Ruth's Story

Country life in the mid 20th century


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Chapter title, click title to go there

01Ruth's early life
02Ruth's married life
03The life of Charles
04Life for the Cadge family
05Martin Edgar's letter
06Martin Edgar's emails
 Appendix - Newspaper Cuttings



Ruth's early life - Chapter One

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Foreword: This story was written by Ruth Cadge (née West) in 1985. It tells of her childhood, marriage and married life in the south Essex countryside. The text brilliantly conveys the "voice" of the writer which comes through very strongly. Accordingly it has been altered as little as possible save in a very few instances where the sense would have been wrong.



My beginnings: In 1896 George Harry West married Kate Little of Rettendon, after 17 years I was born on November 11th 1913 in a bungalow 'now pulled down' near Rettendon Hall. Six years later my sister Gladys was born.

The clothes I wore as a child: Whether it was healthy or not our clothes were certainly made to keep us warm in the winter, the trend was to keep one warm by wearing several layers which we did.

First there was a cotton "chemise'' (not a vest), over that we wore a liberty bodice with buttons round just below the waist to anchor your knickers to. The knickers were long to the knee, with 3 buttons in front and 2 at the back, they were to be plain for during the week and a fancy pair for sundays. Over those went a flannel petticoat, then a cotton one, brown or black stockings, and a thick dress made of gaberdine or serge, then of course we had a hat, coat and scarf. On our feet we wore long lace up leather boots.

For school we had a fancy pinafore on top of the dress, the more embroidery or lace on it the better. And of course these were all handmade by my mother.

Photo:Ruth's parents

Ruth's parents

My childhood: My childhood was a happy one, Mother and Father were Salvationist at ‘Rettendon Salvation Army’ belonging to Wickford. Mother was a Sunday School Superintendent and Father a Bandsman, both wore the uniform. I had a two mile walk to school winter and summer until I acquired a bicycle at the age of seven.

Life was very happy until about 1925 when mother became unwell and had to attend a london hospital for a while, it was discovered that she had sugar diabetes for which there was no cure, only a prolonging of life which in mothers case was not to be.

She went into hospital for the last time in December 1925 and we children went to live with my ‘God Mother’ Mrs David White, Lonsdale House, Rettendon Common where we were looked after very well.

They were good friends who had 4 children, `three girls and one boy.` We all got on very well together taking turns with the chores, no getting out of anything. Mrs White was very strict but very fair.

We had a nice Christmas despite the fact that mother was very ill, Father spent part of the time with us and the rest in London. Gladys and I went to see her one day and she didn't seem too bad, Mrs White told us she had not much longer, it was a hard thing to believe I don't think I really did.

Its strange we accept some things which happen to us but not something like that. I remember asking in my prayers for it not to happen but that was one of the times of several when they were not answered in my favour.

A day out, 1920-1926: A day to look forward to was the Sunday School Outing, most children did not have a chance to venture far, so this was a big day in their lives, Maldon was the nearest seaside resort it was about 10 miles or so from Rettendon. There were very few cars so a wagon and horse was hired for the day from a local farmer, wooden seats or forms would be placed along the length of the wagon for us to sit on, they were rather hard but nobody seemed to mind.

A day out to Southend On Sea was an added thrill, a bus called the General used to run once a day from Chelmsford to Southend, it was an open top bus, with the stairs on the outside, to climb up to the top was rather dangerous when the bus was moving, when we were coming up to the railway bridges the conductor used to tell us to duck out heads down, the driver used to sit in an open cab.

We had to get up at the crack of dawn, we all set off very excited, every body singing along, and thoroughly enjoying themselves, we arrived about 3 hours later, first we would play on the beach or on the green, then have a packed lunch, and all ready to play lots more games, then we would have a trip up the river and on our return there would be a tea waiting for us in a little shop along the promenade, after which we climbed back upon the wagon and went on our way home, very tired, perhaps dirty but very happy.

My father's work: Father worked for Mr Merryfield Meeson at Rettendon Place as head horseman, he used to get up about 5 o'clock am to see to the horses before having breakfast, but he would light the kitchen stove first and by the time he came back it would be a lovely fire in the winter. I used to make ''frizzy fray'' (thats bread and butter toasted on one side) then I would go back to bed. Father by now had gone back to the stable to harness the horses and get his orders for the days work from Mr Jay the foreman.

The farm was large and the land widespread, infact it consisted of several farms such as Marks Farm, High House, Tabrums Farm and Hayes Farm. Father working the furthest away down the river about 45 minutes walk away if not more, winter and summer alike. He was gone all day, he took his food with him in a straw basket, Mother used to make white cloth bags with a draw string through to put the top of a cottage loaf in with a hole cut out of the middle, then the butter was put inside with cheese and onion, then the piece of loaf cut out was replaced. He also had a kidney shaped enamel bottle to hold his cold tea or cocoa. This was eaten at their break time (beaver as they called it) around 10-11 o'clock. They took nose bags for the horses filled with corn.

In winter they unhooded the horses at about 3 o'clock to return home for tea at 5 o'clock. In the summer the hours were different especially harvest time, 1 o'clock dinner and us girls used to take a cooked meal in a basin tied up in a cloth and plates with gravy and all, to where they were working which we used to enjoy, Mother sometimes coming with us. On one such occasion Mother would insist on a short cut, Father was frantically signalling for us to go round the outside because of the bull which she had not spotted, still we made it safe and sound.

