Aldbourne Heritage Centre

Q: What do you remember about your childhood? Which house were you born in in the village? Is it still around?

TB: You know up Castle Street. I was born over that side and we moved over the other side and then we went to Baydon Hillto Little Bethal, the little thatched one on the right going up, and then we finished up down there at No.6. Then I got married; used to come on up now and then, we had a cottage down in The Square and then Dr.Mills shifted us out to Lottage and we had ten years out there, and twenty two, three years here. The wife’s in Badbury Nursing Home, 5.1/2 year, fell down, she broke her hip, that was it. Last year we had our diamond wedding out at Badbury everybody mixed in, we had a marvellous time, our diamond wedding.

Q: When was that?

TB: 11th, last December, nearly got 61 now. We asked them would they mind if we had it in there and they said ‘no’ so we got together. We did our part and they got on with their part. And we had enough to do, the whole hospital, all the patients, and there were nearly 60 patients. And everybody had a drink and we left the drink around for the staff that come in at night so that they could have a drink, and everybody had a happy time.

Q: That was wonderful. So how many brothers and sisters did you have?

TB: Twelve.

Q: Twelve. I have a friend whose one of twelve.

TB: We’ve lost five of them. I’m the oldest left – I was the oldest of the boys.

Q: So where do you come in the family?

TB: Third, two girls then me.

Q: So how many are living still? Yourself and……………

TB: Well, I’ll count em up. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. My sister lives next door, Pam Puttick,, a sister in Barry, Roland’s at Axminster, Johnat Egbury, Tom up in the ‘Chase. And I’m here.

Q: And how many children did you have?

TB: Three; a boy and two girls.

Q: And are they living locally?

TB: Well, my youngest daughter lives at Wanborough and she’s nursing in Princess Margaret’s. Billlives at Shellingford, that’s close to Faringdon,  and Wendy, she’s down in Dorset. They all come here at Carnival. They went to Ipswich for a holiday and a car came up, mudguard hit me, broke me leg, broke me pelvis, broke me ribs, broke me jaw, broke me nose and they still waiting now for payout on the insurance. Yes, a girl of eighteen, put her right out over the hedge and in to the field. They never found one shoe of her, not to that day or this. That’s our family.

Q: So you went to school in the village school?

TB: Oh yes.

Q: Now what naughty things did you get up to?

TB: Now, now, that isn’t on is it? I had a school friend, Arthur Palmer, went to school with him, got into pranks, I won’t say any more of that.

Q: Well, I’ll turn it off, then you can tell me.

TB: Well, out at the back of the school we had a big wood yard. Well you know those little boxes – they had lids with private buckets in and when we knew the girls were going out we’d nip round the back, get a few stinging nettles …………………

Q: Oh yes, the boys used to do that to me.

TB: Oh did they? That’s a proper one that, for school isn’t it?

Q: We used to have a special day when we did that – Oak Apple Day. Supposedly when King Charles hid in the oak tree and if you didn’t have an oak leaf pinned on your coat, then the boys used to come and sting your legs with stinging nettles.

TB: We used to sting naked bottoms they opened the door and..oooh – they could never found out who was out there.

Q: You wicked……………

TB: Someone came up yesterday; You know me?, I said yes, I was always come and gone.

Q: Yes, that’s right. It was in the same place wasn’t it?

TB: No, it was the edge of the road. If you went up the lane you could go straight into the schooldoors. It’s now been set back – that was two cottages in there – two thatched cottages.  And  they pulled the cottages down and put the school back in onto that. But the small school, the little school. that’s still running by the top.

Q: They pulled a lot of houses down in Aldbourne. As I go round talking to people, you must remember cottages; I was told this morning up Castle Street, on the right. where the Woottons live, they used to be.

TB: That’s where I lived.

Q: Yes, they used to be little cottages.

