The Story of Heyford: The train crash of 1951 V3C3

At about 11.20 am on the 21st September 1951, the 8.20 am Liverpool Express to London came off the track at the Stowe Hill Tunnel near Heyford and tipped over in the embankment. The crash killed eight people and another seven died later in hospital. There were also thirty-six other casualties.

David Blagrove, in his book, “Waterways of Northampton” describes how “the railway can be seen plunging into Stowe Hill Tunnel” and it was here that the train, “hauled by the Duchess class Pacific engine, Princess Arthur of Connaught, left the rails shortly after leaving the tunnel at a speed of between sixty and sixty-five miles an hour.”

Engine 46207 Princess Arthur of Connaught

Photo taken by James Banner and lent by Ted Garrett

A prompt response
Frank Denny, the Heyford signal man that day, was the first to realise what happened. His signal box was located about a quarter of a mile from the railway bridge in Furnace Lane, along the stretch of line between Heyford and Bugbrooke. As the signalman, Frank was aware that the train had entered the tunnel from Weedon but he became anxious when it did not reappear. As he looked out of his box, he saw steam rising from the embankment near Tanborough Farm.

Frank instinctively knew something was wrong and realised that his first priority was to halt the Royal Scot which was travelling from London and due to pass at any moment. He therefore rang through to the Banbury Lane signal box at Bugbrooke to get the signal switched to stop. This duly happened the Royal Scot came to a halt near his own box. The driver got out to demand “what the hell is going on.” It was due to Frank’s swift response that a much more serious accident was averted.

MBE
At the same time, Mrs Cecily Hughes, the doctor’s wife at Weedon, took a call from the Weedon Stationmaster to say that the Liverpool Express had failed to clear his section of the line. He asked if she and her husband, Dr Stephen Hughes, would take a look. So far, that was all that anyone knew.

The couple set off in their car, armed with first aid that they always carried. They arrived at the tunnel within seven minutes of the accident. Mrs Hughes describes how they found nothing at the tunnel entrance so they climbed up over the hill – to be greeted by the sight of the crash strewn along the line.

The rescue operation

Photo taken by James Banner and lent by Ted Garrett

The first four coaches were the most damaged and contained the dead and badly injured. The doctor took one side of the train and his wife the other, clearing the debris in order to reach casualties. Mrs Hughes recalls how “Everyone was calm and patient. The last two carriages had not even left the rails and were still upright. They were full of boys returning to boarding school and one of the senior boys took charge, leading the others away from the scene and back to Weedon, to the Globe Inn.”

The doctors found the engine driver, Mr Tomlin, buried up to his shoulders in coal from the tender. It took a while to dig him out but he was quite unhurt, as was the train’s fireman who had clung to the cab as the engine tipped over.

After attending to all the serious casualties, Dr and Mrs Hughes returned to Weedon, only to find that many more people, including some of the rescuers, were waiting for treatment for minor cuts and bruises.

As some of the first medics on the scene, the contribution made by the Hughes’s was invaluable. Mrs Hughes was later awarded the MBE for her part in the rescue operation. She was reluctant to accept at first, as there were also others who had helped at the crash site and she felt that she was only doing her job. However, Mrs Hughes was described as “heroine of the morning” and duly received her medal.

Witnesses
Several Witness also came forward including a bus driver on the A5 who saw the immediate aftermath of the accident and reported it at Weedon station. It was also very fortunate that a police car happened to be passing the scene along Watling Street as it was one of only two police cars fitted with a radio in the entire county. They were able to summon medical help promptly.

Mr George Richardson of London Was driving along the A5 at the time and said: “I saw the train come out of the tunnel and begin to wobble.”

This “wobbling” and lurching was felt by passengers too. One survivor, Mr Blankfield of Liverpool, explained, “I was in a carriage half-way along the train . . . there were four or five jolts and then the train stopped completely.” He described how he and other passengers immediately climbed out of the windows to help others further along the train.

The damage

Photo taken by James Banner and lent by Ted Garrett

Local help
For local people in Heyford who worked near the railway, the sound of trains was a familiar one and you could tell exactly the time of day by the individual noise of each train that passed. When the crash occurred, Mr Gray of Tanborough Farm apparently thought that his wife had knocked over the dresser. But after that, apart from the hissing of the engine, there was an eerie silence.

Word quickly got around and people went up to help. Amongst the first on the scene were Reg and Joan Collins of Wharf Farm. They provided milk churns so that water could be carried up the hill to the casualties. There was no shortage of volunteers to take the churns but at the end of the day. Reg. had to go round and collect them all back again in his tractor and trailer in time for the evening milking.

Joan had to cycle down to Mrs Blaney at the Post Office with messages to be telegrammed to relatives. At this time, there was only the one phone with one public line out of the village. The officials did their telephoning from Holly Lodge which had one of the few phones in Heyford.

Ted Garrett was booking clerk at Weedon Station that day. When the crash happened, communications between Weedon and Heyford were suddenly lost, so they knew that something was amiss. In fact, as the train was thrown from the track, it had brought down the telegraph poles and cut all contact. A message finally arrived at Weedon via Roade Station that there had indeed been a crash. Ted Garrett was given charge to inform the army located at Weedon Depot and ask them to help at the crash site.

Frank Smith arrived with the Daventry ambulance and took the first casualties to Northampton General. He was actually on his second trip to the hospital by the time other ambulances appeared. Then the army from Weedon arrived to help. As they appeared over the hill, people recalled that it looked as though they were on manoeuvres.

Retired district nurse, Miss Raynor – over 70 years of age – walked two miles from Weedon to the crash site with a case of medical supplies. The Salvation Army and the W.V.S. set up mobile canteens and were there all day. The women from the Heyford railway cottages brought up hot tea for the survivors and people also brought blankets and sheets. The sheets were torn up to make bandages and the blankets kept the survivors warm. These were, of course, not returned but compensation was later given to those who had provided them.

The curse of the tunnel
The crash was reported in the national media and was news on the BBC Home Service. Local papers were full of the story; Northampton’s Chronicle and Echo carried the banner headline “8 KILLED IN WEEDON TRAIN CRASH” although this figure was unfortunately to rise. The Daventry paper went further and wondered if there was a more sinister aspect to Stowe Hill Tunnel. The paper reported that at the same spot in 1915 there had been another fatal train crash.

There were similarities between the two railway accidents. Both occurred about the same time of year with trains that had left at the same time in the morning. On 14th August 1915, the Irish Mail left Euston at 8.30 am and it too was disrailed; this time as it left the tunnel at the Weedon end heading north. The crash killed nine and injured 13 and many of those on board were troops in service during World War One.

However, despite the comparisons, the crash of 1915 was caused by a broken coupling left by a passing train. The coupling had ploughed into the track and so dislodged the oncoming mail train.

Board of Trade
In both crashes, the stretch of line was not found to be at fault. In 1951, the investigation by the Board of Trade was led by Lieutenant-Colonel G.R.S. Wilson. He concluded that the engine (number 46207 for train buffs) had an axle incorrectly fitted after its servicing at Crewe. The axle was slightly too tight, enough to cause a problem when it reached Stowe Hill Tunnel. There is a small change in rail type leading in and out of the tunnel (from flat bottom to bull head track) and, with the axle too tight, the Express dislodged when it went over these rails. The service engineer responsible at Crewe was named but, this being the 50’s and not the 90’s, there was no huge compensation claim or court case.

The engine itself had embedded in the soft clay around Stowe Hill and actually suffered little damage. However, it took almost a month before it could be lifted because of the steep ditch of the embankment. The engine had to be lifted out by a crane and villagers can remember its massive size as it was hauled into the air. It was then towed back to Crewe and was running again within six weeks. Driver Tomlin actually drove the Liverpool Express one more time to London, but never again after that.

By Sarah Croutear. A number of people have contributed to this story but we must give particular thanks to Joan Collins, Ted Garrett, Cecily Hughes and Doris Lovell, Frank Denny’s daughter.

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Added 2020:

British Pathe News

24/09/1951 – Many Killed In Train Wreck – A train crash kills several people and injures many more in Weedon

British Movietone News

24/09/1951 – Tragedy occurred aboard the Liverpool-London express train recently, when it crashed at Weedon, Northants., The locomotive plunging down an embankment, derailing all fifteen coaches. It is feared that, at least, seven people were killed and many more injured.

The Illustrated London News

September 29th 1951

Britain From Above

Wreckage of the 8.20am Express Service from Liverpool to Euston (46207 Princess Arthur of Connaught) on the section of track along from the Stowehill Tunnel (the Weedon Rail Crash), Nether Heyford, 1951
LMS Princess Royal Class No 46207 Princess Arthur of Connaught
LMS Princess Royal 6207 “Princess Arthur of Connaught”

https://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/en/image/EAW040105

No. 6207, A Study in Steel (1935) LMS

Shot and produced in 1935 this film details the construction of Princess Royal Class no. 6207 ‘Princess Arthur of Connaught’, from raw materials to complete locomotive.

Ministry of Transport Crash Report

Report on the Derailment which occurred on 21st September 1951 near Weedon in the London Midland Region British Railways

“The 8.20 a.m. Up express passenger train from Liverpool to Euston, comprising 15 bogie coaches hauled by a Pacific type engine, was travelling at 60-65 m.p.h. on the leaving transition of a left handed curve of about 50 chains radius, when the leading bogie wheels of the engine were derailed to the right ; the cause was an engine defect. The derailment was not noticed by the enginemen at this stage and the train continued forward at speed for more than £¾ mile on the straight without serious damage to the flat bottom track. No more wheels were derailed until the train reached the bull head rails just beyond the short Stowe Hill tunnel, when the leading bogie wheels began to smash the chairs and break up the track with the result that the whole of the train left the rails except for the last two vehicles.

