Remembering Index

Remembering Phil Gollings 1926 - 2012


25/12/1926 - 09/04/2012


Philip had a very long and happy 85yrs and in those years he saw many changes from his early school years to the present day. Everyone who knew Philip will have memories of the time that he touched their lives, allbeit for some briefly, but for others the whole of their lives and some of those memories very special. He was a very special father, father in law, grandfather, great grandfather, brother, cousin, neighbour and friend.

Philip attended St Michael’s school as did his brothers Tom and Byron, one thing he was proud of was at the age of nine being presented with the “juniors b form prize 1935/36” from the headmaster B C Robinson which he always kept.

Philip also attended the Methodist church here in the village from a very young age and was given the honour of laying one of the foundation stones which every time passing by he would point out to the family with great pride the stone he laid with the words “that’s mine I laid that stone” and in circulation somewhere is a photograph of that occasion he had a strong and proud Methodist belief which he held through his life then 75 years later being given the honour of cutting the cake at the church buildings birthday celebration.

his years after leaving school he spent on the land gardening and farm working at the outbreak of the world war two he joined the fire service then the associated fire service or AFS as a “runner” or messenger boy also recalling how he spent many nights with the ARP warden who was the local vicar standing behind the fence of the vicarage as was then which is now the Hatherton hotel watching Bolton Pauls at Fordhouses and Wolverhampton being bombed and as soon as he was old enough he became a serving fireman here in the village which had now became the National Fire Service or NFS he was very proud of his time served as a fireman and told many stories of what they did and “shouts” as they were called that they went on, including being moved up the line to Coventry and sometimes units being away for days at a time.

He lived at coven for a time and that is where he met his wife to be Catherine May Hadley, he recalled his first meeting with her father who was a miner and in Philip’s words “rather a big man” on the river bridge at Standeford which  runs next to the Harrows pub on the now A449. After a long and searching conversation Grandad turned to mom and said “ok lass he will do” much to the relief of the both of them and so they got married and eventually moving to a flat on Oak road in Brewood and then as the family got bigger across the road to no 26. it was whilst living in Brewood Philip had 3 jobs at the same time his full time job was at Columbian Carbon at Four Ashes or better known as the black works for the simple reason they produced carbon black or oily soot from burning oil for the production of tyres and inks if you saw the photographs you would understand why, his other was part time farm worker at beacon hill here in Penkridge and the third but not the least was a retained fireman at Brewood which he was again proud to serve and again recalled many stories of their shouts

When Philip learned to drive it suddenly opened up a totally new world he was so happy the day he arrived home with his first car, a black Austin A40 Somerset Reg no “REH 552” that number ingrained forever…. we had a car. this brought a totally new love and chapter into his life…. Wales, Portmadoch and driving on Black Rock Sands, Penmaenmawer, Anglesey, Conway, Llangollen places he and we as a family would then visit and holiday every year and not least Margate and negotiating around and through London, as there was no M25 then to visit his brother Byron and his family; and then the day trips with his other brother tom and family. many more cars followed in his life but the one he cherished the most when he was in his late 60’s was a big red Chevrolet Malibu Monte Carlo “his yank tank” 16 feet long and over 6 feet wide with a 5ltr straight 6 engine and weighing in at 2tons, which he absolutely loved driving around and especially negotiating the mountain passes in Wales. [His last “vehicle” was a red mobility scooter which he called his Ferrari, the family bought him this to give him his freedom to roam the village and would be seen out and about visiting and shopping most days].

After much thought he made the decision to leave Brewood with mom and the family and move to Beacon Hill in Congreve where his love for gardening continued with a half acre plus garden to play with, which later included chickens and ducks, with those the fruit and vegetables he grew and his wife busy pickling freezing and bottling, he made his family pretty well self sufficient…. not quite the good life but very close, which also included some well known and very strong homemade damson, elderberry and rice wines. While living there he was made redundant with the closing of the factory at Four Ashes. He then took up employment as a self employed taxi driver for many years. During the years at Beacon Hill he and we as a family lost Christopher in 1984 and Mom in 1986 after he had devotedly looked after during her long illness of kidney failure.

