The Samuel family in Bottesford
Keith Samuel's recollections
Keith Samuel and Sue Middleton
Keith Samuel has kindly provided recollections and photographs of three generations of the Samuel family who have lived in Bottesford.
Members of the Samuel family have lived in and around Bottesford since the early 1900s. William Samuel and Mary Ellen Samuel were the first Samuels to move to Bottesford.
19th Century Samuel family history – Leighton Buzzard
19th century Census returns record the Samuel family living in Leighton Buzzard.
William Samuel’s grandparents, John and Jane Samuel were both born in Leighton Buzzard. John was a labourer and gardener but unfortunately died between July and August 1859 leaving his widow, Jane and their children William, Thomas, Ann and John.
William Samuel’s parents were Thomas and Elizabeth Samuel. In 1881, Thomas was a carpenter and Elizabeth was a dressmaker. Previously, in 1871, Elizabeth had been involved in the straw-hat industry as a straw plaiter.
William Samuel was born in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire on June 10th 1869. His siblings were Alice, William and Sarah.
William went to school at The Boy’s British School in Leighton Buzzard. His Standard 5 Home Lesson demonstrates considerable artistic merit and careful attention to detail in artwork illustrating his school work.
By 1891, William, aged 21, moved from Leighton Buzzard to Toddington where he worked as a grocer’s assistant in Mr and Mrs Saunderson’s grocery shop in Tanner’s End.
At the age of 31, in 1901, William had returned to Leighton Buzzard and was living at home. He was still employed as a grocer’s assistant. In May or June of that year, William married Mary Ellen, who was also from Leighton Buzzard.
Mr William Samuel’s shop on Market Street
Shortly after their marriage, the couple must have made the decision to move north and establish a grocery business in Bottesford. The 1911 census confirms that their eldest child William Arthur Samuel, aged 8, was born in Bottesford in about 1903. Their other children named in the census were Mary, Dorothy and Charles Thomas. Kelly’s Directory of 1908 for Bottesford lists William Samuel as a grocer and draper. They were to trade on Market Street for over 40 years.
Both groceries and draper’s goods are on sale and the window displays a fully stocked shop. There are hoops hanging by the side of the door and adverts in the large window advertise the sale of ‘garden flower seeds’, ‘Cadbury’s Cocoa’ and ‘flour’.
Dennis Kirk and George Waudby recall details of the shop in the 1920s and 30s. The smaller window of the shop belonged to the ground floor living area. There was a peep hole and when the shop bell rang Mrs Samuel would come through. ‘Light fingered’ children were reported to Mr. Cox, the Head Teacher, who was very strict!
Sugar was delivered in closely woven hessian sacks. This hessian was recycled to make peg rugs and hardwearing warehouseman’s aprons. Mr Samuel wore such an apron on which he wiped his hands between customers. The paraffin was in sixty gallon drums and paraffin was delivered by horse and cart. Mr Samuel also took his horse and trap to the Vale villages to deliver orders and to sell from the back of the trap.
Mr Samuel also sold sweets and soft drinks and was known as ‘Titty Bottle’ Samuel by children of the village because he sold the old fashioned curved feeding bottles for babies.
Pop was an old penny a bottle and the bottles were like small beer bottles.
George Waudby described how the ‘pop’ was made. A coloured, flavoured tablet was put into a bottle of water. There was a glass ball in the bottle and a rubber ring in the neck. The ball rose with the pressure from the effervescent salts into the neck of the bottle until it was secure. Keith Samuel, William and Mary Ellen’s grandson, also remembers that the ‘pop’ was made using coloured flavoured tablets and a gas cylinder. It is said on very good authority that these bottles were never washed!
On entry to the shop, there was a long glass topped display case. This contained all manner of items that could be found in a medicine chest and also includes the baby bottles and teats.
Ada Bond remembers the variety of smells in Samuel’s grocery shop. There were peanuts in a big sack and as you entered you could sneak a few of those. Dennis Kirk remembers the tiger and monkey nuts, oranges, bananas and especially pomegranates. The smell of the paraffin would waft from the back of the premises.
