Living history

Ascott under Wychwood. Foster's Traveling Shop May 1948. Taken from article in National Geographic Magazine May 1948 entitled "By Cotswold Lanes to Wold's End" By Melville Bell Grosvenor. See CRB0196 for more information.

Ascott under Wychwood. Foster’s Traveling Shop May 1948.
Taken from article in National Geographic Magazine May 1948 entitled “By Cotswold Lanes to Wold’s End” By Melville Bell Grosvenor. 

It is an ordinary day in Ascott in 1947. The mobile shop has pulled up in front of the Old Forge and two ladies are buying paraffin. The scene must have happened hundreds of times but today there is a National Geographic photographer on hand to record it as part of an article on English rural life.

The boy on the extreme left of the picture is Fred Russell who, incidentally, has just celebrated his 80th birthday. He remembers that the boy standing next to him was John Campbell who made a career in natural history with the Oxford Museum. He does not remember the name of the younger lady but he believes she and her husband rented rooms at the Blacksmith’s house. Later she moved to Shipton, probably Station Road. The older lady was Mrs Edgington who lived in a cottage with a small holding just off the green at Ascott.

The two men serving the paraffin were Anthony Hemming’s grandfather, Jack Hemming and another man who had the round from 1947 to 1957. Jack Hemming was the manager for Fosters of Studley who had a dozen vans. He would not normally have been working directly with customers but was probably training the other man up. Eventually, in 1957, Anthony Hemmings’ father, John Hemmings took over the round until 1962. His uncle, Basil Pratley took it over in 1962 but also operated a hardware store in Milton.

Alan Vickers

June-July 2019