History > Reminiscences > #9

 

Reminiscences 

Joseph Arch 

 

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Lynda Wardle was born at Manor Farm halfway through the century. Through family connections she has never really left Wasperton, and in 1996 she returned with her family, having refurbished a cottage in the village. Below, Lynda gives an account of what life was like in Wasperton in the 1950s and 1960s.

Life at Manor Farm was always busy, with agriculture employing a lot of people who lived in the village. As we sold eggs at the door there was always a constant stream of customers. Gradually farming became more mechanised and employees were reduced. It was one of the first farms in Warwickshire to have a combine harvester.

A variety of crops was grown including wheat, barley and sugar beet, which were taken daily to the mill at Kidderminster. Peas and potatoes were also grown and the highlight of the year was the arrival of the gypsies to pick them. They had such elaborately painted horse drawn wagons which were always spotless. Their leader was an elderly woman called Katy, who I believe could not read or write but knew how to add up money! They were paid on a Saturday lunchtime. Then it was straight to the old shop for liquid refreshment. They only stayed for about three weeks and as a child I was always sad to see them go.

College Farm was also a thriving pig farm. This was replaced by Farriers Court. I remember green fields being replaced by dwellings and properties being renovated or extended. There was an orchard next to the church where we played. The paddock in front of Manor Farm had a duck pond and an open area around it which surrounded the Old Dovecote. We always had the village bonfire here, and anyone in the village came. Eventually they pulled down the three huts which were built during the war, and built a house and two bungalows. There was a lot of anger when the Dovecote was pulled down. When my father died in 1993 it was the end of an era; it was the last family farm in the village to go.

There were a lot of children of all ages in the village. We seemed to spend all the time riding our bikes or playing hide and seek in the spinney by the church. We nearly all went to Barford School, often walking. Secondary education was mainly at Myton High School (Oken and Beauchamp then) or at the Grammar Schools in Stratford. In January we always had a children’s Christmas party in the village hall. The fires were lit and we had lots of fun and games. It was my mother’s task to make the cakes and as I got older I loved to help with this.

If the weather was severe in winter everyone just stayed at home. One such winter we were without running water for six weeks. The duck pond was so badly frozen we were unable to break the ice for the cattle to be let out to drink. That was the year there were as many icicles inside Manor Farm as out!

Not everyone owned a car in Wasperton so there was a constant stream of people walking to the bus stop. The telephone box was also frequently used. As there were no big supermarkets, shopping was done by delivery. The butcher, baker and milkman all delivered. Warwick and Wellesbourne were the main shopping places. However, we did have a village shop, and the post office was run in the front room of Fairbank. We were lucky in school holidays as we got to visit Stratford as well because this was where the cattle market was.

St John the Baptist church has also been part of my family history. My parents, sister and I were all married there. As babies we were christened there, as were two of my own children. Wasperton has thus played a major part in my family’s life.

Lynda Wardle


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