This article was written by Jean Archer for the Amersham Society/Amersham Museum newsletter.
Was there ever a person possessed of a sunnier nature than Elsie King? Born somewhere in London in 1905 she was the eldest of four daughters of a butcher, George Bedford, who brought his family to Amersham in the thirties and ran his butcher’s shop in The Broadway.
Elsie soon made friends with people of her age group in the Town, particularly Nan Brazil (later Bazzard) and Miriam who married Robin Brazil. All three joined the League of Health and Beauty where they performed exercises and dance routines. Whilst moving in this happy set of people with dances at the British Legion Hall, etc. she attracted the attention of Thomas Roland King (see 1952 photo to left), the son of Ebenezer who had his Chemist shop in Market Square. Tom at this time was training to be a Pharmacist and on the death of his father he took over the shop. He and Elsie got on famously and married in 1938. For some time they lived on the premises, Elsie helping in the shop. As part of her duties she undertook to travel around the town and villages delivering prescriptions to people who were sick and she always gave very special attention to the elderly.
There was another Chemist in Old Amersham Town at the time, which was run by Laurie and Annie Haddon. Laurie took over on the death of his father, Albert, just as Tom had from Ebenezer. It, therefore, would not have been surprising had the two couples been rivals but they became fast friends for the rest of their lives. Elsie and Annie were founder members of Amersham (Old Town) Women’s Institute and, in fact, began the Drama Section.
Around the 1950s Mill Lane was being developed and Elsie and Tom purchased a bungalow in that pleasant spot overlooking Barn Meadow. They were very happy there for a long time but then Tom became ill, retired in 1968 and died the following year. Elsie was heartbroken but consoled herself by adopting a small long-haired Jack Russell called Sally, who was adorable. Everywhere Elsie went so went Sally.
Elsie became a Voluntary Worker at Amersham General Hospital. In the seventies Amersham twinned with Bensheim, West Germany, and Elsie became the first Secretary of the Amersham Bensheim Society. She worked like a beaver and the bungalow in the Lane became the focal point for meetings and accommodation for visitors from Bensheim.
In her late eighties Elsie’s health began to fail and she died in 1996, leaving scores of devoted friends who like myself will never forget her.