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Bream in 1961

The following is a valuable account of Bream from the 1961/2 Bream Secondary
Modern School Magazine


I live in Bream. It is a very big village with a population of more than two thousand. In the centre are the three schools, Infants, Junior and Secondary Modern. Mr. Gwilliam is Headmaster of the Secondary Modern School, Mr.Prichard is Headmaster of the Junior School and Mrs. Leach is Headmistress of the Infants School. There are three Chapels and a Church in Bream. The Church is the Church of St. James, the largest chapel is looked after by Miss Dora. Humphries, the second by Mr. H. Kear and the third has been bought by the Pentecostal Society which has started repairing and redecorating the inside of the building. Not many people from Bream attend this chapel; most of the congregation comes from Sling and Drybrook. At the top of the village stands the Cenotaph with the names inscribed upon it of the men who died in the two world wars. Names are written on three sides of the Cenotaph. We have one Doctor named Dr. O'Driscoll whose father was also the Doctor for Bream and his Surgery is next to the Secondary School and is part of the Doctor's house. Bream has two policemen and each has his own house, one on either side of the police station. Mr. Kings and Mr. Button are the two officers in charge of the station although Mr. Button spends most of his time in Lydney. In Bream there are two magistrates, Mrs. Fewings and Mr. A. Brookes. We have many shops including Williams and Cottons and the Co-op. There are two Post Offices; the main one at the top of Bream and the smaller one at the bottom. There is also a shoe shop and a fishmonger, an electrical appliance shop run by Cliff James, and a baker (Downhams) supplying most of the people in Bream with bread and cakes. Two farms (Wildin's and Taylor's) supply milk, we have a chemist, a clinic, six public houses and four petrol stations.. In the village is a male voice choir conducted by Mrs. W.O. Davies, this choir has won many cups and prizes. Many younger boys go to a billiards room. There is a Youth Club which meets in the Hall of the Secondary School on Mondays and Fridays which is led by Mr. F. Williams and Mrs. Smith. Mr's. Smith also takes Keep Fit classes on a Monday before Youth Club starts. Bream Brass Band is conducted by Mr. Evan Jones. He organises all their contests and trips and the band has won many cups and prizes. The bandsmen have built their own Band Room for practising and holding private and annual parties. Mr. Jones is also Secretary to the Commoners' Association. In Bream there are three football teams and one cricket team. The Rugby Club has bought the old cinema and it is being turned into a Social Club; at present the Rugby team has its club at the Rising Sun Inn. The Cricket Club uses the pavilion by the Cricket Field. Rugby and Football clubs have separate playing fields. Cubs and Brownies meet in Bream. The Cubs are taken by Mrs. Button and the Brownies by Mrs. Manns. Annual Chrysanthemum and Flower Shows are held by the Horticultural Society in the Secondary School Hall. Miss D. Humphries wins many prizes and cups at both shows; she is the local florist together with Mr. C. Birt. There are two big housing estates. One is called Hillside and is situated at the bottom of the village. Five hundred people live on and around the estate. The other one, Highbury Estate, has about four hundred people living on and around it. There are two rows of council houses by the police station. The Princess Royal Colliery stands between Bream and Whitecroft and many men from Bream work there. In Bream there is a Saw Mills which is owned by Mr. Edmunds where six men from Bream work. Some of the wood that is used comes from Parkend but most of it comes from Bream. A regular bus service takes people to and from Whitecroft, Yorkley , Lydney, Cinderford, Monmouth, Hereford, Coleford, St. Briavels and Parkend. The other people of Bream work in factories and businesses near Bream such as The Whitecroft Pin Company, Rubber Works and Pine End Factory. Some work for the Forestry Commission and County Council. My father's family has lived in Bream for many generations. I have lived here all my life and would not like to move because it is quiet and I like the people.

? added (February 2010): "... Fascinating to see a reminiscence from the early sixties. I believe that "Dr O'Driscoll" was one Michael O'Driscoll - probably the fastest bowler ever to play for what became my club - Lydney. Had he not already had a profession, he would surely have played for - at least - Gloucestershire: England would have been a possibility. I joined Lydney a few years after he had stopped playing. But I still recall watching him bowl as a pre-teen spectator. Quite awesome. The policeman named King must be Sergeant Bert King, who was my "boss" when I was a Volunteer Police Cadet in the very early sixties. He was a totally dedicated officer, and wonderful mentor to us. Several of us went on to have reasonable police careers of our own".

John O'Driscoll added (November 2016) "Yes, this was Dr Mike O'Driscoll, my father (died 2004) who was the fast bowler. He played for Gloucestershire seconds in the early 1950s, before I was born, and I have a large number of his cricket stories. However, this is the first time I have ever heard anyone suggest he might have been England material - perhaps slight exaggeration of a youthful memory! We left Bream in 1968 as there was not really enough work left for a GP after the pit closed in the early 1960s, and my father finished his career as a GP in Verwood Dorset. I spent the first 8 years of my life living in that Doctors House next to the school (Lindum House.) I well remember the excitement when the village grocer, Williams and Cotton, first got Green Shield Stamps about 1967 or 68! Anyone remember my Granny Gwladys who was first the doctor's wife, and later the doctor's mother?".

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