Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Early Years, Part Two

Mr Maitland's drapers shop where I worked
A New Beginning
My the time mother and I arrived back in Milton, she had filled me in on the situation.
My grandfather had made his money investing in new businesses and his son had continued in his fathers footsteps however, where my grandfather had done his homework before making an investment, it appeared that my father had not always been so diligent. He became involved with a man named Harrow and they started a business together, buying land and prospecting for oil in America. Harrow was a charismatic man who easily convinced people to trust but he also had another side that we had not been aware of.

Monday, 21 November 2011

The Early Years, Part One

From Boy to Man
Rugby School Chapel (left) and Fives Court (right)
 I loved both my parents but it would be fair to say that I have always had more in common with my mother than my father. Those who know her today find it hard to remember my mother as the happy woman that she once was but I still remember it well.
I would not go so far as to call her carefree, but while of a slightly stern disposition, she was generally happy and many times when chastising me, I would often catch her trying her best to stifle a smile at my antics.
My father was the carefree one, always with a ready smile, a shilling for me and my friends and I don't believe he could have disciplined me had his life depended on it. Mother made him try on occasion but he was just no good at it! Indeed he sometimes found himself on the receiving end of my mothers sharp tongue but he took it with equanimity, behaved himself for a few days then quickly resumed his previous behaviour.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

The Village, Part Three

Thornton Mill
Building A Community
From start to finish, it took 9 years for us to complete the model village. 
Originally just called the village, it took it;s name from the mill (Thornton's) and became Thornton Village. 
The mill was of course, the heart of the village, it's whole reason for being. It was completed almost two months before the first stage of housing.
The first houses were small and functional, as our priority was to get the village operating and decent conditions for our workers to live in. As more housing was built, we began to add some grander houses, for those in management positions who could afford it. In the centre of the village we left space for the community buildings, such as the school, the hospital, the church and Sunday school, so that they could be built as the need for them arose. The purpose built school was completed in between phases three and four.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

The Village, Part Two

Rose Cottage, pre-renovations
The land for the village was former farmland that had laid fallow for many generations. We were informed when we signed the deeds that the ruins of the old house remained but I was unable to see them from the site of the mill.
I didn't give it much thought to be perfectly honest, since I assumed it was just rubble. During this time Margaret was with child and having suffering from serious health problems related to her condition. I was worried to say the least, and so after inspecting the building work one day, I decide to take a walk before I headed back to Milton. Walking has always been something that helps me handle whatever pressures I am facing and I had been walking for perhaps ten minutes when I topped a small rise and saw that the most wonderful ruin stood before me. Whoever had lived here before had not only been farmers, clearly they must have been landowners to have built such a lovely home.
With my interest piqued I made my way down to the house and began to explore. The roof was long since gone as was much of the timber but the walls were almost completely in tact and it was easy to see the home that this had once been, despite it's current dilapidated state.
I began to picture Margaret and I in a house like this and I knew exactly how much she would love this place.

Friday, 18 November 2011

The Village, Part One

Architects sketch of the Village
Making  Plans

It's a rather large leap to go from cotton mill Master to model village* owner and it might surprise you to know that the seed of the idea actually came from Margaret's brother, Fred.
We were walking back from the opera one evening, Dolores and I walking a few paces behind Margaret and her brother, when he made an off hand remark about the strikes in Milton and wasn't it a shame that we couldn't move the mill to Helstone, where the practices of the other mills wouldn't affect us.
She said nothing to me at the time but the comment obviously germinated an idea. It wasn't until the trip home when she broached the subject with me. I came up on deck to find her leaning over the railings looking rather sad. I thought that perhaps she was missing her brother already, or even dreading returning to Milton. After Spain's sunny skies and dry heat, the Milton climate would come as a shock even to me.

The Wedding

Margaret's Wedding Gown
Larger pic under the cut
An Exerpt from Northern Light by Miss Winchester. This has been requested many times, so here it is. I do hope that you enjoy it. Personally I have very fond memories of this day,very fond indeed, and I am more than happy to relive it with you good people.
Who cares what they think.” He wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her to him. “Soon you will be mine and the rest of the world can go hang for all I care.”

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Telling Mother!

An excerpt from Miss Winchester's biography of us, Northern Light, detailing how Mother took the news of mine and Margaret's engagement.

Beware, spoilers for Northern Light below the jump!

Northern Light

For those who are interested in what happened to me and Margaret's after our marriage, Catherine Winchester has very kindly chronicled our lives and published our story for you all to enjoy.

I will be publishing details of certain events every week on this website.

With the threat of another strike, a series of bad mill accidents, a lethal fire and failed speculation, life in Milton is not easy for anyone and it won't be long before the mill masters and their workers clash once more, with devastating consequences.

Getting married and starting a family is difficult enough at the best of times but for John and Margaret, married life will present unique challenges and despite the reforms they are making, even they will not escape Milton's troubles unscathed.

Available on Amazon UK
Amazon US
And all ebook formats
And you can visit Miss Winchester's spider-site here.