Easterton farms

May 11, 2021

Jim’s oral history recording (see Easterton boyhood memories 1940s-60s) also reminds us that the main employment for local villagers was either at the jam factory (see Jam factory memories 1960s-1990s) or in farm work.

Jim himself came from a farming family. His grandfather, James Spencer, had Halstead Farm, Easterton, with its farmhouse on the village street. Jim remembered this being owned by his Uncle Norman, who was helped by another uncle, Laurie.

Halstead Farm

Back in the 1950s, it was more common for farms to be smaller, family run businesses. Jim had another uncle, Harry, who farmed locally too, at Sands Farm.

Whilst Jim’s father had been up White Street, at Fairfield Farm, for a couple of years, he took the opportunity to purchase land up Kings Road on the Sands on other side of the village. This had been the village playing fields, but was well out of the village centre. Wilf Moore, of the jam factory, donated a more convenient parcel of land to the parish council as a site for building the village hall and providing a recreation ground, so the land up Kings Road was put up for sale. Jim’s family lived in a caravan in 1949, whilst their bungalow was being built and they established a small farm there with a dozen cows and a few pigs.

Mains water had not yet come to the those farms on the Sands and Jim recalled theirs had a 90 foot borehole, whilst Sands Farm had an 120 foot deep well.

Of course, not all the Easterton Farms had connections to Jim’s family. Amongst the others were Vicarage Farm (see At Vicarage Farm), Hillcroft Farm, Easterton Clay Farm and Jim recalled Mr Robertson having Ansells, down at the Folly.

Vicarage Farm

Easterton boyhood memories 1940s-60s

May 9, 2021

Another of the oral histories recorded for Market Lavington Museum shares Jim’s memories as an Easterton lad. He moved to the village in 1947, just before he started school. His first two years were spent at Fairfield Farm. as his father was a livestock farmer. (See Looking up White Street – Then and Now.) An alarming memory from those days was of a shell (from the nearby ranges on Salisbury Plain) exploding by the cattle trough. Fortunately no animals were drinking there at the time, but it left a big hole.

Jim went to Easterton School, where there were just two classes, each of about thirty children. There were doors on rollers between the two classrooms, which were opened for whole school occasions such as Christmas parties. (See Christmas at Easterton School.)

Jim’s first teacher was Miss Alexander, pleasant, but remembered for the stare she gave if you did anything wrong. The second class was taught by Miss Windo, who took the children through to the 11+, when they would leave for Dauntsey’s School in West Lavington or Devizes Grammar School if they passed the test. Those who didn’t went to Market Lavington School.

Jim remembered Miss Windo having a ruler on her desk for rapping knuckles. He said she lived in a flat at the vicarage up Kings Road. The Reverend Stacey lived in the other part of the house. The children called him Pop Stacey on account of the pop pop noise made by his Jowett car. In those days, Market Lavington and Easterton churches both had their own vicars. When this role was combined, the Easterton vicarage was sold off as a private house.

Miss Windo was also remembered for borrowing a barrel organ for village fetes and carnivals.

We will share more of Jim’s memories on another occasion.

Jam factory memories 1960s-1990s

May 9, 2021

Market Lavington Museum preserves the history of Market Lavington and neighbouring Easterton. Preserves were very relevant to the history of Easterton. For many decades it was home to a jam factory. Amongst our many photographs, labels and other artefacts from this business, we are also fortunate to have an oral history by one of the former workers, Haidee Bailey.

The factory had belonged to Samuel Moore but, by the time Haidee started working there, for a few years in the 1960s, it was run by his sons, Wilfred and Billy. Her early memories were of how hard the work was, with most of the workers, all local people, suffering from bad backs. This was partly due to having to lift very heavy crates of jars. She also recalled that mincemeat was poured into holes in the floor and the workers had to bend over to put it into tins.

In the early days, all the fruit was grown locally and picked by local folk. Haidee’s husband, Cliff, had grown up in the village of Easterton and remembered blackcurrants being grown near the factory in the area of the current village hall and recreation ground. His mother would spend days picking blackberries near the railway and Wroughton’s Folly, which she would sell to the jam factory.

Cliff and the other children would find 1lb and 2lb jam jars in people’s rubbish, wash them in the brook and sell them to the factory for a farthing each. (Four farthings made an old penny.)

Haidee returned to working at the jam factory in 1975. By then it had changed owners and become more automated. The work became easier physically. For example the heavy crates were replaced by boxes and the jar caps were no longer put on by hand. With production becoming faster and with more staff being employed, it was no longer possible to source all the fruit locally and some came in by lorry, though they still made local blackcurrant and gooseberry jams.

In the early days, jams and tracklements had been made for London hotels. Haidee recalled jams, marmalade and other products being sold to supermarket chains, such as Tesco. The higher quality jams had a Wiltshire label.

