Life at Little Rexon, Broadwoodwidger – 1911 to 1920
by Ida Mary Kneebone (1910-2007)
I lived with my Father and Mother, my Stepsister and Brother. It was a small farm and we kept a few cows and some sheep, and a breeding mare called Violet. She produced a foal every year and my Uncle Tom and I used to come and break them in, get them used to being handled and wearing a harness on their heads, and later on, a saddle.
My Brother Tom used to till mole traps in the fields and pinned the skins to dry on a board, also rabbit skins were stretched and pinned out. These were collected and sent to Horace Friend with combings from the horses’s tail and wing feathers from poultry. Over a few years he raised enough money to buy himself a new bicycle.
Our fields ran down to the River Wolf and Tom used to put lines down in the evenings, hoping to catch fish. I used to enjoy going with him in the morning to bring back the catch, mostly eels, but some small trout. Mother would fry the eels for breakfast, and they would jump around in the pan.
On Sundays we all walked to Broadwood Church for morning service at 11.00 a.m. In the afternoon Winnie, Tom and I walked to Sunday School, this was held in the schoolroom near the church. We also went to the evening service.
We went to school at Thorn Cross, about 2 miles away and were joined along the way by lots of other children.
Father and Mother went to Launceston every Saturday afternoon in a pony trap to do some shopping. We stayed at home and went down to the river and paddled and skimmed stones on the water.
My Grandfather Davey came to live with us and he had a lovely long white beard and used to let me make pigtails with it, and when he talked they popped in and out and made everyone laugh.
We had a quince tree in the garden and used to have fun with our visitors, the fruits looked very tempting, a lovely peach colour, but were very sour, and the look on their faces was amusing to us children.
When I was about 8 years old, I started having piano lessons from a Mrs. Westlake, who lived at Lifton, and cycled over once a week. We all went to dancing classes, these were held at Broadwood in the church schoolroom and we were taught by Stanley and Elsie Clifton, who came from Lifton, and we learned to Waltz, Foxtrot, Twostep and the Lancers.
My Father rented some fields at Townley from a Mr. Smith and we used to have picnics over there at Harvest time down by the river, we all enjoyed these and used to pick blackberries and nuts in the summer.
He also rented a large field at Eastlake and used to stock it with sheep and horses, and we used to go up there and pick mushrooms. When my Sister Winnie left school at 14, she went to live in Bude with the Bate family, who owned a Grocer’s shop. They had two small boys who she looked after and she enjoyed this and made quite a few friends. I used to go down and stay with her in the summer holidays and loved every minute of it.
In 1920 we moved to Heath Park, Bratton Clovelly.
My school days
My first 4 years were spent at Thorn Cross school; it is now closed and has been made into a dwellinghouse. We moved to Bratton Clovelly, where I spent 2 happy years. Miss Hortop was the primary teacher and Mr. Moore for the seniors, a very kindly man with a beard. This school has also been closed for some years and is now a dwelling. Pupils now go to Boasley or Okehampton.
When I was 11, I started at Horwell Grammar school at Dunheved Road in Launceston. On Monday mornings, Mother drove me in a pony and trap to Lifton Station, where I caught the Great Western train and made the short journey to Launceston Station. From here, we walked up Old Hill and reached school a little late at 9.15 a.m. I was joined by the Hill girls, Mary, Dorothy and Ruth and Ethel Trick, Millie Stapleton and Kathleen Higgins from Five Acres.
At 12.30 a.m., I walked to St. Catherines Hill (where I was lodging until Friday) to have my lunch and then back to school in just an hour. I enjoyed my time with Mr. and Mrs. Harold Walters and their two little boys Richard and Ralph at number 3. My Mother and Mrs. Walters (Winnie Maunder) had been friends when young. On Fridays, it was down to the Station and back to Lifton, where Mother would be waiting with the pony and trap.
Our headmistress was Tindal Atkinson and she was well liked and very fair. If we misbehaved, she’d give us detention, and we had to stand outside her Office until called, and she would give us a little pep talk, but I only had one experience of this.
