Bleach Houses

Three cottages, the homes of linen bleachers, stood on the Winthorpe side of the A46, where the stream draining the present airfield runs under the road. Their derelict gardens and orchards run along the side of the road from the stream towards the A1 bypass, adjoining Mr. Peter Thornhill's fields.

Two houses faced the A46 and the third, behind them, faced the field. Before the construction of the airfield the bridge under the road was made of hand made bricks. A flight of steps enabled residents to get to the stream, and a pump in front of one house, served all three homes, until approximately 1930. The smallest house on the south side consisted of a kitchen, a living room and a bedroom, which was reached by a stepladder. This home was the Osborne's in the 1920's and I am indebted to Mrs. Barber (nee Osborne) and her sister, whose information helped with this article and a sketch of the houses. The larger house on the front, occupied by Mrs. Wilkinson and her son, consisted of one large room and a kitchen downstairs, with one large bedroom and a small one upstairs. The third house at the rear was occupied by Sergeant Brooks (retired), Mrs. Walker, his housekeeper and her daughter. In this house there were two rooms and a kitchen downstairs and three bedrooms.

The present airfield was originally the old pastures of the village, across which was a footpath to Coddington directly opposite the path through the Park. Numerous springs rose in the area and drained into the stream which ran under the road by the Bleach Houses and on through the village. The purity of this water, no doubt helped the bleaching process and the finished linen would probably be returned to the homes of the Hooles, Horners and Skeltons in Winthorpe, or be sent into Newark to be made into the famous Newark smocks.

The old pastures were enclosed in 1778. A willow Holt and certain wooded areas were retained. During the Pocklington era the Carr farm was built (Carr - marsh) and drainage ditches were constructed along the sides of the fields to take all the spring water into the old stream.

The farm and Bleach Houses were demolished when the airfield was extended to take bombers in the early years of World War 2. The derelict gardens of the latter are now almost a wood, but among the trees is the stone lined well, where the old pump stood. Across the road, all the springs and streams were piped when the airfield was constructed. In the 1930's many of the old willows and the hedges round the old willow holt were festooned with hops, a remnant of the days when the villagers brewed their own beer.

In a gale in January 1980, a very old apple tree from the Bleach House site blew down into Mr. Thornhill's field. When using a chain saw on the trunk a shot, diameter one inch, was discovered. This may be from the Civil War period, but confirmation is still awaited.

Miss K. E. Euston.

Extract from Focal Point. 1982.



Further readings can be found in  

         The Village and its Houses in Volume 1. 

         Memories of Mrs. Mabel Barber Volume 4.