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: Book series – How the books were created (Afterword)

‘The Story of Heyford’ was a series of 4 books published by the Nether Heyford village community as a result of the research work completed during 1996-1997

The Heyford Local History Group

These booklets were born out of a small group of local people meeting together with the aim of recording Heyford’s past. The group became known as the `Heyford Local History Group.’

The first meeting was held at the house of Eiluned Morgan in Church Street in the Spring of 1996. During a series of informal meetings we discussed how we could collect information, photographs and stories, how we could involve other people, and in what form the information could be recorded.

The people involved in these early meetings were Eiluned Morgan, Ken Garrett, Shirley Collins, John Smith, Pam Clements, Stephen Ferneyhough and Steve Young.

Our original aim was to publish a paperback style book with photographs, probably by the end of 1998. We held two open meetings in the school hall, one in October 1996 and one in February 1997. At these meetings we had various information and photographs on display.  At the second meeting Barry Highfield gave a short talk about Mrs Court’s shop and we showed a video of old Heyford photographs. About forty people came to each of these meetings. We served tea and coffee, we made new contacts, we collected more stories, and both occasions were good social events.

By this time however it had become clear that the funds necessary and the time commitment needed to publish a full scale book were beyond our means. All of us in the group were working full time and had various other commitments. So the idea of a series of smaller scale booklets came about and what you see here is the result. There will be several booklets in the series, but with no formal structure. We have worked on the principle that it is better to write down the information as we find it, publish it and then move our efforts on to the next subject. We can always add to it in a later issue as more information becomes available.

By the people, of the people and for the people

Many local villagers have contributed to these booklets by giving information, lending photographs, offering documents, telling stories and exchanging memories. Their names will appear with particular stories as you read through them. It is truly a history prepared by, written about, and published for the people of Heyford.

However we would like to make several particular acknowledgements in relation to the preparation and publishing of these booklets. All the people mentioned below live in the village. Use of school facilities for our open meetings: Alan Watson, headmaster;  Scanning and preparation of photographs: Tim Beard of Manor Park; Typesetting and origination: Bill Nial and Key Composition; Printing:  David Farmer and Heyford Press;  Financial support: The Prattler

Accuracy

Whilst every effort has been made to report these stories accurately, please understand that much of the information has come from memory, recollection and hand-written notes. These booklets have been written to capture the ‘spirit’ of the village rather than to catalogue a series of facts, flames, names and dates. We do hope that you enjoy reading them.

Stephen Ferneyhough, Editor

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

TheStoryOfHeyford_NetherHeyford_Footer

Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

Index  |  Covers

Memories of Nether Heyford: Joan Collins

What I Know And Remember About Nether Heyford.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Days.

Compiled by Joan Collins

Parish Church of St. Peter & St. Paul – Services – July & August 2019

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August Services – During the summer we shall be holding just one service each Sunday morning and moving around the benefice. I do hope that everyone who is not on holiday will also move around with us. The services will all be at 10am.

Midweek Communions are held weekly on Wednesdays, 9.30am at Heyford (not 14th or 21st August) and Thursdays, 10am at Flore – all welcome

During July we shall be praying for people living in Upper Heyford; Capell Rise, Collins Hill, Sears Close, Muscott Close and John Campbell Close in Flore; Francis Row in Upper Stowe and the Stables and Coach House in Brockhall.

And during August, Rolfe Crescent, Western Avenue and South View in Heyford; Chapel Lane and The Green in Flore; The Manor in Church Stowe and The Gate House and The Old Dairy in Brockhall.

Rev Stephen Burrow (Tel. 01327 344436)