Wrington website Recollections Recollections                 China Recycle - Bill Crook
In the nineteen forties and early fifties Glaisters in the Dring (aka Church Walk) was occupied by a noted historian, Mrs. Hinton. She had been Mrs. Dobson and she shared her home with two sons, Richard and Quentin. I think Richard's wife was Betty and they had a daughter Susan. For reasons of which I'm not sure, the sons were friends of my Mum and Dad. Not sure because they lived in Glaisters and we lived at No.1 Silver St. council house (later Lawrence Rd) !! Before moving to Silver St. we lived in Rose Cottage by All Saints’ and I remember a somewhat tipsy Quentin arriving at No.1 on his bike rather disorientated having been sent by Mrs. Bryce to our new abode. I think I must have only been five or six years old at the time but I remember this incident relatively clearly. Between 1936 and 1941 Richard worked in China for the British Tobacco Company. On arrival, Richard was told that the Chinese weren't big smokers but perhaps were willing to learn. The habit must have caught on because it is revealed that in one good month the BTC alone sold 6,500 million cigarettes. On his return to England Richard trained and saw action in the far east as a Spitfire pilot. Again, returning to England, his book China Cycle was published. China Cycle not only tells the story of the cigarette business in China, but details the hardships of life endured by the "foreigners" and the even harder struggle suffered by many of the local population. It describes the long, tiring and often perilous journeys undertaken on basic modes of transport, on even more basic railways and roads.In a country, remember, occupied by a not so pleasant Japan. On a personal note, it was his association with the Yangtze river and his description of the British Club in Shanghai that struck a special chord with me. Richard gave a copy of his book to my mother with whom it languished, probably unread, until vanishing in the passage of time. Now, with Kathy and I planning a trip to China in October I managed, by good fortune, to get a paperback copy of the book in July this year. Although I found it difficult to read in parts - Richard would have to be described as an intellectual- I gleaned enough to add value to my China experience. Standing in the British Club, now the Bank of China, with its glorious architecture just as described in his book, I thought "Richard Dobson once stood here". And that was eighty years ago. How good was that? Back to No 1 Silver Street circa1950,we had a deep crimson flower that appeared in the spring and my memory of this is quite clear too. As a very young boy I delighted in this particular bloom. Some years later, I learned that it was a Peony. Seventy years later, whilst in China, I learned that the national flower of China is .........the Peony. So was our specimen there by chance, or was it a Dobson legacy ? I like to think the latter. And the rest, as they say, is history. Richard went on to become chairman of British Leyland. He then became Sir Richard but in an explicable error of judgement made a comment that some Judas released to the press and that was the end of a brilliant career for a Wringtonian and a fine British citizen. Salute.
Hello Richard, Season’s Greetings and a little story. Some personal Hinton / Dobson details may not be quite correct but they are written in good faith. Bill in former British Club. Regards, Bill Crook Hamilton New Zealand