Some of my readers will be familiar with the fact that I have over the years tried to find out about the background of Charlie’s very good friend Tom Idle, they were bosom pals between 1922 and 1932, when Tom Idle married a welsh girl called Blodwen in Llangollen and went to live in Wales. I have recently engaged a genealogy expert who was able to take matters a little further. Tom and Blodwen eventually moved back to the Manchester area, but never had any children, so the trail does run cold.
However in the last few days – January 2020 – I have seen an old letter to Charlie from Bill Berry (Billberry of the We.R.7) written in the 1950’s from an address in Clifton near Bolton. Billberry lived at Dixon Fold which is just on the outskirts of Bolton. He writes to Charlie to say, amongst other things, that he and his wife have just had a visit from from Tom and Blod ! He then goes on to say that if he had a wife like that (meaning Blod) he would put himself away. Then he rambles on to say that money is the root of all evil etc etc, the impression I gained was that whilst Tom and his wife had done well financially it had not improved them. But I would still have not been able to resist visiting their children were they to have had any.
So really the connection between Tom Idle and the We.R.7 was still there but perhaps not in spirit. And Charlie I know, would not have been impressed at all by wealth. And that completes the gossip for this month !! There is some other good news, I have decided to tackle another of Charlie’s photo albums and it will be serialised here after the 10th of May 2020.
Swineyard Hall, near High Legh, Cheshire
Below is the Priest’s House in Prestbury. It demonstrates that not all priests lived like paupers ! Charlie comments: Always popular for the Sunday run, between 1923 and 1930, Tom and I became very familiar with the local country, always quiet and pleasant away from the main roads.
Your Editor comments as follows: When my wife and I first got married we rented an old vicarage in Darwen, Lancashire, unfurnished, for the princely sum of £2 per week. Interestingly, there was ample evidence of at least one servant living in the cellar, with its own fireplace and kitchen, next door to what would have been a very well stocked amply sized storage room for wine bottles. Stone shelves on three sides, but all the wine was gone !!
And the entrance hall, to complete the picture, was enormous with wide doorways and terra cotta tiling, and 6 rooms and a kitchen with a large heating stove all on the ground floor. Alterations prior to our stay had created two self contained flats upstairs.
Please! is Charlie’s footnote to the above.
This lower picture of Arenig Fawr, for me, encapsulates all of Charlie’s stories of crossing this 17 mile wilderness, always in inclement weather, sometimes at night, a track forever stony, with gates to open and close, and always a terrible desire to reach Ffestiniog and the welcoming arms of No. 6 Sun Street, where dwelt his current passion – or so he thought !! For more information see Charlie’s story “In the Spring” on page 159 of his book Volume Three.
One of these pictures shows Tom Idle fixing a puncture in the River Goyt. Tom’s Ivorycord tyre has punctured ‘at last’ is Charlie’s pithy comment. Elsewhere Tom is bowing to the River God !!
Sunday, February 8th – ‘a fill-dyke’, when we tried to make a passage of Chee Dale from Wye Dale to Millers Dale. After scrambling over rocks and through water we reached the narrows with the river rushing wall to wall. The river won, and we beat an arduous retreat. Four months later, on June 7th we made the passage.