Part 3-Memories

PART 1PART 2 – PART 3 – PART 4PART 5PART 6
TRANSCRIPT OF RECORDINGS TAKEN ON 8th JULY 1957
IRON FOUNDRY.

Mr Bridgeman     “The iron foundry was at Compton, which was started by my father, and carried on ‘til the last war by myself when I succeeded my father in the business. When the war came I was left with one man and myself, and it was too hard work for he and I do the foundry and I finished with that.  And there’s been no foundry since, and it doesn’t look to me as though there’ll be any other foundry there because I’ve sold the business, sold the property, and I understand there’s an artist living there now, so he isn’t likely to make castings.”

“What did he make ?  When the foundry was started by my father,  we made Lowcock’s ploughs, pulled by horses, and that was from a patent of a man who lived in Marldon, and all the castings and all the ploughs were made in Compton. At that time there was three smiths, four forgers and the foundry.”

“At that time there was no wheelwrighting done, but father started that.  And we made a lot of wagons to go in various parts of the country and in various counties; and if I might let you know an interesting little bit to me, when I was married and like the rest I wanted a little holiday my wife and I went to Bournemouth for a week, and we were waiting outside the station there at a place called Hook, Winchfield, when I said to my wife, “Look out there!”, and there was a wagon there – Bridgeman, Compton, Devon – in the railway yard.”

“Some ploughs were sent to Australia. But the ploughs didn’t last long. They began to use a balance plough around here.”

“We made scores and scores of little cottage stoves 30 inches long or two feet six – there’s plenty of them about now in old cottages.”

Mrs Shepherd    “I’ve got one of them now and it works beautiful.  I don’t want to turn it in to cook.  I can cook on an open fireplace.”

Mr Bridgeman    “Manufacture of these stoves came to an end when the bigger foundries in Scotland made it and we couldn’t compete with them for prices.  But they weren’t so thick, they was thinner.  When I left school at the age of sixteen father told me to put some stoves together.  We had a chap who’d been there for years.  “Come on”, he said “We’ve got to do this in a day!” Well, I’d only just started.  You’d get all the castings put out on a bench and you’d trim’ em up after coming out of the sand, and put your stove together. Day’s work!!.” (Chuckle).

THE FIREBACKS IN THE GREAT HALL AT COMPTON CASTLE

“Commander Gilbert came to me and said, ‘ Do you think you could make some firebacks?’. We had three. He gave the patterns which were in plaster, and we moulded them.  George Counter and I – if this ever goes out on history George might read it one day – and me moulded them, and each of them weighed two and a half hundredweight. And we hadn’t got such a thing as a crane to carry the metal around in the foundry. We had two ladles which held one hundredweight and a half of molten metal. Well, I had three men working for me and my brother. My brother and I carried one ladle and the other two chaps carried the other ladle, and Counter with the one leg, he skimmed the scum off both ladles before we poured it. And that’s how that was made.” (Rope was used to form the pattern of the scroll round the edges.)

APPLE PIE DAY

Mr. Rendell    “Yes, it was a huge apple pie.  It was drawn by donkeys on a little flat cart.  The pie was made in five or six different sections, and was made to look like one in the cart.  It was taken from the bakehouse up to the field, and there they had a general holiday you see.  It was in September.”

Mr. Bridgeman    “I can tell you the last apple pie that was carried about in the village was drawn by four donkeys because I rode on one of them, and their harness was of straw ropes.  That was the last apple pie that was made in Marldon.  There was an old gentleman by the name of Hill.  He was the instigator of that.  There was a general sports and so on, and people came, and you’d buy six penneth of apple pie.  I don’t know if there was any Devonshire Cream.”

Mr Rendell    “Oh, yes there was!”

Mr Bridgeman    “There was a room in the village that was used for dancing, and the only musical instruments they had was fiddles.  My father played one and it was in that room – you know, where Arthur Heath lives  – that was the dance hall.  We hadn’t a parish hall then.”

