by Brian Hales with Susan King

ISBN 1 904396 38 0

Logaston Press
Herefordshire 2005


* 160 pages
* 128 photos
* 6 cartoons
* 2 sketch maps

Price (paperback):

* £12 (incl p&p)
to UK addresses

* £14 (incl p&p)
to overseas addresses

Click here to order

Eardisley through Brian’s eyes

Eardisley Characters & Capers is author Brian Hales’s very personal recollection of life in the Herefordshire village of Eardisley over the past 65 years. The book features a host of colourful village characters and the events that shaped their lives, as seen through Brian’s eyes.

The book gives us a memorable picture of life in Eardisley from the late 1930s to the present day – a time of great change in rural Herefordshire. Brian describes village life during the Second World War, gives us an insight into life as a ‘teenager’ during the 1950s, and follows changes to local businesses over the decades.

The book contains some 128 black-and-white photographs of local people and events, plus specially commissioned cartoons and village maps by John Hawes. Evelyn Hatcher - a stalwart of Eardisley village life - has written the Foreword; and local writer and editor Susan King edited the text.

Readers’ reviews

‘An entertaining portrait of rural life in the 1950s’;  Herefordshire Life magazine

Read more reviews:

Thanks for the memories,’ Ken Charles, former Eardisley resident

Full of information and entertainment,’ Susan Wood, Eardisley resident

‘...A most enjoyable read and a worthy addition to my collection of countryside books,’ a former member of The Royal Air Force Regiment

This wonderful book gives a picture of some of the social changes that have affected the village...’ Bryony Vale, Herefordshire and Monmouthshire Life, September  2005

From – Ken Charles, former Eardisley resident:

“Thanks for the memories. A great book which I thoroughly enjoyed reading,” says Ken Charles, who lived in Eardisley until 1964.

“I was born in Eardisley at No. 3 Wilkin Cottages in 1943,” writes Ken. “I lived in the village until 1964.” [Ken is pictured alongside other children from the village (1952) on page 107.]

“I worked at FW Carter & Sons grocery store, taking over from Elwyn Nicholas on the delivery van. Elwyn’s dad Billy taught me a lot of selling skill.

“The BSA Bantam motor bike [mentioned by Brian] was the one I bought off Brian Hales, registration BEU 78. Brian sprayed it a bright a green (a bit bright for those days). I also took my motor bike test on  that bike.

“I also remember helping Brian (or thought I was helping at the time) when Brian built a kit car.

I was a close friend of Tom Carter’s son Mervyn Carter and Michael Whittal, one of the triplets I went to school with, both unfortunately drowned in the River Wye.

“I also attended Great Oak school and was one of the 10 people who were there when it closed.

“Thanks for the memories.”

From – Susan Wood, Eardisley resident:

‘It is full of information and entertainment, beautifully illustrated, well produced and printed, and very well written. I am sure that it will be much enjoyed both by relative newcomers, like me, who can learn a lot from it, and by people born and brought up here for whom it will be full of memories; and of course for all of us it is full of laughs. A great deal of work has gone into it, obviously.’

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From – a former member of
The Royal Air Force Regiment (The Rock Apes)

‘I am writing to say how much I enjoyed reading your book, which I had purchased from you on the very wet first day of the village flower festival...

‘Now back to the book – and the piece on Mr Tom Carter and his call-up in 1942, when he would have been say 18 years old, which means in 2002 he would have been 78 or 79... Are you planning a follow-up, say “Eardisley and Beyond” – a local guide of walks in the area, linked to your memories – it’s just an idea.

‘By the time you receive this letter you will have been contacted by the secretary of the Royal Airforce Regiment Association. I took the liberty of passing your details on, as they are keen to make themselves known to “ex Rocks”.

‘… once again thank you for a most enjoyable read and a worthy addition to my collection of countryside books.  I hope I may get the chance to meet you again in the future.’

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Reproduced by kind permission of Herefordshire and Monmouthshire Life

A Village Affair

Bryony Vale chats to the author of a new book which details his life in Eardisley.

Brian Hales is an Eardisley man through and through. He was born in the village in 1937 and attended the local school. Having left school at 15 he took up engineering and was later called up for National Service. After three years in the Royal Airforce Regiment he returned to engineering and later moved to civil engineering. After he retired, Brian began thinking about all the people from the village that he has met over the years and that if he wasn’t there to tell others about these wonderful people, then who would be? So he set about recording his memories of friends and people that he has grown up with in this very personal book Eardisley Characters and Capers.

This wonderful book gives a picture of some of the social changes that have affected the village, and of the various business that have come and gone. The book has been beautifully illustrated with photographs, both old and new, that span the decades of Brian’s life as well as personal anecdotes from Brian’s memory that make him and his friends sound a little like Just William and his friends.

“In the early days in the village we made a lot of our own entertainment – fishing, swimming, skating on frozen ponds or the moat round Eardisley Castle, which has a lot of history to it. We explored the woods and surrounding areas, many nights sleeping in the copse by the waterfalls, where quite a few of us learned to swim and catch trout.

 “Most of us had scrap bikes – bikes we had rescued from the dumps. (There were dumps at several places – where there was a hole for some reason – maybe a pool had dried up. There was one at Chennels Gate and another on the right up the Almeley road. We went to the dumps and found all kinds of interesting things that were not in the best condition – batteries, bikes, spares for bikes, wheels for trucks.) We used our scrap bikes for riding over rough ground and a favourite place was in the fields adjoining the moat where the sawmill’s [sic]had tipped their sawdust. We would ride down the bank into he field and through the ditches we had made and then crash into the sawdust for a soft landing.”

Taken from Eardisley Characters and Capers by Brian Hales

But perhaps my favourite story ... is the one about Peppi the donkey who lived at The Tram Inn during the 1970s and was owned by the landlord and landlady at the time, Mr and Mrs Leonard Lewis. Peppi became a popular attraction with the customers of the pub and could often be seen having a swift half or chewing on one of the cigarettes he had fished out of the ash tray. Peppi would get up to all sorts of bizarre antics that even included having a dance with the landlord. But some times Peppi the donkey would have to be turned out of the pub.

“On a cold winter’s day Peppi would look bedraggled, the longish hair of his coat wet from the rain and beginning to freeze. But he was clever; he had learnt a way of overcoming the wet and cold...”

Being an animal lover I read this story with relish and as I got to the end I began to panic. What became of Peppi, I thought. Surely nothing could have happened to such a wonderful character. I forced myself to read on and soon discovered that Peppi is still living a happy life. What a relief. This wonderful book is just full of stories like this and living in a village myself it makes me think of all the wonderful characters I know.

If you enjoy village life, this book is thoroughly entertaining and well worth a read.

© Herefordshire and Monmouthshire Life, September 2005.

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