HM0103 – Milk In Harbury

Mr R. Thornicroft, June 1985


(An interview asking Mr Thornicroft what life was like when he was a boy before WW1. The interviewer and designer of the questions was a boy called Adrian, age 11)


The price of milk was tuppence a pint in summer, tuppence ha’penny in winter.


It was much better and more nutritious than the milk we get today as it all came from one farm. Today’s milk is collected from various farms and mixed up before being bottled.


There was no dairy in Harbury. Mr Wincott from Deppers Bridge delivered to Harbury with pony and float with the milk in very large churns from which he ladled the milk into your jugs or bowls at your door. So you were sure the milk was fresh, straight from the cows to your door. Of course it often contained a little dust, or road grit, but who bothered about such trifles when it was good milk? We all lived anyway!!


It was always possible to collect milk from any of the farms. If you took a jug when the farmer was milking his cows he would often run some from the cow straight into the jug. When the jug was filled you had to get out of the way quick as he would turn the cow’s teat and squirt you in the face with it.


I can remember about ten different people selling milk in Harbury. They would often sell eggs as well; lovely big fresh eggs at one penny each. THOSE WERE THE DAYS ADRIAN


All the best REJ


HM0082 - Old Mother Overton

Harbury Mourns Its Fortune Teller

Leamington Spa Courier – February 13th 1959


Harbury is mourning the loss of Mrs. Eleanor Overton, a noted village character, whose funeral was reported in our last issue. “Old Mother Overton,” as she was affectionately named, had long been a resident of Harbury, and was widely known through her poetry and fortune telling. She was often seen in the streets of the village with her ancient perambulator, which earned her the nickname of “Boadicea.”


Her fortune-telling was of the kindest and most optimistic kind, but caused the more simple of Harbury residents to fear her prophecies.


Her poetry was mostly religious, and recited by her in public. The Harbury Golden Age, of which she was an ardent and regular member, heard many of her poems from her own lips at their meetings. The last occasion she joined them was when a party of 35 Golden Agers visited the Coventry Pantomime a fortnight ago.


Her loss was all the more unexpected in that her picturesque stone house was recently rebuilt. During the rebuilding a spinning wheel was found which was over a hundred years old.


A member of the Golden Age Club commented this week that she was the first loss to the club in the two years of its life, and would be greatly missed.


Here, as an epitaph, are eight lines from one of her poems written before she was married:


How many hearts are aching?

How many homes distressed?

Because of those dear loved ones

Who are now laid to rest:

But they’ve gone home to father

And may return again.

This blessed news should cheer us

When they are free from pain.


HM0038 – Bob Thornicroft’s Memories

Bob Thornicroft Memories of Harbury


Bob Thornicroft was interviewed by some of the children of the top class at Harbury Primary School


Could you tell us where GT Alcocks butchers shop was?


What kind of meat did he sell?

How did he display his meat?

Was his meat dear or cheap?

Approximately how big was his shop?


G.T. Alcocks butchers shop was the building on the corner of High Street and Chapel Street now known as Phoenix House.


He sold every kind of meat, beef, pork, mutton, lamb all of a very high quality. Much better than the meat that is sold today. He would buy most of the animals locally and slaughter them himself. It was a small shop.


The meat was on display on large hooks all along the front of the house. All the stray dogs would sit and look longingly at it. But it was too high for them to reach. Meat was never cheap. It has always been our most expensive food.


How big was Thornicroft the bakers shop?

Did it sell anything else apart from bread?

How did you display your bread?

How many employees did you have?

What time did you get up?

What time did you open up?

Can you tell us anything else of interest about the bakery?


The bakery shop was the front part of what is now Mr Mugelstons shop.


Cakes, pork pies and animal foodstuffs was also sold.


There was little need to display the bread as most of it was delivered daily.


People in those days received service from the shopkeepers.


The bakery and oven was where the back part of Mr Mugelstons shop is. The oven was 14 ft long by 9 ft wide and held 320 large loaves. Bakery work was very hard work. The day began at 4 AM when two of us would start to get the first oven load of bread made up. The dough for this was made at 8PM the night before. In the early days this was made by hand, very hot and hard work. Afterwards we used an electric mixer which was a great help. The next dough would be made at about 6 AM in the morning. This would follow on when the first was baked.


To make the 320 large loaves it needed: 480 lbs of flour,24 gallons of water, 21and a half lbs yeast and 6 lbs salt.


