Vesta Rock (born 1934) & Jenny David (born 1933)
(Jenny) Then you had a few little old cottages there, very tiny – obviously built in or on the old orchard, years ago. Mayer’s Cottage and the people in the front – that is their old cottage and that would go back quite a way . It was just called The Orchards. Do you know where Skiveralls is? Where Silver Street is and I lived the first one along. But we were all joined together if you know what I mean. A mill owner lived there, Handy(?) and Jessie Davis. They went bankrupt. They lived in Springfield House, then they went bankrupt and they came up to us and it was just The Orchards. It must be on the deeds somewhere. And people always say ‘why was it ‘The Orchards ‘when there are no trees there?’ and I say ‘but there were. If you go back far enough…’ There are lots of wrinkles like that, and people wouldn’t even know about it, because there have been so many alterations in the village.
(Vesta) In 1965 I bought – we were actually renting the shop and land, an acre of land that had buildings – old bakery buildings. It was a triangle of land (in France Lynch) and our house was on the corner. I managed to buy the land, sell the land within two minutes of buying it – because I had no money; I had to find a builder who would buy the land so I could buy the whole lot – which I did in 1966. So that’s why they’ve not got houses on both roads, which was a good selling point because the builder didn’t have to build a road. But we were basically living opposite the Pleasure Ground. If you ever drive up there by France Lynch Church, opposite the pleasure ground, you’ve got four detached houses on your right, and the big house on the corner, called The Point now, and then you turned round the round, and you’ve got four houses on the bottom road.
Shirley Bushell (born 1943)
My uncle lived in Brookside, a nice little house in that row before Trout Hall. Cyril Hemming, he was called, lived in the first one next to Trout Hall. They had this little river or tributary which came right past and a bridge which went over a piece of garden. Then he had a vegetable garden over the other side. I think my uncle and aunt lived there from when they were married. I am not sure why they were taken down. Was it widening? It was equally as narrow further along. They were stone houses – they had a little kitchen as you went in and two quite nice big rooms, then two stories up – a couple of bedrooms on the first level and one or two up above. They were really substantial places. I can’t remember them coming down. I had forgotten how many there were there. Probably three.
Minnow Cottage – the little stone house on the other side that has always been there.
Victoria Studios was an upholstery place. Because my brother actually bought that as Chalford Chairs in about mid sixties. He sold it to someone from South Wales but they couldn’t seem to make it go so it went into liquidation.
Opposite Chalford Chairs, where those houses are where you go down, was Lionel Padin’s garage. As in ‘Padin’s Close’ on the new estate. There was a brother and sister, they never married. They did quite a lot for the churches.
The Company Arms, Chalford Place – I can remember the pub but I think it closed somewhere in the 60s. It was very rundown in the end. Belvedere Mill, when I was growing up, was an upholstery place where my brother went to work when he left school, run by the Smith Brothers from Chalford Hill, and that was next to the water works. They didn’t make cloth, they just upholstered furniture. The rest of the building was all to do with the water works and then things got moved to the pumping station just past Ashmeads.
I remember the last lengthsman that worked on the canal, who lived in the Round House. Cecil King he was. He just looked after a length of the canal. I don’t remember barges (on the canal), it was coming towards its end then in the 60s, things got filled in and built over and it all changed. The locks were still then in good order.
The yard opposite was where the boats came in with coal and salt. The barges stopped there just in the basin past the Round House, because that was all open. So to get out from here you went over the canal bridge. The yard was where they unloaded the coal from the barges. There’s a bit of a sort of basin by the Round House, bigger than what is now, and that’s the unloading area. The bridge that got pulled down was where you come off the A419 now. That was quiet then. There was a little bit of traffic but I remember my mother saying when she grew up they had hoops and spinning and all that there in the road, it was so quiet.
To get to the playing field we went on the road or on the canal path. Everything was so well kept then somehow, not overgrown like these days!
