This page is dedicated a space for readers of the site who wish to recall and share their stories of Quedgeley in years gone by.
If you have a story or pictures you wish to share with other reads please let us know (via the contact us page) and we will try and include it on this page.
David Forsyth retired Group Captain
As the Group Captain (now retired) named in your article, I thought you might welcome some additional comments on the article about the Royal Air Force site. The bit about the Fire Service and “older residents” is slightly out of context.
With the support of the then Chief Fire Officer for Gloucestershire, Malcolm Eastwood, in 1994 I arranged for a Fire Service Radio to be fitted to our Fire Tender to act as a “First Reaction” measure locally given that the traffic conditions could easily prejudice the “20 minute” call-out time Malcolm’s teams had to meet. It was most successful, after early resistance from the Union in the Fire Service who saw it as a threat to jobs. It gave the excellent RAF Quedgeley team added interest to replace their usual Fire Prevention role and they even passed with flying colours an inspection by HM Inspector of Fire Services.
Co-operating similarly with the Chief Constable of the day, Tony Butler, we did the same for the MOD Police Team whose excellent reactions to some difficult situations met with a couple of Commendations.
More specific to the main role of the unit, the task was let out to contract in the late 1980s before a successful bid was mounted to win the work back in house in the early 1990s. Clawing work back into the public sector so incensed the politicians of the day that a rule was brought in that work contracted out could not be the subject of an in-house bid at contract re-let.
This contracted-back arrangement worked exceptionally well thanks to the dedication and co-operation of an outstanding civilian workforce and their Trade Union representatives and performance was judged each year to be consistently better than targets set. Indeed we were held up as a shining example with many visitors coming to learn from us.
But despite that success, Quedgeley, like its sister unit at Carlisle, was to be sacrificed as a measure to cut Defence costs and head-count, regardless of its proven effectiveness using commercial measures. I was most unconvinced by what I saw as manifest unfairness. Douglas French MP fought hard for the unit, being complimented by the Defence Minister for his mastery of detail in an impassioned speech in the Commons, sparking a visit by the Minister, Jeremy Hanley, who left apparently convinced of our case. But all to no avail. And closure came in 1996.
Readers may like to know that there is an Oak Tree with a Crest of 7MU, RAF Quedgeley, dedicated to the men and women, both Royal Air Force and civilian, who had selflessly served there throughout many decades.
My own recollections are of an excellent team, RAF and civilian, who did all they could to preserve the legacy and reputation of the Unit as a place that got things done, with good humour and an easy-going, tolerant approach which masked efficiency, effectiveness and innovation. It was a huge privilege for me to be the Station Commander, undoubtedly the high point of my Royal Air Force career.
Thank you for an excellent web site. PS The history prior to the RAF occupation is also fascinating, as you have documented. The first Commandant of the WW1 shell-filling factory was ex-Indian Army, hence the Nepalese style of Cotswold Lodge (the bungalow) on Naas Lane (hope it is still there).
John & Sheila Phipps Late of Manor Farm, Quedgeley
We were all surprised to hear of the sudden death of John Phipps, at Wycombe Hospital on March 9th, 2008.
As a friend to John and his late wife Sheila for over 50 years, I thought many readers might like me to write about our past residents of the parish Manor Farm is situated on the East side of the B4008 and has the Quedgeley Bye Pass running through some of the fields. There is a large house situated in the middle of the farm. It is steeped in history and can be traced back to the Twelfth Century. That is a separate story.
In 1915 Manor Farm was taken over by the Government. Land was used to build a Munition factory, where hundreds of local women filled brass shells for the war. The entrance was in Naas Lane. The farm land was used to teach Ploughing and there was a ‘Training School in Horticulture’ for wounded ex- servicemen.
After W.W.W.1. Manor Farm was taken over by the County Council and divided into 3 farms. The tenants being Mr Phipps, Captain Clarke and Mr Hazel. In 1937 the Air Ministry took more land to build 7 MU Quedgeley. By this time there were only two tenants. The Phipps and the Brooks. The Manor House was divided into two homes.
