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“Looking Back” – Richard Starmer. Part 2 – The Bull to All Saints

The Bull

Next to The Bull Inn was a house (where the pub games room is now) in which lived Roland Surrridge and family. Roland ran a Coach PSV then later a large van collecting cardboard. Next to The Bull car park and just into Park Lane was Roland Surridge’s garage where he kept his vehicles and also charged up peoples accumulators which they used to run their radios. The garage was eventually pulled down to make way for a new house to he built for Roland and his family (Neil Faulkner’s now). Behind the garage were some pigsties where Charlie Frost kept some pigs and was regularly to be seen walking across Park Lane with two buckets of pig swill hanging from a yoke over his shoulders. At the end of Park Lane was the village pound and just inside the park where ‘Park House’ now stands was a tennis court that was used by villagers.

Coming back up Park Lane was The Swan Public House, tenant of which was Franky Faulkner (Hazel Bullimans Dad). As well as running the pub he also kept a few milking cows. Next on the left was the Post Office run by Bill Starmcr and then Mrs Russell’s Shop then Audrey Bloomfield’s cottage. Just going back to The Swan for a minute, this later became a private house occupied by Olive Elliott late of The Close. On her death with the obituary being published in ’The Times’, the house was then burgled.

 Around the corner and back in The High Street was The Cory’s house and in those days was a three-storey house but was later reduced to two storeys. Back over the road and looking directly down Park Lane were Charlie Frost’s house (Dave and Di Ballard live there now) and his farmyard where he milked a few cows and had to walk them twice a day to his fields at the end of Glassthorpe Lane that in those days was called Manning’s Lane. Behind Frosts Farm was John Wilson’s market garden and house. John (father of George and Andy) was an expert hedge cutter and Thatcher Whilst cultivating his market garden with a trusty two-wheeled tractor and being watched by a friend, on turning a comer, one of the handles of the tractor caught the onlooker’s coat, who was spun around which at the time seemed funny. But of course, this could have led to a serious accident.

Next to the entrance of John Wilson’s were two cottages, later made one and to include the then village Post Office. In one of these cottages lived Billy Clarke with his parents. Billy who always used Io wear bib-and-brace overalls and was one of the village characters was thought by his parents to be unfit and incapable to work. But he was mad keen on horses. Coming down to ‘The Manor’ every day to harness our horse Kit, he would always tighten up the girth strap far too tight. In later years after his parents had died, he had to go into care which was quite sad really. He was thought by some to be the ’Village idiot’. but to us, that knew him he had a sharp wit and with some encouragement could have held down a paid job!

Next to where Billy and his parents lived were two large semi-detached thatched houses. The first one (where the Bowyer’s now live) was occupied by Joan and Staff Garnet. Joan used to be a Hairdresser and Staff, whilst I can’t remember what he did for a living, played and was very proficient with a musical saw. Also, this house was used by the local Doctor as his Surgery. Next to Garnet’s house was what is now Stuart Orton Jones’ house and Dental Surgery. Going back to the other side of the road and next to Cory’s house (now James Strickland and fanuly} we come to Duck Lane and The Clements’ Farmhouse and farmyard (now Simon and Helen Cordingley’s house). The Clements family, which was huge consisted of Pap and Gran Clements, Harry (who lost a leg in the First World War), Arthur, Bert, Floss and Ivy. Harold, who with Harry worked on the farm, also kept one of the village shops.

Mary Judkins, who with her husband Bert, kept the Squirrels Public House in Duston and Bob (one time tenant of Heath farm), and then going into agricultural contracting and being a Livestock Feed Rep. Also working on the farm was Ken Clements (Bert’s son} and a land girl called Lilly, who later married Francis Judge and together ran The Live and Live Public House. During her time working for the Clements family. Lil used to do a milk round in the village with a pony and float, with a measure straight from the chum, the milk coming straight from the Clements’ own cows. Although the farm was in the middle of the village, their land was scattered, but in those days we all seemed to manage. Turning to the left are Duck Lane cottages, owned by Colonel Watts, which he gave to the village to house the needy. These cottages were Io be administered by Age Concern who then decided that when one became empty they were then at liberty to sell. The proceeds of such sales going into their own coffers! ‘Disgraceful”, Colonel Watts would turn in his grave!

