Alfie Holder

Transcript of interview with Alfie Holder who was associated with Curricombe farm, Tytherton Lucas from 1956 to 2000

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Mr Cleverley making hay at Curricombe farm

Mr (John) and Mrs Cleverley came from Chesterman’s farm at East Tytherton to Curricombe farm in 1917. It was called Combe farm then. Their daughter, Brenda, was born at Curricombe, and married my uncle Jim (Alfred James Salter) who lived at 54 Wick Hill where I live now. Bren went to the Moravian school and Jim to the East Tytherton school, one school next to the other. They got married around 1937/38 and Jim went off to the war. He worked as a carpenter on the Mulberry docks1 which were pulled across from England to Normandy. After the war, Jim took on the farm from Mr Cleverley. In 1954 they changed the name to Curricombe farm and bought in their own stock of Ayrshire cows. They were red and white, good for milk with a high fat content like Jersey cows and they were reasonable for beef. There were about 40 milking cows and 40 youngstock. The farm was half the size it is now. Rex Grimshaw’s father, Fred, had the other half. He was also a dairy farmer and had about 40 milking cows. They shared the milking area in what is now converted barns. Rex’s father lived opposite Rex at Curricombe cottage.

I worked at the farm and lived there with Uncle Jim and Auntie Bren from 1956 (age 14) to 1964. They didn’t have any children and Auntie Bren was like a mother to me. We lived in the farmhouse. It has walls 6 foot thick and Mr Cleverley had told Jim that it used to be a monastery because of it is huge inside. The first floor has a fireplace at each end. They used to put the turkeys up in the attic before Christmas time. Then Mr Cleverley’s sister came to live with them and she had a flat in the attic.

I always remember when they bought the first tractor in 1948. Before that we had horses. The first time Auntie Bren went down the field with the tractor and shouted “Whoa” and the tractor didn’t stop! She was a character. When I was about 13 or 14 she would do me up as Worzel Gummidge and we would go to the fete at Hoskins. It had a fancy dress competition. After Uncle Jim died in 1970, she had nowhere to live because the Council owned the farm so she came to live with us at No. 54 and worked behind the bar at the Dumb Post.

The Hutchins came to Tytherton Lucas in the 60’s to farm on the Grimshaw’s side and they lived at Curricombe cottage. Then in 1970 Alan took over the farm and it became all one farm. It was still a dairy farm. I helped on and off with the milking when Jim had the farm. Then I did relief milking for Alan until the farm was sold by the Council to the Harfords around 2000. The Council had bought farms to help people like Uncle Jim get into farming. Bren also worked on the farm – milking and haymaking. They are both buried at Bremhill church. So are all my family. I can’t remember anyone going to Tytherton Lucas church.

The next farm, Bosmere, belonged to Mr (Alfred) and Mrs Cottle. She was quite a lady – a bit of a debutante! They owned the 2 red brick cottages. Emilio2 came in the war. He lived in one of the cottages and took over running the farm. They had about 50 shorthorn cows. And there were vines. The Cottles didn’t have any children and left some land near the bridge over the Marden to Emilio. The Cottles are buried near the entrance to St Nicholas churchyard. Emilio built the house at Riverside and had 3 or 4 acres of vines. The rest of the farm was sold to Mr Warton. I used to help Mr Warton with his vineyard. We used to pick the grapes and take them to Kent on the same day to be pressed and then it came back as bottles of wine. Bosmere farm still had quite a bit of land and Mr Warton sold some of it to Mr (Bob) Davis3. In 1974 I had set up the agricultural contracting business and bought a digger. I used to do all the hedges and ditches at Bosmere farm until I retired 10 years ago.

We used to cut all the grass where you live4 when Commander Dixon turned it into a nightclub. Before that it was a quite a reasonable size farm with Jersey or Guernsey cows. Dick Bailey bought most of the fields and possibly Mr Davis.

Mr Davis came from Wales and Mrs (Ann) Davis was one of the Phillips who had the mill at Calne. Mr Davis had 60 to 70 cows. He milked the cows at Gastons. Ayrshires. When Mr Davis gave up he gave Uncle Jim a cow and he would come every morning to pick his milk up from him! Manor Farm was all corn and potatoes after they packed in milking. The last person to milk at Gastons went to work for Dick Bailey – I cant remember his name. Then the Spredbury’s lived there.

The corner house, Broome house, a lady called Livingstone used to live there.

Mrs Lamb was at Coggswell and she had daughters. Serena married a Henley.

I remember Mrs Bateman used to live at the cottage between Bosmere and Coggswell. Her husband was killed in the war. She had a daughter.

Mr and Mrs Bryant used to be at Gastons farm before Bob Davis bought it. They were the only ones with a freezer and when Bren made custard for icecream she would take it over there to freeze it.

My grandparents (Alfred and Emily Salter) came from Bremhill (but I don’t know where they lived there) to No 54 in 1911. They bought No 54 from Bowood for £200 in December 1919 so we’ve owned it for over a 100 years. It used to have a thatch roof until the 1950’s. There were 10 children all born at No 54 including my Uncle Jim. 2 girls, 7 boys and another died at birth. And all but one of them are buried in Bremhill graveyard. My mother Margaret married my father Bill (William John) Holder. I was born at No 54 but then we lived in Chippenham and moved back (to No 54) in 1964.

Note Alfie is going to look for a photograph taken at Curricombe farm

Interviewed over the phone by Helen Stuckey.

This typed transcript was then read back over the phone and Alfie agreed that it could be used for the Bremhill Parish History Project



  1. Mulberry docks or harbours was a WW2 civil engineering project of immense size and complexity. Two prefabricated harbours were taken in sections across the English channel and assembled off the coast of Normandy to facilitate the rapid offloading of cargo onto beaches during the invasion of Normandy in 1944. One was damaged but the other was used to land over 2.5 million men and 500,000 vehicles
  2. Emilio Vanzillotti was an Italian PoW – see separate written notes
  3. Bob Davis owned Manor Farm, Tytherton Lucas
  4. Westfield House