By the mid 1960s many railway branch lines were being closed down and steam locomotives were becoming a more rare sight being replaced by diesel engines. Reported by the May 12th Advertizer 1965 was the arrival of a steam train at Gobowen station on Sunday 9th of May. Quite a large crowd assembled to greet the train at the station with its passengers numbering more than 300 people of the Anglo-Norse Society of which some had come to visit Chirk Castle.

On the station Platform, the railway enthusiasts gathered to see locomotive No 4472. This was of course the Flying Scotsman which was en route to North Wales from Paddington. Among the dignitaries at Chirk Castle to welcome many of the train travellers was Col. Myddelton, Lady Myddelton and the Froncysyllte Male Voice choir. Other travellers of this distinguished train were taken by bus to visit Powys Castle and travel on the Llanfair Light Railway. That week it was quite a coincidence when in the UK the Beatles were topping the music charts with a song called Ticket to Ride.

On a more tragic note on the 11th of May 1965 the 1st of two cyclones was to kill thousands of people in India. According to records I have seen it was in the region of 35,000 that perished while in Bangladesh the fatal casualty rate was in the region of 17,000 due to a powerful windstorm. At that time the USSR, China and the USA were testing nuclear bombs.

While there was much excitement at Gobowen railway station this month in 1965, there was not the same jubilation for Oswestry Cricket Club. While playing against their Wrexham opponents it took nearly 60 minutes to obtain just 20 runs. The opposing team managed to get 56 for six in 100 minutes. The apparent uninteresting game ended in a draw. Oswestry Cricket Club was not the only team to be disappointed that month. Yorkshire while opposing Hampshire on the Middlesbrough ground was all out for just 23 runs.

While some competitors endure disappointment in sporting fixtures, others enjoy success. On Sunday May 9th 1965 the Welsh Border Car Club organised a safe driving rally for the Oswestry Rural District Council. This rally had many entries with the start point being Beauclerk’s Garage, Oswestry with Mr Henry Ellis (Chairman of the club) being the official starter. First place went to Mr L R Davies of Ellesmere driving a new MG Midget and the runner-up was a lady driving a Mini-Cooper by the name of Mrs Mavis Humby.

The Advertizer reported on the two day West Midland Agricultural Show 1965 due to start on 19th May. The main theme for the show at Shrewsbury that year was dairy farming with the slogan “This pinta business”. Among the new machinery exhibited at the show, visiting farmers would be able to view the new range of gleaming blue Ford tractors on display sold by George Oakley and Company Ltd on stand No 216. The Fordson name was not used on this new model. The managing director Mr JPR Bland of George Oakley stated to “Midweek” that as 1964 came to a close, the final Fordson named tractor left the production line at Dagenham. It appears the Fordson brand was the last of no less than 1,159,365 produced. One of the best tractors available for UK farmers during the 1950s and early 1960s in my opinion.

During that period in history, the United States were heavily involved in the Vietnam conflict. On the 16th of May 1965 a USAF base was virtually destroyed by a bomb in Bien Hoa, South Vietnam.

November 1971

The front page of the Advertizer dated Wednesday November 3rd 1971 displayed a headline of a local misfortune. The victim of this fatal occurrence was a well known local landowner Mr Edward Birch Thomas. It appears he accidentally succumbed to fumes from the solid fuel heating system at Fernhill Hall, Whittington a week or so from his eightieth birthday. Mr Birch Thomas was extremely accomplished in the Oswestry district. For several years he was a magistrate. Also a County Councillor and at later date a County Alderman. His achievements did not stop there. This landowner born at Edgerley Hall Kinnerley was a former Mayor of Oswestry, a member of the Orthopaedic Hospital Management Committee for a few years, chairman of the governors of the Oswestry College of Further Education. He was heavily involved when the Oswestry and District Hospital was relocated from its site at Welsh Walls. During the war, Mr Birch Thomas worked for the National Savings.

Being an owner of much land he was obviously deeply engaged in agriculture. Another business he ran was a creamery in English Walls, Oswestry.

While Mr Birch Thomas died in unfortunate circumstances another local well known gentlemen was said to be in intensive care after a horse riding accident. Vice-Lieutenant of Denbighshire Colonel Myddleton of Chirk Castle fell from his horse and suffered serious injury. Colonel Myddleton was known at that time for being Extra Equerry to the Queen since 1952.

