Thursday, 14 March 2013

Do you remember March 1955?

The month became with a severe storm which swept in covering the area with many feet of snow. Locals reckoned it was the worst weather since the infamous winter of 1947. The roads were blocked with vehicles abandoned in Solomon's Hollow. There was a birth and a death in the blizzards. A retired miner Ernest Jones aged 70 in a vain attempt to get to a health tribunal in Stoke tried to walk through the snow and was later found dead only yards from a farm house in Quanford. A GP from Hartington battled through the weather to deliver a baby at Longnor. Public transport acquitted itself fairly well and a snow plough fitted to a train was able to keep all local lines clear including the “bread” train down the Churnet line. The weather was eloquently described by a farmer WS Buxton from Old Mixon Haye Farm, Onecote. “ The weather has just been about as much as people can stand. It is a marvellous sight at the back of our place. The snow has formed into a 20 foot drift 100 yards long tunnel- its a wonderful sight”

A murder trial came to its conclusion in March 1955. It was a terribly sad affair as the jury took only 15 minutes to reach its verdict . Polish labourer 45 year old Jan Mirys was found guilty and ordered to be detained in a secure hospital as he was deemed unfit to plead by dint of insanity. The previous year Mirys had killed his Mother in Law Maria Kosarzewska at her Cromwell Terrace home in Leek with an axe. He then went on the run and was found later in Ballington Woods with self inflicted injuries to his legs. Mirys was suffering from paranoid delusions when he killed Maria. At his trial 12 months later he cut a pathetic figure as he had to be carried in by a prison warden as the Pole's legs had been amputated.

From the perspective of today we make the assumption that the 1950s were a period when political engagement was at its height. Over 80 % of the electorate had turned out in the 1951 election and both the two main political parties had over a million members. However apathy existed in the 1950s in votes cast in council elections. An editorial in the paper found the low turn out in the County elections deplorable accusing the people of the area of having a “ a could not care less attitude”. Only one member of the public attended a parish council meeting in Alton on a sewerage issue.

The sad news that Danny the last horse to work for Leek Urban Council had been put down. Danny represented the end of a tradition of the working horse. In 1900 there had been over 1 million working horses. The First World War had killed many horses and there future as a general beast of burden ended with the arrival of the internal combustion engine. News of other horses was reported in the letters page of the Post and Times suggesting a campaign against the high number of deaths at the Grand National at Aintree. In the 1954 Grand National 4 horses had been killed or humanely dispatched.

The death was announced of Charles Bill aged 83. He was the last Bill of Farley Hall near Oakamoor. The family had held the estate since the beginning of the 17th century and the family had been prominent in local politics for many years . Charles Bills father- another Charles- was Tory MP for Leek between 1892-1905. His son had a distinguished military career fighting in the Boer War and First World War. Mention should be made of his brother Hugo's exploit who rode from Persia back to England in 1911

It was in the news recently that there are plans to re open the Talbot pub as a hotel which will be a major boost for the town, There was a major renovation of the former coaching inn that year. The article in the paper informed the readers that “ the bar has red mottled plastic tops- cigarette burn proof and oak strips alternative light and dark in colour.”