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Common was a happy hunting ground for Albert from Stafford

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: March 22, 2014

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GLOVER Street in Stafford is not the most recognisable address, being an insignificant thoroughfare off Foregate Street and the location for several small business enterprises.

But turn the clock back 30 years and Glover Street was home for 12 gipsy families - a total of 20 people who had finally found a much-needed base, having experienced a long-felt prejudice against their Romany roots.

And for Albert Boswell the Glover Street site represented the end of a lifetime of travelling from place to place, never stopping at one site for more than a day and missing out on schooling.

So when the venue was opened in September 1980, Albert was appointed manager of the site which was hidden by high concrete walls and just yards from the Gaol Square roundabout.

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Albert was the last of a long line of gipsies who would prefer to be “on the road”, frequently harking back to his days as a horse dealer, the only tangible memory of which was a sorry-looking cart which he had once raced at some of the countries leading horse fairs.

Back in 1989, Albert told the Newsletter: “We still go to the fairs every summer - up in Coventry and Appleby. There's plenty for me to do, helping with other people's horses; it's not like having your own, though."

He waxed lyrical as he described how the fairs were “great gathering places” for travellers from various parts of the country.

He recalled gipsy races including an illegal trotting race on the Uttoxeter bypass, the carts followed by gipsy businessmen in Rolls-Royce and Mercedes convertibles.

He also called to mind bare knuckle fighting including the 1986 fight between Uttoxeter gypsy Bartley Gorman and haulage contractor Johnny Mellor with £50,000 purse put up by a gipsy syndicate.

Looking around the Glover Street site, he recalled how his father had battled to get the permanent site. “Sadly, he and his generation are no longer around to see it. It's got 12 plots, electricity, showers - in fact, it's a great place," said Albert

Brightly-decorated caravans with cut glass windows replaced the old wooden caravans of his father's generation and he claimed that many of the younger women loved nothing better than to play that typical 20th century game of bingo.

Talk of food and Albert focused on the nearby Stafford Common, his hunting ground for hedgehogs which were a regular part of his diet, putting their carcases on a big fire.

“They blow up like a balloon so I can shave the spikes off with my knife before slicing them open and either boiling them or roasting them.

“They're delicious and taste just like pheasant, and I probably eat about five a week as well as rabbits."

And with that, he went back to his well-equipped caravan to check on the progress of his latest prickly meal.

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