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A School Boy's Story


Edward "Ted" Oakes
(1896 - 1976)

In 1905 whilst a 9 year old boy, attending Madeley Wood School Ted's Father, Ruben Oakes died in another accident at Meadow Pit. "There occured a roof fall below ground, that claimed the life of Collier and respected lay preacher of Madeley Parish,Mr Ruben Oakes, aged 38 years".

Mr Oakes' widow Riah (nee Biggs), their 4 Sons & 2 Daughters, were comforted with the support of the community and half sovereign per week pension, provided by the Company scheme. Each Friday morning "Ted" the youngest child,would collect the coin from the pay clerk, but was usually late for lessons at Madeley Wood (The Green) School. He was continually "Caned" on a hand by the school's Headmaster, but when late again one morning, young Ted held his hand out ready for the "punishment", however the master saw the coin's impression in the boy's palm. When Ted explained, he was allowed to do his weekly chore for Mum, be late for school and not be "caned" again.

Ted's older Brother's, Ruben jnr and Albert served the nation in the 1914-1918 war, whilst the other Brother William ("Bill"), was a "Concientious Objector" on the grounds that he was needed to look after Mum and continue his late Father's work with the Weslyan Church. He faced a judicial hearing and was detained at Bicton Hospital (also known as Shelton) on the outskirts of Shrewsbury "circa" 1915.

In 1942, with World War 2 raging, a nephew of the brothers, "Fred Welch" was a physical training instructor at the King's Shropshire Light Infantry. A football match was arranged for the Regiment's recruits against the Hospital staff. During the game he constantly heard "Is your name Welch?" being bellowed out by an elderly "patient". Fred was astonished when he replied, Yes! who are you?, I am your Uncle Bill and the whole story unfolded in front of Fred and his equaly horrified recruit's.Bill was perfectly Sane, was not mentaly ill and should never have been sent to Shelton in the first place. The authorities eventualy employed Bill at the hospital were he'd been "imprisoned" for 27 year's. Uncle Bill's reaction to the news, quite simple really.....if you can't beat them,!...join them ! a real survivor in very testing times.