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Before the war and rationing put a temporary closure on butchery businesses, there were a number of slaughtermen in Witheridge; among them were Sid Dart, James Hill, Cummings Bowden, Mr Bristow and Sid Ware. Not until 1954 did rationing end and slaughtering begin again at the back of Tout's the butcher's opposite the Church gate. The round covered not only the parish but parts of Thelbridge as well, such as Marchweek, Woodford, and Summer.

In wartime the churchyard grass would be cut by scythe and made into hay; the rick would be on the Vicarage lawn, on a staddle or staddling of sticks and browse to keep it off the ground and dry. The Vicarage garden was renowned for its fine fruit, especially pears and Victoria plums. War encouraged rabbit keeping, and this developed into a craze for show rabbits. The Vicar kept Superfex, Percy Bowden took his Beverins to shows. At the national school were black and white Dutch rabbits and Flemish Giants, which were also favoured by Arthur Bryant. Bee keeping was also popular. The two families who replaced the Vicar in the sixties used to keep bees, and this enterprise lead to the honey business in South Molton.

In the fifties and sixties deliveries to the door were commonplace. Milk and eggs were taken by round by Toz Gibson, Stephen Selley, and Winston Maunder. Many drank scald milk as it was cheaper and said to be better for you. If these three let their cows out at the same time the Square became not only dirty but chaotic as well. Percy Holloway delivered groceries, Touts delivered meat, and round the farms came sellers of fish, medicines, clothes, etc.

Williams the chemist was in West Street, with big glass vessels of coloured water in the window, and the rows of brass-handled drawers. Bill Vernon presided over Notts Quarries office in the Square, until it was taken over by Devon General as a bus office. Also there was Joe Churchill in the Pound House, where he combined the skills of postman, barber, harness-maker, and cider drinker. Jack Payne at Butts Close was another barber; he also mended boots and shoes. Funerals were in the hands of Ernie Hutchings and his son Bill, until Bill Rowcliffe took over. Doug Venner ran a coach business and had two petrol pumps in the old quarry at Drayford opposite the mill. Jim Leach was in charge at Hamlin's Mill in Fore Street, and grocery shops were run by Isaac Kerslake (Chairman of the British legion), Percy Holloway and Frankie Kingdom. Witheridge Mill closed in the sixties, Charlie Maire being the last miller. By this time all that was left of Mr Adam's blacksmiths business in the triangle at the top of the village was a shed. George Beer had bought the blacksmiths shop by the National School from Les Baker, and John Leach was the last smith there.

In the early days of transport a vehicle had to do more than one job, and Arthur Bryant's lorry did just that. He'd move cattle one day and furniture the next, sometimes both on the same day.

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

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