Grantham Journal Big Interview: Betty’s book tells ‘The Aveling Barford Story’

Popular local writer Betty Elmer.
Popular local writer Betty Elmer.
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‘The Aveling Barford Story’, the second local history book by popular Grantham writer Betty Elmer, is sure to be of interest to the firm’s many former employees.

We spoke to the 82-year-old story-teller from Gladstone Terrace, to find out more.

* How did this book come about?

I used to work at Grantham Library, and have always had a great love of books and reading. I then became involved with Gravity FM, where I did a programme about the railways. I got so much information that I ended up producing a book, called Railway Lives. I wanted to do another, and I found out that lots and lots of hard working men spent their lives at Aveling Barford. One man started as soon as he left school, and stayed there until his retirement at 65. I wanted to honour these men, who worked their socks off all their lives, with this book, which I hope will be a literary memorial to them.

* Who helped you with the book?

I don’t use computers, so my friends Elizabeth Hazelwood and Ela Watts typed it up, and Ela published it online as an eBook. Local historian Fred Leadbetter provided information and photographs, and lots of people told me their stories. I also attended Grantham Museum’s Aveling Barford reunion event last summer, where I wrote down as many names as I could to include in the book.

* Where does your love of story-telling come from?

My family. I was a shy child, but my grandmother performed on the musical hall stage. My cousin, Jimmy Mulville, is co-founder of TV production company Hat Trick. And my granddaughter, Kate Landy, has a place at the Guildford School of Acting, and is about to play Eva Peron in Evita. Some people may have seen me play Queen Victoria at Belvoir Castle, greeting visitors with a royal wave. I also played the housekeeper. I loved it!

* What are you busy doing now?

I’m originally from Liverpool, and I wrote a children’s book on the city’s famous symbol, The Liver Bird. I’ve been asked to do some more stories about it. Back in Grantham, I’m helping with Flickbook Theatre’s project on the town. I like to keep busy. As George Bernard Shaw said, ‘I’d rather wear out than rust out’.

* ‘The Aveling Barford Story’, is available to buy as an eBook from Amazon for £3, by going to tinyurl.com/j8yzzqj