The Story of Heyford: The Canal Burst of 1939 V3C15

In October 1939, prolonged and heavy rainfall brought the canal level up dangerously high. A break of sixteen feet wide occurred on the Weedon bank, releasing 300 million gallons of water into an already swollen River Nene. The entire Nene valley became flooded and water levels rose into the villages. There has been periodic flooding in the village from time to time, eased to some extent by the culvert inserted in the mid 1980’s. But the recent flooding during the Easter of 1998 showed us again the damage that can he done. On each occasion it was Church Street that bore the brunt of the disaster as is illustrated in these photographs, all taken in 1939.

Watery Lane

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Church Street / Manor Walk

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Heyford Antiques (formerly Tops of Heyford)

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The Jubilee Hall

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 A view from the top of Church Street

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Extract from The Story of Heyford – Volume 3 of 4 – Pages 28 & 29

The Story of Heyford: Heyford’s Midwife V1C1

Anne ClarkeMrs Anne Clarke was a midwife in Heyford for forty years. Born around 1846, Miss Bateman as she then was took a nurses training course at St Thomas’ Hospital in London. She was sent to Heyford to recover from housemaid’s knee, where she met and married Thomas Clarke. He was a village man who worked at the old brickyard in Furnace Lane. They bought a little thatched cottage that used to stand on the corner of Church Street, opposite the little village green, and had nine children. Mrs Clarke later took an interest in midwifery and became the village midwife for forty years, and it is said that she was reluctant to give up even then.

Outside her house Mrs Clarke kept a long pole which was used to tap her bedroom window should she be needed in the night. She attended all confinements on her own and visited her patients daily for two weeks. One story suggests that she had two confinements at the same time, one at Upper Heyford and one at Upper Stowe, and a pony and trap had to rush her from one home to the other. She made one delivery on a boat on the canal. The next morning the boat had gone. She had to give evidence in court as the baby had not been registered. They later traced the family up north.

Mrs Clarke is remembered as always wearing a hat and shawl, carrying a black bag and a supply of candles and sheets, as some families lacked these necessities. She could be seen every day at noon with her little white jug fetching her half pint of stout (at a cost of 2d) from the pub ‘to keep her going’. Her charge for a confinement was 7/6d which could be paid in instalments of 9d at a time. As families were larger and closer then, it is possible that these instalments were a regular allowance in the family budget for a while.

She had a brother in America who regularly sent her a dollar note which was a great deal of money in those days. On her old age pension of 10/-she managed to fatten up a pig for the winter, pay 1/- for a bag of coal, and still manage her half pint a day!

Anne Clarke was a widow for a number of years and died during the 1939-45 war at the age of 95. Several of her descendants still live in Heyford and no doubt have heard many a tale of their grandmother or great-grandmother.

Shirley Collins

House

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Photos lent by: Mick Lilley

Extract from The Story of Heyford – Volume 1 of 4 – Pages 2 & 3

The Story of Heyford: Book series – Heyford’s Historical Heritage (Foreword)

It is mostly the towns and cities that have their histories recorded, but many Northamptonshire have published their records in various ways. Heyford too has a rich historical heritage, and this series of booklets is one way in which we can record some of our local past, both for our own interest, and for the benefit of our descendants.

Heyford was mentioned in the Domesday Survey as `Heiforde – 2 hides and 1 virgate of land’. The mill was also specifically mentioned, ‘rendering 16s’. But even before then the area had been occupied. The Romans were here as was evidenced by the remains of a roman building found in Horestone Field in 1699. Stone axes and flint scrapers have been found, suggesting that earlier peoples also settled in the area. The word `Heyford’ takes its name from either the old English word ‘heg’ meaning hedge or `haeg/hage’ meaning hay. Hence Heyford means either ‘the ford by the hedge’ or ‘the ford over which hay is carried’. The proximity to the river and the fertile land around it means that this has always been a good place for a settlement.

The Church was built in the early 1200s and the first rector was Ralph in 1216. In 1601 it acquired its first two bells. Nonconformists have been here too. During the 1700s there were Quakers living in the village. Then in the early 1800s the Methodist and Baptist chapels were built, both flourishing well into the twentieth century.