Mr & Mrs Joseph Phipps had three sons. The eldest William, (who still lives in Quedgeley) John born in 1927 and Gerald who emigrated to Canada and has since died John went to Quedgeley Primary School 1932-1939. He attended ‘The Crypt Grammar School’ 1939-1945. National Service 1945-1947 in the Royal Navy. Signalman Phipps enjoyed his time at HMS Raleigh and then aboard HMS Dunkirk.
After the Royal Navy he went to Veterinary College London 1947-8. He hated London and decided to make his career farming and returned to Manor Farm. The elderly parents retired and later died. William and John then took over running the farm In 1952 John met Sheila Gardner from Frampton-On –Severn and by 1954 they were married. They later had two daughters, Annie and Mary.
As the daughters grew up so Manor Farm came alive with young friends and relations. Hide & Seek, Cowboys and Indians, shooting walnuts off the tree with air rifles, pinching ripe apricots off the tree in the walled garden. Catching frogs and pulling Bull Rushes from the ancient moat- they were truly wonderful times. The family dinner table brought everyone together, not just the family, but whosoever was visiting the farm at that time. Sheila didn’t count calories and was a bubbly lady and welcomed all to eat her delicious home cooked food. One day she even had a patient from the Coney Hill Psychiatric Unit, sitting at the kitchen table. He had gone on a walk about and was lost John and his brother William worked together on the farm for many years.
Many of the gadgets and pieces of machinery were designed and made by them. The Bale Sled, Grain Auger and Feed Mill, to name but a few. These were planned, cut assembled and welded in the rooms that lay behind the ‘Black –Door’. I am told it was like a cross between an untidy Blacksmiths Forge and a Pandora’s Box inside. In the late 1960’s William pulled out from farming and John was on his own If visitors turned up when John was working, he would invite them to have a go. When milking, he would say “Now you have seen how it’s done, have ago” or “Flip that Ram over, I want to give him a vaccination”.The ram was usually 12- 14 stone in weight. John would stand back and watch with his cigarette holder clenched between his teeth.
When the girls grew up, Sheila taught at the local Primary School and will be remembered for her laughter and good humor. She joined the local Women’s Institute. Later went onto the Committee and then did her time as President. John and Sheila would invite us up to Manor Farm in August. The month which has always been kept free from indoor meetings. John would put the hay bales out for us and we would each take along a picnic John hated petty bureaucracy in any form. When the ‘Land Grabbers’ moved in wanting to lay new water pipes and the Quedgeley Bye Pass, he went to war – very successfully.
He also gave advice to many other farmers, who found themselves entangled in a maze of paper work. He went to Court and represented many in the County. John later went on to write a book entitled ‘Land Grab’.
Sheila loved acting and always took part in the many Plays and Pantomimes written by Mrs. Ellen Parker for the W.I. or Church. Mrs. Dack, the Rector’s mother had us each week at “The Rectory” and we had hours of singing and acting. Because of her round figure, Sheila would enjoy being the fairy to make people laugh. Besides being a busy farmer’s wife, Sheila also joined the Quedgeley Parochial Church Council and later became a Church Warden. She loved helping at the Summer Fetes at The Rectory. Christmas Bazaars and Rummage Sales in the Hall. All held to keep the Church roof on.
Visitors were encouraged to join in discussions around the kitchen table and John was an exceptional listener. Topics ranged from “How bad The Government had treated the Gurkhas” to “Do we need a Parish Council?”.
He made people laugh with his dry tales. The Vet came to the farm to drench some cattle and got crushed between a wall and a large steer. The steer was pushed away and the Vet, winded, dropped to the floor. “Oi said John, don’t lie around down there, I’m paying you by the hour mind”. At a cheese stall at Gloucester Market, John said “How much is a pound of mouse trap?” After the answer he said “Well how much is 5lb? A cheaper price was stated. “Right then, I’ll have 2lbs off the 5lb block please; it’ll be cheaper won’t it?”
