Sibford Scene Archive

Sibford Scene 434 June 2021

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A vase filled with purple flowers

Suneday Smallholding - Dawn Chorus

On the third attempt (due to the awful weather), ten villagers met up with Iain Brown at 0430 for the Dawn Chorus walk. It was a lovely morning, starting with very little wind and mainly clear skies. Robins and Blackbirds sang as people arrived, but just prior to this, at about 0420 Wendy Wealsby heard the male cuckoo calling. I missed it as I had popped back inside to use the loo! Luckily we all had another opportunity to hear it as one called again at around 0600. Examples of other birds heard were the all year round residents; Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, and Dunnock. The Wren stood out not only because, for one of our smallest birds it has the loudest and arguably most striking song, but the fact that there was one singing at every point on our walk. Song Thrushes were also notable for their abundance and in fact were heard more during the morning than blackbirds, probably due to the latter which, being early nesters, were busy feeding their young. Iain picked out the song of a Mistle Thrush singing somewhere near Gibraltar Quarry and Goldcrests were heard at Temple Mill singing their very high pitched ‘jangling keys’ song above the din of the rookery. Warblers, which, along with the cuckoo, have migrated here to breed, included Blackcaps, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs. A Raven, Red Kite and a Herring Gull featured as the largest of the morning’s birds. My thanks to Iain for leading the walk and, for anyone still not sure of the Wren’s song, please pop back for another listen.

Sibford Primary School head starts biscuit business

Joseph Huntley was born in 1775. His father, Thomas Huntley, was a Quaker school master in Burford and Joseph followed his father into teaching and was appointed Headteacher at Sibford Gower Endowed School. However, Joseph who had lived in Sibford Ferris with his wife Mary, left Sibford Primary School in 1811 and moved to Reading with his young family. He opened his own private school which was not very successful due to Joseph’s inability to manage his financial affairs very well. In 1817 he sent his eldest son, Thomas to be apprenticed to a grocer and to learn the baking trade from an uncle. In 1822, Joseph opened a baker’s shop on London Road, Reading, and he and the newly qualified Thomas ran the shop. The bakery, at 72 London Road, was opposite The Crown Inn, a posting inn for those travelling from London via Bristol to the South West.

A horse drawn carriage in front of a buildingThe food at the inn was poor and expensive so, in addition to local trade, Thomas successfully sold biscuits and baked goods to travellers making the stop in Reading. Thomas soon sent a boy carrying a basket of wares to meet each arriving horse drawn coach. Once passengers reached their destinations, they often asked their own local grocers to order and stock Huntley’s goods so they soon enjoyed a thriving and growing market.

Thomas had a younger brother, Joseph who, following an apprenticeship with a Quaker ironmonger and tin plate worker in Reading, set up a separate business manufacturing tins near to the bakery. To keep the biscuits fresh and whole for delivery across the South East, Joseph was able to supply the tins keeping business in the family.

A vintage photo of a manIn 1829 Thomas, became a partner in the business and he and his father traded as Huntley and Son until Joseph Senior retired in 1838. In 1841 Thomas, who was very conscientious but lacked the drive to run a successful business joined with a fellow Quaker, and cousin by marriage, George Palmer, to form the successful biscuit company Huntley and Palmer.

To be continued … Maureen Hicks

Above, you may see one or two items of historical interest from this edition. To see the whole edition, click on the front-page image to download it as a pdf.