COBBLER, POSTMAN AND SCHOOL CARETAKER
George MARSHMAN (24 June 1920 to 6 March 2008)
Much loved husband and father, George was also a former Hallow shoe repairer, postman and school caretaker – remembered here by his son, David. (September, 2016.)
George Marshman was born at Thorngrove, Grimley on 24 June 1920. His parents were Frederick, who was head gardener at Thorngrove, and Esther (nee Morgans) who was originally from Pembrokeshire.
George had an elder brother, James (known as Jim) and a younger sister, Vera. When the family had to leave the tied cottage, George and Vera went to live with a relative in Pembrokeshire, whilst Jim stayed in Hallow. After a couple of years, the family was reunited when they were able to buy and move to The Haven, a cottage on Moseley Road.
George attended Hallow School until he left to work at Dents Glove factory in Worcester. He then worked for Mr. Jacobs, a shoe repairer who had premises in either Friar Street or New Street, Worcester. (George Jacobs, boot repairer, was listed in Kelly’s Directory 1928, as being at 43 Portland Street, Worcester).
George bought Carey Villa, Hallow in either 1948 or 1949 and in 1951, he married Mary nee Carpenter. They had three sons, David, John and Clive.
Carey Villa in 2016 – David is standing in front of his father’s workshop.
The property was given Grade II listing in the October 1984, being one of the few remaining three-storey houses in Hallow.
We’re not exactly sure when George became a part-time postman, but a villager can remember him in the 1950’s working on the mail in the morning and repairing shoes in the afternoon. The Post Office and Sorting Office was situated between Jessamine and Cleggs Garage on the Main Road in Hallow. (The post office was run by Mrs Clegg (Ray’s mother) and it was at the top of a slope at the back of where they now display cars above the brick wall. Before that it was in a thatched building behind where the telephone box is now.)
George would work from 06.00 to 12.00 hours, either sorting or delivering mail. His sons would help out at Christmas time. In the ‘worst winter of 1962/63’, George was knocked off his bicycle at the crossroads of Sinton Green and Grimley, and he was seriously injured, being hospitalised for two or three months.
Whilst living with his family at The Haven in Moseley Road, as well as being a part-time postman, George set up a workshop in the garden shed and started to repair shoes. After marrying Mary they lived at Carey Villa and he transferred his business there. In the early days, if any stitching was required i.e. new soles, shoes were taken by his son David to the Empire Shoe Repairers in Farrier Street, Worcester.
In the early days, after the Hallow Sorting Office was closed by the Post Office, George took on the role of caretaker at Hallow C. of E. Primary School and one of his duties was to wind the clock by hand, climbing the tower by means of a wooden ladder and standing on a narrow platform.
He acquired more shoe repair equipment, including a (sole) stitching machine, a leather cutter, and a leather buffer and polisher, making it possible for him to take on other work such as repairing bridles and saddlery, and repairing motorcyclists ‘leathers’, damaged by their wearers at the Isle of Mann TT races.
These photographs are of the machinery and equipment used by George.
David Marshman in his father's workshop - 2016
|Singer Treadle Sewing Machine|
|A Leather Cutter|
David demonstrating how to use the Leather Cutter which has extremely sharp rotary blades
George's workbench c/w shoe lathe - but not the original !
View of the workshop from the doorway (the Leather Polisher and Buffing Machine on the left occupies the entire wall)
The Leather Polisher and Buffer is on the left of the picture with a machine that stitches on soles in the centre. The Singer Sewing machine and Leather Cutter is on the right.
George was featured in a Berrow’s Journal newspaper, date unknown -
George Marshman divides his time between repairing the villagers’ shoes and acting as caretaker to the school next door, which he attended as a boy. “Parents from Worcester sometimes bring their children out here to see a shoe workshop in action” he explains proudly.
In his spare time, George was a member of the Hallow Working Men’s Club, and the Hallow Bowling Club – the green was situated in part of the area now tennis courts belonging to the Tennis Club. He also supported West Bromwich Albion Football Club and regularly attended the home matches. He also enjoyed gardening and kept his garden immaculate.
For many years George’s wife Mary was a ‘dinner lady’ at Hallow Village School. She also loved to sing and was an active member of the Women’s Institute choir until her death on 9 July 1987, aged 61.
George retired in his mid-seventies during the 1990’s, and he died 6 March 2008 aged 87. He is buried in Hallow churchyard, with his wife Mary.
Leonard Leslie Hubert Vale-Onslow MBE (2 May 1900 – 23 April 2004) was a motorcycle builder. He invented the SOS racing bike in 1926. He repaired and test-rode motorbikes and lived above one of his shops in Birmingham, England, close to his three children, six grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren. In 1999 he was awarded the MBE for being Britain's oldest worker and in 1999 he also became the oldest subject of This Is Your Life.
When Len was a youngster, his six older brothers ran two garages in Birmingham and they made him a small motorbike. They used to take him to Sutton Park and taught him how to ride it. He was too young to fight the First World War, though he drove a munitions lorry at the age of 14.
He lost one brother on the Somme and another was invalided out of the forces. In the Second World War, he was pronounced unfit to serve by doctors who, as it turned out, were all to die before him.
When he was 26, he designed and built a motorbike. The frame weighed 19 lb. and cost 19 shillings. It was so light, that he took out a world patent on it. When WWII started, he sold the manufacturing business and he and his wife started selling motorcycles. When they had met, she was just a country girl who was staying with the parents of a friend of his. She was 16 and he was 10 years older, and when he took her to the pictures, it was to silent films. He proposed to her after they had been going out for three years.
They became a formidable business team, both being workaholics and living above the shop. They had some land where they were going to build a house, but even when they eventually became millionaires, they decided not to move. They bought more property - another three shops and a showroom and two or three smaller companies.
When his wife died in 1982, Len's heart was broken. For two years he simply could not think straight, and that was when the business went through tough times. But eventually he got over his problems and threw himself back into his work, labouring on his bikes even at night. Despite his commitment to motorbikes, Len was not quite so keen on the automobile age.
He once said in an interview: "With the traffic and all the pollution, I keeps saying cars ought to be abolished. With a car you can't feel the wind on your face or the sky like you can on a bike. There was no stress in the days when cars were a luxury; you had to walk mainly, or ride a bicycle and it was much healthier. I can't see anything has changed for the better."
He continued to ride until the age of 102. He died in 2004,
shortly before his 104th birthday.