In other parts of the world was the premiere of the Clint Eastwood film Play Misty For Me. On a sadder topic on the 4th of November 1971 an Emma Groves who was the mother of eleven children is struck in the face with a rubber bullet and blinded. This poor unfortunate person was to dedicate the remainder of her life in campaigning abolishment concerning the use of rubber bullets. Two days later the USA tested a five megaton bomb in their largest underground test to date at that time. (In my research of past events, I am quite surprised how many nuclear bombs have been tested over the years. It cannot be beneficial to the world environment. We know they work!). On more domestic but tragic matters in early November 1971 there was more than one murder in Westfield, New Jersey. Accountant John List killed his wife, mother and his three children. It seems he remained on the run from this crime for no less than eighteen years.

In 1971, the Women’s Institute, West Felton founded in October 1921 was celebrating its fiftieth anniversary. Their very first meeting took place at the Hazlehurst Memorial Institute. Seventy women joined immediately and within two months it appears their membership was flourishing at 86. (More members makes more jam!). The very first president of the West Felton branch was a Mrs Gibbs the wife of a schoolmaster. Her chief helper was Miss Violet Briscoe of Ruyton-XI-Towns who at that time was employed as a teacher at West Felton School. In its fledgling years this WI branch would put on whist drives and social outings for its members etc. As we all are aware, the Women’s Institute of all branches in the UK has contributed much good to this country not least during the last war easing the pressure when manpower (womanpower also!) was so invaluable.

In this Advertizer of November 1971 the local newspaper gave a price comparison of the local grocery stores. Inflation has certainly accelerated since then. For instance you could purchase a packet of 24 Weetabix for between 11 and 13p or a 2lbs pack of sugar for around 8p! How prices have changed since 1971.

While too much sugar has always been considered bad for the teeth, a man mentioned in the Advertizer from Ellesmere had problems with his or certainly the lack of them. It appears he had finished a relationship with his girlfriend. She was upset. Two members of her close family visited this ex boyfriend. In an ensuing argument and scuffle the poor unfortunate Ellesmere man lost four of his teeth. On the other side of the world that month in Cambodia there was fighting of a more serious nature. The Khmer Rouge attacked Phnom Penh and its airport. Nine aircraft were damaged. 30 people were injured while 44 more were killed. The next day on the 11th November in Kawasaki, Japan another 15 victims died in a man made landslide.

While all this was occurring that month, the Advertizer reported council house rent in Llanfyllin was to increase by an average figure of 50p per week commencing in April 1972. Also in this particular area, engineering consultants were in the process of accessing costs of the Llanfyllin Rural District Council’s flood prevention proposal for Llantsantffraid. It seems a Government grant was required and the clerk wanted to get the “ball” rolling after much time had already been given to the issue.

While meetings regarding these aforementioned flooding topics seemed to be going round in circles, very many miles away there was an item of other circular motion. On 14th of November 1971, Mariner 9 was the very first spacecraft to successfully enter the Mars orbit. (Here we are in 2018 and man has not stepped on Mars yet!). The next day a minister of the British Government visits Salisbury in Rhodesia to confer on a satisfactory settlement to political unrest in this African country. In another part of the world a few days later was the start of the Indo-Pakistani war. This was a time when the US was engaged in the Vietnam conflict. On the 28th of November 1971, 34 American soldiers were killed when the helicopter they were travelling on crashed in South Vietnam.

If you lived in the Oswestry area in 1971 and was an avid party goer etc there was one or two outfitters you could visit if you needed to be of smart attire for those important occasions. One of the shops frequently advertised in the Advertizer was Pritchards, Tailors & Outfitters, 15 Cross St, Oswestry. I like the sentence at the bottom of their advertisement: Parking Fee refunded on request. If shops did that today it would cost the retailers a great deal in order to sell their goods!

Oswestry Glassworks

A few years ago I was given a letter that was sent to a farmer near West Felton in August 1963. Other farmers and landowners in the area had obviously been sent the same correspondence. The man who sent these letters was a historian living in Wellington, Shropshire. He was endeavouring to locate the remains of a glass works in the Oswestry area and at that time was apparently having little success for his valiant efforts. However, he did have some information. The “glass house” in question seems to have been thriving in 1752 and still visible on an 1833 map. (Interestingly not shown on an 1808 map). In the letter there is mention of a Stourbridge glazier possibly around 1780 purchasing a glassworks in the Oswestry district in order to close it – the industry by that time becoming extra competitive. To quote the letter: “A knowledge as to whether sand and or lime was available in the vicinity”. A source of nearby coal availability was also a consideration. I have done a little research myself and it appears there was a small glass works at Wootton near Queens Head where there was an abundant supply of sand. Maybe this solves the mystery.