Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Woodman's Cottage (picture mid 1930's)

This cottage was situated half way between the Village Farm house and the Beeches Farm house on the Beeches side of the road.  
As with all the cottages, they were allotted to the different craftsmen, or if the cottage was "tied" cottage to one of the farms it was always a farm cottage. 
 In this case it was the Woodman's cottage, the woodman being employed by the estate to look after the many different woods and coppices around the estate. From planting to felling, cutting up trees into suitable lengths to cleft posts and rails for fencing, and doing the maintenance to all estate fences . 

Woodman's Cottage
The picture looks a bit too tall and narrow, but you get what it looked like. In the picture is Aurther Lawson the last woodman to live here along with his son and daughter plus the dog, in fact he had three children.
His son became a railway engine driver, when the railways were still in steam and towards the end of his career went onto diesel loco's. His older daughter lived and work at home as they had lost their mother, working part time in the house at the Beeches Farm, her husband Bill also worked full time at the Beeches Farm.
After Aurther retired in the late 1950's the family moved into one of the new council houses opposite the village shop and after a few more years the cottage was pulled down and the site cleared and amalgamated into the adjacent fields. There is almost no trace of where this house had been other than a post in the fence and hedge.
I remember one day there was an almighty scramble for a long ladder, a pan of fat had been accidentally spilt on the fire, causing the chimney to catch fire with sparks coming out of the chimney and landing on the thatch.  It almost met its demise that day, but a long thatching ladder kept at the Beeches was hastily put up the roof and sparks quelled.
The place where the thatch seemed to give way first on these old houses was around the chimneys and once they started to leak in the rot got deeper into the thatch until the whole lump of rotten straw sank into the house.
 As I said before about other old thatched houses, the estate man who "did" the thatching around the village cottages had become too old and died and no one else had the skills to repair them, the only man who attempted top repair the thatch in the 1930's was the wheelwrights son Jim Clark. Many of them wanted a complete stripping and re-thatching, and that never got done. The new council houses were too big a draw on the village population for them to want to live back in the dark ages in these old thatches cottages.

A new sewage system was put in through the middle of the village just before the new councils houses went up and that ended the "bucket and chuck it" down the garden toilets that all the old houses had.