The engine went down the 12 ft. embankment to the left, and fell on its left hand side: on soft ground. The wreckage of the coaches at the front of the train was severe, and I regret to state that seven passengers and one of the dining car staff were killed outright and seven passengers died subsequently in hospital. In addition, 26 passengers, the engine driver, and nine members of the dining car staff were admitted to hospital, or 36 persons in all, of whom 15 were discharged on the same day, and 25 others sustained minor injuries or shock. The driver, who was on the left hand side of the footplate, had a fortunate escape from serious injury when he was buried in coal from the tender as the engine overturned ; the fireman clung to the right hand side of the cab and was unhurt.

The wreckage of the eight leading coaches was piled behind and alongside the overturned engine across both the tracks. It was seen by the signalman at Heyford box 950 yards ahead when he heard the noise of the final derailment, and he stopped the approaching Down “Royal Scot” express at his outer home signal at 11.19 am., and afterwards drew it forward to the box. The block and telephone wires northward were severed, but the signalman got a message through to the Control via Blisworth, the next junction box to the south. Medical and other assistance was also summoned from all possible sources by some officers of the Metropolitan Police who had seen the wreckage from their car on the neighbouring main road. The Northamptonshire County Police were quickly on the scene and performed outstanding services in co-ordinating the work of rescue.”

Magazine Article

Jez Wilson – Updates added September 2020

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Extract from “The Story of Heyford” – Local book series published in the late 1990’s

Volume 3 of 4 | Chapter 3 of 17 | Page 4 to 7

TheStoryOfHeyford_NetherHeyford_Footer

Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

Index  |  Covers

The Story of Heyford (Extra): Furnace Lane Bomb – John Butcher

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The copy of the local paper dated May 1952 does not give a very accurate account of what actually happened. My friend Robin Ellis (a Daventry Grammar School boy who was taking Chemistry lessons) believed that the powder inside the shells that littered the wood at Stowe could be used to make fireworks. We were not picking primroses as the article stated. We visited the woods and carried home in our cycle bags 6 bombs which we believed were dud.

We then took them into Mr Ellis’s garden shed at 19 Furnace Lane and proceeded to dismantle them. Robin then discovered that the detonator in one shell (Mortar bomb) had not been used. The pin however had fallen out and could not be found so we substituted it with a wood screw. We then decided to see if the detonator would go off ignoring the fact that if it did the bomb would also explode. We threw the bomb out of the door about 4 feet away from where we stood. It exploded making a hole in the ground about 4 foot round and 4 foot deep. The resulting noise being heard in Northampton. The shrapnel from the bomb split the chestnut fencing and went through Mr Denny’s (the next door neighbour) Greenhouse.

However Rob and I were unhurt and our first thought was to fill in the hole before his Dad returned from work. Before we could complete this though many men from the village arrived in the garden and we were both escorted into our homes by our mothers.

The local press arrived and interviewed our mothers and the attached cutting was the result. My mother was accused of bribing the press to change my name but I was very disappointed not to have my correct name in print.

The next day the army arrived and dug out the hole in the garden. What did they find? A piece of mortar bomb with a wood screw through it. This was the first of Rob’s and mine 9 lives.

John Butcher – December 2019

The Story of Heyford (Extra): Growing Up in Heyford – John Butcher

I was born on Nov 18th 1937 at 15 Furnace Lane, or as my mother always called it Stowe Lane. Our house was built in 1934 by Denny and Sons and for whom my father worked as a carpenter.

I remember little of my early years other than playing with my friend, Norman Denny who lived next door. Apparently my mother used to allow a young girl from the village to walk me out in my pram, she had special needs and it seems a man attempted to rape her. She was sent to Berry Wood (St Crispins) where she remained for the rest of her life, about sixty years. I don’t think anyone from the village ever visited her!

Another of my very early memories was of my father holding me up at the bedroom window to show me Coventry burning and of hearing German planes flying overhead. In June 1942 my brother David was born and because of medical problems he had to have an operation. He remained in hospital for many weeks and my mother had to visit the hospital every day to feed him, so I was sent to live with my grandparents at Caldecote near Towcester. Since I was the only child in the household I was thoroughly spoilt and given the sweet rations of all the adults in the family. It is no wonder then that when I eventually returned to Heyford to start school I was not very happy about it and of course was no longer an only child. On my first day at school I was taken by Daf Thompson (Holtham) because my mother was still pre-occupied with my brother.

At this time my father was working in London and Coventry repairing war damage. He was unable to do military service because of deafness. At the end of the war he was eligible for a large bonus, but he refused it saying it was his contribution to the war in which many of his friends had suffered.

I attended Sunday school as did most of us in the village at that time and each Sunday was given a penny for the collection. However, most of us put a half penny in the collection and used the other halfpenny for an ice cream on the way home. Sunday morning was the time for slaughtering pigs in the village and there was always competition for the pig’s bladders which the butcher threw over the wall, and if you should wonder why, a pig’s bladder makes a great football.

They were happy days which consisted of going to school, playing sports on the green, playing in the brook that ran at the bottom of the field behind my house and cycling around the local villages. Sometimes I would cycle to Banbury with my other good friend, Robin Ellis, we always bought Banbury cakes home to prove that we had actually been there.

I remember V J day September 1945 very clearly. My father was playing in a celebration football match on the village green. In those days, chickens roamed freely on the green and making themselves dust baths. During the match the ball landed in one of the dust baths and unbeknown to my father when he went to kick the ball he hit the side of the dust bath instead, resulting in the bone in his leg snapping, the sound of which was heard all over the green.

When I was 10 we had a new headmaster at Heyford school, Mr Woods, he made drastic changes to the school and the village. He introduced a school uniform and changed the attitude of the village. We were to become the best village school in the county winning most competitions from sport to gardening as well as in the field of education. Two of our pupils, Norman Freeman and Eileen Garrett were selected to represent England in the junior Olympics. Mr Woods together with Mr Wilkinson started the Heyford Boy Scouts and later I became the leader of Peewit Patrol. We often camped at the stone quarry in Stowe and at Brockhall travelling on foot and carrying our tent etc on Denny’s 2 wheel builders cart, quite a journey uphill to Stowe. We once camped at Compton Verney but that time we travelled by bus. Also camping there was a troop of Girl Guides who Mr Woods warned us not to get involved with. However, he did agree that we should dig their latrines about which we were not very happy. We did as instructed, well not quite, instead of 18” wide, we dug them at 30”, quite a stretch for the girls, that was our protest. The estate was overrun with rabbits so on the first night I decided to set some snares and actually caught 3 rabbit’s, but Mr Woods was not happy, accused me of poaching and told me to bury them.

I remember well the winter of 1947 when the whole village was snowed in and the Grand Union canal was frozen. Coal was normally delivered to Mr West by barge so there was an acute shortage. We were rationed to one sack of coal and I remember going up Weedon Road with my parents to collect it by sledge.

At the age of 11 we all took the exam to get into Daventry Grammar School, I failed. However, some time later we were given a second chance which involved an interview with some of the teachers, this I failed too. Some weeks later I was on a train to Peterborough to run in the 440 yards representing South Northants at the East Midlands School competition. One of the teachers who had interviewed me was on the train, he asked ”haven’t I met you recently?” I said yes you interviewed me for a place at Daventry School, but I failed. He said then why didn’t you tell me that you could run? My education could have been completely different.

It was around this time that I had three narrow escapes from death. The first was when I sledged down Furnace Lane and went underneath a lorry which was travelling from Weedon to Bugbrooke. I went under behind the front wheels and came out the other side just before the rear wheels. Next was when my friend Robin Ellis and I exploded a mortar bomb which we had found in Stowe wood (details of this are in an old copy of The Prattler). The next lucky escape took place at Heyford mill which was no longer in use. One day, together with a group of other village boys we started to hoist ourselves up the mill floors on the chain which had previously been used to lift the corn sacks to the top floor. I had my feet in the chain and pulled on a rope that operated the lift, however, as my head went through a trapdoor in the floor, I lost my grip on the rope and was left hanging by my neck in the trapdoor. Fortunately, after a few seconds I managed to find the rope and am still here to tell the tale.

Another tale involving the mill started at a jumble sale at the school. I was sitting in a large armchair and when the time came for it to be sold I bid one shilling expecting others to bid higher. It was knocked down to me and thus I became the owner of a chair that I didn’t want. After the sale, a lady who had just moved into the mill asked if she could buy it from me. I was relieved and gave it to her for nothing and offered to carry it down to the mill for her. My offer might have been influenced by the fact that she had two pretty daughters about my age.

Guy Fawkes night was always celebrated with a large bonfire on the green. We boys would collect the wood from Crow Lane and drag it down to the village. If we were lucky sometimes we would stop a passing truck and ask them to tow it to the green for us. We saved our money to buy fireworks and had great fun throwing Jumping Jacks at the girls.

Another event that remains fixed in my mind occurred in Stowe. In those days children were allowed time off from school to help in the potato fields. We boys together with many ladies of the village were collected in an old army lorry with a tailboard held up by hooks and chains. I think it was Mrs Sargent who jumped from the lorry and landed just in front of me, minus her ring finger which had been ripped from her hand and remained on the hook of the tailboard together with her wedding ring. I swore on that day I would never ever wear a ring.

