Sydney Hawkins







DH  So, I’m talking to Sidney Hawkins from Melplash .

How old are you?

SH 84.

DH 84, and you’ve lived in Melplash all your life?

SH  Yes.  Well, I was born at Binghams, Binghams Farm, 14th March 1921.

DH  And your father lived in Melplash

SH  My father worked on the farm and then we lived in the village in the farm cottages.

DH  What can you remembe as a boy?

SH  Oh, well more or less on the farm, helping my dad.  He was a carter.  He was a very highly skilled carter, ploughing, he used to go to all the Melplash ploughing matcbhes.  He used to enter for that with the double plough and three horses.  Nearly always had the first prize.  I think he had it three times following, three years following.

DH  Haven’t got any certificates from that have you? 

SH  Yes, I’ve got loads of certificates, I can show you them, right back to nineteen twenty-something.  I’ll get them out, they’re in that bureau.

DH  Did you go to school in Melplash?

SH  Yes, I went to school in Melplash.  I had one sister, she was older.  Three years older than me.  Yes, I went to school in Melplash.  It was about, I should think, between 35 and 40 in the school.  We never had a schoolmaster.  We had lady, female, teachers.  One taught the infants and the other one taught the after, from 11 I think it was.  I left school at….. 

OP  That was that Miss Newnam and Miss Cousins

DH  Did they live in the school?

SH  No.  The Headmistress, she lived in the school but the infant teacher she lived down at the Post Office down in the village with her sister and they ran the Post Office.  

OP  Did Miss Newnam live at the school?  

SH  Yes, Miss Newnam lived at the school.  Then she moved into Vine Cottage.  Well, I left school at 14.

DH  You mentioned a Post Office.  Was it just a Post Office or a shop as well or was that the only……………..

SH  I think they used to sell, I don’t remember everything they did.  We had a little shop down below and people came there to live which is joining the garage down there.  

OP  That’s where the….. ( ? unclear)  

DH  When did the Post Office close?

OP That was closed years and years ago, and then it moved up to here.  Mrs. ?

DH  When you say ‘up to here’ where was that?


SH They also, down in the village, they had a blacksmith’s shop, that’s where…………… I think something to do with the.. what you were on about, those people, ‘cos their name was Crew.  One was a blacksmith and the other was a carpenter, the other brother, was a carpenter.  

DH That’s what was the garage at the bottom?

SH  That was the garage at the bottom.  But there’s also, the biggest part of it was, was owned by Wyatt’s and they had the house built up on the, opposite on the top which Miss Spence lived in.

DH  So I presume the blacksmith and carpenter did everything for the estate?

SH  No, that was general you know.

DH  Now someone talked about a paint shop?

SH Yes, well, that was down at the bottom of the lane here.

DH  Is that the thing on the right hand side that’s not (? unclear)

SH  Yes as you come up on the right hand, that was a paint shop.  The name of those people was  (? double-barrelled unclear )

DH  So when it’s a paint shop, what does that mean?

SH  They used to go round, motorbike and sidecar, and go around doing odd jobs.  

DH  You said you worked on a farm, Bingham’s Farm.

SH  I didn’t work on the farm.

DH  You didn’t?

SH  No.

DH  So what did you do when you left school?

SH  When I left school I went in a factory for a six months.

DH  Where was that?

SH  At Pymore Mill.  Seven and ninepence a week.  Six to six, five days a week. 

DH  How did you get there?

SH  Cycled.

DH  And then?

SH  I left there and worked for my uncle on the farm – at (? unclear) Farm.

DH  Which farm?

SH  Broad Road, you know out the…..  just before you come to the straight just before you get into Bridport?

stayed there for eighteen months and then I went on the building, for Baileys of Beaminster.  That was up to 1939.

DH  And during the war?

SH  Then I was in the Territorials in the RAs and that was history.

DH  Based round here or  ………..?                       

SH  Well the Territorial was in Bridport – the barracks, the headquarters.

DH  That was what became the Police Station?

SH  No.  You know the car park – the Somerfield car park – well that was part of that but the actual RA building is still there but I don’t know what they use it for…………..  there’s a Drill Hall, well they’ve pulled that down…………..

OP  Is that where Oxenbury’s are?

SH  Yes the yard at the back…………….

DH  And after the war?

SH  Well, I went back into the building.

DH  Back to Baileys?

SH  No I didn’t go back to Baileys.  I went on plastering for a fellow up at the back of the church.

DH  Until you retired?

SH  No, no.  I did odd…………… all sorts of jobs you know, in the building.  Not only plastering but stonework, all sorts.  Various firms I worked for.

DH  You obviously haven’t always lived in this house because it hasn’t been here that long has it?

SH  This no.

OP  We’ve been here 51 years.  The house has been up about 54 years.

