Our Century

War comes to Stourbridge

Bill Pardoe, Lye
Born 1904

Bill Pardoe

"I remember one of our school teachers at Stourbridge speaking in very grave tones about the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. The tragedy of it all was greatly impressed on our young minds.

"There were one or two strange characters around in those days.

"One was Saft Albert, a poor mental case and another was known as Saft 'Arry who some rascals, for fun, used to get drunk and teach the shout obscenities in the streets.

"Then there was a fellow who young boys were told to run from if he spoke to them. He was named Joey the Cowboy and pretended to be attached to the police force.

"He obviously met his Waterloo on one occasion, for he was seen walking in the street with two awful black eyes and a face black with bruises, a far better deterrent than locking him up.

"In 1914 mother took me to the Corbett Hospital fetes. I would stay for ages watching the balloon being inflated ready for the ascent.

"There was a man on the high wire, gymnastics on the open stage, trick cyclists and all kinds of amusements.

"As we walked around my mother was met by a relative with a look of dismay on her face, saying: 'Haven't you heard the news? War had broken out.'

"The relative's husband, a postman and an army reservist, was called up within a few days and killed in action just a few weeks later."

  • Bill Pardoe went on to become a celebrated craftsman in stained glass. He died in 1991