THERE can’t be many people whose memories of an area stretch back over almost a century – but that was certainly true of Michael ‘Mike’ Vick, who lived in the same cottage in Newmarket, Nailsworth, nearly all his life.

Mike died on December 27, at the age of 98.

When his family celebrated that long and happy life, at a special service at St George’s parish church last month, they not only had their own personal memories; they also had a treasured booklet, published in 2010, of Mike’s own reminiscences.

Many of the places Mike knew and loved no longer exist in the same form today. Such as the infants’ school he attended at Shortwood, Nailsworth; or the Old British Boys’ School at the top of Spring Hill.

Once known as the Stroud Boys’ Craft School, it prepared its pupils for jobs in industry, which is where Mike’s career took him at the age of 15.

Apprenticed to King’s engineering – a company that began life making steam engines – he experienced first-hand the injustices that could be perpetrated on workers.

Employees were allowed just one week’s holiday a year; but, while office workers were paid for the week, the factory men got nothing.

“Yet, if it wasn’t for the factory, there’d be no office,” Mike pointed out.

Later, when King’s was taken over by a new owner, the foreman was sacked for a trumped-up reason. These outrages helped turn Mike into a lifelong Labour supporter, who believed in standing up for workers’ rights.

In Mike’s early days, even a hamlet such as Newmarket had its own shops: Mrs Nicholls’s sweets; a general stores in what is now Higher Newmarket Road; and a wheelwright’s where the old post office is. There was a dairy; and the George, which is still a pub today.

Mike remembered with nostalgia the old Newmarket Court, built by the Hillier family who owned the local bacon factory.

Once an elegant home with sweeping lawns, it was pulled down in the 1960s. “When Ranks Hovis McDougall took over Hillier’s, they built a new sausage factory under what was the summer house and tennis court. If you go down there today, you can see where the buttresses are,” he recalled.

Mike married Gina – an evacuee from London – in May 1941, in a double wedding at St George’s with her sister, Win.

The couple went on to have five children, including triplets.

A tremendously hard worker and a committed Christian, Mike enjoyed a pint and a game of cards at the George, winning many trophies at cribbage.

“His grandson, Tom, estimated that dad probably drank nearly 50,000 pints there over 80 years, which could have almost bought the place,” his daughter, Cathy Reid, smiles.

Very appropriate, then, that the after-service reception was held at the George – in Newmarket, a place Mike Vick never wanted to leave.