Winthorpe in the 20th Century

The three large estates were still flourishing at the beginning of this century. Winthorpe Hall had a new owner in 1906, when Captain and Mrs. Need came to the village. J.G. Branston was still at the Grange and Miss. Gilstrap and Lady Manners, her sister, were at Winthorpe House. Practically everyone in the village was employed on these estates, The outbreak of WW1 on the 3rd of November 1914, saw the disappearance of all the men of military age, but the work on the estates continued with the help of women employed on farms and in gardens alongside the older men. In September 1914 a tragedy occurred, Monica the daughter of the Rev. Oxenham and Caroline Elizabeth, the daughter of J.G. Branston were drowned while swimming in the Trent. This was still talked about in the 1920’s, probably to discourage swimming in a very dangerous stretch of water. In 1918, when all the men except two returned, life on the estates became normal once more. The horse drawn carriages were replaced very gradually by cars. The first, owned by Lady Ada Wilmot at the Grove, was a “Genevieve.” The Hall had a French Berliet in 1908 and later, about 1924, a Sunbeam Talbot.

The first estate to be broken up was The Hall after Mrs. Need died in 1936. There was no immediate sale and when WW2 was imminent in 1938 it was commandeered by the R.A.S.C. and remained army occupied until 1946, when it was ‘let off’ in rooms (see the History of Winthorpe Hall). During the war years members of the forces, male and female, were billeted in almost every home, while the Grange and Winthorpe House, had, the majority of their rooms turned into dormitories for members of the A.T.S. Land Army girls worked on the farms, while many active villagers joined first aid groups and did fire-watching duties.

The beginning of the war saw the construction of the aerodrome. All the land belonged to the Hall estate and was known as Carr Farm. The old carrs or marshes had been drained and woods had been planted. The mature trees were home for many birds and grassland and verges swarmed with butterflies of all hues. The keeper’s gibbet hung with rats, crows, magpies, jays, weasels and stoats. The better land, enclosed in 1778 formed excellent farm fields extending from Drove Lane to the Private Drive to Coddington. The approach to the farmhouse and farm buildings, which were two fields back from the A46 was directly opposite the exit from The Park today. This was the original footpath across the old pastures and carrs to Coddington. With the making of the aerodrome the woods, hedges and streams disappeared, the latter being piped underground. Small planes were first but later the runways were extended into Langford parish to take bombers. The administration buildings and living quarters were in Coddington parish. After the war, the land was returned to farming and two new farms were made; part of one later formed the Newark and Notts. Showground and the Air Museum.
The next estate to go was the Grange where J.G.Branston died in 1926, but the house and grounds remained a family home until 1955, when Fosters demolished the house and built the Spinney estate.

The building of Woodlands came next. Ringwood House was built for William Bailey, auctioneer of Newark, just before 1900. Three cottages were attached to this house - one for the gardener, exactly opposite the old school on the corner of what was the back drive entrance. There were stables and out buildings on this drive. The front drive entrance now forms the approach to Mrs. Wetherill’s bungalow. Two semi-detached houses were also built; part of one is now our post office. Ringwood continued as a private residence until purchased by Fosters the builders, who commenced the Woodlands Estate after finishing The Spinney. These two estates were built on what was originally grassland, but the Southfield Estate took good arable land, some of the best in the village. The remaining farmland still part of the Gilstrap Trust is let but Winthorpe House is still a family home.

With the new changes in farming methods the old pastures were ploughed up. Cowslips, orchids, meadow saffron and other wild flowers disappeared. The four field crop rotation of wheat, roots, barley and clover went with the arrival of chemical fertilisers. Sugar beet became a new source of income. The Newark factory was the third in England to be opened in 1924. The mixed farm with its sheep, cows, pigs and poultry as well as arable land disappeared. Factory farming of poultry, cattle and pigs began and sheep were no longer popular. Now the village farmers concentrate on wheat, barley, sugar beet and rape using chemical fertilisers instead of farmyard manure.

In the 1920s and early thirties the threshing machine used to go from farm to farm. At harvest time corn was tied; in sheaves and after it was dry, stacked in the farmyard or field. On threshing days all hands were needed. Just before the last layers of sheaves were moved wire netting was erected a short distance from the stack so that escaping rats could not disappear. A terrier dog was often employed. My own dog killed 78 rats one autumn and was in great demand by village farmers. 

