The Bomfords of Worcestershire
Christopher Heming Bomford (Chris) 25th July 1911 – 18th February 2008.
Chris was the second son of John and Mary Bomford and grew up on a farm in Worcestershire with his two sisters and two brothers. A weakly child, after a visit to the doctor at the age of four his parents were told to ‘take him home to die’. He was educated at various local schools. One of his proudest achievements was to have once cycled the five miles to school, including a fearsome 1 in 4 hill, without touching the handlebars. He had a holiday job at cycle shop opposite his grandparents’ house in Evesham, gaining useful skills.
Aged 15 he left school in 1926 to join the Air Force, signing on for 17 years, starting as an engineering apprentice at RAF Halton. His year was the first intake to be trained to repair metal-framed aircraft. By 1929 he had reached the rank of Leading Boy but his RAF career was tragically cut short when, on his 18th birthday, his beloved elder brother, Alex, was killed in a farm accident. Offering to take his place on the farm, Chris was bought out of the Air Force and returned to Sheriffs Lench. He always remembered his time at Halton as a happy and rewarding period.
By 1936 he was considering getting married, and asked if his wage could be raised from 7/6d to 10/- a week. This was denied, as was any possibility of a partnership in the family farm. His solution was to buy a tractor and a set of implements on credit and become a contractor, carrying out cultivation work for growers around the Vale of Evesham, most of whom still relied on horses.
His bride was Leely Haymer (my phonetic spelling!), a swedish girl who had been staying in Malvern to improve her English. They were married in Sweden in May 1936. He was proud that he managed to learn enough Swedish to converse with his many in-laws once travel was again possible after the war. They had two sons, Peter and Roland. They celebrated their silver wedding in 1961.
In 1940 Chris became tenant of a farm in the next village, which he was able to buy 10 years later. It was sold in 1962. He followed his father, great uncle and great grandfather in undertaking public office. He chaired the Parish Council, served on Evesham Rural District Council and, later, on Evesham Town Council. During the war, he was an ARP warden, and later trained in Civil Defence.
After selling the farm, they moved several times, and were living in Harvington when Leely died suddenly in March 1976. In April 1977 Chris married Pamela Agate, also of Harvington, and they moved to Childswickham, later to Berkhamstead and finally to Harrogate. He gained two stepdaughters, Charlotte and Harriet. Chris and Pam celebrated their silver wedding in 2002.
One of Chris’ most remarkable achievements was his development of the Bomford family tree, which was begun by his aunt just after the first world war and handed to him as a jumbled manuscript in 1932. He managed to unscramble the jumble and, long before the age of the internet, to gather much more family information. His RAF training in engineering drawing enabled him to produce an elegant document, the final version being almost four metres long and carrying over a thousand names. He was visited by Bomfords from all over the world, and would often take them to see the graveyard where many ancestors are buried. In 2001, at the age of 90, he entrusted ‘The Tree’ to his eldest son, having been custodian and compiler for 59 years.
Chris, who was 96, is survived by his wife Pamela, two sons and two stepdaughters, four grandchildren, two stepgrandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Peter H Bomford