GORDON MOXOM 1937-2016
The following eulogy was given at his memorial service on Tuesday 13th December 2016. Firstly, Barbara and Alan have asked me to say thank you to all of you for coming here today to pay your respects and say farewell to Gordon. In turn, I would like to thank them for the honour of being asked to say these few words about the man we all knew and admired. Gordon was born at Whitethorn Cottage, Litton Cheney, in April 1937. He had a sister June who pre- deceased him. He attended Thorners School and then a secondary school in Allington, which no longer exists. After school he took an apprenticeship at Sharptones Engineering, which has also subsequently disappeared. Whether Gordon had anything to do with the demise of these two establishments we shall never know – maybe it was just co-incidence! Gordon met Barbara in 1958 on Chesil Beach and they were married in 1962. Their son Alan was born in 1964. Gordon was a very private man, not one for a night out with the boys playing skittles or darts. At one time he was a keen bell ringer and he also enjoyed fishing and scuba diving with his friend Mike Stoodley. However, his two overwhelming passions were his family and his work. He was immensely proud of his two grand-daughters Natalie and Sophie especially when they both obtained university degrees. Gordon’s father Charlie worked at Whiteheads Torpedo factory at Wyke Regis during the war and also, with Gordon’s mother Joyce, ran a bed and breakfast establishment in Weymouth. Charlie Moxom established a workshop come garage next to Grove Cottages in the early 1950’s and Gordon joined him in 1958, at the age of 21, following his apprenticeship. Now, as anyone who knew Gordon would imagine, he was not one to sit back and spend the rest of his life doing simple routine jobs. So it was in 1962 that A C Moxom Limited, Precision Engineers, was officially registered at Companies House, Gordon and Barbara being the only shareholders. Over the next few years the expanding business outgrew the premises next to Grove Cottages so, in 1971, additional facilities were added on the opposite side of Chalkpit Lane. A C Moxom Limited continued to provide employment in the village over the next 39 years, until it was closed in March 2010, mainly due to a lack of suitably skilled labour. Talking to ex-employees, it is clear that Gordon was regarded very much as a friend as well as an employer. As one of them told me “I was sent there by the labour exchange in 1971. When I got home my wife asked me if the job was OK. I said it will do until something better comes along. I stayed there until I retired 34 years later. He enjoyed the challenge of taking on work that others refused to consider. We used to think he was mad at times when he came back with what appeared to be some impossible job, but somehow we always seemed to find a solution”. Gordon always had a bee in had bonnet about ‘not being educated’. It’s true, he may not have had a piece of paper proving he was good at passing exams, but he was an extremely competent self-taught engineer. In seeking solutions to the ‘impossible’ jobs he took on he became not only a skilled metalworker but also a very able metallurgist. Another skill he mastered was the art of spray welding stellite alloy onto surfaces to harden them, sometimes solving problems that Deloro Stellite themselves could not. He once told me that Deloro Stellite offered to keep Moxom Engineering fully employed on this work alone, possibly making him a very rich man. Of course, this would have been too repetitive and boring for Gordon so he turned them down. During retirement he used his skills building a magnificent quarter scale model of a Burrell steam engine. The plans he bought to help him proved to be somewhat less than accurate so Gordon had to re-design a lot of parts himself. In doing so he had to learn all about the mysteries of steam engineering. He spent a lot of time trying to explain to me the nuances of slide valves, safety valves, boiler pressures etc. etc. but I’m afraid it was wasted on me. I was extremely proud, however, to be allowed to help him rivet the tracks onto the main drive wheels. I had the privilege of knowing Gordon for over 40 years. We used to meet at the Manor Hotel in West Bexington on Wednesday evenings when Gordon’s father-in-law, Fred, used to run the bar for Charlie Groves, of Groves Nursery, who owned the Manor at that time. Fred was a great character who delighted in winding up the holiday makers. When asked by some blazer adorned individual why there was no mint in his Pimms Fred said “there’s plenty out there in the garden – just help yourself”. Gordon and I had a boat propelled by a small Seagull engine which we kept on Chesil Beach and used for