Saturday, 17 September 2011

Another Old Character of the Village


Old Characters of the village (Albert 1940's)

Albert Hine

As the summer days got longer, so pick the leaves did he,  (tabacco)
And hung then in the living room, the ceiling could not see.
When dry and almost crisp they got, into a draw he pressed
To keep them through the winter, by large old chimney brest.

These are charactor of the village nearly all of whom worked about the farms, few if any traveled out to other parts for work. This is what I remember of Albert in the 1940's when I was a little lad

Albert Hine was a hard working man only short in stature, and quite round in his latter years. He had a weather beaten face and small red veins showing on his chin and nose and red rims to his ears. More often than not he had a dark three or four day stubble on his chin . He always wore a cap as most men did at that time, on the few occasions that his hat was removed, or blown off, it revealed thinning flattened hair that had a permanent line where his cap fitted round his head, showing even more when he was sweating or when it was raining.

 He always wore a waist coat , an old jacket and a well worn old leather jerkin. This was usually fastened round his middle with a piece of binder twine. On his feet were good stout hobnail boots that had been mended many times. Most men in the country areas all had their own lasts, and a box of hob nails. There was quite a few varieties of these nails, the single ones were nailed all round the edge of the sole with triple nails spread around the centre of the sole. On the heel was a blacksmith made U-shaped tip and a smaller tip on the toe of his boots. Round the calf of his legs he always had leggings which buttoned up the side of his leg and a small buckle at the top to protect his corduroy trousers.

On the club room night once or sometimes twice a week, the men of the village would meet for a game of snooker or games of dominoes and cards. On this occasion out would come his second best cap jacket and corduroy trousers (or put another way next years work clothes).

The only other thing he wore (as opposed to carrying) was his pipe. This was not always lit, but when it was it was prodded full of tobacco with his fist finger that was permanently the same colour as the inside of his pipe. Out with his Swan Vesta`s (matches to those who don't know) match pinched between his thumb and first finger cupped with the lighted end in the palm to protect it from the wind and rain. Then he introduced it over the pipe, the flame now being drawn through the tobacco with intermittent clouds of smoke rising around his cap until it was well alight. This cupping of the hand was always the way it was done even at the Friday night whist-drives in the old club room, when there was no wind and rain.

                                                               Ivy Cottage

This is one of a pair of farm cottages known as "Spight cottages", situated on the vicarage corner theywere built to prevent the view from the Old vicarage to Seighford Hall half a mile away. ( The vicar and the Lord of the Manor did not like each other and these cottages wer put up to block the view from the vicarage hence the name "Spight Cottages")The other cottage is situated between it and St Chads Church, see picture. As a tied cottage it belonged to the Yews Farm, and at one time it was occupied by the cowman, then latterly by Albert Hine who was the wagoner. In the 1950's it was stripped of its ivy and both cottages were cement rendered and painted white.

Albert lived at Ivy Cottage (on the end of the Vicarage drive) and being only a short man he kept all his hedges quite short as well. Most of the garden was cultivated .Starting with the tallest items it was runner beans and as the row always seemed to run away from the road hedge, you could see the Church clock from any where along that part of the road. The next tallest thing was tobacco and as this was his largest crop area. When it came to maturity in September (it got to about three feet high) you could not see the clock.. This crop was cut in large leaves and hung to dry in the house to preserve them, then stored in a cupboard alongside the chimney breast, pressed into draws and then into the cool oven over night as and when required dry enough to be crisped up and rubbed into usable tobacco.

Living next but one to St Chad's Church, he was a bell ringer, Thursday was the chosen night in the week was always kept as practice night, then every Sunday night between six and six thirty the bells were rung, then a few other special occasions like weddings or visiting ringers. In the belfry there was sometimes maintenance to be done, and if you look on the window sill of the south facing window you will find some cement that had been lettered with the names of all five ringers from the 1940's.

It was said in his younger days that he could walk out of the hills with a ewe under each arm such was the strength of this little man. As I said he lived at Ivy Cottage which was a farm cottage to Yews Farm where he worked as Wagoner for Charles Finnimore. You could not get a greater contrast of the sizes, between him being not a very tall man and the shire horses he worked with.

