George Randall

Bradmore Village: Changes from the early 1930s

by George Randall

Bringing in the Harvest

In the year 1931, the main road through the village was widened, thereby taking a few yards off the frontages of the grass and arable fields on the west side.  New hedgerows and fences were created:  For example, the horse chestnut tree which was felled in April 2000 at the corner the Ramper/Loughborough Road was set in the small paddock by my father Mr J Edward Randall and his brother Mr William Randall, my favourite uncle, which was part of Bonsers Farm until sold off in 1975.  (Now it is part of Mr Day’s property).


Soon after this happened additional residential properties were built from 1933 by Mr Harry Oliver of Ruddington as he purchased the frontage on the east side of the village, now known as Nos. 63 to 73 Loughborough Road Bradmore, 1933 to 1946.  Incidentally, the very small plot remaining of approximately 650 square yards is soon to be a new house and should be known as No. 65 (between 63 and 67).


The first two to be built were Nos. 73 and 71 – occupied by Mr & Mrs Alexander, a chemists’ agent, and Mr & Mrs George Smith, who was a joiner.  They named their new bungalow “Dunroaming” but little did he know that he would soon be called up for War service in the Navy!


Soon after, No. 67 was built for a Mrs Lewis who formerly lived at Loughborough Road, Bunny, then my mother, Mrs Maria Randall had No. 63 built as my elder brother Frank was married in July 1938 and he would automatically need to occupy the farmhouse – No. 15 Farmer Street, being in a farming partnership with Ernest.


The practice of my family liking to set chestnut trees continues, also oaks – i.e. there is a fine oak at the rear of No. 63, planted in 1957.  Others are around including some of each in Colwick Woods – chestnut trees have also been set at various residences of my son at Thorney, near Whittlesea, etc.; also locally at Leake Road, Gotham – the Dolmans’ farm (formerly Gunns’).  In the years 2006, 2007 and 2008, I donated a total of 15 trees planted in the Wild Flower Meadow, Rushcliffe Country Park, as a memorial to the Randall family of Bradmore from 1860 to 20??.  The varieties were Hornbeam, Walnut, Horse Chestnut and Oak by the entrance known as Bradmore gate.  The office record book bears the details.


The six Council Houses were built when Basford District Council looked after the village – this ground was formerly a large orchard and garden belonging to a Mr & Mrs Jackson, later by a Mr & Mrs Wilkinson, later the residence of the late Dorothy Hooley until around 2000 – an excellent Parish Council Clerk for many years.


Several groups of old cottages were taken down in Far Street, most had a well or pump nearby to enable soft water to be available for wash days or garden use.  An ammunition/powder factory was in use during World War II, new bungalows and houses were added when the site had been cleared.


Before the War there had been very few street lamps.  More were gradually added from the 1950s.  The main sewers did not exist before the early 1950s – earlier years had outside toilets, some at the bottom of villagers’ gardens – some were two-seaters!!  Toilet rolls were not the fashion – old newspapers were put to good use.


The village families were very close knit, most did not travel very far.  Marriages were very local – many were cousins.


In the early 1930s, there were many smaller farms and small-holdings.  As their owners gradually deceased, their land was bought by some of the larger concerns.


Below are the names of the farmers and small-holders within the village (underlining denotes the same farm):


Farmer Street:  the Randalls, Bagguleys, Beebys, Elliotts then Edlingtons.


Main Street:  Woottons, Hicklings, Ingrams, Staples, Voces.


Loughborough Road:  Smeetons, then Arnotts, and Wheatcrofts, Lesters/P Carnell’s, Carnells (Derek’s), Oliver Randall/ Fiona Cattell.


Tradesmen:  There was only one shop/Post Office in the village run by Mr Fearnside (known locally as “Chummy”).  The public telephone was available inside the shop itself – local news went round very fast.  Later we were given an “official telephone box”.  Telegrams were delivered to us by bicycle or motorbike.


The shop stocked a variety of groceries and sweets in glass jars – 2 ozs for one penny, 4d for 4ozs (when there were 240 pennies to the £1).


On a Saturday morning, Mr Fearnside would walk around the village offering “door to door service” in an endeavour to boost sales of cigarettes, chocolates etc.  No “two for the price of one” existed.  If I was good, 6d was my Saturday pocket money.


The village was well served for bread and cakes by Mr Jack Cross and Horspools of Ruddington – groceries from Goodwins (now Cox’s, High Street Ruddington), meat from Mr Bill Oliver, greengrocery from the Warden family of Keyworth, hardware goods etc. were from Wrights of Keyworth, now a garage and coach enterprise.


