The History of Myrtle the Motorhome and the Myrtle Mates
Part i: In The Beginning Edward Made Myrtle The Motorhome.
Edward Slopbucket the founder of Myrtle the Motorhome and the original Myrtle Mate was born in Shittingtorpe, North Lincolnshire on 23rd May 1869.
The son of a famous Lincolnshire Sausage Maker Rees Slopbucket, Reesie’s Fatboy Lincolnshire Sausages were revered and famous throughout Shittingtorpe and as far a field as Dribbley and Seadby some 8 miles away.
Edward, who was born with a bizarre purple birth mark the size of an old penny in the middle of his forehead was the eldest of 9 siblings that Rees and Edwards loving mother Lizzie, brought up in the beautiful hamlet of Shittingtorpe.
Because of his peculiar birthmark as Edward got older he became known affectionately by the locals of Shittingtorpe as Purple Ed.
In 1890 Edward married Fanny Bakewell a popular local girl and entrepreneur who had her fingers in many pies.
When Rees Slopbucket died in 1891 Edward took over the family sausage making business and eventually opened The Purple Ed’s Sausage Factory, Shittingtorpe which can still be found there today.
Edward and Fanny Slopbucket went on to have 9 children of their own but peculiarly these were the quads: Myrtle, Roger, Ahmed and Maureen then the triplets: Boris, Shamelia and Dave and finally the twins: Lizzie and Ada.
With so many mouths to feed times were hard for the Slopbucket's but Edward and Fanny were determined that their 9 offspring should receive the best up bringing they could provide.
In 1898 a retired constable from Suffolk called John called into Purple Ed’s Sausage Factory, Shittingtorpe to purchase some Reesie’s Fatboy Sausages which by now had an ever growing reputation.
Edward and the constable struck up a conversation and it transpired that John had an old Hay Wain for sale which he claimed had been recently restored and painted at a place called Flatford Mill in Suffolk by a Willy Lott.
Edward had an idea and agreed to purchase the Hay Wain from John the constable and arranged to have it delivered to Shittingtorpe.
However when it was delivery Edward was a little disappointed at the painting John constable had claimed he’d had done recently but none the less this was not going to affect Edward’s plans to install an engine and to turn the Hay Wain into a mobile holiday house for Fanny and the 9 little Slopbuckets.
Edward started to convert the Hay Wain to a Motorised Holiday House immediately and planned to fit a kitchen, beds for everyone, 12volt lighting and even a bathroom complete with shower and toilet. Edwards’s theory being one of, if he could squeeze so much meat and flavour into his sausage skins then squeezing so many rooms and a motor onto the Hay Wain would be simple.
To pay for the Motorised Holiday Home conversion Edward, Fanny and all of the 9 children had to work long and hard in the Purple Ed’s Sausage Factory, Shittingtorpe sometimes handstuffing and pulling Purple Ed’s Sausage for days on end without a break. When they did eventually get a break all of Edwards spare time was spent eagerly working on the Motorholiday Home conversion.
By summer 1899 the Motorhome Conversion was almost complete but not before tragedy struck the Slopbucket family.
Sadly one of Edward and Fanny’s oldest children, Myrtle, had developed an allergy to the herb Sage, a staple ingredient in all of Reesie’s Fatboy Sausages which are hand pulled and stuffed in The Purple Ed’s Sausage Factory, Shittingtorpe. Because of her allergy Edward and Fanny would purchase plain tasteless pink sausages for Myrtle from their neighbours John and Edwina Wall.
Unfortunately however, fed up with the tasteless pink Wall’s sausages Myrtle succumb to temptation and ate one pound 7 ounces of Reesie’s Fatboy Sausages, hand pulled and stuffed in The Purple Ed’s Sausage Factory Shittingtorpe, home of quality sausages and chutney.
Myrtle suffered a devastating allergic reaction and having swollen to thirteen times her normal size her skin eventually burst open and she passed away peacefully twelve and a half days later.
Edward and Fanny were devastated at not only the passing of one of their dearest children but also in the knowledge that the Motorhome Conversion had just been completed as a eleven birth and now only ten were required which just goes to show that the problem of getting the right Motorhome with the right layout is as old as Motorhoming itself.
Ever resilient the Slopbuckets put their recent misfortunes behind them and undeterred by the wrong layout went on their first Motorhome trip on 19th June 1899 and in honour of their dearly departed daughter named their motorhome Myrtle.
With their own business to run getting long holidays for the Slopbuckets was very difficult and this combined with Myrtle the Motorhomes relatively low top speed, poor fuel economy and not to mention high co2 emissions meant that the distance they were able to travel was severely restricted.
