Joe Gobbey
Joe & Elizabeth Gobbey
Joe Gobbey
Joe & Elizabeth Gobbey
Mercury & Herald 1971


Oldest native is 93-year-old Mrs. Elizabeth Gobbey, who had been village postmistress for 35 years when she retired at the age of 78. The village Post Office had then been in her family for 114 years and Mrs. Nancy Sawbridge who took over in October, 1956 was a relative by marriage, her husband Mr. Benjamin Sawbridge being Mr. Joe Gobbey's nephew.
John Rainbow died within months of his appointment as postmaster at Castlethorpe in 1844 but his widow carried on in Rainbow's Yard. When Rebecca's son William George Rainbow moved into 16 North Street, his mother went with him and there the post office stayed for 80 years, William succeeded his mother in 1893. His daughter Elizabeth, who married the auxiliary postman Joe Gobbey, became postmistress shortly after the first world war.

Postman, Nancy Sawbridge, Elizabeth Gobbey, Joe Gobbey
Nancy Sawbridge with Joe & Elizabeth Gobbey, outside the post office which Elizabeth's family had run for 114 years.
At his bungalow in South Street, 83-year-old Mr. Joe Gobbey recalled two disastrous Castlethorpe fires.
When Mr. Gobbey was a boy a big blaze started in the large store where Farmer Amos kept tackle and several cottages were involved. One of them was the home of Billy Bird, a railway signalman, who was on duty at the time and from the signal-box watched the destruction of his cottage.
Castlethorpe’s biggest blaze was on August 4, 1905, when 13 houses and many outbuildings were lost. Mr. Gobbey pointed through a window of his bungalow and said “A spark from the railway started the fire in the thatched gable end of that building which was used as a stable and storehouse for cattle feed.
The old store building, now with a slated roof, is Mr. Gobbey’s property. From this starting point the flames spread to the thatch of a series of houses which were so completely destroyed that none was rebuilt.
Teddy Powell and Jack Evans and their families, who had lost their homes in the fire at Farmer Amos’s were made homeless for the second time.
When the fire started on a weekday afternoon Mr. Gobbey was working at Castlethorpe Railway Station as a porter and he raced to the blaze while the signalman gave the alarm. “I was first on the scene,” said Mr. Gobbey.
Wolverton Fire Brigade hurried to the village and the railway sent a big tender by rail to Castlethorpe Railway Station. And there it stood in a siding helpless while the cottages were gutted but presumably capable of action if railway property became involved.
Mr.Gobbey told me how he and Jack Allen, a stonemason from Stoke Goldington, got a piano out of Teddy Powel’s house; Jack Allen was inside pushing, Mr. Gobbey was outside pulling and when the piano stuck in the doorway the two men climbed over the piano to exchange places so that Mr. Gobbey could do the pushing.
It was as well they did change places, because, as Mr. Gobbey, the younger man, pushed the piano clear, the blazing roof collapsed inside the cottage.
Other residents recalled by Mr. Gobbey were Harry Geary of Hanslope coming down from the roof of an old butcher’s shop with his shirt sleeves on fire, and of a barrel of beer being delivered at the height of the blaze. As it could not go in the house, it was rolled up the garden path and left.
A collection was started in the district to help the victims of the fire and Mr. Gobbey and another porter helped by taking collecting boxes along the trains which stopped at Castlethorpe Station.

Elizabeth Gobbey & Charles Webb
Elizabeth Gobbey & Charles Webb in the 1950s