Fred Deely - Chapter Two - End of Schooldays

Dorothy E Clarke

Recorded and published as 'Tangled Tapes' by Dorothy E Clarke and reproduced here with her kind permission.

Chapter Two - End of Schooldays

Fred left school in 1917, 13½ years old, and went to plough on land up the Hempton Road by the old ashpit. There were about six acres in all. His Father and his Uncle Ted ran a coal business. They had three horses and land up the Hempton Road, also three small grass fields in Oxford Road. They were always kept busy delivering to all the big houses at 1/6d a cwt. (1/- per cwt. was charged by a Coal Charity until about 1901.) His Father once said to Colonel Murray "We ought to have another 3d.", but the Colonel stamped his old stiff leg and said "I can't Deely, I'm a poor man." But when he died he left £999,000!!

The Magistrates Court was held where the library is now every other Friday. One large room and a smaller room (''next-door to where I were born'') for the four Magistrates to confer. Mr. Churchley from Hempton Road was one of them. He attended the 'Cons' and used to arrive on Sunday mornings on his tricycle. Fred was summoned to court as a witness when a vehicle ran into the back of his Father's coal-cart when he was driving. "I were about 16 and it weren't my fault."

Fred's Father was a big Liberal, and if there was an election he would argue and fight if anyone upset him or his brother Ted. Uncle Ted was not of a big build, but he was a strong man and nearly killed Archy Hutt on one occasion.

Later Fred's Father acquired a four-wheel van, which 'ran like a little train'; in summer he was able to take the top off. They used to shift furniture at that time, and Fred took over some of the haulage. Then, with Dad's help, Fred bought a Model 'T' Ford. This had no gear-lever, and under the dashboard were four little wooden lights which lit up 'like stars' at night. It took a 25cwt. load, which was good, but it lost a pint of oil a day ! After that Fred bought a bankrupt lorry for £48 from Barlows of Banbury, then a new Bedford from City Motors. He employed Tom Pratt, who could do anything. He was like a beanpole, 6 feet tall, and he married a tiny woman with a lisp who ruled him with 'a rod of iron'. They lived next door to the High Street Garage. After five or six years Fred's Uncle offered him his coal business for £10. His son George wanted it, he was a little older than Fred and thought he was one of the 'toffs'.

George went to St. Peter & St. Paul's Church, Deddington, and one day there was a red ribbon across a pew. Fred met Ivy Price in the church and enquired "What's this ribbon doin", Ivy?" "That's your cousin George," she replied, "that's his pew; he's got the collection box."

(Fred raised his eyes to Heaven.) "'E used to think 'e was somebody a bit 'igher than somebody else. What come into 'is 'ead come straight out of 'is mouth." He thought he was getting the coal business, but his Father said "Fred's 'aving that business."

A very nice gentleman, Mr. Brentford, lived up Chapman's Lane, and when he met Fred he would say "Good morning, Deely" to which Fred would reply "Good morning, Sir,", but George's reply would be "Good morning, Brentford" which didn't go down too well with Mr. Brentford. Folks laughed about that for weeks.

Captain Holford and about ten youngsters used to go down to the rifle range every Saturday night; they had ten rifles which belonged to the old Rifle Club. They had nine or ten meetings on the range at the Castle. They shot .22 bullets and Captain Holford gave prizes, 2/6d., 2/- and 1/6d. "I'd been on a long time to our Dad for a gun, and 'e said "You go and win that 2/6d. and you'll get one." "I shall too!" said Fred. On Thursday nights they shot in the big school-room, lying on a coconut matting rug, just 25 yards long. There were three little gas lamps, and behind this there were wooden blocks about 2ft. thick where the bullets landed. Fred went four or five times and then won third prize, l/6d., but he told his Dad he'd get the 2/6d. and the next Saturday night he hit top target, 2/6d. ''That were a lot of money." He was then wanted in the team. There were four teams:- (1) Britannia Works, Banbury. (2) Deddington. (3) Bicester, and (4) Henley on-Thames. Deddington got half-way but never won. Then the teams branched out 'like orange blossom', Clarendon Press, College Servants, University, Oxford, Thame etc., about ten or twelve of them, and they all bought new rifles. Fred's team had the old Enfields which had an orthoptive sight and couldn't compete with the new ones, and there wasn't enough money to buy any.

Fred and Mick O'Neil went to Cambridgeshire along the River Ouse. Mick was in a syndicate shooting pheasants, and Fred walked between the guns with his retriever, Tess, beating back the sugar-beet. The paths were about 200 yards long and twice as wide. He walked next to Mr. Halsey, who planned a world cruise, but unfortunately dropped dead the day before he was due to go.

