Ernest Partridge & Family

Not many people now in Winsham can remember when all the land between Western Way and the far border of the upper recreation ground was one large field.
Ernie Partridge can remember. He worked that land as a boy, helping his father, who rented it from Mr Philips. Ernie ploughed, drilled and helped with the harvest. A mobile threshing machine was towed into position in what is now Bakersfield. Threshing was of course a hot, dusty and exhausting job.
Ernie had worked with heavy horses from an early age, but he loved tractor-driving. Unfortunately, his tendency to take short-cuts sometimes got him into trouble. At only 16 he was not allowed to drive on the public highway, and was caught by the local ‘bobby’, Constable Burton. An authoritarian figure, PC Burton lived in the Police House in Bakersfield. Ernie was let off with the warning ‘Don’t let me catch you again, Sonny’. (Later, in 1971 the Police House was sold off at an auction at the Bell Inn to Ernie. His son Clive now lives there).
To be driven on the road, tractors with heavy spade lugs had to be fitted with wooden blocks to prevent damage to the tarmac. The process of fitting these blocks began with scraping the mud from between the lugs, taking nearly an hour. Ernie can remember not waiting for his father’s help and driving off without the blocks; this would have earned him another reprimand from Constable Burton if he had been caught.
Ernie’s father, William kept cows in the field adjacent to the cemetery. They were milked in the yard of the Bell Inn , tenanted by William (see ‘The Inns of Winsham’) , walking along a passage between the pub and what was then a rented cottage, which no longer exists. The milk was sold around the village.
Ernie was a long standing of the Winsham Coronation Band, and can remember helping to build the band hut. Some of the materials came from the recently abandoned American army camp at Cricket St. Thomas. The band, which wound up a few years after it Centenary celebration in 2002, no longer had a use for the hut, and it is now being proposed for refurbishment by the village so that it can make a further contribution to village life.

This account was written by Stella Abbey after an interview with Ernie in 2013. Ernie lives in retirement with his wife June, and still takes an active part in village life. Over the years he also served as a Parish Councillor, and with his hobby of refurbishing ancient tractors, he also helps his son Andrew with the grass cutting and maintenance of the cemetery and lower recreation ground.


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