The Bomfords of Worcestershire


Extract from The Bomfords of Worcestershire by Dr Bruce Bomford FRCS, Salford Priors, 1983.  The work was published privately and only a few copies were made.  Re-published here with permission from Dr Bomford's sons.

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Raymond Bomford was born on 29th November, 1854 [1855?] and he died on 19th January, 1920.  Married in 1889 to Eveline Perkins, daughter of the Rev. R. Perkins of Exeter and Hazelbank, Malvern, his former School­Master.

Children born to Raymond and Eveline Bomford:-­

1.Benjamin Raymond, died during Military Service, 1914-18 War.

2.Griffith Raymond, died 6th September, 1904 aged 3 years.

3.Douglas Raymond, born 26th February, 1894, died 23rd September, 1969.

4.Leslie Raymond, born 1896, died April 1981.

5.Ernest Raymond, born 5th January, 1900, died 31st January 1962.

6.Richard Raymond, born 1907, died 14th May, 1981.

Raymond Bomford was described by all who remembered him as a delightful man and was held in. great affection by all who knew him.  Katie Stanley remembers how he used to go across the field to Cock Bevington to fetch her to help with the children.  She also remembers Dick being born. Raymond would go to Cock Bevington farm to give the orders for the day, then on to Pitchill to see the men and visit Aunt Mary.  He also advised and helped Mrs Ernest at Springhill after she had lost her husband. There used to be dances held at Bevington Hall and the girls from Pitchill came up and also Mary Evershed and Kathleen Ridsdale.  Music was provided by a piano and the laundry room would be all decorated for the occasion.

On the death of his father at Pitchill, Raymond had assumed control of the agricultural interests and with his brother Benjamin [of Harvington Lodge] built up the partnership of R. and B. Bomford.  It was said that Ray was the engineer and Ben the farmer, and the Rev. Stephen Dunn of Atch Lench used to speak of Ray the singer and Ben the wit.

At one time Raymond had 4,000 acres under cultivation at Salford Priors, Harvington, Abbots Morton and Throckmorton, but in his later years this acreage was reduced.  He always used modern farming methods and undertook some experiments under the guidance of Sir Oliver Lodge, to determine whether wheat crops could be increased by the discharge of an electric current overhead.  This was not a success.

Raymond was a real friend to the poor and interested himself in seeing that standards of hygiene were improved.  This work was on a voluntary basis and it was due to pioneers like him that the standards of village and country life were improved.  He was a Baptist like the rest of his family and supported the Chapel at Atch Lench for many years.  The Baptist Chapel and Manse at Dunnington were built as a result of Bomford influence, and he regularly worshipped there.  He was a treasurer and deacon of this chapel.  In political thought he was an old­ fashioned Liberal.  Later he was more in sympathy with the Unionist Party, but was never an active party man.  Labour always found in him deep sympathy.

His appointments were as follows:-

Raymond Bomford died unexpectedly following an emergency operation in Abbey Manor, by Dr. Leslie for suppurative cholecystitis. His funeral was attended by 300 people (History of Atch Lench Church, by Frances Bomford).

His obituary in The Evesham Journal states that "He was a true English Gentleman, courteous, punctilious in performance of all duties he undertook, considerate to everyone, in controversy always willing to concede that those with whom he disagreed were actuated by the same high motives which moved him."

Mrs Katie Stanley remembers that Mr Slatter, his Solicitor, came up to the house and made a Will for Raymond before he went into Hospital for his operation.  When Raymond died Constance was four years old and Mrs Stanley was nursemaid. Mrs Raymond continued to live at Bevington Hall until she had a house built in Evesham which was called Little Bevington, situated up one of the side roads off Greenhill.  Later she gave up that house and came to live at Morton Wood Farmhouse.

When Douglas and Leslie were wounded in the 1914-18 War, Mrs Raymond heard first and kept the news to herself until after breakfast when she told Raymond about it. Later Douglasused to have to go to London for treatment for his leg injury which caused trouble until the appearance of Penicillin, which helped to eradicate the infection.  At one time their parents feared that both boys would lose a limb, Douglashis leg and Leslie an arm.

Mrs Stanley was taught lessons as a girl at Bevington Hall with Ernest Bomford, Ken Parry (the Vicar's son from Dunnington) and Hammond Lee (son of the Vicar from Lench). They were taught by Aunt Leila Perkins, sister of Mrs Raymond.

The Rev. and Mrs Perkins, parents of Mrs Raymond, lived at Orchard House in Salford Priors.

Aunt Daisy Hughes remembers Uncle Ray had a car in the early days of motoring, which would only go up Borden Hill (out of Stratford-on-Avon), backwards, due to fuel starvation.

