William Richard Gold of Haseley Hall Farm

Corporal William Richard Gold, photographed at Lower Heyford, 1916.
Image courtesy of RT Bolton. Warwickshire County Record Office reference B.Has.Bol(P)

William Gold followed his father by also working on the railway and at one stage worked in West Bromwich where he met and married Lily Jane Edith Gee, the daughter of Alfred. Although Edith was her ‘third’ forename this is the one that she was known by. They had two children, Richard Alfred – ‘uncle Dick’ born 1904 and Ethel Gertrude – my mother, born March 16th 1909. During the Great War (WW1) William served in the Grenadier Guards as acting Corporal (regiment number 23907) and the Guards Machine Gun Regiment (regiment number 136) also as acting Corporal and was for part of the time based at Caterham in Surrey[…] [A]ccording to Army records he received at least two medals, the British Medal and the Victory Medal.

A letter to a daughter

Thursday March 14/18 Dear Ethel, Just a few lines to wish you many happy returns of the day I hope you will enjoy the humbugs I am sending you they will be nice for Sunday and make you quite warm. Write and tell me about all the presents you get and all the news. What class are you now in at school is it the dunces It has been raining here all morning although we have had some lovely weather. Our Major has gone back and we have a fresh one a Welsh Guard & he is a bit like an onion a bit hot. I have a new cap and it is quite a swanker. I hope to see you again about June if I can get my leave I wish I could get it now to help your mother with the garden. But I will let you know when I am coming. I must now close wishing you many happy returns of the day with love to you all from Dad.

The tone of this letter does not indicate it coming from someone anywhere [near] the front line at the time, I think there would be more serious topics than the weather to report.

Moves

The family were settled in the Olton area of Solihull for quite a while… as I understand it, the family ran a number of businesses alongside William Gold working at Olton station[…] Sometime in the late 1930s (possibly 1940, certainly after 1933) they came to Haseley Hall Farm on the Warwick to Birmingham road about five miles out of Warwick[…] It seemed that he put his railway pass to good use, as I was often told by my mother that he would regularly go to Pershore and Evesham to buy produce and occasionally other items from auction sales.

By 1942 he would have left the Great Western Railway, having completed 42 years service (I don’t know either his starting or finishing dates but assuming he started at aged 14 and taking out four years army service that would have taken him to sixty) and was working as a works policeman at Flavels cookers in Leamington Spa. This appeared to be a full time job as the farm was being worked by my mother and a labourer, Jimmy Keane, who was from ireland. They were assisted by a horse called Laddie, who was eventually bought by a Mr Powell who had a small farm at Baddesley Clinton… [M]y mother would occasionally go and see Laddie and I would go with her. laddie lived well into his twenties.

An accident

On Friday 24th —- 1942, at 6.05 pm, William Gold had an accident as he left Flavels’ factory and rode his autocycle up Ranelagh Terrace, as he turned onto the Tachbrook road he omitted to see a bus travelling towards him and rode into it with fatal results, he was 62 years of age. It was observed at the inquest that “he was new to Autocycling”. A Mrs Mary Mulley who witnessed the accident apparently shouted for him to stop but it was drowned out by an aeroplane passing overhead.

My grandmother and mother continued with the farm after my grandfather’s death but I don’t think they were very successful, encountering even more setbacks, and I would imagine that my mother’s marriage to my father would have been the final decider.

This article is an abridged section from the memoir Four Gallons of Petrol and a Pint of Oil. The full version can be seen at Warwickshire County Record Office, reference B.Has.Bol(P)

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