One of the most memorable ‘gentlemen of the road’, beloved by Campden children, was Paddy, who, after placing the winning bet on Oxo in the 1959 Grand National, was thereafter better known by that name! His speciality was ‘blowing eggs’ that enthralled the children for whom he performed this trick.
Campden pubs usually displayed notices in their windows, ‘No pea pickers served here’ but occasionally served them ‘out back.’ ( In the early and mid 20th century Campden was home to many itinerant men who worked on the land, most of whom slept rough.) However, the late Dick Smith for whom Oxo often worked always took Oxo with him into the public bar of the Noel Arms.
A memory from Patta Keyte.
She remembers ‘He was a very intelligent man, well educated, civil and polite and was never drunk. He’d work all day for us shovelling coal & only stopped for tea and cigarettes. He knew everything there was to know about drains and road works.’
Oxo lived in a shed in a field known as Skey’s orchard. It is said that he refused an offer of an Almshouse but spent his winters in Nazareth House in Cheltenham, a charitable organisation run by nuns.