Fred had a hand in many sports including Clay Pigeon shooting which he described as small black circles, like saucers, made of clay which made a cloud of dust when hit. He often went swimming and cycling, but, although his friends played bowls, he never thought much of it until, one day, on his way to the river, he passed some of his mates playing. "Come and join us Fred" they called. "What that silly game, wait till I come back." Off he went on his bike. When he came back he 'had a go' and took to it straight away.

There were two bowling clubs in Deddington. "About four of us youngsters, and the others were shopkeepers 'and that', they called us the 'lower fives' (Castle Bowls). The Beeches was all farmers and retired men, they was called the 'upper ten'. We used ter play twice on their green and twice on ours. We generally used to beat 'em. Captain Holford lived down the street and used to give a cup. Old George Hancox, who worked for me Uncle at Archway Garage, was our Captain, and Horace Tibbetts, who started the petrol station, was the Secretary, and 'e used to put us four youngsters against Sam Tustain. He were an old farmer and all for 'replay'. 'E said you b... youngsters oughter be at school. 'E was a good bowler but I always used ter beat 'im. When 'e saw us coming on the Green, 'e used to glare 'you little devils again,' so I said well 'rub it on me'."

That was in 1926 and Fred's still playing today. [1994 CR] ''I'm reckoned to be one of the oldest bowlers in the County. I pulled a muscle about two years ago, and I get a twinge when its wet." There are about eight ladies in the Club, all called by their Christian names. He and Marie French got in the final pairs twice. "I've played for Oxfordshire gettin" on for fifty times, and won fifteen medals and a mug. In 1951 I won the County Officer's Cup, and in 1969 I won the County Singles and were awarded a very nice travellin' clock." Maurice French, Douglas Arkwright and Fred won the Triples Cup in Wallingford (Berkshire at that time). They played a Butcher, a Policeman and an Auctioneer from Wallingford. Fred kept a photograph of them in an old railway carriage on the bowling green in Earls Lane, where they had tea. "I 'ad an old mac in there with a 'poacher's pocket!" They beat the Wallingford chaps by three shots.

Later, in 1969, he went to London to play at Mortlake, outside Watney's Brewery. He was in the last eight and lost by one shot. There he met Mr. Sussons who came from Cambridge. When he heard Fred had walked with his heavy 'woods' all the way from Richmond Hill Hotel, he invited him to his home, saying, "You poor man, you're not doing that again." He was sure Fred would win the English Cup. He never won the Cup, but played Jim Davidson (Commentator on television), and lost by only one shot, the score was 21-20. Mr. Sussons said "The best man has lost," and gave Fred the English Red Rose Medal. Fred wrote a letter to 'World Bowls' to say what a nice gentleman was Mr. Sussons, then a fortnight later he had a letter from Mrs. Sussons to say her husband had been killed in an accident!

When Fred returned to Banbury they gave a Dinner in his honour and presented him with a silver salver engraved 'From his Many Bowling Friends.'

Fred went to London five times. The first man he played was Bill Overdon, Champion of Worcester. "I beat 'im at 9.30 a.m. then at 2.15 p.m. I played Geoff Cox from Dorset, then the Yorkshire Champion at 5.30p.m. The third gent come up to me 'I got the pleasure of playing you, you come from Oxfordshire I believe, is yours a big club?' 'E looked me up and down, and I said - we play alongside a garden. 'E looked at 'is mate as if ter say 'this is going to be easy.' I beat 'im 21-9. 'E never said goodnight."

Hazel Hall's husband was a good bowler. Four of them, Mr. Hall, Mr. Usher, Peter Franklin and Fred got to the semi-final and were the last four in the County. Harry Hall fell down and had to have crutches ... A coach came from Banbury to take them to a Dinner in Oxford, where they were given little cups.

Talking of bowls Fred then went on - "A Mr. Bowler lived in The Grove a long time ago, they say he invented the bowler hat. He used to go to London but every weekend he came to Deddington to go fishing in the river at Clifton. One Sunday morning 'e went down by Clifton Mill with 'is two lovely sons aged 16 and 17. (They was nice boys, always say 'Good morning' to yer). They went swimming and drowned in 18 foot of water. Their Father found them clasped in each other's arms. Old Ramsey Sykes, 'edge-cutter, who could swim like a 'dook', brought 'is horse and trolley. 'E was as 'tough as teak' but they 'ad to give him brandy before 'e could go in and get the boy.