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May 2011 - Posts - Owd Fred's Blog

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May 2011 - Posts

Old Village Mortuary

This is an interesting old building in the middle of our village; it is the old village Mortuary . For saying that there would be no more than two hundred people, if they were all rounded up, you could not see what need there was for it. But I was told that if there was a death or someone was killed in our area, who did not live in the village, that was where the policeman would take the body and the door locked. As you see in the photograph, it is the door at the top of the steps, in a loft above a cowshed, with a cool north facing window.

On a closer look at the window, it too is a secure one with iron bars across it, there again it was not to prevent escape but to stop invaders the window being some ten foot up a blank wall. I have not heard of a small village anywhere else in the country having one in existence, but then I have not travelled.

The door below has regularly used by the publican in recent years as a store room, a small window less lockup as this side of the building is in fact the pub yard. On the other side of the building is a cowshed window and a split door, one where the top half can be left open if need be. The lean-to tiled roof by the brick steps is the "fodder bing" (local name for feed passage) which runs' along in front of the cows where hay and other feed can be stored and pushed through directly into the cows troughs.



Just another quirky little building that will instantly be demolished in the interest of providing another building site. But what about the history to it


Accident, n.: A condition in which presence of mind is good, but absence of body better.



How we lived in the Old House

Insulations none existent, big jumper you must ware,
Half timbered single brick, few inches plaster of horse hair,
Frosty weather glistens inside, a fridge you could compare,
Roof half filled with starling's nests, built up over the years.

Kitchens the warmest place, coal fire in big old range,
Heats the oven and boils, the kettle on the chimney crane,
Boils the taters and stew, toast the bread on a fork,
From the ceiling hangs a cloths drier, lifts and lowers on cord.

Bedroom bove the kitchen, only room upstairs warm,
Usually the kids have this room, that is always the norm,
Other rooms are chilled and cold, cool in summer though,
This is how we lived them days, kids now will never know.

Old iron bedstead webbed with steel, straw mattress on the top,
Then feather mattress covered with a white sheet she'd pop,
Mother made a groove up this, dropped us into bed,
A sheet two blankets and eiderdown, feather pillow lay ya head.

Best front room not often used, too posh to use every day,
Used over Christmas and party's, best crockery out on display,
Fathers roll top desk in there, his bills and letters wait to pay,
Always locked cus of cash in their, he always had last say.

Now heating was a big open fire, ingle nook chimney above,
Logs as long as ya can lift, one end on the fire to shove,
The bigger the fire, bigger the draught across the floor,
The heat goes up the chimney, fresh air comes in under the door. (in the form of draught)

A cellar beneath front room, brick steps leading down,
Couple of vents to the garden, the mesh with weeds overgrown,
Air circulation its not good, and musty damp and wet,
Timber in the floor above, gone weak and springy pose a threat.

A room with settlass all way round, there to salt the pig,
Been used now twice a year, doesn't look so big,
Salt has drawn up the brickwork, all through to outside
Bricks are flaking and rotting, replace section of bricks decide.

Mother kept a big tin bath, hung on a nail outside back door,
Brought it in to the hearth, filled with kettle and big jug she pour,
Youngest first then nother kettle, warm it agen for the second,
Cold night our steaming little bodies, hot crisp towel it beckoned.

So we kids lived in the big kitchen, our bedroom top of back stairs,
Long old sofa under the window, father had his own armchair,
Big old peg rug in front of the fire, we played and sat on that,
Large old radio in the window, then hurray first tele in front we sat.

Countryman  (Owd Fred)


Memories of Olden Days


Memories of Olden Days

Memories of olden days, back then when I were a lad,
Of things we did and said and learnt, copied from me dad,
Of learning how to talk and walk, and manners got to learn,
Tell the truth and honest be, and respect you've got to earn.

Never cheek your elders, and address them with respect,
Speak only when you're spoken to, and answer them direct,
Muttering and Laughing, in your hand it is the worst,
Hold it back don't let it out, even if you fit to burst.

He taught us how to use his tools, and how to work real hard,
How to earn an honest crust, in the workshop cross the yard,
To make things useful on the farm, repair them if they broke,
Keep the place all tidy, he was a very fussy bloke.

He taught us how to plant the seeds, in garden and the fields,
And as they grow look after them, to grow and give good yields
Harvest time to bring it in, and store for winter use,
To feed the family, feed the stock, to run out's no excuse.

To rear the calves and pigs and hens, and feed them every day,
Milk the cows and collect the eggs, and sell without delay,
Pigs to take to bacon weight, and sows to get in pig,
And start the job all over again, it's always been that way.

Thinking back orr seventy years, the basic things the same,
Treat others how, you would like, others to treat you the aim,
Manners make'eth man were told, its only yourself to blame,
Rules of life are rules to keep, it's always been the same.

Countryman (Owd Fred)

Every Picture Tells a Story (in this case many stories)

Next again is Holly Bush, our local village pub,
As well as drink you can get if hungry, a little bit of grub,
For a gathering of the locals, this was the hub,
News and gossip turned around in the village pub.