Gerald Gardiner (born 1933)
We grew up in a house on the High Street. It was like an orange box. One bedroom, and the boys’ bedroom. Most of it was under the road and they got demolished – three cottages and they are now a passing place. Very near Sevilles Mill. As it got better, dad and mum got this builder to put up a kitchen in the outhouse. It was just like a passage way. There was three of them (cottages) and I bought the one in the middle which you couldn’t extend. It cost £250. I was born in one and lived in the other. They knocked them down in ’62 when I moved up here along by the pleasure ground. The High Street’s not the same now, too many cars parked. I think Mr. Mills, Colin Gubbins and Mr. Reg Clark – theirs were the only three cars down the valley then.
I moved in here in ’83 (Frith Wood Park). I lived over there at no. 46 for 21 years. This was all fields when I lived along there. You used to come out of the woods into wide open fields but it’s now all houses. It’s a very big estate. They didn’t make the roads that good. It’s not very good getting from the road to the bungalow, and all them wants to go to Cheltenham and that they’ve got to go through Bisley and that’s flaming awkward. There’s a path at the back of Bisley where, if they’d bought a bit of the land there, they could have made a nice wide road like a bypass.
There’s lots of asbestos buried around. The car park at the Old Neighbourhood is all asbestos. It was like a little quarry and they filled it in deep with asbestos. They closed the one by the road as you go along towards the top club because the asbestos started coming up by the track people used. Still a lot of buildings going into Stroud has it. Fromeside, that’s all asbestos along there.
John Hemmings (born 1934)
As a kid, the amount of caves I went in in this area is amazing. The hills are full of them. The biggest one, if you go up Hyde Hill, large house on right hand side and a bit of wood on other side, and I think they’ve capped it about 20 years ago, but we would go in and crawl around as kids. Lots of bats. You crawled through and came out into a space bigger than Gloucester Cathedral. Story is that the cave goes through to Minchinhampton. We never went but the hills are full of these. There’s one when you come down by the cemetery, by the bungalow set in the corner, before you get to the Old Neighbourhood. Just behind there there’s a huge one. Up Brimscombe Hill, where that new house is being built there’s a used quarry there and used for Gloucester Cathedral stone.
The amount of factories we had. There’s one along at the end of the valley now turned over to housing. They were the ones that used Rack Hill for drying the cloth. Then you come down to the one renowned for very good carpentry. All the big houses used them. Peter Waals did the wonderful work in the church.
Walking stick factory in the valley made a fortune in the late 80s; then Critchley which was knitting things, then the Dark Mill which was knitting needles. Wallers big engineering company and below that carpet works then the next one which split up into units, where they built wooden gliders in the war.
Heber Mill was Clark Mill, by the mill pond. The waterworks worked. They had steam engine going. 15 ft cast iron wheel. The Old Silk Mill became flats. 1870 start of bottom falling out of wool trade ruined this area.
Black Gutter was covered over well after the drought because people were helping themselves to water.
Fuller’s earth which is up here and through to Eastcombe. It emerges under the tunnel past Sapperton. A huge house built down here by a man who was in charge of four large buildings in London. No-one could afford to build on the Fuller’s earth otherwise.
Graham Hobbs (born 1953)
When we came to the area (1975), Manor Estate hadn’t been built. We used to picnic in the fields that now the estate covers. The Spine Road, Ashley View and Velhurst Drive were built, but then the developer went bust, which was a help to us at Brownshill as we needed to build an extension and we saw the old developer’s building hut had been abandoned, wrote to Stroud Council and they gave it to us.
All the houses on the bottom road at Brownshill were convents. The big one, St. Raphaels, had been one of the laundries for the girls who had misbehaved. It’s now a house. The monastery there today used to be a place for monks who had psychological problems but now it’s full of nuns.
There are more young people in Bussage where the houses are more affordable, whereas in the old villages they aren’t.
