid­land Stores was run by a dear old chap called Mr Beale and there was the Co-op gro­cery at the top of the High Street next to Prior’s Manse, the old­est house in Broad­way,” re­calls Mary, whose grand­fa­ther had a build­ing firm in the 1960s based in the High Street, called Charles Ste­ward and Son Ltd.

“The Co-op butch­ery was on the site where the li­brary is now. Although it was de­mol­ished, lo­cals still call it Co-op Cor­ner.

At the top of the High Street, we had a pet shop, baby shop, fruit and veg shop, bak­ers, wool shop and sweet shop. There was Joe Keyte’s Al­ley which went from the High Street to Col­letts Fields. We called it that be­cause Joe had a car­a­van at the bot­tom. Nearby there was also a cob­bler called Mr God­frey who went un­der the name “We­men­dem.”

Walk­ing along the High Street to­day, Broad­way has re­tained that per­sonal cus­tomer touch with an eclec­tic mix of in­de­pen­dent shops, of­fer­ing an im­pres­sive selec­tion of fash­ion bou­tiques, home­ware stores with lo­cal hand­made crafts and sou­venir gift shops. High fash­ion out­let stores, Miche­lin star restau­rants, an­tiques and art galleries are also among them. The shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence is dif­fer­ent

‘We do sell a lot of dolly mix­tures, sher­bert foun­tains, dib dabs, tof­fees, fudge and rhubarb and cus­tard, all of which re­late to our child­hood mem­o­ries’

to that of 1967, but it hits the spot for those look­ing for a bit of re­tail ther­apy.

Some tra­di­tional shops such as Hamil­ton’s Sweet Shop, still sells the sticky treats chil­dren in the 1960s would have loved. Owner Sheila Camp­bell, who also runs the Can­dle Shop, says there is some­thing about sweets which takes us back through the decades.

“We do sell a lot of dolly mix­tures, sher­bert foun­tains, dib dabs, tof­fees, fudge and rhubarb and cus­tard, all of which re­late to our child­hood mem­o­ries. We didn’t set up as a nos­tal­gia out­let but be­cause we have laid the sweets out in jars the way they used to do. It takes peo­ple back.”

RAIL­WAY

Back in 1967, Broad­way had re­cently lost its rail­way. Broad­way’s sta­tion was de­mol­ished by Bri­tish Rail in 1963. Fifty years later, the golden age of steam is set to re­turn to Broad­way with the Glouces­ter­shire War­wick­shire Rail­way painstak­ingly re­build­ing the sta­tion and restor­ing it to its former glory. Due to fin­ish this year, it is hoped by early 2018 trains will re­turn as Broad­way will join the ex­ist­ing rail­way, which cur­rently runs from Chel­tenham Race­course through Winch­combe and Tod­ding­ton to Laver­ton, two miles short of Broad­way.

TRAF­FIC

The num­ber of cars driv­ing through Broad­way may still be on par with those trav­el­ling in and out in 1967. Up un­til the late 1980s it was a dif­fer­ent story. Heavy traf­fic made it dan­ger­ous for lo­cals to cross the roads and it was too much for a vil­lage, de­signed orig­i­nally to ac­com­mo­date horse and stage­coach travel. In 1998, the open­ing of Broad­way By­pass meant the vil­lage could pre­serve its time­less past. Neil Hil­ton, owner of Hil­ton China, pre­vi­ously known to lo­cals as “Sticky” Green’s Men’s Out­fit­ters in 1967, be­lieves it was a sig­nif­i­cant change for Broad­way.

“Be­fore the by­pass, the High Street was the main route to Lon­don. Pave­ments were crowded with peo­ple

and 25 tonne lor­ries rolled through the vil­lage 24 hours a day and so the houses clos­est to the road would shake,” he re­calls.

“Since the by­pass opened, Broad­way has be­come a des­ti­na­tion vil­lage. Peo­ple come be­cause they want to visit Broad­way rather than just pass­ing through. It is qui­eter now and but it en­ables the vis­i­tors to have a more pleas­ant shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence.”

One build­ing which did draw vis­i­tors into the vil­lage in 1967 was Tu­dor House, orig­i­nally built in the 17th cen­tury as a coach­ing inn to serve the Lud­low to Lon­don route. In the 1960s it was the head­quar­ters for H.w.keil Ltd, ma­jor deal­ers in an­tique fur­ni­ture. To­day vis­i­tors en­joy it for a very dif­fer­ent rea­son. It is now Broad­way Mu­seum & Art Gallery and tells the vil­lage’s story of travel and trade, cap­tures its time line and show­cases work of artists.

“Broad­way’s ini­tial pros­per­ity came from its ec­cle­si­as­ti­cal roots and the fleeces on the back of its sheep. We cel­e­brated this at the mu­seum on Wool Day in Septem­ber. Coach­ing filled the gap when the broad street no longer thronged with sheep,” ex­plains Gill Parker, Broad­way Mu­seum’s op­er­a­tions as­sis­tant.

“In 1660, when this build­ing was the sec­ond sig­nif­i­cant coach­ing inn in the vil­lage, it was known as The An­gel Inn. Stage coach travel was con­sid­ered dan­ger­ous and many a trav­eller would say a prayer or ask their guardian an­gel to look af­ter them on the jour­ney!”

“In the 1960s peo­ple would have come here to look at Mr Keil’s an­tiques. He was one of the lead­ing deal­ers in an­tique fur­ni­ture in the world and the Queen Mother was one of his clients,” she adds.