The Slopbuckets soon found a delightful spot however just a short distance through Shittingtorpe, at a clearing in the woods on the edge of the village by a babbling beck and most spare weekends would be spent there.
Whenever the Slopbucket took Myrtle the Motorhome out and drove her the short distance to the clearing in the woods, on the edge of the village by the babbling beck the other residents of Shittingtorpe would look on in awe and grew to love these Myrtle moments.
Eventually other villagers started to create their own Motorhomes in the same likeness as Myrtle the Motorhome from an array of different vehicles and would meet Myrtle in the clearing in the woods, on the edge of the village by the babbling beck. These soon became known as Myrtle the Motorhome Meets which was eventually shortened to Myrtle Meets and those attending became known as the Myrtle Mates.
Part ii: The Myrtle Martyr’s and the Jarrow Myrtle Marchers.
Since those early Myrtle Moments in Shittingtorpe and the Myrtle Meets at the clearing in the woods, on the edge of the village by the babbling beck the number of Motorhomes and Myrtle Mates had grown and grown and as families had grown up and moved away from Shittingtorpe new groups of Myrtle Mates were springing up all over the country.
Though happy with their Myrtle Meets at the clearing in the woods, on the edge of the village by the babbling beck, Edward and the other Shittingtorpe Myrtle Mates used to dream of been able to take longer holidays and to be able to go further a field and even to be able to meet up with the other Myrtle Mate groups in different parts of the country.
In 1902 Edward Slopbucket and five others Myrtle Mates decided to hold a meeting in the Weir Knot Inn public house in Shittingtorpe to arrange the first ever Mass Myrtle Meet and Rally. Rallying however was illegal and the Weir Knot Inn was raided and the six Myrtle Mates were arrested.
They were charged with unlawful rallying and leisure pursuits. A local squire of Austrian decent called Baron Van Warden started to gather evidence against the Myrtle Mates and they were even betrayed by Shittingtorpe locals and fellow Myrtle Mates John and Edwina Wall.
In March 1902 Edward Slopbucket and the other Myrtle Mate Martyrs were tried at Dribbley Assizes on trumped up charges of unlawful assembly.
The Grand Jury foreman was William Ponsonby MP, brother-in-law to the future Caravan Club Secretary Lord Melbourne. Members of the jury also include Baron Van Warden and two of his assistants and several members of his family. Inevitably the verdict passed by Ponsonby, the Van Wardens and their assistants was guilty as charged and the six Myrtle Mate Martyrs were sentenced to seven years transportation to the penal colony of New South Wales, Australia.
The harshness and injustice of their treatment caused a massive Myrtle Mate public outcry and Myrtle Mates everywhere began campaigns to have the Myrtle Mate Martyr’s pardoned and returned to their families.
One of the best known and most influential of these campaigns took place in the North East of England were 207 Myrtle Mates signed a petition to present to the Prime Minister but without the means to pay for the required fuel the Myrtle Mates decided to walk the near 300 miles from their home town of Jarrow to the Palace of West Minster.
On the 5th of October the Jarrow Myrtle Mates began their march to free the Myrtle Martyr’s and the Jarrow Myrtle Marchers arrived in London on 31st October.
The affect of the Jarrow Myrtle Marchers and the other Myrtle Mate campaigns around the country convinced the then prime Minister William Pitch the Younger to grant a pardon for all of the Myrtle Martyr’s and to repeal the law against Rallying.
By the time their pardon was granted the six Myrtle Martyrs had already arrived in Australia and Edward Slopbucket and the other Myrtle Martyrs served much of their sentence before news of their pardon reached the penal colony in forced labour in New South Wales.
Transportation to Australia was brutal and the voyage harsh and few sent to the penal colonies ever returned either because they did not survive the ordeal or because they could not afford the journey home following the end of their sentence.
Despite their pardon it was to take three whole years before five of the Myrtle Martyr’s including Edward were to arrive home in Shittingtorpe.
For one Myrtle Martyr however the long arduous voyage home was too much to face and Ebenezer Fagsmacker remained in Australia for the rest of his life and eventually settled in Mount Camden, South Australia.
Part iii: After the Myrtle Mate Martyr’s Are Pardoned and the Present Day.
In the three years that Edward and the Myrtle Mate Martyr’s were away the world had changed almost beyond recognition and the village the Myrtle Mates returned to was a totally different Shittingtorpe.
The clearing in the woods, on the edge of the village beside the babbling beck was now the site of huge Sausage Making Plant owned by John and Edwina Wall, the Myrtle Mate betrayers, and Wall’s pink tasteless sausages were now sold nationwide.
