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Appleby History > Memories > Reginald Eyre

Recollections of Life in Appleby in the Early 20th century

by Reginald Joseph Eyre

I am Reginald Joseph Eyre, I was born at the Smithy, Church Street, Appleby Magna on Good Friday, 6th April 1917.  My father was Frederick James Eyre, the Appleby village Blacksmith and my mother was Sarah.  My mother’s parents, Robert and Mary Booth, lived next door.  I was born the youngest of three children, my sister Winifred Mary was nine and my brother Charles Frederick William was seven 

My earliest memory was not a happy one.  It was the influenza epidemic of 1920 when I was three years old.  I can remember being the only person in the family on my feet.  My father, though unwell himself, was looking after the rest of the family including our grand parents.

My early education was at the village Church of England School that accommodated the infants and all the girls.  I can remember a redheaded teacher named Miss Woodward who lived in the village of Netherseal and later married our village butcher, Les Starbuck. She taught us to sing “London Bridge is falling down” which due to our poor diction became ”London britches falling down”.  We started school at four years of age and plunged immediately into meaningful lessons - “altogether now C A T spells cat”, and then we wrote it down on a wooden framed slate with a slate pencil.  If you lost your wiper the only way to erase your efforts was to spit on the slate and rub it with your jersey sleeve.  Of course if Miss Woodward saw you, then it was a rap across the knuckles with the ruler.

Three years in the infants then on to the village boy’s school.  The school was called the Grammar School because it was built as that in 1693-97 by the then Lord Mayor of London, Sir John Moore who was lord of the manor in Appleby Parva and principle landowner in the area.  The original design was by Sir Christopher Wren, but a distinguished local architect Sir William Wilson, whom Moore described as an “ingenious gentleman”, completed the work.  It served the boys from four local villages aged 8 to 14, the legal school leaving age at the time.  Here reined one William Riley, known to everyone as old Billy, a patriarch if ever there was one.  He taught all the classes with no assistance, no mean feat even then.

A word about Billy Riley would not go amiss at this juncture.  He was a wonderful man, a devout Christian, churchwarden, choirmaster, organist and an indefatigable charity worker.  He became a life governor of the Leicester Royal Infirmary in recognition of the work he had done on its behalf.  A friend to the entire village, always ready to find a shilling for anyone in need.  He always wore crepe-soled shoes.  During Billy Riley’s time at Appleby School, three small things stand out in my memory.  First, every St. Georges Day and every Empire Day two senior boys had to dig a hole in the school field and erect a flagpole, then after morning prayers everyone would go out on to the field and sing patriotic songs.  I can remember to this day the words of “God Bless the Prince of Wales” and “Jerusalem“.  Secondly there was the hunt, Billy was a keen follower of fox hunting and whenever the Atherstone hunt had a midweek meet in the Appleby area we would have the day off school.  This would also apply to the rest of the day after the patriotism.  Last was the day when the first Handley-Page airliner flew over the school and we all rushed out to watch it.

 Billy was a great friend of my father’s and in the absence of my bride’s father at our wedding in 1941 he gave her away and called it a great privilege and savoured the elderberry wine afterwards.

 Billy Riley retired when I was about nine years old and was succeeded by a gentleman named Clay, who I remember for two things; he had a cane permanently hanging on the blackboard and a small saucepan of coffee always on top of the stove.  Clay did not stay long at Appleby and was succeeded in turn by John Robinson who got me through my scholarship to Ashby Grammar School at the age of eleven.  I suppose this is what became known as the 11 plus in later years.  Each year two scholarships were awarded to boys at Appleby, one from the County Council and one from the Moores charity trust.  The boy with the highest pass marks in the exam got the county place and the second boy the Moores.  I got the Moores, being beaten by Harry Rowland the son of a local farmer and the headmistress of the village school at Snarestone.  The Moores was in practice the better because it carried a grant of twenty-five shillings per term towards transport to Ashby, which was five miles away. 

