In the summer of 2013, I was lent a photograph by Ray Williams, Ruyton`s famous `Willpower Strongman` of the 1970s and 80s whose feats of endurance and strength raised so much money for charity – but his is another fascinating story.
At the time the photograph was taken, Maud & Jim Fox lived in the tiny one up, one down cottage facing up the lane, the front door of the much extended Toad Cottage is in the same place today. Maud is carrying a bucket to get her share of fresh drinking water from the milk churn in the picture. Ruyton Dairy was started in 1919 as a cheese making enterprise by a group of local dairy farmers. Eventually, the factory needed so much water from the River Perry for processing the cheese that all the wells & springs, particularly along the bottom of the Brownhill, dried up. The solution was to take water to the people using redundant milk churns. Rain water was collected in rain water butts. In 1969 there were still rusty old milk churns to be seen outside some cottages on the Brownhill as mains water had only come to the village in the early 1960s.
During the war, Jim & Maud Fox lived at Worlds End, 3 detached cottages down Whitmore Lane, situated in a field between Baschurch and New Mills, Ruyton. The story of Worlds End is yet another interesting story we are not concerned with here.
As Jim worked on Cecil Timmis`s steam threshing machine which went round local farms after every harvest, he and Maud lived in the middle cottage which was owned by the Timmis family. The other two cottages were owned by the Slater family, one was occupied by the Williams family, including Ray, whose father worked for Jim Slater. The Guest family lived in the third cottage - Mum and Dad and 9 children! This large tribe had moved from Maesbury as it was nearer to Tern Hill where Mr. Guest was working during the war - a cycle ride of 31 miles and then 31 miles home again after a 10 hour shift, whatever the weather. So, moving to Worlds End meant a few less miles to pedal. What young man would do that today!
Herby, one of the Guest children, and his wife Pat ran the Bridge Inn in Ruyton for several years in the 1970s & 80s - but that is another fascinating story.
The older Williams boys Bill & Tom, worked on the roads until they were too blind to continue but they were regulars at the Bridge Inn in Herby Guest`s time. Ray Williams went on to become Shropshire`s `Willpower Strongman`, performing great feats of strength & achieving records to raise many thousands of pounds for charity.
Jim and Maud moved to number 2 Woodview Lane in April 1947 and the World`s End cottages were demolished in the early 1950s.
OAK TREE COTTAGE
At the time the photograph was taken in the early 1950s from the garden of Oak Cottage, across the road from Woodview Lane, the building was two very tiny cottages, one lived in by the Furbers and the other by the Davies family. It would have been one of the Davies who took the picture.
An oak tree grew near the entrance to the wicket gate which led onto the road opposite the old Brownhill House front door. Perhaps the oak tree which now towers above the end of the lane is one of its daughters!
A building historian has suggested the front of the building originally faced up the garden, in fact towards the old road across the Brownhill, which ran from the bungalow, behind `Sherwood`, Nesta Clark`s, across the garden at the back of Oak Cottage, and through a cutting behind Willow View and Glen View and down what is now the drive to High Bank & Rock House.
This road was superceded by the present road when the Burlton to Llanymynech Turnpike was carved through the sandstone in the 1770s and was supported on the river side by the huge retaining wall. To restrict the use of the old road, Whitehall Cottage was built across the road at the eastern end and Rock Cottage, now demolished, halfway down the drive to Rock House & High Bank, blocked the west end of the road. Both these cottages were end on, to the new turnpike road.
When we came here in 1969, Oak Cottage, by then one house, was occupied by Bill and Vanny (Mfanwy) Higginson and their two boys Paul and Shaun. When Bill was able to buy land for a drive from Miss Phillips, he blocked the wicket gate onto the modern road and filled in the steps behind. The stone blocked entrance can be seen from the pavement opposite. The Higginsons had to leave the cottage when Vanny was diagnosed with cancer and the family moved to Birch Grove where she sadly died.
