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Doncaster Chronicle.

Thursday 14th October 1954.

Since it is unlikely that I shall be returning to Belton for a week or two  I feel it quite safe to tell you that among  the people from the surrounding villages the place is known as Tommy's Town, and the reason for this has for some considerable time caused much embarrassment to the local citizenry. The reason for this embarrassment is that the local good people of Belton once hanged a sheep on a stealing charge because it drank milk owned by a boy named Tommy. I heard the story in the tap room of the Sir Solomon from Rupert Axe, John Greensitt, Bill Caley, Charles Bowers and John Drakes who were enjoying a quiet (?) game of dominoes slightly less than they were enjoying the telling of the sheep's tale. But the story was not to be our only surprise. It was in Belton we met 90-year-old John William Wardle, a man as merry as his Dingley Dell namesake ever was, who has a 54-year-old wife, a 21-year-old son, strong view on dancing - "I like waltzes, quadrilles and the schottische"  - and spends his spare time in the garden. “Wouldn’t dream of letting anyone else touch it,” he said. “Been in agriculture since I was 8, and I intend to stay in it as long a my legs will carry me.” Mr. Wardle who was once a farm foreman running 800 acres, nowadays specializes in Sweet Williams, Asters and Sweet Peas. Whereas Miss Doreen Arrand, a 16-year-old nursemaid specializes in Belton,  “I love the place. It might seem a little sleepy spot to an outsider but I would not live anywhere else in the country.” A view incidentally which is shared by her friend shop assistant Margaret Fox and seems to point to a change in the traditional way of things in which country girls cannot wait to leave their villages for the bright lights of London. I suppose the difference is now is that many country girls have already seen London and decided sensibly enough that their own spot is far better. Next we met 83-year-old William Taylor of Cherry Tree House Farm, who still looks after his six-acre farm with every evidence of content. "we don't run to big farms much in these parts." Mr. Taylor explained, "This is probably one of the few districts left where we still do strip farming." Mr. Taylor's great personal pride is that during his lifetime he has held no fewer than 58 shooting licenses, and his  great sorrow is that he can no longer get about enough, nor find the time to hunt as he would like to. It's a big blow," he confessed, "but I've had to cut my shooting trips to one a week. Mr. Taylor reminisced awhile about the Belton of his youth. "Remember when we used to have a coach here," he recalled. "Used to call it the black Maria. When you wanted to get out the driver gave you a candle to see your way down the steps." "But I can remember we had come grand sing-songs on t'owd Maria. I've missed her a lot since she was broken up. Our next meeting was with Matilda who spews flame, has a mouth full of pots and is looked after by a group of schoolboys. At which point we hasten to point out that Matilda is a pottery kiln. We met Matilda at the rear of Belton church school and were formally introduced by assistant head Mr. T. F. Todd. Matilda was the brain child of Mr. R. Mawson and Mr. A. Cooksey, two masters at the school. "We thought it might be instructive if we built one for the older boys," the masters explained, "and it has proved very popular. All our pottery is made from local clay and we have had some very exiting results." Now the masters are hoping that the Education authority will be keen enough on their idea to replace Matilda with an electric kiln. "The snag is that we can not coax just those few extra degrees of heat which would enable us to glaze our pottery." The masters took us into a classroom to show some examples of their work. Our advice to the appropriate education authority is to open their purses and buy an electric kiln for Christmas for the Belton potters.

Story by Ian Skidmore, Pictures by Douglas Guest


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Tommy's Town | Golden Wedding | A 64th Wedding Anniversary

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