Mr Samuel’s windows at Christmas made a vivid impression on George Waudby – ‘they were wonderful’. There were coloured lights and a Father Christmas. The window display included a cardboard wind up model of a windmill with turning sails. A door slowly opened to reveal a Father Christmas. The door then quickly closed and Father Christmas disappeared until the door slowly opened again.
Eileen Jallands as she was then, remembers that after she had delivered all her papers at Easthorpe, she would collect dandelions and garden flowers in a bucket for old Mrs Samuel so that she could make wine.
It is due to Mr William Samuel that a large number of postcards with Bottesford views were produced.
In the early 1930s a photographer called into the shop one day. Tom Samuel, William’s youngest son, recalled to George Waudby that an arrangement was made that post cards of village views would be published by ‘Wm. SAMUEL, The Stores, Bottesford, Notts.’ (Note that even then, Notts was part of the Bottesford postal address). Apparently when those photographs were delivered, ‘there were far, far more’ than William Samuel had anticipated. A misunderstanding over quantities had occurred. As a result a financial arrangement had to be made with the photographer to be paid in instalments as the postcards were sold.
Mrs Samuel played the organ at the Baptist Chapel in Queen Street. When Mr William Samuel died in 1946 his wife moved to Bingham to live with her daughter Mary, where she died in June 1948.
Mr Charles Thomas Samuel (1910-1996)
Tom Samuel, christened Charles Thomas Samuel, was born in 1910. Tom Samuel established himself as a haulage contractor as early as the age of 16. His business was started with a loan from his mother and he would borrow his father’s horse and dray to make deliveries. The haulage contracting business is listed in the Kelly’s Directories of 1936 and 1941 under the name of Chas. Thom. Samuel. All manner of agricultural loads were carried including manure and corn (bagged!).
Tom Samuel – Coal Merchant
Keith Samuel, Tom’s son, recalls that twenty tons of loose coal from two railway wagons was delivered weekly to Reuben Jackson who worked at the Bottesford Gas Works before and after WW2.
Belvoir Castle also had deliveries that passed down a chute in the Castle courtyard into what may have been a dungeon.
In 1949 Tom Samuel established a coal yard at the end of Pinfold Lane on the site of a demolished cottage. Ian Norris recalls that he and Keith Samuel set fire to the thatch and pulled the cottage down. The building was a real ‘chocolate box cottage’ but beyond repair. The stone was used as hardcore and Mr Tom Samuel purchased the land and used it as the depot for his coal delivery business.
Keith Samuel recalls that the building of the coal yard platform could have been a disaster. When the ground was cleared for the construction of the coal yard, a platform had to be put in place to take the weight of the hoppers filled with coal. It had to be 5 foot in height, high enough to back lorries up to it.
Shuttering or boarding was placed in an open square and unfortunately Tom Samuel had, against good advice, ordered 20 tons of ready mix cement in one load. As it was released into place, the shuttering gave way and the cement began to spread! Frantic re-building of the wooden shuttering took place followed by a late night of shovelling by men hired to the job, including Keith Samuel. Mr Tom Samuel went home and left them to it!
Parsons, another coal company, took over the coal business in 1979. Planning for a housing development on the site of the coal yard was submitted to Melton Borough Council and houses were built on what is now Wimbishthorpe Close.
Tom Samuel – business man and employer
Tom Samuel kept animals behind his father’s shop. He then had land on Normanton Lane, just at the rise in the road. The holding stretched from the road as far as the Three Arch Bridge and he kept beasts and pigs there. When he started up at Normanton he had a ginger horse that pulled the dray. Keith Samuel recalls that ‘the horse was as wild as a bat and could pull a ton and a half of coal. On the way up to Normanton it would fly over the railway crossing’.
Tom Samuel had a strong work ethic. Keith remembers that his father lent him the money to purchase his first car. It remained in the haulage yard shed until he had worked to pay back the loan. Only then was he allowed to drive it. This work ethic extended to to the types of jobs he would take on. If it needed hauling he would carry it. Sometimes this could lead to unexpected consequences.
Harold Deacon, the hairdresser on Market Street, would close his shop early on the days that Tom Samuel backed his lorry into the butcher’s yard to collect the remains of the slaughtered animals. On alternate weeks the load of paunches (stomachs), animal remains and manure was delivered to the Howitts at the Vineries on Belvoir Road or to Baggleys at The Nurseries on Nottingham Road. Each delivery would consist of two and a half loads.
