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.
Norris Benjamin Bomford, who spent his childhood at Harvington Lodge, was educated at DeanClose School in Cheltenham. In March 1915, he married Elsie Fisher, daughter of W. A. Fisher of Greenhill, Evesham, who was a market gardener and was Mayor of Evesham for several terms. Norris was not a strong boy and suffered from asthma all his life, and his sister Daisy recalls having to rub his back to try to ease his breathing. Extensions were built on to The Orchards, including day and night nurseries, which linked the house to the cottages and which have an outside stairway to the garden. A billiard room and conservatory were also included. The billiard table came from the sale at Woodnorton (former home of the Duke of Orleans, pretender to the French throne), as did many other items including a set of bows and arrows of fine workmanship. Norris and Elsie lived a full social life in the 1920s when farming was profitable and they gave many parties. Elsie was a fine actress and gave many performances in local dramatics, in which she excelled in comic roles as did Ken, her brother-in-law. The church hall at Dunnington was a favourite place for their productions. They also had many friends from London, including the Ticklers of Ticklers Jams, who had done very well in the War years. Also Teddy Maynard who owned the car, a Chrysler “80”, in which Norris had an accident which eventually caused his death. Colin Crystal and Alan Cave were also frequent visitors and there were several pupils who lived in from time to time. Uncle Ken was a daily visitor from Harvington Lodge.
As a farmer Norris was very successful in the immediate post-war years when produce sold well. As a fruit grower he scored many fine successes at the Imperial Fruit Show from 1920 onwards. In 1923 he won the Premier Award for cooking apples in a class open to the whole of the British Empire, with an excellent entry of Blenheim apples. He continued to enter exhibits in the show until 1927 when late frosts did not leave him enough fruit with which to compete. In addition to The Orchards, he owned Worcester Meadows and land up School Road above Park Hall (later Lamb’s Farm and dairy). Ha also rented land at New Inn Lane from Capt. Eyston. Norris was appointed a Director of Messrs. Bomford and Evershed, and he was a member of the Grand Cinema Directorate. He was an excellent shot from left and right shoulder and always kept one or two horses. He loved powerful fast cars.
He was a wonderful father, firm but jolly. He used to chastise his two sons when they misbehaved, but there were always Uncles on hand to console and provide diverting activities and new toys. The house was always full of people and there were many things to do. Fireworks on Guy Fawkes night were a special treat, and the fireworks were laid out on the billiard table and the two son would choose in turn their special favourite rocket or banger. There were trains and steam engines and electric motors, and all types of gun. They told me Norris used to shoot with a large calibre rifle and the bullets would ricochet over the farm workers a mile away up New Inn Lane, who complained. Legend had it the range was up to a mile.
After a period when the farm did well and cherries sold very profitably the depression began to bite and business was not good. Then came a severe motor accident in the Lenches returning from Fladbury. Norris never really recovered from his severe chest injuries involving several fractured ribs, one of which punctured his lung. I believe he had an empyema and was treated at home as chest medicine was in its infancy and there were no antibiotics. He died unexpectedly at the age of 35 years, some twelve months after the accident.
Norris was buried alongside many other members of the Bomford family at Atch Lench. He was a Baptist like his father, but Elsie was brought up a Wesleyan. Later she worshipped at Salford PriorsChurch and her sons were christened there. The funeral service for Norris was conducted by Rev. H. W. Hughes, with Rev. Franks Fells of Atch Lench and Rev. E. B. Greening from Manchester assisting.
The mourners included:- Benjamin Bomford (father), Ken Bomford (brother), Douglas Bomford, James Bomford, Jack Bomford, Dick Bomford, W. H. Morton, W. D. Fisher, George Pemberton, W. F. Swift, Col. Martineau, Woodward Jeffcote, Tommy Hiatt (pupil at Harvington Lodge).
Norris and Elsie had two sons:-
1. Michael Benjamin Norris Bomford, born 25th July 1916, was educated at Greenhill School, Woodnorton Preparatory School and Malvern College. In 1937 he married Louise Frederick Keuchenius, daughter of a former ambassador in the Netherlands, East Indies, resident in The Hague.
2. William Bruce Norris Bomford, born 7th February, 1919, was educated at Woodnorton Preparatory School and Malvern College. He married Jean Galton Upward, daughter of a schoolmaster of Widnes, Lancs.
After Norris died the farm was put up for sale and at auction it was bought by Arthur Gordon Cutler. Elsie, who had continued to live at The Orchards after Norris had died, in due course married Arthur Gordon Cutler and they lived in the house until they died. A catalogue of the sale given to me by Mrs. Anne Cox of Salford Priors shows that the house and 120 acres of land were purchased for £5,000. In addition another 140 acres of farm land, 98 acres of meadow pasture and 19 cottages were sold to various buyers. At another sale by E. G. Righton and Son, 104 home-bred cattle, 14 horses, a Fowler 8 H.P. set of steam plough tackle and various other implements were disposed of.