Baker’s Mill is named after Mathias Baker, who we understand was a slave trader and not a very nice man, but he was rich and bought up cottages in Frampton Mansell. If we hadn’t come, the builder we bought it from, Trevor Carruthers, and if he hadn’t run out of money, was going to turn the Mill into a restaurant and hotel. When we came, the front of the house had a pile of 300 tons of the most beautiful dressed stone in it but nothing numbered, and included in that was an oak staircase that was to be for the new building. This little mill would have been in the middle of a huge development. You can see from what he did at the back that he only pulled down a lean-to which was a bedroom with kitchen underneath, then he built a three storey building behind which wasn’t very nice. We are so proud that this room is still as it was. We have tried to trace how old the house is, all that we can find is that in 1400 it was known as Blanket’s Mill. So presumably it was a woollen mill and they used the wool from the sheep to make blankets. It then became a corn mill because the house up the road towards Oakridge, Frampton Place, was a priory so we were the corn mill to the priory; once you have got mill machinery you can adapt it to anything. Then In 1780 when the canal was dug, because we actually owned a mile of that canal, half a mile in front of the house and half a mile behind, when that was built they wanted a reservoir, water for the canal, so they turned the mill pond into a reservoir. We just called it the lake, it’s a two and a half acre lake. The place is alive with exciting tunnels. In 1780 when they built the second mill, that was known as a Silk Mill and I did meet someone once whose grandmother worked there. So it’s not so long ago really. It’s the building with green shutters. At the bottom I have a wonderful chap called Darren, he has the self-contained bit at the bottom, he does my garden as an arrangement, and then the middle part and top is a flat rented to Edward Townsend.
We bought Baker’s Mill at the end of 1964 and moved in properly in the spring of 1965.
Audrey Bishop (born 1932)
I remember there used to be an old YMWCA hut on the pleasure ground. I used to go to things there.
Judith Newman(born 1943)
The Mills were still there, I don’t think they were still producing cloth. St. Mary’s was still a stick mill and there were lots of buildings where Lavender Bakehouse is and beyond. Of course, there was Fibrecrete. I don’t know about Seville’s Mill Bone Factory, that was demolished sometime while I lived here, I don’t think it was still working. There were a lot of empty buildings as you went down here, they were all in use but no longer used as mills. The Bliss Mills, Critchley’s, which were pins. The silk mill was flats then for not very well off people – the children would hang from the windows. But again, it was foreign territory to us.
Peter Clissold (born 1931)
There was a Roman alter dug up at Nash End Farm when they drove the road through from Eastcombe to Bisley. My father used to say that where the houses are now (Manor Farm Estate), if it was a very wet period you could walk across the ploughed ground and you could see bits of flint shining and he used to collect them. They were often little arrow heads or scrapers – all of that is foreign to this area, so there must have been a lot of people living around here at one stage. The Romans loved hill tops.
My grandmother could remember when the village hall was a chicken house. When this was all a common, you kept your chickens and then you whacked them off in there at night and let them out on the common in the day. What it was before, I’ve no idea, but that’s what it was in her younger days, just a chicken house. Things have gone upmarket a bit since then!
Pike Cottage – Just above Marley Lane, that’s where I was born. They knocked it down. It was right on the road mind – but they widened the road. I don’t remember that.
George Rowles (born 1928)
The basin at Brimscombe was about 2 acres of water, maybe more, and we used to row, we used to learn to row round the basin and we could see all the fish, we had roach and perch and pike and things like that in the canal. When the asbestos company at Fibrecrete was in there they dumped hundreds and hundreds of tons of asbestos waste in there.
1 The Pines, Brownhill: The first thing I did when we got married (1953) was to buy this house. The interesting thing about this house, this house is over a hundred years old and I’m only the second owner of it. It was about one thousand and fifty pound. Mind you, I’ve built all this on since. That was a room in there and I built all this on out there, and that was a main wall of the house, you see. And then I built this kitchen up to there. A long time ago, yes, and then I had two rooms going there, and I had two rooms in there and I knocked the one wall down and the room is thirty foot long out there. In fact this house was built before the road. And then one of the things that’s interesting is that there was a map of wells, because there’s no water in Brownshill you see. So they had a map of all the wells and an interesting thing about this house, and the road there, all that ground that way it’s a quarry. And when I built a septic tank half way down the garden before the sewer came, I got down to about eight foot and I found a quarry shovel, a big one you know. And when they had an extension next door, a few years ago, the quarry came right up within two foot of the house.
There’s lots and lots of quarries in Brownshill and Chalford, I expect because when you think about it, they only had horse and carts and they couldn’t carry the stone very far, so they just dug up the ground and built the house, you know. There are lots of quarries everywhere in Chalford. The one by the pub is a quarry. They were going to build on it one time, but I don’t think they are now. That was full up with asbestos.
