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Page updated - 19 February 2005


Bill Partridge


If you have a conversation with Bill Partridge you will come away both entertained and informed. He has a wealth of knowledge about the history of Great Cornard having been born here in 1925. He has lived here all his life and seen the many changes that have taken place over the years. As a child, Bill knew every inch of the River Stour and surrounding meadows often roaming there with his friends from dawn to dusk. He learnt to recognise the birds and animals that lived there. He climbed trees for birds’ eggs and caught ‘tiddlers’ in the shallower waters of the river. Bills love of the river extended to adulthood and he still is a keen fisherman. He was also the bailiff for the Sudbury Angling Club for 10 years. Bill says that he sees things by the river that people sit in front of the television and watch.


Bill attended the Wells Hall Old School (when he wasn't playing truant) and recalls that on Empire Day all the children marched around the playground and saluted the Union Jack. Then they were told they could have the rest of the day off school.


Bill met his wife Jean when she moved here with her family in 1942. He used to wait for her after Church on Sundays by the Coronation Oak (where the bus shelter is, opposite the Church) and walk her home. They were married in 1950 and moved to Cornerth Crescent in 1952. They have two sons who both live in Cornard with their families. Bill and Jean remember very happy days in Cornerth Crescent when fathers used to play football with their sons on summer evenings and weekends on the large green in front of the houses. If a ball went into a garden they were shown the red card. In summer they played cricket and tennis. Hardly anyone had cars then and Bill has never felt the need for one, using his bike to go everywhere. It was nothing for him to go for a 10-mile walk or a 40-mile bicycle ride with his friend Jim Eady. Bill still grows all his own vegetables and whilst digging has come across many old clay pipes and even some old coins.


Bill started work at Brunton Propellers in 1939 and stayed there until 1991. He was an apprentice for 7 years and became a skilled wood pattern maker. Because he was in marine engineering, which was a ‘reserved occupation’, he could not be called up during the war but he was a member of the home guard. He has many amusing tales to tell about his experiences then and reckons "Dad's Army" was near the truth as far as the Great Cornard home guard was concerned. He started his National Service in 1946 and was sent to Oswestry but within 3 weeks caught meningitis and was invalided out after 5 months.


Bill and Jean are both Country Music lovers and go to the Suffolk Outlaws every Friday. Bill is also an honorary life member of the Cornard Cricket Club and Great Cornard Football Club having refereed for both clubs for many years previously.

Talking to Bill it is hard to believe that he is now 77. Judging by his active way of life he certainly doesn't think that he is getting old. When you see Jean and Bill together it is obvious that their feelings for each other have not altered at all during their years together but if anything have got stronger. They are a wonderful example of how good health and happiness comes from an inner contentment with what life has to offer.


Interview by Joan Herbert (Cornard News) – 26 Jan 2002