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The Fairford Flyer

Fairford History Society
Newsletter No 10
January 2010

Other Newsletters:

Fairford Flyer No 1
Fairford Flyer No 2
Fairford Flyer No 3
Fairford Flyer No 4
Fairford Flyer No 5
Fairford Flyer No 6

Fairford Flyer No 7
Fairford Flyer No 8
Fairford Flyer No 9

Memorable winters—from the Archive


This was a particularly bad winter, all over the country everything ground to a halt. Relief operations became necessary for remote locations. Unfortunately one such operation ended badly. Several Halifax aircraft from RAF Fairford were detailed to drop supplies to the snowbound villages of Staffordshire. The villagers had not had outside supplies for 14 days. On February 13 while attempting to drop supplies to the snowbound village of Butterton, one of the aircraft crashed at Grindon Moor, Staffs. Five crew, two press photographers and an NCO of the Glider Pilot Regiment were all killed. It is thought that the weather deteriorated over the dropping area and the aircraft struck high ground.

The Winter of 1947

This picture we think is of Eugeniusz Ostaszewski from the Polish Hostel skiing in Fairford Park that winter. Maurice Jones remembers his mother opening their back door at The Virgils to be faced by a wall of snow and having to dig through to the coal house.


In her diary, Meg Perry , who worked at a stable near Poulton, recorded 51 days without hunting from December 1962 to February 1963. The lowest temperature was 34 degrees of frost – the snow was so deep they were able to walk over the top of the gates and fences
Thursday January 1
Snow. Frost. East wind drifts. Down Ampney road blocked. Betty’s Grave, Ready Token, Sunhill road blocked. Single line traffic to Fairford between Poulton and the Verge [farm].
Sunday January 11
The kitchen windows did not thaw out all day and the steam from the bath froze before it could get out of the bathroom window, this is now the twentieth day since we hunted.
Saturday January 19
Roads blocked again, no buses tonight. Mill Lane blocked, Sunhill-Fairford road blocked and very bad at Marston Hill. I should think that the Down Ampney road is really blocked by now. A snow plough was stuck when P tried to come along it this afternoon. Blizzard tonight and snowing at 5pm and still on at 9.30 pm.

The Winter of 1947
1963—the Market Place

This entry is not about snow but is of interest:
Wednesday January 30
Test match [against Australia] drawn. Common market talks broken right down so we do not go into Europe.

Meg also records that horse racing re-started at Newbury on March 11 and the Cheltenham Festival t hat year was very wet, Mill House won the Gold Cup and Winning Fair, the Champion Hurdle.

A 1982 Bus Stop


A blizzard hit the area in January - pictures in the Archive from the Wilts & Gloucestershire Standard showed an abandoned car with snow higher than its roof on the Cirencester – Fairford Road; a bus stop with its sign almost obliterated and a picture of the Market Place with the cars completely snowed in. At Lechlade Garden Centre, a large section of the glass roof collapsed under the weight of the snow.

Left - A 1982 Bus Stop

2010 Programme - meetings in the Farmor Room, Fairford Community Centre
February 18th Ashmolean Museum—a transformation
In November 2009 the Ashmolean’s £61 million redevelopment opened to the public, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. A new building was created that has doubled the Ashmolean’s gallery space, incorporating full environmental control, a new Education centre, and state-of-the-art conservation facilities.
June 17th AGM and Doug Newton on Concorde.
September 16th Swing Riots in Fairford by Jill Chambers, author of Gloucestershire Machine-Breakers
November 18th speaker to be arranged

If enough people are interested follow up visits will be made to Gloucestershire Archaeology in Gloucester and the Ashmolean Museum. Please contact Geoff Hawkes (712053) or Alison (711768) for further details.


FHS Occasional Paper 5 – A Christmas tragedy. Price £1

On Christmas Eve in 1874 a mother and her two children caught the train from Fairford station for a festive holiday in the West Midlands. Sadly, they never completed their journey. This new occasional paper (printed in A5 format) tells the story of one of the worst accidents in British railway history.