Keith Weaver (born 1932)
The Prisoners of War cut all Cowcombe Wood down, every tree up there; and also were employed to dig round Chalford and France Lynch in places that didn’t have the water. They were digging the trenches by hand to put in for the water.
The roads weren’t asphalt like these are today. The blue road from the back of the church up to Bisley was the only one asphalted.
There was no houses on the front when we moved here (Belle Vue Terrace). Two builders went bankrupt when they were building this estate. They had lots of snags, one of them was drains. There used to be a stream here but it came out in the wall, so when they build this they had to do something about this drain and dig across the lane, my Dad’s garden and going down Stoney Lane. That cost a lot of money.
Monica Ridge (born 1943)
Springfield House: It’s a beautiful property. It has changed a lot, even though it’s a listed building, and unfortunately you can see these lovely shutters, the present owners have taken them all off and not replaced them.
When you come down Cowcombe Hill, you can see the back of Springfield House – you’ve got the railway here and you’ve got the road here and it’s set right in that triangle, and it would have been like that in your day? Yes except they took part of the back garden to bring the road round a bit. They had to put a new bridge, I remember that going in – before, I believe, it was just an old bridge falling apart, and that was in the ‘50s.
When you come up by what is now Lavender Bakehouse and you go up the drive, there’s a stable block, or what looks like it could have been, on the right hand side. That we used to use as a bit of a stable and as a garage, but we’ve been told that it’s the oldest chapel in Chalford because, if you look at the windows, they’re all that way. But I don’t know the full history of it and it’s been made into a dwelling now. But we had it as a garage.
(Looking at photo) That’s Christ Church and that’s the bridge which collapsed into the river. That’s the shop that used to be Noah’s Ark there, and then they wanted to straighten the road; there was a lovely house here at the slight bend and they knocked it down – not there any more. There was a lovely property there.
Opposite the community shop, where the car park is now, that used to be a mound of asbestos. And it used to be like a long bank. There were probably houses there. The Red Lion was a pub in those days and I remember another pub closer to Roger and Jenny Tann’s. I think it was called The Bell. I don’t remember it being in use. I can remember it being there because on the side of the house it had ‘The Bell’ in black painted writing and then there were steps that went down.
Bridge on A419, near where station was: I can remember when that bridge was redone because there you can see how the canal goes straight through, and I used to come down and play down there. When they did that bridge the most awful thing happened. It disturbed all the rats and they all came up to Springfield…
Alan Mayo (born 1943)
If you start at St. Mary’s – right on the bend there was a pub, along a little bit farther was the next pub, with Mavis Smith, then where the warehouses are there’s a little shop, which was a barbers shop, and on the opposite side of the road was a big grocery shop and other shops and a row of cottages with a sweet shop on the end. Bit further, just before the church and the printers, was Blanche’s butcher’s shop. On the other side of the road there was the blacksmiths, with a social room above it, then there was a house where Dr. Crouch had his surgery, and the police station too.
Les Sollars had a general grocery shop (was Noah’s Ark), wines and spirits, and he had a petrol pump on the other side of the road, where the bus stop is.
Wickham Grange: When I first worked there, there was a lovely old greenhouse out the back, but we needed more space so we built a new end, probably in the 60s, and there was a gazebo on the front. Lovely old house. Cornices on the ceiling. Nice garden up at the back. We had a tree fall down – I got phoned up to go down and we planted a maple.
I did get a call from the chap who bought it to ask me where the stopcock was and he showed me round. Fascinating what he’d done. Lovely place. I had a printing order from someone there and I went up, and his bathroom and toilet was exactly where I had had my office. It was a chap from up Hyde Hill who bought it and made a nice job of converting it.
At the bus terminal there was Lionel Padin’s garage, Co-op, Chalford Chairs (2 chaps who did lovely cabinet making). That was just fantastic. Lionel’s place was where everything happened. Bus drivers used to go over and have a chat and have a cup of tea. I kept my car in one of Lionel’s lock ups. They were in his yard, in front of the big house (Vale House?). I think he had two or three lock ups there.
Our house (Station View – opposite where the village shop is now) was semi detached and we lived nearest the Red Lion, and there was a bit of waste ground where we honed our football and cricket skills against the wall. There was, years ago, a house where the Red Lion car park is. Mum could always remember that just past where the shop is, there was a butcher, and they used to use that arch by the Red Lion as an air raid shelter during the war. It wasn’t built as an air raid shelter.
