IT’S a momentous occasion for 82-year-old Bert Beswick next Tuesday, July 8 when he officially opens new housing in the historic village of Swynnerton.
For the new rented housing development, Beswick Green, is in part named after Mr Beswick to mark his 68 years of outstanding service as one of Lord Stafford’s estate staff.
He has worked at Swynnerton Park man and boy, quite literally, having started there as a lad of 14 and 68 years later is still working part-time, mowing the grass.
Beswick Green is also named after another long-serving member of staff. Rudd Green, who died in 2012, was gamekeeper for 55 years.
Mr Beswick, who has lived in the same estate cottage with his wife Jean, aged 78, since they married 58 years ago, said he had never considered changing jobs.
“I have always been very happy here,” Mr Beswick said. “I feel very thrilled and honoured to be opening the new housing and I’m only sad that Rudd Green can’t be here too. We were good friends.”
Mr Beswick was born in Tittensor, and grew up in Beech, where his father, also named Herbert, was a farmworker. His father died of pneumonia in 1944, after being caught in a blizzard, and his widowed mother, Lily moved to Swynnerton.
Mr Beswick started work on the estate, which in those days had a market garden, as soon as he left school. After his mother died in 1950, the teenager was taken in by family friends Eunice and Harry Bennett, who ran the village taxi firm - and who had given the young Bert lifts to Stoke City matches in return for washing the cars. He remains a staunch Potters fan to this day.
One of his happiest early memories of his working life was when all the estate staff travelled in three coaches to London in 1952 for the wedding of Lord Basil Stafford - father of the present Lord Stafford - to his wife Morag.
“We were all entertained at the Savoy Hotel and I drank champagne for the first time - rather different to the Joules ale I was used to,” Mr Beswick recalled.
The newly-wed Lord and Lady Stafford’s return from honeymoon was also a memorable occasion. “We had decorated a farm cart with flowers, then everyone in the village hid so that we could surprise them,” Mr Beswick explained.
Over the years, he has met visitors to Swynnerton Hall ranging from racing drivers Jackie Stewart and Nigel Mansell to the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.
And a Royal connection runs in the family. Mr Beswick’s grandfather was coachman to the Duke of Sutherland and one of his proudest memories was driving Queen Victoria from Trentham Station to Trentham Hall.