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History - Part 4

Local History

Page updated - 22 August 2008




 - This series of  Potted History of Great Cornard has been submitted by Cornard News. The articles were written by Joan Herbert who researched them from a variety of local sources.


Part 4 - 1900 to 1950

A map of Great Cornard at the beginning of 1900 shows very few houses. Fields surrounded the Highbury Barn Inn with the nearest dwellings being Cloggs Farm and Wells Hall. The population in 1901 was 932 and the main industry was still agriculture. Judging by the stern sermon given by the vicar of St Andrews, the Rev. Francis Singleton, and quoted in the Suffolk Free Press of 26 August 1914 the people of Cornard seemed at that time quite carefree. He said ‘The growing desire for gambling, the irreverent neglect of the Sunday festival and the absence of many from the House of Prayer, through the unnecessary craze for Sunday motoring and cycling, railway cheap tickets etc. all of which are sufficient to cause the Almighty to chastise us through the present terrible war’.


Sadly, thirty-three Cornard men died in the 1914-18 war and their names are listed on the war memorial at St Andrews church. No doubt they had enjoyed happy days cycling through the lanes of Cornard and, possibly, on Sundays.


In the 1920’s the centre of the village was the area around St Andrews Church and from there, Bures Road in both directions. Most of the shops were here and it was called ‘The Broadway’. A Cornard man Mr Warren said it was a ‘dangerous spot’ as accidents occurred there. There was also a petrol filling station opposite Church Road that has now been converted into a private house. There was a rifle range between Pot Kiln Road and Cats Lane and Rifle Butts near the Maldon Grey. The radiator firm Sercks came to Cornard (later selling out to Cornard Knitting Mills) and the builders Wakelin & Rampling had their premises at the side and back of the Kings Head. Mr Chaplin’s village store stood where the motorists shop is now, on the corner of Head Lane and Bures Road opposite Bakers Flour Mill. The village green had disappeared under the Enclosure Act of 1813 and a writer on Suffolk villages in 1931 pointed out that ‘A Common would certainly assist Great Cornard to preserve its rural aspect’.


The population of Great Cornard steadily increased and in the 1930’s a council estate was built at Prospect Hill. The 1939-45 war affected Cornard as 10 men died and are commemorated on the war memorial. After the war in 1946 the council estate at Cats Lane was built. In 1951 the population was 1,621 but no one then realised how most of the fields would disappear in the population explosion of the 1960’s, changing the geography of Great Cornard forever.


[From parish records and audiotapes of Mr C Warren (both at Great Cornard Library) and the Records of Suffolk Free Press.]


Compiled by Joan Herbert – Cornard News - 08 February 2004