Posts Tagged ‘road mender’

Fixing the Road

November 15, 2013

It is tempting to say that both Northbrook and Drove Lane are roads to nowhere. Northbrook starts at the Market Place and makes its way down and over the Northbrook stream and then up on the sandstone. It stops near the Davis (football) Field and various footpaths radiate out from there.

Drove Lane also starts from the main road in the village – roughly at the point where the flowing waters of that Northbrook stream move away from the road. It too makes its way up onto the sands and peters out into a track.

But Drove Lane is home to St Barnabas School and Northbrook is very handy for the back access to the school. Apparently, it was the presence of the school which had these roads marked out for major carriageway repairs.

It was a slightly inconvenient time for residents for both roads became ‘out of bounds’ when the work was in hand at the end of October. But in the usual way of village life, people quite near at hand offered space on their drives for the cars of affectesd residents. Life went on as normal – or as near normal as possible in our car dependant age.

The first step was to find the edges of the roads. Inevitably, the soil had crept down the embankments and onto the road surface. Then huge machines came in to scrape the old surface off. This revealed the tops of former road works, when pipes had been laid.

Then the surface was thoroughly cleaned before more huge machines came to lay the new tarmac.

This was the scene near the top of Northbrook.

Northbrrok - October 2013. A lorry load of tarmac arrives and the men jump to the task of getting a new surface on the road.

Northbrook – October 2013. A lorry load of tarmac arrives and the men jump to the task of getting a new surface on the road.

As we can see, this vehicle blocked the road. Forewarned residents had got cars out already, for there is no alternative route for cars. The huge machine worked slowly down towards the village. It took the better part of two days to get Northbrook done.

The roller, to compact the surface, came behind – a much smaller machine.


A roller compacts the tarmac at the top of Northbrook in Market Lavington

An interesting point here is that Keith Davis at the newsagents remembered the last time the road was surfaced and recalled that the roller, then, had been steam powered.

When the job was done, we had a beautiful smooth surface.

Northbrook has a wonderful new surface

Northbrook has a wonderful new surface

A couple of days ago, on this blog, we were recalling the times of William Saunders, a road mender in the first half of the twentieth century. We wonder what he’d have made of the huge machines in use now. Probably he would have been in absolute awe of them and the amazing work they do.

Let’s hope that the new surface doesn’t encourage people to drive faster. Northbrook is still a narrow road and for much of its length there are no pavements. And it is used by children – both residents and those going to and from school.

William Saunders

November 13, 2013

One Saunders family, that of Amram Saunders, was well known in 19th century Market Lavington for their radical views and a commitment to helping people. If William Saunders, who we look at today, was related to them it was not a close relationship.

Our photo of William is in very poor condition as you can see below.

William Saunders - a road mender of Market Lavington

William Saunders – a road mender of Market Lavington

Despite the poor condition, we can see a fine, upstanding young gentleman. Let’s look into his history.

William Henry Saunders was born in 1876. His father, another William Saunders, came from West Lavington. His mother, Hannah (née Blagden) was a Market Lavington girl. In 1881 the family lived at Broadwell Cottage in Market Lavington. Father William was an agricultural labourer and Hannah’s mother was with the family.

In about 1883 our William gained a sister and in 1891 the family lived on New Street (AKA The Muddle) in Market Lavington. Young William was a labourer.

By 1901 the family lived on Church Street in Market Lavington. The Williams, father and son were both working as gardeners.

In 1905 William Henry Saunders married a widow – Elizabeth Pymont. In 1911 the couple, along with Elizabeth’s daughter from her first marriage and the couple’s own daughter were living on Church Street. William was a labourer on county roads – doing road repairs. That’s the job he’s remembered for in Market Lavington. Elizabeth had been born Elizabeth Kyte in Easterton.

William died in 1952 and is buried in the churchyard at Market Lavington.

Going back in history we know that William was a direct descendant of David Saunders, the pious shepherd of Salisbury Plain.

The photo was found in a cottage in Erlestoke where the Saunders’ daughter had lived and was given to the museum in 1998.