Bob sold his beloved cottage to Ann Miller, even reducing the price as he felt she was the right person to live there. Ann had spent most of her life in Surrey but moved back to her roots when she retired from running a shop in Purbright. Her reason for moving to this part of Shropshire was because her grandfather, Dr. Hugh Sankey, had run the `Licensed House for the Reception of Insane Patients of the Upper Classes` at Boreatton Park. It was while Ann was a guest at Brownhill House B&B that she saw that Oak Cottage was for sale.
Ann became part of the village and immersed herself in all sorts of good works. She was particularly involved in the preparations for the 700th celebrations of Ruyton`s Borough Charter, including editing a recipe book. Unfortunately, Ann spent the last 5 or 6 years confined to the house before her last trip to hospital from where she never returned.
The 1838 field map shows Rose Cottage and, at the end of Woodview lane, two buildings opposite each other, these two buildings are possibly number 1 and the stable, now demolished. The same three buildings are on the 1861 plan for the second Baggymoor Drainage act. Checking the Monumental Inscriptions in Ruyton churchyard, there were Jones living at Rose Cottage, Brownhill as far back as 1875 and before. When the photograph was taken in the early 1950s Mr. Jones, `a man of property`, lived in Rose cottage.
Jim and Maud at number 3 kept an eye on Mr. Jones when Miss Philips was working in Suffolk and she told them, if they would take care of him when he needed more help, she would make sure they inherited Rose Cottage. True to her word, on the death of Mr. Jones, Miss Philips made Rose Cottage over to Jim and Maud Fox, what my Gran would call “a real lady”.
Coincidentally, in 1896 Eliza Philips, nee Braddick had inherited Number 1 Woodview from her father John Braddick, and her brother Robert`s wife Sarah was also a Philips, connected to `Wappy` Philips who ran the vast second hand emporium in Shrewsbury, now occupied by Simon Boyd curtain fabrics shop. It is, therefore, highly likely that Miss Philips was thus related to the Braddicks.
1, 2, & 3 WOODVIEW LANE
I am most grateful to Tony Gittins, White Gables for his research on previous owners of the cottages. When we came here in 1969, we were told the bend in the road was known as Braddicks Corner - read the following and you will see why!
In July 1882 Robert Large of Henbarnes, West Felton, the first recorded owner, sold numbers 1, 2 & 3 Woodview Lane to John Braddick.
The Braddicks were a large and extended family in Ruyton, we were told stories about them living in caravans on the Cliffe and having a stall in Church Street from where they sold china etc. The family at Brownhill House had a china shop and another member of the family had a General Dealer`s (second hand goods) at Greenfield View further up the Brownhill.
At the time John Braddick owned the cottages, they were occupied by Thomas Smith, John Payne and Oliver Oakley
John Braddick died on 25 March 1888 and his wife Jemima on 13 March 1896 when their sons, Robert & Samuel and daughter Eliza inherited the properties.
In 1901, Robert Braddick, and his wife Sarah, nee Philips, bought Brownhill House from where they ran a scrapyard and worked on producing 13 children!
On 12 January 1907, Robert Braddick, son of John & Jemima, sold `a certain messuage and warehouse and premises` (possibly number 1 and the stable) to his brother Samuel. On 25 March 1908 Eliza Philips (nee Braddick) sold a cottage to her brother Samuel, who now owned all three cottages in Woodview Lane.
On 13 December 1932 Samuel Braddick, died followed by his wife Caroline on 25 July 1956. Samuel & Caroline`s daughter, Mary Caroline, known as Molly, married Alfred John Williams (Alf) and they lived at number 1 until they moved to Greenfield View further along the Brownhill. Robert`s brother Samuel bought and extended Greenfield View as his business premises.
There are still the remaining black corrugated sheds, gently collapsing under their own weight, where the furniture and other second hand goods were stored. The fence to the west of the house is where the rickety corrugated iron shop was in 1969. At that time, Alf Williams was always happy to unlock the shed if he thought there was a chance of selling something - which is why I have a silk top hat “in case it comes in useful”!
