The Home Guards met twice a week in the yard of the Foresters Arms, where they had their stores. The Commanding Officer was Charlie Highfield, chosen because of his army career.
Back row (L>R):
Alf Adams, Stan Faulkner, Joe Matthews, Arthur (Batty?) Charvill, Jeff (Geoff?) George, Dick Fisher, Ron or Frank (?) Taylor, Fella Masters (the only name he was known by!)
Middle row (L>R):
Reg Collins, Tom Eales, Charlie Masters, Jack Butcher, Frank Reeve, Dave Ward, Herbert (Horace?) Blood, Amos Lee, Les (Bob?)Foster
Front row (L>R):
Bill Spokes, Anselm Banner, Sid Blencowe (Joe?), Harry Haynes, Charlie Highfield (Captain), Ted Wright, Joe Garratt, Joe (Joey?) Charvill, Arthur Mead
Thank you to the following villagers for the names: Joe Garratt / Michelle McMillan / Tom Harrison / Anna Forrester / Garry Collins / Zoe Highfield / Richard Eales / Keith Clarke / Trev Clarke / John Butcher / Charlene Zambo / Shirley Collins
Please contact The Prattler if you can confirm any of the name spellings or nicknames. Also if you have any information on the Home Guard activities or any memories to share then send them in and we can update this page.
I was born at No 3 Furnace Lane in 1946 and lived there with my patents until 1969 when I got married. My father was the eldest of 7 children in the Collins family, living at ‘Wharf Farm’, Furnace Lane where my aunty still lives. Lower Heyford, as it was known then, changes its name in later years because the village was often mistaken for Lower and Upper Heyford in Oxfordshire, where the air force is based.
My mother originated from Harpole, and she met my father at the ‘Heyford Feast’ and got married, living in Heyford for the rest of their lives. Heyford Feast was a long standing event. It always fell on the 11th October each year and consisted of a large fair on the village green with Swing Boats, Carousels and Dodgem cars, not to mention Roll the Ball, Shooting and many other amusements. Also, lots of stalls selling candy floss, hot dogs mint humbugs etc. The fair was run by the Abbott and Billing families and over the years we got to know them well and while in the village, their children attended our local school. I went to Heyford School when I was five years old and was educated by Mr & Mrs Woods, then by Mr & Mrs Warr. The school bell was rung twice a day at 9.00am and 1.00pm just as it is today. Although other nearby villages had their own feast dates, Heyford was the largest because of our fabulous village green. People used to come from miles around and Tom Rolfe, who ran the Foresters Arms, opened up the club room for dancing which went on late into the night.
We also had a very good Youth Club which was held in the village hall. I was club secretary and my friend Lynn was treasurer. The fee was 2 old pennies per evening and we often had an awful job getting the money in. We had regular dances, often on a Friday night with live groups. People came from all the nearby villages and Northampton and they proved to be very popular. As club secretary, I had a hand in arranging these events.
I have many things I remember about life in the village. A lot of my leisure time was spent with my cousins on my grandmothers farm, especially in the school holidays. My dad’s youngest brother, Reg and his wife Joan, helped my Grandmother on the farm and lived there with their four children. In the school holidays, my two eldest cousins and I would help out ad played for hours in the hay barns and fished in the nearby canal. The railway line ran next to the farm and we would go into the signal box with the signalman and watch the trains going by. If we were lucky, he would let us pull the levers to change the signal.
Haymaking was always good fun too. My uncle would put the bales on his trailer which was then hitched up to the tractor and us children would stack them in neat rows, getting higher and higher as we went. Then we would sit on the top with my uncles towing the load back to the farm. (This would not be allowed nowadays).
My father, Arthur worked at the Northampton Power station as a fitter until he retired. He was one of the many volunteers who helped build the village hall, giving up their free time whenever they were able to.
Also, in the school holidays I would go with my mother fruit picking on Mr Beck’s farm. He would come into the village with his tractor and trailer to pick up the many helpers (mostly women) to take back to pick the fruit off his many currant bushes and other fruits. At the end of the day he would transport everyone back into the village. He lived on the large estate when New Creation farm is today.
