The Foxearth and District Local History Society
Ted and Louie's memories of Foxearth;

by Louie and Ted Heathcote

Reflections of Ted Heathcote, who was an engineer at Ward's brewery at Foxearth from 1946-1960.

We came to Foxearth after applying for the post of maintenance engineer for Ward and Son of Foxearth Brewery

I was born in Downham Market in Norfolk, after serving in the six years with the R.A.S.C. and the R.E.M.E. and previously from 1931-1940 with the East Anglian Electricity Supply Company as a installation electrician.

I think that the position of engineer at Ward's brewery attracted me more because a house went with it rather than the work. This work entailed many varied jobs combining maintenance of two steam boilers, electrical generating equipment, refrigerating chilling plant, plumbing and water pumping plant, beer boiling machines and washing machines, rewiring various houses and the 35 public houses houses owned by Ward and Son.

The brewery was the job centre of the village, employing both male and female labour, the majority living in brewery owned houses

Most of Foxearth had mains water supplied by pipes via the brewery from its own borehole. The water was high grade and no doubt contributed to the excellent beer produced, my favourite being Imperial Ale and of course the cask beers from oak casks.

I was told that mains electricity came to the village in 1939. Before then, the brewery had its own supply of 220 volts d.c. for power and a 110 volt generator for lighting, produced by a 90 h.p. National diesel single cylinder horizontal engine started by compressed air and direct coupled to a 60 KW 220 volt D.C. generator. Several local houses were also supplied at 110 volts via a generator and standby batteries. When mains electricity came to Foxearth in 1939, the brewery installed a mercury one rectifier which changed the mains supply of 415 volts A.C to 220 volts D.C. enabling the brewery plant to still operate and also to continue to use its own generator: As a matter of fact, it used the mains power supply during the summer and its own generator during the winter months. This was due to the lack of power from the mains and the frequent power cuts which continued for a few years.

Food, clothing and household goods were still rationed after the war for a few years and local allotments were at a premium for producing food.

The village shop and post office was run by Myra and Harold Ham, they also ran the local taxi service.

The local blacksmith was Basil Evans who in latter years married Mabel Grimwood, teacher at Foxearth school.

The village was supplied by mobile carts and vans. Cuttings were the grocers from Glemsford who came on Saturday for the orders and delivered them on Monday. Bread came from Bird of Glemsford and Gaskin from Sudbury, the latter being called the mid-night baker due to late deliveries.

A Mr Bean had a van selling paraffin and general kitchen items while Mr Eaves had a horse and two wheeled cart selling fish etc, the postman had a cycle for his round and there was a four wheeled shepherd's hut nearly opposite Foxearth Hall which I was told he used in bad weather and for his lunch break.

A Mr A.V.C. Lambert of Foxearth Hall was seen driving his old 1913 Napier two seater car with a dickie seat at the back, it was a beautiful car with two huge brass headlights, lit I believe by carbide gas. The family later leased the Hall and farm to a Mr Stanley Chapman when they went to live at their other residence in Shropshire.

The village was supplied with coach transport by Mr Jim Amos of Belchamp St Pauls with services to Sudbury especially on Wednesday night to the (pictures) and on Thursday and Saturday's to the markets, I can still picture old Jim now (he was a small man with a squeaky voice) huddled over the steering wheel of his bus and always greeting his passengers with a cheery word.

Rail transport was available on the L.N.E.R. line running from Marks Tey to Cambridge with our local stations at Glemsford and Long Melford. The railway crossing at Rodbridge with its gate house (now demolished) was at one time operated by a woman supposed to be a Russian Princess, perhaps other readers can bring her to mind.

There was no public house in the village but we did have an (off licence) on the brewery and it was run by a Mrs Coleby who lived in a cottage opposite, when ever I went to her cottage to do an odd job, I was always given a glass of her famous home made orange wine.

We had a village club in the lane leading to the allotments which was open in the evenings and Saturday being the main night and was generally supported by twenty to thirty persons, central heating was installed and a new bar area was built. Harry Brockwell was the treasurer and I was the secretary for nearly twelve years, we used to collect money on Saturday nights for the "Goose Club" which was paid out at Christmas. When the club funds were good we used to have a "free night".

We had three children, Heather, Julian and Michael, Julian played cricket for the village. According to Tom Hastie, Julian scored the fastest half century he has ever seen by scoring over 50 runs in ten minutes against Glemsford and that was after him being well on the way after a drinking session at lunch time. He said he could see three balls coming at him but managed to hit the middle one most of the little time that he spent at the crease.

A few notes from Louie Heathcote about people who lived in the street around her at Foxearth over 59 years ago.

I was born in London but moved to Earls Colne when I was about nine years old.

There was a row of four houses where the bungalows now stand, I remember Mrs Theobald (Nan Gamp) Violet Mansfield who had a lodger a Mr Bell who we all called Shaver Bell as he had a barbers shop in Long Melford, he had a motor bike and side car. A Mr and Mrs Mansfield and Mrs Eady who was cook at David Ward's (Kruger) and Mrs Newman.

Mr A.V.C. Lambert lived in Foxearth Hall also his son John and his wife and their son John.

From the moat there was Mr and Mrs Leonard Mansfield, Leonard was gardener for A.V.C. Lambert, I always remember him as he was a good looking man, then came

Fred Scrivener and wife, next door to them was Reg Chinnery and his mother Ada, then a thatched cottage which is no longer there lived Fred Chinnery and wife

Prue. Prue cooked the best chips in the world, in those days you bought bones and rendered them down for the fat.

Mrs Eady who was cook at David Ward's did the same , I was a young housewife living next door at Rosebank and once a week it was heaven with the scones she gave me.

Tom Albon who was chauffeur for David Ward lived next door to us, then the Cottage as it was called then where David Ward lived, Mrs Coleby ran the off licence on the right hand as you go into the brewery but she lived across the road next to the Cottage, it is now pulled down and forms part of the Cottage garden Teddy Cook and his wife lived in the thatched cottage opposite the brewery and is still called Cook's cottage. Then at right angles to the road are three thatched cottages in which lived Arthur Farrance who was stoker at the brewery, he lived in the first one, Arthur lost a son on the Normandy beaches, in the middle was Mrs Arbon and the far end was Ken (dear boy) Coleby, who always called the men dear boy, he was Harold Ward's gardener at Lower Hall. At Orchard House lived Mr and Mrs Welch, Mrs Welch was the daughter of David Ward and Harold's sister.

Ernie Grainger and family lived in one of the houses opposite the school, Ernie was quite a character and worked at the brewery and in the Cottage garden.

Next to the Chapel lived Liza and Frank (Dick) Chinnery, he worked at the brewery, Dick won the Military Medal in France as a stretcher bearer in the World War One.

At the shop lived Harold and Myra Ham and family, up near the brewery lived Ned Middleton who was the brewer next door lived Vic Inch and his wife, Vic was a lorry driver at the brewery, on the other side of the brewery lived Mr and Mrs Piper, the house is still called Pipers Cottage.