Molly & Alf Williams were popular landlords of the Bridge Inn for some years in the 1950s.
In 1964 Alf and his nephew, Samuel Michael Braddick (Michael) sold Number 1 to John William Richards of Bank View, Lower Common,. Longdon, near Shrewsbury.
When we came here in 1969, Mary & Jess Richards lived at number 2 but I don`t think Jess was related to John William Richards. When John William R. died on 9th January 1967, number 1 went to John Francis Richards, probably his son.
Jess and Mary had lived in number 2 for many years, they somehow brought up 3 daughters and a son in this tiny house and Mary Richards was an attendant at births and layer out of the dead, as well as taking in washing and providing lunch every day for the District Nurse. Mary had grown up in South Africa where her father was a railway engineer, she later trained as a Dairy Maid at Radbrook College & met Jess when she was working on a farm in Myddle
On 7th June 1968 Ena Victoria Mary Wainwright was listed as the owner of numbers 2 & 3 Woodview Lane and that is who owned the two cottages when we arrived on 4th May 1969.WHITE GABLES
On 10th July 1968, John Francis Richards `personal representative of J.N. Richards` sold number 1, now renamed `White Gables`, to Charles Edward and Mary Hannah Price.
I was told by Mary Richards, or `Granny` Richards as we called her, in number 2, that the husband and wife before the Prices had died within a week of each other. This must have been John William Richards and his wife.
Mary Price was one of the 13 Braddick children from Brownhill House and a flat which had been built for Margaret, the youngest Braddick daughter, & her husband Arthur had been extended for Mary & Charley. In 1968, Mary and Charley bought White Gables so that their son Bobby, could sell Brownhill House to Roger and Yoland Brown.
The list of Braddicks who owned or lived in the cottages at the end of Woodview Lane is an important link to the history of a family who played a large part in the community at the turn of the 20th century. Whether or not the Braddick family began life in a gypsy caravan on the Cliffe, I do not know, but the businesses they succeeded at, scrap merchant, general dealer and china, are all associated with travelling people.
St. John the Baptist Monumental Inscriptions in conjunction with Tony`s research begin to explain all these Braddicks and why this was called Braddick`s Corner!
John and Jemima Braddick who bought the three cottages in Woodview Lane were the parents of Robert, who, with his wife Sarah, bought Brownhill House in 1901 to run a scrapyard. The end of our house was a salt store, and every day the horse and cart, and later a lorry, took salt round the farms to swap for scrap .The scrap they collected was mostly associated with horses rather than cars. What is now our office, became a china shop and then a deep litter house for rearing baby chicks before it was converted for Margaret, Arthur and their son John and, with a kitchen tacked on the back, later becoming a flat for Charley and Mary Price.
In 1963 Robert (Bob) Braddick, oldest son of Robert & Sarah, with brother George and sister Margaret, lived at Brownhill House. That year when the mains water & drains were installed through the village, the Braddicks at Brownhill House decided £50 was a ridiculous amount of money to waste on mains drains and a flushing loo which they had managed perfectly well without for 60 years - so they built what was probably the newest outside toilet in the county and possibly the country! There was a bath in the house when we came here, with a plastic pipe which ran out and deposited bath water halfway down the slope. Electricity was laid on in the village between 1938 and 1941.
Actually, there is no better place than Brownhill House to have a scrapyard, anything which will not make you money you just chucked over the edge of the cliff, just like the bathwater!
In the 1960s, the Braddicks of Brownhill House bought land on the Brownhill Fields - the hill behind Oak Cottage, Willow View, Glen View and Rock Cottage - across to Little Ness Road at Five Ways. In the 1838 field map, this whole area was shown as medieval strip fields. The Braddicks became farmers and left behind the scrap & general dealers soubriquet.
`Bob` Braddick died in December 1966 and Margaret married Arthur Hamlett, an erstwhile evacuee from Birkinhead. The China shop was converted into a bedroom and sitting room - with easy access to the kitchen where Margaret could cook meals for all `the men`.