When my parents married, they lived in a small rented house with no amenities, no running water and an outside toilet. One of my lasting memories of this, is having local men come round on a regular basis with the ‘Muck Cart’ to empty the bucket. (No such luxury of a flush toilet). On one occasion I was sitting on the toilet as a young child and they arrived to perform this delightful deed. I shouted through the door, “I haven’t finished yet”. Back came a very calm reply from one of the men, “It’s alright my duck, I can wait”.
Mr Faulkner, the baker delivered the loaves of bread to various houses. It was always in the evening as he baked the bread first in Northampton. He would sometimes stop and chat and on many occasions my mother used to say, “When is he coming as I want to go to bed”. Suddenly the kitchen door would open, and a hand and arm would appear clutching the bread, put it on a chair by the side of the door and say “Coo-Eee” and he was gone in a flash. Thus, he was known as Coo-Eee The Baker. At Christmas time, it was even later, as many customers gave him a drink or a mince pie, and he would be a little worse for wear when he arrived.
Eventually, my parents were able to buy the house we lived in together with the one next door, after John Earl (who owned the property) died. They had the two knocked into one and modernised, and it still stands today.
After I left school, I went to work at the Express Lift Co in the office. This is where I met my husband, Bob. We got married in 1969 in the Baptist Chapel and bought a new house in Rolfe Crescent, which is on the Wilson Estate where we had two children, Christopher and Anna. Twelve years later we moved to our present home in the centre of the village, where we live today. Both our children are now married, and we have four delightful grandchildren, two of which attend Heyford School. This makes them the fourth generation in my family to go there.
I have lots of fond memories of living in this wonderful village, which has grown tremendously over the years with the Village Green as its heart. School sports, football and cricket matches were played on the green before the arrival of the playing fields, which all the village folk would turn out to watch regularly. John Smith’s cows would often escape and go charging over the green with John running frantically behind. Some people now refer to the green today as the park, but to us oldies, it will always remain our beloved village green.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my little visit down memory lane as much as I have.
Until the l950’s there was no main sewage in the village. People had no proper sanitation, just an outside toilet with a pit or a pail. Some of these little buildings still exist as tool sheds or stores but most have gone. Inside the toilet was a bucket which would be emptied around once a week, usually onto the allotment.
Then some time in the early 1900’s the parish council organised a weekly collection of buckets. Bob Browning recalled how two men were employed with a horse and two—Wheeled cart to collect the contents once a week. The contents would be taken away for disposal. The cart had two wheels for easy tipping.
Bill Nickolls recalls that in the 1920’s there was a special cart for the purpose, shared with Bugbrooke. Jack Earl who at that time organised the collection, had to go twice a week with a horse to collect the cart from Bugbrooke. Collection in Heyford was on Monday and Friday evenings. People would put out their buckets, much as they do with their dustbins nowadays, and the cart came to empty the contents. Jack employed Bill Nickolls and Jo Charville for this task. They were provided with boiler suits, gloves, wellingtons, and flashlights with batteries. The pong was bad but the pay was good! It was done late in the evening after people were mostly indoors with the windows shut. The contents were taken to a ﬁeld beyond the houses on the right hand side of Furnace Lane where they were emptied into a trench and ploughed in. Even so the ﬁeld was littered with paper which had escaped the trench and blown around in the wind. Sometimes two journeys were necessary and sometimes only one. There were also one or two places on route where the buckets could be ‘unofficially’ emptied (if the contents were mostly liquid!) to avoid the need for two journeys to the official dump.
In the 1930’s the collection was organised by George Faulkner of The Bricklayers Arms. Bill Kingston remembers him parking the cart under the oak tree on the memorial green waiting. for his helpers to arrive — Ted Charville, Jo Charville, Amos Lee and ‘Tankie’ Haynes.
There are stories of one or two accidents. An evacuee boy called Tony Sweet was walking backwards up Furnace Lane where there was an ‘avenue of pails’ and he tumbled into one of the buckets. He seemingly got a good telling off because he took a lot of cleaning up. There is also a story about ‘Mucky Matthews’, who apparently fell backwards into the cart when his horse reared. Hence his name!