Fathers work was hard, when ploughing it would be an acre a day, thats 10 miles walking, it was all stetch work (not flat) with ridges of anything from 8-10 or 14 rows depending on what work was being done.

The clothes they wore were heavy tweed coats, waistcoats, corduroy trousers and buskins (short leggings) these were made of soft leather, then they had their boots with double tongues which kept out the water, they polished these with a greasy substance called dubbin every week. When it rained they used heavy sacks as head and shoulder covering and a sack wrapped round their middle coming almost to their knees. They very rarely came home wet through.

The wages were anything for a head horseman from 15/- to £1 with 1 pence a hour piece work.

How different life was: How different life was when I was a child, I suppose I was extra fortunate having a happy home and good parents. Life seemed to be lived at a slower pace, without all the violence as we know today, going for a walk alone in the country held no terrors. In the summer we used to go hunting for wild flowers to show in the local flower show, where we hoped to win a prize, or blackberrying to sell to the local greengrocers (Mr Smith) for a small price, that was if you didn't get your foot caught down a rabbit hole and spill the lot, you never seemed to have as many when you picked them up again, and by that time all your friends were along way off. The place we went to across the meadow was called 'Tear Retch' which is what we looked like at the end of the day.

Sometimes my friend Mary and I went down to Battlebridge grocers to purchase some goods for my mother, the shop was rather dark inside but had lovely smells of loose spices and dried fruits kept in little boxes and drawers, everything used to be hand wrapped in blue paper made up like a little cone (they never used to come undone). On the other side was the post office with a wire grill and a round hole to put your money through. The shop 'Mr Blanks' is still there but is now an antique shop. It used to get flooded from the tide at certain times of the year.

By now I had a bicycle, it was a wonderful gift shared with my mother, it was a full size bike and as I was only 9 years old at the time it was a bit big for me so father put some blocks on the pedals, and lowered the seat down on the iron stem (it was rather hard), then put the handle bars down as low as possible. Father ran up and down the rough road complete with his hob nail boots, so l learned to ride.

One day Mary and I were riding together on my bike, her on the saddle and me on the pedals going down Turnpike Hill, near the bottom coming towards us was a man driving his horse and cart weaving all over the road, having we presumed just left the Hawk Inn, we swerved to avoid him and ended upside down in the ditch, (luckily not hurt), he carried on round the corner to make his next call at the Quart Pot in Runwell most unconcerned.

My life changed, my mother had died: I was at school on the 5th of January 1926 when someone came in to the classroom to tell me she had died, I still did not believe it until I got back home. Dad had been in London for 4 days and wasn't yet back so still I was not sure, but at last he came home and confirmed it was true. Life as I had known it came to a halt, what do we do now?  It did not seem to change for a while, we stayed where we were for another 6 weeks while Father looked for someone to take care of us.

The weather was still very cold with snow as it had been since the end of November and continued until about March, going to and from school was rather cold.

At last in February our cousin Anne came to keep house for us, so we went back home and things were not too bad for 6 weeks, then she thought she would like to go back to work. In September we were invited to go and live with Aunt Lizza ''mothers sister'' in Southend on Sea. We went to Bournemouth Park School. Life wasn't bad except we had no home of our own. (1926)

Life took on a different aspect now, where I had been a country girl I was now a ''townie''.  It was a good experience, Father was fond of walking and we used to go for long walks with him from Shoebury to Hadleigh it became almost as familiar as the roads back home. Life became quite pleasant, the town had its good points, it wasn't far to go and get fish and chips it was just at the top of North Road we lived at number 7. You could also buy hot chestnuts, faggots and savaloys from the brassiere outside the Tavern In the Town, or tea, coffee, pies and nelson cakes from the stall in Whitegate Road, it used to smell lovely. Chips were always better eaten from the paper, also you got your cockles on a plate from near the Pier.

lt's now 1927 during that summer Father was earning more than Uncle, and things began to change when Uncle took home Fathers pay packet for him, Uncle couldn't read but Aunt could, this upset her so she cut down on our food. Father saw we were losing weight and asked a few questions, we had to tell.

I was coming up to 14 years old then so he asked would I keep house for him if he could get a job back on the farm, I jumped at the idea. So in October 1927 we moved out to Sutton, Rochford, to Fleethall Cottages, it was lovely to have our own place again.

Father was a brave man because I knew nothing about house keeping so it was trial and error for a time but he was very patient.

For a while we still attended Southend Salvation Army but found it quite a long way each Sunday and during the weekdays to travel.

Mr Jack Hume was in charge of the Shopland Mission up the road, he called one day and persuaded Father to let us go there. Father stayed with the Army. It was quite an experience at the Mission there were about 60 young people from the village around, they were a very happy lot and made us very welcome, there was so much of interest going on.

It was there that I met the Cadge family, the Mother, Father and 8 children, they were a very happy family. Phylis the eldest girl became my friend and later my sister in law.