Every baker also used what was known as “improvers.” These were of course kept secret from the customers.


I hope this has answered most of your questions. But if you wish to ask any more I will help if I can.


R T


HM0030 – Closure of Wagstaffe School

Closure of the Wagstaffe School


The old school in-spectre may go mod


(Newspaper cutting with “Headmistress Mrs Janie Watts pictured in the playground of the old Harbury infants’ school” and a picture of the school and graveyard)


Harbury’s ghost has deserted. For three centuries the kindly spectre has watched over village children at the Wagstaffe Infants School – using his terrible curse to keep head teachers up to standard.


Now the school has been closed, and next term the 70 children move into an ultra-modern glass and concrete building in Mill Lane.


For 19 years Mrs Janie Watts has been head teacher at the school. She says: “I’m sad to be leaving. The new building is wonderful, all clean and hygiene … but it’ll be another hundred years before it has a bit of soul.”


The phantom is said to be the restless figure of Thomas Wagstaffe, the squire who endowed the school with £21 in 1611. Whenever an unsatisfactory headmaster took charge of the children, Thomas took a ghostly stroll through the school building, where the head lived until 1898.


He met little resistance until the 1750’s, when an unusually stubborn teacher moved in, it is said. He took a dislike to the spectre and lay in wait for him one moonlit night in the deserted schoolroom.


Promptly at midnight the phantom appeared. The quaking teacher shot him with a flintlock … but the ball passed straight through the shadowy figure and buried itself in the schoolroom door. After that Thomas Wagstaffe got pretty well his own way.


He may follow the children to the new building among girders and glass, or stay peacefully in the grave that closed over him 350 years ago.


HM0004 - Wight School by Jean Deakin

Memories of the Wight School by Jean Deakin


My mother, father, Allan, our two children and myself were educated at the Wight School. I myself started when I was two and a half years old, mainly I think because I lived very near and I used to follow my cousin, so they kept me. I can’t imagine what I did other than sleep on a small canvas bed in the afternoon; that was “little school.”


At the age of six years I think it was, I moved down to the Wight School. War broke out shortly afterwards and the evacuees moved to Harbury. My memories of that time are crowded classrooms and playgrounds, and the handicraft room was used as an extra classroom, so the subjects for that room were discontinued. The girls still did needlework and knitting, but in the classroom.


In the autumn we were asked to collect hip berries and we were paid for each pound. They were used to make Rose Hip Syrup. We also went potato picking for local farmers and once we were asked to bring a jam jar and this was filled with drinking chocolate powder.


I expect the teachers I remember most were Mr. Farrow and Mr. and Mrs. Dickens. Mr. Dickens was quite strict but very much a gentleman. He once caught us girls doing handstands against the wall; we all had the stick he used to carry around and were told we were rude. Needless to say we didn’t do it again.


Sometimes in the winter it was so cold in school we were allowed to keep coats and gloves on, and the small bottles of milk we were given were frozen.


Going back to the crowded classrooms, there must have been two classes at the same time in the same room when I was there, because my brother, two years my junior, was in the same room as me; I used to do his sums for him if I saw him struggling and make an excuse to pass his desk and slip him the answers.


By the way Mrs. Dickens used to take us for Needlework. I don’t remember Miss Bustin at school.


My father left school at the age of twelve, but has a certificate for Arithmetic, English, Drawing and Geography, for which he studied at evening classes in 1908. It doesn’t say, but I think they must have been held in the Wight School. It was signed by the then Director of Education, Bolton King.


Transcribed from original by Rosemary Harley July 2009


HM1333 – Death In The Windmill

Shocking Death in a Windmill

Courier, March 18th 1893


The two shocking fatalities at Harbury on Thursday and Friday last week, threw the usually quiet village into a state of great excitement.


The first refers to George Frederick Verney (27) miller, who while engaged in working his mill, late on Thursday night, it is supposed, fell and got entangled in the upright shaft, his legs being horribly mutilated. He evidently died in great agony. Full particulars will be found in the report of the inquest, which is given below.


The second death was that of Mrs Eliza Boote, widow of Mr C Boote, of Harbury, who, it appears, went to Verney’s house to try to comfort her niece (Verney’s wife) in her sad bereavement. It is stated that Mrs Boote had a desire to see the deceased, but before doing so, was so overcome that she herself died almost instantly. Having been suffering from heart disease, the coroner did not think an inquest necessary.


