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  • Wendy Percival

Unravelling the WW2 mystery


The Foxhills, from the rear aarden

The family story goes, that during WW2, Winston Churchill attended a secret meeting at The Foxhills, (left) the house where my grandparents, Ernest George Shelley and Edith (nee Diggory), came to live and work around 1930.


I'd pledged to find out more out about the employer of my great uncle, Edith's brother Tom Diggory and in doing so, I've uncovered some interesting connections which suggest that the story could be true.



* Wergs Hall, where Tom was working in 1911, had been bought by Colonel Thomas Edgecumbe Hickman in 1907.


* Around that time, the colonel's father, Sir Alfred Hickman became chairman of the road surfacing company, Tarmac Ltd.


* On the 1939 Register, my grandparents and family were living in the lodge at The Foxhills. The occupier of the main house was Cecil Martin.


* Cecil Martin's wife was Isabel Katherine Martin, nee Hickman, daughter of Colonel Hickman's younger brother, Victor.


* Cecil Martin's occupation was listed in the 1939 Register as "road-stone manufacturer." He had in fact, been heading Tarmac Ltd, since 1926.


* On the website, www.gracesguide.co.uk, I found information about Tarmac's history, along with the tantalising paragraph, "When the tide of World War II turned, Tarmac was asked to complete a special rush job, widening and strengthening miles of roads in the south of England ready to carry D-Day's invasion traffic to the coast."


Sounds pretty good evidence to me!


Interestingly, to come full circle, when Wergs Hall was sold in 1963, it became the headquarters of another road building giant, Sir Alfred McAlpine & sons, Ltd.


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