At the age of 15 I started on a two year O level course at Northampton Tech and along with two other boys we decided during our Easter holiday we would cycle to Scotland. I started out from Heyford and met them in Northampton. After 2 days we arrived in Redcar where we stayed overnight with an aunt of one of the boys. Next morning, they told me that they had decided not to continue but if I wanted they would wait for me for 2 days in Redcar. It was agreed and I continued to the Scottish border and back. Of course, they were fresh as daisies having had two days of rest but for me it was another two days of cycling to return home. I said goodbye to the boys in Northampton and travelled home only to find that my house was locked and empty.

I walked back out into the road to be met by Mrs Eales who told me how sorry she was to heat about my dad. Of course, I knew nothing about what had happened. She told me that he had had a very serious motorbike accident and was in Northampton general hospital and my mother had gone to stay with her parents at Caldecote. I got back on my bike and cycled the longest six miles of all. My father remained in hospital for many weeks and never did recover completely.

When I was 17, I decided I would like to become a Fleet Air Arm pilot, I had big ambitions and went for a medical only to be told that although I was tall enough, my legs were too short. It was after that I decided that I would like to join the Merchant Navy as a marine engineer, even though I had never even seen a big merchant ship. I gained an interview with Shell Tankers and was offered a four and a half year apprenticeship. This was to be 2 years at college in London, 18 months at sea as a cadet and then 1 year working in the shipyards. All was signed up and I left Heyford for the first time returning once a month since my father had agreed to pay my rail fare. I lived in London on a wage of £2.12 shillings a week out of which I had to pay for my food and accommodation etc.

I returned to live in Heyford after 7 years, but that story is for another day.

John Butcher – December 2019

The Story of Heyford: Nether Heyford Women’s Institute V4C1

One day in 1930 three ladies were walking back to their homes in Nether Heyford. They  had been attending the monthly meeting of the Women’s Institute in Bugbrooke, where they had been members for three years. They were Mrs J.O. dams, mother of Mr Hugh Adams, Mrs Punch, and Mrs George. As they walked along the quiet lane they discussed the formation of a W.I. in Nether Heyford, and Mrs Adams volunteered to see the County Secretary at W.I. House in Northampton. When the required ten ladies had been gathered together, the foundation papers were signed – with nervously shaking hands – in November 1930.

The Programme from 1938

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TheStoryOfHeyford-NetherHeyford_W1_P3The early years
Mrs Adams was the first President and Mrs George the Secretary. Their meetings were held in the school where Mrs Carrington, the Headmaster’s Wife, supplied the hot water to make the tea. Cups and saucers were loaned by the Baptist Chapel, carried over in a clothes basket and then washed up before their return. The activities were varied, speakers on subjects of interest to countrywomen, competitions of all kinds, and classes on old-time dancing and keep fit. Subscriptions were 2/6d which though seeming a small amount, was about on a par with those paid today.

A link was formed with a W.l. in Queensland, Australia, and members found much interest in exchanging news and views with an organisation on the other side of the world. During the War, parcels were gratefully received by members, in particular those containing soap, which was in very short supply. Another link nearer home, and in more recent days, was formed With Delapre Townswomens Guild. This continued for many years into the 1980s, with enjoyable get-togethers and exchange of ideas.

For many years meetings were held in the Baptist Chapel Schoolroom, but quite early on the W.I. had an ambition to have its own hall, so a Building Fund was established and money-raising events of all kinds began, including a garden party at the Manor house, then occupied by Mrs Shiel (Vice-Chairman at the time). The sum of £100 was raised, but the W.l. Hall was not to be and the money was eventually passed on to the committee set up to establish a Village Hall. This was eventually completed in 1960 on ground that had belonged to Mr Adams, With the help of village volunteers from all walks of life.

TheStoryOfHeyford-NetherHeyford_W1_P4

Wide ranging activities
The activities of the Institute are far—reaching. The subjects of our speakers and demonstrators are extremely varied. “Jam”? Yes, why not? And pickles, cakes, and grub of all kinds. Not to mention handicrafts, art, gardens, games and sport, local and family history, wild life and conservation, public speaking. “Jerusalem”? Well, no, not these days at our local meetings, though it is always sung with gusto at county and national events.

An annual produce show, open to all village residents, started in 1969, still continues in 1999, and creates much interest and fun.

Teams from our W.I. have done well in general knowledge quizzes run by the County Federation. In 1968 Mrs Judy Ward, Mrs Sheila Masters and daughter Hilary were the winners, and in 1994 we triumphed again, this time with Mrs Hyde, Mrs Essery and Mrs Joan Wright joining Mrs Masters.

For many years W.I. members have helped at the Blood Donors Clinic which is set up in the Village Hall twice a year. We serve the donors with the welcome tea and biscuits after they have given their life-saving blood.

Fund raising is a perennial occupation for all village organisations, and the W.I. is no exception. As well as making sure that we cover all our own expenses – speakers, hall fees, etc – these days we concentrate on raising funds for the Village Hall, now our regular and familiar meeting place. Money-making events include antiques evenings, occasional lunches (appropriately called ‘Nosh and Natter’) where senior citizens enjoy good food and good company, concerts (with, of course, nosh) and a stall (selling, of course, home—made nosh) at the annual Village Hall Fete, at which members have been known to dress up in weird and wonderful array — St Trinian’s and the Mad Hatters Tea Party are amongst the more memorable.

In the wider world our members take part in County Federation events. There is a tree planted in our name in Brixworth Country Park. Each year we discuss and vote on resolutions to be brought up at the National General Meetings, the results of which are passed to Governments, so that our W.I. plays an integral, if small, part in bringing subjects of importance to government attention, and action has been taken in many areas from these. Every few years we send a delegate to represent our W.I. and several others, and their reports are heard with great interest.

Canadian origins
All this started, not in England’s green and pleasant land, but in a small Canadian town called Stoney Creek, where a farmer’s wife, Mrs Hoodless, lost a child and realised that this was happening far too often to women of her generation owing to ignorance of simple health and hygiene rules. She made it her life’s work to help educate women so that they could have happy and healthy families. And on 19th February 1897 the first W.I. in the world was inaugurated at Stoney Creek.

The movement came to Britain in 1915 – the first W.I. being formed in Llanfairpwll in Anglesey, and the national Federation was established in 1917. One can scarcely believe that in those days it was difficult to find the 2/- (10p) subscription and to obtain the husband’s permission to attend meetings. However the enthusiasm of those early members surmounted all obstacles, and while the emphasis was on skills for country living, their horizons were immensely widened. I suppose it would be called ‘empowerment’ these days. Women who would have said they ‘couldn’t do anything,’ suddenly found that they could hold a meeting together, speak in public, demonstrate their skills and share their experiences. Many members have increased their skills and developed their talents at Denman College, the W.I.’s own Adult Education College in Oxfordshire. Opened in 1948 and named after Lady Denham, the first National Chairman, it offers courses to members on anything from painting to philosophy, from lace-making to local government, opening to women whole new worlds.

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Seventy years and still going strong
Nether Heyford W.I. has passed its Silver, Golden and Diamond jubilees, and our ‘70th’, whatever that is called, comes up in the year 2000. It would take too much time and space to enumerate all the fine personalities who have graced our membership down the years. But we remember with pride some of those who have gone from us. Mrs Adams, the first and longest serving president – twenty-two years non stop. Mrs George, founder member and long time secretary and president. Mrs Nora Humphrey and Mrs Lou Garrett (later Robinson), both stalwart members and both serving as treasurer for many years. Mrs Ellen (Nen) Blaney, enthusiastic and generous-hearted member, Mrs Hilda Chapman, long serving secretary, instigator and for years the organiser of our produce show. Mrs Eve Gothard, County Committee member and enthusiast for our overseas connections. And Mrs Nellie Clements, willing, skillful, tireless committee worker, the kind of member who is the backbone of our movement.

Back in 1897, Canadian women chose for their motto, ‘For home and country’, and despite all the changes and modern improvements that have taken place down the century, it is difficult to think of a phrase that more closely reflects the purpose of the Women’s Institute movement.

Sheila Masters (with the help of Maureen Wright, and other members)

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Extract from “The Story of Heyford” – Local book series published in the late 1990’s

Volume 4 of 4 | Chapter 1 of 8 | Pages 2 to 6TheStoryOfHeyford_NetherHeyford_Footer

Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

Index  |  Covers

The Story of Heyford: The Manor House 1947-1956 V4C6

The Manor House 1947-1956

Volume 2 in our series of booklets included the story of the Manor House, but there were some gaps in the post war period.

The Story of Heyford: Heyford Manor and the Manor House V2C5

Since the publication of the original story in Volume 2, some more information has come to light. The words below, written by Julie Rands-Allen, fill in those missing years.

After the billeting of soldiers in the Manor House and other uses for the war effort, it was difficult to know who occupied it in the forties and fifties. But by a chance encounter between Bill Needham and one of the occupants at that time, we find that it was owned by Mr and Mrs Colonel Reid from 1947 to approximately 1956.

When they were there, there were only two servants and an ‘odd man’ (as Mrs Reid describes him). This ‘odd man’ had a bed sitting room by the back door (which is now in the front of the house) being a basement, which in the old days, was the servants’ hall. He was responsible for numerous chores, one of which was bringing in the wood which fuelled the aga. At that time the side door (now the East Wing’s front door) opened out on to a magnificent rose garden and the garden wall ran right along to the Denny’s. The staircase was, according to Mrs Reid, listed and is still I believe the original in situ.