This picture was taken Feb 2011 of a twenty years old picture showing almost all the village apart from some outlying cottages


Just west of centre (left) of the picture is the Holly Bush pub red roof white walls, the block of buildings just below it is my farm.

The old brick building this side of the pub on the road side was the village mortuary and this side again on the road side with its chimney was the blacksmiths shop.

The open bit of road and grass is the Village Green funnelling up to the lynch gate and the path to the church.

This side of the Green is the school and its playing field below.

Top left of the picture is the farm where I was brought up along with three brothers from the age of five.

The lane directly above the church is the Back Lane running away to the village Ford where the road dips through the Brook and a small brick foot bridge.

Coming back up from the Ford is Church Farm, (almost every village had a Church Farm) where I started farming at the age of twenty one.

Village Farm is just down from the top left the long white farm house and its building just below forming a square farm yard.

The lane running out bottom centre of the picture, and a mile further on is where father started farming and where I was born and on again leads to the local Town.

Directly above the Pub was the Smallholding and Wheelwrights Shop where the wheelwright among other thing made the coffins for the local diseased, and his brother who milked and looked after his twelve cows, he used to dig the graves, they also had a village hearse, sprung, with wire spoke wheels with rubber tyre and a Tee handle to be pulled by hand.

Above that the cottage standing forward at the roads side was the Village Shop and Post Office

Top house to the right is the Vicarage and the group of houses below it is the site of the huge old vicarage, three stories high and about fifteen rooms and huge cellars, a good proportion of the rubble went to fill the cellars when it was demolished

                                                    A Tour of our Village (1950's)

The Village has its own clock, for to tell the time,
On the tower of St Chads, every half hour it does chime,
This its done for many years, and to wind it up you climb,
Three big weights on cables, crank it many times.

In the tower set in oak frame, sit its ringing bells,
Ropes and wheels for swinging, its congregation tells,
Come to church for service, to have your sins expelled,
All the parish can hear them, peal of Village bells.

The vicar has his job to visit, all parish elderly and the sick,
Take all the Sunday services, with sermon long and epic,
Christmas Easter Harvest, Christenings funerals and weddings quick,
He is kept so busy looking after, all village elderly and sick.

Out and down the church path , is the village green,
Under the lych gates, standing all serene,
Looks a little weathered, for all the years its been,
Guarding the church yard, on the village green.

Also on S------ford green, was the village pump,
Standing in the corner, on a grassy hump,
To prime it work the handle, almost had to jump,
Water all the cottages, from this well and pump.

Across the road to educate, is the village school,
Teacher at the blackboard, sitting on a stool,
There to help the children not to be a fool,
Basic reading writing, maths in the village school.

Further down the village, was the blacksmiths shop,
Making all the horse shoes, on the anvil hot,
Hammer always ringing, shaping metal without stop,
Give the horses new shoes, to make them clip and clop.

Undertaker in the village, is at the wheelwrights shop,
Lays out and measures them, makes a coffin non-stop,
His brother digs the grave, and family lines the coffin
All the week they make farm carts, in the wheelwrights shop

Next again is Holly Bush, our local village pub,
As well as drink you can get if hungry, a little bit of grub,
For a gathering of the locals, this was the hub,
News and gossip turned around in the village pub.

Down at the post office, in the village shop,
Sells all essentials, also chocolate sweets and pop,
Letters parcels postal orders, have a hefty whop,
Rubber stamp saying S-----ford, in the village shop.

The postman comes on his bike to visit, six days of every week,
Delivering post and parcels, each morning his bike it creaked,
Collecting all the gossip while, having cup of tea he'd speak,
All about what he'd learned, on his round six days every week.

On all the farms they have cows, and they produce the milk,
Beef and chickens hens and geese, sheep with fleece smooth as silk.
They have mixture of everything, corn for cows and pigs,
Hay and roots, rolled oats and peas, feed the cows produce the milk,

In all the cottages were the families, men who work the land,
Herdsmen, wagoners, and those to anything can turn their hand,
Early start in all weathers, generally a happy band,
They work late at harvest time, all these men who work the land.




If you would be known, and not know, vegetate in a village; If you would know, and not be known, live in a city.
Charles Caleb Colton (1780 - 1832)

A Grip like Iron

I don't know how mother came to have such a strong grip, but if she caught a hold of you for some reason, there was no hope of getting away, perhaps it was the hand milking in her younger days that gave her that grip, I remember some old cows were very hard to milk, it seems to have been bred out of them nowadays along with the bad feet and curled up toes and pendulous udders.

Mother had a Grip like Iron

When mother was young she had help, around the family farm,
Milking cows by hand them days, strengthened sinews in her arms,
Her hand were still ladies hands, no bulky muscle show,
Belied the strength built into them, beyond you'd ever know,

Mother had a grip like iron, nothing failed her grip,
Screw lids on jars and bottles, give it me she'd quip,
The grip she had to skin a rabbit, or ring an old hen's neck,
Crush a grape; she'd crush a walnut, power she'd got by heck.