TB: Yes, that’s right; there were four thatched – that’s where old Mrs. Eastmanlived and,  in the next one up there,  wood houses were right up the garden and she went up with the paraffin to light the copper, left the can in front of the fire hole that went up and burnt her house but, saved ours, saved the bottom four. Had the thatch off that one.

Q: So when was that? Do you remember approximately? How old were you then?

TB: Fourteen, I suppose; somewhere around then. Taking a lot of thought.

Q: And Jean also said that there are wells in the garden.

TB: Yes, that’s right.

Q: Did each cottage have a well?

TB: No, there was one to four; you had to walk round the road and into the garden, get our water and walk back again. Not that one, but one between the four in there.

Q: But it‘s in the Wootton’s garden – the remainder of it. It’s filled in.

TB:  That’s right. Jimmy Deacon, Billy Hawkins, who‘s next –  can’t think who was next door. We’re going back sometime.

Q: Now 88, so 1910 – born in 1910.

TB: Yes, I was born in 1910. You wouldn’t think there are two cottages under the Pondwould you?

Q: Under the Pond?

TB: In the old Pond.

Q: The old Pond – where do you mean by that?

TB: The old Pond, that Pond used to go right round over the wall, over the turnpike, right back round the pump and right back round that way. We used to walk up the stones under the water and get a damn good hiding because we got wet. Actually cottages pulled down at Dudmore Lodge, the Gentries, they had it. They took the cottages down and put them in to fill the big hole up. So there are two cottages in the Pond – not many people know that.

Q: Because Jean was talking to me this morning about living up in Windmill Cottages. Do you remember? – The windmill  had gone by the ………………….

TB: No, I can remember those cottages, the old framework and the millstones, they became the steps to the Millstones.

Q: Yes, they are. Into Chaddy’s.

TB: I don’t know who got it now.

Q: Yes, into Chaddy’s.

TB: Yes, Martin, the keeper for Wooland’sused to live in that cottage and the under-keeper lived in the next one. What do they call it ? Black Cat Cottage isn’t it?

Q: Fat Cat Cottage- Eddie and Stephen.

TB: People around here said “do you know what they’ve done – they’ve changed the name“.

Q: So there’d just be the Windmill and the two cottages at the top?

TB: Nothing else.

Q: When did Hales build their farmhouses? Do you remember that?

TB: I can remember that because I used to milkfor them – he used to get malaria and we used to live on the flat where Bob Hale does, just above,  and if ever I came down to put the old churn down, they would come down and say “Ted, could you go up and milk; he’s got it again”.  So I used to get up at 5 in the morning to and milk the cows and go up again.

Q: So they built the houses up at the top there?

TB: They only had, the one house up there, Charles’s; then Billwanted one so, they’ve built another one since.

Q: And there’s another one there , a new one, the girl whose husband was killed on the Swindon Road about two yeas ago. They’d only just moved in.

TB: She used to live down in the bungalow at the bottom of the hill?

Q: I don’t know where she used to live.

TB: That one who was knocked off his bike at the crossroads?

Q: No, no – he got killed in a car – he crashed his car just outside the village on the Swindon road.

TB: I got you – came round the bend too quick – I got you – there’ve been so many deaths up that road.

Q: Terrible. It’s very dangerous.

TB: You know where the sewergoes from your place up Windmill Close?

Q: It comes down into Lottage somewhere.

TB: You got it. They had to put it down in three steps, down the meadow. And Charliesaid “you can have the meadow to put the sewer down if you put the sewer on me“. So he had it put there and then I helped Charlie Castle build the cess pit outside the gate, just up the road.

Q: You know exactly where that is?

TB: Yes – it goes down under Jackie Pearce’s shed and then out through, down the back, onto the road. And then it comes right down.

Q: Yes, I knew it went down into Lottage.