Charlie entered my life: I was by now nearly 16 years old, I sometimes went to tea with Phylis, our life together was very happy and carefree. One day she said her eldest brother wanted to see me about a lamp for my bicycle which seemed very odd, I hadn't taken any particular notice of any of them but apparently he had me. I did see him and he offered me a gas lamp, this was a big improvement on the oil lamp I was using at the time (which often blew out in the wind) but I refused because I was terrified of the things (my Father had one years before and it blew the cap of his head while trying to alight it ). So I wasn't impressed at all. He offered to take me home, so I took the lamp after all and me all innocent let him take me home too.

We didn't meet again for ages until he asked his sister to find out what I would like for my birthday, I decided on a bible. We met in Southend he bought the bible then we parted, goodness knows where he went but his sister and I stayed together for the rest of the evening.

Charlie did not attend the Chapel much to the disappointment of his parents but then he decided he would if he could sit next to me. So it came about that he came to Chapel and we eventually became friends.

I was now coming up to my 18th birthday and my Father decided he wanted to change his job once again, not too far away this time ''Foxhall Farm Southchurch'' this was 1931. It was just across the fields which meant Gladys having to go to Hamstel Road School but we still came to Shopland Mission.

By now Charlie (the fellow with the lamp) and I had began courting. I enjoyed living at Foxhall it was a large house divided into two smaller houses with a large garden. The rooms were spacious, rather chilly in the winter but lovely in the summer, life was still pleasant the work of keeping house was still hard and money was scarce. My pocket money was 2/6 per week but it seemed to buy quite a few things in those days. My sister was still at school but leaves in 2 years time and things may improve.

In 1933 Gladys left school and got a job as an undermaid at Eton House School on VC corner, she slept in but not for long, she decided she did not want to work so she left. I decided if she was not going to work then I was and got myself a daily job at Thorpe Bay.

The hours were 8 to 5 o'clock 7 days a week with half a day off on Wednesdays and Sundays. I used to get up at 5 o'clock Mondays Father would fill the copper and light the fire in the wash house over by the stable, it was a bit draughty in the winter. There was a drain in the centre of the floor and when the job was done you used a bucket of water and a stiff broom to clean up. It was shared by the next door neighbour too. At 7.30 am I used to go off to work to start another days washing for the family of seven, for which I earned 11/ - a week with a rise of 1/6 after 18 months. I saved £15.00 and thought I was well off.

In 1935 we decided to get married if we could find somewhere to live, a bungalow became vacant on the farm where Charlie worked, we decided on the 21st December 1935 , why I will never know, we spent the next few weeks papering and painting. It was fun and it looked lovely when we had finished, it was all our own work and to think it was all ours.

The great day had arrived at last and we were married in the Shopland Mission by Edward Illes of Southend. The reception was held at Sutton School. We went away for a week to Downham and returned to start our married life at the bungalow Slated Row Shopland (now pulled down with some garages built in its place), Charlie was earning the princely sum of 33/- per week.

So in 1936 another verse in my life began.


Ruth's married life in the Cadge family - Chapter Two

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Foreword: Charles W Cadge "Cadge" and his wife Alice (née Lemon) were the parents of 8 children, the oldest of whom was Ruth's husband, Charlie. The family lived in the "Bungalow"

Photo:The "bungalow"

The "bungalow"

Butlers farm bungalow Shopland:  It was the back of beyond, we used to call it ''Hill Billy Land'' it wasn't visible from the main road, you approached it by going down a drive towards the farm house, half way down you crossed a meadow known as the ''Hoppit'', you crossed the lane at the other side and followed a narrow path close to a moat and a high hedge, down what was known as the ''Valley'' and there you would find the bungalow in the middle of no where.

It was a very low building with a large roof consisting of 8 rooms, 4 bedrooms, living room, sitting room, kitchen and a bicycle shed, the toilet or bog was over the ditch. Originally it had been built as 2 bungalows. There was a large kitchen garden, and a pretty flower garden with 2 or 3 apple trees.

It was occupied by Mr and Mrs Cadge and 8 children, 6 boys and 2 girls. The nearest neighbour was 5 minutes away certainly not within calling distance. It was very bleak in the winter, but lovely in the summer.

Photo:Cadge (William Cadge) and Mrs Cadge just awarded a medal for 50 yrs agricultural service

Cadge (William Cadge) and Mrs Cadge just awarded a medal for 50 yrs agricultural service

Photo taken in the drawing room at Butlers

In time Mrs Cadge became my mother-in-law, I was very lucky there was always a welcome. She worked very hard and often short of money, but always cheerful even if she wasn't feeling like it.

They used to give us wonderful parties at christmas with turkey, pork, beef, christmas pudding, christmas tree and presents. We made our own entertainment with lots of fun and games, there was no television of course. The children had a lovely time. Sometimes there could be about 20 people at one time how we ever all got in there amazes me, but it was fun and Father liked a good table.

He was a shepherd on the farm with all that it entailed, the eldest son Charlie was a tractor driver, Walter a horseman and working foreman, Phillys housemaid, Leslie milkman, Cyril cowman, Ivy a tailoress, Frank dayman, and Donald a milkman.

They were very proud of their grand children and great grand children, whom have happy memories of their grand parents.

Father died in 1964 and Mother moved up to the main road to Slated Row, she died in 1967. The bungalow still stands to this day and is now used as an art club. and enjoyed by so many peoples , to us it is still home with so many wonderful memories.