The village has been most fortunate in having had a school since 1674. It was endowed by William Bliss of London, a native of Heyford, and has ensured that for more than 300 years the children of Heyford have had the opportunity of a good basic education.

The digging of the canal in the 1790s and the opening of the railway in the 1830s brought new trade to the area. Towards the end of the 1800s the two furnaces were in operation, followed later by the brickworks. This meant that the Furnace Lane area between the canal and railway was a hive of industry. Trade in lime, coal, bricks and iron ore created a flourishing business community.

There have been many meeting places where the business and social life of the village has been conducted. Activities in the Manor House, the Rectory, the Jubilee Hall, the Old Sun and Foresters Arms, the Church and Chapel Rooms, the School Hall and the Village Hall have all played their part in shaping the evolution of our village.

The Green is another important focal point. It has played a central role in the village for as long as anyone can tell. It is very much a public place and has been used for fairs, fetes, sports days, football, cricket, and many other village events. It therefore breathes life into the village and is justifiably called `Heyford’s lung’.

During the 1960s the village changed its character enormously. It became transformed from a rural agricultural community with a stable, but ageing population, into a modern thriving community with good communications and many new faces. It still remains a wonderful place to live, with a rich heritage of which we can all be proud, and which it is our responsibility to preserve for future generations.

Memories of Nether Heyford: Joan Collins

What I Know And Remember About Nether Heyford.

(The memories of Joan Collins, and life at Wharf Farm)

I was born in Bugbrooke and moved to Nether Heyford when l married Reg, nearly 70 years ago. Reg was born in Nether Heyford, and as well as being a farmer, he worked on the Parish Council for nearly 30 years, and also became a District Councillor. One of the main features of the village is the very large village green, said by some to be the largest in England. This Green was purchased, together with other land, and a Schoolhouse, using money left to the village in the will of William Bliss in 1674, for that purpose. He had been brought up in Heyford, before becoming a London wine merchant.

Trustees of the Charity that was set up to administer the proceeds used the rental income from the land to pay for a schoolmaster and for the upkeep of the school. This is why the school is known as the ‘Bliss Charity Aided School’. The trustees of this charity, along with another one set up using a legacy in the will of Edmund Arnold (died 1689) may use part of the income from the charities to help “the poor children of poor persons of the town of Nether Heyford” to help with their apprenticeships, for tools, etc. The gift of the green to the village was made with the conditions “that there should not be a spade put into it, and that it should not be fenced in’. This is taken to mean that there should be no building or allotments on it. The area of the green extends to the Memorial Green and the piece of land behind the butchers and patisserie.

At the side of the main green there is an area that is known as ‘The Pound”, which also belongs to the Green. This is called The Pound because in days gone by, the cattle that were allowed to roam and graze the green at daytime, were rounded up at night and closed in the pound.

The estate known as “Rolfe Crescent’ used to be open fields owned by Mr John Radbume Adams. A stream, which rises near to the A5 on the easterly side of Furnace Lane, and goes into a culvert under the railway and the canal before emerging into the field. used to flow across the land of Mr. Adams before running behind the houses alongside the green. This stream then ran uncovered across the village Green and under the road into Watery Lane and on to the river. That is where the name Watery Lane came from.

Watercress used to grow along this stream. Similarly, the estate of Brookside was named due to its proximity to the same stream, or brook. Mr Wakefield Whitton owned land here, so when another small estate was built there, it was naturally named ‘Wakefield Way’.

Water also ran down from Stowe in a full stream, again under the railway and then under the canal, and on down the rear of the houses on the westerly side of Furnace Lane. It used to flow under the Weedon Road and down Church Street into the Manor, and on to the river. I suppose this is why our village is called “Hayford” as water used to run over the road before it was routed through a culvert there.

Manor Park was an estate belonging to the owners of the Manor, but a road used to run from Manor Walk, passing by the Manor House. across the fields to the coach bridge and on to Heyford Mill. Farmers would drive their horses and carts laden with corn along this lane to the mill. More recently, the fields at the rear of the Manor House were all built on, providing the homes in which some of you now live.

