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Memories of Cornard by Joan Lynton

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Page updated - 22 August 2008



GREAT CORNARD - memories and a little history

A great Place to live but perhaps I am biased. You see my roots are firmly planted here. Way back in l924, I was born in a cottage at the top of King's Hill, next to what is now Hillside Retirement Home. After four years there, my family moved to Sudbury. I lived in Sudbury for the next 20 years, so my childhood years were away from the village. But there were lots of connections. My best friend lived here, my grandparents retired into one of Mr. Stevensons bungalows in Pot Kiln Road, my grandmother's brother Uncle Ted Cooper lived in Broom Street with his daughter and her family. My Uncle Jack lived in Head Lane. Even my mother's eldest sister was married to Joyce Game's eldest brother Arnold. So you can see I never really lost touch. And then my husband-to-be  had lodgings in Cornard, so it was almost inevitable that when we married we should come to Cornard to live. And so we did, and strangely enough, back to the very spot where I was born, not the same cottage, they had been demolished and a pair of houses were built by Dr. Higgins who then lived in Hillside. Stephen Walters  (where my husband worked) bought these houses and we rented one and spent the first 12 years of our marriage there. A very happy 12 years. I remember nightingales used to sing, perched in the high trees surrounding Hillside. My children, the Cleveland boys, and Mary Binks, used to play in the lane leading to the meadows across the railway line. The children spent many happy times on those meadows. In those days railway officials didn't have apoplectic fits if one crossed the line. One learned to be careful. The riverside meadows were very wild and marshy back in the 50's, lots of tussocky reed beds, that was before Harry Turner, that very altruistic gentlemen began the arduous task of reclaiming the land and turning into it's present day pristine condition.


If 1 remember rightly it was during the fifties that the first Jane's estate was built, the one in St. Andrews Road. I called this the start of some mini population explosions. There were more to come later.


In 1960 we decided we needed a slightly larger house, and we had our present house built by Wakelin and Rampling, on their land in Head Lane. Head Lane was much narrower in those days, and beside our house there were only 3 other houses on the South side of the road, Mr. and Mrs. Keeble, who owned Dolly's sweet shop in King Street, Olga and Frank Cadge, who lived in what used to be Ardleys bungalow, where they (the Ardleys) bred angora rabbits, and Roland Suddaby, the artist and curator of Gainsborough House, living in the old Rectory. There were fields behind our house, pheasants and rabbits, all manner of wild life, came into the garden . It was idyllic. But things started to change, Cornard started to grow, slowly at first, the second Jane's estate, on land which was previously Adam's nursery. Cadge's bungalow fell into the path of the bulldozers, followed by the old Rectory. It was difficult to come to terms with all these changes. The peace and tranquillity was fast disappearing, but soon even though the environment had changed, the people started to move in, friendships were formed, and soon the old scenes were almost forgotten. The road was widened, the south side of Head Lane was developed, and small estates cropped up all over the place.  But then suddenly Cornard went berserk. The biggest population explosion of them all. THE LONDON OVERSPILL. The local residents had great difficulty accepting this. It almost became a ‘them and us’ situation. It was all happening too quickly, perhaps the planners should have made haste more slowly. More people (lots more people) means larger schools, more factories, more facilities, more of everything. It was somewhat fraught for a good few years. But basically, people are good, tolerant and friendly as a species, and gradually things settled down. The schools were built, employment was created, friendships were formed and Great Cornard became great again, this time not only in reputation but also in size.


My thoughts for the future. 1 sincerely hope that all the young vibrant people, rushing around with their mobiles, their internets, their computers etc. etc. will come to love Great Cornard, and keep the community spirit alive, even though the population will be well over 10,000 unlike the 1000, when I came into the village 75 years ago.


Joan Lynton - 21 December 1999