DH  And you nearly came when it was new?

SH  Yes, it was……………..  Fellow we moved in after was a rabbit catcher. Hanham his name was, well known, catching rabbits.

DH  During that time there must have been some real characters?

SH  Oh goodness, yes.  Really.  I’m afraid they’re all gone now.

DH  Any of them you particularly remember?

SH  Well, the farmer, Bingham’s Farm, the Ashfords, they had two sons and I used to spend a lot of time with them on the farm you know, when I was growing up.  One used to look after the sheep and the other was general, you know, farming.  A very nice family they were, very ……………… (loud noise in the background)

DH  Any particular events that ring bells over your life?


SH  We used to have various functions in the village.  We used to have a village fete every year with tug-of-wars and greasy pole and sack………. you know.  And sports for the kids.  I do remember running round three parts of the field behind the hall and I won and my prize was a rabbit.  (Laughter)  A pet rabbit.

DH  When you say behind the hall, that’s the one near where the……….. not llamas……………whatever they’re called are?

SH  No, no, ‘cos that’s further out than that.

DH  It’s going back towards Hincknowle then?

DH  Hincknowle.  What do you remember about Hincknowle?

SH  Well the Hon. James Best owned there and they had several children.  They went to a private school in the village.

DH  So there was a private school as well?

SH  Well, it wasn’t……….. just them you know.  Just………. a Miss Johnson used to………….

DH  Has it always been orchards?

SH  No, no.  It was a farm at one time.  It was a pretty fair sized farm there.  Dairy and several employed.

DH  So when did all the orchards get planted?

SH  Twenty, twenty-five years ago, could be.

OP  Time goes doesn’t it.  Could be.  Unless  you’ve got an actual something that sticks in your mind and it coincides with that you can’t really………….  it must be twenty years.

DH  The Village Hall.  Has that always been a village hall or……..?

SH  Yes, that was built in 1937.  1927, sorry.  

DH  So was it local money raised, or did somebody pay for it?

SH  I think it was local money raised and given.

OP  They didn’t pay very much in them days.

DH  What sort of activities have taken place in there?

SH  Well, years ago we used to have socials and dances – this is going back before the war.  And ‘Threepenny Hops’

as they used to call it.  Whist Drive and dances.  They had quite a lot of (? unclear).  Shows –  flower shows, things like that.

OP  Flower shows.  And then we used to have the Cricket Club Dinners and Dances there didn’t they?  Yes.

DH  So the Cricket Club has been going quite a while then?

SH That’s been going over 50 years.  About 55 I expect now. We had our anniversary of 50 years about 5 years ago I expect.

DH  The field’s just behind the pub?

SH  Yes, opposite the garage.

DH  And the pub?  How long has that been there?  Any idea?

SH  Well, ever since, before I was…………………  ‘Course there’s a history.  There’s the church, the school and the pub which was known as Salvation, Education and Damnation.

OP  And Recreation.

SH  And opposite was the Recreation!  They was all in a row.  (Laughter)

DH  Has the pub always had…………….. I mean has it always been quiet, or lively……..?

SH  Well, it’s very, very quiet now because the Mills have took over, nearly all the pubs and they’ve got a law now where they can open when they like can’t they.

DH  Do you remember the publican did anything else other than be a publican?  If you go back many years ago.  or was it always just a publican?

SH  Always a public house.

DH  Yes, but the chap who ran it.  Did he have another job or not?

SH  When I was going to school we used to……….man named Hounsel, he had it for years and years.  About 40 years he was there altogether.  Hounsel.  He had one son.  I remember we used to try to have a penny when we went to school on the Monday and we used to go and get a pennyworth of sweets which was about ten………

DH  You used to get it from the pub?

(unclear speech)

SH  Used to get it from the pub at the side door you know.  Nellie (?) as we used to call him…………..

DH  You talked about a shop down the other end.  What did that sell?

SH  Oh that sold sort of tea, sugar and ……………..

DH  So you could get basic things in he village?

SH  Yes.  Of course, then that closed and then Crews (a lot of unclear speech).  They had the house buiilt up the road there in, what did we call it?  He carried on his (? unclear) from up there then.

OP  And Mrs. Crew had the shop.

SH  She had the shop and the Post Office.

DH  So the Post Office as far as I can see from the photographs, when you come up from the garage there were some cottages.  It was one of those cottages wasn’t it?

SH  The middle one.

DH  Was the shop the end one then?

OP  No, the shop was down by the garage.  They had a house on the garage.

DH  And then you said the Post Office moved up here?

OP  Yes, up the road.  the main road.  First on the left.  I can’t think what it’s called.  Because that was a big blacksmith’s shop and Mrs. Crew had the………………..  You could buy anything and everything there.

