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The Story of Ruth and John Bright

Pam McNicol kindly got in touch to tell us about her mother Ruth Bright and her uncle John Bright who feature in the Class of 1930 photos.

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I’ve come across your site and was very surprised and pleased to see your two school photos in which appear my mother and my uncle, Ruth and John Bright. Ruth was born in 1920 and John in 1922. My grandfather moved his wife Alice and children to Longworth in 1921 when he took on a tenancy at (I believe it was called) Home Farm, owned by the local estate. We visited Longworth about 8-10 years ago and a gentleman who I think was a solicitor now lived there and kindly showed us round. Grandad farmed in Longworth until around 1937/38 when his tenancy ran out and not being able to afford to buy the farm moved to Charney Bassett where he was tenant at Red Shed Farm.

My mum went on from Longworth School to the grammar school in Faringdon then to teacher training college in Hereford during the early years of the war, qualifying as a junior school teacher. She then returned home and taught firstly at Dry Sandford, later moving to London. In 1950 she married my father William Russell and had three children, I am the youngest. In 1960 we moved out to Kent where mum and dad lived until 1985. They then moved to Wisbech in Cambridgeshire as both my sister and I lived in that area. My dad died in 1994 and sadly mum died on 15 March this year aged 86. She was a teacher all her life and her love of school no doubt starting from her years at Longworth.

My uncle John Bright went into farming with his father and took over the tenancy of Red Shed Farm after my grandfather’s death in 1953. He and my grandmother lived in Charney Bassett for the rest of their lives. Granny lived until she was 87 but sadly my uncle died in 1986 when he was 64.

Mum used to tell me stories of her childhood, sadly not many I can remember. There was one about one of my grandad’s shire horses named Jim, who had an accident and broke a leg. Rather than have him put down he was hung up in a hoist at the side of the lane for six weeks while his leg mended.

The other story mum liked to tell related to my uncle John. Aged four, and not yet old enough for school, he would apparently hang around the playground and annoy the older children. One day one of the teachers, it may have been the head, but a male teacher I think, told him off and sent him home. John waited until everyone was in class and then crept into the cloakroom and removed everyone’s coats and hats took them outside and threw them over a hedge into a field next door. No doubt he got into a lot of trouble.

Mum always said that the owner of the estate used to sit in the front pew at church. He had a daughter called Pamela who always wore lovely hats. Mum loved her hats and the name, hence I was called after her!

Sadly, I don’t have many photos of their childhood as most were destroyed by my uncle’s ex wife, but if you would like me to see what I can find of Longworth and scan them for you if they would be of interest I will happily do so.

Your two school photos are not ones I’ve seen before. The only name that is familiar to me is Phyllis Higgs who I think was a friend of my mum’s and I believe her parents may have run the village pub.

Pam McNicol
September 2006

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