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How Bill won new suit at toss of coin

By Toby Neal | Shrewsbury | Features | Published:

A photo we used the other day showing electricity workers of yesteryear in Shrewsbury reminded Bill Kerswell how he won a new suit from one of them in a game of pitch and toss.

John Russell lost his new suit at a toss of a coin

Our picture was of workers in the MEB electricians' department at Roushill in 1953 or 1954, and among them was John Russell.

Bill, who lives near Church Stretton, recalled: "John Russell was the son of Mr and Mrs Stan Russell, who kept the Railway pub at Dorrington, which is now a private home, for many years.

"Mrs 'Chips' Russell, his mother, lived to be 108. I'm not sure, but I think her real first name was Mildred, and she used to go out in evenings with John, even when over 100.

"I believe John Russell started an electrical company himself, and they may still be in business. He died aged 79 and his mother shortly afterwards.

"When Mrs Russell was over 100, I saw her going into the Bottle and Glass inn at Picklescott, and she said: 'Ha, you robbed John in the 1960s, when you swapped suits.'

"This was when John lost the toss of the coin over swapping suits. He had a new one and I had a worn out suit.

"They were playing pitch and toss for suits, and I got drawn in. He lost the toss and we swapped suits. So I had a new suit and he had the ragged old suit I was working in.

"I don't think I've got the suit I won now. This was years and years ago, and I think I wore it out.

"There was not much wrong Mrs Russell's memory, even at 100-plus. She was as sharp as a needle, a remarkable lady."

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of Shropshire history. Lives in Telford and is based at the Ketley headquarters.

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