There has presumably been baking in Heyford ever since there has been a settlement here. Both Heyford and Heyford Mill are mentioned in the Domesday Book, and the proximity of the mill meant that there was always a local source of ﬂour.
There are several records of baking in the village during the 1700’s and 1800’s:
– The Militia list of 1777 mentions Henry Burch and Robert Burch as Bakers.
– The 1841 Census lists John James, Joseph Claridge and John Cole.
– The Kelly’s directories in the 1800’s show several bakers:
Mrs Margaret Jones, baker and shopkeeper, 1854
William Claridge, baker and retailer, 1864
Isaac Woodhams, baker, 1864, 1869, 1877, 1885, 1890
Charles Smith, 1869
Daniel Roe, 1877
Until the first world war the building on the corner of Furnace Lane and Weedon Road (now Tops the hairdressers) was the Bakers Arms pub, so called because the landlord Mr Pinnock had a small oven for baking bread. A small oven was also discovered in the old post office building when it was demolished in the early 1950’s.
The Faulkner family
But from the 1890’s to the 1940’s most of the village’s baking was done by Thomas Faulkner and his family. He had two sons, Walter and Wesley, and ﬁve daughters. Much of the following information came from his great grandson Dennis Clarke.
The Faulkner family ran two bakehouses. The first was in the red brick house (now number 19 Church Street) owned by Thomas Faulkner. He ran it with his son-in-law, Fred Furniss. They were from staunch Methodist families well respected in the village. They didn’t drink or smoke. Thomas Faulkner was for many years a lay preacher at the Methodist chapel, and was also the ﬁrst chairman of the Parish Council.
Then some time during the first world war he established a second bakehouse with a larger oven in the building which is now number 22 Furnace Lane. One of the reasons for needing a larger bakehouse was that he supplied bread to the Weedon Barracks. It was run by his son Wesley. This became the main bakery in the village and was active for more than 30 years. His other son Walter had a bakery in Northampton.
The flour room was upstairs and the flour was fed down to the bakery via a chute. The dough was made up the night before, kneaded into loaves, laid in tins and allowed to rise. The oven was lit between three and four in the morning with faggots of wood. When it was the right temperature, the ashes were removed and the bread put in. The oven, which was well insulated, kept warm for several hours, but even so it was an inaccurate science and it wasn’t unusual for a loaf of bread to be not quite cooked in the middle.
Although the oven was used mainly for baking bread, it was also used on Sundays to cook the roasts. The villagers would bring their joints and Yorkshire puddings to be cooked while they were at church or chapel. You would put the joint on a trivet in a baking tray with the yorkshire pudding mix underneath. The fat from the meat dropped into the yorkshire pudding mix as it cooked. Wesley Faulkner charged 2d for this service. Bill Kingston remembers sitting on the flour bin waiting for the joint to cook. Sometimes it was difficult to recognise your own joint. Mrs Dorothy Kingston remembers as a girl picking up their joint on one occasion only to be tld by her mother when she got home that it was somebody else’s! When the joints came out, the cakes went in.
The bakehouse in Furnace Lane also had a little shop which sold not just bread and cakes, but also sweets and cigarettes. In the back yard they kept pigs and chickens as most people did. Outside the back door was a well and a handpump which is still there today. They also kept a pony and trap which Wesley used for making deliveries in the evenings to Stowe, Farthingstone and Litchborough, often not returning until late in the evening. The pony and trap were later replaced by a motorised van.
Wesley Faulkner pictured with his delivery van in the 1930’s
Photo lent by Dennis Clarke
The bakehouse continued to run until around 1945. However, by this time larger bakeries were being established in town and cheaper mass-produced bread and cakes were becoming readily available through the other village shops.
For some years after this, bread was delivered to the Village by ‘Cooey’ Faulkner, the ‘Midnight Baker’. He was Ruskin, the son of Walter who had a bakery in Abington Avenue in Northampton. He got his nickname because he delivered bread, often late in the evening and announced his presence by calling “Cooey!” Some people left baskets hanging outside their houses for him to leave the bread if he was very late. Part of the reason for his lateness was that he was always read to accept a cup of tea if offered one! Today the house is occupied by Dennis Clarke,a great nephew of Fred Furniss, and great grandson of Thomas Faulkner. The oven, though no longer used is still in place.
