Tag Archives: Somerset

The Strawbridges: a 1930s motorcycling family

strawbridge-motorbikes2-detail

Last year, I wrote about the headstones¬†in St. George’s, Harborne, and mentioned the unusual monument to Freda Strawbridge, a young woman who died in a motorbike accident in 1936.

I’ve recently been contacted by a couple of people from the Strawbridge family – Pam, Freda’s niece, whose father was Freda’s brother. He himself was a motorbike fan too, and was injured in an accident a year before his sister’s fatal crash. Pam explained that her family really loved their motorbikes, and she sent me some wonderful photographs of the Strawbridges (see below the fold).

And not long after Pam contacted me, another Strawbridge – Karl – got in touch. Karl’s father was Freda’s cousin, and he keeps an eye on Freda’s resting place and her unusual memorial.

It’s nice to have an update – thank you, Strawbridges!

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The Taylor family album

steam-train-adventure

Somewhere on the West Somerset Railway steam line.

In July, I went to Somerset to visit my dad, and we ended up in the Smuggler’s Cave in Watchet. There’s all sorts of treasures to be found here – antiques, mid-20th century bits and bobs, from grand polished dining tables to boxes of bent cutlery. I was rummaging through some photos and 1950s receipts, when I struck up a conversation with the chap who runs the shop.

“If you like old photos,” he said, “You’ll love this old album I got the other day at a car-boot sale.”

Off he went and came back with a dark green album, which at the beginning was full of late Victorian and Edwardian family photos, with first names added. Family sat outside a house, a line of Edwardians strung together as they ascend an icy mountain, horse-riding in Ireland. Following these were page after page of very old postcards, mainly of churches and cathedrals. At the back, there were newspaper clippings from WW1 with photos of soldiers who had been killed – Thomas Eland Clatworthy and Harold Richard Taylor. Further on, there was a programme for an evening of genteel entertainment at Flook House in Taunton, and photos of someone in… India? All the photos have been glued in, so there’s no chance of peering behind to see what might have been written on their backs.

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Inspector Whicher, Sergeant Cuff, Mr. Holmes, Monsieur Poirot

Yesterday1)I started to write this on Christie’s birthday, but this behemoth could not be completed in one day. was Agatha Christie’s 124th birthday, so it seems appropriate to carry on with Wilkie Collins and Sensation Novels – how they developed into what we recognise as detective fiction.

So polish your magnifying glass, button up your Ulster, wax your moustache, and we shall travel back to Road, Somerset in 1860, to the scene of a real crime.

(Needless to say, this contains multiple spoilers).

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Footnotes   [ + ]

1. I started to write this on Christie’s birthday, but this behemoth could not be completed in one day.