Tankard Spring: the actual spring – we used to drink gallons of it. But then all of a sudden signs appeared saying ‘not fit for drinking’, they appeared years ago. There’s another spring up by the old Duke of York and I used to drink gallons of it, and the other one by the Baptist Church is a tap and we used to drink that. We used to play in the brook and got mucky. It was like a sewer in its time.
We had the Webb twins where the Daintons live. It was Fudges who had the shop and there was a haberdasher’s on one end where the pathway goes down, and this side was like a grocery shop.
(Towards the end of the High Street) – Waste ground with high wall, there was cottages here – they got knocked down and that was where Henry Cooper was sent during the war, I am reliably informed. He was evacuated there. Our Graham used to vaguely remember him.
The station: Brunel built it. Within a day of Beeching’s axe falling, it was all knocked down. Demolished completely.
There was a little cottage at the top of (Cowcombe) wood. Right at the very top there. You could get through by the wooden bungalow and walk along and go all along to Hyde Chapel.
Roger Dainton (came to Chalford 1970)
Garage (end of High Street): The garage was still working then (1970s). It was where the new stone houses facing the call box are now. They repaired cars and then they also had petrol pumps. It was owned by Lionel Padin.
Chestnut Lodge: That’s an old house, it’s older than Halliday’s Mill, because that’s brick – when you look at the back of it, the stone work is amazing. I’ve worked there in the roof, it’s a really old roof inside there. So I’m sure it’s 17th century that, I would have thought, well certainly 18th if not 17th century, but it’s an old house
Queen Anne Cottages: Where Margaret Reeks place is, (Marl House on the left, just before Rhode House) there were two Queen Anne cottages; really ancient cottages, completely derelict, the walls were there, and some of the roofs. They were beautiful cottages, quite minimal. They were small, one above the other. Then someone bought them and promptly dug out in front of them for a parking space. So they fell down. They were called Andy Cove and Chapel Steps, the two cottages, because of the steps going up to the Chapel.
Thanet House: Originally this had a gabled roof, which at some time was built into a continuous wall, thereby raising the roof. If you go down the High Street particularly after it has rained you can see in the walls the outline of the gabled roof. There is a small oval window, which was in the middle of one of the gable walls. You can see where they blocked up some other oval windows as well. It was a very different house at one time, almost like a classic Elizabethan house.
The Old Mission Hall: The Old Mission Hall was still a Chapel in the early 1970s, and it was called ‘The Christian Brethren’, which was like ‘Plymouth Brethren’. If you look at the building from the road you can see it has got different developments. It was a small house and bits were added to the left also a big extension was built on the second floor (which is actually at ground level at the back because the land rises). I did some renovation work there, and we found a huge 10 foot long bath for baptising people in cut out of the rock at the rear of the second floor. There was a hot water tank for heating the water in it. The bath is still there but filled with rubble, but you can’t see it, it’s all under the new floor. The building was still functioning as a church up until the seventies.
The Corner House: A young woman bought it and I put in central heating for her, but until that it didn’t have any heating or hot water systems at all, although there was a basic bathroom supported by the corner post. I don’t know how they would have heated the water perhaps on a stove and then poured it into the bath.
The New Red Lion: I don’t think it’s changed much, I mean the only real major change visually was that the toilets now, that building as you go in, weren’t there and when you go down a little ramp on the edge of the car park that used to be the toilets there. And they were just public toilets they weren’t to do with the pub, but that’s all the toilets there were. The pub never was in brilliant condition and at one time on the other side of the pub from the toilets was painted The New Red Lion in huge letters.
Car Park: When I first came here the car park wasn’t built, it was just a piece of rough ground. I think there were two or three houses there and they were in a very poor condition. They were demolished before I came and they pushed a lot of the rubble into the river, which is what makes it flood upstream sometimes. The car park had belonged to the council and they sold it to the pub for some small amount of money, when it could have been a village car park and a pub car park as well. At one time the council was convinced the High Street needed widening and they thought they could knock down most of the houses between the High Street and the river. The only others that were demolished were Dabchick Row which were opposite Cyprus House where the passing place is now.
