For nine generations they worked as farm laborers, although my Great Grandpa must have been literate, as he held the post of village clerk. My grandpa moved to the city of Leicester (pronounced Lester), the largest town in the East Midlands, to work in the hosiery trade upon which the 19th and early 20th century prosperity of the city was built.
For thirty years Grandpa managed the Wolsey Limited factory that stood near the centre of the city. Founded in 1755, Wolsey Limited was believed to be the oldest textile firm in England. It was named after Cardinal Wolsey who, in 1530, stopped at Leicester Abbey while on a journey from York to London to face charges of treason. Wolsey alarmed the monks by announcing that he would leave his bones among them, as he did, dying that very evening. The image of Cardinal Wolsey appears as a relief on the fifth floor facade of the Wolsey Limited factory.
My Dad's parents lived just out of town in the village of Fleckney. Dad attended the grammar school in the adjacent village of Kibworth Beauchamp (pronounced Beecham), where he became head of school and captain of football (soccer). The year he turned 16, he passed the Senior Oxford (i.e., university entrance) exams with honours, and left school with a testimonial from the Head Master stating that "his record as a pupil at this school is better than that of any other during the last eleven years."
But in those days it was considered unnecessary for a boy of that class to enter the university. As the Head Master, an Oxford MA, further stated "a little experience will give him confidence in the abilities he undoubtedly possesses, and he will then be a very valuable worker."
So it was as a worker that Dad went into the hosiery trade, where he lived up to his promise, becoming a factory manager at 18, a managing director at 25 and sales director of a manufacturing group at 30: a promising career that was brought short by a stint in the RAF during WW2.
In 1961, when I went to Leicester as a university student, not a whole lot had changed. The Wolsey Limited factory was still humming. The city still prospered, and was said to have more Rolls Royce motor cars per capita than any other town in England. But despite the flash cars and the fine Victorian and Edwardian mansions in the suburb of Oadby, is was mainly an English working class town, a place of red brick terrace houses of various types from the two down and two up with a front door opening directly onto the sidewalk, to the better sort of lower middle class housing with a yard or two of grass in front and separated from the street by a fence of iron railings.
|The relief of Cadinal Wolsey on the facade of|
what used to be the Wolsey Limited factory.
Oddly, the BBC announcer reporting the reconstruction of the building did not know how to pronounce the name Wolsey. She said it with a short "o", which is daft: they knitted socks with wool, not wol, and pronounced Wolsey with a "wool".
But the misunderstanding's to be expected. The BBC encourages the use of regional accents in regional programming and, today, the voice of Leicester is the voice of ethnic Britain. From 212 thousand in 1901, the indigenous English population of Leicester has fallen by a third, while the ethnic population, chiefly, Hindu, Muslim and Sihk, has gone from nothing to more than 51% of the population in 2011 and is still growing fast.
The English are now past the tipping point in a town that has been their home for more than 2000 years and which played a critical role in their history. They are the minority. They have been ethnically cleansed, not by a conquering army, but as a matter of deliberate policy by their own government.
Dad was a man of pacific temperament. During the 30's he was a peace activist. Yet he understood the place of violence in history, and when it came to the crunch, volunteered for service in the struggle against Nazi tyranny. He believed the independence and liberty of England was worth fight for.
Dad was no racist. He did business with all kinds and conditions of men and formed friendships with many, including immigrants from the Indian subcontinent. But he was patriot who would have considered the likes of Blair and Cameron, Clegg and Milliband traitors for what they have done to his home town: men worth fighting to expose, depose, and punish.