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Published: October 20th 2020
It was only 12 months ago, that I would have instinctively booked some aeroplane tickets for our usual autumn jaunt. Last year, we were wandering around the boulevards of Lviv and enjoying the Indian summer. I was eagerly awaiting my attendance at the Lviv derby to add to collection of Eastern European footballing obscurities. My spies in Moscow tell me that the weather is once again unseasonably warm in that part of the world, but what was once a normal aspiration is no longer possible. I set my sights on something closer to home, but somewhat more exotic than my recent trip to Ponte Carlo.
TFB is following the science, or so he claims and was on the verge of introducing a tier system of risk to be given to each part of the country. There are whole swathes of the country, that are seeing varying degrees of more stringent measures. A quick check therefore ruled out the North East, the North West and the West Midlands as destination options. Merseyside was the key hot spot to be avoided and both the Welsh and Scottish governments were actively discouraging visitors from any cross border jaunts. Bristol and the South West
were generally keeping COVID rates lower than the rest of England, so that seemed a plan. We can all follow the science. I therefore find myself in deepest Gloucestershire in search of some real football.
The traffic was building up on the outskirts of Stroud town centre, but it was nothing to do with a football match. The main London Road had been pedestrianised to allow for extra social distancing space at the Saturday market and traffic diverted away. The proximity to the masses exiting the local Waitrose car park added to the chaos. We skirted round in search of a place to Park the car. A fortuitous space appeared on the street on the steep hill just above the Police Station. Stroud it seems, has plenty of hills. The local building stone is pleasing to the eye, but the home of law enforcement in Stroud was an ugly concrete block. It was in complete contrast to the fine, art deco, launderette across the street. The former Co-op, it dates from 1931 and is now occupied by Soap n Suds. This area is known as The Cross, but no Cross was evident. The remains were totally removed by a
runaway truck in the 1940s. A stone ram statue across the road was no substitute. The "premier" local dog Grooming parlour, Ruff n Ready, was closed for the weekend, so the pooches of town would have to go without their last minute makeover. They offer spa treatments for any age and breed of dog apparently. The canine crew of Stroud certainly know to live. We descended on to the High Street, where the first business to catch my eye was the local record shop. They were not Northern prices, so it was a short diversion. The Other Half decided to check out the nearby book shop, but became frustrated by the new shopping protocols of limiting customer numbers into shops. She gave up.
We turned off down Union Street. The market was in full swing. The London Road section of the market was much less busy. Footfall was limited. I spied what I thought was the War Memorial - an interesting one with a clock as a centrepiece. It turned out not to be the War Memorial after all. The Sims' Clock was completed in February 1921, as a result of a bequest by a Stroud wine and spirit
Soap N Suds in the old 1931 Co-op building
merchant, William Thomas Sim , who died in 1917. It was originally intended to be the town’s War Memorial, but subsequently another Memorial was erected in the Park Gardens. Sims' Clock stands where there was once a drinking trough for the town’s horses. The nearby Subscription Rooms definitely deserve a mention. Tuscan columns and a balustraded balcony adorn the front of the 1833 Cotswold stone building. The building looks like a sort of grand Town Hall - it is currently owned by the Local Authority and used as an entertainment centre. The Beatles apparently once played there, although I suspect the residents of Stroud remember the occasion more than they do.
The street with the finest buildings is Lansdown and among them is the School of Science & Art, built in 1890-99,. The designs were those of J.P. Seddon, but it was finished more cheaply by the local architect, W.H.C. Fisher. If you like your buildings in the Gothic style, this is a must see. A band of carving makes its way along the building between the floors and contains busts of Victorian scientists and artists - MIchael Faraday, Thomas Henry Huxley, and Lord Kelvin for Science and Charles
Barry, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Lord Leighton and JMW Turner for the Arts. The boys and girls High Schools were originally located in the building, when it opened in 1909. The Stroud Museum was in residence from 1930 until the turn of the century and today, locals can rent spaces in the building for special occasions. The old 1873 Library is also in Lansdown, as is the home of the Stroud Journal.
We climbed the steps through the park to St Laurences Church and on to the Shambles. The name 'Shambles' means a slaughter-house and this was the old Meat Market. A plaques on the wall highlights that in 1742, John Wesley preached here, standing on a butcher's chopping block. The Church Hall on one side was originally the Corn Exchange of Stroud. The town centre was somehow less than inspiring. Jasper Conran apparently described the town as the Covent Garden of the Cotswolds, but I wasn't seeing it. I don't normally struggle for blog content - even by just observing people going about their normal business - but not today. We returned to the car and motored a few miles down the road to Brinscombe. Brinscombe &
Thrupp Football Club to be precise. The Ministry of Bus Stops never sleeps, but even if I had been snoozing it would have been difficult to miss the finely decorated examples on our journey. Is there a finer collection anywhere in the country?