In 1936 my life changed:  I carried on with my work in Thorpe Bay twice weekly for 2 years, then decided to have a baby. Beryl was born on the 27th January 1938 she was a real bouncer at 9lb 3oz.

Then came the rumours of war. By the end of the year I was expecting again, war broke out on the 6th September 1939 and Maurice was born on the 9th September 1939 at Butlers Farm Bungalow, we didn't hear much of the war for the first year.

In June 1940 I was knocked off my bike by a soldier on a motor-bike, I was badly bruised and shaken and ended up spending 3 days in hospital.

The army took over the meadow opposite our bungalow with 6 ack-ack guns and two smaller ones in the hedge. They built 6 gun pits and put several wooden huts and canteen. Until then we had only used oil lamps and candles but eventually the electricity was brought up for the army and we had it installed as well in about 1941-1942, what a treat it was no more heating irons on the top of the kitchen stove in winter and on the oil stoves in the summer. We still did not have bathrooms or flush toilets they were 20 yards or more down the at the bottom of the garden, the luxury of the bathroom and toilet being built on the house did not come until 1954.

Charlie and the men around here joined the Home Guard in 1942 their headquarters were at Wakering so we were often left to fend for ourselves.

The raids began to become more frequent, our rations were helped out once a month by being allotted extras because of working on the farm, such as cheese, cornbeef, butter, syrup and tea.

Photo:Ruth and Charlie

Ruth and Charlie

Charlie’s brothers Don and Frank volunteered for the air force, Les and Cyril having already been called up, Les being with the pioneer corps and Cyril in the artillery.

The children and I went to Ingatestone for a month for a rest from the raids, all was very quiet so we came back home only to find ourselves caught up in the Battle Of Britain which was very noisy and frightening.

Don and Frank were reported missing within 3 weeks of each other. Frank over Stuttgart and Don over France, sad to say Frank was killed but luckily Don managed to escape and at the end of 3 months managed to come home (how happy we all were). Les was invalided out at the same time because of his bad sight, Cyril had to wait to be demobbed.



We were by now getting used to the war and lived more or less ordinary lives apart from the blackouts and rationing that included food, clothes, furniture, bread and cakes, the queuing up for luxuries like fruit cakes and offal became a way of life. The first bananas we had I remember Beryl would not eat having never seen them before, I don't believe she likes them even now up to this day.

We had some good fun despite it all and a good many laughs, such as the enamel bowl Maurice put on his head for a tin helmet and pulled it down over his ears and had to have it cut off with a tin opener, also Maurice again sawing the branch he was sitting on over a ditch of water.

We used to go to Westcliff at Christmas to the pantomime, we walked two miles to catch a bus to get there and the same getting back.

We had one or two bad winters when the roads were blocked both ends and were unable to get out. Bread and milk had to be brought over the fields to us until they could cut a way through, but the children still seemed to get to school despite it all. One didn't seem to mind the cold in those days, it was always fun playing snowballs.

One night in 1942 we went up to the school shelters as usual returning in the morning to find a fire bomb had dropped on the allotments opposite the cottages. Another night a plane came down and we thought that we would have to be evacuated if it hadn't been dug out by 7 o’clock but thankfully it was (much to the disappointment to the children).

By now we were living at number one Slated Row, the soldiers were still over in the camp field across the road with their guns a blazing away each time the sirens sounded so we were always forewarned of a raid.

My Father was still living at Foxhall Farm, and every Friday we walked over to see him, it was on one of those visits we picked up a butterfly bomb or what remained of it which was lucky for us. Shopland Church was damaged at the same time by two land mines which resulted in it having to be pulled down much to the disgust of many.

We had several land girls staying with us during this time, they came to help out with the milking there was Audrey Bareham from the timber merchant in Fairfax Drive and another from Leigh. I also used to put up one or two of the soldiers wives at different times, there was plenty to do and no time to get bored as they say.

The children were growing up fast and still giving us worries, like the time Maurice went missing late one night and we were so worried, but he couldn't understand why as he said he knew where he was all the time. Then there was the night in the height of an air raid Beryl said seriously we shall not always survive these raids, they put you in a box and then bury you, don’t they?

Photo:Ruth and Charlie's children

Ruth and Charlie's children

1946 had begun and we settled once again to normal living, the wages having risen to about £4.10 shillings. Things began to improve gradually we were able to afford things that in the past few years had only been a dream (apart from the well off ), such as nylon stockings, washing machines, new bikes for the children and holidays (3 days) that is all we were allowed on the farms in those days. The boys came back from the war apart from poor Frank who I mentioned earlier had been killed over in Germany.

ln 1949 10 years after Maurice, Dorothy was born a new edition to our family.

The kitchen stove: The stove l had to do my cooking by when I first married was rather odd to look at, it was built in to an opening along one wall, the fire was on one side with an open top, there was a trivet or two to stand the kettle or saucepan on. The oven was to one side which contained two round plates on spindles, which you turned occasionally to distribute the heat evenly. There were no flues to clean out because the chimney was open to the top so all the smokey soot went out through the pot on the roof, when it rained or snowed all the black soot came down onto the fire, which also made the kettle and saucepans very dirty too.

