ONE of the first cars seen in Skegness — a 1907 MMC — is pictured (right) with its owner, the late George Frederick Ball (right) and eldest son, “Little” George, outside the town’s Seacroft Garage in 1911.
The car was a chain-driven model, remembers “Little” George now 77 and living in Seafront Road, Seacroft, Skegness.
“It really was something. When we used to go to Sleaford we used to leave at about six in the morning to get there for noon!”
He described how they had to pile out of the car about every five miles to put the chain back on, and they had to soap round the spark plugs at intervals to keep them working.
But the car finally came to grief when a smart new hood was added — it created so much wind resistance the car couldn’t move forward!
George Ball relates his histories with relish and gusto. Being on the receiving end of his memories is like being peppered with buckshot.
Reload! And from mechanical horsepower . . . to the real thing, recalling how Seacroft Garage was used as a cavalry stable during the First World War.
Owned at the time by George Leese, it was one of the Skegness locations commandeered by the Lovat Scouts, for their horses: “I was taught to ride on a gelding named Conrad. I was about five years old and the horse stood 17 hands”, said Mr Ball.
This early tuition came in handy when he went to New Zealand in 1926 and worked as a boundary rider — 14 hours a day, from 4.30 am for a weekly wage of 10 shillings (50p now).
He had to ride round a large New Zealand farm checking and repairing fences: “It was the hardest job I’ve had. But I left after having words with a fellow called Thompson.”
And the words? “I told him where he could stick his grubber — that’s an axe for felling blue-gum trees.”
Such words might have raised an eyebrow with Mr Ball’s father — the eminent Skegness auctioneer and valuer Mr G. E. O. F. Ball, whose head office was at premises now housing RTK Discount Stores in Drummond Road.
Mr Ball followed him into that profession, but via a few diversions .. .
Going to New Zealand was just one. After his schooling in Oakham, he trained in agriculture, later had his own little farm at Ingoldmells and then went to university, “to get a little bit more experience.” He also worked as an advertising manager for Butlins.
“I couldn’t settle down to anything in particular,’ explained Mr Ball. I was a bit of a wanderer.
“They say kids are wild today, but they don’t come much wilder than I was, I got into a few scrapes. Nothing serious — just foolish games.”
But while working in London, Mr Ball met his wife. Peggy, to whom he has been married for over 50 years.
“I was at a tea dance in London, and having a look down at everyone from the balcony. I saw this little woman on her own. I asked her if I could share a pot of tea with her, and that was- it.”
They now have two daughters and three grandchildren.
During the war, Mr Ball worked in Marco’s in Grantham, in the arms inspection department, and later in factory defence.
He was invalided out when the factory was bombed, damaging his ear-drums and sense of balance.
A formal introduction by a friend, gave Mr Ball the chance to join a charitable beer-drinking club known as ‘The Ancient Order of Froth-Blowers.’
Membership is now quite a rarity, as it was wound up in 1931. At its height it had 700,000 members worldwide, who raised £100,000 for charity.
The founder, Herbert Temple, launched it in 1924 after hearing that a doctor friend, Sir Alfred Fripp, had refused a fee for an operation.
It was an apt organisation for George Ball. He is someone who has blown the froth off life!
Source: Skegness Standard 1985