Of John Robinson’s time at Appleby probably the outstanding memory is the Minstrel shows.  Each year about a dozen boys who were the best singers were picked for the show.  Mrs. Robinson made for each participant minstrel suits, white cotton trousers and gaily-striped shirts with large bow ties.  We all sat an the stage and sang minstrel songs, played music on combs and paper, bazookas and bones, told jokes and recited poems for the most part written by Mrs. Robinson.  We wore burnt cork make-up with white lips and eye shadow.  The show ran for three nights and played to packed houses.  The entire village attended.  My last show was just after I left to go to Ashby.  Mr. Robinson who was leaving to go to Ringstead in Northamptonshire, took us all there to put on the show for the locals, the shape of things to come presumably.

 To get to Ashby Grammar School one had to catch the bus from the corner of Bowleys Lane at ten minutes past eight.  The bus was a “Royal Blue” owned by Charlie Moore of Measham.  The vehicles were Reo twenty-six seaters, petrol driven, with the driver seated inside the bus with the rest of us.  There were a number of drivers but the conductor was Staffy Lewis, a well-known figure around Measham and Charlie Moore’s father-in-law.  At the time of the early thirties slump, when his apprenticeship at Daimlers was over, my brother Charlie drove for the Royal Blue line and I had quite a few days out in the school holiday occupying a spare seat on trips to the seaside and the Blackpool illuminations.  Matlock also had its own illuminations in those days too.  It was a half-crown trip on a Saturday night. 

Boyhood memories are of course centred on life in the Blacksmith’s shop and around the village.  Horses were part of our lives.  Two or three would be in the yard at home every day, Shires and Carthorses, Cobs from the milk floats and bread carts and the high stepping Trotters that were the delight of both our local butchers.  There was intense competition between these two gentlemen as they both regularly competed in the area agricultural shows in the classes for the best turned out butchers outfit.  The vehicles were traditional high traps with van bodies, small about the size of a present day Mini, high wheels with rubber tyres and the driver sitting high on the top in his white overall, blue and white striped apron and boater with its gay hatband.  In times of severe frost with ice on the untarmacked roads, there were several of the milk float cobs in the yard before breakfast for frost nails.  These nails were something like small chisels that were used to replace the ordinary flat headed nails in the shoes to provide grip on the ice.

 Most of the milk from the village had to be taken to Snarestone station for the morning train to the dairy.  Other milk was collected by dray for the Swepstone dairy.  Edkins, an Austrey farmer contracted for this transport and the driver of the dray was Billy Hall whose brother John later became my brother in law.  The dray was a part double decked affair pulled by three horses abreast, Bonnie, Prince and Striver.  Three good horses, a rusty dray and a rotten driver.  Bonnie was the dam of the other two and ran in the shafts in the centre with her sons in the side chains.  The outfit probably carried thirty to forty seventeen-gallon milk churns and coming down the country lanes at a canter it was a pretty awesome sight to meet on a bike.  These horses were a cross between Carthorses and Carriage horses and could go at a fair lick especially when the churns were empty.  The noise of their passing was appalling.

 I earned many a copper, sixpence from Charlie Ward, for taking a horse back to a farm after shoeing.  A nice little earner in the school holidays, as it saved the farmer having his lad waiting at the shop for the horse.  Many school children worked on farms on Saturdays and during the school holidays, particularly at harvest time and haymaking. There was no silage making in those days as practically all winter feed for the animals was grown on the farms themselves.  All the farms were mixed; cattle, sheep and pigs combined with a proportion of arable crops, all the cereals together with turnips and mangolds for animal feed.  Hay was the principal diet for the cattle and sheep in winter months.  Milking cows were kept indoors during bad weather and the sheep were moved to sheltered pastures near the farmhouses where they could be fed to augment the sparse grass.