Mrs Reid and her husband brought up three children in the delightful surroundings of the Manor. But developers were harassing the Reids even then to sell part of their land. However they flatly refused to part with any, with the exception of land to Mr Denny to build the houses along the Green between the Foresters and the school. As Mrs Reid said, they had road frontage and would not be too intrusive. She is understandably horrified at what has happened since.

The lawns of the manor went down to the Nene and it was here that Colonel Reid used to practice his ‘shout’, for in 1953 he commanded the Trooping of the Colour. Old photographs from Mrs Reid’s family album show the Colonel in full regalia commanding the regiment for this spectacular event and others show Colonel Reid in his official capacity at the State Funeral of George VI.

In these heady days – almost the last of the Manor being used as it was originally intended – the family holidayed in St Moritz and enjoyed an era that has hitherto disappeared. But unlike previous occupants, Mrs Reid was an excellent cook taking an active part in the running of the household.

She now lives at The Glebe House in Marston St Lawrence – a magnificent old house which has also stood the test of time and enjoys the companionship of just one ‘absolute gem’ who helps her with the work involved in the up-keep of such a place.

Julie Rands-Allen

~~

Extract from “The Story of Heyford” – Local book series published in the late 1990’s

Volume 4 of 4 | Chapter 6 of 8 | Pages 27

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Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

Index  |  Covers

The Story of Heyford: Heyford at the Turn of the Century V4C3

The Census return of 1891

The details from Census Returns are not made available to the public until they are one hundred years old so the one most recently available to us is that of 1891. An analysis of this gives us a pretty good idea of what life in the village was like at the turn of the century.

The houses and people

The details below tell us about the number of houses, people and canal boats.

Lower Heyford

  • 164 houses inhabited, 28 uninhabited
  • 750 people, 365 males and 385 females
  • 7 canal boats with 23 people on board

Upper Heyford

  • 22 houses inhabited, 7 uninhabited
  • 96 people, 41 males and 55 females

The houses listed as uninhabited were either vacant because the occupants were away on the night of the census, or more likely because they were uninhabitable.

A number of the families listed in the 1891 Census have continued to live in the area throughout the century: Names such as Adams, Charville, Clarke, Collins, Denny, Eales, Faulkner, Foster, Furniss, Garrett, Kingston, and Masters are still well known in the village today.

In those days street names were generally not used and there were certainly no house numbers. However several specific buildings are mentioned in the census.

NetherHeyfordTurnofCentury_StoryofHeyford1 copy

Working life

The occupations listed in the census also give some insight into working life in the village. Here is a breakdown into the main types of occupation.

Farming. The census lists 2 farmers, 2 flour millers, 1 milkman, 3 shepherds, 1 tractor engine driver and 26 agricultural labourers.

Building. 1 builder, 1 plasterer, 1 stonemason, 3 bricklayers and 7 carpenters.

Boot and shoe making. 5 shoemakers, 2 shoe rivetters, 1 boot and shoe finisher.

Other trades. 1 tailor, 2 lacemakers, 11 dressmakers, 2 blacksmiths, 1 harness maker, 1 wheelwright, 1 gunmaker, 3 boatbuilders, 1 organ builder.

Dealers. 1 butcher, 2 bakers, 3 coal merchants, 1 timber merchant, 1 corn merchant, 1 draper, 2 carriers, and 5 publicans, beer sellers and innkeepers.

Blast furnaces. These were the biggest single employers in the village with 1 blast furnace foreman, 2 blast furnace engine drivers, 2 stationary drivers, 1 engine fitter, 2 ironstone labourers, 1 weighboy, and 28 labourers.

Brickworks. 16 brickyard labourers.

Railway. 1 railway engine driver, 1 goods shed labourer, 1 engine fitter, 1 telegraph clerk, 3 signalmen and 4 platelayers.

Domestic and educational. 1 schoolmaster, 2 school mistresses, 1 clerk, 1 governess, 14 housemaids and domestic servants, 2 grooms, 1 nurse girl, 3 laundresses, 1 midwife.

Other. 28 general labourers.

The village as it appeared in 1900NetherHeyfordTurnofCentury_StoryofHeyford2

The memories of Bob Browning (1892-1997)

Many of the details in the remainder of this chapter came from information given by Bob Browning to Stephen Ferneyhough on Tuesday 9th April 1996. Bob Browning was born in August 1892 and died in March 1997, aged 104. He was one of two brothers and four sisters all born in Nether Heyford. The story of this family appeared in Volume 2 of this series of booklets. All lived well into their nineties (94, 96, 98, 99, 101, 104) and Bob was the last and oldest surviving member of the family.

I visited him in his room at Bethany Homestead in Northampton. He was smartly dressed in a suit and tie. He greeted me with a handshake and made me feel very welcome by telling the nurse that I was a very good friend of his. He was very lively, interested in anything historical and was very glad to pass on anything he could for the interest of future generations. He lived in the village until he moved to Northampton in 1922, and most of the memories below are from that period.

Everyday life in Heyford

Life for most people was a matter of survival and self-sufficiency. The days were long, money was scarce and life was simple. Most families had an allotment and grew most of their own vegetable needs. After work in the light evenings, this was one of the main activities.

Most families kept hens. At harvest time the children went ‘gleaning’, that is picking up any remaining ears of corn to feed to the chickens. If a hen went broody, you’d put a dozen eggs under her in the spring time and so continue the supply of chickens and eggs.

Most people also kept a pig, usually in the backyard but sometimes on the allotment. The straw from the pigsty Was tipped onto the allotment, and the vegetable waste from the kitchen was fed to the pig. The boys went collecting acorns for the pigs in the autumn which they could sell for a tanner a bagful. The pigs were killed and butchered in the autumn to give a winter supply of meat. This was usually done by the butcher Ted Capel, and later by his son jack. The butcher went to the home or allotment to kill the pig. The meat was salted, and then laid in trays or hung in nets in the living room or hallway.

There were several farmers in the village producing milk. They delivered the milk, which was unpasteurised, each day in large cans. They had pint and half-pint measures which they filled and tipped into the jugs of the housewives who bought it. During the war there were shortages of anything that they couldn’t grow themselves. Sugar was rationed to half a pound a week. Butter was scarce and margarine became more common. However, they made a kind of butter by leaving the milk to stand overnight so that the cream came to the surface. By scooping it off and shaking it up they were able to make a sort of butter to use as a treat at the weekend.

There were two orchards in the village. john Barker had the one owned by the school behind Church Street. There was also Ben’s Orchard in Middle Street. This had a wall all around it, but it didn’t keep the boys out. They went scrumping for apples and pears in the autumn and stored them under the eaves the hayricks which were thatched for protection against the rain. They would always know the right time to retrieve them before the farmer came to dismantle the ricks. Nowadays there are no orchards, but the boys go garden hopping instead… presumably to get the same sense of excitement.

Lack of services

There was no sanitation, just an outside toilet. Some of these still exist in village as tool sheds or stores. but most have gone. The toilet would be emptied around once a week, usually onto the allotment. Sometime before the first world war the cart started coming. Two men employed by the council brought a two-wheeled cart pulled by horse to collect the toilet contents. It was then taken away for disposal. It had only two wheels to allow it to tip for emptying.

There was no gas or electricity. Gas came to the village just before the first world war via the Bugbrooke gasworks. Electricity didn’t come until after the second war. For light there were candles and oil lamps. For cooking there was a range with an open fire. On one side was a boiler for heating water and on the other side a small oven for baking cakes. You could divert the flames and heat to one or the other. On Sundays the wife would cook the vegetables, but the joint and yorkshire puddings were usually taken to one of the bakers for cooking while the family was at church or chapel. The main bakery for this was the one in Furnace Lane run by Wesley Faulkner. Most people had a bath once a week, often on Friday. Each house had a tin bath. The water for the bath was heated in the copper in the kitchen over an open fire. The fires were fuelled mostly by coal. There was a ready supply of coal to the village which came by canal. The Eales family who ran the post office kept a coal yard. Tom Dunkley at the Bricklayers Arms beside the canal also had a coalyard. He made deliveries by cart from which people would buy; enough to last the week.

The water supply consisted of four taps and many wells. There were four public taps in the village. One outside the jubilee Hall, one opposite the school outside Dennys house, one on the wall in Church Lane, and one near the Church rooms. A lot of the houses had wells, all supplied by the many springs in the area. The wells were dug two or three feet wide, five or six feet deep, and brick lined. The water was obtained by means of a bucket and rope. Later after the first war it became common to fit a handpump to the well.

The top of Church Street in 1913NetherHeyfordTurnofCentury_StoryofHeyford3This photograph, lent by Bob Smith, was taken in 1913 and shows a view from the top of Church Street. In the distance can be seen a small group of cottages, since demolished.

The homes

Most of the houses were of stone (either limestone or sandstone) with thatched roofs and stone slabs for flooring. Some of the older ones like the tinsmith forge opposite the war memorial had mud walls. But many of the newer houses built late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were of brick and slate with red quarry floor tiles. There was a brickworks in Furnace Lane where Wickes now is, but again the canal brought a ready supply of both brick and slate into the village. The owners of Flore Lane Wharf were dealers in brick and slate.

