Barton Stacey 1953 – 1957

Pitt Trailers - Wheel wrights c
Charles Pitt & Son – Wheelwrights pre WWII

TOM THORNTON MEMORIES beginning in 1952 !! This is how I remember it ! I was age 12 when our family moved into the village of Barton Stacey in 1952. We occupied the middle portion of a near derelict tied cottage No 2 Wareham Cottage now owned and occupied by my brother Michael. My Dad Tom Thornton was then employed by Horace Pitt as head carpenter. We had moved from Owslebury Bottom where Dad was employed by Arnold Laver, a Sheffield based timber merchant the owner of Longwood Estate. Dad had risen to become the sawmill manager since his carpentry apprenticeship with Edes Bros. We had moved because the tiny tied Red Bungalow’s two bedrooms were inadequate for a family of five children. At Wareham Cottages our neighbours on either side were on the South side Barry Scoates and his parents Les & Irene Scoates and to the North Fred & Amy Freemen and son Tony. Mrs. Scoates and Mrs. Freeman were sisters. The village was very different then. Mostly country folk and few commuters and lots of Army Officer influence who came and went after a short posting. The Street frequently rang with the chanting chorus of the squads of soldiers out on training marches, of to and from the Moody’s Down Ranges. There were many “ Village Characters “ Chuggy Ball was Church Warden, Vic Collins a reclusive owner of the Cycle Shop adjacent to the Vicarage who later worked at Pitts. The mildly eccentric Ball brothers ran a small dairy farm from the house across the road, later owned by the Smiths, Orchard House . Another was a fellow carpenter at Pitts, Lott Doswell, a bachelor was also the church organist . I believe he lived with his parents in a cottage further down near Wades Farm. There were two village shops, the Post office owned by John Smith who I think had family connections in Sutton Scotney . The other shop was opposite The Swan ( may have previously been the police house ) and run by another unrelated John Smith and later by John Poulter’s family. We also enjoyed the choice of two pubs then The Swan owned by the Kelly’s . Mrs. Kelly was also a school teacher at the old brick school . The Plough was a popular with the working classes then owned by Bill Wyatt who had two daughters . The younger one, Cynthia continued as Landlady for a while after Bill died . There was also another really old fashioned pub in Bransbury, The Crook and Shears, just a short way up the back lane that connect back to Difford where the landlord served pints of Marston’s Pedigree to you while standing in the cellar, straight from the wooden barrel . Now that really was a nice Sunday evening walk. The Green a triangular island around the signpost between the school yard and the church wall was a cycle racing circuit used by the youth before the youth club came to be . The Church wall provided accommodation for spectators and was the social network centre of the day. The red brick school catered to the under 12’s and followed by the then Whitchurch Secondary. There was a very poplar youth club in married quarters in a nissen hut on Roberts Road. I recall Mike Carter teaching us boxing and learning the rudiments of the jive with the 3 Clark sisters who were like a chorus line on the back seat of the Taylor’s Coach, our school bus, coming home from school each night singing “ The Black Hills of Dakota ,” , etc. A few brighter kids went to Winchester for grammar schools including Peggy Riggs and my sister Kate attended Winchester County High and traveled on the Wilts & Dorset Andover to Winchester buses. We had lived in Wareham Cotts for about 2 years when Horace Pitt decided to renovate Wareham Cottages and built 4 houses in the far South corner of his property fronting Gravel Lane. We lived there while remodeling of Wareham Cottages was completed. I worked as a brickies labourer for shilling an hour through the school holidays while building the Gravel Lane houses. During the 1950s renovations of Wareham cottages much of its antiquity was revealed as the bulging daub and wattle interior walls were opened and cavities containing old things revealed. The frame , probably built, from old ships timbers or other previous dwellings was in good condition in spite of the concrete rendering which caused so many old structures to rot away. The walls were cut through just above ground level and damp course installed. The old lean-to structure at the back was removed and replaced with present brick structure housing the kitchen and bathrooms with small bedrooms above. Michael has carried out further internal changes including rehabilitating the old cellar . If asked I think he would share the deeds of the house which may confirm its rumored previous existence as an ale house and a shop. The bricked up upper central window suggests the house was built prior to the introduction of the 1696 window tax. Back to Pitts for a while . The wooden barn was still standing in the early 50’s but the thatched roof was gone. It was the carpentry shop where most of the cart works was done. The walls were lined with patterns for all the various parts of the wagons and shafts for the varying sizes of horses and carts from time immemorial. The building was replaced in the late 50’s with a concrete and steel framed shop which then became the metal cutting shop. Out front were remnants of the wheelwrights fire place where steel rims, formed in the adjacent smithy, were heated and fitted to the wagon wheels . Several custom horse drawn carts and trailers were made around that time then perhaps for Tom Parker’s Farm near Portsmouth. I think it was the late 50’s when a new innovation was created in those shops. Britain’s first fiberglass agricultural trailer body . Dad made the moulds and formed the first unit which took pride of place at the Earls Court Show where hefty farm lads were encouraged to hit it with a sledge hammer to verify its toughness. Other innovations followed, TIR trailers , in the 60’s a patented anti-hop suspension for highway trailers by Dave Whiteland and his Kneeling Nelly, the first front loading hydraulic straight frame trailer. I left Whitchurch Secondary School in the June ’56 with accreditation in Technical Drawing which enabled me to gain acceptance for a 5 year apprenticeship with Vickers Armstrong’s at their Crayford Kent Works. Since this could not commence until my 16th birthday 31st. Jan ’57 I worked for Pitt Trailers a general dogs body under the watchful and caring eye of Reggie Riggs . Another characters that come to mind Cyril Greaterix who was so proud of his daily ride to work , a Brough Superior sidecar rig , I think Eric Hyder was the last blacksmith to use the forge. Horace Pitt was a kindly man and seemed to take to me. He was a motor racing enthusiast and held an executive position with the BRAC ( British Racing Automobile Club ) he would take me with him in his Rover 90 to meetings such as the Goodwood track Speed events and various hill climb events such Broughton.

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