 For the young people helping with the hay was quite enjoyable, turning it and throwing it about to help with the drying process.  A sixpence to buy sweets on the way home was sufficient payment for a days larking about.  The corn harvest was harder work and only the bigger boys were allowed to help with stooking the sheaves.  They were of course no combine harvesters then.  Grass for hay was cut with flat bed mowing machines drawn by two horses and with a corn binder, a much heavier piece of equipment, drawn by three horses.  Possibly the most romantic picture of work on the farm is the binder making its way round the field with its three horses, its driver sitting high on the machine, the “sails” revolving, drawing the ripe corn into the blades of the knife and the boy riding astride the front horse to bring it back at the corners.  For about four years I rode the front horse for Parker Church Farm a coveted job among us lads as it paid a half a crown a day, cash in hand at knocking off time.  Harold Winter was waggoner at Church Farm in those days and rode the binder.  Many a time I’ve been told to get that lazy old bugger back quicker at the headland.  That lazy old bugger being Tommy, lots of farm horses seemed to be called Tommy, who probably knew the job better than I did, but  was not averse to stopping to grab a mouthful of wheat as we passed, which would of course warrant another mouthful of language from Harold.  The binder cut the corn, picked it up, tied it into sheaves and deposited it in neat rows down the field.  Rabbits lived in the corn and as the island of uncut crop got smaller and smaller they had to flee for their lives for the hedgerows, but the farmer, his sons and sometimes his wife were waiting for them with their guns, rabbits were part of the crop, but about half of them managed to escape.  If the shoot had been successful then there would be a couple of rabbits for me to take home.  In the summer the Parkers used to keep their horses in the field adjoining the cemetery and I had only to walk across the cemetery and call “Tomee” and he would come ambling over to say hello.

 Horses played a great part in my young life and I am still very fond of them.  The old adage says that a dog is man’s best friend.  Not so!  The horse has served man much better over the centuries than a dog ever could.  For over a thousand years the horse was the main mode of transport.  I can remember when there were only three motor lorries and one farm tractor in Appleby but hundreds of horses and carts.  Yet within twenty years every farmer had a least one tractor and kept only two horses for the lighter work.  The horse poles were taken off the mowing machines and binders and tractor tow bars substituted, and so no more half crowns for schoolboys.  I can remember Grandfather Booth’s horse, another Tommy.  He used to pull the cart used to fetch odd things from Snarestone Station for people in the village and take people in the trap to the station.  At the weekend my father used the trap to take us shopping in Ashby or Burton.  Many of the public houses and hotels in the towns had yards for vehicles and stables for horses.  The sign “Good Stabling” can still be seen painted on the walls of pubs in small country towns.  We used the Midland Hotel at Burton, the Royal at Ashby and the Prince of Wales at Tamworth.

 Tommy’s stable was next door to the blacksmiths shop in Church Street, later used by my parents to store paraffin and coke.  In the summer grazing was rented from Mr. Cotton who owned the farm immediately behind the Smithy.  Tommy was a reluctant worker and didn’t like to leave the field to go and pull the cart.  Granddad was unable to catch him because of his “gammy” leg so the job was delegated to one of us.  My mother and my sister Winnie were experts at horse catching.  Tommy loved his nice lush green grass but could not resist the temptation of a bowl of oats and a musical voice calling him.  His longest journey would have been to Brownhills, a distance of about twenty miles each way on an occasional Sunday, to visit my mother’s brother and his family. Whilst there, he would be stabled at the local pawnshop, conveniently opposite to their house.  In earlier years it would have been at the local council stables where my mother’s Uncle George was in charge of the horses kept ready to pull the fire engine. After my Grandfather died, Tommy was pensioned off and spent his remaining days at West Hill Farm kept by a friend of the family named Charlie Ward.  We would often see him doing odd jobs or running with the other horses in the fields adjoining the Austrey road.

