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Alderbury & Whaddon

Local History Research Group






























Memories of local people


We are always interested in memories of Alderbury and Whaddon. If you want to contribute, please contact us. Here we provide a selection of memories and we will add to this page in the future, moving some of our older material to our archive section so it remains available.


Frank Moody remembers...

                This is an extract from the correspondence of Mr Frank Moody. For most of his life, Frank lived in Alderbury, working for the Longford Estate, except during World War II when he served in the army in India. He was a member of a family who (including his uncles and grandfather) have worked for six Earls of Radnor. He and his wife once lived in the cottage next to the Green Dragon, on the Longford Estate, and later, in Firs Road. He was actively involved in village life, serving as Secretary on the Village Hall Committee at its beginning. He was Secretary to the Parish Council for 25 years and Steward of the Whaddon Methodist Chapel. A local history enthusiast, older residents still remember his film shows of Alderbury.


The Longford Castle Fire Brigade

                Frank remembers the difficulties the village used to have with a reliable water supply and the early days of the Longford Castle Fire Brigade.

                ‘One of the problems of such a place as Longford Castle was that of fire, which itself highlights the matter of water. Drinking water itself was a problem in Alderbury, Whaddon and all around. The castle had a good supply, the source of which came from the park at the Britford end, which has never been known to fail. At the turn of the century a main was laid to Ivychurch, a reservoir built there, and Longford and the surrounding villages have never been short since. At each hydrant as well as a tap, there was a 3-ft hose connection for fire hose. In the fire station by the estate house there was kept a small steam engine which was always ready for fire‑fighting and capable of pumping its own water (out of the river or a pond) or taking it from the roadside through the system. As the years went by the supply was gradually extended until the whole of the estate country from Alderbury and Whaddon to Nunton and Odstock had a plentiful supply of water. Until that reservoir came to Ivychurch in 1901, water was like the proverbial gold dust. Alderbury was one of those places that sprouted small springs early in the year and then dried up. People whom I know who lived and worked on the estate would say that it would sometimes take 20 minutes to fill a bucket. As I recall the water supply was taken over by the local authority in the 1950s.

                There was a fire brigade at the castle from early times and when Stephenson invented steam‑powered engines for railways and other forms of traction, there were also steam engines to pump water to extinguish fires. All members of the brigade had alarm bells in their cottages, all of which were connected to the castle and we would make haste from wherever we happened to be. We had a fairly regular fire drill at the castle for the maintenance of equipment and checking hydrants etc. but chiefly to familiarise ourselves with the castle layout so that we knew the easiest way to get out of the place and not get lost. That was a headache that was solved in 1937 by the invention of the Davy Fire Escape. This consisted of a coil of cord wound on a pulley with, at its end, body harness (like a car seat‑belt) which you would contrive to fit yourself into. A hook, fixed in the wall outside a window, would take the ring at the end of the harness and you would step off through the window and descend gracefully to the ground, These were fitted at strategic windows on each floor and we all slept much better after that. To think of 20 or 30 people groping about in the darkness and smoke was a nightmare. The Davy Fire Escape was wonderful! There was never a fire at the castle in my experience. There was a fire in the north tower after the second world war. There was a public fire service on call at that time so we let them deal with it. A housemaid, having heard the dinner bell, popped her housemaid’s box inside the lift shaft and ran off to her lunch. It was supposed there were hot ashes in the box and the upward draught of air in the shaft fanned the ashes into flames. I don’t know if any of the “Davy’s” have been used seriously but it was always a comforting thought that they were in situ’.


The installation of electricity

                Electricity was installed in the cottage where I lived in Alderbury in 1933. The castle went on the national grid about the same time. They had had an electricity supply for a long time before that. They generated their own by a stationary engine and storage batteries of 110 volt system. This was set up on the ground floor of the estate office building. Fred Sheppard was the electricity operator, assisted by Fred Rumbold. When, in the 1920s, horse carriages gave way to motor cars, Fred Sheppard drove her Ladyship’s car and Jim Perry drove that of the 6th Earl. They had a pair of Austin Twelves.

                In case of breakdown or failure of the home-made electricity supply, there was a reserve generating system set up at the mill across the park on the River Ebble (which joins the Avon just below the castle). I think I remember it being dismantled and the cable dug up in the early 1950s. The system provided only lighting. Until the arrival of the national grid, cooking and heating were done by fires of coal and wood; heating water probably by coke. At times when there were no fires, paraffin, oil stoves or bottled gas were used.’










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Village war memorial








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Longford Castle today

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