Benjaminwho died during the Great War 1914-18, was a very fine musician and a wonderful pianist and organist who used to play the organ at Dunnington Chapel.  He enlisted as a Private in the Warwickshire Regiment but, after serving with his unit at the front in the trenches, was discharged on medical grounds with "dysentery".  Dick believed that he probably contracted tuberculosis at a later date.  Benjamin appears to have become steadily weaker after returning to Bevington and later died.  He had been perfectly fit until the war, but some reports suggest that he was not a strong lad and should never really have been sent on active service, nor have been recruited into the Army.

Griffithlived only three years and three months.  He is buried at Atch Lench.  Kate Stanley remembers that he caught measles very badly and was taken to convalesce at the seaside by Mrs Bomford and his nurse.  However he did not pick up and later died.  Dick, his brother, thought in retrospect that he died from Typhoid Fever.

Douglascommenced Medical studies at EdinburghUniversity, but joined the colours at the outbreak of War in 1914.  He served with great gallantry and was wounded in the hip which left him with a permanent and painful limp.  He returned after the war to manage R. and B. Bomford following the death of his father in 1920.  The firm became Bomford Bros. when Benjamin [Raymond's brother] withdrew to concentrate on the farming side and the management of the new firm was shared by Douglas, Leslie and Ernest.

Benjamin concentrated on fruit farming and took no further part in the enterprise at Pitchill, and comments by Leslie in 1980 suggested that his "Uncle Ben" had been quite tough in his final dealings when he broke with the "Bevington Boys".  Douglas, as the years went by, became well known as an inventive agricultural engineer.  He was one of those who helped to shape the future of agriculture in the mid-twentieth century by his foresight and technical ability.  He was President for two years of the Institute of Agricultural Engineers.

In 1923 Douglas married his cousin Betty. Elizabeth Bomford was the youngest daughter of Ernest Bomford of Springhill.  Betty, it is reported flatly refused to live at Pitchill House and so they moved into Bevington Hall, which had been left to Leslie by his father Raymond.  Douglas was educated at MillHill School and Wycliffe College.  He was for many years 1920-69, a Director of Bomford and Evershed Ltd. and Chairman 1929-56.  His great friend Sir Laurence Watkinson K.B.E., C.B., M.C., assisted Douglas in several agricultural projects.  In 1968 he entered The London Hospital for a major operation.  After a while he returned to Bevington and was well for a year, but the condition returned and he was re-admitted to the Londonby Dick, and eventually died.

Lesliealso commenced Medical studies at Edinburgh and at the outbreak of war joined up in the Worcestershire Regiment.  He served throughout the Great War, 1914-18, with great distinction and gallantry and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and the Military Cross and Bar.  The final award being made for courage and devotion to duty during an attack on 4th August, 1918, only one week before the Armistice was signed.  His unit lost many young men and he was seriously wounded in the right shoulder as a result of which he was to suffer from a permanent disability of the arm and hand due to damage to the brachial plexus.  In 1920 Leslie returned to live at Pitchill and with his brothers to manage the affairs of Bomford Bros.  In 1924 he joined Sentinel to help in the development of steam tractors.  He went to Kenya in 1925 to iron out problems with their engines and again in 1927 he was assembling and demonstrating the "Rhinosceros" steam wheeled tractor in several regions of Kenya.  Later in the same year he took a similar model to South Africa.  After this visit Leslie parted company with Sentinels, who refused to countenance his advice that the company must accept diesel motors and pneumatic tyres if they were to survive.  He was proved to have been right when Sentinels had to close and Fowdens prospered.  In 1931 Leslie left Pitchill to go farming on his own at Tufton Warren near Whitchurch, Hants.  Here Leslie introduced modern farming methods which showed that he was years ahead of his time in theory and practice, and he continued to farm most successfully there until he died.  He was a tenant of the farm owned by the Countess of Portsmouth.  Some time earlier he had had the chance to buy the farm, but admitted that he had always ploughed much of the profit from the farm back into Bomford Bros. to help his brothers.

I have heard it said that in many ways Leslie was perhaps the most inventive of the brothers, and it was his idea that Douglas was to develop in later years. Certainly on his farm at Tufton Warren he used ingenious hedge cutters and other machines that were original in design and production. He was also a great collector of antique clocks and his home was full of rare pieces which he would describe and explain the mechanism to interested visitors.

"L.R.", as he was known to his loyal band of staff and helpers, ran a well organised and well planned farming operation right up to the end of his days and, as we saw at his funeral, he was held in respect and affection by a wide circle of friends and business associates.

Leslie married Madeline ("Jill"), and they had one son Robert, and later adopted a little girl Julia. This marriage was later dissolved.

Leslie was married a second time to Stella Cowle, who already had one daughter, Alexandra ("Candy") by a previous marriage. This marriage ended in separation and Leslie lived alone looked after by his housekeeper Mrs Rosina Thomson.