The farm milk was collected by retailers from Nottingham, Meadows Area, in various sized churns, loaded into vans or light lorries.  Later on, the milk all went into special milk tankers direct to the Meadow Lane Dairies.  The milk churns were all marked with farmers’ names and gallonage sent, and tested for quality. The Milk Marketing Board (MMB) existed then, the MMB Inspector visited milk producers, taking samples from milk cattle.  On occasion they would find one had TB or tuberculosis, so they would issue an immediate death sentence on the animal direct to the “knacker man”, a Mr Ben Cope – he was a licensed slaughterer from Nottingham.  His vehicle was a specially made cart with a slide out floor and lifting gear, and rubber tyred.  He usually had a fast trotting “vanner” type horse.  The cart was usually painted in bright colours, red and yellow, and sign written.


It was a sad day when such cattle met their end especially as it was usually the best beast that was affected.  Really old cattle lived forever, it seemed!  The farmer would only receive a very small amount for the affected cattle.  Sound injured cattle could be sent to the slaughterhouses as Casualties.


Several of the farmers used to keep laying poultry in the grass fields usually reviewed annually.  Bagguleys and Beebys would have several hundred each.  In the orchard at the rear of the Community Hall were chicken rearing houses – part of the Brecknock’s ground floor was the incubator room.  The breeds of poultry favoured at that time were White Leghorns, Rhode Island Reds and Light Sussex.  By crossing the Rhode Island Reds with the Light Sussex, either way on, the chicks became sex-linked by colour so it was easy to select the pullets and dispose of the cockerel chicks.  Later on, people generally preferred brown eggs, and the white egg layers declined in numbers.  Many thousands of chicks were hatched in Yorkshire Dales covering many breeds so most farmers had a good choice. 


The style of poultry keeping was soon to change in favour of battery cages – several hundred birds could be in each house.  It was very easy to manage as poor layers could easily be culled.  The whole lot of birds would be sold off in one lot, the house fumigated and ready for the next annual replacement pullets.  To keep the birds for a second laying year would not be practical as the egg quantity had to be maintained as many eggs were sold on a contract basis.  Eggs were graded, packed in boxes, labelled, named and sold to supermarkets and shops.


Breeds of poultry changed from being large; smaller birds which ate less food were favoured.  One could then put an extra bird in each laying cage – more profit.  The battery system did defeat Mr Reynard who was always a menace to free range and garden poultry.


The price of eggs pre-World War II was not very high.  Pullet eggs (when just starting) September time were 9d a dozen, and increased in price as they got larger, 2/- and up to 2/6 when it was full winter.


Blacksmith’s Shop:  was on Loughborough Road – now “The Forge” residence of Mr & Mrs Reg Adair.  The blacksmith came from Plumtree.  Mr Blood at Ruddington had a smithy opposite Green, and he shod many of the local horses.


Roadsweeper:  was Mr Harrison Senior, followed by his son.  He swept Bradmore Streets on a Saturday, finished up at his own gateway at noon.  He was a prolific smoker, and we were given cigarette cards sometimes.


Midwife:  was a Mrs Staples, on Main Street, lived next door to Mrs Gear.  She also laid people out when they had just passed away.


Pig-Killing:  This usually took place in October.  The butcher was a Mr Richards.  Pork pies were made and for a few pence each were baked by Horspools bread ovens.  After the hams and sides were cured in salt and saltpetre they were put in white sheets and hung in the farm attic rooms until needed.  They made the best pictures in the farmhouse.  One year I can well remember Mrs Hickling (who lived at Mrs Gill’s house) dashing down to the Randalls to request an immediate pig killing as, sure as houses, it had eaten a potato peeler.  Such was not the case after all, but poor piggy was already butchered.


Schooling:  There was no day school in the village, most children went to Bunny, usually walking each way.  If wer, it was the bus one penny each way.  We took our lunch each day, bread and jam, or cheese etc., and we were entitled to a small half-penny bottle of milk each whilst there.  At age 11, several scholars would go to the schools in West Bridgford, some to pay schools.  Most would leave at 14 to go to employment or business college.


Sunday School:  This was built and completed in 1904 and remained until 2002 when it was demolished having suffered subsidence.  The new Community Centre was added to the renovated chapel and all is in excellent order.  Local activities use the premises at moderate charges and all are very welcome.  The Methodist Church dates back to 1830.  The Church of England premises were known as the Spire Room formerly used as a Men’s Institute.


Transport:  There were very few cars in the village in the early 1930s.  Mr Walter Beeby, Mr Carnell and Mr Voce on the main road.  Petrol was only 1/4d old money per gallon.  One brand name was ROP.  We used to call it “Rotten Oily Petrol”- it smelt terrible.