From the 1940’s until the 1980’s no bread baking took place in the village. We had moved into times of mass—production and faster road systems, so most of the bread came from large bakeries outside the village. The installation of gas, and then electricity meant that most families the 1950’s had small ovens in their own modernised kitchen.
The Bake-house in Furnace Lane
Photo lent by Judy Armitage
This photograph looks towards the bottom of Furnace Lane and shows the old bake-house on the left hand side. To the left of this on the far left hand side of the picture is the building previously used as the King William pub. You can see here the frame which held the pub sign. Opposite the end of Furnace Lane you can see the little building which was the original Methodist chapel built in 1838 with the plaque above the upstairs windows. To the right of this is the old thatched post office, demolished in the 1950s, and to the left is the thatched cottage occupied by Mrs Anne Clarke, Heyford’s midwife for many years, which was demolished in 1969.
In 1985 the Heyford Patisserie was opened next to the butchers. The business had been started two years earlier by Wendy Allen who began baking at home. Her first order was from Carol at the Olde Sun to produce pies for bar meals. Then word got around, the number of customers grew, and the business became too big to run from home. At around that time, Malcolm Tarbox (the butcher) acquired the buildings in that block. The old slaughterhouse at the end of the block was renovated and converted into the present patisserie building. On 3rd November 1985 Wendy moved into her new patisserie which gave her not only much better baking facilities, but also a retail outlet. So began a service which was much needed in a village which had doubled in size since the 1950s. Although the bread came from Tees Bakery in Grafton Street, Northampton, all the pies, quiches, and puddings were baked on the premises.
Then after 11 years of long hours, six days a Week, Wendy decided to retire and the business was taken over in 1996 by Lesley Parker who continues to run it in the same way today.
The chapel buildings Methodism was very much a part of village life in Heyford for almost 130 years. It ﬂourished from the 1830s until the 1960s. The ﬁrst chapel was built in 1838. This was the small red brick building which still stands at the top of Church Street, immediately to the left of the Heyford Stores. It has a barn style roof with a single beam across the middle, and there was originally no ﬂoor upstairs. It has a blank plaque on the front wall and it still has signs of the tall chapel windows. It was converted to a private house in the 1870s.
According to the religious census of 1851 there was a general congregation of 50 in the afternoon and 50 in the evening. lt is hard to see how this number of people would have fitted into such a small building. It must have been standing room only.
In 1879 the existing building in Church Street was erected. lt was built by Alfred Marsh on land donated by Thomas Faulkner, and services continued to take place there until the early 1960s.
The founding family There is a typescript in the Northamptonshire Record Office, unsigned and undated, which gives some details of one of the families involved in much of the chapel’s history. This typescript refers to Mrs J.S. Gammage who as a young girl around the turn of century was of the fourth generation of village Methodism. It records how, ‘in 1835 when the early pioneers of primitive Methodism missioned the village of Heyford from Northampton, Mrs Gammage’s great-grandmother gave them a welcome and shelter. She also helped in 1838 to secure the first Methodist Chapel in Heyford, owned by the Northamptonshire circuit, at a cost of £65, furniture included.’
Mrs Gammage’s mother ‘was given to hospitality. The saints of god found shelter and refreshment beneath her roof.’ Her father, Thomas Faulkner piloted the chapel for over 50 years until his death in 1917. ‘No man was more typical of the staunch Methodist and radical stock of the Victorian age than Thomas Faulkner. The oppressed looked to him for succour, and the poor found in him a friend. The earliest impressions that the writer of this document had of Mrs Gammage (which must have been around the 1880s) was ‘of a little girl dressed all in white, asking the local preacher for the hymns in the new chapel, then after the service taking him home to her fathers house to tea and introducing him to the missionary box, and pleading the cause of the little black boys and girls in a far-off land.’ The musical service at Heyford also owed much to Mrs Gammage. ‘At the age of twelve she took charge of the organ and became secretary of the Sunday School, and later became choirmaster.’