On one such consignment of offal and manure the lorry was outside Taylor’s shop and had been loaded. Suddenly, a tyre became flat and had to be taken away for repairs. When the men returned they found that the jack was embedded in the tarmac outside the shop. The weight of the load had caused it to sink. There were no weighbridges in Bottesford!
During WW2, Tom Samuel was asked if he would like to sign up for an ash contract at the army camp on Orston Lane. The contract was for an early morning collection. However, when he arrived with his lorry it was not a collection of ash. Without realising a contract had been signed to remove buckets of ‘night soil’ from the camp. Thinking quickly, lids were removed from large oil drums and then buckets of night soil were emptied into the drums. The drums were transported to a field at the side of the Winterbeck Bridge and trenches were dug before the contents were unloaded. Great care had to be taken in driving the lorry loaded with these particular oil drums!
One lady customer always owed for one sack of coal that was always carried over to the next bill. Tom Samuel used to say that this created more paperwork than the coal was worth and he wondered why he did not just give the bag of coal to her. He did not enjoy the clerical side of having a business. However, he was very adept with the cash side of the business!
Contributions to the community
Village fetes: Tom Samuel’s lorries were regularly made available as transport for floats in village fetes and processions.
During WW2 Tom Samuel volunteered with the ARP. He would go out on duty with Fred Lenton, an insurance agent who lived on Devon Lane.
He also served as a Parish Councillor during the 1970s and 1980s.
His roots were in Bottesford. He said that if he could not see the spire of Bottesford church then he was too far away from home.
People who worked for Tom Samuel
After the war Tom Samuel owned old Canadian Ford lorries that were powered by Ford tractor engines. The lorries were ex Ministry vehicles and meant the business continued before he was able to buy new lorries. Many village people worked for him.
Eric Turner worked for Tom Samuel from the time he left school. One of his first jobs was to take the baby Keith out in his pram. His proficient driving of the pram ejected the baby into the nettles in the churchyard. Eric Turner rejoined the firm after his spell in the army during WW2.
Jess Randell, son of Mr. Randell the bus proprietor who lived on Market Street also worked for him.
Harold Tinkler married Tom Samuel’s sister Dot and drove his lorries.
Dick Robinson also drove for Tom Samuel but on occasion was hired out to Spicks who was the leading scrap metal dealer in the village. When the runways at RAF Bottesford were being resurfaced, it was Dick Robinson’s job to drive round and refill the concrete mixers with petrol. It was at this time that an explosion occurred in which he was badly burned.
Eric George, who owned the butcher’s shop by the old Post Office in Bottesford, worked for Tom Samuel at Normanton when he left school. He worked for him for three years. (See Eric George’s reminiscences)
Most families in Bottesford kept chickens and a pig. On Saturday mornings, the lorry would arrive at Easthorpe Mill (then worked by the Baines family). Bags of animal feed would be loaded and after Saturday dinner, the bags of meal would be delivered.
Evelyn Mary Braithwaite was born in 1914. She lived with her parents in one of the cottages on Orston Lane, now known as Bowbridge Lane. Tom and Evelyn were married in December 1931 and lived in the new end of the building on Market Street while their new house on the corner of Bowbridge Lane and The Nook (now Pinfold Lane) was built. In 1932 their son Keith was born at the shop in what is now called The White House. As a child Keith spent a lot of time at his grandparents’ house, often calling in on his way to school. His grandmother would often produce his second breakfast of the day and it would be cooked on an old primus that stood on an old (but valuable) oak table
Keith remembers that Joe Spick used to rent the new end of the house and that he was able to play in the old scrap Austin Sevens that were parked behind the house
In the winter of 1940 the Samuel family experienced a family loss. There was an explosion at the house on Bowbridge Lane in which Mrs Samuel died leaving her husband Tom and their son Keith.
Tom Samuel later married Kathleen and the couple had three children, John, Catherine and Richard.
Mr and Mrs Samuel celebrated their Golden Wedding in 1990. Kathleen Samuel died in January 1992 aged 79 and Tom Samuel died in January 1996, aged 85.