Posted by: braddenvillage | September 9, 2012

Bradden Jubilee Exhibition – The Diamond Years (A Local History Project)

Bradden Jubilee Exhibition – the Diamond Years.

A Local History Project

Over the Jubilee weekend at St Michael’s Church in Bradden, we held an exhibition of the history of our village through the 60 years of her Majesty’s reign. We wanted to celebrate and remember our village history over this period. Each decade was represented.

The 1950’s revealed something of what the village was like just after WW11. For the first time ordinary people were enjoying the comforts of electricity and indoor plumbing in the new council houses on Bury Hill. Traffic through the village was unusual, apart from the milk lorry which collected the churns from Bury Hill corner. Many tradesmen’s vans would provide housewives with their shopping, although there was a market bus once a week. Children went to school by bus, but if you missed it, you would have to walk. Children could stretch a tennis net over the road and have their own Wimbledon, without fear of a vehicle spoiling play. Transport was not all bad, however, because you could walk to the local railway station at Blakesley and easily get to London or Birmingham!

The 1960’s saw the demise of the railway and further improvements in housing after a tragedy, when a cottage fire caused the death of two children. However, Mrs D. Baylis and Mrs N. Holden had tried to save them. They were given an award by Towcester Police Station and we saw the photo from the local paper. Woe betide any wrongdoers who chose to disregard the Law on Sunday nights as the local policeman did his duty in Bradden, cycling over from Towcester or Silverstone, by standing on guard outside the telephone box, each Sunday evening.

The 1970’s were a colourful period in the village. Every year there were summer fetes, when both adults and children had fancy dress competitions. Contemporary Bradden photos revealed a man in a leopard skin standing beside a Mexican, a caveman and a Gandalf/druid figure. Does anyone remember them? Also, as in our Olympic era, fete time athletics were clearly displayed with Braddenites energetically doing three-legged races and going for the high jump. During the Silver Jubilee, a memorial tree was planted in the village.

At the end of the 1970’s the village allotments gave way to the building of the houses on Willows Hill. Most people in the village had big gardens. In the 1980’s, the garden at the Old Rectory was open to the public in the Northants Garden Scheme. Also, the village post office doubled as a shop, where you were guaranteed a warm welcome from Mrs Lewis the post-mistress and her dog, Theo.

1990-91 meant a major milestone in the village, when the Grant-Ives family sold Bradden Estate to Keith & Maggie Barwell. New houses were created in Water Lane and the ancient ruined farmhouse, where the Baptist Church in this area had begun life in 1689, was restored to a charming family home. The Reading Room and Church were improved and renovated. Village fetes and barbecues were well-supported in the 90’s and there was also a renaissance of the village cricket team. Children would have trailer rides, with Mike Baylis on the tractor. Also, pony rides were popular and “bowl for a pig” was organised by farmer, Bob Andrews. The Bradden Riding School was held at Manor Farm, where many local youngsters learnt to ride.

Severe weather began to be a feature of Bradden life. Canoeing was a sport that took place in the flooded village street in April 1998. High winds blew down ash trees. One lady was shocked to see a 50ft tree coming towards her window. Stopping just short of the window, it damaged Bradden House wall. No-one was hurt. Heavy snows cut the village off from the rest of the world for a few days. However, snows provided the perfect backdrop to the yearly Christmas carols at the gates of Bradden House, a jolly start to the festive season, where brass quartet, Fourtissimo led the singing.

The dawn of the new millennium was greeted by the most fantastic fireworks ever seen, I warrant, in any village together with a big party at Bradden House. The Golden Jubilee was celebrated chiefly by the denizens of Lower End. The part of the Queen was played by Mrs Blanche Perrigo and Mr Alan Williams was her consort for the day! Mr Colin Moore was “knighted”, his face loyally painted with the Union Jack!

Other village events in the noughties have included our quizzes in Spring and Autumn, summer hog roasts and barbeques and a variety of Christmas celebrations. We now have a village website, set up by Simon Martin and run by Karen Martin, so that although we do not now have a shop or pub, we can still know what’s going on! Now anyone in the world can “log-on” and view our lovely village through all its seasons, but it is the people who live and work in Bradden who make it feel like home, the place we love to be.

Article by Helen Castle


  1. I wrote this article for the Greens Norton News. There were many fascinating local facts which due to space restrictions, could not be included. Ask Alison Wright or myself, Helen Castle if you are interested.

  2. What a lovely piece, Helen. You’ve really done justice to the event, and the feel of the village.

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