In 1979, the business was sold on again, this time to Hazelwoods. The factory became even bigger and the staff were employed from various local towns. At first, the new owners would turn the machines up very fast to increase production but, if the workers couldn’t keep up, jars would get broken.

Eventually, the owners wanted to expand and were hampered by the awkward access for lorries, which would sometimes hit the churchyard wall. Although they looked at alternative sites locally, they finally sold up to a German firm. This meant that the 120 workers on the factory floor and those in other jobs at the factory were made redundant. Haidee was the factory manager and said that the workers had been told they wouldn’t lose their jobs all the time the factory was making a profit. She became involved in ensuring good redundancy settlements for all the employees, but it was still a hard time for the ‘lovely team’ of workers, especially for those where both husband and wife lost their jobs.

These are Haidee’s memories, but we have many more blog entries about the jam factory in Easterton. For more information and photos, see In the jam factory, Jam Factory Workers, Yet more jam factory girls, More Jam Factory Workers, A Jam Factory Lorry, More Jam Factory Girls, Jam Factory Workers, The Jam Factory at a carnival, Princess Anne at the jam factory again, Easterton Jam Factory in 1985, Easterton Jam Factory, Jam Factory Ladies, We’re jamming again, The final pot of jam, Right Royal Jam and The Princess Anne Plaque.

More dates in the old Bible

May 8, 2021

In Market Lavington Museum, we have a Bible dating from the 1700s. We have looked at this book before in A Family Bible and know that it belonged to Jane Miell before passing to Robert Merritt.

Inscriptions on the blank pages of the Bible give us dates of birth and innoculations for Robert Merritt’s family. (See Robert and Lea Merritt’s family and They was nockalated.) But this old book is also interesting for its printed dates too. It is a very large volume, containing much more than just the Old and New Testaments.

We would have presumed that it was printed about 1700 as it contains a page of the dates of moveable feasts such as Easter, Whit Sunday and the first day of Lent for the years 1700 to 1739.

However, the edition we have has a page relating to the Hanovarian King George 1st, which refers to it being November in the first year of his reign, which was 1714. So the Bible must have been printed after that year.

Some of the information in the book seems to be there to support a preacher in what his service should contain on specific dates.

This calendar gives the Bible passages for the morning and evening services on each date. It also gives relevant information about some of the dates. These are often, but not always biblical.

For example, February 14th is linked to St Valentine, a bishop and martyr.

March informs us of the annunciation of Mary on 25th, but also of Edward, King of the West Saxons on the 18th.

We could look at some more pages from this fascinating volume on another occasion.

Another Milsom’s bill

May 6, 2021

We have already seen A bill and receipt from Mr Milsom. Reginald Milsom ran Milsom’s Garage in Market Lavington, assisted by his daughter, Marjorie. The bill in our previous blog dates from 1950 and is handwritten.

Things had moved on a bit by 1957. A bill from that year had a different design on its billhead and was typed.

Mr Carter had obviously had a problem with his car engine and work was needed on the big ends. That work was done in March and a battery was charged in April, costing half a crown. (Some people had a trickle charger and charged their own car batteries at home.) However, the bill was only settled towards the end of May.

Photographer’s bills

May 5, 2021

For many decades, Market Lavington was the home to photography businesses, first run by the Burgesses on the High Street and later by Peter and Bessie Francis on Church Street.

For more information, see Peter Francis – his home and shop and Peter Francis’s Letter Scales.

Amongst our collection of bills at Market Lavington Museum, we have several from Peter Francis.

They do not feature pictorial billheads, but do give us an indication of the range of services provided.

This bill shows that cameras were brought to his shop for repair. On this occasion, the camera required replacementt bellows. The parts were less than half of the cost, the rest being made up of labour charges, postage and purchase tax.

For readers unfamiliar with the concept of a bellows camera, this concertina like device enabled a compact camera, such as this Zeiss Ikon to have its lens moved forward to allow focussing.

Closed
Open with lens moved forward by bellows

Our next bill is from 1959, a time when colour photography was becoming popular with the general public. Many people took colour slide pictures, which needed a projector and screen to display them.

A projector costing almost £20 was a considerable financial outlay in 1959.

Peter Francis was not only a retailer of photographic supplies, but also a professional photographer, taking photographs of local and family events and developing and printing them for clients. He and Bessie took a lot of wedding photographs, for example. It would appear that, in 1962, our purchaser, Mr Carter, had employed Peter Francis to take photographs and produce proofs so that he could select those he wanted printing and mounting

Over the years, photographic equipment changed and people were able to buy equipment which was smaller and simpler to use. By 1972, Mr Carter had decided to invest in an instamatic camera.

