Top: Vincent (in cab) with brother Bernard. Jersey, circa 1948. My mum tells me that they had been clearing an area of WWII hardware one day and were driving through the the island's capital, St. Helier, when they were stopped by the police. The officers were interested to know what was smoking on the back of the lorry. Discovering that the source was a German gas bomb, the pair were ordered to get it out of town as fast as possible. Mum says that as soon as they were clear of the town they dumped the load off a convenient cliff and made themselves scarce!
Middle left: Vincent and the Velocette, 1950. The bike later siezed on him while he was going a little too fast for his own good. He spent the next few months with his jaw wired up.
Middle right: Dad and my daughter, Laura, August 1983.
Bottom: Dad on the footplate of an engine at Bishop Auckland station. During the war, Dad's father Wilfrid, who had experienced the horrors of war at close hand and was wounded at Ypres, spoke to a railways manager with whom he had some influence and had Vincent employed in a 'Reserved Occupation'. It wasn't a popular decision, since dad wanted to enlist with his friends in the Durham Light Infantry. His friends were killed in action. Dad 'sat out' the war taking ammunition trains over the Penines, occasionally stalked by German bombers.
My parents met and married while both were working in Jersey, CI. Dad, with his brother Bernard, co-owned a small haulage business there which was involved the removal of German WWII fortifications which then still covered the island. Apparently, they also grew tomatos, and my father also had a bread delivery round. My mum was an hotel receptionist and secretary. On returning to the mainland they settled in Bournemouth, to be a little closer to mum's relatives.
The family moved north to Newton Aycliffe in County Durham, around 1955, after being offered a house and nursing training at the local hospital. This was not too far from Bishop Auckland where Dad grew up. At home, as a sideline, he would carve the scrolled heads of violins & violas for a nearby musical instrument company. Later, we also lived in Lanchester, Co. Durham, where my parents ran a training and crafts centre for the disabled.
In 1963 we returned to Bournemouth. My mum took up the post of Matron in a Council Nursing Home, and later, a Rehabilitation Centre for the disabled. My dad, now a cabinet maker, pursued a career in carpentry and all things 'woody'. We were never short of furniture! In my house, I am proud to have an oak Grandfather clock, large oak Ottoman, and a pine coffee-table, the top of which is made from many differently coloured pieces of natural wood. These masterpieces were each hand-crafted by him.
His last job was with a local firm of Funeral directors, for whom he made coffins. It was while in their employment that he developed a contempt for the Funeral business, describing it as a 'racket' which, he believed, took financial advantage of the bereaved. In 1985, he took early retirement due to ill health, which he attributed to poor working conditions. Less than a year later he passed away, suddenly, at the age of 62. He was subsequently cremated without unnecessary expense, in accordance with wishes he had expressed more than once during his final years.