Malcolm Church

Malcolm was born in Turvey in 1953 into a locally established (since the 1890s) farm working family. His grandfather, Horace Church, was gamekeeper for the Higgins family estate. Malcolm’s father was a champion sheep shearer, winning several competitions held at the Granada cinema in Bedford during the 1950s and 1960s. Malcolm recounts childhood memories of going fishing, rearing piglets, hand milking, plucking pheasants, being in charge of the rope during calving and occasionally having blackbird pie for a meal.

Malcolm became a bricklayer’s labourer and later gained qualifications to become a bricklayer. He and his friends, also bricklayers from Turvey, became two self-employed gangs for a time, working on sites locally and over a wider area. Malcolm moved to Bedford during the 1970s, returning to Turvey in 2002.

Malcolm Remembers the local Policeman.

 

“I remember, when I was living in Vine Row, the local bobby, Darky Daker they used to call him, caught me riding a bike down Turvey High Street with no tyres on it. So, he clipped me round the ear, and sent me home. And, when I told me dad, he hit me as well.”

Malcolm remembers catching sheep for his father to shear

 

“But I’ve been in and you catch sheep, and there’s certain ways you can handle sheep. Well for a start if you get hold of their bottom jaw, right, you can put your finger behind their front teeth and just hold them by the bottom jaw. And if you hold them by the hock, which is basically just below the knee on a sheep, if you get hold of that and lift that up so they’ve put all their weight on those three legs then they can’t pull.  What you do is you basically sit it on its backside and take it to wherever you wanted it.”

Malcolm remembers gathering his fishing tackle.

 

“Well, you could catch any fish in this river on a soggy crisp. Well, I used to go down to the Abbey and pinch some bamboo. They grew bamboo down there. Then we’d go along the river getting all the tackle out of the hedges, the lines, hooks, weights, that sort of thing. Perhaps if you could find a nice long length of line, you were made up.”

Malcolm remembers the flow of the brook that supplied Nell’s Well.

 

“We had running water, but my Uncle George and his wife Maud, who lived in the white cottage opposite, as you turn into Ladybridge Terrace, that house that’s had all the rendering taken off, they lived there and they never had any running water until the 1960s. Aunty Maud brought her kids upon the water from the well.

There’s a fresh water spring runs from Crown Farm, through the garden of my grandfather’s house (Church’s Cottage), and there’s a well in the garden and the water is about a foot from the top all year round.  And it comes down from Crown Farm, and comes to Nell’s Well, and turns and goes along under Ladybridge Terrace, and out into the river through the Fyshes cellar. Because all the houses along Ladybridge Terrace used to have a hand pump.”

A transcript of the full interview with Malcolm Church may be found in the Voices Collection of the Archive.

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