Edward Thrower Taylor (1860 - 1930)

Edward Thrower Taylor and his Wife Ann taken in 1885Edward’s Father, John Taylor was a Farm Bailiff of Besthorpe & Attleborough in Norfolk. The family has a statement written by John Edgar Taylor who was one of Edward’s sons. In this he recalls some of the earlier Taylor family.

Edward’s Sister Lucy married Robert Thaxton who lived at Home Farm, Wroxham with Thomas Townsend Taylor and succeeded Thomas as Bailiff, on the Trafford’s Wroxham estate on his death in 1901. Lucy continued the family custom of making home-brewed beer evidenced by a bill of 1866 from Besthorpe Mills. Her beer was delicious. That my Great Grandfather, John Taylor was not always a farm bailiff appears from my Father’s statement that he was the owner of numerous horses and waggons and had a contract with what was then the Norfolk & Suffolk Railway to move quantities of soil and ballast to lay the track from Thetford to Norwich. He failed in this business when the track reached marshy land. Perhaps he couldn’t read either?

Edward Thrower Taylor received his education at a private school in Attleborough, Norfolk at a cost of 4d a week. My recollection of Thomas was that he was a testy little man.’ In 1874 when Edward was 14 years old he was apprenticed to a George Ripon a Wheelwright of Caleton Rode. This was quite close to his home at Besthorpe but I presume he lived with his Master?

The Taylor family still has his legal Indenture and the text is as follows:-

Unto the full term of four years from thence next following to be fully complete and ended. During which term the said apprentice his Master faithfully shall serve his secrets, keep his lawful commands everywhere gladly do. He shall do no damage to his said Master nor see to be done of others but to his Power shall tell or forthwith give warning to his said Master. Of the same shall not waste the Goods of his said Master, nor lend them unlawfully to one shall not commit fornication nor contract Matrimony within the said term shall not play at Cards or Dice Tables or any other unlawful Games whereby his said Master may have any loss with his own goods or others during the said Term without licence of his said Master shall neither buy nor sell. He shall not haunt Taverns or Playhouses nor absent himself from his said Master’s service day or night unlawfully. But in all things as a faithful Apprentice he shall behave himself towards the said Master and all his during the said Term. And the said George Pie herewith do agree to give his said Apprentice .... to teach his Apprentice in the Art of Wheelwrighting which he useth by the best means that he can shall teach and instruct or cause to be taught and instructed. Finding unto the said Apprentice sufficient Meal, Drink, Lodging and all during the said Term.

Edward’s Father John agrees to pay George Ripon the sum of ?10.0.0.

After his apprenticeship he was employed by J Youngs, a builder in Norwich. During this employment he worked on the Norwich Agricultural Hall and the photograph below shows Edward with his colleagues from J Youngs and J W Lacey, taken in 1883. (Edward is sitting far left)

During this employment he worked on the Norwich Agricultural Hall and the photograph shows Edward with his colleagues from J Youngs and J W Lacey, taken in 1883.?(Edward is sitting far left)

He married Ann Mary (Randall) and their first son Herbert was born in Old Catton, Norwich in 1885. Five years later in 1890, Edward, his wife Ann and their two sons and a daughter moved to Cringleford where he took over the business of Robert Woodrow who was a Wheelwright and Carpenter. They lived in the small cottage at the foot of the Church steps, backing onto the Churchyard wall. Immediately behind the cottage was the Blacksmith’s shop. The cottage was later to become the firm’s general office.

Edward and Ann had three more daughters and three more sons but Herbert Edward, the eldest son, who was shown as a carpenter aged 16 years in the 1901 Census, was to join his father in the business. Next eldest was Arthur Randall, aged 14 (a bricklayer). Grace, Hilda, Thomas, Alice, John, Reginald and Norah were too young to work, but they all fitted into the cottage somehow, even allowing space for a general domestic servant, Agnes Noble, aged 15.

