114a The Street

Beatrice and Donald Loveday have lived in Thurlow for forty-six years, forty-four of them at their present address, a thatched cottage on the Little/ Great Thurlow boundary. Donald was born in Great Wratting where both his father and grandfather lived. His great grandfather and great great grandfather came from Little Thurlow.

Don’s grandfather worked for Tommy Tilbrook, father of Spencer, working the threshing tackle, and his uncle also worked there until he retired through ill health, “probably farmer’s lung, caused by dust from the threshing machine”.

Beatrice was born on the island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic. Their two sons who grew up in Thurlow have now left home and now live in Haverhill.

Don worked for the Thurlow estate for forty-six years until he was made redundant. He then worked for three years for St. Edmundsbury Borough Council until he was again made redundant just before he was due to retire.

Beatrice came to the U.K. in 1948 to find employment, there being none on St. Helena. She worked as a house parlourmaid for a series of titled people, including Earl Fitzwilliam of Peterborough, the Rt. Hon. David Astor and the Vestey family.

Football is one of Don’s interests and he is chairman of Thurlow football club. But his greatest interest is steam engines. He is chairman of Thurlow Steam Rally, with which he has been involved for eighteen years. He visits shows both locally and in the rest of East Anglia. Gardening (vegetable and þower) and country and western music are his other interests. Beatrice’s interests are cooking, walking and visits to the coast.

Beatrice and Don like their surroundings, having a good garden which plenty of wildlife visits, including woodpeckers, two tame collared doves which feed at their feet, and a tame fox who visits once or twice a week. Don found it easy to walk to work from home as they were close to the boys’ school and it’s a safe area to live, with a very low crime rate.

They feel the negative aspects of living here are the speed of traffic, particularly some 4 x 4 private cars driven by women taking their children to school, with mobile phones up to their ears. This annoys Don very much. He would “never do this, as it is such a dangerous practice”.

Beatrice and Don have seen many changes in their life here. People having to travel out of the village to work; at one time almost everyone worked in the village or nearby. Recently a more controlled use of agricultural sprays has brought back some of the wildlife. There used to be three buses a day to Cambridge and five on Saturday; now there is only one. Everyone has to own or have the use of a car. “Many things you have to pay for now were free, and you could walk anywhere without being told you could not go there.”

Don remembers when there were ten separate farms: Church Farm was run by the Tullock family, Hall Farm Gt. Thurlow by the Ryders then the Vesteys, Goldings Farm by the Prykes who also had a butcher’s shop in the village and Street Farm by Doug Wickerson and his father. The Tilbrook family (Spencer, Dora and Evelyn) ran Manor Farm and Low Farm Temple End. Top Farm was run by George Bridgeman (for the Ryders) and Church Farm Lt. Thurlow by Donald Kiddy who moved to Wash Farm, Lt. Wratting where his son Stephen still farms.

There was also Collis’s small farm attached to the windmill, and finally behind the vicarage in Gt. Thurlow Glebe Farm run by the Dowsett family (Gus Dowsett, their daughter, ran the village shop). This last farm was bulldozed down thirty years ago but there are still the remains of the moated farm house amongst the bushes.

The windmill itself has been restored twice, but not to working order. The timber for the sails was imported from Canada and Albert Paxman made them just before he died. It was partly restored in 1964 by Rook and Son of Haverhill and a plaque inside gives the names of all the men who did the work.

During the 1939­45 War a Stirling bomber returning from a raid over Germany crashed in the meadow behind the school. All but two of the crew bailed out and were picked up all over the district. The plane was on fire as it came down and ignited the stacks in Manor Farm yard, hit the end of the thatched barn and then made a huge hole in the meadow. A lot of the wreckage is still buried there, and the crew (who were all New Zealanders) are buried in Haverhill cemetery.

Another Stirling bomber crashed on Little Thurlow Green after taking off from Stradishall (an enemy plane shot it down); it landed on the buildings opposite Green Farm Barn, setting them on fire. Bert Mills who lived in the house next door said the cattle were released and escaped. About eight years ago a huge propeller was unearthed during ploughing and Don believes this is now in the Duxford museum.

Don spent a lot of time working with Bert Mills “who was a character”. Bert told the story of how he would leave his house at 6 o’clock in the evening and walk down the road, pausing to talk to everyone. He would have a drink at the Lion (now gone), walk on to The Cock pausing to talk en-route, arriving there about eight, then on to the Rose and Crown, by which time it was time to return home. Bert, “In me later years I could do the whole trip in fifteen minutes, but by then the art of conversation was completely dead.” “Absolutely true”, agrees Beatrice.

During the war Thurlow had its own fire brigade. It had a trailer pump towed by a Morris commercial truck manned by part-timers, Herbert Arnold, Taffy Talbot, Fred Atherton, Tony Smith and Jack Paxman. Sheila Haylock, who ran the Rose and Crown, took phone calls for them. The fire engine was used at several plane crashes, including those in Thurlow and one at Cowlinge. Gt. Thurlow Hall also had a fire engine. This was a Shand Mason with a handpump, and was horse-drawn. Six men on a beam pumped the water. A 500 gallon horse-drawn water tank was used. “Modern fire engines would use 500 gallons in two minutes.”