John Percival Mellor OBE QSM
- Born: 29 Nov 1928, Marchington, Nr Uttoxeter, Staffs
- Marriage: Beryl Pugh in 1951 in Wolverhampton
John P Mellor., OBE., QSM., Ridder van de Orde Oranje-Nassau, Ver Dienst Kreuz mit bande; Polonia Restituta - Commendatore; Grosse Goldene Ehrenzeichen.
Now living in Wolverhampton
John has his own website - a real treasure-trove of remembrances, musings and stories (such as the two below) at: www.johnpmellor.co.uk.
John Mellor Remembers
Park Hill Farm, New Road, Uttoxeter (Parish Of Stramshall) Staffordshire
My grandfather and grandmother built Park Hill Farm together, with hired labour for the roofing. My grandfather was a farmer, wheelwright and a skilled carpenter, his elder brother, Thomas, who lived at the original Mellor family home (called variously Hill Top Farm, Hill Top Cottages) near the bridle path which leads to the River Tean, was a master at most building trades. He was a valued help to his brother. The house was constructed about 1896. My grandfather had owned the Dowry Farm, Kingstone (he was 17 years old), then moved to Bottom House Public House and Farm, Leek, before making his final home at Park Hill. He had a multitude of children. The survivors, Mary, Maude, Muriel, Annie, Thomas, John James (my father), Harry (always called Dan) and several who did not survive childbirth. The acreage was about 100, later added to by extending to Bakers, The Hollow, Stramshall. It remained a working farm entirely under the control of my family until 1972, when it was sold. It continued for several more years until enveloped by the new Derby to Stoke arterial road. Documents regarding the construction, bills of despatch and laden were kept until some ten years ago in a large bureau. It passed to a non-Mellor relative. I believe the contents were destroyed. At the rear of the farm was a workshop, called simply The Shop, complete with forge, wheelwright tools, and coffins. The Mellor family always made coffins for its own family and most of Stramshall. Great Uncle Tom was the expert. The last cart made by my grandfather and his brother was in July 1938, a heavy draught, one horse, stone cart. Tom made up the body, my grandfather made the wheel. I witnessed the last 'hooping' (I have an oil painting of the scene). Preparation started several days before, wood was fetched from the river, trees were cut down, and a massive bonfire, was built in the lane leading to the canal banks. A sigh that will never be seen again. At a signal from my grandather, all his sons and nephews, all big men, dragged the cart body and placed it on trestles. Then my grandfather and his brother, with male and female 'hooping dog' tools, placed the iron tyres on the bonfire. The fire was started, and a lot of moving the tyres about transpired, the language was ripe, as was always the case. Finally when the iron tyres were white hot, the heat was intense, my grandfather and his brother, helped by the others, brought out the white hot tyres, and took them to the cart. Only minutes later, they had been fitted, and hammered into position and doused with water. My father controlled a carthorse, already saddled,(he was called Jack), he was brought to the front of the cart, and at a signal the cart and its new tyres were going into the River Tean, where the cart and tyres stayed 2 days. Then the operation ended. My grandather was 69 years old, and his brother 71 years. They never built or shod another cartwheel. We had two near neighbours, firstly The Parks, a fine residence, occupied by Cyril Bamford, and his wife who spoke fluent Spanish, Portuguese and French. I think her name was Dolores, she was always immaculately dressed, kind and not afraid to walk 150 yards for the milk, when the maids had a day off. Her sons I remember, Joseph (founder of JCB), Rupert, David (Tim). I am sure they had a daughter, but I cannot remember her name. Cyril Bamford was a brilliant engineer. The Mellors and the Allens, permitted(to their advantage) the various machines of Bamfords Ltd, Leighton Ironworks, to be tested on their fields. Secondly, Tollgate Farm was some 150 yards away on the Uttoxeter side of the farm. Mr and Mrs Bailey, semi retired farmer, good family. Their tenure ended with a German bomb, down their well. I have written about that. Our nearest farmer friends and neighbours, were the Allens, a straight, hard working family. I remember Grandfather Allen, his sister (whose name escapes me), and two sons, I knew them both. Walter, the farmer, father of my life-long friend Fred Allen and his wife. The other son was a police officer in West Bromwich. His son was also a police officer, known universally as 'Brummie', the hardest boxer to beat, an athlete and a good police officer. I met him in Willenhall, and went and got up to tricks, which might provide a further article. His decision to leave the police force saddened me. His father, I recall, may have been called Arthur. He returned to Uttoxeter on retirement, worked at Bamford's and I think bought property at Kiddlestitch.
Shared on 29 November 2009 by John Mellor.
A Walk with Grandfather.
I was about 11 years old, one summer's day, when I noticed my grandfather, who lived at Park Hill Farm, New Road, Uttoxeter (Parish of Stramshall) was preparing to go out. He had his walking stick, that meant no horse and trap. His name was Percival Jackson Mellor, and he lived with his family, and my paternal grandmother, Mary Ellen (nee Leedham). He said, to me, "Come for a walk". We walked across the fields, to Campbell's, and then to Titleys Mill. We gained the Ashbourne-Uttoxeter Road, turned left over the River Tean bridge, and then into Leasons Farm. My grandfather went and spoke to Mr Leason, senior, we then departed, turning left, and carried on until we reached Stevenson Bus Depot, the Yellow Bus service.
We then got onto the footpath immediately opposite the Depot. Grandfather then explained that the large grass mounds were the remnants of the Spath Quay, laughingly called Spath Ocean, by residents, who had not studied their local history. This was the size of four football pitches. Grandfather explained that this had been an inland port, with large barges moving loads across the country. These mounds then became clear canal banks, and we walked on the left-hand side, the field on the left being ours. The right-hand side was a public footpath, little used by anyone. We then took a left bend in the banks, until we reached the River Tean. I asked my grandfather what the large stones were in the river. He said that they had held an iron aqueduct, which used to cross the river. He explained that in 1914, to assist the war effort, he had detonated explosives and blew the aqueduct up. The scrap iron was purchased by Mr Cyril Bamford, from The Parks opposite us. This was taken to Leighton Iron Works. We then entered the rear gates of the farm. The canal banks were levelled out in 1973. Whilst at the river, Grandfather pointed out, on the left-hand side of the canal, the remains of a house. He said, "Your Great Uncle John (Jack) lived there with his wife, Dolly". She was an amusing character, called Dolly Duck Egg for her love of the fruit of ducks. It was an isolated spot, and Great Aunt Dolly did not like it. She moved to Stone Road, Uttoxeter, living in a row of cottages which she owned. Into the front of the farm, which was built on the canal site, the ground had been levelled. Until the bypass was started in 1936, it was possible to walk along the old canal banks, till you reached Beesons slaughterhouse (later Keelings Yard), and until you reached Ashboutne Road. Park Avenue, Slade Fields, was built on the site of the canal.
Shared on 13 June 2009 by John Mellor.
John married Beryl Pugh, daughter of Arthur Pugh and Lily Atkins, in 1951 in Wolverhampton. (Beryl Pugh was born in 1928 in Wolverhampton.)
John P Mellor & Beryl Pugh Jan-Feb-Mar 1951 Wolverhampton Vol: 9b, Page: 2663