Brinscombe & Thrupp are two adjoining villages a few miles down the Frome valley. The names suggest picturesque hamlets built of the local stone, especially when another in the locality is called The Heavens. In fact, they were established as industrial settlements with business expanding from the original woollen mills into all aspects of trade. The big local development was the construction of Brinscombe Port, which was the hub at the intersection of the new Thames and Severn Canal. The Port allowed the transfer of cargoes from the sea going barges arriving from Bristol and the Severn Estuary on to the smaller craft, which moved goods on towards London and the Thames Valley. Boat building became a big local business. One unverified source even suggests that the African Queen ...... of the Humphrey Bogart movie fame ..... was built at the local Abdela & Mitchell shipyard around 1908. Who knows the truth
School of Science & Art
of that story? The shipyard did however apparently specialise in building boats with a shallow draft, which were widely exported for use in the exploration of the rivers of Africa and South America.
My favourite industrial tale from Brinscombe & Thrupp is not of boats, but of lawnmowers. In 1830, one Edwin Beard Budding of this Parish, developed an alternative to a scythe to cut grass on sports grounds. He received a patent for the world's first lawnmower on 31 August 1830. A mere 19 inches wide and made of wrought iron, the lawnmower was born, A grass box was fitted to collect the cuttings and the blades could be lowered to various heights.The early machines were sold to Regents Park Zoo in London. When you are watching some super mowers cutting fancy stripes in the turf at Wembley, Lords or other famous venues - just remember, it all started from humble beginnings in Brinscombe & Thrupp.
The Meadow - the home of Brinscombe & Thrupp FC - is an attractive venue for football. The ground is something of a natural bowl, sloping down towards the river from the main road above. The pitch
seemed to have a bit of a dip towards the nearside, but not enough I am sure that the local lawnmowers would not be able to cope. The Main Stand and small covered terrace sit neatly into the roadside banking and it was very pleasant, sitting in the autumn sunshine. The Other Half gave it a big thumbs up. There are some games I go to and I think, once is enough. We won't mention any names. At Brinscombe &Thrupp FC, I was full of good feeling. What a tremendous little football club, friendly people and a great setting. In these strange times, COVID protocols are under much scrutiny and you could not fail to be impressed to see how a small club in Gloucestershire had got themselves organised. Temperature checking, track and trace details - all with a smile - were completed and we paid our £6 entry on the gate.
It was FA Vase day. The visitors were Aldermaston FC from Hampshire - yes, the very same place as in the Atomic Weapons Establishment - the place where the UK produces warheads for Trident missiles and decommissions the redundant armoury. It used to be the scene of
The Ram Statue
big CND marches and Ban The Bomb protests. A minutes silence preceded kick off for the recent passing of a Brinscombe & Thrupp committee member. Aldermaston seemed to have brought a reasonable following in the crowd of 103 and they started well. The difference in league status was not obvious. However as they say, football is all about scoring goals..... and Aldermaston were a bit short on that front. It was slightly ironic that Aldermaston lacked firepower! The eventual 5-0 scoreline flattered the hosts, but the outcome was never really in doubt from the 2nd goal onwards. Aldermaston brought on a substitute to mix things up a bit. He towered over all the other players, but lacked mobility. He shouldn't really have stayed on the pitch, after one lunging tackle. Brinscombe & Thrupp marched on into the next round. The locals were very appreciative, but didn't burst out with a couple of verses of One Man Went To Mow. It could have been like the old days down SW6.
We made our exit for the M5 motorway and our final destination of Bristol. Appendix 1 FA Vase 2nd Qualifying Round Brinscombe &
Thrupp FC 5 Aldermaston FC 0 Venue:
The Meadow, London Road, Brinscombe, Stroud. Gloucestershire. GL5 2SH Date:
Saturday 10th October 2020 @ 1500 Hours Attendance:
1-0 Welch 25 Mins (Brinscombe & Thrupp), 2-0 Barnes 28 Mins (Brinscombe & Thrupp), 3-0 Smith 47 Mins (Brinscombe & Thrupp), 4-0 Pitt 61 Mins (Brinscombe & Thrupp), 5-0 Price 87 Mins (Brinscombe & Thrupp), Brinscombe & Thrupp
: Jones, Hill, Simpson, Parrott, Pitts, Bartman, Phin, Welch, Smith, Barnes, Pitt Subs: Price, Major, Snook, Woodfield, Mark Aldermaston:
McCulley, McCormack, Burgess, Porter, Smith, Price, Tull, Baker, Ally, Pharo, Farrueia Subs: Longmate, McEnteggart, Pryce, Daka, Richardson
Tot: 2.293s; Tpl: 0.021s; cc: 39; qc: 46; dbt: 0.0345s; 2; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 3;
; mem: 1.6mb