When muck carting with a tipping cart that had five foot iron hooped wheels with one shire in the shafts and another in chains in front, he would walk along side with long plough lines(reigns) guiding the chain horse in front, travelling across the village green and up the Moss Lane to the fields belonging to the Yews.

He kept a couple of house cows of his own, and a few young stock on what is now the school playing field, and the small field adjoining at the end of Oldfords Lane (we call this field "Albert's Patch") . During the winter there is always water in a pool in between the two patches of ground, but in dry periods this dried up and he had to carry water from the Ford for the cattle. By now (he had retired from employment but not from work) he had a little old tractor of his own with a carrying box on the back which held two forty gallon drums

A busy man, he mowed the church yard with a scythe. His principle reason was to turn it for a few days and make it into hay for winter fodder for his stock. He. also cut the grass verges all the way to Doxey (over a mile) this was for the same reason. This activity was done after work at nights and at weekends. The hay he carted loose, as in the days before balers and stacked it in a tin roofed shed loose that he put up in one of the paddocks.

During the war, he like all the other men in the village were in the "Home Guard" (as in Dads Army) .He had to do training and be on duty on rota, billeted in the wooden village hall at Great Bridgeford . On very cold nights the pot bellied stove would be stoked up to the top with coke and glowed red hot. To save having to take the ashes out side they found a convenient hole in the floor boards under the tin sheet in front of the stove, it was a wonder it never set on fire. Some nights they had to find there way to Milford on exercise on foot across field without being seen (about eight miles ). This was all without missing a days work.

The life span of Albert Hine ( he died in 1963) can be seen in the Church yard on his head stone where he and his wife are buried. A very cheerful and popular man among all the village people, he lived to the age of 70 and worked hard all around the "Village Green".

I Remember Albert Hine
Dated in the 1940's and 1950's

Albert was a Waggoner, for Charlie Finimore,
A strong and healthy man he was, and stood at five foot four,
In his younger days it's told, he would walk out of the hills
With a ewe under each arm, in winters cold and chills.

He lived at Ivy Cottage, where he grew his own tobacco,
For to keep his pipe alight, it was not a laughing matter.
As the summer days got longer, so pick leaves did he,
And hung then in the living room, the ceiling could not see.

When dry and almost crisp they got, into a draw he pressed
To keep them through the winter, by large old chimney brest.
He rang church bells on Sundays, with a team they were so loyal,
They practice in the mid week night, as if expecting royal,

He had a box, of twelve inches, though he was in his prime,
The little man he rang the tenner, keeping stead time.
The team with him at that time, they are well remembered,
It written in the belfry sill, names and bells all numbered.

All day he worked with horses, a carting muck with two,
He had the one up in traces, as the load was from the Yews,
Up to the Noons Birch field, where he hooked it out in rucks,
Ten paces up, ten paces wide, so even was the muck.

Descibe the man were looking at, a jerkin he did ware,
Tied round the middle with binder twine, to hold more than just a tare,
Cordroy trousers tucked in spats, round his hob nail boots,
Cap raked left and pipe raked right, pouch and matches in a box.

His old waist coat worn and taty, kept his big watch n matches dry,
The shirt it had few buttons , and the colar he kept it by,
For high days and holidays, when everything was clean,
And home guard duty, when the sergeant, he was very mean.

His platoon was made up of men, who worked around the farms,
They mustered in the village hall, to train as fighting men at arms,
The pork and bacon beef and taters, butter eggs and creme,
All of these were traded, mongst the brave old fighting men.

Albert kept his pipe and bacca, it was woodbines for the rest,
As the smoke it was so dense, no room for enemy they jest
This ploy worked well , no men got lost, and warmer they could keep,
Til sergeant came and caught them, so loaded up his jeep.

Two cows he kept and young stock, and a few old tatty hens,
The fields where he kept them, had sheds and tidy pens,
He mowed along the grass verge, all the way to Stafford,
To make his hay to keep them, and drew water from the ford.

All his life he worked dammed hard, but slower he did get
Albert met his maker, he was one you can't forget,
Popular and cheerful, he lived to seven,tee
Buried in Seighford church yard , remembered by me and thee.


If there is no gardener there is no garden
Stephen Covy

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