Ralph Leaper Transcript of Interviews
Ralph moved from Guildford to Newton Blossomville with his family when he was two years old in 1941. When his father was released from the Army after WWII, he became a professional gardener. Both of Ralph’s grandfathers were agricultural workers. Ralph recounts that the women had to earn money where they could, keeping chickens, pigs and goats as well as using their knitting and lace-making skills. Ralph enjoyed the gardening, woodwork and sporting aspects of his schooling. Ralph worked for a local farmer after school and during the holidays, as he got older he learnt to drive the tractor. Ralph recalls life in Newton Blossomville during WWII and the villagers all helping each other during the severe winter of 1947. Ralph recalls his childhood adventures, the railway line between Bedford and Northampton, attending Sea Scout meetings held at The Mill, and piano lessons at Mrs. Day’s at Station End.
After leaving school Ralph got a job at Lodge Farm, Turvey at the time when the mechanisation of farming was taking off. Ralph became a Youth Club leader and dancing lessons and dances were a regular feature. Ralph and Hazel married in the mid-1960s and lived at Brookside, Turvey. In 1969 Ralph was requested to move to Lodge Farm as farm manager. Ralph worked there until his retirement in the late 1990s. Ralph traces the changes in farming over his career. Ralph recalls the pubs, Len Savage carpenter, the brick works, a saw pit and a stone quarry, The Mill, Turvey Station, the shops, the blacksmith’s. Ralph recounts an accident on the railway line and the tradition of a church service for Plough Monday held outdoors at Newton Blossomville, and the more recent Harvest Barn Dances at Hall Farm, Turvey.