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ARBURY: Mrs Osland's Memories

It all happened in 1983, when Andy was busy setting up the Arbury Archive. He heard that Mrs McCulloch, mother of Andrew McCulloch, who owned the TV shop in Arbury Court, might have some memories of the area in years gone by. He went to the shop and spoke to her.

Mrs McCulloch was very helpful. Yes, she did know the Arbury well, but she had a friend who knew much more and would speak to her and find out if she could help. Andy left his address. He wasn't 'on the phone' at the time, and even basic analogue (and hugely expensive) mobiles ('yuppie toys'!) were still two years away. He hoped for a letter from Mrs McCulloch's friend.

It was a week or so later that an elderly lady cycled up to Andy's front door. 

'I do hope this will be of some help,' she said, handing over a small white envelope.

This was Mrs Osland. She explained that she lived in Cockerell Road, and was delighted at the interest in Arbury history which had resulted from the 'Arbury 1980' project and the Arbury Is Where We Live! book.

Andy invited her in for a cup of tea, but she couldn't stop. She said farewell, mounted her bicycle again, and rode away, waving as she went.

Thinking back, Andy says that he hasn't met anybody like Mrs Osland for many years. She is herself now part of the history of the area, which is sad, as he would have liked to talk to her further. She had left her address and an invitation to 'do pop in for a cup of tea if you're passing,' but the Arbury Archive and his paid work were taking up a lot of time, and Andy never took up the kind invitation.

He never saw Mrs Osland again.

But her writings were added to the Arbury Archive folders, and can now be shared. We'll now be quiet and let Mrs Osland tell her story.


My grandmother and grandfather, Mr and Mrs Challis, moved from Bottisham Lode Fen to Manor Farm, Arbury. Grandad used to work for Mr Ballantine, who lived in the Manor House [the Manor Farmhouse was known to many locally by this name]. Mrs Ballantine, I think, had three children, Ruth, Jean and a son. I don't know his name because that was before my time.

My grandmother had seven children, two sons and five daughters, Bill, Sid, Alice, Jenny Maud, Elizabeth and Florrie, who was the mother of George Wright.

Our 1900 Arbury map, with the Challis family's cottage marked 'X'.

I am the youngest daughter of Elizabeth. My eldest sister, Edith Bridge, used to go up to the farm quite a lot to stay with my grandmother and play with George. Grandmother used to live in the last cottage. When they went to live there, I understood from my mother that the people next door were named Brett. That was before my time. When I was a child the people next door were the Bakers. Mr Baker was a market gardener.

I think the people who took over the Manor House were named Bennett. Then, going towards Arbury Road, there was Claude Skinner and his family, then, Mrs Cardinal at the new farm cottage which they called the 'farmhouse' as they traded as Manor Farm and it was a dairy. I think she had two daughters. Her husband had died when he was quite a young man. I think Mrs Cardinal was related to Ernie Sale, who lived at the top of the Drive near Arbury Road, and kept the nurseries.

The north side of Arbury Road, where my Grandmother lived, was agricultural land, a lot of it farmed by the Downhams, I think. They also farmed at King's Hedges, which was at the end of King's Hedges Road. It was then quite a nice road, leading over the railway tracks to King's Hedges and the Mere Way. It is now a whopping great road across the old Manor farmland.

The Challis family lived in one of the semi-detached 'TWO BRICK AND TILED COTTAGES' described here in the Manor Farm's 1909 sales particulars, with a 'general labourers' mess room' forming part of the ground floor between them.

Johnnie Turner had his agricultural land at the front and back of Grandmother's house. I don't remember my Grandfather. He died before I was born. Grandmother died in April 1944 and my cousin, George, died six months afterwards of meningitis. He used to work at the University Press. He was thirty three when he died.

We used to hear all sorts of things about Arbury being haunted by Romans and the part we called the 'Roman Arbury' was over by Chivers at Arbury Camp Farm and along Arbury Road. We didn't know what they would later find under our feet at Manor Farm when they dug it up for the Arbury Estate, we had no idea about Roman graves or villas there, but I can tell you the ground was very muddy. That's all I knew! The Drive through Manor Farm from Arbury Road to King's Hedges Road was terrible when it rained.

The Arbury book by the school children has told me a lot I don't know - and yet I was around here long before they were born! It is a wonderful piece of work.

When George died, I went up to the farm to live with my aunt, Mrs Wright, and I either had to ride my bicycle through mud or get my feet wet. We very often used the roadway at the bottom of the garden, which led out to Milton Road by the labs, which is now Hawkins Road.

Grannie's house stood where the Grove School stands now.

Mr Teebroon [?], who lived opposite the school at 180, Campkin Road, told me that when he went to live there he dug up nothing but pig manure in his garden. He always had a well cultivated garden, and we took it his house was built where Johnnie Turner had his pig manure.

I can't think of anything else but I do hope this information will be a help to you.

Mrs V Osland

Once again, with Mrs Osland's handwritten manuscript, we find a wonderful sense of connection to the person that typed sheets cannot convey. We are very happy to have her work in the Arbury Archive, and she adds various points previously unknown which add up to gaining a full picture of the area before the estate.

If you explore the other works about Manor Farm on the blog, you will discover other details regarding the Bretts, the Downhams, the Cardinals, Mr Sale and Mr Turner.

May we ask if anybody has any photographs of the last two Manor Farm cottages that they share them with us? We do have a couple of views which include them in the distance, but they are the only Manor Farm buildings we have no detailed visual record of.

Looking across North Arbury from Arbury Road. The cottage where the Challis family lived was No 6, Manor Farm Cottages.


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