Some years later I was given what was called a ''kitchener'' this was much more modern, the fireplace itself was completely covered in, with the fire at one side and a flue going right across the top of the oven and down the side. The oven had two movable shelves, there was shining steel along the front of the oven and a steel plate in front of the fire. There were no heat controls so we had to guess the temperature according to the coal (2/6 cwt), one got quite an expert at it and very rarely had a disaster.

lt took an hour in all to clean the oven out properly, using enamaline which was heat resistant, it was a paste which looked a bit like shoepolish, for the steel we used emery paper and brasso, we used to remove the soot from the flue and around the oven with a rake and a flue brush, the final part to be cleaned was the hearth which was whitened with hearthstone.

Children growing up: 1952 Beryl left school to start work as a telephonist at Howards Dairy at Leigh which was a good hours cycle ride rain or sunshine, from there a year later she was offered another job as a telephonist again at Echo Southend, where she stayed until she left to have our first Grand daughter Suzanne in 1959.

I went back to work part time at Thorpe Bay for Mrs Lane then Mrs Jackson and Mrs Crees, then Mrs Pam Edgar junior and occasionally Mrs Edgar senior at Butler Farm House. I also did the washing for a year or two and helped clean Sutton School when Mother was unwell.

Beryl married Derek Peck in March 1957, they lived at Wimbourne Road Southend where Suzanne was born in 1959, they then moved on to Rochford where they completed their family with Graham in 1962, he was born at 1 Slated Row.

We moved to 2 Butlers Gate Cottages in April 1966, Maurice and Maureen married September 1966, their first son Peter was born 1967, followed by their second son Adrian in July 1970.

Dorothy and Christopher Travis married January 1971, where Suzanne was bridesmaid and Peter pageboy. Their eldest child Michael was born 1973, followed by Karen born in 1976 and lastly Carly born 1980. Dorothy and Chris lived at the Butlers Gate, Butlers Farm for 6 weeks while waiting for the house in Rayleigh to be finished, they moved in 1 week before Carly was born.

1955, Maurice decided to work on the railways, much to our surprise, although he had been train spotting for a year or two. He had an interview and got the job and started work on the 28th December at Southend as an engine cleaner (grease and oil), after 2 years he passed out as a fireman and started work at Stratford on steam engines for the next 8 years. He didn't like the diesel or electric so left in 1963 and went into the motor trade and still is to this day. I used to feel more like a canteen supplying food at all times of the day as both jobs were shift.

Dorothy started school as Maurice left, so l was free to go to work again for 2 days a week the wages having risen to 5/6 per week.

It was rather a lonely life for Dorothy as there were no girls of her age here, she was a bit of a loner but did do a bit of dancing, horse riding and joined St Johns Ambulance Brigade. She was nearly 17 years old when she left school (King Edmunds) she decided on shorthand and typing, and found herself a job in London, travelling there by train every day.

She met Chris in London and they married about 6 years later. I often wondered what the children thought of the way l treated them when they were younger. I think I was rather hard at times, perhaps some of it worked, they are a credit to us. Perhaps the happy times override the discipline, I hope so. We are very proud of our family, their husbands, wives, 7 grandchildren and 4 greatgrandchildren, they are a lovable lot.

God Bless You All. Love Mum and Dad.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Ruth's Story' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Ruth's Story' page


Long, long be my heart with such memories fill'd

as the vase in which roses have once been distill'd

you may break,

you may shatter the vase if you will,

but the scent of the Roses will hang round it still.



This poem was submitted with Ruth's Story. It consists of the last few lines of "Farewell" by Thomas Moore. The poem is commonly sung. YouTube has offerings and here is just one.


The life of Charles (Charlie) Cadge - Chapter Three

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Foreword: Ruth reflects on the life of her husband whose father was also a Charles but was never known as such, or even as Charlie, rather he was just referred to as "Cadge"

Charles, the eldest of the Cadge family attended Sutton Primary School which was built in 1908-1909, it was quite modern for that day, it consisted of 4 classrooms and a hall which doubled up as a classroom, the toilets were outside. A coal fire underneath provided the heating for the pipes, there were fire places in the infant room and the teachers room. Before that the school stood at the beginning of Fleet Hall Lane, just one large room with the headmistress quarters on the side, it looked something like a church, now it has been made into a house.

There were about 100 children attending the school coming as far as from Beauchamps Farm Claystreet,. Temple Farm, Prittlewell, Anne Bolyne and Eastwood. Much to everyone's delight a playing field was acquired eventually which meant Sutton could have its own football team.

The children were a mixed bunch consisting of farm workers, Gypsies and those whose fathers were employed in various jobs.

Charlie decided he would like to be a paper boy but had no bike, there was one in the pantry at home which belonged to his father but needed repairing, money was so scarce in those days he could not even afford the parts, until he got himself a saturday job on the farm weeding a brick path at the side of the farm house with a table fork for Mr Andrew the farmer. Eventually he saved enough and sent of to Burnley ''Fritty Patricks'' for the parts (why Burnley he can't remember) what a thrill to own a bike at last, Charlie wasn't very tall so had to have wooden blocks on the pedals.

