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Billo Nash, 1938

Billo Nash

Row 2: 1 Mr Stevens, 2 Mr Higgins, 3 Bill Knightley.
Row 1: 1 Joe Samuel 'Buck' Yearsley, 2 Maurice Lewis, 3 Arthur Rudge, 4 Billo Nash.

Forest Historian, John Belcher wrote (Jan 2007): "This picture of miners outside the Flourmill on pay day, includes Billo Nash sitting on the front righthand side, complete with his hook as an artificial hand. He also had a hammer which he could screw in after removing the hook. My wife Ena is his granddaughter".
John continued : "William (Billo) Nash retired in the mid 1940s around the time the photo was taken. He went back to work for one day in January, 1950, to qualify for an NCB miner's pension following Nationalisation in 1947. He was born in 1872, started work at the illegal age of 9 in the China Iron Mine as a Billie boy, hodding iron ore on his back. He worked at the St Vincent, Parkend Deep Navigation and Flour Mill Collieries. He lost his left hand using a faulty shotgun potting bottles outside the Miners Arms pub in Sling., was carried by horse and cart to Monmouth for treatment and married his nurse, Fanny Worgan. With no Social Security in those days, he had his false arm fitted, made locally, and got a job driving a steam compressor during the sinking of the Park Gutter Colliery.
He then worked at the Flour Mill Colliery as a stoker on the Lancashire Boilers and then as switchboard attendant in the powerhouse.
Billo could play the trumpet and the harmonica and ran a Drum and Fife Band locally for youngsters. He was often visited by local children at the colliery and helped many of them learn their musical instruments including Algy and Vince Hoare, whom I believe,both played the trumpet.
He carved dancing puppets and operated them in the Oakwood Inn with his knees as he played his harmonica.
There are at least two puppets in existence, owned by Bream women.
Billo had two children, Reuben and Ena, when he lived in Sling. Reuben went on to become Managing Director at Fred Watkins Engineering after starting at Fred Watkins house in Milkwall as a gardeners boy at the age of 14 and married Florence Jaine, a Herefordshire farmer's daughter who was the cook at Clearwell Castle in the 1930s. Ena married Howard Morgan, who worked at Princess Royal Colliery. Rueben and Flo had 3 daughters and Ena and Howard had 3 sons.
After Fanny died, Billo married a widow from Bream by the name of Hannah Lewis. He died in 1954 aged 81 after an 'official' working career of 69 years (and people think they have it hard nowadays).

Julie Hurdman added (Jan 2007): "Joe Samuel was born in Abersychan in Wales and came to live in the Forest of Dean to find work. After leaving the mine Joe bought the butchers shop in Milkwall and ran the shop with his wife Hetty until his death in 1962. Joe was my grandfather".

Dave Rudge added (Jun 2007): "... (his) sister Iris took the photo in 1938. The men, apart from Billo who worked in the Powerhouse, were the Pumpsmen at the Flourmill. In the back row, left to right were Mr Stevens, Mr Higgins and Bill Knightley, who was Iris's future husband from the Midlands. She was in-service there at the time. They both served in the Armed Forces during the 2nd World War and were married in 1946. He is holding her camera case. In the front row, L to R is 'Buck' Yearsley, Maurice Lewis, Arthur Rudge and 'Billo' Nash.

RM Smith added (November 2007): "I am Billo's great grandson and I have his false arm and the hammer. I was told it was made by the blacksmith at Flourmill Colliery".

Max Morgan added (Jan 2009): "I am Billo Nash's grandson, youngest son of Ena Morgan (nee Nash).  I to my joy I have just found Billo's Cornet in my Attic.  I knew it was there somewhere!".

Ken Ellis added (Oct 2010): "... As a boy I and others would visit Billo when he worked at the power house. He had a little hut in the power house and we used to be fascinated with the hum of the place and all the various dials along the back wall. Billo was more than happy to share his vittels with us for this we were very grateful especially when it happened to be a piece of cheese. We never went down below the power house but understood that Billo grew mushrooms down there ... faint recollection but I do believe that Billo had a jackdaw which he had taught to talk. A legend and a great forest character. If any old boys from Bream should read this I would like to know if anybody can remember Charlie the shoe black who used to live rough and made an existence from going door to door cleaning shoes".

William Nash added (November 2020): "... Ironically "Billo" was not the only "Bill Nash" working at Flour Mill. My Grandfather (my namesake!), who before WW1 lived at Clements End worked stoking the boilers at Flourmill circa 1906. He eventually retired around 1956 having spent most of his mining career in the Pit complex around Princess Royal (Park Gutter) and Flour Mill. He worked with the haulage and pump systems - even working through the '20s strike to keep the water out of the pits - else there would be no work to which the miners could return. He appears in your Coleford Carnival 1960 picture (see my namings)".

Thanks also to Margaret Smith (Nash).

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