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Tributes to pub landlady Frances Bicknell
8:00am Thursday 29th August 2013 in News
A local pub landlady has died at the age of 92.
Frances Bicknell ran the Dog and Partridge Inn, at Tosside, for almost two decades, with her late husband Roy.
Born in Leeds, the daughter of a railway administration worker and Methodist lay preacher, Frances became an apprentice tailor for a Jewish company in the city and it was here she honed her needlework talent.
Often she would trace the company’s latest and most fashionable clothing patterns onto newspaper and make the outfits up on a sewing machine at home. From these patterns, she would make outfits for herself, family and friends.
When World War Two broke out, she managed to persuade her mother to allow her to join the Land Army.
She was initially based around Ripon, Knaresbor-ough and Boroughbridge and worked in plant and tomato nurseries.
Later, in around 1947, she was drafted to the Craven area and was billeted in Settle.
Here she was made foreman of a group of land girls and together they worked the land, ploughing fields and sewing crops while the farmers’ sons went off to fight.
She often related stories of her life in the Women’s Land Army and was proud of the fact she was regarded as one of the best field ploughers around.
She also said her sewing skills helped out her colleagues when one would present her with some material they had managed to find. Frances would create a dress for her friend to wear at a dance the following weekend.
It was in Craven that she met Long Preston man Roy. He had served in the navy and was working in agriculture. The couple formed an immediate friendship and Frances’ sewing skills came in handy again when she made the shorts for the newly-formed Long Preston Football Club – where Roy was a striker – out of blackout material.
Frances was called back to work in Ripon but she and Roy continued to write to one another.
After coming out of the land army, the couple married in 1950 and began their married life in Long Preston.
They bought Beck House Farm, in Tosside, in 1957 and moved there with their eldest daughter, Hilary. The couple went on to have a second daughter, Vivien, and twin sons, Andrew and Duncan.
In the early 70s Frances and Roy sold Beck House Farm and bought a derelict former pub in Tosside. They spent a year transforming it into a busy meeting and eating place and it was here the couple made many life-long friends.
They remained at the Dog and Partridge until they retired to Long Preston in 1990 where they spent 15 years before Roy’s sudden death at the age of 80 in 2005.
Soon after, Frances, whose memory was failing fast, lost her sight and had to go into care. She spent the last seven years of her life in care in Carlisle and died suddenly, but peacefully on August 14.
She is survived by her four children, eight grandchildren, two step-grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
A funeral service and cremation was held at Carlisle Crematorium yesterday.