Inside the homes, most walls were plastered. This was made with a mixture of sand and lime. There were two good sandpits in Furnace Lane and there were a number of lime kilns along the canal which supplied slaked lime.

Church Street – the working heart of the village 

In those days there were no street names or numbers. It was just ‘Barkers yard’ or ‘Tandy’s place’. Everybody knew who everybody was and where they lived.

The stone and thatch house behind the war memorial known as ‘the Springs’ was a laundry owned by a family called Smith. Sometime before the first world war the laundry was closed and the house was taken over by the Ward family.

In front of ‘the Springs’ was the Jubilee Hall. An article on this appeared in volume one of this series of booklets.

On the site of the jitty opposite the war memorial was a tinsmith forge. The path of the jitty then ran further to the left and came out beside the house known as ‘the Springs’. The forge was made of mud walls but became derelict and was demolished in 1920 when the New School house was built.

The small building to the right of the jitty which housed ‘Tops the Hairdressers’, and more recently ‘Heyford Antiques’ was built by William Browning, (Bob’s father) as a haberdashery and material business. Bob grandparents, Mr and Mrs Alfred Marsh (maternal side) lived next door.

To the right of this is a small three bedroomed cottage where the six Browning children were born and grew up. Behind these buildings was a saw pit and builders yard.

Next door is the house known as Tandy’s place. There used to be a right of way here through the yard to the jitty. Before Tandy was there it was occupied by a man named Gammage who ran a boot and shoe business. He married into the Faulkner family but later moved his business into Northampton. After he left it was taken over by Mr Tandy who made only heels and soles. He bought scraps from the leather factories and cut them up with special knives, building them up in layers to make heels and soles which were then sold on to shoe factories. After Mr Tandy left, it was occupied by a man named Williams who kept three or four cows and supplied milk to the village.

Further down Church Street, where the road turns sharply to the left, the red brick building on the inside of that corner was a bakehouse. It was owned by Thomas Faulkner who also ran the Methodist chapel for around 50 years until his death in 1940. He lived opposite in the stone and thatch building known as Ash Tree Cottage.

To the right of Ash Tree Cottage are some black doors. Here there used to be a blacksmith. The building belonged to the Faulkner family but the forge was used only once a week by Mr Green who came over from Flore. Later on it was Edward Wright who came (Bob Browning’s father in law). It was closed sometime before the second world war.

To the left of Ash Tree Cottage is Capel Cottage. so called because it was where a butchers business was run by the Capel family for three generations. Firstly by Ted before the first world war, then later by his son Jack. Most of the pigs in the village were slaughtered by the Capels.

Just around the corner was a small wheelwright shop run by Mr Foster. He learned his trade as an apprentice sponsored by the Arnold charity. The main local wheelwright was in Flore.

Further down Church Street, round the corner, almost opposite the Church is a stone, brick and thatch house that was a shop selling sweets, general groceries and beer. It was run by Mrs Oliver. Her husband worked on the roads (building and repairing).

Two views of Church Street

NetherHeyfordTurnofCentury_StoryofHeyford4This view of Church Street at the corner of Manor Walk shows Manor Cottage and Capell Cottage. The lady in the picture is Mrs David Browning.

NetherHeyfordTurnofCentury_StoryofHeyford5This picture above shows the row of cottages between the two bends in Church Street. The ones at the far end have since been demolished. 

Stephen Ferneyhough

~~

Extract from “The Story of Heyford” – Local book series published in the late 1990’s

Volume 4 of 4 | Chapter 3 of 8 | Pages 12 to 17

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The Story of Heyford: Heyford Manor and the Manor House V2C5

In DESIRABLE FREEHOLD ESTATE
Consisting of The
MANOR or REPUTED MANOR
of
HEYFORD
Stone—Built Mansion or Manor House
with
Suitable Offices, Stabling, Gardens etc.
And
Sundry Eligible Farms with their Suitable Buildings
And
528A. 2R. 28P. of uncommon rich Arable, Meadow
Pasture and Wood Land
Let to Tenants on Leases which will expire at Lady Day next, at very low Old Rents (the Wood Lands in Hand included) of
FIVE HUNDRED AND NINETY~NINE POUNDS

These are how the Particulars and Conditions of Sale read on Thursday, February 2nd, 1792 at the Auction held by Mr Christie at his Great Room in Pall Mall. At that time a Fee Farm Rent, payable to the King was 3s. 4d, Land Tax for the whole of the Estate was £54.16s.0d and various Tithes to be paid meant total outgoings of ,£112.6s.9d. Part of the outgoings included an Annual Payment of £20 to the Hospital at Northampton, “out of which £4 is allowed in Land Tax”. The actual Manor House was much smaller than it is now — the East and West Wings came at the turn of the Century and the small ‘Garden House’ at the back, although keeping the original frontage and downstairs room complete with large stone fireplace, was added to as late as 1982.

The early estate

The original Manor House was at Upper Heyford and the remains of its foundations can still be seen. This was the Manor House of the Mauntells and Morgans, Prestons and Herbert Marquis of Powis and is supposed to have stood in the field called the Upper Park. John Mauntell of Heyford, descended from Michael Mauntell of ‘Rode’ married Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of John Lumley (also reputed to be of Heyford) and ‘levied fine of Heyford Manor’ in the reign of Henry VI (around 1446) and so founded a dynasty of Mauntells at Heyford.

Prior to the Mauntells the Tudenhams ruled the roost at Heyford (also ‘big’ in Suffolk; as you approach Bury St Edmunds you can see the village of Tudenham signposted) and presumably occupied the old Manor House, but we are going back to 1333 here and records are a little vague as to Lords of the Manor, but they were certainly large land owners and owned “the manor of Heyford with pertinences, lands and tenements in Bugbrook, Flore and Farthingstone, Grimscote, (Cold) Higham and Carsecoell (Carswell in Greens Norton?), lands and tenements in Cold Ashby and West Haddon”.

The Mauntells

What we do know, however, is that the ‘younger generation’ of Mauntells let the family name down as John and Elizabeth Mauntell had a son, Walter, later knighted, (buried in Heyford with his wife also called Elizabeth) and his son and heir, ]ohn Mauntell, well and truly blotted the family name. In 1541 John “sallying forth in company with his brother-in-law, Lord Dacre, and others, on a nocturnal frolic to chase the deer in Sir Nicholas Pelham’s park in Sussex, encountered three men, one of whom being mortally wounded in the affray; he and his associates were convicted of murder, executed, and their estates escheated to the crown.”

And to make matters even worse and to complete the irretrievable ruin of the house, his only son Walter Mauntell engaged in the Kentish insurrection to oppose the marriage of Queen Mary, headed by Sir Thomas Wyatt, and was taken prisoner with him, sent to the Tower and subsequently executed in Kent, 27th February 1553 and ‘attainted’ (i.e. he lost his estate to the crown).

However, due to a bit of forward planning the Manor was saved from the general wreck of the family fortune as John Mauntell had made a settlement of the Manor to his wife Anne (leafing through old cuttings I came across an article on the Manor written in the Herald September 1908 which said it was his mother, sister of Lord Dacre, who was the recipient of the settlement, but I am sure the Press were apt to make errors even then as old family trees show his wife Anne to have inherited) who with her second husband Richard Johnson and Francis Morgan ‘serjeant—at-law’ (who was lessee for the years 1555-56), “levied a fine of the three manors of Heyford, Over Heyford and Nether Heyford and the advowson, or rather two thirds of the advowson, of Nether Heyford, to the use of Sir Richard Sackville and his heirs.”

The Morgans and Prestons

This meant that Sackville took over the Mauntell estates in Heyford but Francis Morgan soon after obtained the ‘fee simple’ and after Francis Morgan died in 1558 ( he and his wife Anne are buried at Heyford) the estates descended to his son Thomas. However in the archives it is written that Matthew Mauntell ‘of Horton and of Collingtree’ son of the executed Walter, ‘was restored to his father’s estate in the 15th reign of Elizabeth’. This would make it 1573. So it is unclear whether there was another (short) ‘reign’ of Mauntells in between the Morgans.

In any event Thomas Morgan’s daughter and heiress married Sir John Preston of Furness in Lancashire and he was succeeded in his title and estates by his brother Sir Thomas Preston who in May 1685 settled the manors of Heyford, Nether Heyford and a whole lot more on Mary his eldest daughter and co-heiress in marriage with William Lord Herbert, son and heir of William Earl of Powis.

Now, the Earl was zealously attached to James II who selected him to accompany the Queen to France and on abandoning the throne in 1688 James joined them both there. In return the King gave him the titles of Duke of Powis and Marquis of Montgomery. But the Duke was outlawed for remaining abroad in the service of the deposed monarch and died at the court of St Germain’s in 1696.

After a lapse of 30 years, a ‘mandamus’ (judicial writ issued from the King’s Bench Division) was granted and it was accordingly reversed by the court of the King’s Bench in April 1722; by which reversal his only son, William Lord Herbert (as above) then Viscount Montgomery, was restored to the Marquisate and all the other honours to which his father was entitled prior to James II leaving his throne.

The Dukedom and second Marquisate were never legally recognised in England, though generally adopted by courtesy. William the 3rd Marquis or Duke of Powis, only surviving son of the preceding, died unmarried in 1747 and the titles became extinct; but by his will, dated 28 April of that year he left his extensive family possessions (by-passing his several sisters) in trust for Henry Arthur Herbert, then Lord Herbert of Chirbury, who was afterwards created Earl of Powis and in 1751 married Barbara, the posthumous daughter and heiress of his brother Edward.

