From the 1920's in Barkby Leicestershire
Dad and Mum, Frank and Violet Tomlinson, came to Barkby from Bolsover, Derbyshire about 1920. They lived first in Hobbs Lane. Dad worked for Ernie Kirk at Thorpe Farm. By 1928 they had five children and moved to Bells Lodge, Barkby Thorpe. Dad started to work for Mr Ted Pick, as cowman and farm labourer, at Hamilton Grounds Farm. He worked all his life on the land until he died in 1956. After Dad's death Mother moved to Hilltop Farm and then into a cottage in the village, 14 School Lane. She lived there until her death in 1980.
Bells Lodge was built around 1890-1900. A large brick- built farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, about a mile from the nearest road. It was part of the Pochin estate. We believe the house was named after a family called Bell who had lived there, although on the ordnance survey map it is identified as Spinney House. (Click here to see it's location) The house was supposedly built to house two farm workers and at first the Grimes family shared with us. Bells Lodge had a large kitchen, two living rooms, a dairy, storeroom and outside wash- house.There were four bedrooms all with stone floors. Mother used to make rugs from old coats to keep off the cold.
There was no electricity and no water inside. We drew all the water from an outside pump, which never froze in the winter, we wonder why? Rainwater was collected for our daily washing needs. Sometimes it was so cold indoors even the water inthe buckets froze and the windows and sills were covered in ice. Mother did the washing and heated water in the copper in the "wash house" (an old cowshed) so that we could all have a weekly bath in a tin tub. She also used the copper to make batches of Christmas puddings every year. There was an outside privy with an elmwood seat, which Mother scrubbed continually till the wood was white. All lighting came from candles or paraffin lamps and cooking was done on a big black open range, which burned wood and coal. Mother made the most delicious pudding cakes and pies and cooked really good meals on that range.
There were also two cowsheds, a stable, a calf box, greenhouse and a pigsty. Dad looked after the animals but Mum looked after the hens and pigs. She always cried when Harry Stone, the slaughterer, came. He did a good job, cutting joints and salting the bacon and hams. Mum made pork pies and sausages and we really enjoyed the home cured bacon for breakfast. Much of our food was provided by local produce, from the garden and countryside, consisting of eggs, mushroom's, rabbits, boiling fowl and the odd pheasant that the Squires dogs missed after a shoot.
The American soldiers, who were stationed at Scraptoft during the war, used Bells Lodge as a position to attack and defend during manoeuvres. They were very generous with supplies, especially sweets and cigarettes. Our Dad had a sweet tooth and loved a smoke. On very wet days the Americans would abandon "the war" and gather together in the washhouse to turn the mangle for Mother. Heavy goods, coal and furniture etc. were delivered by horse and cart, everything else had to be carried by hand. At the weekend we used to fetch six loaves of bread in a sack from Hitchcox's bakery in Barkby. Mother must have carried tons of groceries over those fields. One foggy night when she was late home from shopping we went out to search for her and found her crawling around the field on her hands and knees very distressed. She had lost her way in the dense fog. Life was very hard sometimes but Mother always coped.
We were a large family, seven boys and one girl. The oldest boy, Ted, married Bella Morris. They had three children. Ted worked at Walker's woodyard in Syston until he joined the regular army in the Royal Engineer Corps in 1938. He served in India, Burma and Malaya during the war. After the war he worked locally and died in 1993. Nesta, the only daughter, worked at Pickard's bakery in Syston and in a munitions factory, opposite what is now Watermeads Way, during the war. She was married to Ray Bedford, they are both deceased. Norman, who was always known locally as "Ponk", also worked at Walker's initially but then went to work on the land for Mr Ted Pick and also Mr Arthur Pick. He married Mavis Godson, who was a prominent village member. They had two children. During the war Ponk belonged to the auxiliary fire service. His latter years were spent working for the ambulance service but he continued working on the land and on the Pochin estate on a part-time basis. He and Tony constructed several pheasant pens and cut many hedges. Norman and Mavis lived all their lives in Barkby and took over Mother's role for the family when she died. Ponk and Mavis lived at 9 School Lane and Sunnybrook Farm. Mavis died in 1988 and then Ponk moved to 2 Beeby Road until his death. When Ponk died in 1997, it was the first time that a Tomlinson had not lived in Barkby, or the surrounds, for 79 years. It was his dying wish to be carried to church on the back of a tractor and trailer. The Kirk family kindly made his wish come true.
Ralph, pictured here, went to Barrow Grammar School then worked at the County Offices till he started training for a commission in the fleet air arm, but he was killed in a flying accident, aged 19, in 1941.
