Category Archives: UK

Bristol INTERNATIONAL Rugby Star OF THE 1930S

At one time considered the best centre-threequarter in “the four countries” (England, Ireland, France and Wales), Donald William Burland played rugby for Bristol from 1926 to 1934. He “assisted the county on more than 30 occasions” and played for England eight times.

Don Burland was born in Bristol in 1908. His father, William had the Rising Sun pub at Ashton Gate and was also a member of Bristol Bowling Club. Sadly, William died when his son Don was only 1 year old.

Nevertheless, Don Burland grew up strong. Of “magnificent physique”, he was said to be as strong in attack as in defence. His hand-off was so powerful that he occasionally left “a trail of fallen opponents in his dash to the line”.

He played for Horfield Church before joining Bristol Rugby Club at the age of 18. His greatest moment was probably in 1932, in the international against Ireland in Dublin, when he scored all 11 points – he converted his own try and kicked two penalty goals.

Known for being unstoppable when he was in possession and within 20 yards of the line, Don Burland received more than his fair share of injuries. It was after he fell heavily and dislocated his shoulder in the match between Bristol and Aldershot Services in March 1934 that he reluctantly took the decision, on medical advice, to retire from the game at the age of 24.

Bristol Rugby Club in around 1933 with Don Burland (2nd L back row)

In August 1934, the Western Daily Press said of Don Burland, “He will rank as one of the finest match-winning players Bristol has ever had”, In the course of eight seasons, Burland had made “over 200 appearances for Bristol and scored 691 points”. After his retirement from rugby, Don didn’t stop playing sport. In 1935, he was still appearing in local headlines playing some excellent cricket for Bristol Casuals!

Fred Tozer – A Determined Boscombe Schoolboy

The Old School House, Boscombe (Photo by Guy Wood)
The Old School House, Boscombe (Photo by Guy Wood)

Frederick William Tozer was born on 28th June 1885 in Liskeard, Cornwall, the third son of George Tozer, Superintendent of a Life Insurance Agent and his wife Ellen, who were originally from Plympton in Devon. George’s occupation was Superintendent of a Life Insurance Agent. Shortly after Fred was born, his family moved to Bournemouth and, on 5th April 1891 when the census was taken, they were living at No.1 Eaton Villas in Christchurch Road. Fred, then aged 5, was recorded in the census as a Scholar, as were his two elder brothers Ernest, aged 9, and Walter, aged 7, and his younger brother, Claude, aged 4. However, he was probably not attending the Boscombe British School at this time.

Boscombe British Schools Log Book Entries for June 1893 (By kind permission of Dorset History Centre)
Boscombe British Schools Log Book Entries for June 1893 (By kind permission of Dorset History Centre)

On 15th June 1893, when Fred was 7 years old, the Log Book of Boscombe British Schools recorded that “a little boy named Fred Tozer had been brought to school some time ago by his brother”. The Headmaster, William Jones, initially put Fred into Standard II and asked the class teacher, Miss Tickner, to report back after a few days on what he could do. After being assessed by both Miss Tickner and Mr Jones, Fred was found to be “backward in Reading and Spelling” and he was told he would have to go down to Standard I.

Some of the boys at Boscombe British Schools in the 1890s (By kind permission of Dorset History Centre)
Some of the boys at Boscombe British Schools in the 1890s (By kind permission of Dorset History Centre)

Young Fred became very upset; he cried and “declined to go”. Mr Jones asked his brother to leave him at the Infants’ School; however, Fred was determined and continued to turn up at his usual desk in Miss Tickner’s class. Mr Jones told him once again to go down to the lower class, but Fred cried so much and promised to be such a good boy that Mr Jones told the teacher to “enter his name on the Register and let him remain”.

The Sailor's Rest, Fowey, Cornwall
The Sailor’s Rest, Fowey, Cornwall

In 1901, Fred and his elder brothers were still living with their parents at 1 Eaton Villas. Ernest, aged 19,  was working as a “Chemist’s Shopman”and Walter, aged 17, was a “Chemist’s Apprentice” but no occupation was entered for Fred himself, now aged 15. However, by 2nd April 1911, Fred had become a “Mariner/Mercantile”. In the census of that date, he was a boarder at the Sailor’s Rest in Fowey, Cornwall; he was aged 25 and single.

Fast forward to September 1939 and we find Fred, aged 54 and still a “Merchant Seaman”, living with his wife, Ethel, at 29 London Fields West Side in Hackney. However, after all his seafaring, it turns out that in his later years, Fred returned to Bournemouth, where he died, aged 83 at the end of 1968.

Gladstone Road & Boscombe British School (Bournemouth Library Heritage Zone)
Gladstone Road & Boscombe British School (Bournemouth Library Heritage Zone)

Read more about The Old School House here and read other blog posts hereContact Steph Woods to commission a History of your House or Family: fully researched and referenced, written and illustrated then leather-bound. Also, do check out Co-Working at The Old School House; also the Bournemouth 2026 Trust and the present-day charitable work of the BFSS.

Latterday “Robin Hood’s” Secret Larder

The largest surviving oak tree in Sherwood Forest is the Major Oak, estimated to be 1,000 years old; the oldest is thought to be the Parliament Oak. The now lost Shambles Oak was a latterday “Robin Hood’s” secret larder!

The Major Oak, Sherwood Forest
The Major Oak, Sherwood Forest

The Shambles Oak, was killed when picnickers lit a fire beside it in 1913 and it blew down in 1920. A story in the Derby Mercury of 4th June 1851 tells of a sheep-stealer named “Hooton”, who used the tree, which was thirty feet around, to hide the carcasses of his ill-gotten gains. People living in 1851 remembered his beam and hooks being in the tree, suggesting the hiding place, deep in the forest, was in use in the 17th or 18th century. Perhaps the culprit was one Samuell Hooton of Ollerton, who was christened on the 4th May 1633?

Whilst the newspaper report of 1851 says the trunk could contain fourteen people, the Nottinghamshire Guardian of 27th May 1864 tells us that “recently twelve persons from Nottingham” stood inside the trunk to sing the anthem, “Great and Marvellous are Thy Works”.

Butchers' or Hooton's Shambles near Ollerton, Sherwood Forest
Butchers’ or Hooton’s Shambles near Ollerton, Sherwood Forest




Let Woods for the Trees find your family stories in old British newspapers. And read other blog posts here.