Photo: Illustrative image for the 'DICK STOVELL' page

Brief memories of my Dad

By William Stovell

This is a photo of Dick Stovell, taken during World War Two.  It's the best photo I have of my Dad.  He worked as a carpenter for Oxley & Bennett, taught woodwork at the evening classes at Hillcrest School and skippered the Ethel (NN13) for Bernard Wheatley, taking out fishing parties, trawling and lobster potting.  I wonder how many people made their first guitar at Dad's classes or if anyone still has a coffee table, fruit bowl or other item they made there.  I have a couple of examples of Dad's work: an ottoman and a small wooden box, inlaid with green baize that he made for Mum's 21st birthday.  It contained 21 silver three-penny bits.  He made stuff to last.
Apart from a couple of photos and those items, all I have are memories of a kind, clever, loving and jolly father who died in 1963, aged 42 years.  I was eleven.

This page was added by William Stovell on 20/12/2008.
Comments about this page

Hi William, I am Jack Bray's Daughter and I remember you came to stay with us when your dad died.

Sadly my Dad died in September.

By Jill Morris Nee Bray
On 04/01/2009

Hi Jill, I certainly remember you, Jack, Nigel & Trish. Your Mum & Dad were very good to me and I believe your Grandad, Tom Bray, was my godfather.

Sorry to hear of your Dad's death. He was a very good man and my Dad had a few tales of the scrapes they got into together, and your Dad's wicked sense of humour which had us in stitches.

By William Stovell
On 04/01/2009

I will always remember your father with affection William. He was the one that first got me interested in boating. He, Jack Bray and Tommy Bray his father used to have access to a very old sailing boat owned by the Sea Scouts. They used to go out fishing in this boat and would take me with them, (I was then only about 8 or 9.) It did not have an outboard in those days, they simply rowed out of the harbour and then put the sail up. They even provided me with my first fishing line.

Eventually Jack and Tommy got a boat called The Clematis which was a small motor craft with a cuddy, a luxury in those days. Dick had for a long time had contact with Bern Wheatley, the scrap merchant and pursuaded him to have a boat built. (It was named Ethel and I think it was built by Bob Lower.) I often went out with Dick in this boat which he moored at the North Quay, and it was here that I had my first experience of trawling. Good times, never to be forgotten.

By Trevor Bennett
On 12/02/2009

Hi William

I knew your dad well.His parents lived in South Lane.My family also lived opposite in School cottages, we were at the end of a row, and seperated from the infants school by a brick wall upon which our bath used to hang.

Dick and my sister Joan spent quite a lot of time together,and were seen as going out. However things were different in those days, and my sister suddenly decided that she was going to wear trousers on her date, which did not go down well with Dick or his parents, so unfortunatly it petered out.Things changed dramatically in the 1939 period. War was beginning. Joan joined the Wrens and moved away and eventually married a naval man and moved to Shrewsbury (Salop).She is still alive and registers a total of 86 years.

Dick had a Steam engine manufactured in Germany, which he gave me. I was delighted to have it and later passed it to my son, who still has it,but sadly he has no children to play with it.

By Ken Attrell
On 17/01/2010

Hi Ken, Many thanks for the insight into my Dad's younger life and another story to add to my growing list of Dick Stovell anecdotes. I'll certainly pass that one on to my lad. I am trying to collect memorabilia from Dad's side of the family and thanks to the Newhaven Museum, I have copies of a couple of photographs of Dad as a very young lad at school. I also have a copy of his father's handwritten request for his WW1 medals, sent from  Alma Cottages, together with his War record. (That makes quite harrowing reading.) Are you Ken Attrel the photographer? If so, I can remember looking at examples of your work, which were posted inside a display case, between P.R. Gray's (opticians) and the old telephone exchange.

By William Stovell
On 31/01/2010

Hi William.

Pleased to hear from you regarding your dad. I have been on the telephone to my sister and she remembers him well, and I have asked for any info she might have regarding that time. My wife asks what is your mother's name, she wonders if she knew her at Newhaven Girls school Her name was Jean Combs, living in Lewes Road,she also had a sister named Joan. Yes I am the local Photographer, and the firm was E.B.A.Studios in South Road. I only last year sent a load of negatives to The Museum of the Newhaven area. Unfortunately I was not aware of this Web Site then. My wife and I have been living since retirement in Spain 23 years ago, the weather suits us very well. All for now. Ken & Jean

By Ken Attrell
On 07/02/2010

Yes I have the table lamp I made with your Dad, and a little hardwood box .

By Terry Howard
On 23/02/2010

Hi William, Do you remember hanging round your dad's neck to get down the ladder for us to be taken out fishing on The Ethel II with your dad and mine, George Brandon? My dad and I both worked at Oxley and Bennett with your dad. Although I was only an apprentice plumber at the time I remember your dad as being a first class craftsman. I do have a photo of your dad taken at a weigh-in after a fishing competition with the Newhaven Deep Sea Anglers. I am a real novice on computers but I will try to get someone to help me get a copy to you somehow. I may be able to find some further information for you.

