We took writing inspiration from some of the pictures we chose from the Archive. Here’s what we wrote.
They look rough and ready, working men in their flat caps. Maybe they were builders? Two wearing bowler hats, maybe they’re the foremen. Stopping for a well-earned pint after a day’s work? One man on his bike. And two women – maybe the young one was the barmaid, and the older one, perhaps she owned the pub. Or did they work at the Post Office next door? Only ladies of a certain reputation went in the pub in those days.
That young woman would have been born around the turn of the century. Did she live a long life? Women live longer than men. Did she grow old? We don’t know. All we have is this photo, a moment when she was young.
It’s maybe five years since the end of the war, the Great War. One or two of the older men, they’d have been too old to fight. But the younger men would have been fighting age. What had they gone through? They all look able-bodied, as far as you can see. But then injured men couldn’t do labouring work. They worked hard in those days.
You can imagine the photographer asking them all to line up outdoors to have their photo taken. D’you think he bought them all a pint? It would have been a rare thing in those days, to have your photograph taken.
That one at the bottom right has a nice face. Reminds me of my brother. Looks a bit of a cheeky Charlie.
By Trevor and Marilyn
Farmer Beech: Do me a favour, Coompton. Next time you’re over by Beech Tree Farm, will you cut my hair again?
Coompton Ay, neighbour, it must be three months since last time. You’re a bit shaggy.
Farmer Beech I’m better at shearing the sheep! But I’ve been trimming my own moustache at least.
Coompton That’s a fine-looking tache – nearly as good as mine! Yes, I’ll bring my scissors. We can sit a chair outdoors by the barn, if it stays this fine.
Farmer Beech And there’ll be some eggs, to repay you, and a loaf of my wife’s bread.
Compton: Oh,ay, we’d like that. She’s known for baking good bread, your wife. And you can give me a hand with the cattle next time you’re up by me at Halfway Farm.
Farmer Beech I’d be glad to. We’re good neighbours!
By Jay Lee, Dan and Trevor
‘That was the Judd family at Kettlehouse Farm. It looks like the grandparents, and maybe their son and daughter-in-law, and two little girls, their granddaughters. Mabel was one of the girls. My dad fancied Mabel Judd.
It was pretty well kept, but it was gloomy, overshadowed. You can see the trees’ shadows. It would have been very basic indoors.
They had cows and sheep, and horses in the stables, and kennels for the dogs. They’d have farmhands – a cow man, someone to do raking and spade work, a young lad. My granddad was a farmhand.
The old fellow looks too old to work.
But look, the husband and wife are standing far apart. Not touching. Was their marriage falling apart? Maybe they weren’t speaking when the photographer came? In the 1930s the farm was due for demolition for the new houses. Maybe they couldn’t agree where to go.
I don’t know where they went, but they stayed in the area. We used to see Mabel about.’
They’re brewing a kettle over the fire, maybe herb tea or dandelion and nettles? No sugar, that was a luxury. But they’d know all about herbs and berries.
One lady is washing clothes in the tub. No washing machines or dryers then. Those tents made of leather? They’d need to be weatherproof.
They were poor people. They hadn’t got anywhere else to live. Did they have money? That was a hard life for them, then. But there’d be plenty of rabbits and hares. Maybe they’d set a trap in the ground. Was that poaching?
By Trevor and Marilyn