Decay

Now, if you can keep up with any of this, comes the crunch. The Trustees under the Marquis’s will were empowered to sell all or any part of the Northamptonshire estates towards the liquidation of his debts, and towards raising a fund for working his lead mines and in November 1758 with the approbation of the Earl of Powis and under the authority of an act of Parliament, confirming the authority of the Trustees, the whole, comprising the manors of Heyford and surrounding manors with about 3000 acres of land were disposed of in lots by public auction and produced the princely sum of £65,424.

By this time Sir Thomas Preston may have demolished the actual Manor House, or it may have fallen into general decay during the Commonwealth period (the 1650s). Here again the Herald (and this is substantiated) states that early in the Civil war the Manor House was uninhabited. It was still unoccupied in 1652 as we learn from an entry in the Parish Registers (“lying open into vagrants”).

But in any event the estate itself remained intact and Miss Nelson writes “in 1758 the estate was sold by auction in London, the business taking three days. The names of some of the tenants of farms at that time were Ed Middleton, Richard Gardner, Sam Newbold, Thomas Payne and Richard Claridge. Also Will Simons, who farmed Pond Close, or Pastel Pan and Pastle Pightle. Other field names mentioned in the catalogue are The Spung, Stocking Meadows, Worsten Pond Field, Talland, Adal, Bell Pool Leys, Flash Close and Blakes Hitch.”

Thus the old Manor met its demise and its vast estates were split up.

A new house is built

But a new era had already begun with the building of the new Manor House where it still stands, in Nether Heyford. It is believed to have been built about 1740 by William the 3rd Marquis of Powis (as above) using the stone from the original Manor. (The earliest date found on the old walls of the existing Manor is 1794 but the stone is worn and could read ‘1714’). Some researchers have stated the Manor and 30 acres was then bought by Rev Henry Jephcot in 1759 (who in 1789 became Rector of Heyford) but according to Joan Wake in her book ‘The Life of Henry Isham Longden’ published in 1942 she states “Heyford, like Stowe IV (now Stowe IX) Churches was a Crawley living, a member of that family having bought the two advowsons and the Manor House at Heyford in 1764.”

Churchmen take up occupancy

However according to the auction details of 1792 they clearly state that the Manor was let to the Rev Mr Henry Jephcott “at Will, at a low old rent of £63.0s. 0d” so he would have been a tenant at that time. In 1800 we know that he died and the property passed to his daughter Elizabeth and her husband the Reverend R B Hughes, Rector of Kislingbury. And they must have owned the property as in 1802 they sold the house and land to Reverend John Lloyd Crawley who in 1800 had succeeded Henry Jephcott as Rector of Heyford. John Crawley remained at Heyford as both Rector and Lord of the Manor until his death in 1850 and was succeeded as Rector by his son, Thomas, but he moved into the newly built rectory in 1851.

So, interestingly enough, for the sixty years between 1789 and 1850 there were two successive rectors who were also Lords of the Manor and it was to the Manor House that ‘privileged young people’ went for Sunday School.

When John Lloyd died in 1850 his widow Anne Crawley (at that time 65) remained in the Manor House with her sons Alfred and Charles and three domestic servants (Footman, Ladies Maid and Housemaid) until 1871 when we know from details of a Census that John Smith, Curate of Norton, his wife and their five children and four domestic servants (Cook, Housemaid, Scullery Maid and Groom) took over for the next ten years and by 1881 Charles Carden, aged 61, a retired army captain lived there with his wife, six children and four servants (Housemaid, Ladies Maid, Cook and Groom), a Governess coming from as far afield as Liverpool and a Head Gardener, Richard Houghton, who hailed from Milton.

Then in 1891 Joseph Faulkner, a shoemaker aged 60 with his wife, four children, son-in-law and grand-daughter – who presumably helped out with all the chores as there were no domestic servants recorded – took over the Manor until the turn of the century when the ]eyes family arrived.

The Manor House in 1825

12_NetherHeyfordManorHouse1825

From a print lent by Tony Landon

The early 1900s – military men and merchants

Mr Jeyes was the brother of Philadelphus ]eyes who owned a chemist shop in the Drapery in Northampton. He was a ‘country gent’, sported a coach house and kept three or four hunters in the stables to the west of the Manor (now houses and garages). It was probably while the Jeyes family were in situ that a visit to Nether Heyford Church was arranged in 1906 by a local Architectural and Archaeological Society for the Archdeaconries of Northampton and Oakham as the Rector, the Rev H Isham Longden, was ‘a true archaeologist’ and a visit to the Manor House had been planned. But “time and the weather did not permit a visit” and instead they all headed back to the Rectory for tea presided over by ‘Mrs Crawley’.

After the Jeyes family moved out it was said that it was empty for a while, but then came the Muir family and documentation to this effect is available in the form of an Indenture made out in 1914 by John Buchanan Muir’s son Matthew Andrew which left everything to his wife, Jessie Agnes Muir, on the understanding she did not leave him, in which case she would lose the lot… What is interesting about this Indenture is that the Fee Farm Rent was still 3s.4d….

The Conveyance for the sale to the next occupant was dated 5th December 1919 and this was Lieutenant Colonel Livingstone-Learmouth who was based at the Ordnance Depot in Weedon and it is said that he had the house massively extended with new wings at each end. However it is more likely the East Wing was put on quite a bit earlier and the flat-roofed West Wing added during the first World War as wood was difficult to come by although one rumour has it that the occupant, a woman at the time – Mrs Muir? – could not afford a ‘proper’ roof .

The Manor house around the turn of the century

13_NetherHeyfordManorHouse1825

Gardens, stables and domestic service

But what we do know is that Frank Pearson’s parents came to Heyford in 1919, his father becoming Head Gardener at Heyford Manor until his death in 1948. Frank was born in the Head Gardener’s cottage which was situated backing on to the Churchyard and Frank himself helped his father in tending the Manor gardens. The earliest inhabitant of Heyford Manor Frank can remember was Brietmeyer “a big man who was very fond of hunting, which he enjoyed sometimes three times a week”. Certainly there are still memories in Heyford at the time of writing of the Master riding to Hounds and scattering coins to the children who had gathered in what is now Manor Walk to see this awesome sight.

But the Livingstone-Learmouth era (1920s and 30s) was probably the last of the ‘greats’ in the sense that here was a large Manor, acres of land, servants and a Head Gardener. The gardens, as remembered by Frank Pearson, comprised rose beds, rockeries, kitchen gardens,flower borders and grass walks, asparagus beds and apple stores and the horse and cart track led down to the ‘Coach Bridge’ and thereon down to the mill. Frank himself told of how he was responsible for raking the gravel drive in order to keep it tidy which ran by the existing boundary at the front of the Manor and on down to The Sun. At that time he said the servants used the West Wing and the ‘garden room’ there was the servants’ dining-room.

The whole of the bottom floor of the Manor was I believe devoted to kitchens and the old bread oven can still be seen in the middle part of the Manor – the little ‘Garden House’ at the back was reputed to be the dairy (although as the present occupants pointed out, strange that the dairy should be in the front of the building?) – and ladies from Heyford can remember helping out in these vast kitchens.

There is still an enormous cellar for the fine wines and the scribblings of the Butler above the store bins denoting the type of wine enclosed. The old bells to summon the servants are also still in place and until very recently so was the ‘dumb waiter’. In the East Wing the stairs to the attic where the servants slept are pitted with their constant footsteps and the bannisters uneven where they slid their hands down in their haste to attend to their duties. The attic roof was bare With no insulation but the coal fire must have been lit as there is an enormous chimney breast which goes through their attic rooms in order to give them some warmth. It must have been a hard life for the young girls who Would have been employed around this time.

But by now the First World War had struck, twenty three soldiers from Heyford losing their lives and Lieutenant Colonel Livingstone-Learmouth CMG, DSO, RHA unveiled the War Memorial in 1921 which stands on the green at the junction of four cross roads. The Rev Isham Longden conducted the service and amongst the names on the memorial is Captain T H O Crawley.

Bill Kingston remembers when there were no buildings between the Foresters Arms and Richard Denny’s house and there was a field stretching back to the Manor House in which the occupant at that time, Captain Shield, kept several hunters.

In 1928 another auction took place this time with only 23 acres attached, the land gradually being eroded by new buildings. This may have been bought by ‘the Diamond Merchant’. Unfortunately no other details as to this person emerges except he left strong evidence of his occupancy within the house itself!

For sale by auction – July 19th, 1928

14_NetherHeyfordManorHouse1825

From a newspaper cutting (source unknown) lent by Tony Landon

The Manor House and gardens as they appeared between the wars

15a_NetherHeyfordManorHouse1825

The surrounding fields

15b_NetherHeyfordManorHouse1825

From illustrations made by the late Frank Pearson

The post-war years

During the Second World War soldiers were billeted in the Manor and on the West Wing ground floor there was a telecommunications room for use between Bletchley Park and Weedon, the room still being there and until recently with a complicated wiring system intact.

After the War the Manor House became a school for deaf children and according to Mary Warr (wife of the former Headmaster of Bliss School) in 1970 it was still listed under ‘Schools’ in the telephone directory… However, Raymond Wray, the present Landlord of the Foresters remembers clearly seeing a plaque on the Manor with ‘St Dunstan’s’ inscribed on it so it looks as though it was actually a school for the blind. But of course there may have been two types of school here.

