Ruth Hardy

Ruth Hardy in 1950

In July 2012 I wrote about Ruth Hardy, my Great Aunt, who was Lord Mayor of Norwich in 1950.  On May 7th last year (2014) I received this comment on my earlier blog on Ruth Hardy. “Hey Joe,I am a volunteer archivist at Houston Public Library in Texas. Your aunt has featured in one of the scrapbooks from the early 1950s, that  I have been analysing. A small world!”

Aunt Ruth would have loved the fact that her reputation had spread worldwide!

In the early 1970s she had a family dinner for a few years which was held at Norwich City College. The catering students laid on a good spread but it was done without costing a great deal as they were still learning their craft. This was right up Aunt Ruth’s street; she could present her meal as a good turn for the educational establishment in Norwich. With her Council connections she knew how to arrange this sort of thing. Here is what I wrote in January 1972:

We whizzed off to the Maid Marion to have our pre-prandial sherry, as we thought we would not get any at the Great Aunt’s dinner. We were right, but unlike last year we did get offered beer. I did not have any, but Tig did. I sat between Diana and Barbara Osborne, and opposite Aunt Ruth. I had soup, omelette, and pancakes. The latter were not very good. After the party broke up at about 2.15 pm we trailed off in Aunt Olive’s car to collect bones for Suki (the dog).

Tig was my sister Margaret, 11 years older than me, and Suki was her dog. Diana was the wife of my cousin David Anderson and Barbara the daughter of Barry Osborne and so one of my cousins. Barry was one of Aunt Ruth’s nephews and Aunt Olive Anderson was her niece.  Olive was the mother of David, Diana’s husband.

These dinners were quite jolly affairs; I made contact with some family members whom I seldom if ever saw in the normal course of events, as well as those whom I was in contact with more regularity.

Aunt Ruth was 81 at the time and still spry with all her faculties. Her husband Bertie had died in 1966; he was several years older than Ruth. They had met in Trowse where his father (who had the same name as the famous poet and novelist, Thomas Hardy) was a bricklayer. By the time of the 1911 census he was already a school teacher. When my cousins David and Andrew were being taught at the local grammar school, the CNS, he was one of the senior masters there. Ruth had also been a teacher until she married.

The next day we had a drink at the Bell Hotel and then had lunch of fish and chips at Valori’s restaurant just up Timber Hill. The high point of the day was to visit the Castle Museum (also very nearby) to see a piece of Moon Rock brought back from the recent space mission; also some dehydrated food as used by the men in space. This was all very exciting at the time.

Barry Osborne

Barry Osborne

Phyllis Osborne

Phyllis Osborne

The previous year (1971) Aunt Ruth had held her meal at the City College on 4th January and the format was much the same. In my diary I wrote:

No barber could be found to cut my hair straight away, so off to Aunt Ruth’s lunch party with unkempt hair. Quite a tasty meal of soup, lamb cutlets, and peach pie. Those present were:-  Aunt Ruth herself of course and her daughter Marian; Peggy and Pauline Peachey (a great niece and her mother); Diana and all her children Christopher, William, Rachel and Jonathan (great nephews and a great niece, and their mother) , her niece Olive Anderson and nephew Barry Osborne.

Barry’s wife Phyllis was also there and of course me and my sister Tig. As you can tell Aunt Ruth liked family reunions.  She held a big one in 1958 at Carrow Abbey and there is photograph of all of us there, from which the pictures of Barry and Phyllis have been taken. I was the youngest one there, but my cousin Pauline Peachey was not much older.





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