In 1902 Liz and Barney West came to live at 14, the Square, “The Bell Inn”, it was thatched and had cobblestones at the front, the pavement didn’t come until the 50’s. There was a stable at the back, the mangers were still there up until 20 years ago. There was a wash-house with a big old copper in the corner and an open range as well, and just
outside the door a trough with a hole and bung in it for water. A well was just inside the door. Further up the back was a large shed in which all the coal and wood was kept, then to the left the toilet which consisted of a large and child’s bucket toilet side by side. After that the garden beyond the gate which stretched up to Barn House.
Liz and Barney had two sons Harry and Bert who were born and brought up there. Barney was a jockey and had ridden abroad as well as in this country, so quite a lot of the racing fraternity used to call. Barney really loved racing and even in his 70’s he went in the back of the horse box as a ‘lad’.
During the war years, what was then the Club Room upstairs (where they would cater for parties) was used for housing batmen from the Worcester Regiment (and Barney was originally from Worcester). During the war also the beer used to get sold out.
All the beer was drawn from the wood and the barrels were in the cellar, and although there was a bar, most of it was taken to the customers sitting in the “Top Room” or the “Tap Room”. Barney used to go up and down all evening from the cellar to the tap room. They used to play dominoes in the tap room, Tommy Deacon
(Tosh), Les Liddiard (Liddy), John Davis, Bill Murby, Basil Horn, Teddy Woolford to name a few. Some of Swindon Town F.C. 48/49 used to come for a pint, a couple were Maurice Jones and Frank Boulton. They were very good days, lots of people came and went. I don’t remember any trouble. Liz died in 1948 and son Bert, wife Bena, and grand-daughter Margaret came to live with him (Barney). In 1958 Ushers closed “The Bell”. Barney had been a licensee in the same pub for 56 years which made him the longest holder of one licence in the Marlborough Division.
After this the Bell became a private house. Bert West ran a building business there until he died, then his daughter and son-in-law (Ian Palmer) and children came there to live with Bena. Sadly she died a few years later but the family stayed there, it having been the family home for so long. Then in 1994 it was sold to Barnes Coaches and so ended our life with “The Bell”.
Margaret Palmer (writing in 2000)