Mr. Rendell    “I was too young to remember dancing.  I was like Mr. Bridgeman, I rode on one of the donkeys at that show.  It used to start at two-o’clock. The pie was baked at what they used to call The Royal Oak.  That’s where the blacksmith is now.  It was loaded up there, and there was a procession with the band in front to take it up to the field.”

MARLDON SHOW

Mr. Bridgeman    “Yes, we had a show here:- Marldon Sheep-Shearing Horse Show and Athletic Sports, and I was the Secretary for that for eleven years, and there was sheepshearers from all around the various parts of the county.  For there was several good sheepshearers in this parish and they won prizes at the County Shows and so on.  And the horses were shire horses chiefly, or farm horses, and after that jumping horses – hunters.  And after that athletic sports for those who liked to take part in it, and a dance after that I believe.”  * MLHG has in it’s Archive the Programme for the 1913 Show (described as the 18th Show) which confirms all of the above, and also refers to “Spear making, best horse & cart, and potato picking (on horseback) Events.

Mr. Rendell    “There was, for certain.”

Mr. Bridgeman              “I can remember going to a show at Blackawton where the village was no bigger than Marldon.”

TOOLS

Mr. Bridgeman          “Before I left school, all the fellows that were on the wheel were cut out by hand, and the belly as they call it – the inside of the fellow – was cut out by an adze.  I cut out scores of fellows with a bandsaw that was driven by a steam engine, and after that we had an oil engine. And when the oil engine was wore out we got on to electric.  And all the gear I had when I went out of business – it was all electrified.  We had a special tool for making rings, in cast iron five feet high, all tapered. The blacksmith would weld his ring and turn it on the beat of his anvil and weld it and put it on his mandrill to round it up properly.  For the wheel-write business I used to buy the plank.  Father bought the trees, and we had a sawpit and two sawyers to cut the plank by hand. I did have two old pit saws hanging around for a long time – but I haven’t got them now. We used barkers or strikers for sharpening scythes and so on – they were round, tapered towards the end.”

Mr. Rendell          “At the foundry we made our own chisels and punches. ‘Tweren’t no good buying punches, they wouldn’t stand up to anything. You’d break them or bend them.”

MRS. SHEPHERD’S COTTAGE

Mrs. Shepherd          “It was a man called Mortimer, and he made it for himself, and he stole every stone he had in the house.  And now it’s falling down – so it’s many, many years ago.  I don’t know how many, but it was many, many years ago.  How was it nobody stopped him? But then, my dear man, nobody wasn’t there then, and he’d just hop over and pull down a stone or two and throw them in over.  He was all right. There’s heaps of stones.”

“Us used to go up and tease him, you know.  Tap to his window, knock to his door, put reels on the handle of his door.  What would he say?  ‘Twouldn’t do for me to repeat He used to have a pip of cider out in the back kitchen and he got a pipe that came in through and he used to sit by the fire and his ashes used to come up over his knees; and he used to sit there and drink ‘till he couldn’t drink no more, and then he used to go to bed I suppose.  But we children we used to go up and we used to terrify the life out of him.”

“Yes, I remember Apple Pie Day.  We used to think it was a fine holiday – used to like – bit of apple pie.  You see my mother she had thirteen children, and we didn’t often get that luxury, you know.”

SCHOOL

Mr. Bridgeman          “About Marldon Church music and the choir.  Before the organ was installed in Marldon Church they had the orchestra. My father played the violin, my grandfather played the cello, my uncle played a flute, and there was two or three others from Paignton. That orchestra was about six or seven; and then they decided to play an organ, and when the organ was installed the orchestra struck.  They’d never go to church any more and they went to chapel – that was true. They gradually came back afterwards, but that’s the history of the music at Marldon.  Up at the Chapel at Marldon they had an old gent with a fiddle, called Wills.”

“For other affairs my father played, and there was an old man called John Neck – he’s got a son living in the parish now.  He was a fiddler.  There was another old gent from Little Hempston every Sunday, and I forget what instrument he played – but he did come.  When somebody played a false note he’d call out, ‘Stap, stap, stap. You’m wrong!’”