As the new farm flourished, The Marches, a splendid new house was built on the hill to look down on the black corrugated iron farm buildings - some memories are too precious to leave behind. What had been the home of Robert and Sarah and their 13 children for 65 years, was sold to a nephew, Robert (Bobby) Price, son of Mary nee Braddick to keep it in the family.
Unfortunately, Bobby and his wife and his parents Charley and Mary Price, who were living in the Granny flat, were all converted into the Jehova`s Witness religion. Having paid £800 to keep the old home in the family, in 1969 Bobby sold Brownhill House to Yoland and Roger Brown for the princely sum of £4,500, making a huge profit and annoying the rest of the family no end.
In July 1968 Charley and Mary Price had moved into White Gables/number 1 Woodview Lane and Bobby and his family took off to some Jehova`s witness Elysian Fields in north Shropshire.
As we have seen, by 1969 White Gables (number 1) was occupied by Charlie and Mary Price, numbers 2 and 3 were owned by Eva Wainwright, number 2 being occupied by Mary & Jess Richards and number 3 a sort of holiday cottage for Mr. and Mrs. Wainwright.
Behind number 3 there was a derelict detached cottage. I heard many stories about how the local lads were `educated` by the `lady` evacuated from Birkinhead who gave lessons in the derelict Drumbles Cottage during the war.
BROWNHILL HOUSE 1969
Roger and I arrived at our new home on a beautiful sunny day on 4th May in 1969 and I promptly fell pregnant.
What had been a stone cottage with one and a half bedrooms upstairs had grown into a house for 15 people thanks to whatever fell off the back of a lorry - engineering bricks and a vast amount of black corrugated iron, the whole of the back of the house was taken up with a 1914/18 army tin shed which was the kitchen, and the room with a bath in it and a plastic tube to take the water away down the bank.
A black corrugated iron shed outside the back door held a vast water tank and the coal bunkers, another shed was where Charley Price had made Christmas & grave wreaths and a huge corrugated iron edifice was the open fronted `garage`.
We demolished the garage by driving our Land Rover at the railway sleepers in each corner until the whole lot fell down - then we sold it for £12 to the young couple who had moved into Willow View. Good deal all round, it would have taken a long time to get rid of all that black corrugated iron in the dustbin!
Roger and our friend Chris Hughes, prepared the hardcore for the garage earth floor to be concreted (I was getting bigger) and ordered the Readymix. Unfortunately, it was a very hot day and the mixer arrived late so to fill in the time, Roger and Chris consumed rather a lot of beer. Our garage floor is a bit lumpy but has done its job admirably for nearly 50 years.
With a baby on the way, our first priority was a bathroom which was installed by a builder using the only grant we ever took advantage of.
Next was the kitchen. Roger jacked up the supporting beam under the tin shed on two car jacks and put in footings. We chucked down hundreds of buckets of hardcore under the wooden floor - the kitchen was 3ft 6 inches off the ground at one end, and got planning permission to install new windows in the kitchen.
Miranda was born on 1st March 1970 so then I was able to play my part in the building. A new roof and walls mysteriously appeared on the kitchen and interestingly, Miranda did not care in the least that the kitchen was a bit short of walls, window glass, a floor, and cupboards.
When Jim Fox retired and he and Maud were not so agile they were able to get a bungalow at Birch Grove and, in May 1979 Rose Cottage was bought by Val and Malcolm Fisher - like us, a young couple in search of a place they could call their home-made home.
Val remembers Rose Cottage
We purchased Rose Cottage in May 1979 at auction held at the old hall behind the Boreatton Arms , sadly the hall has now been demolished .
We stripped the cottage back to bare bones due to every timber being rotten &, to preserve the sandstone that had been eaten away by brick bees, made the decision to render , with a glorious deep cream , caused quite a stir at the time .
We extended side & rear & after many freezing cold nights in a caravan Dec 1980 coldest on record in Shropshire for many years we moved in & slept on the floor in front of an open fire.
