Memories of Fazeley, written by Joseph T. Hunter in August 2008 when he was 88 years old.

Our Family

My great grandfather came from East Largs, Scotland and settled in Preston before coming to Drayton Manor to be gamekeeper for the Peels at their estate.

In his retirement he lived for a time at Burleigh Lodge, off the Sutton road at Mile Oak (my father's words) and would go round with his wooden cup filled with beech mast to sell for coppers. What a way to help with his meagre pension.

Some people might say 'what is beech mast'? It is the seed of the beech tree, which along with chestnuts we collected and enjoyed as children.

My grandfather had the same Christian names as myself and my father (Joseph Thomas) and served 21 years in the Army, so back to Preston to join the Loyal North Lancs at Fullbrook Barracks. He sired at least 14 children and I remember my mother saying that 3 were lost to croup in one year. My father was the eldest, born in 1886 and the youngest was my Aunt Rose, who married a young guardsman from Queen Street.

My father was born at the army barracks at Pembroke Dock in South Wales and his brothers and sisters were born in Ireland, Jersey, India and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). He spent his boyhood in Ceylon at Colombo and Trincomalee.

With his father, using nets and a Bullseye lamp they caught moths and butterflies from the Blue Mountain. These they set up in displays and framed.

My grandfather, coming to the end of his service, came back to Tamworth and became firm friends with the Reverend McGregor, who bought all his artefacts. The moths and butterflies were put on display at McGregor School in Glascote.

To earn a living my grandfather bought a pony and trap and he sold provisions and cakes to the soldiers at Whittington Barracks. Around 1899, the 'Loyals' were at the barracks prior to going to South Africa for participation in the Boer War. My father and his father met up with all his pals and singing and marching, the battalion arrived at Tamworth railway station. According to my father, once out in South Africa, they suffered heavy casualities.

An old friend of mine, Bert Leake, was milking the cows at Heathley Farm, Drayton Bassett and he could hear the troops singing and marching. Sound travelled a long way in those days.

My grandfather kept the fish and chip shop on 'The Knob', in my day owned by the Tallis's and was there in 1900 when Tamworth had a great flood and the family had to spend several days upstairs. Later, the family moved to the fruit, veg and wet fish shop by the opening to Queen Street, off Bolebridge Street. My grandfather went by pony and trap to buy his provisions in Birmingham.

The crabs were live and I remember him boiling them in the yard to kill them. As a youth my father, along with three others worked in Glascote Colliery. The roof caved in and killed one of them, so the others left and joined the Army.

My father went up to Preston where he joined the regiment under age, using the name Joseph Wright and that was the start of my fathers Army career. Stationed at the Curragh, then in Ceylon, a street guard in New Delhi for the coronation Durba of King George 5 in 1911, fighting in East Africa and then transferred to the Machine Gun Corps. Wounded, gassed and then lived to 90 years of age.

I am now 88 years, so who knows....