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Memories of Holford

Wreford Gibbs

Reminiscences of Holford 1931 – 1955

Reproduced by Brett Bates with kind permission of Wreford Gibbs

I was born in June 1931 to Ted (Edward) and Lucy Gibbs (nee Squires) at Cory Well (Corewell?), we used to call it Currial Cottages.  These were a pair of tied cottages to Woodlands Farm, Mr Hutstable was the farmer. Dad worked at the farm and also did odd gardening jobs; Mum did cleaning at the farm and also other houses. Dad’s family lived in Woodlands Cottages and Mum’s family occupied the other Cory Well Cottage. I went to the Church of England School at Stogursey, by bus driven by Bob Perry and caught it at the junction of Portway Lane and Dyche Road. When I cycled I left my bike at Dyche Farm. I won a Scholarship to Dr.Morgan’s Grammar School at the age of eleven. We lived at Cory Well until the early fifties when we moved into one of the new Council houses off Portway. Cory Well Cottages were very basic, no services, water came from a well in the neighboring garden. I left Holford when I married in 1955, moving to Bridgwater and after National Service to Buckinghamshire.

Holford Home Guard during the War paraded at Kilve on Sunday mornings and manned road block at the crossroads of the Kilton / Holford and Stogursey / Kilve at night. Dad was issued with a .303 rifle, Tom and Harry Gibbs (my Uncles) were also in the Home Guard.

Members listed on the Holford at War page

Graf Zeppelin II (LZ130) flown Leipzigfahrt 1939

Just before the Second World War started Dad and I were in the garden when we saw a large airship flying slowly along the coastline in a westerly direction. At the time it was thought to be a German Zeppelin taking photos. I wonder if any one else can recall this?

Every effort was made to save petrol during the war .The Western National Bus Co. converted some buses on the Bridgwater - Minehead route to run on gas This was produced by a coke burning apparatus mounted on a trailer and towed behind the bus .Periodically the driver had to do a bit of stoking.It was not very successful as when a hill was encountered the passengers had to get out and walk and the bus struggled along behind-sometimes.They often broke down.
In September the weekend before St.Mathews Fair held in Bridgwater all the hill ponies were rounded up and collected into a herd in Holford Combe driven through the village, across the A39 down Portway Lane and on to Dodington Farm. The owners claimed and branded their new foals and did a bit of dealing. Ponies surplus to requirements were taken to the livestock market at the fair and sold.

Woodlands Farm employed one Land Girl (mature), a Miss Stuttiford who lived with a companion in Briar Cottage, she worked with Dad, who was full of praise for her efforts. She also organised Holford Youth Club after the War. This was held in the hut. We played badminton amongst other games and also had youth dances where we all learned ballroom dancing on a social scale.

My Uncle Bill Squires who lived at No. 2 Green Close was in the Observer Corps. Doing his observing on Kilton Hill.

I remember watching cricket being played in the field adjoining the hut and after the War I became involved firstly as a scorer, then player and finally Captain in the early fifties. The hut was used as a pavilion and May Chilcott did the teas, very good they were too. The field was stocked with cattle which had to be moved into the orchard just before play began, the wicket strip being protected with hurdles. Col. Baker was the earlier Captain, he lived at Winsors Farm, Ernie Chilcott, Secretary and Ernest Browning was Umpire. Rufus Barry was the Landlord at The Plough Inn.

When I started work in Bridgwater in 1948 I occasionally lunched in the British Restaurant situated in the Corn Exchange, two courses for 1 Shilling 3 Pence (£1.62 in today's money), happy days.


Image courtesy of IWM

As children we had much more freedom than today’s children enjoy. The Glen was a favorite, I remember going into the ruined Silk Mill and the adjoining Pit, no health and safety then. We viewed the Wellington Bomber crash site and also the bomb craters but kept well away from the US Army Camp

We picked Worts, Blackberries, and Chestnuts and sold them to Francis Bartlett, a butcher / dealer of Nether Stowey. My Auntie, Dorothy Squires acted as his agent in Holford.

In the field to the west of Corewell cottages there is a well. It was enclosed on three sides with stonework which was arched over to form a roof,similar to a sentry box. There was steps leading down to a pool from which water could have been dipped out for human use access was not available for animals and there is a stream in the field also .The well must have been fed by a spring and was never dry, the stonework has been destroyed. I wonder if this is the origin of the name.

Wreford Gibbs

Reflections on life as a Sheffield wartime evacuee in Holford Village West Somerset 1939-40

Reproduced by Brett Bates (HHS) with kind permission of Basil Grandfield

I was sent to Holford by my parents at the age of eight years, together with my brother of fifteen years, to live with an Aunt and Uncle (The Sharmans) at the Hazels in Hodderscombe Holford.

