Burton Bradstock in the 1950s

An Interview with Greta Heal and Basil Dent

 

Greta Heal is one of the Hawkins family, one of the oldest Village families. Greta's father had Townsend Farm in Shadrach [A1] and her Uncle Edgar had Shadrach Dairy Farm in Mill Street, both leased from the Pitt Rivers Estate. Prior to taking Townsend Farm, Greta's father kept the Post Office and Three Horseshoes pub together including doing baking in the Shoes.

 

I lived at Townsend Farm, which was right opposite where Nancy Bushell lives. The farmhouse was where the cottage with the black shutters is now. My father died on 10 December 1941 and this made things hard. In 1946/7 my sister Margaret and I bought Townsend Farm and Henry Pitman helped keep it going, but in 1948 Mum died and my sister wasn't really interested. She emigrated to Australia in March 1959.

 

I married Bill in 1949. He was a Londoner, evacuated to Bridport in the War. He stayed with the Northover and Gilbert family and we met at one of the weekly dances in the Village Hall. In the 4Os and 50s they had lots of Dances and Whist Drives in the Hall and Basil's Auntie Lil, who lived in The Red House, ran the dances. They were very informal and of course you couldn't take drink in, so the young men used to stash bottles in Auntie Lil's garden (now Hilary Mousley's orchard). The WI were very big in the Village then and Lady Fielding and Miss Cottrington, who gave the money for the Village Hall to be built, had lived at Gages with Miss Chitty as Housekeeper. The other big house in that part of the Village was Girt (Great) House and Mr. and Mrs. Denning lived there.

 

I kept the farm going as long as I could, but in 1950/51, the Council put a Compulsory Purchase Order on it and built Chesil Court and South Annings on it in the 1960s. Bill and I moved first to the cottage on the end next to the Farmhouse and then we moved to Barr Lane. I hated having to move.

 

Basil Dent came to live in Burton Bradstock in 1956 and for many years worked at the Garage (Cheney's) [A2| which was owned by his Uncle Albert and Auntie Lil (Cheney) and later by his cousin Gordon Cheney. He retired in December 1989.

 

My family moved North to work in 1926. Dad eventually bought a Garage in Stockport and I worked with him. We came back to Burton for family holidays because Mum and Auntie Lil were sisters. I only came back to live in Burton when Uncle Albert died unexpectedly quickly in 1956.

 

Motor Manufacturing was picking up after the War and Uncle Albert had just got an Austin Franchise. All Repairs and Servicing were done round the Flax Mill and Cousin Gordon wanted to do the Mechanics and look after the workshops there. He asked me to come down and do the admin and look after the sales and forecourt. The Garage moved to the site it is on now in 1933, prior to which it had a nursery specialising in violets run by Bertie Williams. The Garage had originally been at the top of Barr Lane with the petrol pump on the right, virtually on the corner. Aunty Lil bought the Garage in the sale in 1958.

 

Susan Moores compiled the following from what Greta and Basil said in answer to the question

 

What was Burton Bradstock like in the 195Os?

 

Farms

 

There were three (and a half) working farms in Burton Bradstock in the 5Os. The 'half' farm was that of Rob Gale, the Village Butcher, who had 19 cows and his Dairy was in Annings Lane where houses are now. His Cowman was Stan Parsons, Peter Parson's father, and he did the milking 365 days a year. The cows were pastured in the field on the right at the top of Cliff Road, and every day Stan would walk them through the Village, past the White House and along Annings Lane [A3].

The 3 full working farms were Bishop's, Hawkins Dairy Farm and Bunny Lenthall's. Frank Bishop [A4] kept Horses at Shadrach Farm, which was on the left where Nancy Bushell and the Chennells live now, and Frank lived In Shadrach House [A5]. He ran a Riding Stables with his son Tony.  Frank died in an accident in June 1957 when a tractor overturned on him while making silage and Tony took over. Tony was into horse-racing and bought in lots of horses to ride in races.

 

The Hawkins Brothers ran Shadrach Dairy Farm in Mill Street. Their cows were pastured along Bredy Lane. The Hawkins had long run a dairy delivering milk to the Valley [A6].

 

Bunny Lenthall leased Manor Farm and he kept his cows in a field at the bottom of Southover. All the cows came along the High Street at certain times of the day and had to be kept apart.

 

Bunny was more famous for breeding Dorset Horn Sheep [A7]. He was a well-known National judge and his sheep won many trophies during the 50s [A8]. He judged Dorset Horn sheep in Australia and emigrated there in the 60s, buying thousands of acres at 6d an acre! In the 50s, Bunny also had caravans on Freshwater and at the 1958 sale he bought the Freshwater Caravan site [A9]. He continued leasing Manor Farm until he moved to Australia. The Estate put the Farm up for sale and developers bought it. They took out Manor Farm and 50 acres as a unit and Jack Burt (Heather Thompson's father) bought it from the developers in the early 60s.

 

Between the fork in Bredy Road to Mallinson's turning, 7 people owned the fields. Most farms around were small and poor. If you needed a milking cow because some of yours had died, you could swap a meadow or a horse for a new cow and it would all be done on a handshake - Trust. This is why it was very difficult to know who held what land when the Land Registry asked.

