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History of Ash and Ridley from Earliest Records to 1957
Compiled by Dorothy G. Meager on behalf of Ash and Ridley Women's Institute           Page 61

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Village Personalities of the Past

Mr Harry Smith He was the owner of what is now known as "Corner Farm". He has been dead for over ten years but when nearly 80 years of age he was still driving his own lorry. He was quite deaf and never sat immediately behind his steering wheel but always in the centre of the driving cabin and kept to the middle of the road, yet he was never involved in any kind of accident. He taught himself to drive at the age of 63. Up to that time he had been content to jog along on a pony and cart. He had one pony for 14 years and another for 18. In those days he contracted for the 45 miles of road in Ash Parish, while he worked on roads in many other places. The stones to make up the roads were collected from the farms, the farmers employed people to gather the stones, this would be about 50 years ago. When Harry Smith was running his lorry he was occupied with cartage. His vehicle was probably almost unique in that it had no lights whatever and no brakes. He never drove after dark, if on the road at lighting up time he parked his vehicle at the nearest garage, or field, if no garage was available and went home by bus or train. He was nearly always in bed by 7 o’clock.

Mrs Elizabeth Dix always known as "Old Liz" was a well known character up to the early days of the 1939-45 war. She lived in a small wooden cottage at the bottom of Billet Hill, which has since been demolished. She frequently worked in the fields, and was quite sought after when there was hoeing to do, although she was well into her seventies. Daily she made the pilgrimage to the "White Swan" for refreshment, where she could be seen smoking her pipe, or occasionally a cigar, in the Public Bar. She always wore men’s lace up boots several sizes too large, and at the village fetes, which she never missed, was frequently seen
 in the midst of an audience doing a "jig". There was rarely a wedding or a funeral that she did not attend. But every Sunday without fail she walked a mile to Church and the mile home again. She used to say "I wouldn’t miss the services for worlds, and I love to see the children there, and to hear them singing". She had one married daughter 

and another daughter was burned to death as a child many years before. It was a very sad day for her when she was taken to hospital, where she died soon after.

None of them seeing me red
Think I be frozen half-dead
As I trudge with my bottle
To moisten my throttle
At George the Third’s Head.

Ay, seventy six in a week
(As true as the Bible, I speak)
Me old father at eighty
Was red as beef-steak
Though starved for a tatie

The furrow, the fallow, the hoe
The harvest the thrashing, I know:
In fog and in chit and in sleet
In perishing winter or heat
For me drop and me crumb
To field-work I go
Till dathered and numb.

Black then along of no poor
It blows cold at many a door:
The mucks not so sour
As charity's floor
Nor damps so a shower.

Yet there's my dear Lord overhead
Who guards me at toil or in bed
To him do I turn
When he rise in the west
And I offers my praise with best.

   This poem was dedicated to her by Thomas Hennell. It is not included in his published book of poems, but copied from the original manuscript.

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