fishing trips. What the health and safety brigade would make of us these days I dread to think. No life jackets, an engine which would not go against the tide, no bucket to bail it out and a crate of beer under the seats – I’m sure they would have tried to ban us “for our own good” of course.Like Fred, Gordon also had a dry sense of humour. Keeping the boat on the pebbles meant that the seams used to open up and allow water to trickle in. One night he said to me “if we’re going out fishing at the weekend we ought to put the boat in the water to let it plim up”. Now, you can imagine the puzzlement of the holiday makers wondering why a couple of idiots were sat on the pebbles, holding the mooring rope, watching their boat bobbing up and down whilst drinking bottles of beer. Eventually it became too much for one of them and he said “something wrong with your boat”? “No”, Gordon replied”, “it’s what is known in Dorset as a golfing boat – it’s got 18 holes in it”. So, as we say “farewell” to Gordon for one last time, I’m sure many of you share similar happy memories not only of his sense of humour but his kindness, thoughtfulness and undeniable generosity. I’m sure he would not want us to mourn his passing but to give thanks for his life and work whilst expressing our condolences to Barbara and the family. Goodbye my old friend, you will be sadly missed but never forgotten. Thank you. David Hearn
Fred Wilmington
Charlie & Alan
JOHN RANDALL 1925-2017
You will all have your own personal memories of John Randall. However I would like to remind you of the man I first met 35 years ago and whom I had the pleasure of meeting many times thereafter. John was of slight build and stood ramrod straight. He had the weather wom face and the fiat tweed cap of a countryman. He would be wearing a collar and tie under his well brushed tweed ratcatcher jacket. Below this he would wear breeches, leather gaiters and boots. What struck one most was the quizzical twinkle in his eyes and the amazing high polish on his brown gaiters and boots. John would be about to get into his white van which was not as well polished as his boots and gaiters. This contained all that he needed for his joumey whether it was to London, to judge at a show, visit a market, give advice or any of the thousand and one other matters associated with sheep or heavy horses. John was generous with his time and enjoyed talking and explaining his twin loves of heavy horses and sheep to anybody, ensuring that his expertise was passed on. This was the same approach he used whether he was talking to the Queen, Prince Philip, the Prince of Wales, the Princess Royal, The Chairman of Youngs Brewery or the Colonel of the Dorset Yeomanry. He would always talk to the young be they at the ring side of a show, the village fete or when he ran his legendry lamb roast barbeque. All his friends needed his advice which he so freely gave. He was at peace with the world, not afraid to express his opinion and very willing to listen to yours and then tell you that you were wrong. So with the help of Dorothy, Carol and Russell who wrote most of what I will read I will try and explain to you how John became the great shepherd he was. John was bom at Beckington, a village to the North of Frome, in Somerset. His father Richard was a carpenter, wheelright and undertaker, his mother Martha a cheesemaker. He was educated at Beckington Primary and then at Frome Grammar School where he excelled at cricket and kept wicket for both the school and village teams. He and his elder brother Stewart had a true rural upbringing with all that included in those days and John was quite inventive. At an early age John showed a keen interest in farming, working holidays and week ends for Russell Frankes a local dairy farmer. He left school at 15 and moved to Salway Ash to be with his Uncle Bert and Aunt Rose who had Cursey Farm. This was where John’s passion for sheep started. A neighbour, Percy Warren, had a flock of Dorset Homs. It was here too that John met Dorothy and romance blossomed. John had saved his pennies and had a car but, so that he could take Dorothy out, he need extra cash and this came from rabbiting at which, as with so many other things, he was a dab hand with purse and long nets as well as his trusty 12 bore and not forgetting Fido bred by Mr Coombes here in Litton. No rabbit was safe. One Boxing Day he and a mate went to Colmers Hill and after 52 shots between them retumed with 53 rabbits. The dog caught one. Time went by and in 1951 John and Dorothy were married at Netherbury Church and the following year David arrived followed three years later by Russell At this time John’s love of sheep expanded and his shepherding career took off. After various jobs he went to work for Charles