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Mr Bryant (A.B) was born in Ebrington's Row in Witheridge in 1903. He started work at the age of 13 1/2 with Tidball's the carriers. The routine was to drive into Exeter on Thursday (A.B with the trap, Tidball with the carrier's van) with passengers and goods. Village produce (including eggs and butter) was delivered round Exeter and supplies (including horseshoes for blacksmith Baker) were collected for Witheridge and even South Molton. They stayed at the Crown and Sceptre by the Iron Bridge. On Friday, they returned; the steep pull up in Sandford often proved difficult, and (A.B) would get to the top, unhitch his horse and take it back down to make an extra horse on the carrier's van itself. There was often a problem at Tridley Foot too; "doan't get'ee fingers behind the block" old Tidball used to say to him: the farmer there at times had to bring out his horses to help them up; in winter on occasions it was frozen over and they had to put in the frost nails. On the Saturday, the goods for South Molton were delivered. Before they used the through route to Exeter, they used to drive to Lapford Station and take their goods to Exeter by train, leaving the horses to be fed and watered by the porter.

In what is now Mr W Perry's yard at Trafalgar Square, Tidball's stabled 7 or 8 horses; behind the yard was a horse wheel that drove a chaff cutter. (A.B) recalls cutting chaff at 10.30 in the evening after a long day on the road. The three shillings a week he got up to the age of 15 or 16 went to his mother. (A.B) himself lived in with the Tidballs, his mother said the three shillings went on boots. (A.B) says there was a lot of walking done, not only up the hills but often he walked just to keep warm. He used to drive the Landau for Tidballs and he also used to drive Parson Benson, who had a governess card and a "4-wheel coach", but hired horse and driver. Sometimes (A.B) "used to let him drive himself and get under the rug. Pullens and Cutcliffes had their own carriages but often hired horses and drivers. (Pullens lived at Rosemont Villa, Cutcliffes at Coombe.). He learned to drive a motor vehicle on the Leyland "Scot" (Witheridge Transport Co.) in the early 1920's. He still has his original P.S.V. Licence badge HH3431. He often drove a solid tyre lorry bus whose sides were so flimsy that one day he "came back with a letter box," in passing a pony and trap the pony had shied and the step of the trap had poked a neat hole in the side like a letter box. (A.B) also drove the Transport Co.'s first cattle lorry. The charabanc was converted by jacking it up, placing four barrels under the body, unbolting it and driving off. In the "Scout" the passenger seats were only hooked on and were easy to lift out, so that the vehicle could be used as a furniture van. Once he and Tidball drove two buses to Exeter with passengers an, unhooked the seats, drove back to Witheridge, carried out a furniture removal to Newton St. Cyres, went to Exeter, replaced the seats, and bought passengers back to Witheridge.


People: Charlie Maire and Walter Tidball had the first steam wagon in Witheridge. Charlie kept a traction engine in a shed where the bungalow "Engine Park" now is, where the Rackenford road forks off from North Street. (Harold Winter at Rundon drove the traction engine). Part of its use was to haul coal from Tiverton. Joe Churchill (Saddler, the Square) was the subject of many tales: once he was tending the church clock and A.B. went in and terrified him by taking the long cobweb stick and causing it to clang. Joe liked his cider, and on his post round he used to take a swig of cider out of the bottle that Rolf Tarr kept in the water trough just inside the gate into Tooks Field (by Engine Park). When Rolf Tarr found out he put oil in it, and the next time Joe took a swig, he was sick as a dog.

Bob Lee had a wheelwright's shed in Ebrington's Row.

William Kingdom was known as Bill Sideways. "At least that's what the women called him."

"Flew" used to live in the Toll House and afterwards Mr Hutchings used it for lime. The toilets for the National School were across the road by the Toll House, the slops were thrown into the gutter which is still there.

(A.B) has been up the brick tunnel from the reservoir (at the entrance to Lakelands) to the fine trees in Chapner Field. (See Parish Council Minutes 1895-1900.) There was no tunnel going under the village.

Before the 1914 was, the Witheridge-Thelbridge road was so bad "you could lie in the ruts and nobody would see you." After the war, it was made up by Notts with stone from Coombe Quarry and apart from tar, it hasn't been touched since.

The small narrow garden south of Chapner Cross may well have belonged to the Cannington Toll House (This would have placed the Toll House in exactly the same relation to a road fork as the Witheridge Town Toll House below the churchyard.)

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Last Edited 03/07/2006    Copyright © 2000-2006 Witheridge

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