Junior History Of Haydon

History of Haydon Wick

Residents Sharing Memories:

Mrs Murgatroyd – Born in Rodbourne Cheney and lived in area all her life.
Great Grandparents lived in Haydon Wick.
Mrs Varney – Lived in High Street all her life.
Mr Titcombe – Lived in Haydon Wick all her life

The Parish of Haydon Wick

  • Prior to 1928 Haydon Wick was part of the Parish of Rodbourne Cheney which was an extensive area with the border line extending to Cheney Manor Trading Estate and the White House.

The Village & Village Life

  • It was only a small hamlet with houses in the High Street and farms with surrounding fields. Roads were only tracks. There were no main services – it was called “gas light city” after gas was installed in 1930. A number of homes had gas cooking from that time.
  • Electricity came to the village in 1939
  • Houses did not have flushing toilets with sewers until after 1928. People used buckets with aboard across for a toilet. Sunday mornings the men dug trenches in their gardens for the contents of the buckets to form compost.
  • There was no refuge collection.
  • Milk was delivered around the village in buckets. Milk is still delivered in the area very few households now have it.
  • Pond Street used to be under water for part of the year and the bridleway through to Whitworth Road predates Whitworth Road
  • People kept their own chickens goats (for milk) and pigs. Rodbourne Cheney used to be called “nanny goat land”.
  • People gathered fruits such as blackberries and made wine from elderberries and dandelions.
  • People used their wells to keep things cool.


  • There used to be a farm where the High Street entrance to Haydon Wick School is now situated.
  • Some farms have disappeared all together while some remain such as Haydon End Farm and some farm house remain such as Manor Farm and Haydon Wick Farm.
  • Swindon & Cricklade Railway station was used to send milk from the farms to London
  • The farms had hay fields and reared cattle. The fields above where Avonmead is now were ploughed. Pig farming was also quite a big affair in Haydon Wick.


  • A Brooke Bond Tea van came around the village every 6 weeks.
  • There was a grocers at the Rodbourne Arms (where Rusts is now)
  • The first Co-op store in Swindon was built at its present site at the Rodbourne Arms.
  • There were shops in Swindon centre which people walked across 2 fields and then along the canal path to reach.


  • Haydon Wick school had 3 classrooms. There was also a school at Rodbourne Cheney.
  • Children started school at 3 years old and had pallets to sleep on each day.
  • The school master lived on the premises
  • The first job of the day in winter was to place the ink pots around the boiler to melt the ice in the ink.
  • Both Mrs Varney and Mrs Murgatroyd wrote on slates when they first started school.
  • The schools teachers were very strict and pupils dared not speak. Children were given the cane if they mis-behaved.
  • There were School Inspectors which were a version of the modern day Ofsted.
  • Religious Instruction was held each day.
  • The schools kept a log book
  • The weather had a big impact on how many days children went to school.
  • Children walked long distances to school from outlying farms and in bad weather their clothes were dried on the fireguard around the school boiler

Special Events & Occasions

  • Children took time off school to help with hay making at the local farms and also for such things as blackberrying, after high winds collecting fallen tree branches etc.
  • The hunt passed through Haydon Wick regularly.
  • Haydon Wick Carnival was a big day in the village. 6-a-side football competition was held. There was a fair in Churchfield. The procession went form Haydon Wick to Rodbourne Arms. Floats were horses and carts, A Carnival Queen was chosen each year and there was a Fancy Dress competition. The Oddfellows organisation was involved in running the carnival.
  • Mrs Murgatroyd told how when she came out of school one day a plane came over the school very low and landed in a corn field. The pilot got out and told the children that he had run out of fuel and asked where he could get some. The children told him that a lady at Moredon sold paraffin but that was no good, then they remembered that a man at a small shop near the Boundary House had a motorbike. Some of the children went off and fetched the man on his motorbike who took the pilot to get some fuel, which he then put in the plane and off he flew.
  • Mrs Varney told how it was a big day when Mr Aplin the butcher came to kill the family’s pig. Saltpetre was rubbed in to the carcass which was then cut in half. Mrs Varney’s parents hung the two halves wrapped in brown paper at the bottom of the stairs. Slices of the bacon were then cut off as needed. No part of the pig was wasted – the bladder was blown up to make a football. Mr Titcombe told how his family pigs were sent to Stratton Bacon Factory to be slaughtered and that then they had their own pig back to eat.


  • Men worked 5 ½ days each week.
  • The Great Western Railway was the predominant employer. Men walked to the works each day for a 6am start and then walked home again when they finished work at 6pm.
  • In the evenings the men worked on their allotments and gardens.
  • Married women did not work in the 1920s
  • Mrs Murgatroyd became a teacher beginning as a “pupil teacher”
  • Mrs Varney worked in Morses Store and earned 7/6d (35p) a week for 2 years serving in the store.
  • Mr Titcombe left school at 14 years and went to work for Lot & Sons, and Electrical, Heating & Plumbing Company Hardware Shop. He earned 15 shillings (70p) which increased by 5 shillings each year. At 18 years he worked at Lloyds Bank earning £5 and left in 1948.