At the turn of the century William Butterfield owned threshing machines. His initials, W.B., were on his house, the last house up Hargon Lane on the left side (now Mr. Saxby). The machines stood just beyond his house and the ashes were emptied just beyond that, making part of the present field unsuitable for cultivation for many years.

Today (written 1986) our village farmers, Messrs. Leach and Baggaley have their own tractors, combine harvesters and other modern farm implements. These farms are family concerns and no other villagers are employed. All other working inhabitants, with two or three exceptions, are employed outside the village.

At the beginning of the century lighting of homes was by paraffin lamps. Gas was discussed in 1908 and 1911, but the main was laid in the mid-1920, Gas cookers were available and the old kitchen ranges disappeared. Later in the 1930’s electricity arrived. A sewage disposal plant was constructed down Holme Lane in 1906, but before this there were complaints about the pollution of the Fleet. In 1902 Mr. Branston received many complaints. He communicated with surveyors in London, but Mr. Broadbent, M.Q.H. replied that deaths in Winthorpe were no worse than other villages. The drainage scheme was abandoned and the flushing of the stream attempted. In 1903, Mr. Joseph Camamile was paid an extra ten shillings a year for ‘properly and regularly attending to the new sluice.’ In October 1906 there were plans for a six-inch drain to run alongside the stream and drain into Little Marsh but in November plans for a sewer and filter tank were presented. This scheme worked until 1958 when all village sewage was pumped to Newark.

Transport changed drastically this century. Carriers carts came through from Collingham. These transported goods and passengers. Hickmans was a covered wagon with wooden seats lengthwise down the sides. Ordinary householders usually walked to Newark and returned carrying their shopping. The first bus, the Silver Queen, ran from Gainsborough to Newark in 1922. The fare from Winthorpe was 2d for adults and 1d for children. By 1930 the Lincolnshire Road Car was running a regular service and quite a number of villagers had cars. Now only a few homes are without a car and many have two cars, a few families more than two.
Tradesmen from Newark delivered bread, meat and fish until well into the 1930’s and up to the end of the war. Many households kept a pig, which provided a year’s bacon and ham and fresh pork, sausages, pies, brawn and offal at killing time. This custom disappeared when the humane killer had to be used and carcasses eventually had to go to the slaughterhouse to be cleaned and jointed.

Drovers were employed to move animals to Newark Cattle Market twice weekly until well into the 1950’s. ‘Ginger’ was a favourite drover from Collingham and on days when he and his herds or flocks came through the village all gates had to be closed. When the first cattle trucks were used Charlie Bird from Langford transported the majority of local animals.

Over the years our village has gradually increased in size, the greatest increase being in the last thirty years. In 1225 there were 32 customary tenants and six cottagers, i.e. 38 families x 5 = 190 approximately. In 1603, 129 inhabitants and in 1757, 228 inhabitants. At the beginning of the nineteenth century the figure had dropped but then began to rise again - 1801 -196, 1821 – 235, 1851 - 243. In 1875 the population was 209 and there were 63 houses. At the start of the present century in 1907 there were 64 houses. By 1931 there were 60 houses and, 227 inhabitants. In 1986 there were 300 houses and 700 inhabitants. Building within the village boundary is almost at an end. The families in the 64 houses all knew each other. Today, despite village organisations, this is almost impossibility. We were a small close-knit community, which the many changes of the present century have altered completely.

Miss K. E. Euston.
Extract from Focal Point.


Census summary.      Census obtained from Kelham Hall (20th Feb 2005).

Year  Population  Houses     Year     Population  Houses
1225     190               38           1931        248
1603     129                               1951        234 (No census during WW2)
1757     228                               1971        497
1801     196                               1981        717
1821     235                               1991        667 
1832     228                               2001        657
1851     243                               2004        283
1864     269
1875     209               63
1900     260               64           The large increase in population between 1951 and
1931     227               60           1981 was due to the building of three new housing
1986     700             300           estates. Spinney followed by Woodlands and then Southfields.