We had a large Hall where we assembled for morning prayers, and other functions, also P.T. Forms 1 and 2 were on the ground floor, with a kindergarten, forms 3, 4, 5 and 5a were upstairs. We had a large playing area and a tennis court and extensive gardens. The caretakers Mr. and Mrs. Moss were a delightful couple and she used to give us tea on a Friday nights, as we had to stay after school to await the train. On Wednesday afternoons, we went to the boy’s school at Newport for chemistry as we had no lab at Dunheved. Another afternoon we went to Windmill School for cookery lessons with Miss Hocken.
We all wore navy tunics and white blouses and navy hats with our school hat bands. Ms Atkinson was very strict about us wearing hats at all times when in the streets; also eating ice cream in the street was banned.
I had to leave school at 15 as Mother was unwell and needed help in the house and on the farm. I made many friends and used to meet up with them on Saturday evenings in Town.
Miss Callow; Arithmetic, Algebra and Geography
Miss Wellington; History and Geography
Miss Dawson; Botany and Scripture
Miss Berry; Art
Miss Semper; French and English
The school has now been turned into an Old Peoples Home (Miller House).
Thorn Cross School – 1916
Infants Teacher – Bertha Martin
Gelson, Harriet and Lesley Pearse – West Banbury
Frank and Winnie Gerry – Rexon Cross
Kate Mayne – Rexon Cross
Winnie, Thomas and Ida Banbury – Little Rexon
Kathleen and Joyce Perkin – Rexon Cottage
George, Gladys and Wilfred Smale – Neathwood
Percy, Cyril and Kathleen Balkwill – Drons Mill
Laura, Harold, Irene and Olive Hole – Kellacott
Joyce Balkwill – Kellacott
Jack, Rhoda, Horace, Arthur, Evelyn and Doreen Davey – Thorn Moor
Frank, Dulcie and Phyllis Ward – Fernhill
Joyce, Gladys and Mary Littlejohns – Kitchem
Albert and Willy Rich – Broadwood
Grace, Thomas, Leonard and Phyllis Bailey – Narracott
All the children walked to school “before the days of school transport”. We wore lace up boots “before wellys” and wore woolly hats and warm muffs. We carried our pasties and sandwiches – no school dinners. Games played were hopscotch and skipping, and the boys spinned tops and had races with iron hoops.
Family friends at Broadwood – 1916
Mr and Mrs Will Smale at Neathwood – George Gladys and Wilfred
Mr and Mrs Sam Ferrett, Park Cottage – A Mason – Dick, George, Reginald, Horace, Kenneth
Mr and Mrs Jimmy Gerry – Rexon Cross – Smallholder and rabbit trapper – Jimmy, May, Frank, Winnie
Mr and Mrs John Bailey – Nethercott – Grace, Thomas, Leonard and Phyllis
Mr and Mrs Dennis Buddle, later moved to Eastlake Farm – John Ethel, Ivy, Renfred, Cecil
Doidges at Rowden Farm – John, Rose, Harry, Fred, Thomas, Cecil
Pearses at West Banbury – Claud, Gelson, Harriet and Leslie
Balkwills at Drowns Mill – Percy, Cyril and Kathleen
Balkwills at Kellacott – Harold, Gwen, Fred, Ethel, Joyce
Holes at Kellacott – Cyril, Laura, Harold, Irene, Olive
Doidges at Coombe Park – Percy, Fernley, Mary
Broadwood Village – 1910
Rev. H.G.Woods was a bachelor and had a car to visit his parishioners, and this was driven by Jimmy Gerry jnr. who worked for him.
The organist was Miss Emily Parsons
The Post Office was kept by Mr and Mrs Tom Squires.
The grocers shop was run by Ena, Walter and Lorna Down.
There was a blacksmith at the top of the green.
Mr and Mrs Alfred Rich lived at Town Farm and he employed a man called Bailey who lived in a cottage with his large family.
There was also a chapel at Rexon Cross and this was well attended by the Doidge family from Rowden, Rich’s from Broadwood Town and Mr and Mrs Andrews and their daughter Daisy who walked all the way from Camp near Thorn Cross.
Mr and Mrs Hingston from Fernhill and Sadie Rahman also walked every Sunday without fail.
The church was also well attended, quite a few people came from Grinacombe Moor.
Fred Parsons, a brother of the organist was a carpenter and lived in a cottage just below the Church, with another Sister Mary and all were single.