Later after many years, some personal happiness came back into his life with his school sweetheart Peggy during this time a move to Penkridge and Littleton Crescent occurred and for many years both enjoyed a happy life together before Peggy passed away.

To fill his time he also took up a position of gardener handyman in Coppenhall, dad was now in his 60’s but had a very active life with two other gardens nearby to look after also one of them was the garden of Dr Ramage and his towering hedges, these part time positions took him well into his seventies and working 5 days a week.

After suffering a heart attack in 1999 and in his words ‘technically died 3 times in the ambulance on his way to hospital’ he made a slow but good recovery, he did have a minor heart hiccup a few years later but again he recovered well. Dad now needed something to occupy his time other than the garden at home and he turned to family history with this he chose his mother’s side namely the Worsey family as his brother was researching the Gollings family history. We now enter a wondrous chapter in his life one that he pursued with diligence and at times like a Jack Russell…. with weekly visits to Stafford Record office and the William Salt library to pour through censuses and documents looking for traces of the Worsey family name and once he got on the scent of a Worsey hiding somewhere in history, he got his teeth into it and he would not let go till he found them and had duly fitted them into the family tree. With this research going on into both trees he and his brother found new family and friends who he became very close with. It was at this time in Penkridge that he and we lost Mavis his eldest daughter.

During this time he also found new friends and old acquaintances with the Hind family who he had worked for on their family farm as a young boy more than 60 years ago

His other research led him in a totally different direction and bringing him close ties to St Michael’s school with his weekly visit to look through and make notes from the school log books. Over the years he became an adopted Grandparent on the schools Grandparent’s lunch days, he helped raise funds for the school as much as he could especially for the new extension and his donation to the school of the house cup which he presented every year.

Other activities he became involved in were participation in the local History Society with stories from him and photographs regarding local history being published in books by the society.

One night he went along to hear the then local Methodist minister give a talk to the Penkridge branch of the Royal British Legion, came home and proudly announced that he was becoming a member and from there onwards he became a very active member; and at his passing was the branch Vice President, the time he gave helping to fundraise for the poppy appeal standing in the co-op or outside the peace memorial hall proudly wearing the uniform of the NFS complete with his axe and gas mask. Then on Rememberance Sunday laying a wreath in memory of the NFS men and women who gave their lives during the second world war as he always said he would never forget them and always honour them and that will continue through myself and the family along with the wreath from St Michael’s school that he donated each year honouring the fallen who attended the school of both world wars.

One of the biggest changes in his recent life was that he finally at the age of 82 embraced modern technology [begrudgingly at first as he had always said “what do I need a computer for at my age, pen and paper is still good enough”]   He taught himself with a little coaching how to use a computer and that again opened up a whole new world to him as he realized he could communicate a lot faster with his family and friends [and he didn’t have to use a stamp, just write his message press a button and it was there with them but he would still find time to scribe hand written letters in that wonderful way that a lot of you here remember] this was the time he realised what he could do with his computer and the idea for the book on St Michael’s school history and the log book entries took shape. as you all know he finished the book and with the help of friends in the local history society it was published and sold out, with £1 from each book going to St Michael’s school.  The day he handed over the cheque to the school was a very proud moment, and as most of you know he was working on the second book of the school history right up until he was taken ill and it was his wish that if anything ever happened to him the book must be finished. This will be done and part 2 published in his memory.

This was just a brief snapshot into the life of Philip, everyone who knew him will have their own memories of the time he spent among us.  Those memories, his love, warmth, inspiration and achievements, will stay within us all forever, so tell your families you love them each day and to take note of the beauty that surrounds them while they can and no matter what age you are follow your dreams and desires for as Philip found, nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it.

So, while it is difficult to adjust to life without him we know that we will forever be able to cling to the wonderful memories that we have; and that he will always be among us and watching over us.” for a man who has done his natural duty, death is as natural as sleep and in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count, but the life in your years”, and he certainly had a full and happy life in his long 85 years.