Happy days indeed.
In 1993 Val & Malcolm sold Rose Cottage to Dave & Margaret Farmer and went on to open Clementines shop and Baschurch Post Office
WHITE GABLES in the 1980s
When Mary Price died of cancer, White Gables was on the market.
In 1982 Chrissy and Mac were living across the road in Willow View but were looking for a property with access to the river and White Gables answered this description. Moving across the road and down the lane was relatively simple - until it came to the piano - amazing what you can achieve with several friends and a few pints of home brew.
Chrissy Niddre-Davies` remembers White Gables
We heard about the availability of White Gables from Yo and Rog, having been invited over for dinner. I had a new boyfriend who was working in Saudi and I persuaded him to join me in buying White Gables as an investment. We bought it the next day before it had gone on the market.
The tiny kitchen had a sink branded "Truelove" and, as we were rather keen on each other, we bought the house! We got married and I produced Joe 9 months later whilst Mac renovated the house almost single-handed, raising the roof as required by building regs and doubling the size of the original cottage. As the house wasn't ready, we lived in a tiny caravan all through the hot summer of my pregnancy so I wore a bikini most of the time - a truly shocking apparition. I barrowed 18 loads of cement to celebrate 18 weeks' pregnancy! When we were renovating upstairs, we had ripped out the rotten staircase and as I climbed the ladder which replaced it, 9 months pregnant, my "bump" was so big the ladder would overbalance and tip away from the wall.
We both had full-time jobs too: I was teaching at the Corbet and Mac working for the MOD. Mothers were only given 6 weeks' maternity leave then. We had to move in shortly after Joe was born but when he was 3 months old at Christmas, the roof was still incomplete and it snowed in. We woke up and could not open our bedroom door because so much snow had drifted up behind it! But it was a lovely home for 15 years and we and our children were so sad to leave.
TWO & THREE WOODVIEW LANE
Jess and Mary Richards were able to move into sheltered housing at Millington Close, Baschurch and the Wainwright`s put the two cottages up for sale.
Ken Bramhall remembers converting numbers 2 & 3
We purchased 2/3 Woodview on 6 November 1987. It was 1994 before we moved in, after completing part of the work. At that time we hadn't got the extension so only had 2 bedrooms. We added the extension after moving in.
All the work was done by Colin Knox and myself. Colin was the one with the know how and l was the labourer. We did all the building, plumbing, and electrical installation. As you can see, we had to remove the roof and this was raised 45cm (18 inches) to enable us to create a corridor from one house to the other.
The original cottages were basically one bedroom, sitting room/kitchen and a lean-too scullery at the rear. I was told by a man that grew up in number 2 that the toilet was originally partway down the slope. There were toilets in the houses and basic showers when we acquired them.
When finished the house had a sitting room, dining room, kitchen, utility room and toilet downstairs. Upstairs are three bedrooms, one of which is en suite, and a family bathroom.
Did Ken & Sally call their house Toad Cottage because there were toads in the garden or because Ken was the star of Ruyton Amateur Theatrical Society`s (RATS) production of Toad of Toad Hall - or both……
RAY `WILLPOWER` WILLIAMS
Ray Williams started this whole project by lending me the photograph of Maud Fox and Miss Philips at the top of Woodview Lane. Ray grew up with his parents and brothers, Bill and Tom, at World`s End Cottages. Their father, and then Ray, worked for Jim Slater, at the Broadlands Farm between Ruyton and Baschurch. In due course Ray went to work for John Gittins, Hall Farm, Ruyton XI Towns.
Ray seems to have been an unusual young man, and rather than spend his time playing football and drinking in Ruyton`s three pubs, he trained his body to perform formidable feats of strength which he demonstrated to his workmates on the farm.
Then, he started to perform in the local pubs and at village fetes to raise money for charity. In 1971 he aimed to beat the world record for eating cheese, supplied by Ruyton dairy, but had to give up after 14 ounces! One evening he put away 8 portions of fish and chips, supplied by Roy Penton`s fish and chip van. At this time Ray`s chosen charity was for the blind, both his brothers lost their sight.
