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“Looking Back” – Richard Starmer. Part 3 – All Saints to Nicknames and Field Names

Next to ‘The Rectory’, All Saints Church, as lovely then as it is now and ‘the jewel’ in the centre of the village of Harpole Then on to ‘Church Farm’ and the Green family, John and Joan Green and their children all with ‘JG’ initials. Josephine (Phini). Jim, Robert, Pat, Janet, Jeremy, Jeffrey and Jill. They also milked on this farm; also working on the farm was Bill Burt (Church Warden and stalwart of the church choir) and who used to ride from his house in Northampton Road on his bike that used to squeak in time with his whistling. His son Malcolm started his working life here as Tractor Driver then going on to work as Tractor and Combine Drive on the Heygates Farms. Opposite ‘Church Farm’ is ‘ Farmhouse’, The Harpole Co-op and just back down the road a little is Annie Robbins house and orchard (David and Joan Spencer live there now). Then the entrance to Larkhall Lane and on the Northern corner is the C.o-op Bakehouse (the baker being Bill Judge) who lived on-site in the house called ‘Ivydene’- This house is where my Grandparents Edwin and Elisa-Ann Starmer started their married life before buying ‘The Manor’.

Just into Larkhall Lane was the Co-op Slaughterhouse where we used to go to watch pigs etc. being killed. Running on from The Bakery were the extensive Stores selling grocery and haberdashery and round the back the coal yard and delivery services and milk round. This was a considerable organisation with branches in Bugbrooke and Duston. On from the Co-op is ‘Cedar Cottage’ outside of which on the footpath was a public seat where unfortunately a village resident had committed suicide. The seat then being moved to (and still is on ) Road Hill. ‘Cedar Cottage’ was also used as the Doctor’s Surgery. Two more houses one of which was ‘The Manse’ where the Baptist Parson lived and two more cottages. Next was my Uncle Tom Smith’s house, he was the local Builder, he had built it himself. Following his death, it was bought by Albert England. The house is now sadly demolished to make way for the area now Cory Gardens. Then there are two more I930’s houses with Michael Faulkner born in one which was then the Paine’s house (now owned by the Calderwoods). Next is “Top Green’.

On from the ‘Woodyard’ are two more cottages then the entrance to Some farm buildings also being part of “Grange Farm”. Next is the house that the Calderwoods first lived in and on from this a house Called ‘Millers’, now Elizabeth Still’s house. This house used to be lived in by Mrs Canvin (Mrs Blackwill’s sister). Then the last house in the village on the right-hand side which was destroyed by fire and is now the plot used as a kitchen garden to ‘Millers’. Back to the left and running on from Jeremy Calderwood’s are more 30’s houses and the entrance to Hill Lane. Then on to “The Grange’ and home to the Churches, with Dudley and Mrs Church and their children Graham, Elizabeth and John. Graham and Elizabeth Later went on to run ‘Grange Farm’ and John to tun Churches Shoes, the family business.

Going back to the left-hand side of Upper High Street on from The Green’s farmhouse was Sprawnny Watson’s Outdoor Beer-house. ‘Then some more houses, in one of which lived Alfie Gibbins, who was the Bandmaster of the Harpole Silver Band. Roland Mills was also brought up here. On up the road were two or three brick built cottages with my Uncle Arthur living in one of these. All are now one house, being nicely converted. Further on is Jeremy Caldcrwoad^ house that was. in those days. three stone cottages with a nice rear view over Callowell. Over the road which is known as “Top Green” is the ‘Woodyard’ with the house some little way back off the road. In this house lived my relations Walter Smith and Lottie and Alf Clarke and his wife Sis (Wally’s sister) and their daughter Winnie who was; my cousin. Smith and Clarke owned the farm on the left at the top of Road Hill. SadlLottie Smith lost her life alter being attacked by a local man and left in the ditch halfway up Road Hill. With regard to the ‘Woodyard’ house, this was originally thatched with tins over. After a very bad fire the roof was lost, now having a tiled roof. This farm is now let to The Churches and farmed as part of’ Grange Farm.

Just around the comer, we come to ’Grange Farm’ with its distinctive Dutch Style farmhouse. The occupier of the farm was Reg Blackwell who lived in the house with his wife Beattie. They kept Shorthorn cows which they also milked. They also had the tenancy of Knights Close, where the village cricket team played their matches. On the right-hand side of Road Hill was the entrance road to ‘Wood Farm’ (now the Abbott’s) and in those days Doctor Waddle’s. Then over on the Nobottle Road were John Green’s buildings (where Bob Green lives now). During the war, an aeroplane crashed on this land which was of much interest to us children at the time but It wax guarded by the army,

Two fields away is ‘Heath Farm’ where Bob Clements used to farm, then later by the Cleaver’s whose son Robert was very quiet and shy but excellent at (YFC) Young Farmers Club quizzes. Coming back towards Duston we get lo Norwood Comer and a field my father used to rent from the Garner family. This field was later exchanged for one above the Playing Fields, the Norwood Comer field grass being ploughed oui by a set of ‘Steam Tackle’ which was the last time that system was used in the Parish, and I was there to see it!

Further on down Sandy Lane was the sand pit which was used in those days as tlie Village Tip (now Threadgold’s Vehicle Recycling yard). It also had a wooden hut on it where someone from the village suffering from T.B. lived. Coming on, also on the left, was “Norwood Farm’ buildings with the tenant now taking over from the Garner family and Son-in-Law Roy Castell being Harvard-Thomas. He had at first lived at ‘Norwood House1 and later moving into a smaller house next door with Keith Duckworth co-foundcr of ‘CosworthEngineering’ living in ‘Norwood House’.