Meadow Cottages: They were originally three pairs of two up, two down cottages. They must be late 19th century because they are all brick. They are nothing to do with the canal – by the time they were built the canal was in decline. In 1970 some had small single storey lean-to kitchens/bathrooms on them, which have been rebuilt into two storey extensions now.
Clowes Bridge: It’s a big bridge, it’s not a footbridge. When the canal was built there must have been a road up through Cowcombe Woods going to Minchinhampton, because obviously the main road wasn’t there nor the railway. The bridge was built with the canal.
Canal: The canal just about worked until the 1920s: one boat-load of coal to Smart’s Coal Yard, situated where Journey’s End is now, every two weeks, delivered for domestic use, but nothing went beyond Chalford then. It was a bit of a White Elephant canal because from day one it leaked, which was the main problem. Right from the start, at the highest point, which is the tunnel, water was pumped out of the River Frome up into the canal, using a steam pump. The canal leaked because it was built through limestone terrain, which is very porous. Clay and straw were used to line the canal to try and keep the water in. This is called puddling.
Saratoga: Saratoga is quite an old cottage. It was three separate cottages at one time. It was bought by a property developer for £6,000 in 1978 and he worked on it for six weeks. He put in a bathroom and a kitchen, and probably gave it a coat of paint. It was sold for £39,000 when he finished.
Minnow Cottage: It was called ‘Fair View’ when I moved here – it got changed to Minnow Cottage quite recently. The roof used to have stone tiles on and they have been changed twice since then, first with stone, with concrete stone tiles which were disastrous and they all fell apart, so they put slate on. I think it was always very similar externally, but internally, well it is still three rooms really, although the top floor has been sub-divided and with a tiny shower room. Originally it had a toilet where they park the car now, which went straight into the river, until the sewer came (1963).
Dabchick Row: Dabchick Cottages is what the old people called them after dabchicks which dive and then swim under water and come up somewhere else. The houses were right down by the riverside and sometimes flooded when the sluice gate at Sevilles Mill was opened for the water wheel. They were demolished in the early 1960s.
Cyprus House & Bluebell Cottage: Ada Baxter bought Cyprus House in 1950, and had the electricity put in. Until the sewer came, when an outside toilet was installed behind the house, there was a toilet above where the garage is now with a cess pit which was emptied by the council every two weeks. The garage at Cyprus House was built in the 1980s by digging out some of the garden and then reinstating the garden on the garage roof.
Bluebell Cottage, originally called Cyprus Cottage, had two rooms, one up, one down, with a brick lean-to kitchen at the back when Les Dean lived there in the 1970s. There was no bathroom. The two floors were completely separate from Cyprus House but the floor above, the top floor, was part of Cyprus House. When Ada Baxter sold Cyprus Cottage in the 1980s, the doorway on the top floor was blocked up and a staircase built to connect that room into Cyprus Cottage. The new owner demolished the old kitchen and built a big extension at the back for a kitchen and dining room and then sold it on. The new owners discovered the extension had been built without planning permission or building regulations so it had to be partially demolished and rebuilt.
Trout Hall (Roger Dainton’s house): This house had been called ‘Valley House’, which did seem pretentious, but it was partly because, when it was a shop, it was called ‘Valley Stores’. When Lynda and I moved here in 1988, we brought the name Trout Hall with us and changed the name officially.
We think Trout Hall was built in 1785. Originally it was divided into two separate dwellings – the main house plus two rooms for servants to live in, which are now the bathroom on the middle floor, which is road level and still has a fireplace in it, and a bedroom above. There are two narrow internal doorways from those two rooms into the rest of the house, which were probably made in the nineteenth century.
It was still a shop when I came to Chalford in 1970 but it closed in 1971 or 1972. All I can remember is that they sold cornflakes and sugar! But in the past it had been a general store run by William Gardiner (there’s a lovely photo of him standing outside with his pots and pans which we think was taken in 1910) and also his daughter sold second hand clothes from what is now the bathroom/hallway. Above the east shop window, there’s a bit of metal stuck out of the wall, and that fed a gas light, which illuminated the window from the outside.
