Fred T. Marwood and Pleasington Lodge Remembered

Frederick Thomas Marwood (1857-1935)

As mentioned in a previous post, my mother has been reminiscing about her family and I’ve been trying to keep up with all the information she’s been sending me. In this post she talks about her maternal grandfather Frederick Thomas Marwood and his Pleasington Lodge home, which I mentioned a few months back is, or was, on the market for around a million quid. Fred owned and ran a Crown Cork factory on Kings Street in Blackburn. The one thing she didn’t mention the following I found on my cousin Hamish’s site:

Weekly Despatch 1900 Jan 21
Under the heading SHOULD SOLDIERS CARRY SHIELDS (presumably referring to the Boer War):
Fred T. Marwood, of Pleasington, near Blackburn, sends to the Press a drawing of a shield for soldiers. His idea is a collapsible screen of light nickel steel plates, capable of being folded and opened for use. The screen, presenting an angular face, would turn aside a bullet without needing to be of any great thickness.

Fred T. Marwood and Pleasington Lodge Remembered by Angela Kirby (née Birtwistle):
When I last saw Pleasington Lodge, in about 1951 or 1952, it was largely unchanged from Edwardian days. Gas lamps, including the round glass street-lamps which lined the drive, red chenille table-cloths, bronze statues of women in Grecian drapes, holding up torcherres, art-deco bits and pieces, big Omari vases, a large brass gong in the hall, a mahogany barometer (tapped every morning), a glass -fronted long-clock with a big brass pendulum, a black grand piano (a Steinway, I think), covered with silver-framed photographs, and on which all three talented sisters played, both classical music and Music Hall songs, accompanying their brothers who did ‘comic turns’. Uncle Cyril’s Military Cross and citation were framed and hung in the drawing-room. The family governess, Miss Ethel Corbishley (some relation to Monsignor Corbishley), always called ‘Madame’, stayed on with the family and, when they grew up, helped to run the family Cork business, the office being in the handsome old Queen-Anne family house in King Street, Blackburn.. She eventually left (not sure why) in the fifties , when she was over eighty and, a short time after, was run-over and killed by a London bus.

In true Victorian style, Fred was an inventor – patent corkscrews, one of which is still occasionally seen in pubs (or was until recently, a canon-like brass thing, fixed to the bar to remove crown corks) and, I have been told, the first golf bag on wheels and the first gas-oven with a door which opened downwards. I believe he sold his patents for about a fiver each.

He was also very interested in medical matters, holding long correspondences with doctor and professors in England and Europe, many of whom addressed him as Doctor and he didn’t contradict them. He wrote a treatise on the dangers of salt consumption, a copy of which I have somewhere – it was probably self-published.

Another theory of his was that that bathing in hot oil would cure rheumatism and arthritis. On one famous night, he got the servants to fill up a hip-bath in the kitchen with oil they had heated up, pan by pan, on the cooking range. He then sent them out of the room, took off his clothes and climbed in – so far, so good – but then he tried to get out. For a long time, he slipped and slithered without success. Eventually he had to call or ring for the servants to come back, which a last they did, modestly averting their eyes and holding out towels to shield his nudity. I don’t think he tried it again.

Every year, except during WW1, he went off to the casino at Monte Carlo. I think he had ‘a system’ but it was not noticeably successful, alas !! He also fancied himself as looking like the king, George Vth, and had a photograph taken of himself in a hired Admirals dress-uniform, complete with cocked hat with feathers. Don’t know where that has got too .

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