Brassy Sharman was a well known character in the Ashby area during the first half of last century.
Mr. Sharman, whose nickname was derived from his occupation as a scrap metal dealer, led a simple life with basic facilities and once lived at Manor Farm prior to its demolition.
It was reported on 3rd July 1957 that Brassy Sharman was to finally vacate the squatters’ camp on an old military camp down Bottesford Road/Bottesford lane, which straddled the borders of Ashby & Bottesford.
The new home of 78 year old William ‘Brassy’ Sharman and his 60 year old wife was not exactly given but it was described as his dream home. It was just as Brassy had been looking for, no electric or gas laid on and not too many windows.
The report went to say, “The previous week the couple who had led a secluded life in a dilapidated hut on Bottesford squatters’ camp moved into a small four-roomed farm cottage one and a half miles away”.
The squatters’ camp was once home to 40 families, the camp, a wartime anti-aircraft gun site, had been a constant source of worry to the Scunthorpe Borough Council and Brigg Rural District Council.
Around North Lincolnshire many old army camps were occupied by squatters after the war during, the housing shortage. In the case of the Bottesford camp mains electricity and gas had been laid on to the site but the government decreed that all such sites should be cleared by 1960.
Villagers at Bottesford had complained it was an eyesore. Tenants said living conditions were terrible and the site was infested with rats and vermin. One by one the families left for new homes and the hutments were pulled down. At last only Brassy and his wife were left.
The article said Mr Sharman told the authorities the only suitable alternative to his hut was a small cottage with few windows because he and his wife did not like the light or draught in their home, they didn’t want gas or electricity laid on either.
Their new home with its patent gas lighting was found for them by the Scunthorpe Corporation. Mr Sharman was to pay 5 shilling inclusive of rent, 3s 11d less than he paid as a tenant of the squatters’ camp.
Mr. C A Jennings, from the National Assistance Board, had held several talks with Mr Sharman before the latter decided to accept the corporations offer. “I think it was the rural setting of the cottage with its blossoming apple and plum trees that had swayed him” said Mr Jennings.
The article said that with the help of the Women’s Voluntary Service and local residents new furniture, a bed spring and a table with chairs were provided. The National Assistance Board supplied bed linen and blankets. Voluntary workers gave up their time to get everything shipshape in the cottage. Linoleum was rolled, the furniture set out and beds made up before Mr and Mrs Sharman stepped over the threshold.
After he had left his hut it was demolished and the remainder of the site cleared by the authorities.