Memories of South Hanningfield.

Adding to Madge Viscardini's memories, part two.

Further to my previous ‘posts’ about South Hanningfield, I have found some photos I took, many years ago, but after father had moved us to live in the village.

To come into the village from Harrow Farm we pass a field on the right, farmed by Jim Mallinson of Flemmings farm. It is of Geoff Maples (son-in-law of Jim) harvesting potatoes. He is driving a Nuffield tractor, trailing the harvester.  Note that the ‘holmes’ were not being cut, or treated before harvest, which slowed the operation down and the potatoes were still being picked by hand.

Next we come to a view over a wheat field, also on Mallinson’s farm, and is looking across to a tree then known as ‘The Big Oak’ . It still stands today, but has lost a lot of its vigour.

Further along the road, on the left is shown Well Wood covered by a snowfall which I seem to recall, fell on Christmas day night. This wood was part of Giffords Farm, owned by Mr Hedley Millbank, and is taken before this farm was flooded to create the reservoir. The wood did not become part of the reservoir, but now forms part of the woodland walks, as an amenity, and no doubt a bird reserve.

There is a picture looking over the reservoir, taken, I would say, from about where the cafe and visitor centre is at South Hanningfield.

The final picture is taken in the ‘dip’ as you enter the village. In the bottom of the ‘dip’, on the right was the village pump, from where two households still drew their water. One was the two Sayward brothers who lived opposite to the village hall. The one who collected the water used to carry two buckets on an old wooden frame made for the purpose. The other was an old man whose name was Arthur King, who lived alone, after a lifetime spent as horseman to Jim Mallinson who farmed the land on Claydens farm in the village. Arthur was a bit of a character, and was known locally as ‘Wasa’. His house had seen better days. It was thatched, and was knocked down, to be replaced by the semi-detached brick houses.

These houses were council owned and let to George Reeve and his family. George had been a general farmhand to my father when he farmed Poplars Farm.   The other house was lived in by the Wooten family, whom I recall, sadly lost a daughter from drowning, when swimming in the reservoir, whilst it was still under construction, and being filled. On the opposite side of the rise can be seen the original type of school warning sign which then passed the entrance to the post office which father owned.



Geoff Maples, (son in law of Jim,) harvesting potatoes
Dennis Smith
Rear side of photograph
Dennis Smith
The Big Oak
Dennis Smith
Well Wood in the snow boxing day 1956
Dennis Smith
looking over the reservoir, taken, I would say, from about where the cafe and visitor centre is at South Hanningfield.
Dennis Smith
The 'dip' where the pump was nr. The Windmill pub
Dennis Smith

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  • Beverly Jay
    I would be interested how you are connected to the Wootton family.
    I am the granddaughter of Peter and Hilda, daughter of Angela.
    Mum has managed to research some of our family tree and would love to know more.

    By Michaela Johnson (19/09/2023)
  • It was my mum’s sister that lost her life in Hanningfield reservoir in 1956. It still haunts her to this day as she was there when it happened.

    By Michaela Johnson (17/09/2023)
  • I have read all of these comments with great interest as I am retracing my family history. I am distantly connected to the family that lost their daughter in the reservoir. However the correct spelling is Wootton .

    By Beverley Jay (07/09/2022)
  • My father, Bill Brett, was head horseman at Giffords Farm for Mr Millbank, in the forties. We all lived in the cottage near the farm. Dad took horses to the local shows that started up after the war where he won a lot of prizes. I went with him, I was in my early teens. During the war I went to the village school along with my sister Anne and brother Colin. I think the head mistress was a Miss Bispham.

    By Mr John Brett (02/12/2020)
  • How many years after the Wooten Family lost their daughter to the reservoir, did the Goymer Family lose their son to the South Hanningfield Road? Two children whose families lived in the same brick semi-detached just a couple of decades apart lost their lives needlessly. As a young thirteen year old, who had just moved into that house with my family in 1969, I can remember my Father’s words:
    “It feels like something terrible happened in this house”. That was before we had ever heard of the tragic reservoir death, and 15 years before our brother Simon’s death on that ever-dangerous Hanningfield Road. Essex County Council knew how to build semi-detached brick houses, but not how to erect fences for reservoirs in the making, nor how to make pavements upon which children living and playing in the village might have safely walked. Still today, when we go to our brother’s grave in South Hanningfield Church Yard, the South Hanningfield Road is only partly paved. Our family have fond memories of South Hanningfield and it’s inhabitants. It is a beautiful village. However, public safety still needs to be a priority.

    By Lydia M Goymer (12/02/2019)

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