The inquest on the body of George Frederick Verney was held before Mr Dr Wynter (Coroner for Central Warwickshire), at the New Inn, on Saturday afternoon. Mr John Horley was foreman of the jury.


William Verney, father of the deceased, stated that he was a threshing machine proprietor, living at Harbury. The deceased was 27 years of age last October, and had resided at the Mill House for the past three years. Witness last saw him alive on the Wednesday morning previous. Deceased was in the habit of working at night when there was a good wind, and had worked many nights recently. Deceased knew all about the working of the mill and generally worked it alone. He thought it very probable that the deceased was in the dark, and that his clothes caught in the upright shaft. There was a pane out of the window close by, and he thought the draught from it would have blown the light out if deceased had passed it by. Sometimes the flour wanted poking down, and that would necessitate his having to go close by the window. Deceased’s clothing might have caught in the rope which was coiled round the upright shaft.


The foreman said he should think the accident might have occurred in the way suggested, as the rope was covered with blood. No doubt deceased did trip up over that rope, and fall against the shaft.


Edmund Edward Griffin said he was a carpenter and joiner, residing at Harbury. He knew deceased well, and met him on Thursday night, at about nine o’clock. Deceased was then taking a light up the steps into the mill. Witness told him to stop a minute or two till he could fetch his tools out, as they were in the mill. Deceased did so, and asked witness if he was going to make his uncle’s coffin. Witness replied that he was. Deceased said that he could not make room enough for witness to work at it in the mill that night but added that, if he wanted anything else they could see about it in the morning. Witness went home. Deceased told witness he was going to work in the mill the ‘night through’ and that was the reason he could not have the bench. Deceased was quite sober at the time.


Thomas Berry, a haulier, residing at Harbury, said that about 10 minutes to 11 on Thursday night, as he was going to bed, Mrs Verney came into his house and said that her husband had not come home; she hoped nothing had happened to him and asked him if he would go down to the mill to see, as she was frightened. Witness asked the last witness to go with him and they and Mrs Verney all went down to the mill together. She supplied them with a candle and they went up into the mill, witness going first. The mill was quite still at the time but when witness got to the floor next to where he found deceased, it started to go. He went up the next pair of steps and saw deceased going round with the shaft. Witness noticed at once the extent of the injuries to deceased, and ran and put the brake on to stop the mill. Having done that, he then ran for the doctor and assistance. The doctor came in less than three minutes. Verney was dead when witness first saw him, and he should think he had been dead quite an hour. He saw the rope in the cog above, but deceased was perfectly clear from any rope. He also saw the lantern picked up afterwards. It was broken to pieces. He thought it probable that the lantern went out, and deceased, catching his feet in the rope, was taken up. By a juror: the mill was in full cloth, and was going when witness went to see to his horse between nine and 10 o’clock that night. It afterwards stopped, and a flush in the wind started it again. Deceased had his arm around the shaft, as if in a death clutch. When found he was close to the ground, and quite away from the cogs.


The coroner, in summing up, said there was not the slightest evidence or suspicion whatever of any foul play having taken place.


A verdict of “Accidental death, resulting from being entangled in the shaft of the mill”, was accordingly returned.


A juror (Mr Green) said he should like to draw the attention of the jury to the dangerous state of the mill from dilapidations. There were no means of governing or stopping the mill except from the stage, which was in a rotten condition, being unsafe for anyone to walk upon. He contended that means of putting on the brake and stopping the mill should be provided on each floor. Even if two persons were working the mill, and one got entangled, it would be impossible for the one to save the other, as one would have to run down the stairs and out onto a dangerous platform before the mill could be stopped. That was the only way the mill could be stopped, and there were seven floors to it.


Other jurors concurred in those remarks.


HM0154 - Suicide of a Schoolmaster

Suicide of a Schoolmaster July 13th 1895


A sad case of suicide took place at Harbury, on Monday evening, when Mr Charles Henry Savage, the village schoolmaster, aged 33, in a state of mental depression, threw himself in front of the eight o’clock passenger train to Leamington, near the Harbury tunnel.


Some three years’ ago deceased figured as the defendant in a local breach of promise suit, and it is believed that the public annoyance which he sustained in consequence of the proceedings, gradually affected his mind, the state of which some few months ago necessitated his taking a three month vacation. He was much respected in the neighbourhood, and had been in Harbury for many years, but was a native of Redditch, where the funeral takes place.


The inquest was held at Harbury, on Wednesday, before Mr D. R. Wynter (Coroner for Central warwickshire).


