Mabel Jelley

In 1910 Mabel Popham, as she then was, arrived at Cosgrove to teach at the village school and she took lodgings with Fred and Sarah Jelley and their two daughters. Around 1912 the Jelleys left the shop and moved to the old Brewery House.  Mabel continued to lodge with the family, while the shop, post office and bakehouse passed to Malcolm Jelley. Malcolm and Mabel were married in 1916, on Christmas Day, because that was the only day when bread was not baked!

In 1921 Mabel and Malcolm went to run the Barley Mow for a some years. Then Malcolm bought a bus and started a bus service for Cosgrove. From 1926 to 1929 Mabel and he moved with their young daughter to Leighton Buzzard, but soon returned to Cosgrove. Mabel supported her husband in his bus company until 1934. Mabel’s own interests then began to take off!

Mabel was a founder member of Cosgrove Women’s Institute. During the war she belonged to the ARP and was an organiser for welfare foods and welfare produce until well into the 1960s.

In 1941 she and Malcolm ran a party for resident and evacuee children in the Old School, including 20 teenage boys from Holloway School! Mabel led the “Youth Movement” in raising £24 9s for the Victory Hall Fund in 1945.

1n 1946 Mabel was one of the first women in history to be elected to Cosgrove Parish Council, and two months later she ran Cosgrove’s V Day celebrations in the New Schools, organising teas for 150 people. The following year she was presented with an award for her services to Cosgrove Youth Squad.

By 1947 Mabel was representing Cosgrove on the Rural District Council and began a campaign to improve Cosgrove’s infrastructure, beginning with a demand for a sewerage service to replace the “Bucket and Chuckit” system. She followed this in 1948 with proposals for a clean water supply for the village, which was still using wells. In the same year she managed to organise an over 70s meat tea for the WI and was instrumental in changing Cosgrove’s postal address from the confusing Bletchley designation to the local Wolverton office.

“….. Mrs M E Jelley, Cosgrove, instanced the lorry driver who passed within a mile of Cosgrove yet went on to Bletchley to find out where Cosgrove was. He had to come back the same way to deliver a parcel.”

By 1949 Mabel was the scourge of Towcster RDC meetings, “Holding up a bottle containing what was described as water, but which was coloured like orange juice, Mrs M E Jelley, of Cosgrove, told Towcester Councillors on Tuesday, 25 January, that the water had that morning had been drawn from a tap at an Old Stratford house.” In the same year Mabel and Malcolm supported and donated to arrangements for the new Parish Cemetery at Cosgrove, which they achieved in 1950, as well as inaugurating the Victory Hall.

Mabel was Chairman of Cosgrove Parish council in 1955 when they raised £300 to equip the new children’s recreation ground at the crossroads. Housing after the war was a real problem in the village and Mrs Jelley was known for declaring that “From one of the prettiest villages in Northamptonshire, Cosgrove had now become a shambles.” Which she helped to sort out!

During the 1960’s Mabel represented Cosgrove at District Council level in preserving St Vincent’s Well in 1962 and obtaining street lighting for the first time in 1968. She was less successful in tackling British Waterways in 1969 on the state of the towpath!

Mabel Jelley is pictured here in May 1967 – the lady on the right, at the crowning of the May Queen. Mrs Atkinson is on the left.

Mabel was a school manager of Cosgrove and Deanshanger schools.

Mabel died in 1970, still working at full speed for Cosgrove.