On The Cotswold Community…

Received from Barry Rogers | Added to the site October 2018.

“Hello John. You write about the history of the Community, but there is one shameless fault about the forge being reinstated for the first time since the Bruderhof occupied the place.

I have to tell you that I installed a new forge area in the polly with the help of a some boys in 1974. The boys made ‘S’ scrolls and ‘C’ scrolls for shelf brackets and wall lights. Bill Denson was one of the boys who helped, and who, I believe, has been in contact with you. In a meeting it was described by Glyn Jones as a “Phoenix Rising from the Ashes.”

Also, I can find no mention of the early pioneers who helped establish the future of the Community. People like Dave Gilbert, Roger Fildes, John Pilston, Bob Dunne. myself and many more who laid the foundation for the those who followed, when sleeping in was unpaid and a sofa in the sitting room was our bed.”

A Note from John

Having received the above email from Barry, I asked him to tell me more about the contribution of the other pioneers that he mentioned. He was kind enough to respond with the following recollections.

Please do get in touch using the form on the website if you have a persepctive to share. Of course, your correspondence will never appear on the site without your consent.

“I have tried to bring together the early days of the Community, in no particular order, and its progression with dates as I recall them which led eventually to the more structured therapeutic community.

My first day there in 1969 as a teacher was working with Gordon Godfrey in number 11 with a group of boys, some of whom were still living in the buildings in what ultimately became the Poly square. The Cottage was already up and running. Two houses in the drive were opened which became Bulderston, and number 11 became living accommodation for the boys with Roger Fildes (an ex-telephone engineer) its competent manager. Richard wasn’t keen on the name No 11, said it sounded “like a bloody public lavatory”. The problem was solved when the place burned down.

In the Poly, I was initially upstairs with a group, where we wrote, rehearsed, sang songs and made 1st WW uniforms, with the help of the talents of Community wives. It was a play we named, “Christmas in the Trenches” It was put on in the large hall with all boys and staff attending. I directed it, and the cast included John Cooke, Bob Yeo, Bill Denson and others whose names I cannot recall. This was produced Christmas 1970. Nick Benfield and Christine Bradley were in the cast which gave some adult poise to the boys. As a post performance treat, for the strolling Shackespearean troupe, Trevor Bluett had arranged a delivery of fish and chips which we all ate with gusto along with lashings of adrenalin and the usual Post mortem, which, of course, we all decided was positive.

In the Poly I, with the boys, set up an internal radio station and anyone could request a piece of music (which was usually borrowed and returned a few days later) Mike Jinks managed to help out with money to buy some equipment. I moved downstairs in 1971 when Ian Shaw left and I took over the general crafts and engineering section. Dave Gilbert along the passage was producing clever and skillful woodcrafts. John Cooke patiently carved from a solid length of wood, the chain which illustrates the cover of “Spare the Child”.

Marion (Whitmore?) gave cosy, homely security to the boys with her cooking sessions. Boys would proudly show me their gastronomic creations offering me a slice or a scone which I was clearly expected to eat in front of them. These were the sort of sacrifices one had to make with forced mumblings of yum-yum.

The forge was started in 1971 using what equipment we found around the place. The electric motor on the forge had to be changed. It was 3-phase. we salvaged a single phase motor from somewhere, fitted it and we were soon producing our brackets, trivets fishtails and so on.
Andrew Smail must not be forgotten with his pets and plants. He gave boys a plant in a pot which they nurtured and saw grow. They had a pet to care for, feed and clean.

Fred and Glyn were there in the C. A. Joyce days. Fred with his canoes. Glyn Jones instructing on building walls, both valuable in their ways, but not, I think, entirely convinced the way the Community was going.

Just a small and probably insignificant point. We always referred to Mrs Docker-Drysdale as Pip. Bill Denson remembers “Pip Drysdale” Giving him a cigarette at his interview. He say “I was only 13″. Imagine the reaction today!”