Middle Street, behind Mr. Denny’s house, used to be all open fields, but is now the site of Parsons Close, and other houses on that side of the road were all built on farm land belonging to the Manor, in the 1970′s, a bit before those in Manor Park. There was a footpath from the end of Middle Street that crossed the field to the river bridge leading to Upper Heyford. On the opposite side of Middle Street was a farm just below the “Olde Sun” where houses are now built.

Up Furnace Lane towards the A5, near the railway bridge, were ironstone Furnaces. One was on the land between Wharf Farm, Furnace Lane and the railway (LNWR, then LMS) line, and was known as Heyford Ironworks. operating in 1857. The other was diagonally across the railway where the Wickes site is. This one was known as Stowe Ironworks and was operating in 1866. Iron-ore was brought in by boat or rail from Stowe and other villages around.

The iron-ore excavated at Stowe Lodge was brought by a tram railway to feed the ironworks at these sites.

In its original form it was a narrow-gauge tramway which ran under the Watling Street (A5) near to the turning to Church Stowe, and then over a couple of fields to cross under the main LNW railway at a point about 1/4 mile west of the Furnace Lane bridge. it then went across one more field to be loaded into barges at the Grand Junction Canal. This tram-line was working pre-1863 and was one of the earliest and longest of the ironstone quarry lines at that time. The narrow gauge tramway was upgraded to a standard gauge line and elevated to link up with the mainline beside the Stowe Ironworks, probably before 1870. Iron ore could now be brought directly to the Stowe Ironworks, and be shunted across the main line into the Heyford Ironwork sidings. Therefore iron ore supplied directly from the Stowe quarries and other local quarries, was smelted into “Pig iron ingots’ and loaded originally onto horse and carts or canal boats to be taken away for further processing.

Through the railway bridge. the Stowe Ironworks site on the right changed hands several times. at one time being the home of the brickyard known as “The Stowe Tile and Brick Works’, where some of the finest bricks in England were made. At one time it may have been ‘The Lion Works” because an application was made to run “a tramway under the railway bridge into the Lion Companys Works’ (Feb. 1855). Apparently, the applicant didn’t wait for approval because there was “Indictment by the Queen” to be heard at the Northampton Summer Assizes of 1855 against John Judkins ‘for the nuisance on a highway in Nether Heyford – for laying iron tramrails on the highway, with an endorsement that the nuisance be abated’!

At this time the canal was one of the main means of transport, busy carrying iron ore and bricks, with the boats being pulled along by horses.

The building next to the canal bridge near Wharf Farm, which we used to use for cow sheds, has now been converted into a house. However, it was originally used for stabling these horses, and as the adjacent land is where the loading and unloading took place, the area was called “Heyford Wharf’.

There were many Public Houses in Nether Heyford, eight in all. There was one at the canal bridge, opposite the old stables, which was called ‘The Bricklayers Arms‘ and the house that I live in at Wharf Farm was another pub, known as ‘The Boat‘.

There were gravel pits in Heyford, at the back of Wakefield Way and Brookside Close, which were shown on some maps to contain Roman remains.

Returning to the village green, there is a now a Village Hall on the south side. There once was an Ox hovel where this hall is now, which belonged to Mr. Adams of Whitehall. This was demolished and our Village Hall was built using the voluntary labour of village people, and it was completed in May 1960. We are all proud of our hall and the lovely green, and the village as a whole. The green isn’t used as much for sport these days. There used to be football matches played on it. when local people would all tum out to support our team, and cricket matches when villagers would sit around the green on the seats to watch the play in hand.

The annual fair would come to the green at Harvest and was always known as “Heyford Feast”, and all the old village families would come back to meet up at it. l can remember the galloping horse roundabout, ’1d a ride‘, the coconut shy, hoopla and swing boats, etc.

Families were poor, money-wise, but happy with what they had. They grew their own vegetables, and kept hens. They would go gleaning at harvest time for food for the chickens, and would also keep a pig in the sty which would feed the family for a long time. This would provide lard for cooking, etc. and bacon on the wall to use all year round. When a pig was killed, it would be shared with neighbours who in tum would share theirs, when that was killed.

