Wiggy Smith

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Wiggy Smith: was born on 3rd July 1926 in a covered wagon parked on the fields of Filton Common near Bristol - the area now covered by Filton aerodrome.  As the first boy to be born in his family, he was named after his father, Wisdom (the eldest of a family of ten children), but was nicknamed Wiggy to distinguish him.  In his early years the whole family travelled, mostly around the Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and West Midland areas, sometimes living in tents, but mostly in covered wagons - the horse-drawn caravans they call ‘barrel-tops’.  The family had originally come from the New Forest area, which may go towards accounting for the difference in accent between Wiggy and his father and uncles.

He served in several capacities during the Second World War and was injured by shrapnel, having to spend some time in hospital with his eyes bandaged.  Whilst in the forces, he’d cycle from Oxford up to Leamington or Warwick to see the girl he was to marry, Myra, from another Midlands travelling family.  Wiggy’s fine singing meant that, with his brothers-in-law, they would visit different pubs each weekend, and Wiggy would sing with the hat being put round at the end.  “They could drink all night - I couldn’t drink.  I used to do all the singing and they used to get all the drink.  They used to go round with the hat - 7 or 8 bob say.  That was enough to last me and my wife a couple of days for food.”  Later on, Wiggy performed in many of the pubs around Gloucestershire with his two brothers as The Travellers and fondly remembers the enthusiastic reception they used to receive.

Wiggy lived on the same site, between Cheltenham and Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire for 31 years.  Like many of his contemporaries, most of his travelling was done earlier in his life, and was bounded by Coventry, Warwick, Northampton, down on the fens (March) for the spud picking and back to Cheltenham area again.

--RodStradling 17:53, 26 March 2007 (BST)

Rich Farmer Of Sheffield, The