Tribute to local milling legend Gordon Matthews
Matthews Cotswold Flour gathers three family generations, staff, local farmers and sportsmen for a memorial service to Gordon Matthews
29 Feb 2020, Fifield, Oxfordshire
Many people who live and work in the Cotswolds will recognise the flour mill in Shipton- under-Wychwood, nestled in the Evenlode valley by the Shipton train station, and will have known Gordon Matthews, a director of the family business, Matthews Cotswold Flour, who died in January this year aged 97.
A service of thanksgiving for the life of Gordon will take place at Fifield St John the Baptist Church, Oxfordshire on 29 February at 3pm.
Gordon worked in the family-owned business for most of his life. His role was buying grain from local farmers, with a particular focus on malted barley. He was a keen sportsman, and president of the Burford Golf Club from 1987 – 1990, past Captain of the Oxford County Golf Club, and President of Shipton-under-Wychwood Cricket Club.
He is succeeded by four children and 12 grandchildren. His son Paul and grandson Bertie are joint MDs of the business, and work at the mill which is still in operation, benefitting from the resurgence in home baking and the revival of artisanal, high quality, traditionally milled flour.
Bertie Matthews, 28, said: “My grandfather was a wonderful salesman and sportsman. We’re proud to be carrying on the family business and celebrating his life in sport, as he did seem to have conducted much of his business on the golf course and was a dedicated supporter of local clubs for most of his life.”
All the eldest sons in the Matthews family business are christened Frederick but are known by a second name. The eponymous Matthews Cotswold Flour, after whom the company is named, being Frederick William Powell; Gordon followed in this tradition and was never known as Fred despite this being his first name.
Gordon joined the family business as a boy aged 16 when his father Frederick Eric was running the mill. His first jobs included answering the phone, unloading coal and fetching cigarettes, most of which would be unthinkable nowadays in the workplace. He joined the home guard and when called up during the war joined the RAF, travelling to what was then Rhodesia where he became a flying instructor.
After the war he was based in Wolverhampton, where he taught Dutch men to fly. Flying home at the weekend to Rissington airfield, eight miles from Shipton-under-Wychwood, he would fly over the mill on his way home to let his father know that he was ready to be picked up.
Returning to the mill in the 1950’s he worked there until the mid-nineties, passing on his skill in understanding the quality and provenance of grain to the next generation of the family. He will be sadly missed.