Borough at Manor Farm, Halse near Bishops Lydeard once again in Somerset. Dorset Downs of course and all went well until the bitter winter of 1963 when he left after a disagreement as to whether the sheep or the cows should have the best food. John then retumed to Dorset as Head Shepherd to Bill Hooper at Winfrith Newburgh where the sheep did take priority over most other things. John wanted to further his career and took a job managing a mixed farm, sheep, beef and corn, in East Sussex but the sheep were Romneys. Then back to Dorset as shepherd for Rex Loveless at Piddlehinton and so onto the Dorset College of Agriculture at Kingston Maurward which he described as quite an eye opener more so for the lecturers and students than for John. After the DCA sold their sheep flock John temporarily changed tack and looked after a show team of Shire Horses, his other great passion, breeding, breaking and showing the horses and very narrowly missing out on qualifying for the Horse of the Year Show at Olympia in London a couple of times. In 1982 John moved to Litton and back to his fïrst love sheep. This time he worked for himself contract sheering, trimming and whatever else he was called to do. About a year after his move, whilst in deep conversation with Walt Borough, he said that it would take 5 years to start a flock and breed a champion. So the gauntlet was down, John bought 5 ewes, rented a few acres and started the Bride Valley flock of pedigree Dorset Down Sheep and, during the fifth year, a Championship Prize was won. From then on the flock grew and Champions were bred and very high prices paid when these animais were sold. By this time grandchildren were on the scene and all were roped in to help whether they wanted to or not. Stephen, more commonly known as Nipper, was a little different. He was always ready to go especially when he was big enough to open gates and fetch and carry. Of course the bag of sweets in the van always helped. John and his mate would go off to do the sheep and retum when it suited them. One moming Carol told John that Nipper had to properly exercise his dog, a black and white Border Collie of course, whilst they were out. When they retumed Carol asked John if they had exercised the dog. Oh yes said John followed by a big grin. It tumed out that Nipper sat in the back of the van with a piece of rope as a lead, so with the back doors open and John driving the dog ran behind. This tumed into a regular event. John carried on shepherding for many years and eventually gave up in 2003 but he did not lose his love and enthusiasm for sheep. He did not give in. He carried on with the Dorset Downs Sheep Breeders Association, helping to organize the annual breed show and as a committee member until 2015. The telephone was his lifeline with people ringing for a chat or advice. Over the years John achieved many things of which he was proud. He met most of the Royal Family. He was presented to the Queen. He met the Duke of Edinburgh and The Prince of Wales many times. He served on the Royal Smithfield Show Committee with the Princess Royal as President. He was on very good ternis with Lady Aldington and acquainted with Lord Whitelaw selling him many a ram. John had a long association with Young’s Brewery in Wandsworth because, of course, their mascot was a Dorset Hom Ram called Ramrod who had to be trimmed several times a year to keep him looking good. This meant regular visits to the Brewery and these always ended in the Sample Room. At Christmas he would take a ewe and lambs to the Brewery for their Christmas crib which raised money for the local children’s home. Again a visit to the Sample Room and a good sélection of beer for the retum joumey. John also had a fine relationship with the Dorset Yeomanry who are now the Wessex Rifles. Their mascot was also a Dorset Hom Ram which meant visits to Bovington Camp and of course a detour on the way home via the Officer’s Mess. John served on various judging panels and judged at many of the major and minor shows both as a breed and an interbreed judge. Dorset Down Sheep were his overriding passion and over the years he won countless prizes, Many many Champions, Supreme Champions and Interbreed Champions. John wrote two books and made a video on how to show sheep and how to trim their feet. He appeared on télévision including with Chris Evans on Zig and Zag. As well as his love of sheep in general, and Dorset Downs especially, John will be remembered for the help and advice he gave to many to help them on their way in the sheep world, and of course his britches and highly polished boots and leggings lovingly prepared for him by Dorothy. Finally John enjoyed an ample dram whenever the occasion arose. Thank you John for enriching all our lives.
