Woodford in 1952

(The following is reproduced from the June 1977 edition of the Woodford Express – kindly provided by Gill Pitt – when local historian Jim Anscomb looked back from the Silver Jubilee to the year when Queen Elizabeth took the throne.  You can find out more about the Express here.)

Woodford Cum Membris 25 Years Ago (i.e. 1952)

Compiled by J. W. Anscomb

“1952, the year of our Queen’s accession to the throne following the death of her father, King George VI on February 6th that year. In some respects it seems but yesterday, time flies so quickly, but the calendar tells us it is 25 years ago. Here are a few reminders of events of that year.

“In February too, it was announcemed that passenger trains on thhe old S.M.J. Railway would cease to run on April 7th and I think many said that it couldn’t happen on the old G.C. Railway.

“The same edition of the Mercury & Herald that reported the death of King George, reported the funeral of one of Woodford’s oldest inhabitants, Mrs J.L. Jones, 36 years a teacher at Moreton Pinkney C of E School, aged 92.

“Food was still on rationand the Food Control Committee of the Rural District and the Borough of Daventry were amalgamated that same month. Scotch salmon was selling well it was reported at 11/- (£0.55) a lb.

“February was a sad month for the late Mr Gostick as on the 17th, the late Mr Joe Grindhill at 4:30 in the morning discovered that his shop was on fire in School Street. The local fire brigade was soon on the spot but were unable to save the building, which with its contents was practically destroyed and an estimated £10,000 of damage done.

“The County rate went up 6d and the Rural District rate 3d or as we would say today 2.5p and 1p. The Parish Council were in trouble as in those days they were very restricted on what they could spend and there was alimit of 4d for general purposes. As it was election year, some of the expenditure was out of their control, they were having to meet the cost nevertheless. Faced with other expenditure they knew that the could not pay their way with only a 4d rate and so they called a Parish Meeting and asked the meeting if they could have another 2d. The meeting said “No”, and the Council had to manage as best they could. When the bill for the election came in they didn’t pay it until the following year.

“The roadside seats wanted repairing and as the Council had no power to pay for the work needing doing, they handed them over to the Rural District Council.

“The Playing Field in those days was only mown once in Summer, tenders being invited from local farmers to make it into hay and then when the hay was off, tenders would be invited for grazing it by sheep for six months. That year the successful tender was for six pounds.

“In August, organisations were asked to send representatives to a meeting to discuss the setting up of an old people’s Welfare Committee. 24 attended the meeting on August 29th and a Committee was formed but did not start to function until January the next year. It is still working and has given a lot of pleasure to a lot of people.

“On November 11th a ParishMeeting was called to discuss making arrangements for the Coronation Celebrations taking place the next year. 34 attended the meeting and it was suggested that the day should start with a religious service in the open. If it was wet, the three Ministers were to decide what to do. It was also suggested that there should be sports for the old people and school children, a procession headed by a band and tea for everyone. It was agreed that collectors should be appointed to collect throughout the village and ten were appointed at the meeting. Eventually there were 21 collectors.

“There was some freakish weather that year. On March 29th-30th a blizzard swept the County piling drifts ten feet deep in places. The bus services to Banbury were cancelled owing to drifts at Eydon and the road to Northampton was blocked at Preston Capes.

“In August, Lynton and Lynmouth (in Devon) were overwhelmed by floods and the Parish Council organised a house to house collection to help relieve the distress and raised £36/9/2.5 (£36.46), a magnificent total in those days.

“On November 25th there was a very sharp frost and the Mercury & Herald reported it was the coldest night inthe County for 90 years.”

Notes:

  • in 1952 £1 was worth roughly what £29 is in 2017, so a 4d rate would be equivalent to £1.16,
  • the Met Office recorded a low temperature of minus 12 degrees centigrade on the 25th November in Kielder,Scotland
  • 34 people died and 420 were left homeless in the Lynton & Lynmouth floods
  • S.M.J. was the Stratford on Avon and Midland Junction Railway, G.C. the Great Central Railway
  • the Mercury & Herald was the local newspaper for Northampton.