 With the demise of the horse and trap my father bought a motorcycle and sidecar.  The first was an old JAP with a wickerwork sidecar.  As a small boy I sat on a stool between my mothers knees in the “chair”.  There was a primitive celluloid windscreen but if it rained the only protection was an umbrella.  The JAP was nothing to do with the Japanese but was, I believe, the initials of the engine maker.  If we were going shopping on a Saturday afternoon then the whole morning was spent getting the bike ready.  Later we graduated to a new Triumph and I was promoted to the pillion seat.  Again Ashby, Tamworth, my mothers favourite, or Burton were the venues.  The furthest journey I remember doing on the motor bike was to Stickney in Lincolnshire to visit my grandfather Booth’s sister, Aunt Annie.  Her husband was an engine driver on the old LNER line, taking the express trains between London and Edinburgh.  All engine drivers had to know their line and his stretch was between Grantham and London.  Another driver would do Grantham to Newcastle on Tyne and a third the last lap to Edinburgh.  They would each do a return journey on their stretch each day.  Good old steam trains of course.

 From Appleby to get the train we either had to go to Snarestone or Measham for the Burton to Nuneaton line, change at Moira for Ashby, or go to Tamworth for any longer journey.  Tamworth station was a cross roads, one set of platforms being above the other. The main London line, LMS to the north west, were on the lower level with expresses to Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow.  The Irish boat train to Hollyhead did not stop at Tamworth and there were cries of ‘stand well back please’ as it rushed through at reputedly close to 100 miles an hour.  This stretch of the main line ran dead straight for over seven miles and it was said that the Flying Scott broke the speed record along it in the 1930’s.  The crossing line was the Midlands Railways route from Derby to Birmingham via Burton and Lichfield.

 In the village the most popular form of transport was the bicycle. Everyone rode a bike, even my mother!!!  Children from the out lying farms went to school on their bikes from about the age of six.  Before that they would be taken to school by their mothers or by the farm boy on the milk float.  If they were rich, they would be taken in a “tub”, known in elevated circles as a “governess cart”.  Workers all used bicycles.

 In my early days Tom Pointon ran the local bike shop as a part time job, from the shed behind his parent’s house in Church Street,.  Tom left the village to live in Poleworth and my father took over the bikes.  I became very adept at mending punctures for which the charge was four pence, I got half.  There was never a big rush.  Everybody carried a puncture repair kit in their saddlebags as the country roads were not tarmacked and farmers didn’t always clear up too well after hedge cutting.  Tyres had to be robust and the most popular ones were Dunlop Roadsters that cost three shillings and sixpence each.  New Bikes ranged from about two pounds ten shillings upwards.  A Raleigh De-Luxe with oil-bath gear cases cost more than seven pounds.

 There were never any petrol pumps in Appleby, so where else should the sale of petrol and paraffin take place other than the Blacksmith’s Shop.  It then came in two-gallon cans and the minimum sale was half a gallon of petrol or a quart of paraffin decanted into measures.  Petrol cost 11d. for Russian oil products or 1s.3d.for Shell or B.P. per gallon.  It had to be stored underground in a steel tank in the back garden at least forty feet from any building.  There were then less than twenty motor vehicles in the village, not including motorbikes. Nearly all the younger miners had a motorbike.  Motor oil was dispensed from five-gallon drums and sold by the pint.

 The church played a great part in the life of country villages during the twenties and thirties.  The parson was a man to be respected and his wife was the unofficial social worker among the inhabitants.  Charles Thomas Moore, the last of the Moore’s to be directly connected with the village was the parson when I was a small boy.  He was a man who felt his station was as one of the gentility and preached the gospel according to the rich man in his castle as did many of his predecessors countrywide.  A good old Tory he preached their gospel at election time from the pulpit ‘six feet above criticism’ as the saying went.  He sent a letter to the Loughborough bell founders, John Taylor’s, when they were re-hanging the bells at the parish church telling them not to employ the local Blacksmith, my father, to make any bracket work “as he is not of our persuasion”. Unfortunately Taylor’s reply is not extant, but Dad had done lots of work for them in the past and did so on this occasion.  In the subscription list of the contributors to the fund for the work, F. J. Eyre is shown as contributing two shillings and sixpence, possibly all the profit he made out of the job.