The Cottage was the family home to Edward and Ann and their 9 children, helped by their live-in domestic servant, Agnes Noble, aged 15.?The cottage was to become the firm's office.

The Cottage was the family home to Edward and Ann and their 9 children, helped by their live-in domestic servant, Agnes Noble, aged 15. The cottage was to become the firm’s office. (photograph above)

1905 Picture shows a line of Tumbrels made by Edward Thrower Taylor on the main road at Cringleford (Church in background and Edward's house in centre) Mr Girdlestone (Foreman), followed by Herbert then Edward Taylor

1905 Picture above shows a line of Tumbrels made by Edward Thrower Taylor on the main road at Cringleford (Church in background and Edward’s house in centre) Mr Girdlestone (Foreman), followed by Herbert then Edward Taylor.

workmen of Edward Taylor during early 1890's

The photograph above shows the workmen of Edward Taylor during early 1890’s

In the early years before the First World War, the firm carried out building work and some houses on Intwood Road were built for the occupation of employees, but the main activities at this time were the repair and production of farm tumbrels and blacksmithing. There is an Account Book dated 1894 to 1896 which describes the very wide list of jobs they undertook. Taylor’s were also carpenters, glaziers, painters and decorators and provided general workmen for all manner of odd jobs.

The picture above shows Taylor's Yard just after the first World War.?The new buildings for the Coachworks are centre right hand side

The picture above shows Taylor’s Yard just after the first World War. The new buildings for the Coachworks are centre right hand side.

Blacksmithing clearly was a category of work and this meant shoeing horses, donkeys and ponies and making and repairing tools, fixtures and fittings and household utensils. The range was amazing! Picks, mattocks and forks were repaired and new ones supplied; saws, scythes and knives were sharpened; teapots, coffee pots and fish kettles were mended; the cricket club was provided with 20 ‘Telegraph Tins’ and a box to keep them in; nails were supplied and every form of vehicle was repaired.

The village was alive with farm and domestic transport: There were turnip carts, cabbage carts, water carts and muck carts, not to mention dog carts, pony carts, mail carts and milk carts. There were wagons and tumbrels, waggonettes and sledges, most being drawn by horses, and in addition the occasional traction engine. It seems unlikely that anyone in the area owned a motor car at this early date though Mr HR Candler of Keswick Mill had a brass stop fitted to his ‘car shaft’. However, this could well have been his donkey car, which he certainly owned, as it had its tyres tightened a few months later! In addition, the record shows that Miss Massey had a brass cap fitted to her car wheel and the car was oiled in August 1894.

More appropriate domestic transport than the donkey car was available for the well-to-do: Broughams were owned by J Wilson Gilbert, Esq., Revd. Barlee, HS Patteson, Esq., (who also owned a Victoria) and Mr W Coby (who also owned a Landau). J Snelling had a Victoria and Mr Cross, a Phaeton.

Carpentry ranged from making and erecting fencing, new sheds, boathouses and greenhouses, to supplying and fitting new shelves for Mrs Heath’s nursery, trestles for Mrs Dyball’s ironing board and mending of Rev. Barlee’s chess board. The types of wood used included oak, ash, elm, larch, poplar, walnut, apple, pitch pine, Canadian white wood and mahogany. Taylors bought in mahogany and teak, but imported soft wood from Canada, Sweden and Russia, which arrived in Yarmouth in the summer and was transported by rail to Victoria Station in Norwich. Timber was also imported from Poland.

Nicholas Taylor has a hand painted map of Poland, a gift to the firm from the Polish State Forests at Xmas 1938. Much local timber was felled and hauled to the yard, in the early days by their own steam engine, to be sawn up, at first by hand and later by steam and then gas and finally electric power.