Gordon Cutler was educated at WyeCollege and then went as a tea planter to Assam. After 10 years he contracted Typhoid Fever and Cholera and was evacuated home, after being very seriously ill. He always said his life was saved by his bearer who rubbed brandy into his legs and nursed him day and night. He was a fine polo player and won many trophies, particularly on his favourite pony “Stuffy”. He also served in the locally recruited regiment in India and took part in expeditions to subdue the Naga tribesmen. He also used to tell of meeting a tiger while on a trolley on rails and being deserted by his bearers who were pushing the trolley on its rails; he threw his tennis racquet at the animal which retreated into the jungle. He settled in Hampton on his return and took farm land and orchards at Clarkes Hill and Haselor from Mr. Swift (owner of Woodnorton at a later date). During the 1930s part of the land at The Orchards next to School Road was sold to the Haines brothers, but was bought back in better times which followed. Elsie always grieved about the sale of this land. Gordon Cutler formed a company with Michael Bomford his step-son, which was called Cutler and Bomford, consisting of the land at The Orchards and the fruit at Haselor and Hampton. Gordon was a member of the War Agricultural Committee and Chairman of the Research Centre for Agriculture at Luddington. He was awarded the M.B.E. for his services to Agriculture.
After he died suddenly in 1962, Elsie continued to live on at The Orchards and the farm business was managed by Michael.
Although her later years were spent in restricted mobility due to a chronic illness which affected her walking, she remained cheerful and interested in her family, all of whom were helped by her generosity. She also continued to take an interest in the Village and the Church. She is buried with Gordon Cutler in Salford Priors churchyard on the right as we enter the gate into the old churchyard, next to the Evershed grave. The farm and implements were left to Michael who continued farming the land, but remained at Dunnington.
The house is occupied at present by Michael and Louise's eldest son Norris and his wife Rosalie, and their two daughters Isobel, and Lucy. Norris is an engineer and has established a business in the old engine shed which used to house the electric generating set and accumulate of his grandfather and later a saw bench. Norris is also interested in hot air engines, and the Sterling engine, and he has built a hot air engine of his own design which is installed in a river boat. Other models are made to drive water pumps foruse in fountains. Norris Bomford Engineering carries out crank-grinding and reboring of engines and general servicing of machinery. He has a vintage Singer "9" and an Austin Seven which he runs for Ro's uncle. Ro was born Hines, a Malvern family, and her father and sister have engineering as their profession and were very friendly with James Bomford of Springhill. Hersister won several prizes at the Model Engineering Exhibition forextremely fine detailed models made at Malvern in her father's workshop.
I have heard that The Orchards was formerly occupied by a family called Goode and several members are buried in the Salford Priors churchyard. Also Alfred Bomford was said to have occupied the house for a short while before Norris and Elsie moved there after their marriage.
Thomas Goode lived at The Orchards for some years according to Aunt Daisy Hughes. He was a brother of Granny Kendrick (Daisy's grandmother), who was a Goode before her marriage. Thomas Goode is buried in Salford Priors churchyard to the left (east) of the church. She adds also:-
Martha Kendrick 1874-1908
Mary Goode 1875-1906
Francis Caroline Goode 1881-1915, lived at West Villa, Harvington.
Thomas Goode 1885-1914
Elizabeth Goode 1888-1932
In the late 1930s part of the land at The Orchards up School Road, was purchased by John Haines of Greenhill, Evesham. This land was sold back for £5,000 after the Second World War.
Norris Bomford (the elder) also farmed New Inn Lane, The Portway, and the Lambs Farm, as well as Slatters Farm which he rented from Squire Slatter. His technique of bush pruning of the Blenheim apple trees was a very successful method.
The Worcester Meadows were also held by Norris Bomford and he used to go duck shooting in the evening. I remember Hugh Morton our cousin was once with us when we were boys and in the dusk he ran into some barbed wire and cut his lip very badly. This upset us as children and there was great gloom in the nursery that evening; an incident we never forgot. Rather like the time Michael was sawing a piece of wood and the saw hit a nail, the log flew up and made him bite right through his tongue. It healed up alright in the end.
When the farm was sold the meadows were bought by Chris Grey, the Managing Director of Ansell’s who lived in the big house on Cleeve Hill which overlooks the meadows, (they are in Worcestershire, hence the name).
According to Woodward Jeffcote, The Orchards was called Field House in former times and he also recalled that cricket was played on the grass in front of the house.
Field Cottage is the name of the dwelling in the middle of Slatters Farm, at the bottom of the back drive.