“What happened when the organ came?  Well, my grandmother was the wife of a farmer and they had a tea party in one of the fields near the house when the organ was played first. Those who had sixpence paid for it, and those who hadn’t paid threepence.”

PARISH ROADS

Mr Rendell                 “There used to be what they called ‘waywardens’; there was two waywardens appointed every year.  They had to look after the roads, make the rate, what they used to call way-rate.  They’d go right around the parish, so the roads was always kept up because each waywarden would look after his own roads, you see.  The roads were mended with cracked stones, cracked by old men, something like I am now. They wouldn’t get two pounds a week – they might get half a crown.  Well, you see, they couldn’t live on that, so they’ go crack stones for ninepence or tenpence a day. Most of the stone came from the parish quarry, what they call Poorland; some from Compton and some from Aptor.”

EARLY MEMORIES

Mr Rendell                 “He drove a milk cart to Torquay when he was ten years of age – right past Torre station to the Strand.  Torquay was then mainly a winter residence for the rich. Village children never spent a day at the sea, never went away from the village.”

“Some of the farmers would have a harvest supper – that would be a sing-song when the harvest was finished up. ‘Twouldn’t be anything very great.  I remember the first self-binder that came in this parish – in’87 on Stantor; a man called Mortimer used to live there then – in a field called Crockett Wood. Down in a dip – fine place to try him. Took five horses to work him.”

EARLY FARM MACHINERY.

Mr. Bridgeman          “I remember the first mowing-machines. They had trouble.  There were men that were so bitter against it ( they used to do them out of a job ) and they put iron stakes in the ground. Men who sold the machines would work it and the farmer provided the horses until such time as their own men learnt to use the machine. They drove iron stakes in the ground and of course that broke up a knife or two and so they tried to stop that game.”

LIME KILNS

Mr. Bridgeman          “There was five lime kilns in Marldon.  Farmers had the use of one, or small farmers would share.  The first one on the right was worked by Compton Barton, a biggish farm down to Compton.  Mr. Bridgeman’s father rented one and employed a man to burn the lime.  The limestone was in pieces about nine inches square.  They used culm for the burning; it was a kind of coal that was mined in Wales.  That would hold the heat, and that was what burned the lime.”  ( Mr. Rendell recalled that lime and dung were the chief manures. “Nitre was used for lifting things – for forcing things on. There wasn’t much else.”)

QUARRYING

M. Bridgeman (Speaking of the quarry rented by his father.)          “That same quarry – the stone was ripped in big lumps.  Some weighed five tons, some weighed seven and eight tons.  My father was renting that quarry then, and it was used on the sea-wall at Torquay. A man drilled his hole in the rock – the jumper – put down his gelignite or whatever he used, and blew it out. Horse took it down on low wagons. They had their shearlegs to load ‘em. And also I don’t suppose you all know in this room that the stone and the stuff mixed with the cement was out of the quarry to build the reservoir that’s on top here to supply Paignton. Father had horses and carts to do it.”

(Splitting stone)   “The man who had any brains at all or who knew what he was doing would find out the grain of the stone, and he would  have gads – sometimes called flies.  Those little tools was made of steel, four or five inches long, and you’d use two, you’d drive them down.  You’d drill your hole and then put your gads in; you’d split it if you got in the right grain.”

FARM CALLS

Mr. Rendell          “Well, if a farmer was going out to fetch his cows in at any time he’d go to the gate and he’d call. ‘Hoi, hoi, hoi’, and each of the herd would come up, and they’d come away to him.  When a man was driving his horses if he was ploughing or doing anything at all, if he wanted the horse to go the right he’d say ‘Wug’, and if he wanted him to go to the left he’d say ‘Come here’. ‘Come hither’ some of them used to say.”

CARTS

Mr. Bridgeman          “The first carts that were made you couldn’t tip them, not to tip your load.  Their shafts were bolted to the body.  They’d shovel the load out of the cart or take the horse out of the shafts.  Tip the cart up, shafts in the air.”