Fanny and the Slopbucket children had managed to keep the Purple Ed’s Sausage Factory, Shittingtorpe, open but at what cost to Fanny’s health and to Edward, Fanny was never to be the same again.
As for all the other Myrtle Mates not only in Shittingtorpe but through out the country the passed three years had also been difficult times.
When the law against Rallying was repelled at the same time the Myrtle Mate Martyr’s were granted their pardon the Caravan Club and the Camping and Caravan Club were formed and their members looked down on the Myrtle Mates and their early forms of motorhomes and for many years these were even banned by the Caravan Club.
Many Myrtle Mate groups disbanded while others, hardcore sections determined to retain a sense of humour, went underground and had Myrtle Moments in secret and held Myrtle Meets in cognito for decades.
Meanwhile in Australia, the descendants of Ebenezer Fagsmacker also carried on the Myrtle Mate tradition though in some areas over the years the name Myrtle evolved to Matilda and “good day to you Myrtle Mate” evolved to “G’day Mate”. Ebenezer’s direct descendants are still Myrtle Mates to this day, still live in Mount Camden, South Australia and are still in regular contact with the UK Myrtle Mates.
In 2007 however, after many many years as a secret organisation changes to European Law gave the descendants of those original UK Myrtle Mates the confidence to come out of hiding without the fear of further persecution from the Caravan Club, which now allows membership to Motorhome owners, and the Camping and Caravan Club, now known as the friendly club.
Though both these organisations have changed their names several times over the years that the Myrtle Mates were a secret group and had amended their rules to accept Motorhome membership neither have seen fit to alter their name to actually include motorhome in their titles. Indeed there is an underground movement that the Myrtle Mates are now aware of within one of the more Motorhomerphobic of these organisations to try and change the name Motorhome to Motor-Caravan.
Despite this small Motorhomerphobic group of bigot’s both of the larger organisations are now in general very Motorhomer friendly and many modern Myrtle Mates are actually members of both these clubs.
Since 2007 many new people have become Myrtle Mates and Mates are no longer just Motorhome owners with some preferring to use Caravans, Tents or even use Bed and Breakfast and/or Hotels.
Through social networking some Myrtle Mates have yet to attend a Myrtle Meet or had a Myrtle Moment other than via the media of the internet.
2012 saw the introduction of Myrtle Mate Certification and a small range of gratis Myrtle Merchandise.
This range of gratis Myrtle Merchandise has grown to include: I’m A Myrtle Mate Button Badges, I’m A Myrtle Mate Key Rings featuring the Myrtle Motto, I’m A Myrtle Mate Fridge Magnets and not forgetting the ever popular annual I’m A Myrtle Mate Mug and all are available while stocks last.
In 2013 long term Myrtle Mates Bob & Julie Rothwell (aka The Roaming Rothwell's) took the very first ever Myrtle Mug Shots.
A Myrtle Mug Shot is a photograph of a members Myrtle Mug in a particular location or being posed by a Myrtle Mate.
To the future and for 2014 plans are being made for the first ever official Mass Myrtle Meet to be held in conjunction with and at The National Motorhome Show, Peterborough between the 24th and 28th April.
Until then Myrtle Mates continue to spread the good name of Myrtle the Motorhome both at home and abroad and recite the Myrtle Motto:
“Today is the tomorrow we weren’t looking forward to yesterday until we bought our motorhome.
Now tomorrow could be the day we start the life we’ve dreamt about for years.
By the way what day is it?”
Strictly No Bingo or Country & Western Permitted. Just Beer, Wine & Barbecues!
(Acknowledgements For This Artical Go To Maureen and Bernard at the National Archive and To Hallucinogenic Drugs)
Copyright Myrtle The Motorhome 2012
A young Edward & Fanny Slopbucket
Early days in the Purple Ed Sausage Factory
The Hay Wain which was to become Myrtle
Long hours in the Purple Ed Sausage Factory
Myrtle Slopbucket within seconds of eating 1lb 7oz of Reesie's Fat Boy Sausages
A photograph of Edward, Fanny and 8 of the Slopbucket children taken only weeks after Myrtles demise.
An early outing in the original
Myrtle The Motorhome.
The citizens of Shittingtorpe enjoy a
An early Myrtle Meet at the clearing in the woods on the edge of the village by the babbling beck.
One of the original Myrtle Mates with their version of a Motorhome.
Ebenezer Fagsmacker and his family with their early Motorhome attend a Myrtle Meet.
The six Myrtle Mate Martyr's
For the 3 years Edward was away Myrtle stood abandoned beind the Purple Ed's Sausage Factory, Shittingtorpe.
John & Edwina Wall's Sausage Factory built in the clearing in the woods on the edge of the village by the babbling beck.
The Jarrow Myrtle Marchers