Note:Additional information relating to Douglasis to be found in "The Bomford Story", by Theo Sherwen.  Additional notes relating to Leslie are to be found at the end of this history.

Ernestwas educated at home and then at Wycliffe College, leaving school at the age of 16 years to help his father with the farm where he was using steam plough tackle to cultivate a good acreage.  When Douglas married Betty and moved into Bevington Hall, Leslie and Ernest lived at Pitchill, and Dick spent some of his school holidays there with them.  Later when Leslie was in Kenya with Sentinel Engines, Ernest returned to Bevington where he had a sitting-room.  He remained there until his marriage to Patricia Brooke in 1937.  After the marriage they lived at Pitchill for five years, taking the place of old Mr King who had been a caretaker there and working as foreman for Bomford Bros. in the works.

Pat Bomford remembers Pitchill as a rather stark house with long passages, but the presence of three servants made life quite tolerable for them all.  Nicholas and Jane were born at Pitchill during this time, while Anthony was born later at Rushford.  Aunt Mary must have been living at Pitchill for some of the time Ernest and his brothers were in residence.

Further details concerning Ernest are to be found under the heading of Rushford.

Richardwas educated at Bromsgrove School and studied medicine at Oxford University and The London Hospital, Whitechapel, E.1.  He took his D.M. and M.R.C.P., and became a medical First Assistant at The London.  He was awarded a Rockefeller Travelling Scholarship in 1938/39 and became a Consulting Physician at London Hospital.  During the Second World War he joined the R.A.M.C., and was appointed Brigadier Consultant Physician to the 14th Army, with Bill Slim as his C.O. in Burma.  He was made Commander of the British Empire and retired at the end of hostilities with the honorary rank of Colonel.  He broadcast for several years as "The Radio Doctor" and was appointed Registrar of the Royal College of Physicians in London, where he was actively engaged in the building of the new college in RegentsPark.  He also made sure the College had a good supply of excellent wines, being something of a connoisseur in this matter.

He published a number of original papers based on his work in Haematology and he edited the revised editions of "Clinical Methods", by Hutchison and Hunter, and also Price's Medicine.  He was Consultant Adviser to the Ministry of Health in general medicine.

Dick, as he was always called, was an accomplished musician and organist and played at a number of family weddings and memorial services.  His accompaniment on the piano accordion at Medical Collegeand Army sing­-songs became widely appreciated and long remembered.

He retired to live in Essex, but retained close contact with his friends at The London. He always stayed at Springhill for Christmas, but resisted suggestions that he should return to Worcestershire. He was ever ready to help out if sickness came to any of his relations.  He remained a bachelor.

When the partnership between Douglas, Leslie, Ernest and Dick was dissolved the estate was divided as follows:-­

Douglas took over Pitchill and the Works there, but lived at Bevington.

Leslie took Bevington Hall and the farm attached, but he let the house to Douglas and Betty and later made the whole over to his son, Robert.

Dick was given Rushford which he let to Ernest and Pat and subsequently sold house and farm to them.

Ernest had the stock and machinery, but no house or land.

Family names :-­

As in many large families the boys gave each other their own special names :­-

Douglas was called Alphonse.

Leslie was called Bunny.

Richard was called Dick.

Ernest was called Hercs, (short for Hercules).

Note: When I asked Leslie about these nick-names, he implied they were seldom used and said he thought it was a lot of nonsense.

Constancewas the adopted daughter of Raymond and Eveline and was only four years old when Raymond died.  She was adopted at the age of seven months and nursed by Katie Stanley of Cock Bevington.

Constancelived with Mrs Raymond until she died, when Constance returned to Bevington.  At one time she kept house for Leslie and later married a Mr Colliard.  During the War, 1939-45, she did much good work helping to nurse elderly people at Whitchurch where she had her home.  One daughter, Elizabeth Ann Colliard, was born and she now lives in London.  Elizabeth has her own flat and works in London, but used to visit Betty frequently at Bevington, and also stayed at Springhill for Christmas.

Constancewas born 8th November, 1916 and died 16th June, 1976.  She was a very keen gardener and an expert in this field, so Elizabeth told  me.  During the war Constance changed her name from Constance to Ann.  Also she did war work in a factory, but was separated from her husband.

Raymond was very disappointed not to have a daughter of his own and was said to have commented to his brother Benjamin that he would be only too pleased to swap one of his sons for one of Benjamin’s daughters.

Bevington Hall is now owned by Robert Bomford who was born in 1940, son of Leslie Raymond Bomford of Tufton Warren.

Robert is an Immunologist and holds an appointment with the Wellcome Foundation.

He married Teresa Nowacka in 1977.


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