I believe all of the evacuees billeted both within the village itself and close to it numbered about one dozen and were dispersed as follows:

Myself and brother at The Hazels Hodderscombe.
Two sisters - Ex Leamington Spa in the first cottage down back lane (Glen Cottage?).
One Girl - Ex Coventry / Birmingham at Pardelstone Farm.
Several Boys - Ex East End London and possibly Bristol at a Farm in Woodlands area.

Dyche School and associated activities

On school days those living close to the village centre met at the Plough Inn and walked down Green Lane to Dyche. Our school was one large high roofed room, rather like a barn with a stove for heating. The yard / playground at the front bordered the road and contained a barn, which was probably used for shelter at playtime. A large tree (for the lads to climb) was against the roadside wall and I believe there was a maypole at the yard centre. At the rear of the school, against the back wall of the yard was a row (5/6?) of lavatories with, I think, flushing cisterns. Also in the left hand corner of the back yard was a water tank fed with water from a hand pump operated by the pupil pump monitors, according to the class pump rota. We all had to take our turn. Water was also used for hand washing prior to eating our lunchtime sandwiches around the stove. The farmers wife from the farm across the road and to the left of the school bought daily in a large pitcher or jug hot National Cocoa, a Government provided wartime drink for young children. There was only one class in the school without any segregation for age or sex, and taught by one lady teacher from London I think. She was dark haired and lovely.

Lessons?  Not much recollection of the Three R's but we did have what might be classed as arts and crafts. We all attempted a waste paper basket woven from cane (Osiers) on a wooden base and I recollect we all sat round a central table to draw a large black boot placed on it. There were I believe, some nature walks and one particular highlight-  a class visit to Dodington Hall it's Minstrels Gallery intrigued me and I've never forgotten it.

Osiers (Willow)

Downloading picture of Dodington Hall
Dodington Hall

Living at The Hazels, chicken farm at Kilve and wood gathering

I was aware that I was much more fortunate than other Holford Evacuees through living with an Aunt and Uncle who I knew well from previous annual holidays and also having other Aunts and Uncles and a Grandfather living next door at The Orchard (recently demolished 2010). In contrast to living in suburban Sheffield I had to adjust to an outside chemical loo, candles and oil lamps for lighting and a general lack of entertainment and young companionship, particularly during the winter months. The only village boy of comparable age was Alan Boobier. Fortunately my brother and I could at weekends walk through Holford Glen to Kilve to a cousins chicken farm where we helped with egg collecting, mucking out, feeding chickens, carcass plucking and other farm duties. Another domestic duty was 'sticking', the collecting of wood for The Hazels fire and cooking range gathered from The Beeches, Alfoxton Park woods and the combes, using an old battered pram for transporting.

The Orchard

Knitting soldiers comforts, rose hip collecting - wartime effort

I recollect that a visiting friend of my Aunts taught me to knit (plain stitch only) and I produced some colour - assorted knitted wool squares to be made into 'soldiers comforts' for the war effort. Similarly in the autumn of 1939 payment was made to the pickers of rose hips which were weighed I believe on the village post office scales and dispatched to produce syrup, No doubt the local WVS, or just the good ladies of Holford oversaw this exercise.

Miss Dickinson and weaving, Scouts and Cubs

A Miss Dickinson lived in one of the cottages on the right at the top end of Holford Combe (always known as Butterfly Combe to me) which backs onto Combe House Hotel. She had a spinning wheel and a weaving loom on which she produced lengths of cloth. She made gentleman's ties and other similar woven items which were displayed for sale in her cottage front window.
Presumably Miss Dickinson heard that my brother and I were keen Boy Scouts and Wolf Cubs respectively in our home town and she sought our help in establishing similar activity in the village hall on a weekly basis. The intention, I'm sure was to effect some form of local troop and pack. I think it was quite without any official organization support, lacked the necessary trappings and was I believe very short lived.

London Lads, Kilve Beach and glatting

Another singular extra activity for the evacuee boys comes to mind. The London lads became aware of the local sport of 'glatting' (The hunting of eels in the rock pools of Kilve Beach after high tide) and organised a hunt. Participants were required to 'obtain' a kitchen fork and meet at Kilve. I doubt that any eels were caught, we would all get pretty wet and several local households would be puzzled to discover forks with mutilated tines amongst their kitchen utensils after the event, my Aunt included.

Basil H Grandfield 12/11/2012

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