Pamela Elizabeth Branston 2/11/1914 - 2/3/1993
Pamela Branston was born into an eminent Newark family - some would say the Branston Dynasty; she lived on Newark Road, Coddington from 1951 until her death in 1993.
Newark in the 19th Century and the early 20th Century was one of the largest Malting towns in the UK and Branstons the Malsters were one of the outstanding families of Newark for the last two hundred years. The man who was principally responsible for laying the foundations of the business was Joseph Branston, who was baptised on the 2nd January 1788. He was the son of Joseph Branston a farmer of Lingspot Farm, Langford Newark born in 1711 and Elizabeth (nee Marshall) born 1763 who were married on the 19th January 1784. Joseph Snr. died on the 30th December 1787 and four months later his young widow married Samuel Birkett of Coddington.
Joseph Jnr.(1787 - 1861) moved to Newark and in 1808 was a grocer in Church Street. He married Sarah Hall in 1809 and they had five children; two daughters and three sons: - Joseph William in 1808, John 1815, and Henry 1822. By 1837 Joseph and his son Joseph William were in partnership as Joseph & J.W. Branston renting premises from Lord Middleton including a malt-kiln. In 1835 Joseph William married Elizabeth Gilstrap (Elizabeth's brother Sir William Gilstrap became a very wealthy maltster, he gave the Library to Newark in 1883). They had a daughter and three sons: - Joseph Gilstrap 1838, William 1840 and Henry Hall 1841 and later in life they were all partners in the family business.
By 1844 Joseph was Lord Mayor of Newark and the business continued to expand and it was now Joseph Branston and sons, grocers, malsters and tea-merchants. The malt trade in Newark was expanding rapidly so the malsters built the Corn Exchange, which was opened on the 27th September 1848 (closed as a Corn Exchange 1978).
In 1853 Joseph William and his brother Henry (Mayor of Newark in 1858) were malsters and seed merchants in Middle Gate. The firm was called J.W. & H. Branston and was one of the best-known malting companies in the country, remaining so for the next hundred years. Joseph William died in 1859 and his son Joseph Gilstrap Branston (1838 ? 1926) took his place in the business; he was the driving force in the company building very large new maltings: - Spittal Close, Riverside 1, Riverside 2 and Riverside 3 in Northgate Newark, Riverside 3 was completed in 1881 and this development included a loop railway line to the Midland & Great North Western Railway.
Joseph Gilstrap also found new sales outlets for the large quantities of malt the company was producing. In 1871 the senior member of the family was Alderman Henry Branston (1822 - 1896) now aged 49 a maltster and seed merchant. In 1867 he purchased "The Friary" in Appleton-gate, Newark (after his death his son George Henry moved there). He was tireless in his work for the community and he was a generous benefactor to many causes. In 1875 he gave £100 (a large sum then) towards a fund to mitigate sufferings caused by floods; he gave £150 to help to clear away unsightly buildings from around the Church; he gave £500 towards the Castle Gardens project, and £1000 to the Hospital.
By 1883 there were 62 "Malt Offices" in Newark the largest companies being: - Gilstraps, Branstons, Thorpe & Son, Richardsons, J.S.Caparn and Bishops (later called Peaches). Joseph Gilstrap Branston (1838 - 1926) was always expanding the business; in 1896 he was Lord Mayor of Newark,
In 1902 the main partners in the business were Joseph Gilstrap Branston JP (1838 ? 1926) and his cousin Alderman Henry Eyton Branston (1878 - 1934)(Mayor of Newark 1906,1919 & 1920) the son of George Henry Branston (b.1849).
On the 19th June 1900, Herbert Parnell Gilstrap Branston (1873 - 1951 son of Joseph Gilstrap Branston) married his half cousin, Clara Gwenelin Branston, the daughter of George Henry Branston, in London, afterwards they lived at 44, Lombard Street, Newark. Through the marriage, the families of Joseph William Branston and of Henry Branston, the two sons of the original Langford born Joseph, were joined once again.
Herbert Parnell Gilstrap Branston was a partner in the malting company J.W & H Branston (which had branches in Newark, Grantham, and Louth). About 1920 Herbert was advised by his banker to invest a great deal of money on the stock exchange but unfortunately in the stock market crashes in the late 20's and early thirties meant he lost over 80% of his investment.
In 1946, J.W. & H Branston became a Limited company, and Herbert was made a director; shortly afterwards the company became a subsidiary of H.D. & D. Taylor Ltd (but continued to trade as J.W & H Branston) which in turn was acquired by ABM in 1959. Herbert was a military man at heart, and was a Captain in the Sherwood Foresters, serving in Ireland and in France in the First World War. He was very involved with the British Legion. He purchased "The Grove?, Winthorpe in 1921, and the family moved into this very large mansion.
Herbert Parnell Gilstrap Branston and Clara Gwenelin (nee Branston) had five children, the youngest of whom was Pamela Elizabeth Branston (she had 2 older brothers and sisters). She was born on the 2nd of November 1914 at "The Friary", Appleton-gate, Newark the home of her maternal grandparents, George Henry Branston and Gwynneth Clara (nee Eyton).
Geoffrey Herbert was born on the 25th September 1906 at 44, Lombard Street, Newark. In the 1930's he was working in Kenya, and on the 29th May 1936 married Rose Mary Johnson in Nairobi. They had a daughter Priscilla on the 20th April 1940. However, they divorced in 1943, and Geoffrey Herbert married Margaret Liddle. They had a son Giles Winthorpe Branston in 1952.