 

Shops

 

Rob Gale, Janet Guppy's uncle, was the Village Butcher. His shop was in Grove Road. There were 3 other shops in Burton Bradstock in the 50s. The shop in Shadrach, near the Anchor, had been an Estate Maintenance Workshop until Mark and Janet Bell bought it in the 1958 Sale. They made it into a Grocer's shop selling newspapers as well. Later, they sold it to Janet and Geoff Guppy and it flourished for many years. The other shop, which sold everything, was run by Stanley and Annie Williams, an old Village family. It was in the High Street, in the end cottage before the Bridge. Stanley was a bell ringer and both were part of the very large Church Choir. They had shelves outside the shop full of fresh vegetables including Lettuce and Greens.  Annie could be seen at various times of the day beating off the cows on their way to the Milking Parlours with a large stick!

 

Fred Mullins ran another shop where Bridge Cottage B&B now is. In photographs his shop can be identified by the 'Walls' sign by the door or a sign saying 'ices' which he put on the wall opposite. Fred also stocked books which he would sell for 6d [A10].

 

The Post Office was to the left of The Three Horseshoes - now part of the Lounge Bar [A11]. There was a Bakers Oven in the Shoes and it sold mixed goods. After the Sale the Post Office was moved to its present site because Palmers Brewery had bought the Post Office at the Sale to extend the pub.  Colonel Maddocks bought the cottage next to the Shoes in the Sale and turned it into the Post Office. The main Bakery was in Grove Mill (Burton Mill).

 

Pubs

 

There were 3 Pubs in the Village - The Dove [A12], The Three Horseshoes and The Anchor Hotel [A13]. The Dove was very much a 'spit and sawdust' pub. It had its own clientele from those living closest. Also, the only food The Dove served, and not frequently, was Bread and Cheese but there were more takers when the landlord, Gus Wylde, got draught Guinness which attracted the Navy from Portland! In 1956/57 a fire destroyed the cottages opposite the Anchor Hotel [A14] and after the 1958 Sale they were knocked down and four flats were built.

 

The Shoes was an Ale House. A passage went through from front to back. There was a small Lounge Bar on the left, which didn't include the area of the corner and the bay window, as that area was the Post Office. On the right was the Public Bar. There was just one tiny window in the Public Bar and in both bars you could get Pork Pies and Sandwiches. Harold Greenham was the Landlord in the 5Os; he was up at 6am every day with all the doors and windows wide open to let out the smoke and the smell. The Shoes was really only one up from 'Spit and Sawdust'.

 

The Anchor has always been the 'Smart' Pub. It was quite up-market and in the 5Os began calling itself a Hotel. It was very like it is now but it had a room at the back where the Smoking Area is now. It had a Public Bar but sold itself on its Accommodation in the Summer. From 1958, The Anchor had 6 letting rooms and offered full board.

 

West Bexington Manor was very smart even then. You could only get a drink if you had food, so one sandwich was put in the middle of the table at the beginning of the evening and woe-betide you if you ate itl

 

Deliveries

 

In addition, vans came round from which you could buy all sorts of things. Two bakers came round - Mr. Fonsell on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and Roberts the Bakers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Two grocers, a fish man and greengrocer visited the Village and the Co-Op came round with a mobile shop. On Mondays and Tuesdays, the Paraffin Lorry, run by 2 men from Bridport, served the Valley. Whitemores sent Sales Reps to the Village to get orders for family groceries and they would be delivered to your door later. Stan Williams also had a van fitted with separate trays for fish, meat, bread, cakes and tins and a large roof-rack full of vegetables. He delivered through the Valley on Friday and Saturday nights after he shut the shop. Stan also took round a 5-gallon drum of paraffin for re-fills for those who ran out; he carried it round in the passenger seat. So much for Health and Safetyl [A15]

 

Building

 

Around Burton Bradstock, there were more open spaces. At the beginning of the 50s, Annings Lane was a big field including what is now Lower Townsend. It was intended to build a new School there but this never materialised. The field was sold and the old School done up. During the 1950s, Council properties were built in Lower Townsend and more building followed in Annings Lane.

 

Beach Road was built in the 1930s but at first the only building was North Lodge [A16] which was the Toll House for the Beach (Joan and lan Allah's house today). All non-villagers had to pay a Toll of 3d to get to the Beach. The Police House, where Jenny Malyon now lives, was built just after the War so in the 1950s there was a full Police Station allocation for the Village of one full time Police Constable. PC Robinson was the first, followed by PC Geoff Peach who later became an Inspector in Blandford. The 50s saw private house building in Beach Road. The first plot was sold for 50; the last for 70,000. By 1958, there were only 4 plots left.

 

Circa 1960, Peter de Savary began the conversion of the Mill in Grove Road [A17] into Mill Cottage, and later Mill House and four flats. The four levels of the early 19th Century Mill were reduced to three and the Mill Wheel and associated machinery were destroyed. Mill Cottage was sold to Mr. and Mrs. House (seen in the photograph outside their new purchase) [A18].

 

In the early 1950s (c. 1952), several cottages opposite The Anchor burned down and the four flats which are there now were built (see photograph).

 

Plans to extend Cheney's Garage were drawn up in 1959 and the extensions and workshops were added in 1960-61. The bank was dug out and the forecourt made bigger. The petrol pumps were also replaced with more modern ones. The Garage was modernised and the mechanical operations were moved to the main garage, the Flax Mill then only being used for storage of cars and caravans [A19].

 

Compiled by Susan Moores - May 2012