Market Days:  The cattle market was on Meadow Lane.  Monday was for butchers, cattle, sheep and pigs.  Cattle did not go by lorry but were walked from Bunny and were joined by additions at Bradmore and Ruddington.  The drovers concerned were accompanied by their trained valuable sheepdogs.  If the cattle were not sold they were walked back home.


On Saturday, it was the day for “store” cattle, milk cows, calves, some at foot, breeding sheep, goats occasionally, pigs of all types, poultry of all ages, turkeys and geese around Christmas.  Alongside, there were rooms to sell second hand furniture, bric-a-brac etc.  Horses, if any, were always sold at 12 noon.  Bull buyers did not have to wait long as they were sold first in guineas.   Horses were also sold in guineas.  As the density of traffic increased, the danger of loose cattle on the highways meant the livestock hauliers came to the fore. Kelhams of Nottingham and Hollingsworths of Hickling Pastures were employed.


Foot & Mouth Disease:  In 1934/5 a local outbreak occurred at a farm at the bottom of Wilford Hill, and there have been other outbreaks since.  Movements of livestock were by license only and covered stock for immediate slaughter.  Store cattle had to stay put until the All Clear was announced.


Corn Harvesting:  usually commenced in late July.  The corn was cut by binders pulled by two horses, until tractors came into being.  The sheaves then had to be picked up and stouked in the shape of a tent (∆).  The sizes of the stouks varied according to the crop, wheat was in tens (i.e. five pairs); oats were in eights, also barley, and horse beans were in sixes.  One would need a stout pair of gloves for this work.  When the corn had dried sufficiently, the sheaves were taken down and loaded on wagons and then transported by horses to the stackyard awaiting threshing.  Threshing machine contractors were George Harris & Son of Ruddington.  Farm staff and local help assisted, followed by Dixy Ball.  Farmers did not like the work to begin on a Monday as it was then their turn to pay for the National Insurance Stamps.


Wages:  Wage rates before the War were very low, basic worker rate was 35/- a week, small extras for the wagoners and cowmen.  Overtime was worked as extra.  At Christmas time they would often be given a bag of potatoes or a chicken (usually an old ‘en).  Potatoes were grown in bulk quantities for the wholesalers in Nottingham Sneinton Market, who would collect them by lorry.  The small ones would be used for cattle or pig food.


Mangolds: (like a large turnip) were grown and sliced up in a large cutter and with chaff supplemented the wheat and hay.


Wartime 1939 Autumn:  about 120 child evacuees arrived from Tinsley near Sheffield and were billeted around the village.  Locals schools had a job to cope, church halls had to be used.  A few parents also came.  In addition to the above were evacuees come from the St Ann’s Well Road area of Nottingham.  They filtered back quite soon.  Soldiers in Bunny Park:  A lot of troops were in Nissan huts in the Park.  They were responsible for the operation of searchlight units and light ACK ACK guns, used to dazzle enemy aircraft pilots, then attempt to shoot them down.  Around Bunny Park Wall and Wysall Lane leading to Loughborough there were more Nissan huts with open ends where many boxes of artillery shells were stored.  Loose ends were later added.  In high winds they made terrible noises.


Other soldiers were billeted in the village in September 1939, three at Bonsers Farm.  A Danny Lewis, one of them, but unfortunately he was killed in action.  His sister actually married one of the sons of our local poacher, Mr Bramley, and lived in Bunny.


Evacuee Return:  One of the evacuees who stayed at Bonsers Farm was Kenneth Eastburn who has kept in touch ever since.  He has attended Frank and Mary’s Golden Wedding, and their funerals and come over to see our New Community Hall and renovated Church etc.  He has many precious memories of Bradmore and his schooling here.  He now lives in the Rotherham area.


LDV and Home Guard:  A local unit existed and we trained at the garage area opposite the Rancliffe Arms.  Six were on duty each night and worked in pairs.  Our guard room was one of the old cottages near the above licensed premises.  Major Crockford and Lt. Perkins of Bunny were in charge.


Doctors:  No doctor of medicine lived in the village, all patients usually went to Ruddington.  The doctors were Dr Rhind and Dr Hunter.  The former gentleman was noted for issuing horrid medicine for fever cures – no second bottles required!  Doctors made up their own medicines for patients.  Doctors travelled on bicycles using carbide lamps, later Ever Ready batteries, and then by motor car.  Some small operations such as “tonsils out” were often carried out on the kitchen table.


Entertainments:  The children played various games to amuse themselves – hide and seek, tin lurky, cricket, football, postman’s knock etc.


