Following on from the visit from the Antiques Road Trip (available on BBC iPlayer) and recent posts on Facebook pages Roy Davies, who curates the Museum's documents, came across some memories written down by a Mr Denslow , who used to work at the Mitchell Toms Brewery (demolished to make way for the Crowshute Link road). His story is worth sharing ...
'Chard boasted another aviator. John Mitchell of Mitchell Toms had his own 2-seater plane which he kept at the Brewery in the High Street. The wings folded back and it was towed up to a field near the Red Post for take-off. On his return he would circle twice over the Ship Inn, where the resident engineer lived, who would then motor up to the Red Post to tow the plane back.
Mr Mitchell had a very distinguish career during the War and was reputed to be the oldest night-fighter in service in the RAF. He was also a very good chemist. He developed the process of pectin from apple pomade as a subsidiary to cider making. There was a constant demand for this colourless, tasteless liquid, the consistency of golden syrup by the big jam makers in the Midlands. Pectin is now sold in powder form named 'Berto'. He also planned a purpose built mineral water factory at the site now Crowshute Link. It was to be called Meadow Spring Table Water.'
(Leicester) John Cecil Mitchell was born in Chard in 1902; in the 1911 Census he was living at the Brewery House, High Street with his mother and sister, Mary. His interest must have started when young because he passed his aviators' certificate in 1926 at the London Aeroplane Club, aged 24.
The forces war records show that in 1926 and 1928, Mr Mitchell is down as AA2 Reserve Flying Officer in the RAF and in 1945 he was Acting Wing Commander in the RAF Volunteer Reserve at the age of 43.
Mr Mitchell lived a long life, dying in 1990 at a nursing home in Frampton, Dorchester, leaving the enormous sum of £1,687,722.