In Charlies last year at school he got the job as a messenger for the headmasters between the schools at Canewdon, Stambridge and Rochford, they used telegrams which meant Charlie getting to the post office first, so the bike came in very handy.

When Charlie left school he wanted to become a butcher, he was actually offered employment by Mr Searles as such, but unfortunately Mr Andrew (his fathers employer) would not allow him to, otherwise his father would lose his job, much to his disappointment he became a shepherd boy with his father for 11/- shillings a week until he reached the age of 17 years. Then the opportunity came to become a horseman, and he was given a pair of horses, there he worked alongside three other men. Work here was done on the flatland, the hours were odd starting at 7am followed by a break at 10am (dewbit as they called it), dinner at 3pm back in an hour to groom and bed down the horses and finished at 5pm having ploughed 1 acre and walked 10 miles, summer was different with midday dinner and tea at 5pm, then work on until 8 or 9pm depending on the job being done.

There were no combines, it was all done by reapers or binders, drawn by 2 or 3 horses with a man sitting on a precarious seat at the back, turning what they termed as the sails which gathered the corn into sheaves and tied into bundles, then threw onto the ground. The men then came along and stood them up into traves to help them dry, and ready for carting home and making into stacks, next it was threshed and sent to the mill to be ground into flour for bread making. It all sounds very easy but far from it, especially when the weather turned rough and wet, then it took twice as long. The harvest was taken at a fixed price over 1 month, any time over that the men were out of pocket.

After several years things began to become mechanised on the farm and tractors began to appear, the very thing Charlie had been waiting for.

1930 Mr Andrew left and Mr Edgar now owned the farm. Charlie decided to seek employment elsewhere, he hoped for more money, he applied for a job on the next farm, but apparently there was an agreement between the farmers not to take each others men without informing the other. Mr Edgar got to hear of it, and having acquired a tractor by this time offered Charlie the job of driving and maintaining it, which he accepted.

Photo:Charlie and the Allis Chalmers crawler tractor

Charlie and the Allis Chalmers crawler tractor

lt wasn't like the tractors of today there was no cab or heating and open to all weathers, but it was different and an opportunity he had waited for and enjoyed, he kept with that job until he retired at 70 years of age, he still likes to keep his hand in now and again even now in 1985.


Life for the Cadge family - Chapter Four

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Foreword: Reflections on the Cadge family provided by Martin Edgar's sister, Bridget

Photo:Charles William Cadge and Alice Cadge, née Lemon, of the Shepherds Cottage, Butlers Farm, Shopland

Charles William Cadge and Alice Cadge, née Lemon, of the Shepherds Cottage, Butlers Farm, Shopland

Probably taken at the time of their marriage

The Cadges with their eight children were a family of the highest integrity and at a time of hardship would never put their own needs before their duty and the livestock in their care. One of the family said later that ‘Mother sometimes would say she wasn't hungry when there was not enough to go round’. The dreaded doctors' bills had to wait until the bonus paid on the number of tails docked from the spring lambs.

There was only a cold water tap. The Bucket and Chuck It lorry came round weekly to empty the privy. The wash house with the copper stood outside the front door. The cottage was then thatched with tarred weather board. With a big vegetable garden down to the moat and the sheep to see to every day there wasn't much time to sit down.

As the family grew up there was usually a gathering of friends and singing on Sunday evening after chapel.

They were members of the Mission, the Chapel at the farm gate. lt was self supporting and undenominational, and gave strength and support to the community. In time Walter became leader, and Charlie ran the sick club,when not at work meant no pay. Subscription 6d a week. Both spent their whole working lives dedicated to the farm. The harvest suppers sat 70. Great enamel teapots and piles of ham sandwiches. A London City missionary usually preached. Ivy played the organ. Once a huge vase of chrysanths on top of the organ lurched over. Ivy caught it with one hand and played on with the other. At the time there were forty children at Sunday school.

After the war the Principal of Writtle agricultural College said that had our farm staffs had the opportunity of' education many would be in the highest positions, certainly true of the Cadge family.

Charlie the eldest son had wanted to apprentice to a butcher on leaving school. The then tenant soon indicated to his father that if his son didn't work on the farm he should find another job. That then meant a week's notice and vacate the house.

At the time of their marriage Alice and Charles Cadge came to Butlers Farm, he as groom to Mr and Miss Andrew who bred hunters. He was an exceptional horseman and won many prizes at the Agricultural Hall, Islington, and the County Show.  There is a photograph of him with the Queen Mother, but Mary the Princess Royal he considered an outstanding judge of livestock. At the Essex Show he was disqualified for taking the double jump in one leap. The horse sold for a large sum next day.

Photo:Queen Mother and C.W. Cadge

Queen Mother and C.W. Cadge

Harry and Grace Edgar took the farm in 1930. In the depression everything had to bring in some money, and Charles Cadge became shepherd to the flock of pedigree Suffolks, and turned out beautiful rams for the Autumn sale at Ipswich. Did he perhaps miss the horses? ln his 80's he took on a mistreated thoroughbred mare. A few days before he died he got to the cottage door to see her with her foal.