It was very unusual to be taken to town other than pantomime and purchase of a new suit for the Whitsuntide Services at Chapel, or to the fearful dentist on Arkwright Street, a Mr Attenborough.


At harvest time, taking buckets of tea and food into the fields, keeping rabbits in the fast-reducing areas of corn (as the binders went around) for the marksmen.  Foxes on occasion occupied the corn, but they usually escaped.


A week’s holiday at Skegness was a luxury, taken after completion of harvest.  We had a week’s school holiday in early October, this was for potato picking.  In later years the job was done by gangs of women from the Meadows area who were brought to Bradmore by privately hired coach owned by Skills of Nottingham (my employers for a mere 40 years 1947-87).


At Christmas time and at the Chapel Anniversary (first weekend in November) there was usually a Concert Party after a super tea served by the ladies.  Local talent came into this.  A Miss Hill from Bunny gave poems and readings, whilst Mrs Geraldine Pyatt, who lived opposite Blackcliffe Farm House, the Bagguleys’, would render Gracie Fields songs.  One other went “He was Very Very Kind to me”.  The visitors were invited to join in – the “Very Veries” went on a long while.  All had a good time and were ready to retire to a good warm bed with a water bottle or blue house brick wrapped in an old blanket – the results were chilblains or a knock on the toes from the cold brick when cooled off.


Radio/Gramaphone:  In the early 1930s, some households would be in possession of an HMV radio or gramophone complete with winder.  Radio sets were of variant quality and ran on acid filled accumulators.  These were recharged on payment of 4d a time at Grices of Ruddington.  They were also suppliers of Raleigh Bicycles, electrical goods and operated a local taxi business.  Punctures were repaired at a cost of 6d each.  The local bus services would not let you take accumulators on their vehicles.


Public Transport:  In the early 1930s the village was served by “Blue Glider” from Loughborough.  These were rather under-powered and passengers on occasion would be requested to assist the driver by getting out at the bottom of Wilford Hill to reduce the load, getting back on later at the top.  J Horspool & Son also operated from Loughborough.  They had up to date coaches preferred by the villagers.  Other operators came earlier, severe competition set in which saw the demise of some of them.  Trent Buses appeared for several years also.


Additional Property Matters:  On Loughborough Road before the properties now known as Nos. 79 and 83, there was a large cottage used as a farm labourers’ house where the local poacher, a Mr L Bramley lived.  He was a bird fancier – the feathered kind I mean.  The washhouse was his aviary.  He kept canaries, fancy pigeons, medinas, tipplers, fantails etc.  His tools of the trade were ferrets, purse nets, snares, shot guns and a fast lurcher dog.  He was a “master” on his whistles and used to draw his prey to him prior to shooting them and could deal with foxes.  Various tame rabbits were another line he kept.  He died in Rancliffe Wood whilst on his rounds.  When questioned by a Mrs Lewis as to where her local wild rabbit was his reply was “Well you see, Marm, he fair walked into me ‘and”.  Next door to this house was a very small cottage occupied by Mr & Mrs Meek.  He was employed by the Pyatt sisters to mow lawns, groom the pony, take them out in the trap in the afternoon, gardening etc.  He was called Major Meek.  His leggings were highly polished at all times.


Walters Cottage:  This cottage and garden on the Ramper corner were on the site now known as “Two Hoots”.  Mr Walters was head cowman for Manor Farm (Beebys).  They had many milk cows, mostly Friesian type.  The cottages up Donkey Land were also farm labourers’ homes for Manor Farm.


Rufford Lodge: (opposite the Community Hall).  This was a farm house used by the Chadburn family.  He was a dairy farmer who preferred a life of leisure (i.e. not too serious a farmer).  His father was a local preacher at various outside church areas.  The manure yard was at the back of the house, the stackyard was on the ground behind the telephone box.  At the threshing time all the corn had to be carried manually across the road for storage or sale.  The manure yard and corn barn is now known as Watershed Barn – probably due to the lack of spoutings on the buildings.  On occasion, the barn was used for setting up stalls for Chapel Events, manned by Mr & Mrs Ernest Randall, Mr Geoff Brittain etc.


Ruddington Station:  was the local station where various items arrived on the 7:50am train, such as: extra corn sacks for threshing, seed potatoes from Forfar in Scotland, day old chicks from mostly Yorkshire reavers, coal, ducklings, point of lay pullets etc. etc. – not forgetting farm sheepdogs from Wales – good ones would cost £3-00s in 1934.