Anchor Terrace: Judging from the windows and the brick partitions and chimney stacks (bricks would have been brought by the canal), I should think the terrace was built about 1850. There were lead pipes for gas lights built into the plaster so they must have been original.
2 Anchor Terrace: I owned 2 Anchor Terrace from 1970 until 1988. It was the original Trout Hall – I named it. When I moved from London, I had lots of boxes, one of which had ‘Trout Hall Tinned Grapefruit’ in big letters on it. So as a joke, I cut it out and stuck it on the glass over the front door in 2 Anchor Terrace, and it caught on. The funniest thing is that when Stan Gardiner and Lionel Padin were doing one of their slide shows, they showed a photograph of a horse and a cart and said “Behind where this photograph is taken, this house has now become ‘Trout Hall’’’ and everyone laughed. I never changed it officially, it is still 2 Anchor Terrace.
1 Anchor Terrace: In 1970 it had no sort of hot water or heating, it had one cold tap in the kitchen. The only loo was in the garden. There were three loos in the end of the garden of 2 Anchor Terrace, one for each house, even though they were all built together. Originally the sewage went straight into the river, the mains sewer was connected in 1963. In 1970 the toilet for 1 Anchor Terrace was just a pan sat on the earth with the outlet lined up with the sewer pipe, with no water connected so they got a bucket of water from the kitchen and poured it down.
It was very cold and damp, because in those houses the ground floor was just bricks built straight onto the earth. The walls would have been plastered but a lot of the plaster had fallen off. The partition walls in the terrace are brick and they weren’t as bad as the stone outside walls. They had about six buckets on the top floor catching leaks through the roof. There were two rooms on each of the three floors: the first floor with the front door is level with the road and had two bedrooms, with two bedrooms above. The ground floor was the living room and kitchen, this is below the road level, the back wall of the kitchen being the retaining wall for the road. The kitchen was separated from the living room by a partition wall so it had no windows and was very damp, so it was like the Black Hole of Calcutta because the walls were black.
The only fire was in the living room, but the problem with it was that the chimney stack had collapsed internally and was partially blocked. So when they lit the fire, the smoke just came out into the room and the ceiling was completely black. Eventually, if the fire was going for some hours, it warmed up enough and the smoke would then get through the bricks. They did have a very ancient gas cooker (probably 1930s). It was mains gas, but it was coal gas, there was no natural gas then. It was connected with a lead pipe to the slot meter which took shillings..
3 Anchor Terrace: In the 1930s the owners of 3 Anchor Terrace bought the derelict Sevilles Mill to stop the local children playing in it as they were a nuisance according to Ada Baxter who lived in Cyprus House. Mr. Cook of LBC Products bought the whole site, including the house, 3 Anchor Terrace, in the early 1960s. He used that house as an office. Originally Mr Cook used the old factory for his embroidery frame business, but it was in pretty poor condition by that time. So in the mid 1960s he pulled it all down and dumped it in the mill pond, but he didn’t have quite enough stuff to fill it up, so they topped it up with asbestos! It was just left as waste land, they never built on it. Mr Cook did build a hideous concrete block factory just this side from Ridley Cottage. Pete Blackwell bought the whole site in 1984 and cleaned up the land where the mill pond was, and then kept his geese and ducks there. He also used 3 Anchor Terrace as an office but then converted it back into a house and sold it. Then about 10 years ago, he demolished the concrete block factory and built the 5 new houses that are there today.
The Old Cart House: The walls at the bottom are really thick, because it was two houses originally. A man and his son were living there and they finally moved out to Dabchick Row, and two weeks later it fell down. The original fireplace is still visible in the right hand garage. Mr. Fudge, who ran the shop, bought what was left of those two houses and made them into garages, from where he ran a hire car service. We bought the garages in 1987 and built the flat above. We called it ‘The Old Cart House’ because we thought, looking through the deeds, that part of it had been a stable, but it was two houses as well, one behind the other.
Avalon: Avalon was similar to what it is now. It used to have a lean-to where the kitchen is now, you can still see the line of the roof in the wall. On the old maps you can see it was two cottages. In 1970 it still had two staircases and two front doors but had been knocked into one house. It desperately needed renovating. The far end was incredibly damp as the ground floor is below ground level. I remember millions of wood lice over the rotting skirting boards. It was first renovated in the 1980s.