Ladies at Home

  • Wash day was Monday and the ladies spent all day doing the washing. The first job was to light the fire under the copper in the scullery. There was no running water. The washing was put through mangles and then hung out to dry.
  • There were no bathrooms and the ladies filled tin tubs in the kitchen for the family baths. The cleanest bathed first as all the family used the same water.
  • The washing copper was cleaned, filled with fresh water and then a lump of bacon and vegetables cooked together in the copper.
  • The ladies always wore aprons and flat caps.
  • They made their own bread.

Moving House

  • Mr Titcombe lived in first High Street, then moved to Green Valley Avenue and currently lives in Green meadow Avenue.
  • Mrs Varney moved house 3 times all in High Street.
  • Mrs Murgatroyd’s family had a house built in Whitworth Road in 1925. A tithe had to be paid on the land because it was owned by the Church. Queen Anne granted permission for the land to be built on. Mrs Murgatroyd’s granddaughter now lives in the house. Mrs Mugatroyd has lived in Brittania Villas and currently lives in Church Walk.

Summer Holidays, Play & Christmas

  • The school summer holiday was called Harvest Holiday
  • Mrs Varney had 1 day away in the Summer. A coach would take them to Savernake Forest or they would go to Weston by train.
  • Mr Titcombe helped on the farms with harvest etc.
  • Children played: Marbles, skipping, hop scotch, hoop & stick, whip & top and football.
  • Families mnad etheir own amusement as they had no radio or television. They would sing around the piano or listen to a wind up gramophone.
  • Children had 3 weeks off school for Christmas but men only had 2 days off work.
  • Children were given a stocking at Christmas filled with an apple, an orange, a sugar mouse , a sugar clock, nuts and 1 present such as a doll or a book.

Doctors & Hospitals

  • The Great Western was located opposite Swindon swimming baths in Faraday Road. There was also the Victoria Hospital; in Old Town and Stratton Hospital.
  • People had to walk to the hospitals as there were no buses from Haydon Wick.
  • There were no local Doctors’ Surgeries people had to go to the town centre to see a Doctor.
  • A Medical Fund was run by Great Western Railway which was wonderful system and the present day National Health Service was based on the Great Western system. Prior to 1948 if you went to a Doctor or hospital you had to pay but if you worked in the Railway and belonged to the Medical Fund you got Doctor and Dental treatment for about 2p per week. There is today a plaque on the wall at the corner of Faraday Road telling people about the Medical Fund.
  • There was large garden in front of the Great Western Hospital and patients used to be put out in the garden in their wicker beds.

Information provided by a member of Haydon Wick Parish Council after the Junior Council Meeting:


Fox & Hounds
This came to the Francome family by a will of 1825 wherein it is described as a dwelling house with 8 acres of land. It opened as a beerhouse between 1830 and 1851 at which date Edward Francome, a farmer, was owner. It enjoyed a somewhat lively reputation as in 1866 the local constabulary remarked in court that Rodbourne Cheney was “the only drunken parish in the division”. It was auctioned in 1875 described as “Bar, Taproom, Cowstall, and Stable.” Joseph Hunt bought it for £600. Ann Francome was the occupier. Hunt sold it to Reed Bros of Marlborough in 1877, who in turn sold it to Bowlys. It went to Courage via Simonds in common with all other Bowly property. A full licence was granted in 1963.
(JK notes: Beerhouse was a type of licence of the day. Reeds, Bowlys, Simonds were breweries)

Boundary House (probably not Haydon Wick or R Cheney, but never mind)
This opened as the Red Lion before 1861, when the census shows William Slade as owner. he also ran a butchery business on the premises. It remained in the family until 1877 when it was offered for sale together with its brewing plant. Arkells bought it from Anna Slade on 28th July 1877 and immediately erected a new pub to the south of the original. This was converted into three cottages, which still stand. The new premises were granted their licence on October 9th 1878. In 1990 the premises were altered, a conservatory added, and renamed as the Boundary House.

Rodbourne Arms
There was a long struggle during the 1890s to obtain magistrates’ permission to build a pub to serve the expanding northern outskirts of Swindon. Several brewers tried at various sites but the Temperance movement was in full cry and permission was not forthcoming. Smiths of Brimscombe tried first in 1901 but it was not until March 1905 that a licence was granted. This was a six day only licence but gave Smiths their first (and only) foothold in Swindon in a pub that cost £1700 to build. Despite the rapid expansion of the town this was the last entirely new licence to be granted until the Moonrakers in 1953. Smiths brewery closed in 1915 and Ushers bought the Rodbourne Arms for £2000 in 1917. The premises were renovated in 1989.

(JK note: Ushers has since closed; at present the lease of the pub is to let)

Shield and Dagger
This opened on October 6th 1964 to serve the Greenmeadow estate. The name is a description of the old Worthington Co’s trademark.

I’ve not mentioned the Manor Farm, but many people could describe its history as a farm etc. before conversion to a pub. The F&H is by some way the oldest pub in the Parish.