TB: Is Mrs. Moneystill living there? That was another quick one, that one. That shouldn’t have been on there. Not that end one, not the house, but she was for Killick’s daughter. Killick, the Surveyor, when it was all pegged out, Killick said “I want one on that end if you can squeeze it in, Stacey“. And they moved the bottom lot along another one to get that one on the end. So that’s how that one comes on.

Q: Yes, because, the gardens where………………………you know Tom Port?

TB: No.

Q: He lives next door to where George Smithused to live and the next one to him – they’re very squished together.

TB: That’s right, they pushed them along, put that one that way, and that one that way, and there’s only one along there. That hid the insulation being put in between the brickwork it was put in between the brick layers, fibreglass sheets – they dropped it in, and then the water layer and then the insulation above that, right through

Q: And George Smith’s was the only one who had wooden floorboards because he insisted on that.

TB: He was an old baker from Stratton.

Q: He was super; I used to yarn with him over the garden fence and, after Beth died, I used to go and see him at least once a week when I was home at weekends to chat to him.

TB: He always said, if he had his breakfast, he was on his way. That’s about what we always say. He didn’t go hungry.

Q: No – I saw him that morning before I went off to school and when I came back home, Tom told me he had died.

TB: There’s a young man died up here recently – young farmer up Baydon. Farms up here, Southrop Farm, his brother died a couple of years ago and his father died of the same thing. And now he’s died. Cancer of the bone or something. Once he retired and Gwen, she had to wait on him for everything. He had a job to get about. They started that farm. Worked hard to get that. When I first started I got half a crown a week; two and six.

Q: And what did you start doing?

TB: Agriculture. Walked to Warren about 4 miles a day, two and six; Aldbourne Warren not Liddington Warren, Bland’s. And, when you had a birthday, it went up sixpence.

Q: And what sort of work were you doing on the farm?

TB: Anything – just general.

Q: And all, mostly by hand with horses.

TB: Yes, by hand – lots of horses. I can remember when the last oxen were used. I believe, if I can remember rightly, Harry Wootton and …………………had oxen in there.

Q: And that was at Warren Farm?

TB: Yes; and they ploughed with them. Funny – under the claw of their foot they had a little steel plate to stop their feet slipping on the road when they were working on the road. Harry Wootton and Arthur Watts. That’s Jean’s father and Watts – Nelly Watts lives up Whitley somewhere.

Q: Amazing to remember oxen being used.

TB: That’s the last time they were used.

Q: And you must remember the coming of the machinery. What did they get first?

TB: An old Fordson tractorwith the bouncy seat.

Q: I learnt to drive on one.

TB: The old Fordson, and then came up to the Ferguson; mind, first at the Warren they had an old spike wheel one – chain driven, one wheel in the front.

Q: And then – did they grow corn in those days? You had the threshing machines.

TB: I lost a toe – lost it in the thresher. We used to take shifts, on the cutting – on the ricks – changed round. Six of us – the engine driver and the five of us changed round.

Q: I worked on holidays in the chaff boxes, shifting the chaff out of the back end. What a job – and no masks or anything. Because I used to do farm work myself in my holidays. Because I was born in Lincolnshire.

TB: Lincolnshire potatoes.

Q: We used to have a special holiday for picking those up. October – we used to have three weeks ‘potato picking holiday’ and all the kids went in the field.

TB: Of course, in those days, you only had the binder pulled by the horses, two on the pull, one on the back.

Q: Well the binder bound up the sheaves and you stooked them up in the field.

TB: Yes, you had to get them stooked up in the field. Mind you, you had to mow all round the field before the binder could get in.

Q: Yes, with scythes

TB: Yes, well; talking about sharpening these, one incident, I was mowing the field at the back of the Hall, I had just sharpened the scythe up, went to pull the scythe round, and a kiddie spoke; could have cut a kiddies leg – couldn’t see her in the grass – could have cut both her legs off, that grass it was deep – she was Neil’s daughter – she was a tiny tot and had to bind right round     there, only a bit of bone and a bit of gristle. Could have pulled her round and had both legs off.

