Wiiliam Thompson

I left Q.E.G.S. in 1942 to start work in the family business of Wholesale Fruit Merchants in Blackburn, and apart from the occasional cargo of oranges from the Mediterranean Region the only produce available was from home-grown sources and this resulted in many shortages. There were severe restrictions in transport and when I obtained my driving licence in 1944 I started driving a lorry to Manchester Smithfield Market to collect produce delivered there from different areas of the U.K. This meant leaving Blackburn at 4.00 am, with traffic conditions nothing like we know today. Most of the traffic lights were switched off at night for the black-out, and usually I would only see a few vehicles on the way there, but on light summer mornings I would always observe one or two "knockers-up" with their long pole, doing their early round.

In early 1946 I was called up into the Army and after initial training in Northern Ireland was sent to an officers wing at Aldershot, but after three months was informed that a commission would extend the length of service- this was a definite NO, so I was posted to a transport unit in Yorkshire that operated a "bus" service between York Station and the Demob Centre.

Early the next year I was chosen to be personal driver to the C. in C. Northern Command, General Sir Montagu Stopford and join his staff living at Claxton Hall. Every journey to events and inspections in the North of England was planned to the minute with Military Police escorts, and faster than normal driving speeds needed a high level of concentration, but there was one day that I can never forget.

The General had been appointed A.D.C. to King George VI and in that role he was to be present at the marriage of Princess Elizabeth in November 1947. The morning of the

wedding, as I approached Buckingham Palace there was just one tremendous crowd of people, but as I turned the black Daimler limousine into the Mall both sides were crowded solid with cheering flag waving people all the way to Westminster Abbey, this was perhaps the last big Royal Event before television I have never been able to find words to describe my feelings that morning except that as a twenty year old, I grew up years in a few minutes.

Demob came, I returned home to work back in the fruit trade but together with my brother George we opened a retail fruit business in Blackburn, first on the open Market before moving to the New Market in 1964, although 1 still continued with early morning trips to Manchester.

Edith and I were married in 1954, we worked together in the business most of the time and in 1967 we were fortunate to buy a plot of land at Mellor and move to a new home, we never regret doing this and have enjoyed every minute living here.

Retail trading was moving to the supermarkets and together with my son Bill, we opened a self-service fruit store in the Shopping Centre and I really enjoyed this new way of trading, but then I was coshed and robbed of the takings outside the bank, so I decided to hand over to Bill and take an early retirement in 1989 although I continued to help out for a few hours each week.

With time on my hands I decided to research my family history, before the Internet it had to be done at the Record Office and was very slow also time consuming, but after going back thirteen generations I found William Tombson who was born at Whalley in 1530. I also discovered that the family lived at Whalley or Billington for over three centuries before moving to Blackburn in 1840.

I am often asked why houses are so expensive at Mellor. Answer, because everyone wants to live here. Need I say more.