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April 22, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Bert Powell, long time Apley resident – archive interview


16 Nov 07, Bert Powell & PollyHere’s the beginning of another of my Apley archive interviews which I mentioned I’d share here over the next year. It’s with Bert Powell, now 90 who shared his very clear & detailed memories when I went to chat with him. He is still always smartly dressed in a shirt & tie & couldn’t be more charming & cheerful:


He was born in 1924 at 7 Higford Cottages on the Apley Estate to Tom & Alice (nee Evans) Powell. He was he 2nd of 4 children. His father Tom had been born in Norton. Tom’s father (Bert’s grandfather, born approx 1875) was killed at the Brick Kiln in approx 1925, when the sand & gravel pit collapsed (it’s now a pool & just over the fields from Apley Farm Shop). So they’re really 1 of the Estate’s oldest families. His mother had died of rheumatic fever when Bert was only 4.  His father Tom remarried Miss Harriet Jones & moved away. Bert & his brother Reg always called her Miss Jones but their sisters Joy & Joan called her mother. Mrs Holmes, Alice’s sister, was Bert’s Aunt Nell, who lived in Beckbury where Bert went to school.

School life

When he got to school, Miss Waller, the teacher, would send him with an older child, back home to wash his neck (tide mark) if it was not clean enough.  Or the older child would be sent to fetch Aunt Nell, to collect Bert, to take him back home.

Running water

There was a tub of rainwater outside the back door of 7 Higford, for washing faces. It had algae & tadpoles in it & sometimes the ice had to first be broken before washing. There was an old green block of soap used for faces as well as floors.

Next door, Higford Farm, home to Mr Weaver at the time, was one of the first to have piped running water to a tap. Then a Belfast sink was installed with 1 cold water tap in the back kitchen of Bert’s home, 7 Higford.


At his first home, Higford Cottages, there was a double loo, with 4 brickholes for light. One threw lime down the hole, instead of flushing then washed hands in the house.  Loo roll was strips of old newspaper, nailed to the wall which were lime white washed, with a wooden door to the side. One often took a friend for company & during the night, one would take a paraffin lantern which had to be lit first of course. Paraffin fumes were noxious, hence the 4 brickhole in the wall. But at least the lantern kept you warm too !

Food & meals

Bert stole the eggs on Saturday & Sundays from the stables of Higford Farm as soon as he heard the hens clucking, but never after his father remarried Miss Jones.  On Jock Wilson’s farm at Crowgreaves, Tom dug potatoes, beginning at 5am, to earn more hours.  His father wore a big wide belt for supporting his back, whilst digging potatoes. This was always used for delivering punishments.

The butcher, baker & grocer delivered to Higford, in a horse & cart, with the name written on the side of the cart.  Later, a Hovis van replaced the horse: Meat came on Saturdays – they only had 1 joint of meat per week. Bert’s family ate the sausages on Sunday morning, then the joint on Sunday lunch. Sometimes Bert ate the sausages before they reached the kitchen.

Ted Lewis was the grocer in Norton’s shop, by the Hundred House.  He delivered on Friday evening, after pay day. Ted Lewis had inherited the shop from Mr Thomas. The baker, JC Lloyd, came from Madeley twice a week. The butcher was Mr Coates from Albrighton. There was no sliced bread, just Hovis tin loaves. Milly Kyte delivered the Hovis bread on her 3 wheeled motor bike.

From Monday to Thursday, they ate any meat leftover. Nearby Cotsbrook Hall had the fishing rights from the Apley Estate, so Bert’s father Tom didn’t let him catch trout from the Worfe (local stream, runs into the River Severn).  They bought cheese & butter from Ted Lewis in Norton’s shop, just by the Hundred House.  Bert’s aunt, Grace Powell made the cheese.

Selling eggs at market 

Bert’s father Tom bought 50 hens from Yorkshire & brought them home by train to Shifnal.  He sold the eggs at the Bridgnorth produce auction, which he took in a hamper on Mr Jones’s bus to Bridgnorth.  The bus came at 9.30am & hampers went in the back.  It was a 29 seater bus. Only 1 member of the family went. Bert went from aged 8 on a return ticket costing 1 shilling. The bus collected Bert from the Beckbury turning & took 30 mins to get to Bridgnorth.

One man offered the eggs, whilst another auctioned them. The man offering the eggs would eat the cracked ones raw, in public, more than a dozen at a time. There were 50-60 people selling produce. Sellers stood at the front, to hear the selling price & then went quickly to collect their cash. Buyers stood at the back, bidding. Some produce was resold at Wellington Market. Bert could then go home again on the 3pm bus from Bridgnorth.

If Bert wanted an evening in Bridgnorth, he’d go in on the 3.30pm bus & come home again on the 10.30pm bus. Sometimes, he’d cycle there & would leave his bike for 6p at Aldersons (newsagent). Beer was 3p per pint in approx 1938.


He’d walk mostly, to get about. However, other principal means included trains & bicycles, pony & traps & a few cars.  The nearest trains came to Linley Station (until 1963) & Shifnal (still a working station).  Bert’s first bike had no tyres or brakes.  Cycling from Higford to Beckbury, down the hill, he’d run it on to the verge & fall over the handlebars in order to stop.  Bert’s neighbour at Higford Farm, Mr Weaver had a pony & trap, as did Miss Jones’s family. Mr Wilson at Crowgreaves Farm had a car (a local Apley farm, from whom they bought potatoes).

Second World War

The Jones family ran the mill at Higford from where metal went towards the war effort in 1940. Bert went into the Fleet Air Arm of the navy in 1943.

One Comment

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  1. J DuLaney / Aug 14 2014 12:55 am

    I am sorry to hear of the death of Bert Powell I have fond memories of him and Barbara.They lived near my Grandmother Alice Gibson in Cheswardine Lane Alice died in 1972. Barbara made amazingly tasty cakes.and when we visited The Norton Flower Show, Bert and Barbara always invited us back for tea. Joy

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