by Walter Champion (1996)
Life was very much slower in these early days. Most of the inhabitants were engaged in agriculture. There were some fifteen farms in East Brent then, and most had one or more workmen. Most of the work was done by horses as tractors were very few. It was chiefly dairy Cows with herds of 10-20 or 30. Milk was delivered to a collecting point at the South View Dairy which is the farm by the East Brent roundabout. From there the milk was taken in churns (the old conical type which was called the London Churn) to Brent Knoll Railway Station en route to the large towns like Bristol or London. The surplus was made into cheese. There was also a cheese factory at Rooksbridge.
There are now only two working farms in the centre of the village. Most of the land is being farmed by outside farmers.
Another memory is from the schooldays. There were two schools in the village. It is understood that Archdeacon Denison would not allow the Government Inspector into “his” school hence the report was that there was no school in East Brent. Therefore another was built (which is now the Village Hall). They were called locally the top school and the bottom school.
My memories are from the top school where there were three classes and two teachers. The head teacher was Mrs. Yeomans. The v curriculum was basically the three Rs, leading to the Scholarship, the 11 plus. Where the two temporary classrooms are today, there was a garden, and the older boys and girls had a plot and learnt the basics of gardening which was an asset to those living in a rural parish.
After the 11 plus, The successful passed on to the Weston Grammar School or Sexey’s School at Blackford which had a farm and concentrated on agriculture. Others stayed on until they were fourteen, or they went to a town school if there were vacancies and suitable transport to get them there.
There were two bus Companies plying through the village - Burnell’s Motors based at Cheddar and the Bristol Omnibus Company -the Blue Bus, It is Well to note that the return fare to Weston was 1/- (5p) and 6d (2 1/2p) for those under 14 years.
One of the great events in East Brent- as it still is today - was the Harvest Home. Pre the Second World War it was held in the fields adjoining the top school. The school was still trying to carry on against the noise of the fun fair moving into the first field. Bringing the fun fair was a major operation and consisted of Charles Heals’ Roundabouts, and later years the Dodgems. The magnificent Steam Engines, ‘His Majesty’, ‘Her Majesty”, and ‘Little Jimmy’ towed the luxurious caravans which housed the show people and pulled the trailers. It was almost impossible to continue lessons above the din. After school, the larger boys were only too keen to help set up the fair and earn free rides the next day.
The Harvest Home day was a grand day, and is still today. The Flag flew on top of the Knoll to tell the world, and the Church Bells rang out at 6 a.m. to announce the day had come. They rang again for the start of the Church Service at 11.15 a.m.
The procession started at the Vicarage (now Rossholme School), it was headed by the Bridgwater imperial Silver Band, followed by the choir and parishioners. The Church was full to hear the sermon preached by a Bishop or Archdeacon.
After the service the luncheon was held in the large marquee -this was for men only and free to parishioners. The Christmas puddings were made at the Vicarage by Mrs. Edwards in the previous days. (Sadly she died with the recipe).
The main speaker was usually the member of Parliament for the area. It was a great opportunity for him to speak to his people and people came from far and wide to hear him, for in those days there was no wireless or media - perhaps a weekly newspaper.
The tea was for the ladies and children. It was a sit-down ham tea, free for parishioners. In the evening there was old time dancing (quadrilles, and Lancers, Barn Dance etc.) to the stirring tunes of the Bridgewater Imperial Silver Band. Those who were tired just sat and listened.
It was always a great reunion of people, for those who had left the parish and had come back for the day.