Enid Bly­ton Bevin Boys Roy Faiers

This England - - News -

—Sir: In the let­ter “Meet­ing Enid Bly­ton” (“Post Box”, Sum­mer 2017), Mrs. Sut­ton re­calls a visit she made to Swan­age in 1947 and meet­ing the fa­mous chil­dren’s au­thor. That book­shop, Hill & Churchill, was owned by Ted Gather­cole, my un­cle.

Enid Bly­ton and her hus­band Ken­neth Dar­rell Waters were keen golfers — he bought the lo­cal course — and they were fre­quent visi­tors, stay­ing at the Grosvenor Ho­tel. Some of Enid’s books were set in Dorset.

When my un­cle died in 1947, my brother, newly de­mobbed from the army, took over the man­age­ment of Hill & Churchill, so the “sales­man” who greeted Mrs. Sut­ton was un­doubt­edly him, Bill Hur­rell. He lived with his wife and chil­dren in the el­e­gant two-storey flat over the shop. He died in 1992.

I met Enid Bly­ton of­ten when stay­ing in Swan­age, and she once in­vited me to be “com­pan­ion” to her daugh­ters. I was 18 and a mu­sic stu­dent, so de­clined! re­sis­tant to an­other pro­duc­tion that he thought wouldn’t be any­thing like as “good” (he was par­tic­u­larly par­tial to the lead­ing lady!).

Grand­fa­ther Ridge­way took a big risk and put the pro­posed pro­duc­tion into re­hearsal. He man­aged to per­suade Hardy to let him bring the en­tire cast down to Dorch­ester to per­form it in his din­ing room at Max Gate. Hardy stip­u­lated that there were to be no press at the oc­ca­sion, which was a prob­lem for Grand­fa­ther as pub­lic­ity was what he was after! He agreed, but cast a few “press­men” as ex­tras (fully cos­tumed) so he got his pub­lic­ity although there is no record as to Hardy’s feel­ings about this.

There are let­ters from Hardy to my grand­fa­ther in the Dorset County Mu­seum. Hardy was en­chanted by Gwen Ffrang­con-davies who was cast as Tess. The pro­duc­tion went ahead with a month at the Barnes The­atre and was fol­lowed by a trans­fer to the West End. — LOUISE DENNY, ST.

LEONARDS-ON-SEA, EAST SUS­SEX. Sir: Re­gard­ing the “Bevin Boy” ar­ti­cle (“For­get-me-nots”, Spring 2017) I was con­scripted in Au­gust 1944 and had a sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ence. On my de­mob in Novem­ber 1947, the coal in­dus­try had been na­tion­alised and a mas­sive in­vest­ment pro­gramme was im­ple­mented. The NCB needed to train per­son­nel to carry out the re­or­gan­i­sa­tion and I was ap­proached and asked to con­sider a ca­reer in min­ing. After some thought I opted to train as a mine sur­veyor and at­tended Wi­gan Min­ing Col­lege, qual­i­fy­ing in 1953. Many Bevin Boys re­mained in the in­dus­try and had suc­cess­ful ca­reers as man­agers, sci­en­tists, ge­ol­o­gists, etc. I com­pleted 40 years of ser­vice.

The Bevin Boys in gen­eral, in­clud­ing my­self, had a very rudi­men­tary knowl­edge of min­ing and most of us were not in­ter­ested. After a few years I re­alised what a fas­ci­nat­ing, in­ter­est­ing, hard and re­ward­ing job it was to win coal. We have an ex-bevin Boys’ As­so­ci­a­tion and I am a mem­ber sit­ting on the na­tional com­mit­tee.

I would highly rec­om­mend a visit to the Na­tional Mu­seum of Min­ing at Cap­house Col­liery, near Wake­field, York­shire. — PHIL ROBIN­SON,WAR­RING­TON, CHESHIRE. Sir: Fur­ther to the well-de­served trib­utes to This Eng­land and Ev­er­green’s founder Roy Faiers, I have the first is­sue of Nor­folk Life from June 1967. It was pro­duced by Roy Faiers from his of­fice in The Street, Brun­dall, Nor­folk, for the won­der­ful price of three shillings.