Beatrice Dewitt stated that deceased had lodged at her house for the past seven years. She last saw him alive at about 7.30 on Monday evening. When he came out into the garden to her he said he would go for a short stroll, as was his custom, unless he played cricket or tennis. As deceased was rather later than usual in returning, witness made enquiries of a man named Wilkins, who said deceased was on the line near the tunnel. Witness, on hearing this, said it was quite unusual for him to be there, and asked Wilkins to tell him she wished to see him. Wilkins did so, but deceased told him he would come home presently. Shortly afterwards a train approached, and almost at the same instant she saw Wilkins throw up his arms and shout, “He’s done it! Oh, he’s done it!” Deceased had frequently complained of bad pains in his head, but went about his duties at the school alright.


Tom Wilkins, platelayer, Harbury, stated he was at work in his garden on the top of Harbury tunnel on Monday evening. He saw deceased coming from under the tunnel on the down side of the line, and at the request of last witness he went down to deceased. They wished each other good evening. Witness told deceased he was wanted. Deceased said he should go a little higher up the line. Witness went back to garden, when he observed a passenger train approaching about a quarter of a mile off, and saw deceased jump from under a wall either in front of the train or into one side of it and roll over. Witness called to some one near to run for the doctor, and Dr. Pirie got to the deceased just before witness. A man named Young also assisted and they got deceased up the bank to his lodgings. Deceased was alive and breathing, but died about half-an-hour afterwards. His head was badly cut, and the right arm badly injured.


P.C. Collet, stationed at Harbury, deposed to assisting to get deceased home, and produced a note in deceased handwriting as follows: “I am quite tired of life, and to me it’s not worth living. Months of great mental depression, religious mania, and past troubles have quite shattered my health. I thank Mrs Linklater for past kindnesses and I thank my other friends in the parish. I leave £50 for the school, £25 for the church, and £10 for Mrs Dewitt, everything else will go to my brother. God bless my dear father and mother, and may we meet in Heaven as I hope we shall.


C.H. Savage. Lord forgive us our trespasses as I freely forgive all those who have trespassed against me and brought me to this.”


After a brief summing up, the jury returned a verdict that deceased committed suicide of unsound mind


HM0288 - The Speed of a Motor Car – 10th August 1906

Courier – August 10 1906, County Police – Wednesday

Before Mr T.W. Thursfield (in the chair) and Mr A.W. Wise

The Speed of a Motor Car


Edward Dennhardt, motor-car driver, residing at Willoughby, was summoned for unlawfully driving a motor car to the danger of the public at the Parish of Radford Semele on the 17th ult – Mr T.H.D. Ogden appeared for the defendant and pleaded not guilty.


Thomas Keyte, carrier, Harbury, said that on the 17th ult. he was driving his cart from Leamington towards Ufton. It was a two-wheeled covered cart, and he had two passengers with him. When he got to the turning of the Fosse Road to Harbury he was going at a walking pace. He was on his proper side of the road. When near the turn to the Fosse Road a motor passed him from behind. He was in the act of turning his horse when the car dashed past. It was going very fast, like a flash of lightning. In his opinion the speed was 20 or 30 miles an hour.


Mr Ogden: I object to the question of speed in this case, as it is one of driving in a dangerous manner. Witness said he could not give an accurate estimate, but the car was going very fast, and was in his opinion dangerous to the public. He had turned his horse when the car went past, and the hood struck its head knocking a piece of flesh off its jaw. If Witness had not pulled the animal’s head round it might have killed it. He then pulled his horse up and ran down the road after the car, which stopped about 60 or 70 yards farther down. He asked defendant for his name and address, which he refused to give. Witness said that if he would not give his name and address he would take the number of the car. There was a lady in the car with defendant. He went back with defendant to where accident had happened and showed him the damage done. Defendant said the lady has got 30 horses and that is not much.


Witness replied that he had only one horse and did not want that one killed. Defendant went back to the car and backed it until he was almost opposite the cart. Witness then asked the lady for the defendant’s name and address, but she also refused, saying that he had the number. She asked him for his name and address which he gave her. No horn had been blown before the car got up to him, and nothing was done to lead him to know that a motor car was behind him. He had no idea that there was a motor car in the neighbourhood. There was another road that branched off the main road on the left hand side just at the same place. He thought the speed was very dangerous, especially at that part of the road.


Mr Ogden: When did you report the matter to the police?

Witness: On the Tuesday.

