Unforgotten Exmoor

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Volume One

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Blanche (nee Watts) & John Pile

John was born at Hallslake, a farm between Brendon and Hillsford bridges in 1921, and remained there for the next seventy years. He met wife-to-be Blanche Watts at one of the dances during the war. "There used to be blackout curtains across the doors at the dances, and all of a sudden couples would disappear round those black curtains - ourselves included!" Blanche was from Manor farm up on the Ilkerton ridge, between Barbrook and the Chains, and she was five years younger than John. They were married in 1947. John retired in 1992 and they moved into a cottage a stone's throw from Manor Farm, Blanche's birth-place.

Black and white photo, circa 1920s, of Charles Watts near Barbrook in north Devon taking a holiday maker to the Blackmoor Gate animal market in a horse and cart.

Blanche and John’s chapter includes the following topics and many more:

  • the area midwife
  • where babies come from
  • traveling seamstress
  • Barbrook-Mill school
  • holiday makers and their photographs
  • growing up on East Ilkerton and Manor farms
  • paddle steamers at Lynmouth
  • deliveries
  • runaway horse and cart
  • snaring rabbits
  • early motorcar accident and the new road
  • Beggar’s Roost motor trials
  • making junket
  • pig killing and offal sausages
  • lamb tail pie and plucking fowl
  • sheep shearing classes
  • the shearing circuit
  • brewing beer on the farms
  • Abe Antell the Hoar Oak shepherd
  • children expected to work
  • three in a bed
  • water pump and outside toilet
  • tetties and laver (seaweed) for breakfast
  • preparing rabbit
  • Rockford woodwork shop and the Brendon mill
  • Brendon and Bampton pony sales
  • pony round-up on the common
  • tramps and gypsies
  • clearing the common for rocket firing
  • evacuees
  • breaking-in horses
  • making and delivering cream
  • Brendon school sports day
  • early television
  • contract shearers
  • wool price collapses

Page sample from Blanche & Johns' Chapter

Photo samples from Blanche & Johns' Chapter

  • Black and white photo taken in the late 1940s of John Pile at Hallslake Farm, above Rockford in north Devon, with one of the last heavy horses which he used for breaking-in other smaller horses.
  • Black and white photo circa 1930 of John Pile and other children returning from Brendon school to their houses above Bridge Ball in north Devon.
  • Black and white photo circa late 1920s of John Perkins in his white 'ducks' holding a ewe at sheep shearing time at Lower East Ilkington farm, near Barbrook in north Devon.
  • Black and white photo circa 1920s of sheep shearers in their white sheep shearing suits and other helpers at Yenworthy farm, above Oare in Somerset.
  • Black and white photo circa early 1920s of well-to-do holiday-makers posing with their car in front of Manor farm, above Barbrook in north Devon.
  • Black and white photo circa 1935 of three children, one of whom is Blanche Pile (nee Watts), riding a horse bare-back in a field at Manor farm, above Barbrook in north Devon.

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