DH  So that must be near the other garage.

OP  Below the garage.  Below that garage.

SH  It’s a house on it’s own.

DH  And that garage?  The top garage.  How long has that been there?


SH  Well, I think there was a blacksmith’s shop there at one time.

DH  So, two blacksmiths?

SH  Yes.  But I think…………… I wouldn’t like to say they were at the same time.  That one up there I don’t remember that one there because the fellow that had it he moved it down at Ernie White.  Ernie White had it

OP  He went down to Bradpole didn’t he?

DH  You don’t know, roughly, when it became a garage?  Before the war?

SH  Oh goodness, yes.  The Brownvilles (?) they moved up from the Old Vicarage down at Oxbridge, Camesworth Farm.

DH  That’s the one that was out towards Oxbridge?  The first one was out there, then the second one was ot there, then the third one’s the one that is now the Nursing Home.  Vicars.  Any interesting vicars?

SH  Oh yes.  (Laughter)  but I don’t think I’d better………………….  Pope was our……………. well the vicar was all the time I was growing up.  

DH  Is he related to the Popes that were at Tollerwhelme?

SH  I don’t know.  He had a………………………

OP  I know when they left they went to Morecombelake.

SH  I don’t know.  I think they both died up here.  He married a younger person, Pat or something, from Loders.  Arthur Pope.  He had another brother, Jack Pope he used to be vicar at Askerswell.  

DH  Has it always been separate from Netherbury or was it a sort of subsidiary church to Netherbury?

SH  We’ve always been a separate village, yes.

DH  So when was your last vicar?  Do you remember that?  (Question repeated)

OP  That was Edwards wasn’t it?

SH  Yes, I expect it was wasn’t it?  We had a couple he trained didn’t we?  Edmunds wasn’t it?

OP  Edmunds before Edwards and then it was ……….. I was thinking of it the othe day…………..

DH  Any idea when Edwards finished?

SH  I don’t know when they amalgamated with the …………………….. ‘cos they’ve got a sort of a team now haven’t they?

OP  That was a few years back.

DH That’s right, yes.  Because they gradually dropped out one by one and then they became part and joined up.  Hooke joined with Toller, that was back in 1939.  The Team was about 1970 something off the top of my head.

SH  This was well in the 50s when we had a vicar up here wasn’t it because we …………………….

DH  You probably got combined with Netherbury then, I would guess first.  Before the team.


OP  When Margaret got married in 1975 it must have been amalgamated then because she had Rev….. he retired from Beaminster, been there for years.  Went to Sherborne.

DH  You don’t mean Tim Biles?

OP  Tim Biles. That’s right.  Tim Biles married Margaret.  So it must have been then you know.  Before then.

SH  That’s 30 years ago isn’t it.

DH  Tim was around for a long time.  He worked at Hooke Court originally.  He married Joan in Hooke.

OP  Well he was at Hooke when he was a vicar, you know, one of the vicars.

DH  He was part time vicar of Toller and Hooke when he was teaching at Colfox.

OP  He was living there at Hooke when he married Margaret (phone rings, and is answered).

DH  Now what haven’t I covered.  The stables.  Racing place.

SH  How long has that been going?  Twenty years?

DH  Bucklers? l Have I got it right?

OP  Yes, Bucklers.  Trying to think when it was they bought it, after Lady Dianna died wasn’t it.

SH  Tiarks had Melplash.  There’s quite a history about the Melplash Court.

DH  I was just going to come to that.  Go on, you start.

SH  Well when I was a  youngster Miss Gundry then an American bought it.  This is in about 1936.  Tally Wroxton his name was.  He was American.  (Duncan queries the name but it is not spelt out)  He came from Wraxall.

DH  Oh really, from the Manor House.

SH  And he really set the village alight.

DH  In what way?

SH  Well, he had all these servants and they had horses and he did a lot down the Court, built stables and goodness….. and he was going to………the cricket club started then, they had a cricket team ‘cos quite a lot of the workmen played cricket.  He had grooms, butlers, chauffeurs, gardeners, you know, a money man.  Very nice people.

DH  Was the village owned by the owner of Melplash Court then, or not?

SH  I don’t think so, no.  

DH  Because Hooke was still owned by one person right up until 1947.  So this wasn’t.  It wasn’t the estate.  The estate was separate.

SH  No, it was  all individuals like (? unclear).  Melplash Court owned nearly all the land, most of the land round it.  they farmed it as well.

DH  So he sort of set things alight.  How long was he there?

SH  Well, of course, when war broke out he went back to America.

DH  Right, so what happened then .

SH  Well, it became St. Dunstan’s.

DH  And how long were they there?

