Tom there are quite a lot of photos of this family to put in somewhere!!
I feel I'd like to start this article by saying “Once upon a time, there were two houses. One was called 'Pepper Box'; the other was called 'Salt Box'. The postman always knew where to deliver letters - too! Where the two houses stood is just a mound of earth now on the B4632 going into Stratford, but it was at Pepper Box that Bob Tustain lived when Margery Salmon and Margaret Lively used to cycle past, hoping to catch the eye of tall handsome Bob.
He started off life in one of the farm cottages on Bridgetown Farm along the Banbury Road, having to walk, at the tender age of four-and-a-half to Alcester Road School and back, with only older brother Joe to look after him. He excelled at school in sports and in his last year, was appointed Captain of Sports. By the time he finished school at 14, father was working for Mr. Metters at Cross o' the Hill and the family were living at Pepper Box. From there, Bob joined in all the sporting activities at Clifford and was one of the first members to join a newly formed Working Men's Club at Clifford. He was a champion footballer, playing for Clifford to begin with, then moving on to Welford, Broad Marston, then Brailes.
An accident while playing the game, tore his kidney and he was ill for a long time. After that he was advised not to play football again, and he was left to gaze at all his football trophies and cups. Undaunted, he went on to cricket and tennis.
On leaving school at 14, he started work as carpenter for wheelwrights who, within a year became bankrupt. Archers were advertising for a young lad, and Bob applied. “Would you,” Mr. Archer asked him, “like to try a hand at black-smithing?” “Oh yes,” replied eager Bob and from then on he never looked back, celebrating over 50 years with the firm. He learnt the art under an old craftsman who so so strict that he gave Bob a hard time, but Bob admitted afterwards it was good grounding for him.
In the meantime, young Margery Salmon was attracting his eye. They had first met when the two families, out for a Sunday afternoon walk met and the two respective fathers stopped to chat. After that, it was a glimpse as the two girls cycled past. Then Bob, during a holiday visit to Brighton, took the plunge and bought Margery a gold brooch. From then on, the two were often seen together at the football and cricket matches.
Bob and his family were non-conformists and were inclined to visit the Baptist Church on Sundays now and then. Bob, with many other young men, attended the P.S.A (Pleasant Sunday Afternoons) at the Hippodrome in Wood Street. The building was packed each meeting when prominent people in the sports world would talk about their faith. Margery attended several with Bob, but Bob became irritated because Margery always had to hurry home for the evening service. She was in the choir and no way was she going to miss a service. “Why don't you come with me?” she pleaded and Bob came – and never stopped coming. He was confirmed in 1927 at the age of 21.
At the time, our Church too was packed every Sunday with people wanting to hear Canon Brookes preach. Mr. Baxter would attempt to hand out hymn books as the people poured in, and show newcomers to seats. In 1930 he asked two young men to help him – Bob Tustain and Cyril Green – the very first sidesmen.
Bob and Margery were married in 1936 and lived the first 20 years of their life at No. 2 The Nashes. Bob started a tennis club at Clifford and Margery every Saturday morning, would slip through the entry to the tennis court on the corner of The Nashes, mow the grass and mark out the court. In the afternoon she would be keeping the cricket score while Bob played and in the evening they played tennis.
The War came and the tennis finished. Because Archers were involved in agricultural implements, the men weren't called up. Bob instead, joined the Home Guard. Margery worked at Josephs and they both had to look after an 11 year old evacuee.
Bob had a vegetable garden. He loved gardening, especially vegetables and his plot was huge – right next to the Methodist Church. Their son Raymond, was born in 1947 and, finding No. 1 quite a squeeze (for Margery's mother was also living with them) they looked for somewhere else to live. The vegetable garden seemed an ideal spot for the house. Bob and Margery designed it' Harry Passmore worked out the plans and Moss Builders of Mickleton built it. In September 1956 the house was ready for them to move in. Rev. Lake joined all the family in a little service of blessing with Raymond carrying the bowl of water. On each door, the Rev. Lake sprinkled a cross, and with a little prayer, passed onto the next room. The Tustains had blissful, happy years in that home. The home “Roimond” was named more after Raymond Salmon who had died in the 1st World War, rather than Ray, the little boy living there with his parents.
Bob, in the meantime, was making fascinating things at Archers- a grill and door for David at the jeweller of Waterside; beautiful scroll work on the signboard of The Race Horse, Warwick, and in the village, the bull weathercock which gazes over the field, leading to the river. And the lantern over the Church porch. Warwick Castle held a 'Son et Lumiere' and found their lanterns were in a broken state. Bob replaced them: beautifully made – a real work of art. I have also seen a photograph of a bier made for Africa; a glass panelled box on fragile wheels topped with metal scroll work and two plumes – Bob having done the ironwork on it.
Clifford Church - Church Door Dedication
Bob partly retired from Archers in 1971 but still carried on working three days a week until 1975. it was in 1975 the BBC contacted him as the only blacksmith in the area, to do a documentary on the Farming Today series shown at 12.30 every Sunday morning. It was a lovely programme and I think we all enjoyed watching it. The whole of the programme was devoted to Bob and his work.
One of Bob's friends at Archers became ill in 1971 and Bob went to visit him in hospital. Being Bob, he also chatted to the man in the bed the other side of him. When his friend recovered and left hospital, Bob continued visiting his new acquaintance and once more chatted to the man in the bed the other side of him. He was still doing that 10 years later – with different patients of course! The men in the Ward looked forward to Bob's visit every Friday. He cycled everywhere and I was always amazed at the seemingly leisurely way he would cycle uphill on his large bike while I spent all my energy pushing my small bike uphill.
His love of plants extended to everyone. “I've got a little plant” he would say to anyone digging in the garden. “It would look just right there. Would you like it?”
Bob died very suddenly in April 1983, but I think there's a little bit of Bob in every garden in the village.