In the latefifties the house was up for sale again – actually I’m guessing here. I have a copy of the details but no date, the only clues being ‘after the building of the M1 and before decimalisation’ – this time at £18,500 With 18° acres, having been subject to ‘considerable expenditure’, the agents being Knight, Frank & Rutley of Hanover Square, London. Here the Agent’s details reveal that the East Wing was entirely self-contained and used for staff only. And guess What? The Fee Farm Rent payable to the Queen is listed at – 3s. 4d. per annum…!

An aerial view of the house in the late 1960s

16_NetherHeyfordManorHouse1825

An aerial photo from the late 1960s lent by Julie Rands-Allen

By the sixties the Manor was still intact but with even less land as an old aerial photograph shows the beginning of the new chalet bungalows in Manor Walk built on the grounds of the old Chauffeur’s cottage. And we know that at this time it was occupied by the Architect Mr D Harwin as he was responsible for a lot of the new bungalows materialising. Raymond Wray (at that time living in Flore) was, at twenty-seven, the General Foreman for one of Mr Harwin’s building firms and was responsible for the building of this new development and he is almost certain that it would have been Mr Harwin who purchased the Manor for the sum of £18,500.

Separate dwellings

Then in 1975 with the rising tide of up-keep costs, the Manor and all its remaining land was sold to Cooper Construction Ltd of Lichfield for a housing development known now as Manor Park. Fortunately many of the trees were given Preservation Orders (the Manor itself is a Grade II listed building) and a fine old oak and many Scots Pines stand proudly still, including a very old apple tree which would have been in the old orchard near the stables and garage block.

And the Manor House became divided into three dwellings. The frontage which sports a beautiful old sundial and small oval windows became the back and the large grassed circle. the front of the Manor. The land which swept down passed the Horestone Brook and across the Nene was now all taken up with the new development. Its Glory Days were indeed over! Manor ‘Walk became built up with even more new houses but Manor Cottage — the old Gardener’s Cottage – is still there and other cottages dotted around Manor Walk and others backing on to the Churchyard still look much the same as they did when they belonged to the Manor and its estate. And although the drive that swept through Manor Park and through to Middle Street has long gone, one of the pillars which marked the entrance is still there at 15 Manor Park in Bernard Carpenter’s back garden…

Michael N Harbour, a former member of Northampton’s Royal Theatre Company bought the East Wing and was especially delighted when the BBC offered him a leading role in ‘A Last Visitor for Mr Hugh Peter’ as it depicted the story of Cromwell’s chaplain who is spending his last days after being imprisoned by the Royalists. The Battle of Naseby took place about ten miles from the Manor and Michael believes dead bodies could easily have been buried at Nether Heyford as the soldiers returned to London. Another bit of history to add to the already long one of Heyford Manor…And we mustn’t forget a piece of recent ‘history’. In the Great Northampton Floods of Easter 1998 both the East and West Wings were flooded when the River Nene broke its banks — the worst floods for over a hundred years.

Tony Landon bought the main part of the Manor and skillfully finished converting it into a period home for his family, and the Rands-Allens (appropriately hyphenated) bought the East Wing from Michael Harbour where they have lived for the past seventeen years. Gill and Tony Pont and their family live in the West Wing, keeping all of the original features, having been there for fourteen years, and Wayne and Ann Edmonds live in the little studio at the back which Michael Harbour built and lived in for a time before moving to London. Unfortunately there appear to be no sightings of ghosts from any of the occupants.

With all its history, both actual and imagined and with all the changes the years have seen, one thing remains constant. Families have lived in the Heyford Manor House over the centuries, are doing so now and will continue to do so over the Millennium and far beyond.

Julie Rands-Allen (with a little help from some friends!)

Article updated for the years 1947-1956 in Volume 4 Chapter 6:

The Story of Heyford: The Manor House 1947-1956 V4C6

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Extract from “The Story of Heyford” – Local book series published in the late 1990’s

Volume 2 of 4 | Chapter 5 of 11 | Pages 9 to 17

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Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

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The Story of Heyford: Childhood Memories V4C7

Before the second world war the village was only half the size that it is now, transport was very limited, and the modern leisure facilities that are so commonly available today simply didn’t exist. Therefore the young people made their own fun in whatever way they could. There are many people in the village, now in their eighties, with childhood memories from the pre war period.

Children and young people
Before the first world war, the children went to school up the age of 13. Life was pretty busy keeping up with the chores. Mrs Dorothy Kingston of Furnace Lane remembers taking bread and jam to her father at the Brickworks when she came home from school. There was water to fetch, pigs to feed, eggs to collect, vegetables to prepare.

At thirteen, you left school and went to work. Some worked on the farms, some learned trades in their family businesses, but some worked outside the village. Bob Browning’s first job was a Saturday job at the age of 12 for W H Smith in Weedon. He walked from Heyford to Weedon and collected papers for delivery to Litchborough and Maidford and then walked back home. The journey was done entirely on foot and took him all day.

When he left school in 1905 he went to work there full time. They gave him a bicycle and two panniers to carry the papers. His new route was from Heyford to Weedon to pick up the papers, then to Dodford, Everdon, Farthingstone, Upper Weedon, then home. He ate his packed lunch each day under one of the big Beech trees beside the road through Everdon Stubbs.  There he double checked his takings.

On one occasion he arrived home and found he was one gold sovereign short. The sovereign had come from Everdon Hall where they always had several papers. His mother was desperate because he had to give his takings in the next morning but they didn’t have as much as a sovereign in the house.

So Bob cycled back to Everdon Stubbs to where he had counted the money at lunchtime, and there he found the missing sovereign. He was delighted at finding it that he carved his initials with his pocket knife into one of the trees. The four trees are still there today. All of them have dozens of initials carved into them of which some are quite new, but others could be 100 years old. Somewhere amongst them are the initials R.B.

Walking 
With time to, spare, little transport, and few organised facilities, walking was common. People would walk miles without a second thought.

The children all walked to school, some coming from Upper Heyford and others from the Railway cottages, or from Stowe Hill. They mostly travelled in small groups, unaccompanied by adults. Nobody worried about safety. The school didn’t provide lunches then so they made four journeys each day, often dawdling along the Way. There were several brooks in those days, running either side of the Green and also alongside a number of the hedges. Here it was tempting to dally along the way, making boats out of whatever materials they could find in the hedgerows.

Families walked together on Sundays, often for miles up to Glassthorpe or Stowe. They sometimes ended up at one of the pubs where father would have a beer and the children a ‘spruce’ – a bottle of pop with a glass ball in it.

Cars were a rare sight in the village between the wars so groups of young people would walk up to the ‘Turnpike’ (the A5) and sit on the bank by the Stowe turn, Waiting to wave at the drivers as they passed at a rate of only one or two an hour.

The Railway children
Mrs Doris Lovell, now in her eighties, lived in the railway cottages because her father, Frank Denny was a signalman. Although there was never a station in Heyford, she recalls how the railway had a strong presence in the village. There were sidings in the brick yard, there was an active signal box, and there were four railway cottages occupied by signalmen, platelayers and their families.

In the days of steam, each locomotive had its own unique personality and they chuffed past at a more friendly speed than today’s diesels. The driver and fireman, whose faces were often familiar to the villagers, would wave as they passed by, and sometimes they would throw lumps of coal for the children to take home.

The children played in the fields alongside the railway, although there was a strict understanding that playing near the tracks was forbidden. Favourite play areas included the stream near the brickyard just the other side of the small foot tunnel under the embankment. Here you could make stepping stones, build dens, and fish for tiddlers.

The railway bridge and railway cottages in the 1930s

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Photo lent by Judy Armitage

Box Pond and ‘the Humps’
Another favourite play area recalled by Doris Lovel was in the field where the furnaces used to be. There was a pond here called ‘box pond’ because it was near the signal box. There was another pond across the road in the brickyard where deep water had formed in the claypit. Both ponds were popular play areas with much wildlife in them, including lizards and moorhens.

Also in the furnace field were four huge clinker mountains. These had been formed out of clinker waste from when the furnaces were in operation. Each seemed as high as a house. They had set solid into various shapes, Weathered through time, and were full of interesting nooks and crannies. They, were affectionately known as ‘the humps’. Cut hands and scraped knees were common.

These ‘humps’ were eventually moved when the M1 was built in the late 1950s. The field was full of hills and hollows from where the furnaces had been, and the contractor, Dowsett, was looking for somewhere to put the topsoil from the construction of the M1. So they broke up the humps, rolled them into the hollows, and covered them with topsoil. Box Pond was also filled in.

Fishing and swimming 
As today, there were plenty of fish in the canal. With a line, a hen feather, a bent pin and some bait, you could catch gudgeon to take home to feed to the cat. Favourite places on the river were by one of the two bridges – either the bridge to Upper Heyford, or Coach Bridge (now only a footbridge beyond Manor Park). Jumping off Coach Bridge into the deep waters below was a regular summer game for the boys.

Many local people, now in their 70s and 80s remember swimming in the canal. On warm summer days the young people would take their swimming costumes, some sandwiches, a drink, and a pot to pick blackberries. This way they could would spend hours by the canal.

An article in the Mercury and Herald dated 25th May 1978 included an interview with Mrs George (nee Browning) in which she recalled how ‘we’d go up to the canal at Heyford Bridge. The boys would change one side and the girls the other. Then we’d have a swim or watch the boats, all drawn by horses of course, being pulled up the canal.’ Unlike the railway where it was firmly understood that the track was out of bounds, the canal was considered ‘safe’. This was in spite of the murky state of the water and the waste disposed of by the boat people. However it was a fun place to spend the day, and was the only way to learn how to swim.