By Colin Brandon
On 30/04/2010

I too worked with your Dad at O and B's. I was a painters apprentice though and worked with Gary and Trevor Bennett. I remember one day having lunch in the carpenters shop and the newly built coffins were leant up against the wall for the tar interior to dry. Robin Hatcher, who's nickname was Chicken, (for obvious reasons) who was an apprentice plumber leant back into one of the coffins in a joking manner to see if he would fit. Your Dad sneaked up on him and screwed the lid on. Just at that moment, old "Fab" Bennet came in, the company patriach. Robin had to stay quiet until he left. We were all in stitches. Poor Robin died quite young. I remember EBA studios and you Ken. Glad to see you are with us. I live in Canada now with my wife of 50 years, Jacqueline the dental nurse, (nee Kennard). 

By Jack Patten
On 17/12/2010

Hi, me again, Chicken left Oxley  & Bennett just before I started. Another tale regarding Dick, Alan Downs was an apprentice carpenter in the early 60,s and like many other teenagers suffered a "spotty chin". Dick, would notice them and when the time was right, he would say to Alan, "look at that spot on your chops" and at the speed of lightning, his hand, complete with a bit of glasspaper, would connect with the offending Zit, "Whoosh", spot gone. Dick would have many tricks up his sleeve and had a whacky sense of humour. I also was given the coffin treatment. Shame he died so young, was a good bloke.

By Colin Brandon
On 14/01/2011

I'm glad Colin & Jack remember my Dad's sense of humour. He never let the opportunity for a wind-up go begging. In the early '50's, before we had a telly and when Eastbourne was the edge of the world, Dad and I were on a trip to Brighton. I was about 3 or 4 years old. A bloke in full highland dress was playing the bagpipes. He had a bag in front of him which collected the few coppers dropped in his direction. I had never seen a kilted Scotsman before, or bagpipes. I stopped abruptly, looked totally gormless and pointed at the amused busker, while Dad told me that the man was playing a tune so people would give him some money. "Why?" I asked. Dad then explained that the man was hard up. "Where's his trousers?" I asked, really puzzled by now. "What d'yer think he's playing a tune on?" replied Dad. I left Brighton convinced that I'd seen a man so poor that he had to take his trousers off and play a tune on them for money. Dad gave a mighty grin and dropped a tanner into the busker's bag, who gave another grin at the small, puzzled lad wrestling with the enormity of the situation.

By William Stovell
On 12/06/2012

Dick was also known to be a great fan of professional wrestling and was often to be seen on Sunday evenings at Hove Town Hall. George Kidd was his all time favourite wrestler. Well, come Monday morning, in the carpenter's workshop we where given a very detailed, step by step, of the previous evenings action. In the center of the workshop was an old cast iron stove which used to take part in the demonstration, this stove had many an arm lock, head lock, leg lock, not to mention Boston crabs or semi Jack strangle holds performed on it. We quite expected it to be thrown out the door at times, it probably would have, had it not submitted! At least, it brightened up a start to Monday morning, although we could not cook our toast until Dick had finished his performance. Have many fond memories of his sense of humour, there were some fun times in those days.

By Colin Brandon
On 29/06/2012

I also heard the tale of Dad & Jack Bray, having enjoyed an evening at Hove Town Hall, sitting, sipping a swift half, with George Kidd and the Royals. Some local beer heroes wanted to give George Kidd a slap. Jack & Dad stood up to defend George, as a visitor. Bert Royal told them to sit down, as George was OK. By the time they had sat down, George Kidd had flattened the beer heroes and scuppered their beer.

By William Stovell
On 30/06/2012

I am sitting beside my father in law, Vernon (Arthur) Cowley who states that he made [and still has in his possession] a coffee table which he made at Dick Stovell evening classes...how cool is that!

By Gill Cowley
On 26/08/2013

Nice one Gill. Dad would have been so chuffed. There were a lot of very talented carpenters who attended Dad's classes. I can remember the exhibition evenings, when Dad stood back so proud of the guys' achievements, saying things like "This will still be in good nick when it's an antique, long after we're gone." As Dad went 50 years ago, that's very true.

By William Stovell
On 26/08/2013

Hi William, I cannot remember your Mum's name, but I knew your Mum & Dad when they lived in the Bennett houses next to George & Gwen Lower. My Dad Les Mitchell also worked for O & B as a painter.  Lilian James

By Lilian James
On 14/10/2013

Ted Chillman O & B's van driver always used to refer to Dick's wife as "Polly". I am not sure if that was indeed her name though.

My Nan was called "Polly" her real name was Mary.

 John -- Editor

By Trevor Bennett
On 17/10/2013

My Mother's name was Dorothy, or Dot. Dad used to call her Polly just to tease her. (She hated it). Arthur Bennett also called her Polly, as did Ted. She was not amused. Dad thought it was hilarious. I did too, until I got a clout. Lilian, I remember your Dad and loads of the other guys who worked for O & B. A few years after Dad died, Mum remarried and moved to Brighton, then Crawley and finally back to Norfolk, where she died in 2006. She would have been pleased to have been remembered.

By William Stovell
On 19/10/2013

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