Mr Ogden: Did you not think the matter of sufficient importance to report it immediately?

Witness: I did not see the policeman until the Friday, and I did not really know who to report it to.

Mr Ogden: Can your write?

Witness: Yes.

Mr Ogden: Why did you not write to him?

Witness: I thought I would wait until I could see him myself.

Mr Ogden: What sort of a covering has your cart got?

Witness: It is made of canvas.

Mr Ogden: How much is covered?

Witness: All of it except the front.

Mr Ogden: Is the back completely covered?

Witness: All except where there is a piece of glass to see if anything is coming behind.

Mr Ogden: How big is the glass?

Witness: About six inches square.

Mr Ogden: How often do you use it?

Witness: As often as I think it necessary. (Laughter)

Mr Ogden: Had you looked through it then?

Witness: No.

Mr Ogden: How far could you see up the road?

Witness: About 300 or 400 yards.

Mr Ogden: Did you look round before you turned the corner?

Witness: I did when I was bout 30 or 40 yards from the bottom of the hill.

Mr Ogden: And not again?

Witness: No.

Mr Ogden: Don’t you think you ought to have looked again?

Witness: I did not think anything was coming.

Mr Ogden: When did you start to turn?

Witness: About 12 yards from the bottom of the hill.

Mr Ogden: Does not the road widen out just there?

Witness: Not just there, but it does a bit farther up.

Mr Ogden: How do you estimate the speed of the car?

Witness: Well I have seen the trains and they go fast, and this car was going about the same rate. Mr Ogden: But how do you know that it was not 50 or 60 miles an hour?

Witness: Well, I did not think it was going as fast as that. Miss Margaret Ainsley, a nurse, Harbury Heath, said that on the 17th ult she was riding to Harbury with the last witness. She was sitting on the left side of the cart next to Mrs Keyte. And Mr Keyte was on the right-hand side. They were going at a walking pace, and Mr Keyte had just turned to go on to the Fosse Road when a motor car dashed past like a flash. It hit the horse’s head, and if the last witness had not pulled the animal round there might have been a serious accident. She heard the conversation between the last witness and defendant after they had left the car and gone to see the horse.

Mr Ogden: Did the car pass on the proper side?

Witness: Yes.

Mr Ogden: How fast was the car going?

Witness: I don’t know but it went past like a flash. Superintendent Ravenhall: Did you hear a motor horn sounded?

Witness: No.

Emma Keyte, wife of the first witness, gave corroborative evidence.

Mr Ogden: But surely when something dashed past would not a motor car be the first thing you would think of?

Witness: I did not know what it was until it stopped.

Mr Ogden: Was it a large motor?

Witness: A middle sized one.

Mr Ogden: Surely you can tell a middle sized motor car when you see it.

Witness: It was going too fast.


In defence, Edward Dennhardt said that he was drving Mr Loney’s car and just before he got to the place where the accident happened there was a hill, and he could see the road for about 300 yards, and when he was on the top of the hill he saw Keyte’s cart. He had it in view the whole way down. The cart was on its proper side of the road. There was plenty of room for two vehicles to pass on the road, and he went to pass the cart on his right side. Just as he was about to do so the horse was turned without any warning and his hood hit the animal on the jaw. He was going 18 miles an hour at the time according to his indicator, and the engines were free. He stopped the car within 20 yards of the accident. He could have done so within 10 yards but did not think it necessary as it damaged the tyres. It was not true that he did not pull up until he was 70 yards off. His reason for stopping was to see if he had hurt the horse, and also to ask the driver why he turned without giving notice. He had been a driver in England for four years, and had not been fined before. His licence had not been endorsed. Mrs Loney, Willoughby House, Rugby stated that she was in the car at the time of the accident, and was in the front seat and corroborated defendant’s evidence. She said he had been in their employ for a year last January, and was a good and careful driver. He had gone to them with excellent references from Lord Cairns. Witness said she was nervous when in a motor car and would not allow her driver to go fast as she had been in a serious accident some years ago. He was not driving in a manner dangerous to the public. Mr Ogden said that the prosecution seemed to be based on the speed of the car and the fact that the driver did not sound his horn. He did not think the speed could be considered because one witness had said she did not know that it was a motor car until it stopped. As to the sounding of the horn, that was not enforced unless the driver thought it necessary, and in this case he did not as the cart made no motion of turning until he was level with it.