By Robin Barbour
FUNERAL ADDRESS – Monday, 27 th February 2017
By David Hearn
FUNERAL ADDRESS – Tuesday, 13 th December 2016
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HUGH THOMAS 1946-2018
The following eulogy was read at Hugh’s funeral on the 16 th of November 2018:
Firstly, Margaret and Family have asked me to say “thank you” to all of you for coming here today to pay your respects and say farewell to Hugh. Thank you too for all the cards and expressions of condolence. In turn, I would like to thank them for the privilege of being able to say these few words about the man we all knew and admired so much. Hugh, together with his twin brother Gareth, was born in May 1946 in the Welsh town of Neath. His father Cyril was a bus driver. He had a sister, Margaret, and two brothers, Keith and Richard.. Hugh met his wife to be Margaret in 1969 and they were married in 1970. Their son Gavin, now a consultant in respiratory medicine, was born in 1972 and their daughter, Angharad, now a school teacher at St Catherines in Bridport, in 1974. Hugh was a very private man, not one for a night out with the boys playing skittles or darts although he did enjoy a pint or two with his close friends. However, his two overwhelming passions were his family and his work. He was immensely proud of his two grand-sons, Evan and Ivor and his grand-daughter Farah. After attending Neath Grammer School he started work with Neath Borough Council as a rent collector. In 1969 he joined the South Wales Police and, entirely on merit, rapidly rose to the rank of constable! He transferred to the Dorset Police Force at Poole in 1974. Subsequently he gained valuable experience in a number of roles in Shaftesbury, Sherborne, Lyme Regis, Bournemouth and Weymouth. For several years he was Inspector-in- Charge at Bridport. He was very fond of travelling especially his wine tasting trips to France and Spain. He took a great interest in sport, especially Welsh rugby and Swansea City football club. For some years he shared an interest in several national hunt racehorses and was overjoyed when one of them, Philson Run, won the Midlands Grand National and finished fourth in the Aintree version. Hugh had been unwell for some time but it came as an enormous shock to all of us at his sudden demise. He was a great lover of the works of Dylan Thomas. Apparently, towards the end, in the words or that great poet, he “raged, raged against the dying of the light” but eventually he “went gentle into that good night”. So, as we say “farewell” to Hugh for one last time, I’m sure many of you share similar happy memories not only of his sense of humour but his kindness, thoughtfulness and undeniable generosity. I’m sure he would not want us ‘lovely boys’ to mourn his passing but to give thanks for his life and work whilst expressing our condolences to Margaret and the family. Goodbye my old friend, you will be sadly missed but never forgotten. David Hearn 16.11.2018
Hugh and Gareth
Hugh and Grandson Evan a village in the Bride Valley Litton Cheney Dorset
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Item by his son Russell
‘My father’s family had a business at Beckington, near Frome, where they were carpenters/joiners and wheelwrights. After he’d left Frome Grammar School, father came to Salwayash to stay with his uncle who ran Lower Kershay Farm, which is where he met Mother. At that time Father’s passion for sheep was inspired by neighbouring farmer Percy Warren who kept Dorset Horns. The business at Beckington has been going for generations; Father’s mother was a cheesemaker and farmed in her own right, as were his aunts. There are two trades in our family: carpenters/wheelwrights/undertakers, which often went hand in hand, and farming. Father’s uncle, who he worked with, was actually born here in our house in Litton Cheney, where his father rented land locally for dairying. And I’ve got an older brother, who followed in Father’s footsteps and went shepherding. As soon as I was able to carry half a bale of hay I had to go and help Father feed sheep. All his life, the topic of conversation with him was either sheep, heavy horses or farming, in that order. At 13 I was driving tractors, haymaking and harvesting, and helping with sheep work. Father’s work took him all round Dorset, and beyond. He worked for Charlie Borough’s at Halse in Somerset, then for Bill Hooper at Winfrith Newburgh, with Pedigree Dorset Downs. He went to Sussex looking after Kent Romney ewes, then to Rex Loveless’s at Piddlehinton with Dorset Downs again, then to Kingston Maurward to work with the college’s Dorset Horn flock, until they were sold. That was an old flock, a good one, and when Father was showing them he was giving Fooks’s at Powerstock, famous Dorset Horn breeders, a run for their money and occasionally beating them. He was a familiar sight at agricultural shows and markets, probably known to most Dorset farmers at the time in his flat cap, collar and tie, britches and highly polished brown leather gaiters. He had met members of the Royal Family, including HRH the Queen, the Chairman of Youngs Brewery and the Colonel of the Dorset Yeomanry, all of whom he advised about sheep, and would generally listen carefully to what you had to say about a farming matter before politely telling you how you were wrong. In 1982 after being made redundant from Kingston