Down the hill and turn right into Larkhall Lane, on the left was Bertie Elliott’s (the butcher from Kislingbury) farm buildings and now Roger, his nephew’s. Before the Elliotts, this land belonged to Darkie Faulkner who had a Poultry Farm and whose daughter Maud used to work for him as did his nephew Michael Faulkner. Michael eventually took over from him. Darkie used to live in a wooden bungalow where John Potts house is now. Then next were the bungalows built during The Wars, half a dozen or so, and the entrance to our field named Hungril (now the site of more houses and The Nurseries behind). On from this is Hillands. the village allotments. There were no more house or developed areas to the left or right of Larkhall Lane until we get to the Band Institute on the right which is built on land given by my Grandfather and built by the bandsmen themselves with bricks previously used from Northampton Prison after it was pulled down, Next to the Institute was Solly Frost’s house, Solly was a very good hedge layer and also the village Barber. So would spend his day s hedge cutting, and his evenings cutting hair.

Then another house which after Mrs Russell retired became the village Fish and Chip Shop run by Frank Worral. Then the Co-op complex and back over the Other side of the lane, The Live and Let Live Public House and the landlord by Alfie Lucket. On what is now the car park to the pub Stood two cottages, in one of which lived Frank Ashby (David Spencers Grandad). Frank had a ‘Pony and Float’ and would carry goods (including store pigs for me from the cattle market). He also had a large shed on the allotments, a lovely man and a very good friend.

Then there are three more cottages fronting onto the road with Harry Clements and his wife Grace and daughter Margaret (who used to cut my hair) living in one. Behind these houses a row of cottages running North and South in which the Dunkley’s lived. Next another cottage, (extensively extended) which is now Terry and Jane Hare’s house. Then, a Stone house and then, ‘The Manor’ field gateway at the end of the hard road from ‘The Manor’ farmyard and where the Harpole Feast Fair was held. In those days many of the people in the village had nicknames. First, my grandfather was known as ‘Neddy’ Starmer. There was also “Timber’ and ‘Tonny’ Woods, ‘Wingy’ Stan Frost, “Oscar’ Les Cory and “Ticker” Arthur Boyes. The Fitzhugh boys “Our Kid’ Des and ‘Nipper’ Trevor, ‘Sandy’ Ron Surridge, brothers ‘Toff’ Harry and “Nelson” Arthur Clements, “Cotcham’ Frost ‘Billy Mish,’ Billy Arba, “ Pigeon’, ‘Solly’ Frost. ‘Taxi’ Gordon Starmer and another ‘Nipper’ David Aldridge. Then at the Shop, Albert ‘ Nutter’ Cory and another “Dick Mock’ Cory. Whilst I, of course, was ‘Dicky’ Starmer and Roland Mills ‘Waller’.

Since those days ofccourse the village has grown with first since the War, Carrs Way Council Houses, then Gamers Way. The village then put in the sewage mains, the Old Peoples Bungalows and Manning Watts House. Development down both sides of Larkhall Lane, not forgetting the Council Houses down Northampton Road, these being built Pre-War. Whilst where the houses facing the A45 arc now. this area was built previously with Pre-fabs built just after the War. Then Carrs Way (where I now live). Manor Close and Orchard Way, also Hall Close and the proposed development of Hall Farmyard.

You may have noticed that whilst remembering what livestock was kept on the farms in those days, almost everyone milked cows and now no one in the village does, it makes you wonder where it now comes from? The fields surrounding the village all had names and of course still do, what are left. Home Close, The Park, Cory’s, Carr Close, Carrs, Marstons, Yewsluck, Hungril, Hillands, Allotments Hillands, Co-op field (now Playing Field), Manor Field. Institute Field, Callowell, Summer House. 14 Acre, Knights Close, Medcraft, Riding Hill, Webstcrs, Blackwells Hill, Town Pool, Slonepit, Motts, Lakes 1 and 2, Scarborough, The Lakes and Brickyard.

There were also Fishers, Westmead, Meadow. Wookhall, Norwood Comer. Coach Road and Rodney and whilst this is just a snippet of ’the many names it demonstrates the very many different and varied field names. Jusl a few more nicknames Brian Gibbins ’Charlie’. Billy Clarke ‘ Billy Arbar’, ‘Pigeon’ Gibbins, “Solly’ Frost. ’Barley’ Wood and in later days Kelvin Roberts ‘Harris’. We also have Andrew Barnes ‘Dumpy’. Mick Waterfield ‘Swampy’, Arthur Roberts and son ‘Arch and Archie’, ‘Fist’ Frost, Vick Billingham ‘Vickman’, Les Billingham ‘Leggerdy’, Olive King ’PopBacon’. Arthur Clements ’Cherels’, David Frost ‘Knocker’, John Frost ‘Archie’, Narrer and Brushy Frost. and Harry Frost ‘Harryman’. I suppose that if the youngsters of today be asked there will be many more.

In those days many people worked on the farms with lots more in the Northampton shoe factories and also at the British Timken Bearings factory at Dustom. Everyone had a job of some sort. My grateful thanks to son-in-law Leon Rodgers for his photos and my daughter Judith and her husband Jon Clements for tbeir help with this hook.

With this short look at Harpole Past I hope that it has been of interest.

Richard Starmer

March 2013

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