CIDER

Mrs. Shepherd              “At Littlehempston I had a sister there and I used to see twenty or thirty children down there having a cup when they were cider making.  They used to drink it up with a straw sometimes.  They used to have a fine time there.”

Mr Bridgeman          “On Occombe Farm they used to have their own pound, and they used to make their own bottled cider there.  That’s lovely stuff, you know, it glints like champagne. Well, I’ve made or helped to make, cider presses, and repaired them. Six inch round cast-iron screw; some of them were not like that; some were a double screw, three inches or three and a half steel.”

WHEELWRIGHTS AND MILLWRIGHTS.

Mr. Bridgeman          “The gear wheels in the mills are made with wooden cogs and apple-wood is chiefly used for that.  I’ve cut out on a bandsaw hundreds.  And help fix ‘em – that was a job.  And then you’d trim them to get the right pitch.  You’d trim them with a hand chisel.  Hours and hours at it. I helped do one in Totnes. A man asked father if he’d do this job at Totnes Mill.  I don’t know if any of that gear is there now – down near the bacon factory.  And father had a millwright from a firm in Exeter to come down and help him do that, and I was with him for three weeks, and that’s where I picked up a bit of knowledge about millwrighting.”

ROADS

Mr. Rendell.                “In the old days two main roads went through Marldon – one from Dartmouth to Exeter, and the other from Paignton to Dartmoor.  You see, there’s two turnpike houses here, one at the bottom of Marldon Cross and one at Five Lanes, you see. Up at Smokey there’s a place called ‘The Stable’ now where they used to stable the horses for the stage coach from Dartmouth to Exeter.”

RECREATIONS

Mr. Bridgeman          “There was a skittle alley in the old days – a popular game that was.  My grandfather carried on that and brewed his own beer in that Royal Oak Inn.”

“There were choir outings to Slapton, in a brake pulled by four horses.  Every third year the choirs from Ipplepen Deanery went to the Cathedral in Exeter to attend the annual Choral Festival  We had to go away early in the morning in a charabanc for that, say seven o’clock, get up to Exeter, have a practice in the morning and sing the service in the afternoon. That was our annual outing.  I went with the Old Age Pensioner’s outing on Saturday and we were singing from Plymouth to Yelverton, all the way, and there were such songs as ‘John Brown’s Donkey, he had a wooden leg’ and that sort of thing.  Well, that was the sort of sing-song we had. ‘Twas amusing and it helped to pass away the time, if you didn’t want to look at the country.”

“When the choir wanted an outing they’d get some subscriptions out of the people that went to the church and if you hadn’t enough money to have a good two feeds – that’s dinner and tea, well, carry pasties.”

“We used to walk sometimes and go away with sixpence. You used to think then you’d got a fine lot to play with.  Walk from Compton to Goodrington Sands before any houses were built down there and that was a little outing, but wasn’t much swimming attached to it. You might go in and paddle a bit, but they didn’t learn the way to swim then, the way boys do to-day.  People thought it dangerous.  Might get washed down to Dartmouth got in at Totnes, mightn’t you?.”

CHARITY

Mr. Rendell.                “The allotment rents were paid at the Castle. You’d simply go into the Big Hall, and there’d be bread and cheese and cider on the table and you’d pay your rent and you’d stop as long as you like.  You’d just have a chat around and then come away.  There was nothing laid out at all.  That was all that ever I saw of the Castle.  Blankets were given away every Christmas Eve to the poor of the parish.  You wouldn’t get them every year.  You’d simply take it in turn.”

Mrs. Shepherd.             “Yes, all my blankets come like that.  About every two year they used to send for me to come and get one.  Course I hadn’t a particularly large family neither, but they always used to send for me.”

“There was a lady that lived up to Marldon House that was very good to the poor.  Well of course I had two little children and our wages was only nine shillings a week at that time.  Well she used to allow my children a pair of shoes or of boots every twelve months, so I was all right in that respect. Cos, of course, on nine shillings a week you couldn’t do it.  (This lady was a Miss MacKenzie )  She knew everybody in the village, and I used to live just down under where their big house was.  She often used to come down and see me. If they’d got anything left over from their dinner they’d bring it down.”