 The family at that time attended the Baptist chapel in Church Street, my grandfather being one of the elders.  He was, I believe, one of the followers of the Particular Baptists who were a sect within the Baptist church.  He believed that to erect gravestones in the churchyard was to glorify the dead and that was contrary to the teaching of the Bible.  My father played the organ at the chapel.  Our allegiances to the non-conformists came to an end with the death of my Grandfather Booth and we reverted to my father’s religion of the Church of England.  In his youth he had been a chorister at Hoar Cross church in Staffordshire.

 Old parson Moore had by now retired and the Rev. D. J. Davies had replaced him.  The living had been until then in the gift of the Moore’s, but it was now sold to Mrs. Davies and remained in her possession until well after D.J. had gone to his Maker.  Billy Riley was the organist and choirmaster and I was recruited into the choir as soon as I was old enough.  Four times to church every Sunday, five at festivals like Christmas and Easter, twice on Christmas morning itself.  The parish church was full for any big occasion, particularly Harvest Festival when all the farmers turned up with their workers. Quite a lot of young farm workers lived at the farms in those days and going to the festival was a must.  I stayed in the choir until my voice broke but I still attended church with my mother until I left school and came to live in digs in Leicester.

 Appleby, like most country villages in the first half of the 20th century, had very little to offer young people in the way of work or social life.  The main employers were the farmers, the mines or the brickyards.  Locally for girls there was only domestic service in the farming households.  The two nearest towns offering employment were Ashby or Tamworth.  There was a modicum of shop work to be had in Measham and this is where my sister served an apprenticeship in drapery and women’s outfitting.  Ashby had a fair number of shops, banks, auctioneers and solicitors offices where some employment could be found.  Burton on Trent was larger and had much more to offer but was inaccessible to Appleby folk because of the lack of transport.

 For the men of the village there was little choice.  Farm work was the only local employment and that meant long hours and poor pay together with a seven day week. The mines or the brickyards were the only real alternative, mining being better paid and therefore the more popular.  There were four pits within easy reach, two at Measham and one each at Donisthorpe and Netherseal.  A small number of local men worked at the potteries at Moira and Swadlincote.  All these people cycled to work.  My two nieces both worked for a time at Moira pottery.  An average wage for a man in the thirties did not exceed £3 per week.

 The local pubs provided most of the social life of the village.  There were three pubs in Appleby Magna and a much livelier one in Appleby Parva, locally known as Overtown. Darts and dominoes were the games and at the weekends someone would play the piano.  A few whist drives and dances were held at the Grammar school during the winter months, mainly organised by Billy Riley to raise funds for the Leicester Royal Infirmary or the local church.  There were two annual events, a grand garden fete held in the grounds of the school in the summer and a visit of “Wakes” in September.  A travelling fair would set up its roundabout, swing boats and the like in Tunnadine’s field and stay there for a long weekend.  Good for the local blacksmith as the horses had to be shod and ironwork for the stall etc. repaired.

 At the Grammar school there was a reading room, billiard table, various board games, weekly magazines, most popular, and some books, all supervised by Mr. Riley.  It was open on Monday to Friday evenings for the young men of the village.  There was no such provision for the girls.

 I do not seem to have written much about my time at Ashby School.  It was a complete contrast to anything I had experienced before.  A school uniform of, grey short trousers, a maroon blazer, grey flannel shirt, a maroon and grey knitted tie and a proper cap.  The cap was maroon and grey in six segments with the school badge, the bull’s head from the coat of arms of the Hastings family.  The same badge was worn on the blazer. The school cap had to be worn at all times when out of school, even on days off if you were in the town.

