Mr H Horsley’s bicycle trip.
Inside the Flourmill Power House c 1916.
Left : Stan Jones, Herbert Horsley (standing with hands on rails) , (sitting) unknown.
The following account was kindly written for the SunGreen Web Site
by Mr Phil Horsley. Phil's dad, Herbert Horsley provided the very first
electrical services and fittings to many homes and buildings in and
around Bream including St James Church :
In 1911, My father, Herbert Horsley “got on his bike” (re: Norman Tebbit), and with his friend Jack Reader, set off from Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire, cycling to find work. They were both painters and decorators. Their intention was to cycle to Fishguard in Wales, where they understood there was plenty of work to be found. They headed South and arrived in Bream where they stayed overnight with Mr and Mrs Hancocks (Woodside). They were the parents of “Ethel” who was “in service” in the Midlands. She was to become the future wife of Jack.
As they started on their way the next day, they were impressed with the beauty of the Forest of Dean, and realised that there was quite a bit of building work in the area, with the possibility of work for them. Jack obviously wanted to stay, but dad wanted to press on, so they decided to toss a coin to decide whether to stay in Bream or carry on to Fishguard. (with the result that Bream won!),
After a while however, it was apparent there was insufficient work for two, so dad managed to get a job in the engine house at the “Flour Mill” colliery, leaving Jack to carry on with painting. Jack eventually married Ethel and set up his home and later opened a painting materials shop at the top of Whitecroft Road.
Meanwhile dad worked in the engine house at the colliery, marrying my
mother in 1914, living at “Forest View” and
later (about 1925) moved to “Bromley
View”, New Road.
After studying, he recognised the future possibilities of Electricity on seeing the building of the West Gloucestershire Power Company Power Station at what is now the Norchard Railway site near Lydney. This lead to mains electricity ultimately spreading through the Forest of Dean.
He left the colliery in 1927, and set up his own business as a sign-writer,
and as one of the first Electrical Contractors in the Dean. He lettered
many shops in Bream, including the old Williams and Cotton shop in Bream
High Street (now the “Whats in Store”).
His business included a shop at “Bromley View,” and one at Swan Road Lydney (Opposite the Swan Inn), selling radios, gramophone records and electrical goods. His eldest son Robert (Bob) managed the shop, and won prizes for one of the best dressed shop windows for two consecutive years, during the “Lydney Shopping Week”. This was an annual event held before the second world war.(The Swan Road shop is now a Motor Cycle clothes shop).
Dad was an excellent artist, painting the van in
the picture (around 1934) which his son Bob used to travel weekly around
the Forest, selling batteries and exchanging charged lead acid accumulators
for discharged ones, which foresters were able to use on their battery
powered radios before mains electricity reached them.
When dad died in 1958, his second son Harry carried on the electrical business until November 1989, when it was wound up.
My final comment to this story is that, had the coin landed on the other side and they had continued their journey to Wales, I wonder how our lives as Welshmen would have been ? ! !
Phil Horsley. August 2004.
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