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Photos show warm memories of a bleak 1960s Shropshire winter

By Toby Neal | Bishop's Castle | South Shropshire nostalgia | Published:

Paula Middleton has been delving into some old family photos and came across snapshots from the days when Shropshire’s winters involved, well... significant snow.

Brrr... Church Street, Bishop's Castle, in the winter of 1964 or 1965.

They were taken during the winter of 1964 or 1965 in Church Street, Bishop’s Castle, home to the family shop, Gwyther’s, both then and now.

Paula, nee Gwyther, said: “There’s a lovely snowdrift in the first, with a view showing what was at the time The Cosy Cafe on the left, which was run by Mr and Mrs Jim Robinson. They later ran the fish and chip shop near the Town Hall, now Textile Traders shop.

“There are some nice stories people have told me about watching the Coronation at The Cosy Cafe on their new TV in 1953 and how there was a sweet shop at the front.

“Further down the street, on the right, is Morrays’ Bakery.

Young Paula outside her front door on the same day

“The very mention of their bakery brings back lots of memories of the most incredibly buttery, delicious Chelsea buns, the like of which have never been tasted since.

“Mrs Kitchen or Mrs Morray, later, Stella, would take an enormous spatula-shaped knife and slowly prise those buns off a huge metal tray lined with greaseproof paper.

“It was a process that could not be rushed, or the buns might lose a crucial edge, the butter and sugar having formed a dense, sticky layer beneath the dough.

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“If you were lucky, you had a middle one, which would have been especially soft. They were usually made without currants, although they did also do them with fruit. The plain ones tasted different and tended to be a bit thinner. They were the perfect combo of soft, yeasty dough and crispy crust.

Jim Gwyther, centre, on a "Buffs" tour to the Giant's Causeway in 1948.

“Living next door to them was very interesting for us, especially on Good Friday, when they produced vast quantities of hot cross buns, which nowadays are available from Boxing Day. Do people know the significance, I wonder?

“Before she was old enough to go to school, our younger sister, Elaine, used to pop round to the old, stone bakehouse, wearing her little nurse’s outfit and carrying her ‘medical bag’. She was on a mission to take temperatures, check out and inject Mr Morray, Mr Vernon and Mr Marston, with her well-sharpened pencil. They would have been very busy baking from the small hours, but she was rewarded with a specially-made little cottage loaf. It was never forgotten.

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“The second snowy photo, taken on the same day, was me, outside our front door. Morrays’ window is in the background, piled with tins. It gives a bit more scale and detail. Without any snow, the street would not have had many more cars!”

Another of Paula’s family photos goes back to the tour of the Knighton Buffs – that is, the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes – to the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland in 1948.

She thinks it would be interesting to Knighton families who had relatives in the Buffs. Paula’s own grandfather, Jim Gwyther, is centre.

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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