FHS Monograph 5 The Tracys of Toddington and Fairford. Price £3.00

The latest in the monograph series tells the story of the Tracy family which added Fairford manor to their extensive estates at Toddington and Sudely in 1591. The monograph recounts the turbulent history of the Tracys during the Civil War following which they had to sell their rights to Fairford in order to pay the fines imposed by Parliament and retain their Toddington estate.

New CDs

Geoff Bishop is continuing to produce oral history CDs this year. He has been busy interviewing people who suffered from flooding in 2007 and together with pictures taken at the time (especially a collection donated by Graham Young) this will make an important record. Syd Flatman has recorded interesting reminiscences of Fairford in the Fifties.

Please contact Geoff Bishop (713747) if you would like to contribute to the oral history record on any subject at all relating to Fairford.

All FHS publications are available from fhs@cotswoldwireless.co.uk or by contacting the secretary on 01285 711768. They are also on sale at St Mary’s Church, Fairford and at the Community Centre, Archive Room.


Cotswolds at War by June Lewis-Jones. Revised Edition. June has added a completely new chapter ‘Seventy Years on’ as well as some new photographs The new chapter includes information about the Polish Hostel in Fairford of which we learned such a lot last year. June is also publishing a reprint of her cookbook this Spring entitled ’A Calendar of Cotswold Cookery’.

Waiting to be Heard, the Polish Christian experience under Nazi and Stalinist oppression, 1939-45 by Bogusia J Wojciechowska. Bogusia was at the Polish Hostel in Fairford and attended the Polish event in May. She very kindly sent us her book from the USA. Although a daunting title the book contains some very interesting accounts and pictures of the Polish exile experience throughout the world and includes Fairford.

Descendants of Peter Kimber of Down Ampney by Vanessa Dixon. FHS was able to locate the house where Elizabeth Kimber lived in Fairford from our 1841 Tithe Map and the author kindly sent a copy of her family history—an excellent example of genealogical research.

See From Jackson's Oxford Journal and the Parish Magazine

Archive Room

As said in the last issue the Fairford Archive is growing apace BUT if you have any Fairford memorabilia we are very pleased to copy and record items and return them, especially photographs. If you do not want them used in publications you can make this stipulation or if you want to reserve the right to have them returned if the Archive is ever dismantled these provisos are written into the donation form. Sources are always recorded.

In 2009 705 items were catalogued for the archive, most were articles and pictures but also 20 books and a few artefacts. My favourite artefact is a souvenir of Fairford in the shape of a clog — about 12 cm long and dark green. Does anyone remember this and can date it approximately?

A clog from Fairford


In 2009 FHS responded to over 35 family or local history enquiries. The strangest coincidence was when a member of the Cowley family from South Africa made an appointment to consult the Archive one Friday. This was a very pleasant visit and the lady was thrilled and moved to find the headstone of Robert and Mary Cowley in St Mary’s Churchyard. On the following Monday another visitor appeared in the Archive Room, a descendant of Isaac Cowley from South Africa. This Isaac Cowley founded a Church in South Africa and conducted the marriage ceremony of the previous visitor’s great[?] grandmother, neither visitor knew of each other until their visit to Fairford. Apparently the Cowleys had a farm in South Africa which they called Fairford. We are hoping to get pictures of the Church and the family farm later on this year from the latter visitor.

Most enquiries initially come via email through the website and FHS would like to thank Suzanne Jones for continuing to maintain it for us.

The books and other items in the collection may be consulted in the Archive Room which is open on Monday afternoons 2-4pm or at other times by special arrangement (01285 711768).

Fairford Flyer edited by Alison Hobson. From the Archives by Chris Hobson.
Thanks to Meg Perry for diary extracts, Alicja Christofides, WGS and June Lewis-Jones for the pictures. Any comments or letters would be appreciated.