Malcolm Reeson

Memoirs of Malcolm Reeson, living in Oxton from 1957

I came to Oxton in 1957 with my parents at the age of thirteen. My father came to work for Admiral Sherbrooke as head tractor driver on Home Farm. We moved into Home Farm House and lived there for about four years before moving into the cottage in Home Farm Yard until my father retired in 1966.

On moving to Oxton I made friends with John Turner who was the same age as myself. John still lives in Oxton today and we are still in contact. On winter evenings, if we saw a light in Doughty’s carpenters workshop, several of us boys would go to see who was there knowing that it would be warm. Mostly it would be Roger and his father Charles working. In the centre of the shop there was a pot bellied stove, this would be glowing red. I don’t know what health and safety would say about that these days.

I left school in 1959 and went to work for Mr. Ken Banks at Mill Farm as stockman to his pedigree Hereford herd. When father retired, Mr. K. Banks moved us to No. 2 Forest Villas, down near the Bridge Inn.

In 1969 I went to Canada to look after a Hereford herd but only stayed a few months as this was not for me. We were three hours by car from the nearest town and a lot of that journey on unmade roads. On returning home I worked for the Nix’s for ten months as general laborer until I found another job with pedigree cattle, thus taking me away from Oxton .

In 1977 Mr. Ken Banks asked me to return and manage his Hereford herd which I did, once again returning to Forest Villas. Unfortunately things did not work out as planned and I only stayed for one year.

When we lived in the cottage in Home Farm Yard, the buildings where the post office and shop are now were used by me to breed my budgerigars and keep ferrets.

On reading the memoirs of other Oxtonians I have noticed there are two recollections that are not correct. Mr. Pat Whitelocks states the foot and mouth outbreak at Oxton was in 1967 – this is incorrect as it was the 1st week in December 1959, knowing this to be the exact date as it was Mr. Ken Banks’ Hereford herd that contracted it. Myself and the other farm worker Jack Pearson were not allowed home because of spreading the disease, and had to stay at the farm house of Mr. Banks. We lost 42 pedigree Hereford cattle and a flock of 120 sheep. They are buried in the paddock on the left hand side of the drive to the house. Of course this was a lifetime’s work of pedigree breeding lost overnight, as in those days there were no frozen embryos as there are today to restart the line. We were allowed home three days earlier than we should have been as it was the Christmas Eve. Yes, there was another outbreak of foot and mouth in 1967, but herds at Oxton were not affected. The other discrepancy by Mr. Percy Cooper relates to Mr. Pays death. He states he died of a heart attack while releasing water after the water main burst on Oxton Hill. Indeed, it was when the water main burst and the culvert that went underground between the two gates at Holly Lodge got blocked. Mr. Pay and the under keeper were trying to unblock it to release the flood water and Mr. Pay slipped in and the force of the water sucked him into the culvert. The under keeper ran to the far side but, alas, Mr. Pay had drowned when he emerged out the other end.

Another tragic event, I recall, was in the early 1960’s when two young airmen were killed on the Oxton bypass. They were traveling from Ollerton and the fog was that dense they went the wrong side of the dual carriageway and hit a lorry head-on, killing them outright.

I remember an AA box about halfway down the dual carriageway on the Oxton side. Keith the AA man, with his motorcycle and sidecar, as it was in those days, used to stand in all weathers at the box and salute the cars that sported an AA badge. My father, if working that way in the fields, would take him a hot flask of tea.

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