These are the memories of Sonde Farm by Tony Rochelle who was born there and left at the age of 9 in 1939. His father, Jack Rochelle was the last miller at Worfield Mill
The family tree is a bit complex because two of the Rochelles had 10 children each. So it went from there being very few in the area to an awful lot. The Bromley Rochelles, one of them married twice. When the wife was only 20 she died. She had already had several children, including twins. The husband married again and had another 6 children.
Someone from ? Tuck hill/worfield wrote a book about worfield. he was a vicar and Miss Greatbach went down to London to see him ordained. (Was it Robinson - can’t remember. I was at school with him - that would rule Robinson out as he would have been older.)
Dad died in 1950 when he was 56. It was a hard life in those days. My mother delivered milk around the village on the day I was born.
Sonde Farm wasn’t large, about 50 acres,
Quite religious was my dad. I didn’t take after him he was only 56 when he died.
I remember house at Sonde Farm. There was tin sheeting on the roof in one part and when it rained the noise was deafening.
In the 30s Dad said he made a £100 per year and all the big farms were going bust. The better the farmer the faster they went bust. Big arable farmers needed a lot of labour. I went to see about buying a farm of modest size in the 1950s, about 120 acres, and they employed 14 men. You couldn’t sustain the wage bill at a time when prices were low.
Dad was friendly with Bert Bentley at the garage and he often used to see him working until 12 at night on a vehicle.
Twice I nearly drowned in the Worfe when it was in flood. The first time a man pulled me out by my hair. The second time, Mrs Robinson who lived in the cottage by the River pulled me out. My mum said she saw Mrs Robinson’s corset drying on the line afterwards.
There was an eel trap against the mill and my dad and another chap repaired it. Then there was a flood and they had so many eels and trout they didn’t know what to do with them, and they shouldn’t have done it really, so they took them to Wolverhampton Market and sold them.
Rabbits were another good source of income. Often they made enough from the sale of rabbits to pay the rent. It was well known that this happened. In 1941 they again paid the rent in rabbits. Dad and another chap would go on to the neighbour’s land and take them. It was poaching really.
Les Fincher and Jack Onions worked for Dad and came and worked at King’s Nordley when he left Sonde Farm. I remember us moving house, all the goods on a cart. Les Fincher was a good chap. He was a really good worker. At that time neither of them were married and they lived in.
World War 1. Uncle Ern rode his horse down Bromley Bank. He was in the Shropshire Regiment. Where did they go? I assume they went to Bridgnorth and they went on the train. There was a group of friends who went, Beaman, Greatwich, Belcher, Ryder. They went to Turkey. Ernie saved one of them from behind the enemy lines. He had been captured and was hidden in a cave and Ernie could hear the Turks talking. It may have been Ryder because he had a head wound when he returned to Bridgnorth.
My great grandfather kept the Shakespeare. There was a lot of drinking. People would make their own cider. Life was so hard it wasn’t a surprise they drank so much. I remember pulling beet all day until I couldn’t stand.
Machinery. There was a fear it would put the workers out of a job. Around 1920 when a reaper came to Bromley Farm the farm workers went on strike. The 1920s and 1930s were a bad time for farming. One man coming out of the army in 1918 paid £2,000 ingoing as a farm tenant of a modest farm on the Willey Estate. Two years later he could have bought a farm for that price. It was 1939 before they made a profit. Some of the years were so bad that the Landlords waived the rent. That happened for 3 years on one estate. The landlords knew they wouldn’t be able to rent the farm out to anyone else.
This item has been licensed for reuse under the Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Creative Commons Licence.