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16 October 2014

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Tony Bennett: A Shoebox Story

A Shoebox Story

By Tony Bennett
April 2006, Newport
A digital story from Shoebox Stories

"Imagine Newport in 1869. You could arrive penniless and soon amass a fortune. Amongst the fortune hunters was my great, great grandfather Henry Lawrence. A son of a Staffordshire blacksmith, young Henry joined the black gold rush. Ever the opportunist, he set out to fill the need for houses, building much of Pill.

With two wives and 13 talented children, the family enterprises soon boasted two iron foundries, a removal company, horse breaks and a mortar works.

They farmed at St Julian's and delivered milk from their hearse to the houses they were building along Collins Road.

Life was good for the folks who lived on the hill. My mother, now 81, one of his 44 great grandchildren, still remembers the farm sited where St Julian School now stands, then at the end of a dark and scary lane. The stoops of corn, the huge harvest home suppers and the tennis parties.

An incredible achiever well into his 90s, he helped give birth to this city. Dozens of locals have descended from him, but he has disappeared from local history. The world has forgotten Henry Lawrence."

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