Our story of Kevan Brewer the man who makes the drinks deliveries to the pub – but only soft drinks and not beer – which is ironic given his surname, reminded us of one of the true legends of the village. But this VIV (Very Important Villager) did not have two legs and a seat on the local council like many of the people whose names you will see celebrated on the benches and street names of the village. Particularly those members of the council who chaired ‘The Dedication of Benches and Naming of Streets’ sub-committe.’
No, we are talking about a legendary figure who had four legs, a tail and a very long face - a drey horse named ‘Geronimo’ who used to pull the cart with deliveries for brewery to all the local pubs and clubs betwen the years of 1959 and 1973.
Geronimo was a favourite in the village with young and old alike. He walked the streets between here and the Brewery every week (and twice a week in the busy Christmas period) for many years.
Every Tuesday Geronimo would pull a large cart emblazoned with the Brewery insginia, at his own pace and never in a hurry with the familiar figure of brewery delivery manager Mr Waters sitting atop the cart – whip in hand – “but that is just for show” he would tell the children “I would never hit a horse in anger.”
Meanshile on trudged Geronimo with his placid face looking down impassivelly at the gravelly roads: ”Don’t shout at me or whip me, I can walk no quicker” he seemed to be saying as he made his way through the main street to the village pub.
This was all well and good in the late ’50s and ’60s but as the old horse drew on in years his walk began to falter and slow down. This meant that the traffic would build up behind him and ‘Geronimo’s tailbacks’ became a feature of the village. By the time the 1970s arrived and the streets were full of the new BMC 1100s, the new minis, Ford Cortinas, Vauxhall Vivas, Escorts as well as Rovers and Triumph Stags and MG Midgets it became clear that the streets were not a safe place for Geronimo and he was retired to live out his days in a field near the village.
And when he died in 1979 Geronimo had reached the ripe old age of 25 – which is well over 70 in horse years.
After his death the brewery the decided to commemorate Geronimo by mounting a plaque with his name on it – on the brewery and the village pub. His name was even given to a special ale that was brewed to remember the old fella. Ole’ Geronimo was enjoyed by many of the locals for a number of years and as the pale beer gushed from the pub’s taps many locals would remember Geronimo’s passing.
There was an interesting postscript to the passing of Geronimo which many of you may know about and explains why we don’t see more of this famous horse’ s name about the place.
In 1989 Councillor and local signage entrepreneur Mr Marcus Phelchurch initiated a scheme to twin our village with another village in another part of the world. Mr Phelchurch and the Council’s Twinning Sub-Committee scoured the world for an appropriate twin for the village. And after much debate and much research selected the town of Thatcher in Arizona. Mr Phelchurch believed that the selection of Thatcher, Arizona would in his words ‘be a fitting tribute to the finest Prime Minister this country has had since Churchill and definitely in my top five leaders of all time. May she govern us for the next 20 years.” The connections and agreements were then duly set up with the village’s new found friends in that far off part of the world.
To facilitate the twining programme Mr Phelchurch undertook several trans-Atlantic trips to visit Thatcher, Arizona. He also took the opportunity to visit nearby Las Vegas – a mere 504 miles from Thatcher and with much in common with the village. For as Mr Phelchurch explained “they have similar issues to those we face with hedgerows overhanging into neighbouring gardens’.
In a reciprocal arrangement a number of dignatories from Thatcher, Arizona came over to visit the village including a number of elders who were part of the famous Apache native American tribe, whose forefathers took part in the Apache Wars which were fought in the South Western States of the United States from 1849 to 1886. The most famous casualty of which was. . .the REAL Geronimo (although his Chiricahua name was Goyathlay or Goyahkia in English).
Well, when these descendants of the real Geronimo descended on the village they were at first perplexed and confused that the name of their great leader was to be seen on the side of a brewery, a pub and on the back of bench that overlooks the main road. This confusion soon gave way to anger. When it was explained that Geronimo was that most noble of creatures a work horse, they did calm down a bit, but they were still pretty cross. And matters were not helped when Mr Felchurch made an inappropriate remark about the ‘smoke signals’ not being a patch on modern signage reprographics.
In order to placate the Thatcher dignatories Mr Phelchurch issued an official apology to the entire Apache nation and had all the signs in the village which mentioned Geronimo changed.
In order to continue in the commemoration of our favourite equine villager, the Council decided that the name of Geronimo should be changed too (the village horse not the Apache warrior). So that any embarrassment between the two villages would forever be erased. And what name did they choose?
And who was Mr Gibson?
He was none other than the Chair of the Council’s ‘Dedication of Benches and Naming of Streets’ Sub-committee.
Some of you may be keen to find out more about one of the villages we are twinned with – Thatcher, Arizona.
Just click here to find out more: Thatcher, Arizona
And to find out more about Geronimo (the Apache Warrior not the village horse) click here: Geronimo