Pump Hill Cottage is plot number 37 on the village “1957 sale” map, shown under the History tab in the village website. It is a semi-detached cottage, which according to a 1948 rural survey (attached) had been first leased in 1880 under the Lord Heneage estate. It is therefore assumed that the cottage was built in 1880 for lease to the many workers attached to the Heneage estate.
THE COTTAGE ANCESTORS
The 1948 survey showed the house to be occupied by 2 people. These were my grandparents Sarah Ann and William F Bett (Fred). Fred Bett was thought to have been born in 1877 at The Vicarage in Hainton, which according to the 1881Census, was occupied by his widowed father John W Bett and his grandparents, John and Susanna Bett. It is thought that Pump Hill Cottage was leased at about this time, by part of this extended Bett family, including Fred. These are the origins of a house to which my mother became a part, and where my brother and I spent so many happy times during the early war years and during our holidays.
My mother’s parents were Sarah Ann Shepherd (born 1885) and William Henry Traves, a Binbrook farmer’s son, born in 1882. They married in 1909 and lived in Beelsby. Sarah Ann Traves had 2 daughters by this marriage. Nellie May Traves was born in 1910 and my mother, Ivy Olive Traves, was born on October 20th 1914. My mother did not have many memories of her father William, as he died of stomach cancer when she was young.
It is thought that Sarah Ann met and married Fred Bett after the death of her husband William about 1923, and the family moved into Pump Hill Cottage. The 2 bedroom cottages built for farm workers were unsuitable for raising large families. Ideally they suited a couple which had a son that could also work on the estate. Female offspring were able to help in house domestic duties and to some extent in the busy crop harvest periods, but on the whole they would hope to marry into a larger local family and raise a family for themselves. It was also common practice for girls who had reached school leaving age to go “into service” as a domestic help with a wealthy family. In the larger industrial towns and cities, the increasing success of the Industrial Revolution resulted in a flush of wealthy families that were able to promote the further education or better career opportunities of their children, allowing them to stay longer in what were their larger homes. The life of the poorer working class was, however, not easy, especially for those living in countryside villages that offered few opportunities for paid work.
Fred Bett had been illiterate all his life, unable to read or write, but was fortunate that his new wife could both read and write to a reasonable level. Apart from working at busy times on local farms, Fred ran a small carrier’s business with a horse and cart, always on hand when heavy goods were needed to be moved any local distance. His horse (named Peter) was stabled in one of the three outhouses attached to the outbuildings of the house that extended from the washhouse. The cottage also had a large open wooden barn that would have been used for the cart and any goods awaiting delivery.
Sarah Bett also contributed to their search for income by travelling to Louth each week to buy a variety of sweets wrapped up in 2 ounce bags, together with a range of small household necessities such as shoe laces and polish, dusters, soaps and metal polish. She would then travel on foot around the local communities and farms with a large wicker basket of her trading goods and sold them on for a small profit.
The birth of their daughter Freda Bett in 1924 would have put a further strain on the accommodation in the small cottage as well as another mouth to feed. However, within a year or so, the elder daughter (Nellie) left home at the age of 15 to take up a domestic service position with a family living in a large house in Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire.
From about 1926 onwards, my mother, Ivy Traves, would have taken on some of the duties of caring for Freda while Fred and Sarah sought ways of earning additional income. The Sunday School attendance prize of a small bible awarded to my mother in 1929 (copy of certificate shown below), shows that at the age of 15 she was still in school and caring for her 5 year old step-sister Freda in South Willingham.
At some time in the 1930’s my mother left South Willingham to join her sister Nellie in the same domestic service position at the large house in Ashton-under-Lyne. It was here that she met my father, Christopher Lawler. They returned in 1936 to get married in St Martin’s church in South Willingham. Thus began the lives of my brother and myself in the history of South Willingham. My brother John was born in 1939 whilst I was born in 1941during the period when my father was fighting Rommel in North Africa, and later when he was posted to Italy to help in the defeat of Mussolini.
In the mid 1940’s Freda married Henry Jobson, a local builder, at St Martin’s Church and moved into a semi detached cottage just beyond the village shop. Their son David Jobson was born in the early 1960’s. After the death of Sarah Ann Bett, Fred Bett was joined by his daughter Freda and her family at Pump Hill Cottage, which they had purchased in the 1957 village sale. David had a lifelong ambition to become a train driver. He achieved this after travelling every day to Lincoln for training. He then met his wife Carole and moved to a house in Cherry Willingham where they had a son Simon. Shortly after retiring in 2010 David passed away suddenly and sadly his mother Freda also passed away in 2011. Prior to her death Freda had re-married after the death of Henry, her husband, and moved to Winterton near Scunthorpe. She sold Pump Hill Cottage to Paul Fuller who is involved in the management of the South Willingham website.