The magistrates retired to consider their decision, and on returning, the Chairman said they considered the case was proved against the defendant, and he would be fined £5 and costs £1.2s.6d. They expressed an opinion that the horn should have been blown. Mr Ogden gave notice of appeal.


HM1374 - Extracts from the Leamington Courier

Lucky escape – October 2nd 1886


On Friday last week a young man called Alfred Verney volunteered to go down a well to fetch some buckets which had accidentally fallen in. When he was halfway down the rope, with the aid of which, together with a ladder, he was making his descent, broke, and he and the ladder fell to the bottom, a distance of twenty feet…but fortunately there was only two foot of water in the well. By means of another rope he was extricated from his perilous position, and it was found that he had only sustained a slight injury to one leg.

Terrible Accident to Farm Bailiff – November 2nd 1889


On Wednesday morning, Mr. George Wall, the bailiff at the Greenhill Farm, met with a terrible accident which, yesterday evening, resulted in his death. Shortly before 11 o’clock, he took a little girl, daughter of his sister-in-law into the cow house to see a Hereford bull … he placed the child on the animal’s back and permitted her to stroke it. He then lifted her off, placing her outside the stall. He then expressed his intention of turning the bull round in order that she might get a better look at it. He went up to the animal’s head, and it butted him in the bowels, causing him severe internal injury. Assistance was quickly forthcoming and the injured man was conveyed to his residence on the farm. Dr. Lattey of Southam attended him as soon as possible, and on Thursday he was seen by Dr. Thursfield. Everything possible was done for his recovery but internal haemorrhage had set in and could not be stopped in time to save his life. The bull referred to is a splendid animal and took a prize at the recent agricultural show in Coventry.

Inquest – November 9th 1889


…even tempered bull .. Mr. Wall had been accustomed to approaching it at all times without it manifesting the slightest concern. It is possible that the handling it received at the recent agricultural society show ruffled its temper. The jury returned its verdict to the effect that the deceased was killed by being butted by a bull and that no blame could be attached to anyone

HM0223 - Millicent A Stock

Harbury 1917-26


In 1917 my father, mother, four sisters, two brothers and I moved from Leamington to live at Kintyre House, Harbury – I was one year old. The stone built house was opposite the Crown Inn in Pump Street. The front door was black oak and there were black shutters to all the ground floor beams. A wide oak mantelpiece hung over the main sitting room fireplace. There were two black iron hobs over the ovens and a spit hung down over the hearth. We burnt coal, logs or sticks collected on our country walks. Black lead polish was used to clean the cooking range; lighting was by paraffin lamps hanging from the ceilings, and a brass table lamp provided extra light. My mother trimmed the lamp wicks frequently. We bought paraffin in a gallon can from Mr Mole the village grocer in Church Street. An open oak staircase led from the main sitting room to three bedrooms. A smaller staircase led from the square landing to three attic rooms, with windows overlooking the long back garden and fields towards Bishops Itchington. Candles were needed to light all the bedrooms. A very cold, draughty kitchen with stone floor brick copper and stone sink, led from the sitting room. One step down from the kitchen was a pantry with window and door facing the main road. This room later became our sweet shop. At the side of the house a driveway led to stables, piggeries, garden and walled orchard bounded by The Pound and Dovecote Lane. The garden had a lawn, greenhouse with a grapevine, vegetable plot and fruit trees. Under the branches of an old pear tree there was brick built coal house and a closet with a bare wooden seat and galvanised bucket under.


Every Friday night, just about midnight, men with a special cart and carrying lanterns emptied the buckets from every garden closet in the village. This in turn was emptied on to Mr Gurden’s field in Ufton Road. Most houses in the village had a drinking water well or pump. Our garden pump water was unfit for drinking, so we had to fetch every drop of water from the village pump on the green near the Wagstaffe School. It was a tiring and difficult job, especially in the winter, when there was frost or snow on the ground. In the hot summer of 1922 the water well began to dry up. A water cart was brought round the village and a bucket of water cost one penny.


