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Samuel Rodney BODDINGTON (1910-1980)

Samuel Rodney BODDINGTON (1910-1980)
Known to everyone as Roddy, Samuel Rodney BODDINGTON was born to Arnold John and Winifred BODDINGTON (née Shaw) on 3rd February 1910. He was the youngest of five children, one girl, four boys. His father Arnold was, like his own father, in the woollen trade, and this is probably how he came to marry Winifred Shaw whose family were also wool traders, the Boddingtons in Birmingham, the Shaws in Huddersfield. However, Roddy was not for the woollen trade. He had from a young age aspirations to be a farmer.

His education was good but incomplete. He followed his brothers to Oundle school. Unfortunately, his father ran into financial difficulties and Roddy and his brother Peter were withdrawn before they could complete their full schooling there. Roddy very much enjoyed his time at Oundle. He never went to university.

Garden down to Oulton reservoir

St Bernard's Road, reservoir side

During their childhood the family lived in several houses, at least five in St Bernard's Road, Oulton in the south of Birmingham. At least one of these properties had a garden running down to the bank of Oulton reservoir which provided a wonderful opportunity to play on the water.

Working life began with a position at Avery Scales. The company made weighing machines of all kinds. Most of us are familiar with shop counter scales and domestic cooking scales. However Avery were leading manufacturers of industrial scales with products ranging from scales included in manufacturing and packing processes right up to scales set into the ground to weigh road vehicles, known as weighbridges. At the age of 21 Roddy was lodged in Liverpool selling scales to local businesses. He wrote to his mother how he had sold two machines and was expecting a handsome commission for doing so.

His desire to be a farmer was maintained through this time and it must be presumed that he was saving funds to put towards eventually buying a property that could be used for agricultural purposes. He eventually, c.1937, bought a smallholding, Mistletoe Farm, Five Ways, Hatton, Warwickshire. This property was bought with a privately arranged mortgage, the funds being provided by the father-in-law of his brother Stuart, Professor Leonard Parker GAMGEE. The property was about two acres in extent but had a useful pig sty that would accommodate a number of pigs. He also built there two timber sheds that could hold about 200 battery caged hens each. These provided a continuous supply of eggs which Roddy sold from a motorcycle and sidecar combination! He sought customers among the industrial companies around Birmingham - works canteens. One example was the headquarters offices of the Birmingham Canal Navigations Co.

I well recall the fattening of pigs in the sties. When these were sent for slaughter and butchering, it was not uncommon for a ham to be returned to us and hung on a ceiling hook to dry, before becoming a mainstay of the family's meat consumption. Chickens were also a very common meat in our dinners! In fact that remained the case for his entire farming life. A year round supply of potatoes and green vegetables were also grown.

The battery cages for the layers were made especially for Roddy by a local engineer, Mr Burgoyne, who lived and worked at Heronfield Farm, just north of Chadwick End (the family remain there to this day (2023)). He was a very inventive and creative engineer who designed and manufactured the cages, all in flat sections for easy transport, for erection in the sheds. They were also very heavy duty when compared with later products from other makers, and were still in use into the 1950s. An aside - Burgoyne went on to be involved at the beginning of WWII in the design and production of the Bailey bridge which proved to be an indispensable asset for crossing rivers and canals during the invasion of Europe. Bailey bridges remain in use around the world today (2023), more than 80 years later!

Barnmoor Farm, 1947

Barnmoor Farm, 1947

In September 1945 Roddy moved his family, by then married with two infant sons, to Barnmoor Farm, Kington Lane, Claverdon, between Henley-in-Arden and Warwick. This was a major step up, having 40 acres and a range of buildings sufficient to establish a milking herd. The fascinating story of Barnmoor Farm is told in a separate document - Barnmoor Farm, history.

Roddy was extremely successful at Barnmoor Farm and this resulted in a request from a local land owner, Sir Ivan Stedeford, to manage his Claverdon Hall estate. Roddy took this on in parallel with his own farm and trained up a young Jack Masters to run the estate. Jack subsequently went on to farm on his own account.

Aside from farming, in his younger days Roddy played tennis, and it was at a tennis club that he and wife to be, Katharine ADKINS, first met. During WWII he was in a reserved occupation, food production, and therefore joined the Hatton branch of the Home Guard. At some point he was issued with a .22 rifle which he kept at home long after the conflict was over. He attended regular target practice. The range was located at or close by Old Manor Farm, Haseley - I can still remember attending with my father when I was about 7 or 8, and still retain a mental image of the road we drove down to get there - after more than 70 years! He was a very good shot. I recall one morning at Barnmoor Farm, when he was getting up he spotted a hare sitting in a field c.400yds away. He put his rifle through the open window and killed the hare with a single shot. When he was on Home Guard duty he stood guard with his squad on top of a water tank tower located at Shrewley Farm, Shrewley. They were required to look out for enemy aircraft and report them to a control centre. He recalled with horror the night of 14/15 November 1940 when the Luftwaffe destroyed the city of Coventry, including the cathedral. The burning city, about 12 miles away, was clearly visible from Shrewley. The water tower was only demolished early in the 21st century.

In Claverdon he became an active member of the local Conservative Association. As well as serving as a Parish Councillor, he was elected to Stratford-upon-Avon District Council and was well known, and much respected, for providing close and active support for his Claverdon constituents.

Roddy was a volunteer at the WRVS canteen at Hatton Mental Hospital. While it was very unusual for men to be members of the Women's RVS, they needed him for his strength to lift and move things that the ladies couldn't manage!

Roddy and Katharine retired in the early 1970s, the milking herd was sold, just the broiler chicken business remained, to be managed by their younger son, Jonty. Roddy died on 21st December 1980 following a couple of heart attacks and it was a mark of the esteem in which he was held that at his funeral in St Michael's parish church, just three day later, more than 300 family, friends, and parishioners turned up to mourn him. Not so long afterwards, Katharine moved to a cottage in Claverdon village. Old school cottage was a half part of the original village primary school which was previously owned by Katharine's friend and art teacher, and recently deceased, Alwyn Bowen. Jonty moved his family to the farm to run the chicken business, most of the land having been sold to a neighbouring farmer as part of the settlement of Roddy's estate.

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