So, our very basic artefacts have enabled us to witness photographic history over fourteen years, from a time when it was worth repairing an old bellows camera, through colour slides and their projectors to point and shoot cartridge film cameras. Neither Mr Carter nor Peter Francis would have realised at that time that many of us would now be using portable telephones to take photographs, which we could download ourselves onto personal computers.

Market Lavington war memorial – but when?

May 4, 2021

We have recently acquired a postcard of the war memorial in St Mary’s Churchyard in Market Lavington.

Many of the postcards in our museum collection were produced by Alf Burgess or his sons, who ran the village photography business for many years. However, this is not one of theirs. The reverse side of this unused postcard merely reads, Postcard, with the words Communication and Address Only designating the areas to be written on. It does not even inform us that the picture is of Market Lavington, but we have enough local knowledge to recognise that it is. However, dating the picture is rather more of a problem.

Obviously, it was taken after World War I as it commemorates the local servicemen who lost their lives in that war. Our blog Dedicating the St Mary’s War Memorial informs us that this event took place on 15th August 1920, so our postcard is likely to be from at least a couple of years after the end of the Great War. That blog shows close ups of the names on the plaques, which are in alphabetical order of surnames. But Walter H Collins is inscribed out of order at the end of the list, after W surnames. Close scrutiny of our postcard shows that his name had not been added to the final plaque until after the photograph was taken. However, we do not know when this extra inscription was made, so cannot use that information to help us date the picture.

We do know that our postcard must predate the addition of the names of World War II casualties to the memorial. This 2015 photograph (© WMR-3174) from the Imperial War Museum’s site on war memorials, clearly shows the stonework added to the memorial, below the WWI inscriptions, for the plaques with the names of the servicemen who died in the second world war. These are not on our postcard, which must therefore be an interwar picture.

Beyond the churchyard wall and the roof of the bier house, built in the 1880s, we can see some lettering on a building in Church Street. It is on The New Inn, whose name changed to The Drummer Boy in the 1970s. The writing above the archway was also there on this earlier postcard. The top line reads Usher’s Fine Ales and, below, are the words Good Stabling and Cycling Accommodation. (The pub name had to change from inn when it ceased providing accommodation.)

For more information about this Church Street postcard, see Hopkins and the New Inn and Opposite Market Lavington School.

More from Emma’s album

May 3, 2021

We have already seen Emma’s Album and Emma’s album again and realise that the sentimental poems written in it about 180 years ago are quite faded and difficult to read in their entirety, although we can get an impression of the content from lines such as –

Virginia – If I were like thee, lovely child, So happy and gay, I would not care where …

and – I think of thee dearest when lovers are sleeping, I’ll …. all are away.

As is often the case in old books, we find that they were used to press flowers or leaves.

Although the writing isn’t always clear, there are a few more pictures in the album, which we can share.

Above the cockerel are written the words ‘Does your mother know you are out?’

Finally, there are two pictures of ladies in period costume. This one is probably a printed portrait.

The final one at the back of the book is a very faint pencil drawing, with the name Muriel Blake just below the hemline of the dress.

St George’s Day at the Drummer Boy

May 2, 2021

The Drummer Boy in Market Lavington is one of the many public houses that has now closed.

It has featured in this blog on several previous occasions. ( See The Drummer Boy Pub, Drummer Boy memories, A memory of the Drummer Boy and The Drummer Boy Pub Sign.)

However, it was certainly open for business in 2006, when it put on a St George’s Day event. We have the programme for this in Market Lavington Museum.

Monies raised from the event were to support the Wiltshire air ambulance though, no doubt, there was the hope that it would bring in lots of customers and raise drinks sales too.

The events were not just on St George’s Day, but spanned three days and were not solely confined to the pub premises.

There were various entertainment acts in the evenings. The duck race was at Broadwell, presumably starting near White Street and heading downstream towards the pub. We assume the football, basketball and golf competitions would have taken place away from the pub, although many of the other events, eating and drinking would have been on site.

Hussey’s the furnishers

May 1, 2021

Although we refer to Market Lavington as a village, nowadays, it had been quite important as a shopping centre for surrounding villages and sold a wide variety of goods.

In our museum collection we have a bill from Husseys from July 1959. Mr Carter bought a bedstead, but we are not sure what a 4 foot S.I.M. might have been.

The Hussey family had been involved with furniture for several generations, as cabinet makers (see Henry Hussey requires information) and then owning the furniture shop on the corner of Church Street and White Street.

The crossroads in the village was known as Lamb Corner and this blog about the area includes a picture of Hussey’s shop in 1960s.

We see their shop again in this postcard from about 1970.

The postcard below is undated, but probably an earlier view of the furniture shop.

There is no furniture shop in Market Lavington now. At the time of writing in 2021, this site is occupied by a coffee shop.