SH  Well, up to the end of the war, or after the war.  Yes, long time after the war.  (? unclear)  There’s a lot of graves up there.  About a dozen graves in the churchyard.  St. Dunstan’s.

OP  Then I suppose it must have been Jack Dumphy (? unclear) come there wasn’t it?

DH  Where did he come from?  What do you know?

SH  He was a sort of racing driver wasn’t he?  Something to do with the racing.  I know he had a………..

OP  A girlfriend, Audrey White.  She was a model, a pin-up girl.

DH  How long were they here for?

SH  Quite a few years.  Then Tiarks bought it then.

DH  Where did they come from?

SH  They came from South Africa.  

DH  Who owns it now?

SH  He died didn’t he, not long ago, he died abroad didn’t he.?

DH  Yes.  There was a funeral in Beaminster Church.

SH  That’s right, there was wasn’t there. Lewis.

DH  That’s right.  Does his wife still live there?

SH  She’s still there yes.

DH  OK.  Can you think of anything I should have asked you or talked about that I haven’t done? 

We’ve talked about cricket.  We haven’t talked about Badminton, Indoor Bowles and the Gardening Club.

SH  Well we don’t know much about the badminton.

DH  When was the church converted?

OP  It was converted in 19………………….. they were going to start it when Margaret got married and they converted it just after, so 1975.

DH  And they still play badminton there?

SH  Yes, they still play badminton there.

OP  I don”t play.  (Laughter)

DH  You do indoor bowls?  

OP Yes.

DH  How long has that been going?

OP  About nine years.

DH  Do you play in a league?

OP  No.

DH  Just for pleasure?

OP  That’s right.

SH  Once a week I allow her out (Laughter)

DH  And the other one you must remember.  This is now as a visitor going through.  The road going through effectively divides the two sides from one another.  Now presumably before there was much traffic that wasn’t  a problem but it seems to me now it must be a nightmare going from one side to the other?

OP  What, you mean going from out of here onto there.

DH  Or even to the pub, yes.

OP  Well, usually I go down the road and turn left so I don’t cross the road.  And coming back I don’t cross the road because I come back down the other way (laughter)  So I’ve got mine sorted.

(Speech very unclear for a while)

It’s not too bad going out since they altered that bottom part.

SH  No, it used to be very narrow.

DH  That’s since we’ve been here that’s been done.

OP  That has made it a lot better.  I don’t like going out that way because you’re half way across the road before you can see what’s coming down over the hill.

DH  It’s this junction up here that’s interesting then.  Opposite Hincknowle.

SH  Yes, that’s right.  That’s the one.  Because they get up speed to get up over and then they come down over…..

OP  Well there’s been lots of little scraps there…………… There have there.  I don’t like that.

DH  There must have been  more cottages than there are now or am I imagining things?

SH  Just down here, down the bottom, there were several cottages.  They sort of ……………… people came out, they just fell down you know.  Down the bottom there’s what they call Groom’s Cottage.  Down the bottom of this lane you get the……. White’s Cottage now which used to be the workshop for Barton (? unclear), then there was a row of houses, three cottages which belonged…………………..

DH  Next to the paint shop.  I’ve got a lovely photograph of a horse and cart coming up the road by those cottages.  They aren’t all there any more are they?

OP  No they’re not.

SH  No, they sort of……………..  during the war I’ve been in and………….. one of my schoomates lived in one……… and also the workmen on the Melplash Court.  But they gradually fell down like during the war I think and then they was all pulled down and the Grooms Cottage was sort of renovated, modernised.  Built up the end they did where others was joining.

OP  Then there was the Rock cottage down there.  Well that was two or three cottages wasn’t it.  Two cottages which is made into one now.

DH  That’s the one of the left hand side is it?

OP  No, on the right hand side going down.

SH  On the same side.  And then there’s one opposite, the Rose Cottage.

OP  That’s been made bigger.  It was only a little one.


SH  Only a sort of two up and two down.

DH  Than going right out towards Beaminster on the right hand side is a thatched cottage, sideways on.

OP  Where Bet used to live.

SH  That’s Crooked Old Cottages (? unclear) they call that.  

DH  It’s the only thatched left I think?

SH  That belonged to Melplash Court.  Most of the cottages down this end………………

OP  Belonged to the Court didn’t they.

SH  But the Post Office and that I think that, I’m not sure, but I think those belonged to the Cousins.  Miss Cousins.

DH  What that row of three you mean?  

SH  Yes, they did.

DH  I presume there were many more thatched when you were younger?  (Repeats question)

OP  No, very few thatched.

SH  There was one at the back, in round the back of the………………………

OP  Where Tommy Bagwelll lived?

SH  Yes, where he lived.  In the back, that was thatched.  I remember that being thatched.

DH  Right, well, that’s lovely.  Thank you very much indeed.