Swimming in the canal

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This photograph, taken in the 1920s shows a group of young people beside the canal.  They went up Furnace Lane and turned left at Wharf Farm where they walked along to the next bridge. They are seen here in the field opposite the tow path. Pictured from the front are: Ivy Denny, Jack Earl, Friend, Nen Blaney, Odette Punch, Friend, Friend, and Mrs Frank Denny. The little girl to the left of the group is June Denny.

Photo lent by Doris Lovell (nee Denny)

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Extract from “The Story of Heyford” – Local book series published in the late 1990’s

Volume 4 of 4 | Chapter 7 of 8 | Pages 28 to 30TheStoryOfHeyford_NetherHeyford_Footer

Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

Index  |  Covers

The Story of Heyford: Heyford Feast – The Visiting Fair V4C4

Heyford Feast
The fair has been coming for Heyford Feast in October for as long as anyone can remember. Heyford Feast is the anniversary of the dedication of our Parish Church and takes place on the first Sunday after the 11th October. This is also the time of year when Harvest Festival activities took place – they continue to do so today — marking Heyford as one of the churches to celebrate Harvest late in the season.

The fair and the church’s celebrations were closely linked: together they formed the greatest village occasion of the year and would last one week. In the early 1900’s, the fair families attended Evensong at the church and contributed some of their takings to the collection. Today, there is no longer a link between the church and the fair but this still remains the time of year when the fair comes to Heyford.

When the Parish Council was originally set up in the late 1890’s, it stated that no fairs could use the main part of the Green. However, by then, the fair was so much part of our tradition that this ruling was later rescinded. It was a major event to be shared by all and men employed locally were often given the Monday off work to be able to enjoy the festival to the full. Likewise, pupils at Bliss School were allowed the Monday off in order to meet the fair at Upper Heyford and walk down with it into the village.

After Heyford, the fair went on to Daventry to become the centre for the ‘Mop Fair’ – so called because it used to be a time for hiring domestic staff This was at the turn of the century when fairs were still more business and trading occasions than anything else. Workers would advertise their availability for hire by standing with mops in their hands. It was a big occasion there too, and the fair would block the main roads in the middle of Daventry.

Swing-boats and roundabouts
Bob Browning recalled the fair in the village from the early 1900’s. There were swing-boats and roundabouts with wooden horses and most rides charged 1d. All along the road from the Post Office to the schools were stalls: coconut shies, hoopla and darts. Fred Browning remembered the game of Aunt Sally in which you had three balls for one penny and had to throw them through a hole in a door to release ‘Aunt Sally’. There was no prize in succeeding, just the thrill of seeing Aunt Sally appear. Fred even commemorated the fair in verse as part of a poem called “Heyford Green”:

Remember the fairs, wooden horses and wares
would collect to the joy of us all…

By contrast to such ethereal thinking, The Foresters pub was central to the fair’s activities because of its place on the Green and it wasn’t unusual for there to be fights there.

Great anticipation
Many villagers can still recall the fair from the 1930’s and 40’s. There was great anticipation for its arrival. The children would save up money for weeks beforehand and girls sometimes knit purses to hang around their necks with the three or four pence saved for the rides. They gathered rose hips which they could sell through the school for 3d. per lb. for making rose hip syrup. They would also collect acorns from ‘accern orchard’ which they could sell as pig fodder. Some people would collect eating apples which the fair folk would buy for making toffee apples.

On the day of the fair’s arrival there was great excitement. School children – now no longer allowed out to greet it – would often hear the fair setting up on the Green across the road. This caused them enormous frustration because they were all itching to get out and see it. If the fair happened to arrive out of school hours, the children would go to meet it along what is now the A45. They would put their ears to the ground to try to pick up the vibration from the rumble of the steam engines.

The Steam Engine

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This photo, taken in the 1930’s, possibly leaving Finedon, shows George Billing’s Burnell 2625 ‘Lady Pride of England’

Photo lent by Ted Garrett

George Billing
The fair was run at that time by George Billing. He wore a bowler hat and a navy blue suit and his wife collected the money in great heavy bags full of pennies. The fair would set up near the shops and The Foresters and the main attraction was the merry-go-round. It had horses on the outside, cockerels in the middle and smaller horses on the inside. It had its own steam engine to drive it and George Billing stoked up the fire to keep it going. However, sometimes the steam would give out and the children would push the merry—go—round around by hand.

The other main attractions were the big swing boats at 1d. a go. There were many battles to see who could take their boat the highest and the fair people got cross if anyone tried to swing their boat right over! There were stalls for the coconut shies, darts, roll—a—penny and skittles. The skittles were tall and white – four in a line – and the prize for knocking them all down was a packet of nuts or Players cigarettes.

The fair also made its own sticks of rock known as ‘Feast Rock’. It was humbug flavour and striped brown and yellow. The rock stall made it by hand by pulling the sweet mixture out into long strings. By all accounts it was delicious!

Horses and steam
Two traction engines were operated by the fair. The larger one stood up by the Baptist Chapel and generated electricity needed for the lights. As there were still only gas lights in Heyford at the time, the electric light display on the Green was rather a novelty. Hilda Collins remembers how the steam engine would stand on its own beside the chapel, chuffing away: “There were clouds of steam and it would be spitting scalding hot water – quite dangerous really!” She also recalls the organ on the roundabout and how, as children, they would ride round and watch the different instruments ‘play’ in turn in the centre of the ride. The roundabout organ used a pianola device of perforated cards that played the music and – being limited to the number of cards the ride had – the same tunes would start up over and over again.

All the caravans were horse drawn and were set up in a row. At first, water for the fair had to come from a private supply but then the fair people used a public tap that was set up on the Green opposite the Denny’s house. The tap was spring—loaded, i.e. it required you to hold the tap open all the time otherwise it shut itself off again. The fair’s horses were left to graze in a nearby field or in the hollow at the far end of the Green.

When The Foresters closed at 10:30 pm each night, some men came out rather the worse for wear and would head onto the fair site. On occasion, George Masters and Herbert Clarke – both big men — came out of The Foresters and climbed up on one of the horses waving their hats and shouting “giddy-up.” Albert Garrett recalled how once, so many men came out of the pub and clambered onto the merry-go-round that it wouldn’t start. George Billing is remembered for throwing his hat on the floor and pleading with some of the men to get off.

When the fair finally closed around midnight, the last tune played on the steam organ was ‘Christians awake, salute the happy morn’ – Mrs Billing’s favourite tune. When it was all over, the children walked around looking for halfpennies and pennies that had been dropped in the grass. It wasn’t unusual to find threepence or sixpence, which was a lot of money in those days.

The Abbotts and Thurstons
After the Second World War, the Abbots brought the fair and they continued coming for another thirty years. The fairground attractions essentially remained the same, but the Abbots introduced the dodgems. The steam engines were eventually replaced by diesel and by the 50’s, the horses were replaced by vehicles.

The fair continued to be very popular and is remembered for being very crowded during this time. Many families had relatives coming to stay with them for the duration of the fair and Heyford Feast. It was also an attraction to other villages in the locality, for although the fair moved on from Heyford to Bugbrooke for a time, the site in Bugbrooke (a field on the outskirts) was not considered very suitable. Hilda Collins remembers how, on the Green, you could hardly see the stalls for the crowds of people around them. If the fair is quieter today, it is probably to do with easier access to the larger towns and the development of Northampton’s own autumn funfair.

While the fair was at Heyford, the fair children would attend Bliss School. This included old Mr Abbot’s daughter, Norma. In 1971, she married William Thurston from another fairground family and in the following year, the fair began coming under the Thurston name — as it still does today.

Around that time there was debate about the positioning of the fair on the Green. Its site near the shops was considered disruptive because of the noise and there were also complaints about the state of the football pitch on the Green after it had gone. For a time the Thurstons alternated year by year from one end of the Green to the other. Eventually they settled on its present location opposite the school.

Mary Warr, who wrote about the fairground family in her short history of Heyford published in 1970, had a far rosier view of the impact that the fair made on the village. She said, “For as long as we have been here (1953-70) the fair has been in the family. Older villagers have seen the fair people growing up and there is much friendship. I can only speak of my own experiences. We have nearly always had the fair opposite the school and have always known them to be friendly, considerate and peace—loving visitors. At night when the fair closes down, all is quiet and nothing happens to disturb our rest. I hope this wonderful relationship continues. Our places of worship have been visited by them and they have given generously to us on occasions.”

The fair in 1998

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Photo lent by Stephen Ferneyhough

Nowadays the fair continues to be assembled on the middle section of the Green and it is always tidy and compact. The Thurstons bring only a selection of their total fairground equipment because they do not stay many days and space on the Green is limited. They bring the Waltzer, two or three ‘children’s rides including a helter-skelter, a range of gaming machines in an amusement arcade and a variety of side stalls. The Thurstons are based in Wellingborough with a season that runs from March to November, touring all over the East Midlands and East Anglia. Then during the winter months, they do all their rebuilding and maintenance work. William Thurston’s grandson is the seventh generation in his family to work the fairgrounds.

Sarah Croutear with contributions from Hilda Collins and Ted Garrett

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Extract from “The Story of Heyford” – Local book series published in the late 1990’s

Volume 4 of 4 | Chapter 4 of 8 | Page 18 to 21

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Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

Index  |  Covers