Tom's photo brings back many memories

February 01 2021
Tom's photo brings back many memories

A STRIKING photograph of one of the Frome Valley's old characters has brought back memories among Voice readers.

We published the picture last month along with a request from John Winstone, the son of the photographer who took it, for more information about its subject.

Both John and the Voice heard from people sharing warm memories of Tom Walker, who was well known in the area in the 1950’s.

Readers remembered Tom from their childhood or teenage years, when he was often seen in fields in the area, or pushing his bike on the roads. Most believe that he used to sleep rough, although one reader remembered him staying in a tumbledown cottage in Watley's End.

Richard Pullin said: “Tom was a really nice old guy and was commonly seen in the Hambrook and Frenchay area.

"As soon as I saw the picture I instantly knew it was him.

"The picture was exactly as I remember him.

"I used to think he slept in hedges. He had the nickname of Lavender – I can’t remember why.”

Steve Luton, who remembers meeting Tom as a five-year-old boy, said: “My mother used to take us down to Hilly Fields, between Frampton and Winterbourne, and he was there quite often. Whenever he saw us he gave us a flower. He had them in the spokes of his bike.”

Chris Lamhaouli said: “We used to ask him what could help us if we had something wrong, like earache.

"He used to go into fields where the cows were lying down, then he’d get the cow up, as the heat from the cow had drawn moisture from the ground, and he would sleep there.”

Chris Lowe remembered Tom working as a postman, with in-laws and a mother living in Court Road, Winterbourne.

Chris’s older brother, Gordon, said: “He had a bicycle with wool around the spokes. We would ask him to give us a text and he had a small square tin with a text of the day inside and he pulled it out and read it."

John Winstone's father Reece was a renowned Bristol photographer.

The picture of Tom is from his 1956 survey of the Frome Valley, which John is digitising, along with photographs from an original survey made in 1906 by the photographer WF Kunder.

John thanked the more than 20 readers who shared their recollections, adding: "Tom was much respected, a survivor of World War One who received widespread support through the local community.”