Wheatcrofts Farm:  Our own Valerie Jackson, excellent local artist and painter, was the foreman, and at threshing time etc. Italian Prisoners of War assisted.  They would often be found sitting down instead of working.  When challenged and told to get back to work quickly they would say “What is this ‘Quickly’ – we no understand”.  Rose fields of the Wheatcrofts for display were on Pendock Lane, Loughborough Road and the field at the top of Spinney hill.


Sheep Farming:  in the main was carried out by Mr Beeby.  He kept them mostly in Bunny Park, then the Carnell Bros owned quite a few. Lambs for fattening were fenced in on turnip growing areas, mainly September, October and November.


Sugar Beet:  This was a popular crop.  Gangs of Irishmen assisted chopping off the tops after pulling and tidying, but they had to be loosened mechanically beforehand.  The crop was all transported to Colwick Sugar Beet factory.  They all had to be picked up off the ground, manually loaded and put in large heaps awaiting dispatch.  Sugar Beet pulp was brought back for cattle food.  It was sweet smelling and packed in large bags.


On entry at the factory, samples would be taken, checked for sugar content, and paid per ton according to the reading.  Deductions were made for very mucky/small beet.  Surplus soil was readily available at a small charge.  Loads per farm were controlled by dated tickets.  On occasion, “open loading” was declared, usually when normal supplies had not arrived from elsewhere by rail.  Then it was an all-out effort to send in as many as ever possible.


Bee Keeping:  there were several bee keepers: viz Main Street – Mr Norman, Harrisons, the Dexter sisters and possibly Mrs Hooley.  Dross from the Gas Works was available for collection from site – the vast sum of 1/- (one shilling old money) would purchase a large load.  It was usually fetched on a wet Sunday and was used for pathways.


Stack Dresser: This gent would come from town, usually on a Saturday.  His duties were to prepare rat baits and put them in the rat runs of the corn stacks.  The rats would all come in from the fields as harvests were completed.  Open baited traps with jaws were used (now forbidden), also run through baited traps, end doors closed when set off.  The farm cats were all on overtime, catching mice and rats.  The stack dresser often requested to be paid “in kind” – a couple of boiling fowls often sufficed.  Fowl colour did not matter - an ideal chance to clear out some black-feathered ones.  When plucked they never looked as nice.


Plane Down at Bradmore:  In the early part of the War a light aircraft came down in a plough field whilst stubble, up Mill Lane, 3rd field on the left side.  The pilot lost his bearings and the Home Guard and Military folk from Bunny Park took over.  Quite an occasion!


Farm Progress:  It was no too long before Combine Harvesters, Sugar Beet and Potato Harvesters came into being thereby reducing many manual tasks.  Farm tractors replaced the Shire horses in the early 1940s.  Then there was only the Riding School which retained ponies for hire and reward.


Horse Dealer:  Mr Walter Beeby liked horses and bought shire horses for breaking in and later selling on.  The Ramper was the showground for trotting them.


Weather-proofing:  In the stackyard, the corn stacks could not all be under cover as in Dutch barns so they had to be thatched with long wheat straw.  The local expert was Mr Oliver Randall, who was also a Class One hedgelayer.  He was a self-taught organist at the Chapel for many years.


Chapel Services:  were held twice each Sunday 10:45am and 6pm, Sunday School 2 to 3pm weekly.  Special occasion visitors were often catered for by the stewards on duty.  Sunday School outings often went to Bradgate Park, Darley Dale, Matlock etc. by local coach.


House Sparrows:  Before the War there appeared to be far too many house sparrows around the farmsteads and gardens so it was a job for the boys to catch them.  Wire “catch-alive” traps were used.  You could get in the teens at a time.  It was dead easy to catch the young ones.  The senior birds were very wary.  The traps would be set with damaged corn, as from the threshing machine.  Hence the local phrase “you can’t catch old sparrows with chaff”.  Air rifles were also used to reduce numbers.


Licensed Premises:  Oh yes, we were not without a public house.  It was at No. 111 Loughborough Road – part of it is still known as the Club Room.  I think it was known as “The Crown”.  I do not know when the last drinks were served but it must be in the region of 100 years since.  Folk who required a drink would travel to either Bunny or Ruddington, but local villagers would make home-made wines from cowslips, dandelion, wheat and various fruits, some of which soon have a quick effect.


Long Life:  Oh I do not mean special brews of beer, but we have many parishioners who have attained an age of over 80 years.  The air must be class one.  Last count was in the teens – 2005.  GR 8/11/05


Final Footnote:  I hope that whoever may read these notes will find them of interest.  All have been taken from my memory which is still good as at 5th November 2011 at a young 89, per George E Randall, 83 Loughborough Road, Bradmore, Nottinghamshire, NG11 6PA.


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