My father died in 1919 and was buried in Harbury cemetery. During the following year my mother decided to open the pantry as a small sweet shop. Mrs Beardworth (the Vicar’s wife), Mrs Bland and several friends helped mother to organise the wholesale part of the business and Mr Meredith from Regent Street, Leamington delivered the goods to be sold in our shop. His Ford van often had difficulty on the uneven hill outside our shop. A large white board with the word “TEAS” in black was hung outside the shop. In the summer my sisters and I helped to serve afternoon teas on the lawn. Visitors were invited to walk round the garden and house. We also helped mother to make ice cream. In the evening mother mixed a special yellow powder with two gallons of milk into a custard-like cream in large enamel bowls. Early on the following morning the mixture was poured into a large metal container which stood inside a barrel on the kitchen doorstep. Between the container and  barrel, we packed ice sprinkled with “freezing salt” – (The huge ice blocks were brought on a dray from Colebrooks, the fish mongers on the Parade at Leamington. They were wrapped in thick sacking and stored in the stables) A metal spindle and propeller were placed into the ice cream mixture. A lid was fixed over the barrel and a wooden handle attached. Then our hard work began – we took turns to turn the handle until it would no longer move. The ice cream was made! It was sold in the shop for 1d a cornet or 2d a wafer. Children queued outside the shop to spend their pocket money. Boiled sweets and toffees were sold for 2d to 6d a quarter, Cadburys chocolate bars were 1d or 2d. Bags of sherbet with a liquorice stick were 1d. Woodbines were 2d a packet and tobacco was sold in ounce blocks or tins. The shop made good profit for a few years until Mr Messer opened his sweet shop and Bank opposite the Dog Inn. My mother closed our shop because the villagers found it more convenient to use the shop nearer the village centre.


My four sisters and brother, Reg, went away to boarding school in Middlesex in 1920 leaving my brother, Chris and me to attend the Wagstaffe Infants School across the road. Miss Johnston was Head Mistress, helped by Miss Bird and a student teacher. We sat on tiny chairs – when we had learnt to write our names in the sand, we progressed to using a pencil and paper, doing sums and reading books – we had a brightly coloured maypole round which we danced on May Day. I had pneumonia, followed by a chest complaint for about three years. During that time I had a private tuition at home and didn’t start at “The Big” school” in High Street until I was nine years old. I went away to boarding school when I was ten. Mr Dickens was headmaster of the High Street School helped by Miss Bustin. Mrs Dickens played the piano during morning assembly.


The three attics at Kintyre House made ideal play rooms for us. There we kept our toys and books. We had a large doll’s pram and wicker pushchair. Our dolls were made of china and were jointed; they had eyes which opened and shut and hair which we combed. We had a lovely dolls’ house complete with furniture. Our most treasured possession was a beautiful rocking horse which seated four of us. One sat on the leather saddle, one on each end of the rocker and one on the platform under the body, we spent many hours brushing and combing the horse’s mane and tail and tied it up with ribbon. My brothers had clockwork trains and cars and wooden building bricks. We had fun watching a magic lantern with glass slides, and tuning into our crystal wireless set. During the winter evenings we amused ourselves reading, doing needlework, embroidery, knitting scarves and jumpers, helping to make hearth rugs with strips of rags pushed into hessian backing and mending our clothes. My brothers liked drawing and painting and doing fretwork with albums and scrap books – we made sticky paste with flour and water. Our old wind-up gramophone had a large red horn and scratchy needles. We each had our own jobs to do around the house. My older sisters would help mother cook our meals. I cleaned the brass dinner gong and the silver cruet set and cutlery.


My brothers cleaned and cared for our bicycles. We had four bikes between the family. Mr Blackford in Ivy Lane, would mend a puncture quickly for a few pence. In the summer we went on bicycle rides and walked to Ufton or Chesterton woods for picnics. Occasionally we went to Leamington on the train – there was no passenger bridge at Harbury Station – we had to walk on sleepers set between the railway lines. After a man was killed by a train, a bridge was built. Both Harbury and Ufton Villages had roads where there were frogs and toads; Chesterton mill pool had coots There were windmills at Harbury and Chesterton which were both worked by the Haines families. We often watched corn being unloaded from waggons and taken into Harbury Mill to be ground into flour. This was lifted in sacks on to waggons or lorries to be transported to neighbouring villages.


We often walked to Bishops Itchington to watch the lime workers – lime was dug by machines out of the ground and taken by special small trains and tunnels to a heap to be bagged and transported to many parts of England. The workers’ clothes were covered with grey lime. Mr Hodgets was one of the two village road men. They wore string tied at the knees of their trousers. They walked round the roads with very large shovels and barrows clearing horses’ mess or any debris away Mr Cowley kept the butchers shop in Chapel Street. He had pigs in the fields at the corner of Church Lane and Dovehouse Lane. Sometimes he chose a pig from the field and drove it along Church Street to his slaughter house next to the shop. It was frightening to hear the pig squeal and see blood running under the door into the gutters. Mr & Mrs Cooper kept the post office at the corner of Mill Street and Mill Lane. Postman Biddle who lived in Dovehouse Lane, delivered the letters. Sometimes we walked to Binswood End to watch the Blacksmith at work, but mother didn’t like us to go there, because there had been a murder in one of the houses.