 The school catered for about three hundred and fifty boys aged eleven to seventeen. About two thirds were fee paying, the rest were scholarship boys taken from west Leicestershire and south Derbyshire.  Although there was a school at Ashby from the 14th century the present establishment was set up by Henry Hastings, the third Earl of Huntingdon in 1567.  Dr. Levi Fox who was the head boy during most of my time there has written a wonderful history of the school.  There were about thirty boarders and the rest were dayboys.

 School hours varied greatly from those of the ordinary schools.  We assembled in the school hall at 9a.m., had prayers and then a hymn and then a homily from the “Boss”. The service book used was one suitable to both Anglicans and Catholics, but the Jewish boys, of which I can remember only half a dozen, were excused but had to join the rest for ‘notices’.

 Lessons started at 9.15, four in number until 12.30, lunch from then until 1.45, and we finished at 3.15.  There were no lessons on Wednesday afternoon, they were reserved for compulsory games, football, rugby, hockey and cross-country running in the winter, cricket and athletics in the summer.  We attended school on Saturday mornings 9am to 12.30.  On Saturday afternoon’s inter-school matches and steeplechases were held, so it was just like any other school day.

 Form sizes were between twenty-four and thirty, each had its own form room, although various lessons were taken in laboratories, art rooms, etc.  The masters always stayed with the same forms, so if you were IIIa you were “Dougie Goodwin”, if IVa you were “Jimmy Jones” and so on.  You probably only saw your own form master for two or three lessons a week and a couple of form meetings, the latter usually devoted to sport and inter-form competitions.  The school was divided into four or five “houses” named after the surrounding villages and boys were put into the house located nearest to their own home area.  There was great rivalry in inter-house sports and the like.

 To anyone coming from a village school there were many strange things to encounter. Maths at Appleby School was Arithmetic, but here we were introduced to Algebra and Geometry.  Dear old Pythagorus.  Then there were languages, French and Latin, also the sciences of Physics and Chemistry so far unheard of.  Perhaps the most enjoyable thing was to be introduced to real literature, to be set to read Dickens as a lesson rather than just writing bits of him down in dictation.

 Nearly all the masters were characters in themselves.  “Daddy” Marsh, Chemistry, all twenty stones of him, who rode a specially constructed bicycle in from Ravenstone each day.  Presumably for the exercise.  “Gammy Hill” almost as big but living nearer the school and presiding over the Physics lab.  Dear old Jimmy Jones, a Welsh tenor and music master who also organised the annual school concert at Ashby Town Hall.  A Gilbert and Sullivan enthusiast.  I spent many hours as a dainty little fairy, as a member of the chorus of Iolanthe or later a policeman bemoaning his lot.  Our artist was Mr. Burton, who in his spare time taught religious studies, and whose favourite punishment for inattention in either subject was to learn the twenty- third psalm and recite it to him after school outside the staff room.  I got to know it well and did miss my bus occasionally reciting it.  ”Pop” Bridges taught woodwork at both Ashby and Coalville Grammars, he certainly taught me how to cut a nifty joint or two, perhaps the most pleasurable period, a full one and a half hours a week.  Mention must be made of George Eckersley, perhaps my favourite teacher.  History was his subject and he could make any date sound interesting.  It was he who first introduced me to King Tutankhamen.  Because as well as being a historian he was also an archaeologist, and as Carter’s papers of his findings were being published at this time, we heard all about them.  Little did I think that sixty years later I would be standing in King Tut’s tomb.

 Punishments for wrong doing usually took the form of lines or in more severe cases detentions.  One hour on Thursday afternoons or for the worst transgressions, the whole of Saturday afternoon.  Thursday wasn’t too bad as you usually sat in the library and did your homework, but Saturday was usually a written essay on some obscure subject dreamed up on the spur of the moment by the duty master.

 English was perhaps the subject getting most emphasis from all the staff and no matter what the subject being taught orthography in writing and orthoepy in speaking, together with the ability to see and swiftly correct the split infinitive was of paramount importance.  During the whole of my time at Ashby F. A. Addison was the senior English master and he too was fond of giving sinners whole passages of verse to learn as punishment.  I can still recite about half of Scott’s “Lay of the Last Minstrel”   - The way was long, The wind was cold etc. but memory does not retain Byron’s “Childe” or Harold’s “Pilgrimage”. Geography was in the hands of “Sergeant” Woodward, who also took P.T.

