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Les lifts the lid on forgotten history

By Toby Neal | Shifnal | Nostalgia | Published:

Having not looked in his pouffe for years, Les Hipkiss thought the other day he would lift the lid to see what was in it – and discovered a treasure trove of forgotten stuff.

It included historic souvenir editions, one of which must be a rare collector's item for Archers fans – The Borchester Echo of 1958.

"My late wife put it in that pouffe perhaps 20 years ago," said Les, of Brookdale in Shifnal.

"It was only opened the other day – I was looking to see what was in there. It goes way, way back, and although I knew of it, I didn't remember it. When I opened it up and saw what was in there, I thought 'oh yes.'

"We hoarded stuff and got stuff passed down to us from different lines of parents, mainly from my wife Di's side of the family rather than my own.

"One of the items is a 1953 Coronation book from The Field. That came from her mother, Nellie Durrance, who was a great royalist. She lived at Renshaw Wood, near Bishops Wood."

The Borchester Echo and Felpersham Gazette, a souvenir fictional newspaper from September 1958 marking 2,000 editions of The Archers

Other publications squirrelled away include Christmas editions of the Illustrated London News from 1946 and 1947, as well as a post office savings book in the name of his wife's father, Bill Durrance, who was a builder. It shows that Bill made a 19 shilling withdrawal on New Year's Eve, 1954, leaving just over a shilling in the account.

There is also a ration book dating from 1919.

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Les, who will be 74 on October 30, hails originally from Dudley. He is a former Wombourne parish councillor and retired self-employed chemical engineer. When he first knew Diana she was living in Bilston, although he thinks her origin may have been in the Renshaw Wood or Shifnal areas. She died in March of last year.

"I don't know what I'm going to find in the rest of the house," he said.

"I'm going to put them into the archives. The ration book I'll give to the old fire station in Shifnal, and then I want to find homes for the other stuff. If there's any great value to any of it I might sell it, but for history's sake I would sooner it went to somewhere where it would be preserved."

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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