In 1974 Ray entered a talent contest in Chirk and from then on, he just kept on inventing new stunts, such as pulling a bus with a rope held in his teeth, and pulling a Land Rover the same way - for 26 miles! One of his more dangerous `tricks` was balancing two sledgehammers on his teeth and he would ask a big strong man to swing a sledge at his stomach to show the strength of his muscles. Perhaps his strangest stunt was to push a pea with his nose round and round Pride Hill Shopping Centre.
Unfortunately, Ray was somewhat lacking in charisma and never had a manager who could organise the publicity he deserved. In 1980 he joined the circus and toured Cornwall for the summer.
He obviously had very happy memories of his childhood at World`s End, perhaps he was a particular favourite of childless Jim and Maud Fox. When Jim and Maud left Rose Cottage and moved to a bungalow at Birch Grove, Ray would visit them and that is when he met their niece, Edna, who was already suffering from Multiple Schlerosis and in a wheelchair. Ray and Edna, were by then in their 40s but they fell in love and were married in 1984.
Edna was the making of Ray, at last he had found someone who needed him, someone with whom he could share his life. Although Edna`s illness got progressively worse, for 23 years, Ray, Edna and the wheelchair got dressed up for their annual performance in the annual Shifnal Carnival.
Ray walked 1000 miles in 30 days round the roads of Shifnal pushing Edna in her wheelchair and in 2002 he ran the London Marathon in his wellies. He took 12 hours to complete a tri-marathon when he ran, cycled and walked 26 miles. Ray was often seen speed walking round Ruyton, walking faster than some of the modern joggers!.
Every year as Edna got more and more frail, Ray attended to her every need and of course, he was able to lift her wherever she needed to be. He really never recovered after he lost her, when he became ill himself he used to say he could cope with his prostrate cancer but not with the sciatica, perhaps induced by the stresses he put on his body over so many years.
Ray Williams, Ruyton`s `Willpower` Strongman, went to join Edna on 26 July 1015 - Ruyton`s only celebrity.
WOODVIEW LANE - Autumn 2016
So, what started out as some information about that photograph has grown into quite a story, about Braddick`s Corner and the people who have lived around Woodview Lane.
How things have changed in the last 50 odd years. We have all grown older, children born when we were in the middle of piles of bricks, sand, gravel, timber and cement have flown, some of us are still in those home-made homes we made with such love and laughs when all the work (and the humour) seemed to be fuelled by home brew beer - and the parties at Brownhill House were legendary.
People come to Ruyton XI Towns, buy an instant house on an estate and settle, some for a very short time and others will perhaps be here in 50 years` time.
All the work I have done on Ruyton history has been due to the wonderful friends we met in the Bridge Inn and our neighbours, special thanks for this piece go to Nesta Clark, a native of Ruyton and Tony Gittins who researched past owners of Number 2, 2 & 3 Woodview Lane. In 1965 Nesta and her husband Vernon bought the field oppose Rose Cottage from Miss Philips and built their bungalow - Vernon had the advantage over the rest of us as he was a builder!
Dave & Margaret Farmer bought Rose Cottage from Val & Malcolm Fisher in 1993 and Tony and Ros Gittins bought White Gables in June 2002.
|The photograph which started the story of Woodview Lane
||Yoland & Baby Miranda - rebuilding the WWI tin kitchen
||When you are re-roofing your house, everyone needs a Brian to help take the old slates off
|Malcolm & Val`s Rose Cottage restoration
||Moving Chrissy`s piano from Willow View to its new home at White Gables
||Mac Davies restoring White Gables with a couple of mates
|Ken & Sally`s mate, Colin Knox, was the foreman on the restoration of numbers 1 & 2, called Toad Cottage on completion.
||Ruyton XI Towns` celebrity strongman, `Willpower` with Edna - a team of three in the annual Shifnal Carnival
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