The Bridge on Mill Road, Thurcaston
There is no mention of this bridge in Thurcaston’s early records. Perhaps it had been a ford in earlier times. Village people remember being taken to the bridge as small children by their parents to feed the ducks. When they were older they swung across the brook and back on a thick rope which had been attached to a large over-hanging tree branch.
"Duck Bridge"Unknown date (1940s ?). The first houses at Cropston Top can just be seen on the horizon
The bridge was originally built with blue bricks and was known as the Blue Bridge. Like all the other roads in Thurcaston this one flooded regularly each year, and in 1900
‘the District Council was asked if a wooden bridge at each end of the bridge near the mill’ could be provided. A footpath was also requested to be made ‘from the bridge to the Railway Station. (Thurcaston Parish Meeting Minutes, March 23, 1900.)
This wooden walkway provided a handy meeting place for the boys in the village in 1960-70s who would gather there in their wellingtons and watch out for cars when Mill Road was flooded. Unwary drivers, seeing the boys standing in just a few inches of water assumed that it was safe to drive through it. Alas, they soon realised their mistake. When the car spluttered to a halt, the boys would offer to push the car out of the water --- for a fee of course!
The Blue Bridge was replaced, possibly in the 1950s. The licensee of the William IV organised a party to unofficially open the newly built bridge.
The Wright Family
Several generations of the Wright family ran the Wheatsheaf at Thurcaston. Afterwards, some remained in Thurcaston.
Arthur Wright and his wife Gladys lived on Leicester Road, Albert Wright and his wife Lily lived on Anstey Lane. Their spinster sister Elsie Wright lived on Rectory Lane.
For many years Gladys was the Booking Clerk for the Memorial Hall and Lily was the caretaker. If you wanted to rebook the Hall you took care to leave the premises in pristine condition! Lily also led the Sunday School for the chapel in Mill Road.
Elsie, or Little Elsie as she was known, was a tiny lady. She liked to use the public telephone outside the Old Post Office on Leicester Road. When the lamp failed, she could be seen making her calls by candlelight.
George remembered seeing the cattle being driven from Cropston and beyond, along on the ‘green road’ (Brooky Lane) across the fields to the cattle market at Leicester.
Thurcaston in WWII
Rose Gladys Green from Vine House Farm, Thurcaston is interviewed by her great-grandchildren in 2016 at the age of 104½.
Interviews kindly supplied by Diana Green
1 Was your food rationed?
Yes. Tiny bits of butter, sugar, cheese, sweets or 2 sweet lollies per week. We had to queue a long time for a bit of meat, sausages or fish. We never had oranges or bananas but apples off our trees. Our eggs had to go to the packing station. All our milk had to go in churns to the dairy. Our chickens & ducks had to go to market.
2 Did your husband fight in the war?
No. He was exempt because he was a farmer. He was in the Home Guard who patrolled the village & fields. Long hours on the farm: cows to fetch in to milk, calves to wean, grass for hay, beet for cattle, wheat for bread & fields of potatoes.
3 Did you go to school during the war?
No. I was married with a baby, Great Uncle Charles. I organised the farm with Great Grandad Tom.
4 How old were you when WW11 began? 26 ….ended? 33
5 Were you evacuated?
No. I remember there were 3 condemned cottages. Into each came a mother & children.
6 Were there blackouts?
Every evening. Some of our curtains were already heavy & dark. We dyed others black or found some thick black linen.
7 Where did you live during WW11?
Vine House Farm, Thurcaston, Leicestershire. 1 toilet outside up the garden. 1 large sink to prepare food, wash clothes & wash ourselves. Very busy: to pick potatoes, women with toddlers came for 10p per day. Children 8-14 took time off school to pick potatoes or help with hay-making.
8 Did you grow vegetables in your garden?
Yes: cabbage, beans, carrots. Potatoes were in the field.
9 Did you use a telephone?
Yes because we had a business.
Did you write letters?
Not many. We paid bills by going to the offices in town.
10 Was there much petrol about? Did you have any vehicles?
We had a Studebaker Truck. We used bicycles a lot. We had an old shire horse. On the farm we were granted fuel for tractors. There were a few buses to our village. In winter, we had to get off the bus so it could drive up the steep hill.
Did prisoners of war (PoW) come every day?
Yes, when there was work for them to do. We paid the government for them to be brought on a lorry from the PoW camp.
Were you allowed to communicate with them?
Yes but most Italians & Germans couldn’t speak English. I didn’t need to speak much to them. Bruno was a German PoW & spoke English to me.
What were you allowed to talk about with them?
I wasn’t allowed to speak about the war. I only talked to them about the jobs I wanted them to do. Great Granddad spoke to them about the farm jobs.
What did the PoW’s do?
They dug out ditches and cut hedges by hand. They picked potatoes in the fields by hand. They pulled out the spare kale plants (used to feed cows & cattle).
Bruno helped with jobs in the cattle yard. He took Great Uncle Charles to school & fetched him back.
Were they allowed in the house?
Yes but they took their orders in the cattle yard. Bruno came in the house to do some of his jobs.
What did they eat?
For midday, they brought food with them from the camp. In the summer, if they needed to stay an extra two hours, I asked Bruno to make them jam & butter sandwiches. We were allowed extra rations to feed them. Sometimes, Italians in the potato field would light a fire on which to cook potatoes to eat.