Jack Brooks



There is a lot of unclear text and the recording finishes very suddenly.

RB My name is Rosemary Beaney and I’m going to talk to my father Mr. Jack Brooks who was born in Beaminster and I’m going to talk a bit about his life living here in Beaminster and what happened in the 1950s.

JB I’m Jack Brooks.  I was born in Beaminster, on September 23rd, 1916 in North Street in a cottage just beyond the river bridge on the left hand side going down.  I lived there until I was about three or four years old.  Something like that.  I moved from there…. I was living in the cottage with my mother and my grandfather and grandmother and then I moved to Fleet Street, 27 Fleet Street.  Or three cottages, one of them now is No. 27.  After I married I lived in Beaminster for a time and then I moved to Chard working for Westlands making aircraft wings.   For Spitfires and that, you know?  I came back to Beaminster again after the war in 1951.

RB Do you remember any of the goings on in Beaminster for the Coronation?

JB Yes.  I came back working for R.D. Spillers the builders and I remember that year there were quite a lot of celebrations going on.  There was marches in the streets.  There was one march which came from Prout Bridge which marched up through the town, up the Summer Road (?) corner and as far as I remember turned round and marched back again into The Square.  

RB Well that was good.  Did they have any children’s parties or anything?

JB Yes, there were children’s parties particularly in the playing field.  They had street parties, plenty of flags.  Beaminster was bedecked with flags and bunting.  As far as I remember there was a prize for the best decorated house .

RB And what about the Public Hall, did they do anything in the Public Hall?

JB The Public Hall was open and I think Mr. Hurford fixed up a large television screen.  It was quite new then, in black and white, and all people who didn’t have televisions were invited to go there and watch it.  It proved to be very, very popular.

RB Did they have any church services?  

JB There were church services, I can’t remember how many but there was one big one and on the Sunday previously there was one.

RB I expect they played the church bells as well?

JB The church bells were played and of course, then, it was only eight bells and not ten.

BR Oh you only had eight bells?

JB They had eight bells then.  The extra two were put in the tower, I can’t remember when, in the 60s I think   In the 60s.  

RB When you came back into Beaminster in 1951 you were working for R.D. Spillers?  R.D. Spillers were you?

JB R.D. Spillers, builders.  They had their headquarters at Chard and I came back to manage a branch which was previously Mr. George(?) Barnes and Sons little busines.

BR And that was where? 


JB That was in Fleet Street where my son-in-law now …..(? unclear text for some time) ….. that new house was built on the site.

RB On the site?  And there were other big builders in Beaminster.  Can you remember any of them?

JB Well, Mr. Bailey was the biggest builder and there were quite a few smaller ones.  His site was in where Mr. (? Gunny) is now in Tunnel Road.  Mr. Bailey had, as far as I remember, he cut back the hill and dug it all out.  ‘Course in those days it was all done by hand, no special diggers, and built the joinery shop that is now and concrete(?), and had cement and sand there.  (? unclear text) Actually, it was in two layers.  He had part of his site on the lower level where he used to have the sand, gravel and all the other things and on the higher level they went round the back and he kept all his scaffolding.

RB (? Very unclear text and question)

JB (? Very unclear text.  The word was that the first lorry to get there always got the first load….. to drop straight into his lorry.  He didn’t have to wait……………?)

RB Oh I see.

JB They started I think…. one of the first ones went for about 5 o’clock in the morning.  Because the man named Mr. Stowell (?).  And he was noted to be the first one…..(? unclear text)

RB I see.  And they used of course, to make a terrible noise didn’t they?

JB We lived in Hogshill Street 


‘Course most of the lorries went through Hogshill Street which we always called White Hart Street in those days.  Right, going up to Whitcombe Road up towards Moreton.  Well, these lorries were empty when they went by (unclear text) back of the lorries the night before and they made a terrific noise as they rattled through Beaminster in the morning.  

(unclear text for a few seconds) 

RB The milk factory also must have employed a lot of people?

JB Yes, the milk factory, they were the next biggest employers in Beaminster.  And it was really a milk factory then.  All the milk was collected from the farmers around the district.  Farmers used to put the milk out through the gates on a stand, in milk churns, and lorries went round starting about 7 o’clock in the morning to pick up the milk and bring it back to the milk factory.  

RB So they were travelling through the town as well every day?

JB Yes, well of course they were a bit later and they weren’t quite so noisy.  Although some of them….. (unclear text)

No, all the milk in Beaminster was either scalded – I think it was collected …… (unclear text) where it was pasteurised and then they had a roller house down there at the factory.  Two big rollers revolving with steam inside and milk dropping between these rollers.  As soon as it dropped on to the rollers, it stuck to the rollers and formed a powder and this came out like a piece of plain paper and as it came out so it was collected by trays and then put into cans and this was eventually the Cow & Gate baby food.  And of course they did it in different grades, different creams, different strength creams, which went from the very, very thick cream to the almost thin cream.  And when the thin cream was going you could always hear it in Beaminster because it made the rollers whine and you could hear it all over Beaminster.

