The Life and Times of James Edwards: Early Years

Edwards' Coaches of Bishop's Itchington

The Old Schoolhouse on the corner of Fisher Road and Poplar Road, Bishop's Itchington. Now a private house.
© Copyright Ian Rob and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic Licence. Originally uploaded to

Jimmy Edwards was born February 5th 1895, the only son of Tom Edwards, Blacksmith of Bishop’s Itchington. Tom and his wife Elizabeth had four girls before they had young Jimmy. Jim went to the village school where the headmaster was Mr Walton. After school he used to help his father in the small market garden they had at Cross Green where Tom’s shop still stands. The blacksmith worked at making horseshoes and fitting them on the horses, mostly working horses that people brought to him to be shod. The horses were mostly big cart horses and the farrier (that’s another name for horse blacksmith) had to be very strong.

Never really made a smith

Jim had a go at shoeing, had his own little leather apron, but he was only 5’2” and slim built, so he never really made a smith. They had a horse called Prince and a sheepdog named Joe. Jim’s mother and dad used to pick fruit, starting at four in the morning, then drove into Leamington Spa and sold the fruit round the big houses. Raspberries, red and blackcurrants, rhubarb, apples, plums and damsons – also vegetables, all home grown, such as potatoes, peas, kidney beans, marrows. Fresh hen eggs were about 4d per dozen. They used to go to market and buy things like kippers, then Jim used to bike round the farms trying to sell them. Two pairs of kippers cost 2 1/2d!

Sometimes he would bike all the way to a farm and the lady would say ‘none this week Jimmy, thank you’. Sometimes he would go out of control and crash into the ditch, because the old bike was heavy. Tom used to make hooks and scythes for cutting hedges and grass and so on. Some of the fagging hooks were very big and heavy, the men used to say ‘Make me a number six Tom, I like to cut some grass when I get going’. Sometimes Jim used to have to take hay to some sheep that they had in a little paddock that his dad rented off Andrew Clarke. Jimmy had to carry a burden of hay on a hayfork for about ½ a mile and climb over stiles, without dropping the hay off.

An empty beer jar

Sometimes Tom employed a village farm labourer to cut hay for haymaking for him, the pay was five shillings a day plus one gallon of beer in a stone jar. One day Jimmy went to see how the chap was getting on, he was fast asleep under the hedge, the beer jar empty, and not a blade of grass cut!

Originally written 02.05.1983. Digitised by Haidee Powell – October 2009

Harbury Heritage reference HM1304

(Continued in part two)