Mrs Gammage’s mother, Mrs T.G. Faulkner.
The chapel interior At the rear of the chapel was a gallery in which there was a large pump organ with two keyboards and a series of pipes. For almost fifty years from the early 1900’s this organ was played by Mrs Evelyn Clarke, a daughter of Wesley Faulkner and grand-daughter of Thomas Faulkner. Her two sons Keith and Dennis both remember operating the hand pump. Keith remembers how he had to watch a gauge which showed how much air was in the organ. When the gauge reached a certain level you had to pump air in by hand. It was tempting to allow the gauge to run low and risk silence in the middle of one of the hymns as the organ ran out of air. Dennis remembers as a youngster how the services seemed to be long and boring. Either side of the organ in the gallery was seating for the congregation. Downstairs, just inside the door there was a pulpit and there were wooden pews stretching to the back of the church. The carpets and upholstery were supplied and maintained by Pearce’s of Northampton and were rich blue in colour. The windows at the front of the church were stained glass and included the images of Mr and Mrs Thomas Faulkner.
The chapel business Also in the Northampton Record Office is a the ‘minute book of the Heyford Trustees and Chapel Committee’ which has periodical entries between 1925 and 1960. Below are some details from this book which give a ﬂavour of life in the chapel during that period.
May 1925 — it was agreed ‘that we install electric light at the Heyford Church and school’
June 1929 – an envelope system was established to enable members to ‘promise to contribute the sum of … per week towards the amount required for carrying on the work above church.’
Mrs Ralph Clarke 6d / W Faulkner 3d / Miss Furniss 6d / Mr and Mrs Furniss 1s Od’ / Mrs Thompson 3d / Alice Eales 3d
Feb 1937 – the general chapel committee acting on behalf of the Methodist Conference paid a grant of £10 ‘to aid the extinction of the debt of the Lower Heyford Methodist Chapel’ and also ‘that the trust should be renewed before long as the number (of trustees) living is now only ﬁve.’
]an 1938 – ‘we record that Miss Furniss be reappointed secretary, that Mrs Humphrey be the treasurer, that Mrs Clarke be reappointed organist, that the assistants be Miss Furniss and Miss Faulkner, that Mrs King be reappointed caretaker with remuneration as before, that the property stewards be Mr Warwick and Mr Faulkner’
Jan 1939 – ‘that Mr Arthur Humphrey be asked to procure a new ash bin’
Nov 1940 – ‘we record with sincere regret the death cy‘ one of our members brother Wesley N T Faulkner who passed away on Oct 19th 1940 and was buried in the Lower Heyford cemetery. Mr Faulkner had an almost lifelong association with the church… he was a local preacher, a class leader and a society steward’
Feb 1941 – the minutes refer to ‘Heyford Methodist Chapel (formerly Primitive Methodist)’
July 1941 — ‘that we receive with pleasure the gift of land adjoining the chapel from Mrs Wesley W Faulkner’
July 1942 — ‘that the repairs done by Mr W ] Denny to the front boundary wall of the chapel have been satisfactorily completed and that the bill of £22.7s.4d has been paid’
Dec 1949 – ‘the meeting received with joy the inspiring and generous offer of Messrs Pearce regarding the renovations of the interior of the church… it was agreed that Mr Pearce ’s suggestion that the organ be brought down into the body of the church and the gallery be partitioned off be adopted’ .
Feb 1953 – ‘as the pipe organ had not been brought down into the church as agreed because of its need of repair, the minister offered to enquire whether it had been disposed of as being beyond repair. No deﬁnite information had reached the trustees as to its condition and whereabouts. It was noted that it had been in working order when removed. ’
Feb 1959 – ‘new heating arrangements were discussed and it was decided to have electric convector heaters installed, these to be obtained through the kindness of Messrs Pearce and Co at wholesale prices’
Feb 1960 — ‘we record with sincere regret the passing of our dear friend and brother Mr Luther Furniss u/ho served the church in so many ways’
The Methodist chapel in the late 1930s
Photo lent by ]udy Armitage.