 Perhaps a little more about life at the village Blacksmith shop would not go amiss.  Horse shoeing was of course the mainstay of the business, but the repair and maintenance of farm machinery was also part of the job.  Farmers were notorious for finding that their implements needed repair on the day that they wanted to start using them after they had stood idle outside in the face of the elements for the previous six months  Coulters and shell-boards on ploughs had to be re-laid, the tinge on harrows renewed.  All forge welding jobs for the blacksmith.  The biggest and heaviest jobs were on the farm wagons, new tyres, new axles or the turning gear on the haywains, all to be done yesterday.  

 reing was a special job and looked forward to by my pals and me.  The wheel was measured and the necessary length of iron cut, bent into a perfect circle and forge welded just slightly smaller than the wheel, then the fun begins.  The tyreing bench, a large table top affair made from disused railway sleepers, round and with radiating ribs, iron clad, was set up in the garden behind the blacksmith shop.  The tyre was put along side it on bricks, a fire of wood was made around it and us young stokers had to keep it going until the tyre was red hot. The tyre that would have expanded in the heat was then lifted with tyre dogs and placed over the wheel to be driven down by the smith and his assistants using four-pound hammers as quickly as possible. When the smith pronounced the tyre satisfactorily seated then came our turn with large watering can to run round cooling the tyre before it could set fire to the wheel.  This rapid cooling shrank the tyre onto the wheel and held it fast.  It was a poor tyre that needed nails to keep it in place except on special horse drawn barrows used to clean out farm ponds, which had to continually be in and out of water.

 The local wheelwright was Bert Gresley, who also doubled as the undertaker.  He made most of the farm carts and floats used by the village and the wheels we tyred were mostly those that he had made.  Cart wheels were made of three types of timber; elm was used for the hubs, ash for the spokes and oak for the fellows (the rims).  Elm would not split; ash was springy with straight grain and oak the hardest to take the roughness of the roads.  Old Bert had the reputation of going to the timber yard himself to choose every bit of timber he used, both for his wheels and for his coffins.

 Farm carts were tippers, exactly balanced and hinged above the axle.  So by pulling out a peg on the shaft of the body they could be tipped up by the waggoner just by putting his shoulder under the front of it, up she goes.  When Fowkes Brothers bought their first Ford motor lorry it did not tip, so they brought it along to the blacksmith shop to have it made to tip like a farm cart.  Ole man Fowkes did all the local haulage work for those who had no horse and cart of their own.  One example being the local miners, part of whose pay was a ton of free coal a month and Fowkes would fetch it for them, either from the colliery or from Snarestone station.  Our own coal and the breeze [washed small coke] for the forge arrived in twelve or fifteen ton trucks and was collected for my father by one of the farmers, usually Parker Duck Lake as he always owed us money and this was one way of recouping some of it.

 There was never a shortage of casual labour for busy times at the forge.  The miners worked a lot of short time in the late twenties and early thirties and were a versatile lot who could turn their hands to almost anything.  The original mine owners were the inventors of the three day week, so Thursday mornings often saw a knot of miners at the Blacksmiths shop to see if ”There’s owt wants doing Fred”.  If there were rusty sets of harrows in the yard the casual army were given a can of paraffin and a long handle spanner and set to work dismantling them.  Half a crown and a pint from the Adelaide (the pub next door to the forge) was about par pay for the job.  I can remember the coal strikes of the twenties and the hardship suffered by the miners, when to earn a shilling they would go and pick over the colliery tips to recover waste coal and push it back on their bikes to sell in the village.  Some of the mine owners didn’t allow this and had the miners prosecuted for stealing, which usually resulted in seven days spent in prison.

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