I sub­scribed to this mag­a­zine for many years and copies are safely pre­served in my book­case to­day. They are a qual­ity mag­a­zine re­flect­ing, in the words of Roy Faiers, “the true spirit of Nor­folk and its peo­ple both past and present.” Il­lus­trated by the uniquely char­ac­ter­is­tic draw­ings of Colin Carr, and black-and-white pho­to­graphs old and new, they are a de­light­fully gen­tle re­source to dip into.

After sev­eral years it was al­lied with Suf­folk un­der the ti­tle of Nor­folk and Suf­folk Fair. I do not think that this mag­a­zine is pro­duced any more, but it has some suc­ces­sors in­clud­ing Suf­folk and Nor­folk Life. So I would like to feel that Roy Faiers es­tab­lished a pat­tern of lo­cal mag­a­zine pro­duc­tion that oth­ers still fol­low. Our her­itage is what we leave be­hind. —

GE­OF­FREY DIXON, SMALLBURGH, NOR­FOLK.

Sir: I was very sad­dened to hear of the pass­ing of Roy Faiers. My first meet­ing with him was in 1967 in Grimsby, Lin­colnshire. I had just moved to the area and was seek­ing em­ploy­ment in the print­ing trade. I had come across a small lo­cal print­ers called Win­dles, which Roy Faiers had

bought to print his first monthly mag­a­zine Lin­colnshire Life. I com­menced work­ing for him and within a few weeks had set­tled in to what I can hon­estly say was one of the hap­pi­est pe­ri­ods of my work­ing life.

Other mag­a­zines soon fol­lowed in­clud­ing Cotswold Life, Chiltern Life and Nor­folk Fair all cel­e­brat­ing the life and times of each county, with no so­ci­ety wed­dings or celebrity gossip. It was a busy time, with more work than a small printer could cope with so, when This Eng­land was launched in 1968, an out­side printer was used.

When Devon Life was added to the monthly mag­a­zines, the print­ing was trans­ferred to Ex­eter and I was in­stru­men­tal in es­tab­lish­ing the new plant.

Roy Faiers sub­se­quently moved all the ed­i­to­rial of­fices from Grimsby to Chel­tenham and was con­cen­trat­ing all his en­er­gies on This Eng­land, which had re­ally taken off. By 1972 he de­cided to sell the print­ing side of the busi­ness, which brought to the end my as­so­ci­a­tion with him as my em­ployer.

How­ever, our paths did cross again in the late-1980s when I was work­ing as a print es­ti­ma­tor for Wheatons, the book and mag­a­zine pub­lish­ers in Ex­eter. Roy ap­proached the com­pany for a quo­ta­tion for book print­ing and thus be­gan a new as­so­ci­a­tion with him as my very valu­able cus­tomer! For the fol­low­ing 10 years I worked on some of his books, which were in­vari­ably il­lus­trated by Colin Carr, in­clud­ing Par­lour Po­etry; For­get-me-nots; What’s On the Box? and The Whim­si­cal World of Colin Carr.

So for me, my work­ing life has been in­volved, with Roy Faiers start­ing with our serendip­i­tous meet­ing all those years ago. — THOMAS DUNN, ALPHINGTON,

EX­ETER, DEVON. * This Eng­land cel­e­brates its 50th birth­day in 2018 and we will be mark­ing it with ar­ti­cles in the mag­a­zine and a spe­cial pub­li­ca­tion in the sum­mer. —Ed.

Thomas Hardy’s home, Max Gate, where a reader’s grand­fa­ther ar­ranged a per­for­mance of Tess of the D’urbervilles. See let­ter above. JOHN BLAKE

A reader re­calls Swan­age in Dorset and the fa­mous chil­dren’s au­thor who vis­ited there. See let­ter this page. CHRISTO­PHER NI­CHOL­SON

Cov­ers for the first four is­sues of This Eng­land pub­lished in 1968. Read­ers re­call mem­o­ries of the early days and the mag­a­zine’s founder, Roy Faiers (see this and pre­vi­ous page).

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