MARKET DAY

Mrs. Shepherd.             “You’d drive the cattle on, and when you got them to a corner run and see they didn’t go the wrong way.  At Newton Abbot you’d put them in the market and then go and have something to eat.  One cow got hanged halfway over a gate. You know, one half inside and the other half out. I had to wait till somebody came to give me a hand.  I was there for nearly an hour waiting.  The farmer and his wife would ride to market and if you were going a bit quick they’d stop ‘ee.”

WORKING CONDITIONS

Mrs. Shepherd.             “Cattle men and horse men would work six to six. But what you used to call ‘stand-to-work’ men – that’s men living away from the farm – they’d be seven to five, you see.”

Mr. Bridgeman          “At the iron foundry they’d leave off Saturday two o’clock and that was a wonderful job – sixty hour week.  I know father never paid more than sixpence an hour in his life.”

GLEANING.

Mr. Rendell.                “What I remember of gleaning was before I was six years of age.  We was living at a village called Rattery then, near Totnes, and we as children used to go out with my mother.”   (No local memories of gleaning).

WATER SUPPLY.

Mr. Bridgeman.                    “In the house where I’m living now, where I was born seventy-eight years ago, when that house was built – it was built by a butcher –there was no such thing as water by pipes through the village then. They had to trust generally either to a pump to pump the water up to them from a well or had plenty of rain water. And under my backyard I’ve got a tank that holds 7,000 gallons of water in that old tank.  And I know when we lived there we had to go down to one of the farms and get a bucket of water to make some tea with because that water wasn’t always so well.  It was all right perhaps if you boiled it.  And I was telling someone only last week ‘If you like to come and look in that old tank there’s stalactites hanging six inches down from the roof, something like Kent’s Cavern’.  I ought to charge people to come and have a look at them.”

HOUSING OLD AND NEW

Mr. Bridgeman.                    “Do you know what a man said to me the other day? ‘Bungalows do you call it? I call it rabbit hutches’.  And he said, ‘Your house has been up some years, and your house will be standing when they’m tumbling down.’  Now then, mine’s and old fashioned house I know, but the walls is of limestone, eighteen inches thick, some parts are more than that – two feet.  (Masons preferred 18 inches to 2 feet because it was easier to find stones to cover the whole width and tie in the wall.)  D o you remember the town-planning people came to Marldon once and they said they’d never build in the village, they’d built around the village, they didn’t want spoil the old village appearance.”

“I was talking to a man on Saturday that came from Sheffield. I said to him, ‘Do you like Marldon?’  He said, ‘Yes, and I don’t want to go away again’.  But another man said ‘This one-eyed show, I wouldn’t come here if I was going to die!’  That was another yarn.  ‘Tisn’t all that one-eyed show.  There’s a lot of parishes that isn’t as well fitted as Marldon is.”

“A man said the other day, ‘We were a happy family before the up-country folks come here, they’ve upset all the lot.’  Well that was his idea, but ’tisn’t true.  In country villages you know everybody and you know when they’ve gone out to tea, but down to Paignton they don’t even know their next-door neighbour.”

FIRE BRIGADE

Mr. Rendell.          ( He remembers the Torquay Fire Brigade coming over when Lower Westerland Farm was burnt out.  He was working at Stantor Farm then – about twelve years of age.)

SCHOOLS

Mr. Rendell.                “Bidham’s. Yes, I took out the stone from the foundations there.  I picked up a bit of a chain there that was very old.  Well, it was all jointed up with sodder so you can tell it was very old.  I don’t know how many years that went back.  One of those neck-chains you know, and it was formed of links, but every link was joined up with sodder.  So worn you could hardly see it without glasses.”

Mr. Bridgeman.                    “Well, father went to school there you know, and he didn’t go to school after he was eleven.  Father went there, it was the only one.  But mother went to a little school in Compton, where the old man Crutch lived – that’s where she went to school.”   (New Church School replaced one that was over the archway that went into a farm.).

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