Amina lived in the centre of Cheltenham all her life and it was in about 2010 that she informed me that she had started to record her early years as it might be of interest to people, especially as the character of the town had changed so much. Gone were most of the local shops, tradesmen and their families, gone were the ladies and gentlemen who had inhabited the large houses, people from the military and administrators who had chosen to retire to Cheltenham from across the empire; she observed these social and cultural changes with disquiet.
Amina had finally finished her major publication History of Iron Working in Britain, a project that she had worked on for many years (yet to be published). And now turned her attention to her own life, which included her childhood in the 1930’s and early 40’s, her many interests such as dancing, puppetry, art, wood carving, architecture, dressmaking, history, entertaining, early Christian art, iron-working, travels to Europe and America. She was a great observer and her memoirs are recorded with sincerity and openness, in which there is much sadness. Her book takes us up to her last trips to Italy in 2003-2004 and then ends abruptly. It is not known whether she intended to continue, her eyesight was failing through macular degeneration and she could no longer read and write without a powerful magnifying glass, a fact that greatly frustrated her. I offered to help her and by the time of her death we were part way through checking her final typescript copy. It was not an easy affair as Amina had very little patience.
After her death from a fall and hospital acquired pneumonia, I made myself a promise to publish this autobiography. The headings are almost entirely her own but the Appendix, and choice of photographs are mine.
Author: Amina Daphne Chatwin
Reardon Publishing: ISBN 9781901037722