When the children were growing up John only left the farm for a one week holiday and one weekend break. He did also manage to attend his girls Graduation Ceremonies. He did worry when Sheila went off to Nigeria to visit Annie when she was away on VSO. He told a friend “Last thing I need is a herd of cattle with Tsetse fly in exchange for those two”. Annie is married Rob and they live with their three children in Canada. Mary, Ken and family live in Amersham
When Sheila died suddenly in 2001, John finally gave up his tenancy at Manor Farm and in 2002 moved to a bungalow off Sims lane, Quedgeley, where he was very well looked after by “his girls”.
The big builders have moved onto Manor Farm and the new School is being built near the Manor House. New home owners are moving into “Kings Way” daily. The Brooks brothers still remain in half of the Manor House, but do not have any land left to farm.
‘The miracle is that life continues, the sorrow is that we do not’. (Jane Walsh-Angland)
Rev. Paul M Dack 1925-2013
The Rev. Frederick J. Lanham, Rector of St. James’ Quedgeley, 1947-1961, left to be Priest in charge of Christchurch Gloucester and the Rev. Paul M. Dack arrived from his Parish in the Cotswolds, to be our new Rector soon after.
Paul Dack had served in the Army and had been taken prisoner in Burma. He did not talk about his time there. I expect it was best forgotten. He did tell us, this was where he made up his mind to take up The Ministry, if he ever got home.
He first arrived one evening for dinner at our house, The Retreat Guest House, Quedgeley. I later took him to meet the St. James’ Parochial Church Council. He soon took up his position, bringing his widowed mother Florence and her sister Olive to live with him. They were all well received and soon settled in.
At that time, the Diocese had sold the nearby Head Master’s House (now The Quedgeley Parish Office) and also land opposite the Rectory, to build bungalows. Some of the money raised was used on the 1840 Rectory, which was badly in need of up-dating after WW1 and WW2. Paul organised the major works that went on for months and the family eventually had a modernised Rectory.
The Village Hall had been gutted by fire in 1957, leaving Quedgeley without a meeting place. When Paul arrived on the scene, he welcomed various groups to use the Rectory. Paul set about clearing and planting the large garden with trees and flowering bushes. In the summer-time we enjoyed Fetes and parties there. The Churchyard was also transformed, with curb stones removed and hedges sorted. He also gave the local youth club permission to use the Rectory Coach House for their meetings.
One of his first engagements was to attend the opening of the new Quedgeley Village Hall on February 17th, 1962. It was a great day, with the village pensioners invited to tea and the rest of the Parish invited to a Social Evening. As Rector, he was automatically made a Trustee of the building and carried out his duties with pride.
Mr Philip Parker of Quedgeley and I were both on the P.C.C. the 20 years Paul was Rector. Philip was also the organist at St. James’. Talking to Philip recently, he described Paul as a true gentleman, very knowledgeable, never a cross word and always willing to help people. I could not have put it better.
In 1982 the Diocese made it known they wanted to amalgamate the Church Parishes of Hardwicke and Quedgeley. They would sell Hardwicke Vicarage and Quedgeley Rectory and one Clergy would leave. Paul Dack being a Rector could stay where he was for life, but being a gentleman said he would leave to allow the joining of the Parishes. The two buildings were auctioned and my husband and I bought the Rectory and the Rev. Geoffrey Stickland moved into a new smaller Rectory, built on the site of Quedgeley’s first school in the kitchen garden of the former Rectory.
Paul went on to have many happy years working in and around Hasfield and Leckhampton and we kept in touch by letter.
I visited Paul at Nazareth House Nursing Home, Cheltenham just before his 88th birthday, which was on May 27th. He said he was enjoying life, with no washing or cooking to do and walked with me unaided inside the building. It was a shock to hear he had died there in August. Paul always stated he did not want a funeral and so a Requiem was held for him at St. Peter’s, Leckhampton on October 5th at 10.30a.m.