Martin Edgar's letter - Chapter Five

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Foreword: Martin Edgar included this covering letter when he sent us Ruth's story 

The New Year breaks (and a happy New Year to you), and with it comes Ruth's Story. Apart from its own merits, I suppose it is quite interesting in showing what life was like and how it was lived, from the other end of the social telescope to Martin's Story. They both portray things in the same community at overlapping times.

I have also included:

  • Photo of CW Cadge (who we knew as William Cadge - or more usually just "Cadge'' - to avoid confusion with his son Charlie Cadge, also working at Butlers) and Mrs. Cadge, presumably taken either on their engagement or their marriage. It was on those sort of occasions that you splashed out on professional photos.
  • Photo and local newspaper accounts of William Cadge being awarded his medal for 40 years continuous agricultural service at the Rochford Show in 1951.
  • Photo of him being awarded the equivalent medal for 50 years’ service at the Essex Show in 1961, this time by the Queen Mother.
  • A page of notes - I think by my sister - on William Cadge. Much of that is also in what Ruth has to say in her account, and some adds extra detail.

To clarify the family a bit - William (CW) and Mrs. Cadge lived in the bungalow on the back lane near the farm buildings, now occupied by an Art Club. Its garden runs down to the old horse pond. He started as groom to the Andrews in 1911 (who held Butlers until my father, Harry Edgar, took the farm over in 1930. The Andrews kept hunters.). My father did not keep hunters but, like a true Cumbrian, wanted to keep sheep, and William Cadge then took on the role of Shepherd.

William Cadge's eldest son, Charlie, initially wanted to be a butcher in the Andrews time, but that was (very unfortunately) stopped, so he worked at Butlers and under my father became Head Tractor Driver - in charge of three tractors and, no doubt, anything else mechanical. It is Charlie who married Ruth, and they lived and brought up a family in one of the Slated Row cottages. These are the row of four rather austere houses with a slate roof, on the main road leading on to Shopland.

Walter Cadge, a younger son, became Head Horseman under my father, and when the Foreman (Parminter) left in the 1940s, he took on that role. Which meant that he moved into one of the pair of semi-detached 1930s brick houses just alongside Slated Row. The other was where the Herdsman lived. He looked after the milking herd, and it was the other top job on the farm.

I was surprised at how much of Ruth's Story is actually about what went on at the farm. I expected that hardly to feature at all since that was “husband's job'' and unlikely to carry direct interest. I suppose what it actually shows is how much life was then all bound up together, and not easy, and how farms a good distance from shops and amenities, with no easy travel, became remote communities in themselves in those days.

I was also surprised at the extent to which the Mission (the tin chapel at the end of the Drive) seemed to be a social centre as well, both for Butlers Farm and the neighbouring farms - Fleet Hall (adjoining and on the same side of the road, with its farmhouse down the side lane from Sutton School), Sutton Hall (on the other side of the road, running from Sutton Church and Sutton School to the rear of Slated Row) and Shopland Hall (also on the other side of the road, continuing on from the land of Sutton Hall).

They seemed to get 70 or 80 at the Harvest Supper and other knees-ups, and probably only half of those lived in Butlers' cottages. I get that from the fact that there were nine cottages on the farm at Butlers, and if you count four of each family on average coming to the social do (some couples had no children), you come to only 36.

That was a big change from today's depopulated countryside and disappearance of any significant local community. This change is probably the result of increasingly mechanized and simplified farming needing much fewer people, the growth of easy travel and widespread car ownership, so people can live in more convenient places and still get easily to work.

In Ruth's time (up to the 1960s), the staff at Butlers was 13, most of them housed with their wives and (often many) children on the farm. When my brother Bill retired in the 1990s, he had been farming the near 400 acres with just himself and one other with most of the ploughing and harvesting being done by outside contractors brought in for the job.

I see that Walter's son, Keith, has sent in a comment. I would be glad if you would pass on the following to him, about his Uncle Frank who died in the war.

When I was in my early 20s and not well off, my sister and I took a volunteering holiday with a youth organization, making paths in the woods above a town deep in Southern Germany. This was about 15 years after the end of the War. Mrs. Cadge heard where we were going, and asked us to look up where Frank came down in the war.

So, on our free day down there, we set out. First by bus and then walking the road for a mile or two in blazing sunshine through open farm land, until we came to our destination. It was a little hamlet of about a dozen or so southern German farmhouses in rolling pastureland - good sized buildings where the family lived upstairs, with the ground floor kept for stock, particularly over winter. There was also a white painted chapel with its little graveyard on the top of the hill just outside the village.

With our limited German we made contact, and they found a lass who had just come back from two years in Birmingham who took us under her wing. She dug out the mayor of this little village at the time, and he told us the story.

Yes, they remembered the British bomber coming down. They took the dead British airmen, and buried them up at the chapel on the hill. Then the British came a few years back, and took the bodies away (that must have been to the military cemetery which Ruth refers to).

What struck us was how kind and considerate the locals down there were. They recognised it was a tragedy for a family, and it didn't matter whether it was a German or a British family. So Frank was taken and buried by people who cared.

I can't remember exactly where this was. Our volunteering was at Ebingen in Württemberg. And the village wasn't all that far from there.


Martin Edgar's emails - Chapter Six

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Foreword: The following are extracts from email correspondence with Martin Edgar. The first is taken from final comments he made around the time of the publication of the 12 part Butlers Article. The second is when we were discussing how to do justice to some of the material for this article.