Coming round into The High Street, the site of the old Work House, this consisted of a yard with three or four cottages These being later demolished and a fine house to be built for Frank Bates (Di Ballard’s and Bridget Paul’s Father) who was Headmaster at Duston School. This house is now lived in by Simon Drinkwater and family.

Just around the comer at the entrance of Glassthorpe Lane and adjacent to the village green (the house Where Graham and Bridget Paul live) was the Post Office, the Postmaster at the time being Silas Clarke. The Green in those days was much as it is today, but at its centre was a huge elm tree which had to be felled owing to ‘Dutch Elm disease’. After several attempts, the Turkey Oak now stands in its place.

Progressing down Glassthorpe Lane was a house occupied by actor Arthur Pentelow, later to play Henry Wilkes of ‘Emmerdale Farm’. He started his career al Northampton Rep and then going on to Birmingham Rep. at first having to catch the bus at ‘The Turnpike’, then after a bit, he had a very old car to do the trip to Brum. Eventually, he got into films and then into TV, ending his earner in ‘Emmerdale’ sadly dying of a heart attack.

Next, we come to ‘The Hall’, in those days the home of Colonel Hobson. ’The Hall’ in those days had quite extensive grounds and when at school, we were allowed by Colonel Hobson to play cricket on his bottom lawn (Hall Close now occupies this land). The occupants at ‘The Hall’ after Colonel Hobson were Monty Knight (who had Jewellers in Mercers Row, Northampton) and his wife Jessie (who had a small Theatre in ‘The Hall’ grounds), Their daughter-in-law being Jill Knight, Member of Parliament for Solihull, and now Dame Jill Knight.

Following on from ‘The Hall’ is ’Hall Farm’ which was farmed by Arthur Boyes and his son Robin with the Boyes’ being tenants of the landowner Colonel Watts. Arthur Boyes had spent his early life in Canada and Robin serving during The war in ‘The Tank Regiment’. Arthur used to drive around the farm with Pony and trap, Later in one of the first Land Rovers. This farm was mostly arable with cattle and sheep on the grassland They also had their own set of Threshing tackle. The buildings at ‘Hall Farm’ are of interest, being built on the site of a Monastery with one being called The Chapel (still there) and in the lane at the junction with Chesterville, a ‘lepers Window’ (sadly now deteriorated). In those days ‘Hall Farm’ was the largest farm in the village.

Going on down Glassthorpe Lane, which I mentioned before, was then called Manning’s Lane (I suppose after the Manning Watts family), there were Elm trees which used to line either side of the lane, their branches touching in the middle forming an archway. These trees all went to the ravages of Dutch Elm disease. Further on down the lane, we get to ‘Lakes Farm’. Originally being built by my Uncle, Bert Oakes, and let to Roland Collett who, with Mrs Collett and sons Roy and Brian ran a dairy farm, Roy and I being best mates (Barbara Oakes lives there now).

Over the road and across the field was the Baskot’s then called ‘Harpole Hills Farm’. The family consisted of Frank the father, and Mrs Baskot (who was killed in a road accident at Kislingbury turn), son Don (who later emigrated to Australia), and two daughters, Sheila and June. They also milked cows, The farm was later sold to Heygates, who built a private farm road to their land in Nobottle. At the western boundary of ‘Lakes Farm’ is the boundary brook between Harpole and Hayford which zig-zags its way down to the River Nene entering the river on the Harpole side of the Ml at Junction 16. To the west of the boundary ditch, a small set of farm buildings which contained a sheep dip and being the property of Will Oakes, who lived at ‘Glassthorpe Hills Farm’ at the very end of the lane, the sheep dip was used by ourselves and others in the village. When dipping sheep, the village Bobby was always in attendance to make sure the sheep were in the dip for the required time. This was vigorously policed via inspection of the ‘Livestock Movement Book’. And of course, when we were threshing corn stacks, the stack had to be surrounded by wire netting to prevent the escape of any vermin. Will Oakes also milked cows amongst other farming activities As well as Will and Mrs Oakes living at the farm was their daughter Kathleen.