The end of an era The last people to be married in the chapel were Keith and Brenda Clarke in 1953. The last christenings were of their children Elaine and Trevor. The congregation by this time was very small, certainly smaller than that of the Baptist chapel.
Keith & Brenda Clarke Wedding 1953
Photo from Trev Clarke, 2019 “The last wedding to be held there, my mum and dad – Brenda and Keith Clarke”
By 1962 the chapel had virtually ceased to function. All the original trustees had died, and some of the few remaining members transferred to the Baptist chapel. In 1963 some of the pews, together with the stained glass windows which depicted members of the Faulkner family, were also moved from the Methodist to the Baptist chapel.
Between 1962 and 1965 there was considerable legal correspondence to establish ownership of the chapel, and of the land adjacent to it that had been donated. In 1965 it was ﬁnally sold to the Northamptonshire Association of Youth Clubs, and the Youth Club was formally opened in the Autumn of that year. After 130 years, Methodism in Heyford had come to an end.
Thomas Faulkner was born in 1839 and died in 1917 at the age of 78. He was undoubtedly an influential member of the Heyford community. He was a baker by trade, he was one of the early chairmen of the parish council, and for fifty years he ran the Methodist chapel. On his death the Northampton Mercury printed that ‘his genial manner, kindly heart, ready sympathy, and active interest in all local and social matters, gained for him the respect, admiration and popularity of all with whom he came into contact, and his death will be mourned by a large circle of sympathisers.’
Photo lent by Dennis Clarke
An interview with Thomas Faulkner
In 1911, shortly after his golden wedding anniversary, the Mercury published an interview with him. That interview gives a wonderful insight into his life in the language of the day and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the Northampton Mercury.
From the Northampton Mercury, Friday 29th December, 1911
On Christmas Day Mr and Mrs T.G. Faulkner of Lower Heyford celebrated their golden wedding. For it was on Christmas Day 1861 Mr Faulkner fetched his bride from Abthorpe. “We were married at Caldecott” Mr Faulkner told a Mercury representative. “The Wesleyan chapel there was the nearest place to Abthorpe licensed for marriage in those days, and as we were Dissenters we preferred to be married at chapel, even at the cost of a little inconvenience.”
“I was born at Heyford and have lived here all my life. My first work was on a farm at threepence a day. Later I went in for shoe work. In those days many of us in Heyford got work to do from Northampton. I worked for Henry Marshall and also for Bostocks. We walked into Northampton to take our work in. It took all one’s time to earn 18s. I should say 16s was the average and you didn’t do that with the eight hour day. In those days Heyford was more prosperous though than now. There were two furnaces to give a lot of employment.”
“You gave up shoemaking?”
“Yes and I took up a bakers business. A bakehouse had long been unused and we rented it. I stuck to that ‘till my son took it over some years ago. Now I help him a good bit though.”
“What was the price of bread then?”
“Eightpence the quartern (4lb) loaf. I have known the price as low as threepence halfpenny on a contract. I can remember when people used to buy ‘sharps’ from us to make their own bread. The high price was not so good for bakers as the lower. We had to pay so much for flour and then of course we sold a good deal less. The reason bread was so dear at first I believe was bad harvests and a war.”
Mr Faulkner had been prominently associated with the public and religious life of the village. A staunch Liberal in politics he has always taken an active part in the general elections, and to him the Earl Spencer is still the ‘Honourable Robert’ of the seventies and eighties. “Oh yes” he said, “we had lively times but very little bitterness. I have always got on well with the Conservatives and with the Church people even though we did differ.”
For many years Mr Faulkner was a member of the Northampton Board of Guardians. “Compared with the other boards in the country” he said “the Northampton Board has always treated the poor in a most humane spirit. Coming into contact as I did with people from all over the country my blood boiled at the harsh manner other Boards treated the out relief cases.”
A member of the Parish Council and one of the School Managers, Mr Faulkner has done much good work for his native village. He has also been a prominent member of the AOF which he joined a few weeks after his marriage. For some years he was secretary to his lodge, and has held the office of treasurer for thirty years and more. Many times he has been a delegate at the High Court and has passed the chairs of the Northampton and Wellingborough District.