Oxhill News

www.oxhill.com / www.oxhill.org.uk

South Warwickshire, England.

The Oxhill News

April 2013

This months News



William Albert James (Bert) Bloxham

1916 – 2013

Bert was born on Christmas Eve, 1916 at Home Farm Cottages, Upton, causing his Granny Hancox a long uphill walk from Tysoe in wintry conditions in order assist his mother. He attended Tysoe School,  and recalled happy times there and school outings, but also a pupil teacher who used to tap inattentive pupils on the head with the rubber tube from a bicycle pumpmounted on a pencil – (“very painful”, he said). The school nurse who battled with the fleas and nits then prevalent in the village’s old cottages, was called Miss Hunter, and known as “Bug-Hunter” to the boys!

When Bert’s father returned from the First World War, the family moved to The Dock in Tysoe,  a rough square of dilapidated cottages behind the village street, now demolished. In 1931,when he was 14, his first job was at Church Farm, Oxhillbut at 16, (since he was then due a man’s wage), he was replaced by another boy.  He moved on to various casual jobs, finding more permanent work milking at Springfield Farm, seven days a week.  Later he moved to another farm where he could get Saturdays off.  In 1935 his mother had died of a heart condition following rheumatic fever, andafterwards the familymoved to new housing in Epwell Road, which Bert always regretted that she had notlived to enjoy.

During and after the War he worked for Findon Bros of Pillerton,farmers and agricultural contractors.  He operated a threshing machine, and also drove a crawler tractor, an International TD9.  This had a starting handle which once kicked back so badly that he suffered a fractured skull and broken arm, and spent 3 weeks in Shipston Hospital.

On a day off, he was out cycling with a friend through Sibford, when he had a chance meeting with Joy Salmon, (as she then was), and the ensuing friendship blossomed into marriage in 1944.  The couple made their home in Whatcote Road, their house then ownedby the “War Ag”, (the War Agricultural Committees which provided housing for agricultural workers).  Heather, their only daughter, was born in 1945.

After Bert left Findon Bros, he worked for Warwickshire County Council in their dustbin collection service, until his retirement in 1981. He continued to work as a gardener for a great many people in the area until well into his eighties, and was often seen on his bike cycling between jobs.

In his younger days, he had played cricket for Oxhill on the field on the corner of Green Lane opposite the church, (known as “The Green), and also football for Whatcote.  Later he enjoyed following all sport - horse racing in particular - and tending his own garden.  In old age, he was much hampered by deafness, caused by a working life spent using un-silenced machinery, but he continued to be alert of mind and memory.  Joy’s death in 2009 was a great sorrowand further isolated him, as with her many activities she had kept him in touch with village news.

There is an African proverb that says “when an old man dies, a library burns down”.  Bert has taken with him a fund of memories of old ways and customs, and I am grateful that he took time to share so many of these with me over the years.

Ann Hale

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Last modified: March 28, 2013