RB Could you smell the milk…..?

JB You could smell it on some days when the wind was in the right direction.  This milk was usually taken to Wincanton and I think it was there it was really turned into the Cow & Gate baby food.  

RB In the tin?

JB Baby powder.  And this was the main supply for Cow & Gate baby powder in Beaminster. 

RB And that was sold all over England?

JB Yes, all over the world I suppose something like that.

RB Also…..  they didn’t actually process bottled milk there?

JB No bottled milk at all in Beaminster.

RB So who dealt with that in Beaminster?

JB The Beaminster milk was supplied by mostly by that time, by 1950s, Mr. Raymond of Hewstock Farm and If I remember, he had two or three mechanised floats and he milked the cows on his farm in the morning, treated the milk and bottled it and brought it round Beaminster to the doorstep.  And this generally taking all the morning to do this.  And, of course, about 2 o’clock he’d finished the milk and gone back and, of course, had to clean all the bottles up.  But the thing, compared with these days, is instead of sending them to London or somewhere or other, and bring it back two or three days afterwards, you got the same milk, the same day.

 RB The same day.  There must have been other employers in Beaminster.  Can you remember anyone else?

JB One that stands out particularly is Abbot and Brown in Fleet Street, top of Fleet Street.  They were quite important employers because they employed a lot of young people and a lot of people who weren’t quite able to do other jobs and they, as far as I remember, made calculators, printing and engraving and all that sort of thing.  And, of course, they had a bus as far as I remember which they brought several people from outside, from Bridport particularly.  

Another employer in Beaminster of course which had been here for years was the Agricultural Engineers, Frances Bugler Limited.  They originally started in the top of North Street, at the top where they used to call an old mill field.

RB That was before the war?

JB That was before the war but by 1950 they had brought the old pub called the New Inn and the premises around the back and started their business there on the tractors, etc. and more mechanical implements.

RB There was another company in Hogshill Street, wasn’t there up near where we live?

JB That was Lewis and Pine(?).  They started a concrete block firm.  Making concrete blocks (unclear text) went on to tarmac.  Tarmac…..

RB Yes.  Yes.  For young people then, coming along, it was quite difficult to get a job?

JB It was very, very difficult in the beginning to get jobs in Beaminster.  Of couse, by then the farmers had begun to mechanise all their farms and they weren’t employing so many people on the farms as they were originally.  And of course, many of the young people either had to go out of Beaminster or in Bridport or, places around, to find employment.  

RB I remember when we moved here in 1951 actually going up to the playing fields a lot.  Can you tell us how that came about, the playing fields?


JB Well the playing fields was formed after the war as a memorial to the men who fell in the Great War.  Or even actually went through the war I suppose.  And Mr. Bray(?) was the instigator behind most of that. He bought Champions which was a big private house, sold off the kitchen gardens, etc. to form Champions Gardens as it is now, bungalows, and the (?) as we called it (?) behind was turned into the playing fields.  

RB And was it nice level playing fields?   

JB No, at the time they had quite a bad slope on them and they had…..the first time I remember diggers coming in and digging out the playing fields to form the main field as it is now.  But one little snag they had with it, when they got down a bit they found they was on clay and of course this caused a lot of drains trouble.

RB Oh I remember still being drainage, still to this very day that the water……….. fields do get very damp, wet, don’t they? 

JB Yes, particularly on the end towards the western side of it.

RB You couldn’t play tennis dad.  I remember playing tennis in other places.

JB No, there was never any tennis courts there.

RB Do you know where they were?

JB They had three private tennis courts I suppose you’d call them in different parts of Beaminster and we locally nick-named them the tanners, the bobs and the half-crowns. (unclear text)  The tanners were up behind the churchyard in (unclear text) the churchyard.  Up behind the large tree that is now or, I don’t know, I suppose the large tree must have been behind them, I don’t know.  Of course, the churchyard was then only about the half full.  And the waste part at the top they had a (?) store.  That was the tanners.  The bobs were in Woodswater Lane.  As you go up North Street and turn down into Woodswater Lane just beyond Woodswater Cottage on the left  hand side.

RB They were there?

JB That was the bobs.  The half-crowns were in Tunnel Road.  Well, they were in the……. you turned up the lane going up to the side of The Beeches, which is now, the bit that …………… I’ve got to think about where it was now but I think they used to call it The Lodge but it’s called Beaminster House I think now, something like that.

RB That’s right, yes, that’s right.

JB But you’d go up this lane and then you’d turn right at the top then immediately go, there was a gate on the right which went into these tennis courts.