Anchor House: That was a pub, but I think it closed in the early twentieth century, so I never saw it. All the kitchen bit and all that bit at the back is new. In 1970 it was still the original stone building which is quite narrow.
Ridley Cottage & Sevilles House: They are very old, might well be 17th century or earlier. Some external walls of Ridley Cottage were timber framed with lathe and plaster.
The Bubble Up: In the mill pond was a thing called the ‘bubble up’, which was water bubbling up from the bottom from a spring, even though the millpond was mostly filled from the river. When the millpond was filled in, the spring just went underground and back into the river. Presumably Bubblewell Cottage derives its name from the bubble up..
Demolished Houses: Opposite Bubblewell Cottage, there was a house, which is now parking for Bubblewell Cottage. I met a man who used to live there in the 1950s with his wife. They left because the house got into very bad condition – often people did no maintenance on old houses. You can still see the remains of a fireplace in one of the walls.
There are signs of buildings on the corner going up Coppice Hill and up the bank there.
On Rack Hill an old painting of the village which hangs in Chalford Village Hall shows a very old house with a steep gabled roof between Lean Cottage and Beard Cottage up above Tankard Spring. It’s no longer there.
Hill View: This is off the road up to Dimmelsdale. Norman Rogers used to live there. His bathroom had a corrugated iron roof and wooden walls so wasn’t very warm. There was a cold tap to fill the bath but no hot water, but he had an old clothes boiler which he’d boil water in and pour into the bath, so that’s how the bath had hot water. The bath is now in my garden with flowers in. Norman told me that in the 1930s when he walked down the High Street, some houses had oil lights or candles, some had gas lights and some had electric.
Journey’s End: The Smart family used to live in Journey’s End. They had a coal yard from where they delivered coal around the village. Up until the 1920s coal was delivered to them by barge – one barge every two weeks. As far as I know this was the last use of the canal to Chalford.
Waterside: The modern house on the corner was built in 1976.
Old Valley Inn: This was a clothiers house originally. You can still see remains of the mill at the end of the playing field. Later it became a pub until 1971.
Marley Lane Water Works: On the left of Marley Lane before the railway bridge is a brick house below the road, you can see it from the canal. Adjacent to the canal is the original pumping house, which was steam powered using coal brought up on the canal. Stroud Water Company pumped water out of the river into three reservoirs, which were in front of the dwelling house. This water was fed all down the valley to Stroud. Crushed limestone was used to purify the water and when it was depleted it was dumped on the piece of ground at the end of the playing field, which is now covered in trees.
When Sevilles Mill waterwheel was working, possibly until about the 1920s, the tail race from the wheel ran in the watercourse behind the houses from Anchor Terrace to Tankard Spring. This is what we now call the back brook. When the sluice gates from the mill pond were opened so the wheel would turn, water surged down the tail race and sometimes caused flooding in Dabchick Row. It also flushed the tail race so any sewage that had come from the cottages next to it was washed away into the Frome. Even after the waterwheel stopped working the water flow rate was much higher than it is now. When the mill was demolished in the mid 1960s the flow rate in the tail race was much reduced but this was about the same time as the sewer was put in.
Some of the houses higher up the hill put their sewage into a “lissom” – an archaic word from this area meaning a crack in the rock. As a result the ground water becomes polluted and that’s why the springs up the hill are all condemned and have ‘Do not drink’ notices. Tankard Spring is OK because it is a lower level and there is a layer of clay between it and the higher springs. Up the hill, not all that long ago, I was working on quite a fine house, and the sewage was all connected to a lissom. I said to the owner ‘Is this a good idea, do you think?’ She said ‘Well it works’ and I replied ‘Yes, but it’s polluting the ground water and also could block.’ The main sewer ran in front of the house and as all the floors were up, I suggested connecting to the sewer, which is what was done.
Until mains water was brought to Chalford people got their water from Tankard Spring, and possibly the river for washing. I think the mains came in the late 19th century judging by the age of the pump house off Marley Lane. Les Dean who worked for the Water Board and lived in the cottage by the pump house before moving to Cyprus Cottage, said that when water was first bought, initially all they did they put the stand pipes in the road outside and people just came and filled buckets up, it wasn’t in the houses.