Gipsies camped along the gated Fosse Way at Chesterton and on Rabbit Hill. They collected pennies from cyclists for opening the gates. The gipsies collected wood from the hedges and ditches for fires, on which they cooked rabbits and chickens, sometimes stolen from villagers. The men cut hazelwood which they made into dolly pegs, by binding two strips of wood at the top with a piece of tin. In the mornings gipsy women walked round the village with large baskets of peg s and lace which they sold. Pegs were 2d a dozen.


In the summer a fair came on the Pound for a week. There were caravans, steam engine, roundabouts, helter skelter, dodgem cars, fortune tellers, rock stalls and coconut shies. On Bank holidays the Southam Brass Band headed a long procession round the streets. Children’s sports were held on the field owned by Mr Bert Haines, by the pond, near Farm Street.


On Sundays the church bells rang before the services – my mother went to the 8.00 a.m. service and we all went to matins at 11.00 a.m. My sisters and I wore white dresses, white socks and black or brown shoes. My brothers wore sailor suits. In the winter we wore coats which my mother made on her sewing machine. We had black or brown thick stockings and boots. The services seemed long The Vicar, the Revd Beardworth or church wardens read the lessons. The vicar and his wife were very kind to us – we played tennis and croquet and had bath chair races on his lawn. On Sunday evenings my sister, Edith, played the piano in our lounge while we gathered round to sing hymns. Mother normally said prayers before kissing us “good night”.


Mr Wincott from Deppers Bridge Farm delivered our milk by horse and cart. If we ran short of milk mother would send us to Mr Wyatt’s Farm in Church Lane, with large jugs. Sometimes we had to wait until Mr Wyatt had finished milking his cows and he served the hot milk into our jugs. Mr Thornicroft kept the village bakery. We would watch him putting large trays of bread into huge ovens. Bob Thornicroft helped his father deliver bread by horse and cart or bicycles.


Mr Taylor lived in Wissett Lodge, nearly opposite the Church. He kept three goats in a field opposite the Pound. Twice a day he drove the goats to his house to milk them.


In 1926 we moved from Kintyre House to live in Leicester House near Chesterton . We spent the summer there before I went away to boarding school with my sisters. When we returned home for our month’s Christmas holidays it was to Leam Terrace, Leamington. Later we lived at Willes Road and Avenue Road in Leamington, before we moved again in 1935 to 20, Lillington Road, Leamington. My sister, Gwen and brother, Reg still live at that address. My mother died at the age of 99 years in November 1983 – she was buried in my Father’s grave in Harbury Cemetery.


Millicient A Stock


Names I remember:

Revd & Mrs Beardsworth


Revd Dampré


Captain Thwaites

Manor House

Captain Farley

Manor House

Col Huggins

The Hall

Col Geddes

Temple House

Mrs Sabin Smith

Harbury House

Mr & Mrs Dunn

Station Road

Dr Pirie G.P.

Ashton House

Dr Sutcliffe

Farm Street

The Waltons


Mr Launchbury


Mrs Brooks


Mr Burgess


Nellie Rainbow


Doris Cleaver

Orchard House

Mrs Lynes (Lines)


Mr Hulme


Mrs Wells

Crown Inn

Mrs Owen

Crown Inn

Stanley smith


Freda Jennings


Fred Overton


Mrs Thacker

Hall Lane

Alec Cleaver


Miss Blick (2)


Nurse Bowyer


Olive Wilson


Olive Seaney


Oliver Burbridge


Audrey Louch

Binswood End

Betty Wrighton

Deppers Bridge

Margaret Wincott

Deppers Bridge

Miss Harper

The Yew’s

Mrs Townsend

Crown Cottage

The Manns

Shakespeare Inn

Mr & Mrs Cooper

Post Office

Mr Thorneycroft

Baker

Mr Cowley

Butcher

Mr Messer

Bank

Mr Wyncott

Milkman, Deppers Bridge

Mr Moore

Grocer, Church Street

Mr & Mrs Dickens


Miss Johnston


Miss Bird


Mr Wesett Taylor

Church Street