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Living by a bomb dump

Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2007 3:45 pm
by Rob
My gt gt grandfather,George ( Fred / 'quark') Baker use to live down the lane opposite Prickets Hall and was very pally with the US personal guarding the 'bomb dump' there. He lived in a crofters caravan and for warmth in winter,would visit the guards in their hut and sit by their fire.

Posted: Sat Aug 04, 2007 7:10 am
by alan

Interested to hear that tale. I have spent the past 7+ years trying to document the history of the bomb-dumps around Bures/Colne and Pebmarsh.
Your guard post would have stood on land owned by Butlers Farm, I have spent many hours walking across fields picking up debris left behind by the USAAF.

If I am thinking of the correct lane, there are still two Nissen huts standing in pristine condition used by a local smallholder.

This may be of interest to you:-


Posted: Sat Aug 04, 2007 3:35 pm
by Rob
I was reading your article earlier......very interesting material indeed.
I did visit the site a few years back in connection with my family history research.

I'm sure we're discussing the same site....there's a bungalow down the lane now and my ancestor's caravan use to stand in what is now the bungalows back garden so the Nissen huts were pretty close.

Old George use to bike to Bures on his tricycle by road but use to use the footpath through Butlers farm when walking.It was Butlers Farm that owned the caravan.

Posted: Sat Aug 04, 2007 5:49 pm
by alan
Yes, the same place here are the huts, picture taken about one month ago


Posted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 12:30 pm
by Rob
Nice photo Alan. 8)

I didn't see the huts from that angle (in fact I didn't even note the second hut on the left). I was more captivated by standing on a piece of lawn by a hedge knowing that was the actual site where my gt gt grandfather had lived some 70 odd years before. :lol:

Posted: Wed Aug 15, 2007 5:51 pm
by alan
I will ask a few "old timers" in the village to see if your gggfather`s name is remembered.
I still have a contact with the family who lived in Butlers Farm during the war years. They were there approx 1930 - 1950.

Posted: Thu Aug 16, 2007 11:20 am
by Rob
alan wrote:Rob,
I will ask a few "old timers" in the village to see if your gggfather`s name is remembered.
I still have a contact with the family who lived in Butlers Farm during the war years. They were there approx 1930 - 1950.
thank you very much,thats very kind of you to take the trouble.

A few years ago I did have a 'help line' message published in the local (Colchester) free paper and several gentleman kindly contacted me with their memories of George Frederick Baker, who it appears was commonly known as either 'Fred', 'baker' or 'Quark Baker',becasue of the sound that crows made when they saw him coming with his gun. :lol:

Since then,a distant relative has said that he was also known as 'Quake',because the crows use to quake when they saw him coming.

He certainly was a character by all accounts. Family 'legend' has it that George was interviewed on the wireless and that he was interviewed for a national magazine like Picture Post or something similar. Neither of these stories have been proved unfortunately.

He us eto ride his tri-cycle to Bures Station where he use to catch the train to Sudbury. Whilst away,local children woyuld ride his trike up and down the hill.Well,down the hill anyway.

He was also known,so I have been told, to have stood in the middle of 'the knoll' on a good Friday, bolt upright with his arms stretched out to form the shape of a cross.

George Frederick Baker was born in 1859 in Stoke By Nayland,the youngest of 9 children. He married in 1881 and had five children ( I'm descended from his only daughter). His wife Naomi died in 1887,soon after the death of his baby son.His two elder sons stayed with him (both were killed in the Great War) whilst his daughter and youngest son were bought up by other families.

The Bakers had lived vatriously in Polstead,Shelley and for many years Assington. But in 1901 George remarried and with his new wife Rosetta (nee Gunn ) moved to Bures Hamlet. I think to a house in Water lane (?).

Sadly Rosetta died in February 1902,leaving George alone with his two sons Ezra and Alfred, and Rosetta's son,Bertie.

George spent 41 years in Bures Hamlet until his death in November 1944 so I guess alot of peeople would have known him locally.

For many years it would seem he lived in a crofters caravan, opposite Pricketts Hall farm and also (probably in earlier years) in a field by a crossroads on Colne Road,closer to Bures Hamlet.

Sorry,gone off topic here but thats a little mini-biog of George Baker, who had quite a rough life by all accounts.