Coming back down the lane we come to Blackwell Hill then Webster’s Field (‘Riding Hill Farm’ is now here). Then running up from Webster’s is Riding Hill which in those days the top of the hill was covered in gorse bushes. From the top of the hill, a commanding view of the village and the Nene Valley. The hill being much loved by tobogganists in the winter snows. Then behind Riding Hill is another hill, Callowell, with its spinney of trees at its top.

Back in the village at The Green is a pretty thatched house occupied by Mr and Mrs Ern Starmer (now Marlin Farley’s house). Over the road, ‘The Firs’, a large farmhouse set back off the road This being the farmhouse to ‘Hall Farm’ and occupied by Arthur Boyes (now by Margaret Briscoe).

Next to ‘The Firs’ and Stuart Orton Jones’ house, where the electricity transformer is, stood a mud-walled cottage. Then going on from ‘The Firs’, two more cottages (now Jim and Rose Green’s house), and at the side of this a back entrance to ‘The Firs’ garden. Next to this is a nice little house lived in by Mrs Lyon Brown whose daughter was an artist and had a studio al the back.

Going on from this was Cory’s Grocery Shop with Mrs Cory running the shop, her husband working in Northampton in the shoe trade and bringing in supplies io the shop with a carrier bike. They had three daughters called June, Rita and Eileen (this shop now being Pam and Tony Havard’s Antique Shop). Over the road, Bill Read’s house and The Jetty (a footpath we used to traverse every day going to school). Next to Cory’s Shop, another shop ran by Harold and Rose Clements whose son Roger went on to be a Doctor (now using the house at weekends) then the Chemist’s. Going on, a stone house and yard with two more cottages. Next, we come to Walt Manning’s Butchers Shop (now Harpole Village Stores).

On the left-hand side of The High Street some 1930’S houses, one of which was the Scriveners who had a newspaper round in the village. Also, amongst these houses ‘The Police House’, where the village Bobby lived and policed the Village very well. Some of these policemen being PC Bill Shed, PC Charlie Houghton and PC David Austin 7. Then, on the Corner of School Lane Dorothy Starmer’s house, behind which can be seen (what was Nuts Bus Garage and now Magnus Shoes) On into School Lane is Connie Tarry’s house Connie’s father Sam was a Church Choir Master. Further on down School Lane and opposite the school, two stone-built thatched cottages, one of which lived in by Mary Wood who lost a leg when a child. Next to Mary’s house The Jetty running out to The High Street and leading to the entrance of the Methodist Chapel and the wooden building that was the ‘Pinkards Shoe Factory’. Also, where the new chapel is now were four cottages which belonged to my Grandparents. In one of which lived the village road sweeper ‘Timber’ Wood who, it was said used to stand naked under the pump for a Cold shower. This must have taken place very early in the morning before us children went to school. Over the road, the Harpole Church of England School. Headmaster being Mr Rowslead arid Infants Teacher (my first teacher) Miss Warwick followed by The Calderwood’s who had come down from Durham (with their children Jeremy and Judith) to teach us. At the end of the lane was Tom Rolf’s farm and he also kept some milking cows in the three fields that surrounded his farm (now The Motts and Chester Avenue). In his leisure time, he used to frequent the Northampton Dog Racing track. Coming back up School lane, ‘ The Rectory’ with the Reverend Leveridge and the Reverend Jarvis, a jolly and delightful man, a keen gardener, who used to grow and cure his own tobacco. “The Rectory, being a very fine house (to which was attached to the Rectory Room) which was used for whist drives, jumble sales and social evenings and was where we in Harpole Young Farmers Club met.

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