Further Details May Be Seen On The The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Website
Les married Leigh Stallard. They have three children. He started work at Barkby Hall as a boy gardener till 1945 when he joined the navy. After demobilisation in 1948 he made a career in the National Health Service retiring in 1992. Les lived to the age of 90 and died on 9ᵗʰ July 2018. Joe, who married Jenny Elliott, whose mother was a very active councillor, has three children. He worked in horticulture for Carnall's then emigrated, to Australia in the 1960's.He is now living in Perth. Peter married Mabel in Southern Rhodesia. They have four children. He served in the RAF Police then joined the Southern Rhodesian Police in 1954 and is still living in Zimbabwe. Tony married Rachel Goadby, whose Mum and Dad owned the paper shop in Syston. Sadly Rachel died during the second year of their marriage. He later married Pat Giles. They have one daughter. He went to Barrow Grammar School and then to Loughborough College for teacher training. After doing National Service he taught locally and is now retired but still keeps in touch with the village. He now lives in Old Dalby.
Peter, Joe and Tony were active members of Barkby football and cricket clubs. The descendants of Frank and Violet Tomlinson number eight children, sixteen grandchildren, eighteen great-grandchildren and seven great great grandchildren, who live in various parts of England also abroad in Australia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. All of us children had daily or weekly jobs to do, collecting wood, chopping sticks, sawing logs, cleaning out the pig and hen huts, collecting eggs, digging the garden and worst of all emptying the closet. As a farm labourer's sons we were expected to help on the farm evenings, weekends, and during the summer holidays, hand thinning mangles, hand weeding wild oats and docks from the corn crops, stick raising laid corn for the binder, hay-making, sheaf sticking, potato picking and muck spreading for an old sixpenny piece (2dp) for a morning or afternoon's work. We all picked damsons at Granddad Pick's at Barkby Thorpe for 6d a basket.
We were a spirited bunch of lads often getting up to mischief. Dad ruled us with a rod of iron and when one of us was really naughty he would send us to bed without any tea. Mum would get out the ironing board and do a pile of ironing so that she could hide sandwiches in the linen and sneak them up to the culprit. She never let us go to bed hungry. On Sunday afternoon Mum would pack us up a picnic of Spam and jam sandwiches which we ate in the horseshoe spinney or down by the brook. Those picnics were always a special treat for us children. Christmas time was often shared with Mum and Dad's friends Alf and Maggie James, the Nicholls and Marriotts and their families. A highlight of the week, if the accumulator was charged, was listening to ITMA on the wireless. When the annual thrashing machine came it was quite an event for us. The chaff was stored in the cowshed and it became a home for many mice and rats, we had a lot of fun chasing them.
At the beginning of the war it was Mr A.Peacock (Pochin), Albert Robinson, who was the Squire's head gardener, and Reg Allen, the local bobby, who came to fit us for our gas masks. Once we hiked to Scraptoft to see the craters made by bombs destined for Leicester that had fallen short, also to see a Lancaster bomber that had crashed near Thumby. Some nights we heard the German planes flying over, heading for the industrial cities. On the nights when much of Coventry and Derby were demolished, we stood in the garden and watched the fires lighting up the sky. One night we had a frightening experience when an aerial landmine exploded at Birstall. On 21st May 1944, during Norman's 21st birthday party, in the early evening we saw 2,500 American paratroops descending out of the sky over Hamilton Farm. They were doing a practice exercise in preparation for D-Day. As the war progressed land girls worked on the farms and as teenagers we enjoyed working and socialising with them and also going to the local dances. Civilisation didn't come to Bells Lodge until 1946 when electricity was installed. The big switch-on was done on Christmas Eve. What a joy it was. We even had an outside light and could see our way to the pump and the closet. A 16" wide concrete path was laid across the fields from Barkby Thorpe/Hamilton Road to the house. Italian prisoners of war did the work, although it was better than the mud track, balance was important or you ended up in a ploughed furrow.
Dad and Mum lived at Bells Lodge for 28 years. Now there is nothing left of the house. Sadly it gradually crumbled and eventually fell apart, but slates, stones and beams are incorporated in a new house situated along the Brookside in Barkby. Les retrieved some coping stones from the old closet which are on his garage in Dunstable, and Tony has granite sets and tiles which are in Old Dalby. Norman, Joe and Tony were married at Barkby Church. Those of us who are left in the family still visit the field and the site of our family home. It was a very happy home where visitors were always welcomed. On one occasion we had a surprise visit from the Prince of Wales (later the Duke of Windsor) who rode through our stack-yard whilst Out with the Quorn hunt. He stopped for a moment to speak to Mother and he threw threepenny bits to us boys.
As at August 2020 there are just three of the eight children of Frank and Violet still alive: Joe, living in Perth, Australia, Pete, living in Harare, Zimbabwe and Tony, living in Old Dalby.