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Gilly's Mural

For remembrance day I decided to paint this old photo from the other side of my family this time. My Great Grandad Gilly (Gilbert). This photo was taken when he was pretty young, probably around 20. He had just joined the Merchant Navy during the Second World War. Originally from Baker Road Runcorn, he ended up in Stoke in the late 1940s after being in the Navy for the majority of the war. He was released from the Navy in March 1946, he then began his welding career with Babcock & Wilcox which meant he constantly travelled to different power stations all around the country.

Throughout his 20s he would often work in Edinburgh, Ireland and at Meaford power station near Stoke. Whilst lodging in Longton for his work at Meaford he met my Great Grandma Emma who was from Brindley Ford. They married in Larne in Northern Ireland around 1950 whilst he was living and working over there. They would have been about 30 and 31 years old at this point. They would have my Nan Sue shortly after and move to live in Runcorn as Gilly had welding work at a power station there.

After a few years in Runcorn, they came back to Stoke in the 1960s and settled in Brindley Ford. Here they bought a property that was their home and a chip shop, on Beatrice Street where they lived and worked for years to come. Gilly had stopped travelling for his welding job at this point and this was his and Emma’s new occupation. My Nan recalls fond memories of Brindley Ford in those days and the community spirit. She worked at a baker's on Saturdays a couple of doors down and there was a pub across from the chippy which bought in plenty of customers.

In around 1967. Unfortunately, the chip shop and the whole row of terraces got knocked down due to a compulsory purchase order from the local council. The village protested but to no success, so unfortunately the building doesn't stand anymore. However, I did find an old photo of it once, even better than this one and I drew my Nan a picture of it. Here you can see the chippy in the front left of the picture and the bakery down the street where the baker's van is. I found this photo online and I believe it was taken around 1960.

After the street was demolished Gilly and Emma moved to Biddulph. Gilly went on to work at Chatterley Whitfield Museum where he stayed into his retirement and would walk from Biddulph down the old railway line to the colliery every day in his 60s and 70s.

He continued to weld and make things from brass as a hobby in his retirement. He had the facilities to do this somewhere at Chatterley Whitfield. We have multiple ornaments he made such as a brass Spitfire that I was given as a child and a decorative sword that my Nan still has in her house. We also have these medals from his Navy days. The Pacific star, Atlantic star, 1939-45 star and his service medal.

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