Maurward, he had the chance to rent a bit of ground in Litton Cheney, so we moved back here and he started his own small flock of Dorset Downs. I went in the other family trade direction and have been a carpenter joiner all my life, and we do some wheelwrighting. From a young age I wanted to be a carpenter. With a piece of wood, a hammer and some nails, I was happy. After I left school I got a job in Dorchester with an old building firm called CE Slade’s, based down in Millers Close. That was in the days when there were some decent building firms in Dorchester, like Cake’s, Ricardo’s, Angell’s, all very good builders with their own joinery shops. I started in 1970 with Slade’s and soon got into the joinery side of it. I did my apprenticeship there, stayed on a few years, and left in 1978. I’d got married in ’77, like Father to a young lady from Salwayash, Carol, and then went to work for CG Fry’s down the road here in Litton Cheney. I was foreman joiner for them for about 8 years, then left and started on my own in 1986. Father could always remember his father making wheels, and his brother who was older was involved, but basically the war killed the trade. That was because there were so many rubber-tyred wheels left over from the military which could be reused, tractors were becoming much more common, and when the wooden wheels on the old wagons got shaky they didn’t get replaced. I got interested in making wheels probably 40-odd years ago, and today we both repair old wheels and make new ones. There are still enough old farm wagons in preservation, horse-drawn traps, hand carts, trolleys, etc to provide us with an interesting sideline. To make a new wheel, you start by turning out the hub on the lathe, and that’s always English elm. Then you set out the spokes, always an even number, and fit the iron stock hoops to the hub and drive them on tight. Having morticed the hub for the spokes, you then make them out of English oak, shape them, and fit them by driving them really tight into the hub mortices. There’s never any glue involved. Next job is to cut the felloes (pronounced fellies) out, always English ash. These are the curved sections of the wheel rim, each one joined to the next one with a dowel. The different timber species are used for good reason; the elm is tough and stringy, resistant to splitting even though much of the hub has been removed to take the spokes. Oak is strong, to resist the impact of the weight on the wheel riding over bumps, all of which is on one spoke as it reaches the lowest point of the rotation; and ash is springy, to absorb the weight as the wheel turns. Each of the spokes is cut to length with a “tang” or round tenon on the end, and fitted to holes drilled into the felloes, two to a felloe. There has to be a small gap between the felloes, and in the length of the spokes, so that when the hot bond, or iron tyre, is fitted, the gaps will squeeze up tight as it cools and contracts with enormous force. We do all that ourselves, building a fire round the bond to heat it up before fitting. On the joinery side, we’ve done some interesting projects. We built a complete horse-drawn hearse once, for Mac Kingman in Weymouth, which he used regularly for many years. There’ve been a few canopies for steam engines, too, and repairs to thrashing machines, including a total rebuild of one, and wooden parts for old farm machines like binders, and years ago a lot of con-rods for the old finger-bar mowers, for Lott and Walne in Dorchester. If it wasn’t for fools like us, and the fools who still have these old machines, it’d all be gone for ever, and it’s part of our heritage; most of the modern machines have simply evolved from these old designs. We’ve also made big Georgian staircases with endless strings, or handrails, which curve in different directions, the last one in Winterborne Keynstone, and spiral staircases too. A helical staircase in a round building was an interesting project once. Our business is very traditional, and that’s because I’m a bit old fashioned about the way building is done today. Everything has to be done in such a tearing hurry, using products which enable things to be built quickly, as a result of which it often doesn’t last very long. I was taught by some very skilled tradesmen, the sort of people who are hard to find any more, when things were made in tried and tested ways, which for many years had stood the test of time. I still work on those lines, which sometimes leads to arguments with clients and architects, and occasionally I will refuse to price a job if they insist on building something in a way I know won’t last. Traditional ways of building and joinery are done for good reasons, and Chris and I take great pride in what we do. That extends to the tools we use, still sharpening our own saws rather than buying another one with a plastic handle as most carpenters do. Carol and I have 3 boys, and Christopher decided just before he left school he wanted to follow me in my work, the 6th generation in our family to take up the trade. It was difficult to find a good apprenticeship place for him, so at the time slightly against my better judgement he came to work with me, and has been here ever since. He’s the same as me, in that the work’s got to be right. Nothing leaves the workshop until we’re happy with it, even if we have to spend another day on it.’