Q: Luckily you didn’t.

TB: All the same a few years ago, scythed the bit round the pond and that was all pumps down there. The carter went in to draw the water for the horses one morning and pulled a baby girl up in the bucket. That would be gypsiesthat put that there.

Q: That was just at the bottom here?

TB: Yes, just here.

Q: And do you remember the pump being used?

TB: Yes, both of them. That one round West Street got the sewer from Stacey’s Farm into it. Then they shut that one off. This other one, he was re-bored – not many years ago – they put down green sand so that’s alright.

Q: Yes, that alright; you can drink out of that one.

TB: Yes.

Q: But all the others – the wells in the village – all the wells , you said one to four had wells and that water was clean enough to drink .

TB: Yes, it was lovely water.

Q: Yes, I was brought up on well water.

TB: There’s nothing like it – all these insecticides they’re putting on the fields and all the spraying; they keep blaming us, cut it all out and go back as we were. I mean, I’ve been alright.

Q: I mean, you’ve been. Did you run the animals on the land to fertilize it?

TB: Yes, and when there were dung carting, the old carter used to go up the row and every five strides put one down and spread that round even. And that was ploughed in. When I worked at Warren, spread dung, worked with sheep and cattle

Q: So you worked on the farm all your life, did you?

TB: Oh no, I went back on the traction stuff and finished up for ten, fifteen years baking.

Q: So you were one of the famous Aldbourne bakers?

TB: Yes.

Q: Where were you baking?

TB: At Oxford House, whatever they call it – with Wally Palmer.

Q: I didn’t realise that.

TB: I was the last baker of the six. The Wiltshire Lard Cakes. Dr. Mills used to come in “Ted”, “How many”? “Six” – “Where to?” “Devon”: “Twelve” – “Scotland”. “What time?” “Eight in the morning”. Used to get them all ready for him and pack them. My daughter went into a bakers down there the other week and asked what cakes he’d get. He said he had a good Lardy cake. Don’t you tell my Dad that, he’ll break your neck, Wiltshire Lardy.

Q: Beautiful, my father used to love them.

TB: There was only 4 loaves in then – if you did anymore you got the dough back up out. On a Friday, we used to do around about 90 before we put any bread in the oven, then put some in and I’d go off to breakfast and start again.

Q: So what time did you finish?

TB: When you could.

Q: Long hard days, weren’t they? And when did you stop baking?

TB: Wally will tell you, Wally Palmer, when we finished.

Q: I think it was before I came. ‘70 I came. I don’t remember a baker in the village.

TB: Oh, yes – Yes we had six, Ivor Hawkins, Nancy Hawkinswas born in that shop near to the Bishop, Frank Wilson came out of the First World War and opened that one, Bert  Stacey was already open – where Alsop’s where, they’ve just converted the petrol pumps to a shop. Freddy Palmer then was on the bottom of the Green. Old Wally came to me the other day and said “Can you remember what was in that shop when we left ?” “Yes, the electric people. They sold kettles and irons and that sort of thing”. And when they pulled out, then Ern Barrett came back into baking again on that one. And old Jimmy Chapman up on the Green, he had one, he used to make a bit of bread and bake a lot of faggots. That was another one. He wasn’t counted as a baker.

Q: That’s interesting. Now what else can I ask you about? Did you go to war?

TB: No – I was in the Fire Service- twenty five years in there.

Q: Where did you serve?

TB: In the village. We had Adam and Eve; as you know they’re in the Church. Then they brought one from Stratton which Charlie Hale converted into a wagon. We had …when we had to get about they used to pull us with an Austin van with a power pump in there. That enabled us to get to where we wanted to. And now we’ve got nothing.

Q: Have to come from Ramsbury.

