Goodbye to Kate – a true Abthorpe lady

Kate and Bob Salmons
Kate and Bob Salmons

KATE Mary Salmons who lived in our village sadly died recently at the age of 82 years.

Kate, or Kath as she was universally known, was born, baptised and married here and lived in this village throughout her life. Her funeral service took place in our parish church and she was laid to rest in the village cemetery. Kath was a true Abthorpe lady.

She was born in a small cottage at the bottom end of Main Street that was demolished long ago. She attended Abthorpe School from the age of five when Miss Abberley was Head Mistress and Miss Henson her colleague.

In 1939 her friend Betty Bodily joined her in the school when she moved into the village and became Kath’s life-long friend.

Since Kath has died her husband has discovered notes written in her beautiful hand writing that described her memories of her time at our village school.

She remembered when the nit nurse called, standing in line awaiting her turn praying that she would not be sent home and have Mum producing a nit comb.

In a school play she was Bo-Peep. Miss Abberley borrowed a shepherd’s crook from Dr Rogers.

He was the doctor who delivered Kath so was very interested in the play. One day Miss Abberley said all the girls should learn to darn and asked them to bring socks from home with holes.

For once, Kath wrote, her Dad had no socks that needed mending so when her Mum was not about she cut a hole in a sock and took them to school. Her Mum never found out.

On another occasion Miss Abberley was either poorly or on holiday and Kath’s class had another teacher.

The teacher left the classroom and John Foster (who still lives in the village) hid under the big table with a green cloth on. He was still there when teacher returned to her desk. John always was daring, Kath emphasised.

At the age of 11 Kath went to Silverstone Secondary School and stayed there until she left full time education and began work for the London Central Meat Company in Northampton. Each day she would cycle to Towcester, leave her bike at Tuckey’s shop at the cross roads and catch the bus into Northampton.

One Saturday an 18 year old railway man came into her life. Bob Salmons from Blakesley and his friend Len Bodily from Wood End.

They walked to Abthorpe to attend a dance in the school. En-route they dallied at the Royal Oak pub in Slapton and then after a pint or two walked through the fields to Abthorpe.

At the bridge across the little River Tove close to Slapton Mill they met two young ladies called Kath and Betty. Romance ensued and Bob married Kath and Len married Betty.

Bob and Kath spent their honeymoon in Torquay and as a railway employee he obtained a privilege ticket. Both couples remained friends throughout their married lives here in Abthorpe.

Kath held a number of subsequent jobs during the intervening years on the Hesketh estate and in Towcester Mill. She retired at the age of 50 while Bob continued helping to construct roads until he was 65.

In recent years Kath developed dementia. Bob lovingly nursed her at home right through to the end.

When praised by his relatives and friends for his actions he simply stated, “That’s part of the job. That’s what you get married for.”

John Riches

Abthorpe correspondent