His brother Peter Jocelyn was born on the 27th April 1908 also at Lombard Street, in later life, he was a "Master" maltster for Pauls Malt, working and living near Tadcaster in Yorkshire.
Pam's sister, Joan Gwenelin was born on the 15th May 1903, and never married. Her other sister, Enid Marguerite, born 21st September, 1904 married John Walter Alexander Burness of The Lodge, Farnham Royal, Buckinghamshire on the 28th May 1931.
Like many malsters, the dynasty faded with the advance of technology and a lack of investment, and in the mid-1960s Branston Number 3 malting closed. Branston Number 1 and 2 have long since been knocked down and replaced by British Diamalt, and the boiler manufacturer Hoval. Remains of Branston Number 3 Malting can still be seen beside the river Trent in Newark
Herbert died on the 22nd May 1951; by this time "The Grove" had become very expensive to maintain and run, so his widow Clara Gwenelin sold the property comprising of a very large mansion desperately in need of repair and twelve acres of land for £5000 and purchased "Little Home", Newark Road, Coddington on the 29th September 1951 for £5000. This was an outrageous price to pay for "Grove Cottage", but she had fallen in love with it and was desperate to move out of "The Grove". This property was purchased from Muriel May Downham who, in turn, had purchased it from John Edward Pyatt on the 26th April 1926. Shortly after moving into the property, Pam, her sister Joan, and mother Clara changed the name to "Grove Cottage".
Clara Gwenelin fell down the stairs in the house, was taken to Harlow Wood Hospital and died on the 29th September 1953 and was buried along side her late husband Herbert in Winthorpe church yard.
Pam was a Commandant in the ATS during the Second World War, afterwards she worked in a senior position for B.I.C.C. based in the Newark area but around 1960 Pam was transferred to the B.I.C.C. office in Derby. For two years she really enjoyed her life there and was able to commute back to Coddington for the weekend.
Promotion saw her working in Wick where she enjoyed the work and a very hectic social life - but not the commuting back to Nottinghamshire - so after quite a few years she retired and came back to live in Coddington.
Pam's sister Joan Gwenelin Branston died on the 22nd April 1974. In her obituary in the Newark Advertiser it said: -
"Joan died aged 70; in 1940 she joined the Royal Naval Nursing reserve and was stationed at Portsmouth, Skegness and Grimsby where she became Commandant of the mess. Former assistant commandant of the Newark Detachment of the Red Cross and often helped at Newark Hospital. Matron at Dolphin school at Langford, Elston Hall preparatory school, and St. Hildas College, Whitby. She was also a nurse at British sugar Corporation, Newark. She was a member of the Drama Class at Newark technical College, Meals on wheels, Music club, and latterly a member of Coddington Church Council".
In 1975 Pam had the garden cut in half and began to have a bungalow (to be called "Grove Cottage") built by the local village builder Colin Smith, so she put "Grove Cottage" on the market on the 12th July 1975 for £20,000. The house was sold within a very short time to Ian and Anthea Dawson (who renamed it "Linford House"). The Dawsons moved in immediately so, as the new bungalow was not finished, Pam went to live with her great friend Katie Ringrose at ?Mistletoe Cottage? Balderton and no doubt many gin and tonics were drunk in her stay there.
When she moved, Pam put all her furniture which included valuable antiques (many of which were from her grandfather's house "The Friary", including Chippendale tables and chairs) into a furniture store - an old malting in Northgate. Unfortunately there was a major fire there, and everything was destroyed. Her insurance company deemed the furniture was not insured so she lost everything. Fortunately she did take with her to Katie Ringrose's some small tables and valuable pictures, and several of her friends had stored valuable similar small items. In 1975 the family decided to sell the family silver at auction in Newark.
Pam moved into the bungalow in late 1976. Pam led a very full life and had a wide circle of friends, who she enjoyed entertaining to lunch, drinks parties or supper.
The late Roland Carver thought the world of Pam, and made sure everyone invited her to any function neighbours held.
Sister Joan was the cook at home so it was after her death in April 1974 that Pam had to acquaint herself with the recipe books.
On one occasion she decided to invite friends to Sunday lunch, so she took herself off to Sibley's butchers in Newark to buy a leg of beef. Pam said afterwards "well I thought you can buy a leg of lamb, why not a leg of beef" Which cut of beef she was given, she was never quite sure but it was cooked and re-cooked and eventually even the cat refused to eat it! Pam cooking skills I am pleased to say did improve.
Pam attended Sunday morning service at Coddington church, was a member of the Newark Music club and took part in the Newark Advertiser's talking newspaper. Pam loved her garden and plants were exchange with various people on a regular basis.
On Saturday the 25th January 1992 at 11:30, Pam aged 78 married Charles Hart at Coddington Parish Church. Their wedding reception was held at her great friends Peter & Margaret Thornhill who lived at her old family home "The Grove". Unfortunately, Pam and Charles only enjoyed a short time together at Charles's house in Collingham before Pam became ill, and she died on the 2nd March 1993. Her funeral service was held at All Saints Church, Coddington, with her name added to the family grave at Winthorpe Church.
As Pam had no children she had bequeathed her furniture, very expensive jewellery and her paintings, all of which she labelled, to her nephew and nieces. Shortly after the funeral the benefactors collected their wares however the paintings were left to several relations and as no individual could afford to purchase them, they were sold at Sothebys in London.
The facts on this article have been extracted from "The Branston Family" book that is kept in Newark library; an article written by George Wilkinson in the Newark Advertiser in July 2006; and our late village historian Rolf Vernon, Carol Norris and my own knowledge as a next-door neighbour.
Fred Reed 30/01/08