TB: That should have been us: My friend’s father was head of the crew at Marlborough. And that just pipped us. If we’d had one year longer than that – what was it? 1878, 1788. Got on the fire station. That used to be a fire station – the next week it was a police station. I think, if I can remember rightly, when I talk about that fire up in Castle Street. You remember the crew came over, pair of grays in the manual pump and that’s when they had one and ever since we ain’t. Round the back of our place we picked up a load and went right through.

Q: How efficient were Adam and Eve to put a fire out?

TB: They were very good, but they had to be pumped.

Q: How many people? Two on each side?

TB: About four on that one – when we had the next one, from Stratton, we had six on the side. That was a manual pump.

Q: Yes, you had to keep going.

TB: And you had to keep going carrying the buckets. They did one down this side and then one down that side. Then poor old Adam and Eve started leaking and they wouldn’t fix it any more, so that was that. The last time we had Eve out was down at a competition in Swindon on the Recreation Ground. That took the wind out of you.

Q: Yes, I bet it did – jolly hard work.

TB: Oh, we had some bad fires in the village. You know where the racing stables were in Aldbourne. That was a brood mare – mares and foals – they reckon somebody set fire to the stall shed. That went ‘swoosh’ and the whole lot went. The mares were let out and they would go over the butchers – they were pulling the pigs out – the bacon fizzling on them, killing them with a carving knife.. Poor old mares were screaming, that were left in there. Ken Greaves was in charge of the pig house then, he slept on the other side, slept through the lot. And he never woke. Old Mr. Harris on the other side of the Green, he had a studio – he was a photographer and the thatch went up, he got out there with buckets of water and sprayed it with a garden syringe and saved his.

Q: Kept it wet. Yes. Because, if it was straw it would be going everywhere.

TB: Yes, we’ve had some bad fires in the village.

Q: But, in your day that you can remember where else burned

TB: Arthur Smith’s farm – where Central Engines were about before Iris Ferry coming – come by and set fire to the thatch, people were walking about eating roast chicken. And that travelled down,  there right up over the Butts. Thatched shed up by where Captain Davies used to live, it came right down over there. Right up on top was a thatched shed and that came from there right to West Street and set fire to that. So they had firemen in from Marlborough – from the Pond you need to allow six minutes with a pump on that – might as well say six hours, that’s the one where you have the spring in the bottom. And they run their hoses through the Rectory, out the back gate and across the field and go up that way. From the Pond, right up to there. Major pumps would put it up – that saved much, that saved Duck Cottage, a whole lot would have gone.

Q: Do you remember the one in Pond House- in about the 60’s when Dot and Sam Walls were in the paper shop?

TB: I should do.

Q: And there was a fire in there, in Pond House.?

TB: Was that Steven Everettin there then?

Q: Well it might have been Johnny Morris or just after him.

TB: I can remember Johnny living there – before that he lived in Whitley Cottageand Desmond Hawkins used to live there before he did. Desmond Hawkins was in there. Johnny was thick with them and that’s how he got onto the broadcast.

Q: But Dot Walls said that they were worried because, originally, Pond House and the paper shop house were all one.

TB: They came under one top – it went right through.

Q: And the loft is communal space. There’s no partitions. Only they were worried because they’d got a whole stack of fireworks, ready for Bonfire Night, and they thought they were going to celebrate Bonfire early.

TB: They had one at the Old Butcher’s shop, Arthur Liddiard lived there then. In the old Butchers Shop, on The Green. We’d been fighting this in cattle, all the meat was frizzling and when we got up in the roof there was about a thousand rounds of ammunition, cartridges and about three hundred weight of sugar; during the War – when we shouldn’t have had it, see. Our men could have been blown to pieces.

Q: The sugar would have.

TB: We didn’t half get out a bit quick. A thousand 12 bore cartridges and 6 hundredweight of sugar – very dangerous.

Q: And that would have gone – it’s very hot when it is liquid.

TB: I pumped Adam and Eve and I pumped Stratton and I had another one. That was easy, you just load up and went.