Posted: Thu Aug 16, 2007 4:03 pm
by alan
A friend of mine in the same road here, remembers your gggrandfather very well.
It ties up with what you have already posted.

It appears he lived in a wooden hut (crofters caravan ?)which was on wheels, very much like a large garden shed. He is remembered by sitting in there with an armchair.
There were no sanitation or running water and it is thought he got the water from Pricketts Hall just around the corner – maybe the pond.
He used to go to Sudbury Market each Thursday riding into Bures on a 3 wheeler bike. The boys on leaving school used to ride around on this bike until Quark returned home on the bus/train at around 4 o`clock.
He then chased the boys trying to retrieve his transport to get himself home.
He didn’t appear to work at Butlers Farm or Pricketts Hall but was “self sufficientâ€

Posted: Thu Aug 16, 2007 4:54 pm
by Rob
thank you for your info and interest.

I have now dug out my notes which i'd made during telephone conversations with the kind folk who had responded to my advert.
As to be expected from recollections of some 60 years previous,there were a few contradictions but amongst the revelations were that:

George use to do bean picking,pea picking,rabbiting,ratting,poaching,rook shooting. He was always seen walking around with one of themany dogs that he kept. apart from the kids,every one else found his tricycle impossible to ride.

A few years ago,myself and George's grandaughter were invited to visit Mr Doe at Prickets hall who very kindly took us down to where George's hut use to stand. Mr Doe also told us that his mother would give George eggs or a rice pudding or fill his can with oil in return for a rabbit or two.
I got the impression that the Doe family kept a friendly eye on George even though he wasn't one of their employees.

George once went to the dentists and the dentist complained because George stunk of disinfectant which he used on his dogs.

As you write,George didn't work for Butler's farm either but Mr & Mrs Laurie must have been happy for George to live in their caravan/hut.

It seems that Norfolk Bill lived in a barn at Butler's farm until it burnt down. He then lived in a shed and then a caravan next to George Baker.

After George died,a poacher known as 'Old Major' lived in the hut/caravan.
Eventually it was towed away.

Any additional info would be gratefully received,about George of 'Norfolk Bill' or any of the other charactors connected with my gt gt grandfather.

In the meantime,i'll just drop you a line via your contact link as suggested.

Thanks again for your info. :)

Posted: Thu Aug 16, 2007 5:52 pm
by Rob
Just a little bit more info on how George passed away as it relates to the war and the US servicemen.

During the war,George use to viist the service men in their searchlight hut, where it use to get very hot, from either the searchliht itself or a fire to keep warm.
then at around midnight,he would return to the cold of his own hut and over time,the sudden variation between hot and cold began to effect his health and he started to develope chills and a bad cough.

He was suddenly missed for a couple of days and was found semi-conscious in his hut.A doctor was called and George was taken to St Michaels Hospital in Braintree where he died on November 5th,1944.

The address on his death certificate is given as 'The Hut', Colne Road,Bures.

Posted: Sat Aug 18, 2007 9:46 am
by Rob
I was looking at an old (1921/22) map this morning and was surprised to see that Pricketts Hall farm was once called Upper Jennys which no doubt was the name that George would have known it by.

Is it known when the change of name occured?

Quark Baker

Posted: Sat Aug 18, 2007 9:03 pm
by Peter

I sometimes help Alan with information to use on the web site. I have a photo of Quark on his tricycle which dates from about 1938., Alan now has a copy.
One of my hobbies is old photos connected with Bures. I don't know how to attach a photo to this message.


Posted: Sun Aug 19, 2007 6:42 am
by alan

One of the pictures supplied by Peter.


Posted: Sun Aug 19, 2007 9:58 am
by Rob
Thank you Peter for supply the photo of my gt gt grandftaher and to Alan for posting it up. :)

What a wonderful photo.
I have only ever seen previously one photo of Quark Baker and that was a poorly scanned profile shot from the same 'session' that produced the 'George with gun' shot,which Alan has sent me privately.

But this certainly is the first time that I've ever seen the 'infamous' tri-cycle and more clearly how quark was dressed.

Previous descriptions of Quark wearing corderoy trousers (tied with string at the bottom of the legs).a round felt had,a poachers coat and a red hankerchief seem pretty accurate.

Thanks again for sharing the photo.

Posted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 5:51 pm
by alan
This material has now been incorporated into this URL