Round by the coal ruck was her hammer, there to break the coal,
Coal it came in big lumps, some from steam loco it was bowled,
For coal alone the big lump hammer, it was there reduce.
Best steam coal was hard and bright, cracked it down for use,

When we were young she'd lace our boots, bow she'd pull real tight,
They never came undone all day, right into the night,
Sewing did with button thread, no tear came open again,
And buttons only came off once, thread she used times ten.

With age her hands were not so nimble, feel it gradually went,
Knitting that she'd done all her life, on wool she no more spent,
Her skin and nails were without blemish, soft and pink they were,
But on grip she never lost her strength; she was the best mum ever.


When she sat down in the evening, mother would pick up her knitting, she could knit without looking and when we had our first television she could watch and knit at the same time. Jumpers hats gloves scarves socks( with socks she knit button thread along side the wool while knitting round the heels) she always had a good stock of wool. There seemed to be two stock colours, grey and fawn, other colours were bought for a specific jumper or sweater. When the need arose she would be darning socks, nowadays they get thrown and a new pair bought.

She liked to experiment with new patterns which she gleaned from her magazine, but mostly she only did the patterns up the front where it would be seen, then she could "bomb" on with the back and would produce a jumper in a week.

Mothers Weekly Magazine

Mother had weekly magazine, knitting patterns every week,
These she used to knit up the fronts, of our jumpers so to speak,
Some were cable some were ribbed, some were chequered squares,
Some were bobbles in a lump, couldn't buy anything that compares.

The wool she bought was in skeins, a dozen at a time,
This she got us to hold while she wound into balls like twine,
We held our hands out at full stretch, while she wound full tilt,
Arms would ache on the second one, then our arms would wilt.

Brother next in line was asked, turns we had to take,
Wool was grey, or fawn, or blue, for what she'd got to make,
Socks she knit one every night, jumpers took over a week,
Stitch the front and back together, sleeves to the arm holes tweak.

Started with the welt, the grippe bit round the waist,
Tested it on the one who it's for, half way round our hips she placed,
On up to the armpits, try it for length again,
Then the neck onto the shoulder, it was a blooming pain.

Next the socks they're mostly grey, started top welt round,
These were pulled up to our knee, and turned the top bit down,
Knit on down to the heel, measured it on our legs,
Three needles used on this job, pulled them on like stuck out pegs.

Heels we always wore out first, so in with the wool she knit,
Strong button thread along side the wool, in pattern this wasn't writ,
So when they did get bare and thin, she darned them time agen,
Then they were called our working socks, for us working men.

Sometimes when jumpers, got wore out up the front,
She would unpick the seams, and rewind a whole segment,
Then would knit again, into little gloves or woolly hat,
In winter balaclava, or scarves on many things she'd tat.

When we were young she'd knit and knit, no woollies bought at all,
As we left home she knit again, next generation when they were small,
Knit up to her seventies, when finger would not flex no more,
Big blow it was, she knit by feel, for old age yet, there is no cure.


Don't rule out working with your hands. It does not preclude using your head.
Andy Rooney (1919 --)

The Knackers' yard

For years there used to be a Knackers' yard in the next village, it being within our parish, where all dead and rotting carcases were taken for disposal or collected by their open topped wooden sided cattle wagon with its hand cranked winch. The aroma of the rendering and grinding of bones wafted down wind for miles, and as the village expanded bringing in new families they all banded together and eventually got it closed down.

It all started in a small way in a tin shed where skins were salted down and meat and bone ground and cooked and rendered into fertilizer, as motorized transport came in carcase's were collected from a wider area, then bones and skins collected from slaughter houses and butchers shops. As the expansion went on so the aroma increased and with a following wind it started to be smelt in the county town just over a mile away.

In the 1940's as tractors took over the shire horses started to became redundant and of coarse many were sent for slaughter. Every week they could be seen travelling with their heads way above the top of the wagon standing with their heads over the cab wind blowing their mane. The younger ones were not slaughtered but turned out into an adjacent field, where some of the fortunate ones would find a new home.

Originally carcases were collected by horse and specially adapted cart, and then turned to motor transport. This had open topped high wooden sides and tail boards. It had a pulley at the front of the box above the cab, the winch cable running down to a hand winch, it had two handles one for each side of the wagon for two men to wind heavy carcases  into the body of the vehicle. Not a lot of regulations back then, not even ear tags.

Around this time they started to clear hides bones and offal from butches shops and small slaughter houses,  this was done with a small two ton wagon with low side boards, (the equivalent now to the typical builders truck).

It always seemed be driven at speed when ever it was out through the villages and heading back to base over loaded with hides, heads, and other offal that had been stored for weeks (it seemed) before being picked up, it always left a trail of smelly juice dripping or running out of the back of the vehicle body.  On occasions the odd maggoty sheep's head or bones could be found on the side of the road having slipped of on the corners.

Latterly they erected a tower silo to hold the meat and bone meal fertilizer that they had produced for bulk collection by fertilizer companies, up to then it had all been always been bagged and stored to await collection.

However, the progress of house building and new folk coming into the village, the expansion of the factory way beyond its original size, even though they had tried to contain the smells by enclosing the manufacturing equipment emitted even more pungent smells and eventually forced to close.


The past is the only dead thing that smells sweet.   

Edward Thomson, Poems (1917) "Early one morning"