This all helped to make this a very friendly village. They were happy days and people weren’t so greedy for money. There were more poor people than rich ones, but it didn’t worry them that someone else had more than they did.

Happy Days.

Compiled by Joan Collins

Nether Heyford Baptist Chapel – About Us

Welcome to our Chapel as we celebrate 220 years of its existence. In 1799, a small group of Heyford people first met together regularly for worship in a building belonging to Mr Richard Adams and before that time they attended Castle Hill Chapel in Northampton. Later it seems in 1805, when a Baptist Chapel opened at Bugbrooke the Heyford folks walked or rode on horseback to attend services there.

In 1826 however in an era of industrial development in the village between the opening of the canal (1790’s) and the construction of the railway (1830’s) Baptists were able to establish a presence in Heyford and opened the Chapel here although the link with Bugbrooke remained and the Minister there had charge of both Chapels.

By 1839 there were 76 adults in membership. There were also 24 children and therefore a Sunday school was started. The growth continued and when the Jubilee was celebrated in 1876 over 120 children assembled for a hot dinner in Bliss School. Games were organised for the children in Mr Adam’s Orchard at the rear of the School and later an open air service was held on the Green.

In 1922 Mr Oliver Adams was instrumental in the building of the Schoolroom. The Cost was £838 whereas the Chapel in 1826 had cost £178.

Partly with the benefit of a legacy from Mr A T Cosford in 1962 the Heyford Chapel was able to consider a measure of rebuilding and, in calling a Part time Minister, became independent.

This was the beginning of the ministry of the Rev Harry Whittaker, better known for his work as the Founder Director of the Northamptonshire Association of Youth Clubs. Between then and 2003 there have only been three other ministers; Revd. Frank Lawes, Revd. Michael Jones and Revd. Roy Cave.

In 1963 the Methodist Chapel having opened in 1838, was suffering from dwindling numbers and had to close with its remaining few members transferring to the Baptist Chapel. The two stained glass windows which are at the front of our building were also moved from the Methodist Chapel along with a number of the pews and some panelling which was used to create a vestibule.

Serious Dry rot problems were found in 1984 in the Chapel which it seems were simultaneously affecting the Parish Church. This led to a number of united events in money raising activities.

In the absence of a Minister we are fortunate to have the services of a number of visiting preachers but in particular we are indebted to Mr Martin Buckby for his Ministerial and Pastoral help and his spiritual guidance which has been an inspiration to us all.

We remember with gratitude those who had the faith and vision to build this Chapel and those hundreds of faithful men and women who have kept our doors open for all these years.

2019

Heyford Amblers – April 2019

Heyford Amblers continue to meet once a month for their Sunday walk at a venue to be decided by a group member and every Tuesday for a short walk from the Village Green commencing at 10:30 am. New members are always welcome so if you fancy joining this group of highly tuned and sociable athletes, turn up and give it a try. On the Sunday walks, joining us just for lunch is entirely optional.

The next Sunday walk will take place on 14th April 2019 and will be organised by Tony and Gillian Pont. We will meet for a 10:30am start and park in the car park of The White Horse in Welton, near Daventry. The walk takes in Welton village; a short detour through the woods to the entrance to Braunston Tunnel; the Grand Union Canal; and the quiet Leicester branch of the Grand Union Canal to Norton Junction before we cross open countryside to return to The White Horse. The walk is just over 4.5 miles long and as we are walking next to waterways for much of the walk, almost entirely on the flat.

We have reserved a table for the group at The White Horse for 1:00pm. We will call the pub on Monday, 8th April, to give them some idea of exact numbers who will be lunching. Please let us know by e-mail (tonyandgillianpont@gmail.com) before then if you are joining the walk and staying for lunch. The pub offers an excellent range of beers, a choice of menu including vegetarian options and have said they will try and accommodate the whole group on one large table. Also, as we are lunching there we have permission to park in the pub car park.

Hope you can join us and fingers crossed for some decent weather.

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Heyford Amblers