The riverside at Castlefields

The riverside at Castlefields

Friday, 15 August 2014

Castlefields man rescues war memorial from demolition site

Castlefields man George Paget was walking past a demolition site just across the road from the Canal Tavern when he spotted something precious amongst the rubble.
Well, it seemed precious to him anyway.
The item in question clearly meant nothing to the workmen who were throwing everything onto the back of a lorry to be taken away.
This was, we think, about 1965, and the building being demolished was the Methodist Chapel at the junction of Beacalls Lane and New Park Road.
The site is today occupied by the Dulux paint decorator centre.
What had caught the attention of George Paget that day was a memorial stone, honouring Castlefields men who had been killed during the First World War.
George thought it was outrageous that a memorial stone displaying the names of the fallen could be thrown away as scrap. And he decided to intervene.
His daughters are today proud to tell of how their dad rescued the stone.
"I remember quite clearly that one day, amongst all the rubble, there were these men in suits and I asked Mum what they were doing," recalls Janice Oliver, one of George's daughters.
She and her sister, Christina Marshall-Clarke, are telling me the story.
"And Mum told me that these men in suits were de-consecrating the ground. They had to do that, apparently, so that the church could be demolished."
Janice, 70, and Christina, 65, told me that when their dad spotted the memorial stone, he asked the workmen if he could have it. He told them the stone shouldn't go. It should be preserved.
No-one had any objection to George taking the stone so he set about taking it home to his house in New Park Street.
"It was placed against the front wall of our house," said Janice.
"No-one would take it at the time. Even All Saints Church wouldn't take it at the time. There's a lot of protocol about what goes into a church, apparently."
Several years later, explains Christina, Father Maddox agreed to take it into the porch of All Saints Church in North Street.
Janice says: "It took about four men to carry it. It was ever so heavy."
Fast-forward to the present day and the memorial stone rescued by George Paget from that demolition site in the sixties now has a special place within All Saints Church.
"Father Michael Fish decided that they ought to get the stone cleaned up, especially now with all the commemorations going on to mark the First World War. So now it's all cleaned up and mounted on a small plinth. What's more there was a special service on August 4. At All Saints there was already a memorial board with about 90 names on it. And then they were able to add the memorial stone from the old Methodist church, and a speaker came to the service from the Methodist Church and read out the names from the stone."
So salutes all round, then, for George Paget who single-handedly rescued this memorial stone from obscurity.
By all accounts George was a real character and, clearly, Christina and Janice are very proud of what their dad did.
"He was a prison officer at the Dana, but he also kept pigs at the allotment in Castlefields," said Christina. "His favourite pigs were Spotty, Winnie and Patch and they were like pets to us.
"Dad was also a big friend of another Castlefields character, George Jones, the rag and bone man, who had a horse and cart."
Ah, yes. The old days in Castlefields. I was able to tell Christina and Janice that I well remember George Jones with his horse and cart, and I also remember walking home from the Lancasterian School and seeing the demolition of the Methodist church taking place.
Does anyone else out there remember the demolition? If so, I would love to hear from you - or indeed if you just want to share your memories of the old days.

Pictured below: Janice Oliver and Christina Marshall-Clarke, daughters of George Paget.

Phil Gillam's gentle novel of family life, Shrewsbury Station Just After Six, is now available from Pengwern Books in Shrewsbury, Waterstones, and from amazon.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

A highly eventful few weeks

Yes. It's been a highly eventful few weeks.
Luckily, I'm one of those people who scribbles everything down, makes loads of lists, keeps a diary, keeps a logbook, takes photographs, messes about on Facebook and twitter and, er, occasionally writes something on this blog.
So it's relatively easy to review what has been a busy and fascinating period. (Well, fascinating to me at least).
But, in a nutshell, since leaving the Shropshire Star on June 27, I've:
1. Researched thoroughly the prospect of writing and producing a Home Handbook guide to trades, shops and services in a specific area of Shrewsbury. (Watch this space).
2. Taken soundings (regarding the Home Handbook) from local businesses in Coleham and Belle Vue (very positive).
3. Completely revamped the study.
4. Continued to write my weekly column (Shrewsbury Matters) for the Shrewsbury Chronicle.
5. Attended an excellent one-day business course at Birmingham Library.
6. Took part in this year's Severn Valley Railway Pub Crawl, organised once again by little brother Tony.
7. Enjoyed a fantastic holiday with my darling wife in Somerset and Bristol.
8. Met and interviewed the charming 92-year-old Mr Charlie Furnival (an old pal of Dad's).
9. Delivered fresh copies of my novel, Shrewsbury Station Just After Six, to Waterstones. Within days I would have the joy of seeing, in Waterstones, my book on the very same shelf as Mary Webb's masterpieces.
10. Secured a wonderful part-time job as Media Officer for the charity, Shropshire Seniors.
11. Enjoyed a fantastic family picnic on a blazing hot day at beautiful Attingham Park.
12. Enjoyed a friendly barbecue at Shropshire Seniors.
13. Attended official opening of the excellent Terence Spencer photographic exhibition at the Museum and Art Gallery.
14. Took Jan, Betty, Alex and Vanessa to the garden centre (nice).
15. Re-established contact with splendid fellow Henry Carpenter.
16. Pushed on with writing of my new novel.
17. Spoke to Laura about artwork for the cover of my new novel.
18. Really useful meeting with small businesses expert at Santander.
19. Carluccio's with darling wife and six excellent friends.
20. The Peach Tree for family brunch.
21. Emailed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (what's unusual about that?)
22. Second meeting with Charlie Furnival (this time with old friend Steve who fancies the two of us producing a coffee table book on old characters of Shrewsbury).
23. Acquired beautiful new desk.
24. Acquired beautiful new computer to put on the desk.
25. Fantabulous journey to Birmingham for birthday treat with Tom (including magical night at the Electric Cinema).
26. Following day, darling wife joins us in Birmingham for super day.
27. Lovely birthday meal at the Shalimar thanks to mother-in-law.
28. Treated myself to a Beatles mousemat!
29. Excellent trip to Cardiff to take Alex back to university. Nice meal. Good trip.
30. Continued looking into setting up my own business.
31. Booked a week's holiday in Pembrokeshire.
32. Jim Gillam Memorial Pub Crawl 2014. A classic!
33. First week working at Shropshire Seniors. Just wonderful!
34. Not forgetting some lovely days in town with darling wife.
35. Loads of lovely birthday presents too!
Not a bad few weeks.