To­day vis­i­tors can en­joy look­ing at some un­usual and im­pres­sive pieces of fur­ni­ture which Mr Keil would have had in his show­room, such as a late 17th cen­tury English press cup­board which catches my eye.

TOURISM AND COM­MU­NITY LIFE

In terms of Broad­way’s main in­dus­try in 2017, Mary Smith be­lieves it is tourism.

“I guess we de­pend on tourists. We do get a lot of walk­ers go­ing to Broad­way Tower. It is lovely up there and I guess the views haven’t changed,” she says.

Look­ing at Broad­way’s so­cial cal­en­dar, there is a lot which pulls vis­i­tors in. In re­cent decades fes­ti­val fever has hit this vil­lage which at­tracts dif­fer­ent au­di­ences far and wide. It cel­e­brated the Broad­way Arts Fes­ti­val in 2016, an event held bi­en­ni­ally, which pays trib­ute to the arts her­itage and pro­vides a show­case to lo­cal artists and re­cently held a Broad­way Fer­rari Day. It has a thriv­ing Food Fes­ti­val and a pop­u­lar late night Christ­mas shop­ping mar­ket over two con­sec­u­tive

Fri­days (Novem­ber 24 and De­cem­ber 1st) where shop­pers can in­dulge in the vil­lage’s late night shop open­ing hours and en­joy street en­ter­tain­ers, food stalls and live mu­sic.

It also has a fan­tas­tic state-of-the-art chil­dren’s play­ground which is well laid out and as I dis­cov­ered, can oc­cupy lit­tle peo­ple for a good hour or so.

As for com­mu­nity life, Mary be­lieves this has changed, cer­tainly for her.

“Look­ing back, it has changed in many ways. It was a lovely time to bring up chil­dren in the 1960s. I knew ev­ery­body in the road, to­day I don’t. There are hardly any of us who are lo­cals now, who grew up here, ev­ery­body else has moved into the vil­lage,” she says.

It means there is a po­ten­tial is­sue to solve in the 21st cen­tury which didn’t ex­ist in 1967. Neil Hil­ton has no­ticed an in­crease in the num­ber of houses be­ing turned into hol­i­day rental cot­tages or as sec­ond homes for oc­ca­sional use. “What Broad­way needs is res­i­dents who will oc­cupy these build­ings on a per­ma­nent ba­sis, and use the lo­cal shops, ser­vices and fa­cil­i­ties on a reg­u­lar ba­sis,” he adds.

ART HER­ITAGE

Broad­way is af­ter all an at­trac­tive place to own a house or cot­tage for its sense of time­less­ness. It at­tracted a group of Amer­i­can colonists in the 1880s, known as the Broad­way Colony. It was in Broad­way that John Singer Sar­gent painted Car­na­tion, Lily, Lily, Rose, now con­sid­ered an im­por­tant part of our na­tional art his­tory. Artists and cre­ative writ­ers have con­tin­u­ally been in­spired by Broad­way’s sur­round­ing coun­try­side over the past 50 years. Ear­lier this year Trin­ity House in 20, High Street (part of Gor­don Rus­sell’s show­room in 1967) which spe­cialises in Im­pres­sion­ist, Post-im­pres­sion­ist, Mod­ern Bri­tish and 19th cen­tury works, opened Trin­ity House Mod­ern at 35, High Street to fo­cus on con­tem­po­rary art. It proves art is just as im­por­tant to­day as it was years ago.

“As Broad­way has been so well pre­served, the lo­ca­tions which in­spired the artists like John Singer Sar­gent are still in ex­is­tence, so there is a link to those worked as artists then and now,” says Noah War­ren, in­ter­na­tional art dealer and ad­vi­sor for Trin­ity House Mod­ern.

UN­CHANGED BEAUTY

As I sit with Mary and lis­ten to her rem­i­nisce and re­mem­ber life in 1967 as a new mother, we come to the con­clu­sion that although the peo­ple who worked in the shops and busi­nesses them­selves are no longer the same, the beau­ti­ful out­ward ap­pear­ance is still as it was.

“They can­not change the frontage of the shops so walk­ing through Broad­way is as I re­mem­ber it,” she con­fesses.

The vil­lage green too has re­tained its char­ac­ter and in 2017 I can’t re­sist eat­ing an ice cream with my twin daugh­ters to prove that the sim­ple plea­sures en­joyed by par­ents and chil­dren alike in 1967 are still as plea­sur­able 50 years on.

There is a time­less­ness to Broad­way

Broad­way Deli would have been St Pa­trick’s Tea Rooms in 1967

Far right: Broad­way Mu­seum & Art Gallery, which would have been head­quar­ters of HW Keil Ltd, one of the world’s lead­ing an­tiques deal­er­ships in 1967 Right: The Vil­lage Green is still the same as in 1967

Be­low right: Gill Parker, op­er­a­tions as­sis­tant for Broad­way Mu­seum & Art Gallery

Above: Broad­way Tower hasn’t changed, but it is now a ma­jor tourist at­trac­tion for the area

Be­low: Broad­way Tower, 2017

Right: Noah War­ren, in­ter­na­tional art dealer and ad­vi­sor for Trin­ity House Mod­ern, Broad­way, with a paint­ing by PJ Crook

Be­low: The Knit­ting Shop in 1967, now Trin­ity House Mod­ern

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