1.  I have just got hold of it’s corollary - about 15 pages of memories of Ruth Cadge (ed: turned out to be nearer 30 including other contributions). She was the wife of Charlie Cadge, chief tractor driver and son of “Cadge” (never knew his Christian name!), and so an essential part of the Butlers community. So her memories are the opposite end of the telescope, so to speak. Will get a copy run off and send on in a few days.

2.  Yes, definitely worth spending time on as it is a charming picture of its time, and I think of some social value - what concerned them at the time and how hard life was. And not told in any self pitying way.  What I particularly like is Ruth's gentle sense of humour, and a bit of fun as well.   That's all a bit of a surprise, as to meet she was a very quiet person - quite serious and reliable. But then I never knew her at all well. We met occasionally, just passing so to speak.


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Appendix: Newspaper cuttings from 1951 commemorating C.W Cadge's presentation of the Royal Agriculturel Society of England long service medal by the wife of the President of the Rochford Hundred Agricultural Society.

The scan quality of some of the cuttings is not good and unfortunately cannot be improved. One of the cuttings has been retyped. All images are clickable.

Photo:C.W. and Mrs Rayner

C.W. and Mrs Rayner

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Ruth's Story' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Ruth's Story' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Ruth's Story' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Ruth's Story' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Ruth's Story' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Ruth's Story' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Ruth's Story' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Ruth's Story' page
This page was added by Bob Stephen on 10/02/2020.
Comments about this page (Add a comment about this page)

My name is Brian Perry, I lived on the Camp between 1946 and 1953 when we moved to Great Wakering. I can remember the gun pits and the air raid shelter/bunker at the top of the field. I started my schooling at Sutton school. We walked to school from the school run in the late forties/fifties. I saw the camp gradually deteriorate throughout the next few years, looking on Google there is nothing there except maybe overgrown shrubs where the bunker still lays. People driving by will have no idea what once stood there. The young mothers living on the Camp, including my own, worked for Bill Edgar potato picking in the various fields in the surrounding area. The potatoes were spun up using a horse drawn machine. As children we took turns riding one of the work horses up and down the field, hanging on to the horns of the bridle gear, our little legs hardly able to span the back of those enormous horses. We were transported to the fields on a horse drawn wagon. We ran about the fields playing. Sat on the grass verges for lunch... returned home knackered. What a childhood we had then...

By Brian Perry
On 06/06/2020

Fascinating article, on a subject close to my heart. Many childhood memories of Butlers Farm during the summer holidays, Bill & Pam such lovely people. My late mother (Doris) on the occasional potato machine, and my late father (Chris), uncle & brother maintaining many of the farm properties for the Tabor family, and of course everyone participating in the Church Summer Fetes at Sutton Hall. Great memories. 

I stumbled across this page by chance, my dad was friends with “Wallie” Cadge, and I recently noticed the Cadge name on a headstone at All saints. 

Jamie Popplewell, Grays, Essex.

By Jamie Popplewell
On 02/05/2020

Email from David Edgar via Martin Edgar

Hello Martin,

It is interesting to hear you have lodged your work at Rochford District Community Archive. I expect many people will find much of interest there.

Bill and I visited Cadge's cottage, now occupied by Southend Art Club, and noticed 2 portrait photographs there, one of Cadge and the other of Mrs Cadge, probably taken soon after their marriage. The member of the Art Club there had no idea who was shown in the pictures, but Bill explained. I would think RDCA would like to at least know the portraits are there. They would add a great depth of interest to the archive material on the Cadges. Could you let your contact at RDCA know if you think appropriate.

I am well at the moment and hope you are too. Love to you both, David

By Bob Stephen
On 29/03/2020

Email contribution from Martin Edgar

Dear Bob, my circulation of the (site) link has flushed out the response (immediately above) from my brother David. The "Bill" mentioned there is my eldest brother Bill Edgar who took over the farm when my father died in 1950. He too has been dead for some years now.

If you feel the urge to go and see, to get to Cadges cottage (ie Southend Art Club), turn off the main road at Butlers, and go down the right hand of the two lanes (leading to the farm buildings; the left one goes to the house) - ie to the right of the corrugated iron Mission, which is right on the road at the junction. A way down the r/h lane, you go round a sharp left hand bend, and almost immediately a track forks off, forward diagonally right. Take that fork, and a hundred or so yards further on, Cadge's cottage is on the left. Best wishes, Martin

By Bob Stephen
On 29/03/2020

Email contribution from Miles (Colin) Edgar.

I am Miles Edgar, the youngest of the Edgars. All us boys look rather alike so if you can't tell Martin and me apart, rest assured. Our Mother sometimes didn't and at Thursday Market days in the Square people who had known me all my life just looked hopeful and mumbled. I am glad Martin is looking after you.

Well we all loved Cadge, that's Charlie's father. The Allis Calmer crawler came to the UK as part of Lease-Lend.  It cost £100 [same as the last horse father bought] and I remember this huge thing arriving on a lorry or low loader.  I would have been small then so scale is all different.  Maybe it made £60 in Bill's retirement sale in 1996 - not sure, maybe £600.

By Bob Stephen
On 29/03/2020
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