The firm supplied and fitted out coffins and occasionally was required to convey these to other villages. For example, in July 1894 Mr Keable had an oak-panelled coffin, lined and with brass furniture taken to Metfield and in April 1895 an elm coffin, lined and with plate and shroud was provided to Mr Robert Denmark and taken to Thorpe. Associated work included ‘Doing up Tomb and Painting Iron Work in Hethersett Churchyard for Mr Candler’

Painting and decorating jobs were common and included both indoor and outdoor tasks. Rev. Barlee paid 6d for paperhanging and Mr Harmer 8s 0d for tarvarnishing iron fencing at Mr Reynolds’ farm. An estimate of ?19 was submitted to Mr WJ Livock Esq. for repairs, colouring and painting Eaton Post Office and cottage. Windows were replaced everywhere, including rather a large number at Cringleford School!

And then of course there were the ‘odd jobs’ of every imaginable sort! Here are examples:


April 20th - Mrs Sent Elm coffin for child lined and plate put on - ?0. 9s.0d

April 26th - Mr A Cannell. Milk Cart repair. Pair of second hand wheels put on with new 5/8 tires - ?2. 0s.0d

New mail axle put on cart - ?1. 2s.6d

Cart tightened up, 10 new bolts, 4 shackles to springs - ?0. 3s.6d

Cart painted lined and varnished - ?0.18s.0d

June 25th - Rev Copeman New Lawn Tennis pole and painted - ?0. 1s.3d

August 9th - F W Harmer Esq New Turnip Harrow - ?1.10s.0d

Sept 12th - R Coller & Son New Trolly for Wymondham Yard - ?28.0s.0d

Mr Caley of Eaton New Basket work for Donkey Cart - ?10.0s.0d


Jan 8th - Mrs Maces coffin oak, lined and plate put on and 2 sheets wadden - ?3.0s.0d

Funeral etc. - ?0.9s.0d

May 20th - Eaton Brewery New hardwood frame to bottle filler - ?0.2s.6d

Jan 25th Mr A E Hannent New Tumbril fitted with trapping iron and New frame complete - ?14.0s.0d

July 12th 1897- Rev Barlee Retrimming Bougham with best Blue cloth etc. - ?7.5s.0d

Oct 17 1894 - J Wilson Gilbert Mans Time Threashing Oats 7 hrs - ?0. 3s.0d ??????????????

The two Public Houses in Eaton were frequent customers, ‘The Lamb’ and ‘The Lion’ (or ‘The Loin’ as written in Norfolk dialect)! As were Eaton and Cringleford Schools, Cringleford Church, Henstead Rural District Council and Norfolk County Council, who also rented ‘the shop’ one evening each week, although it is not obvious for what purpose.

Most jobs cost only a few shillings and pence. A horse could be shoed for 2s 4d; a new spade cost 2s; a hand saw could be sharpened for 4d. However J Wilson Gilbert’s new boathouse cost ?26 in June 1894 and a new water wheel cost Mr Horner ?7 7s 0d in September 1895.

Taylors charged about 1s a day for a boy’s time and 6d per hour for a man. We have no record of the amount paid out in wages. The firm’s annual turnover was probably under ?1,000 per annum. The bills sent out at Christmas 1894 amounted to ?385 14s 3d but at Christmas 1895, ?787 0s 10d.

By 1916 the business had become Edward Thrower Taylor & Son and later in that year Edward Thrower retired from the business. He took up farming at Hall Farm in Bedingham (near Bungay). The farm was owned by Colonel Unthank of Intwood Hall who was a customer of the business. It is unclear why Edward moved so far away but my Brother and I recall our Father Peter Taylor speaking very fondly of Edward and he enjoyed the time he stayed with his Grandfather. Peter was not always so complementary about his own father Herbert and there may have been some tension between Herbert and Edward when Herbert took control of the business.

Edward was not alone at Bedingham and many of his sisters and a brother moved out to live at the farm. Was this Herbert ensuring he had total control of the business with little interference.

It is very likely as although Herbert was much admired by many of his contemporaries he was feared by his family. As a young boy Peter recalls that one of his Uncles who also lived at the farm was rather lazy and would start up the tractor just out of sight of Edward and then ride off to Bungay to the King’s Head Hotel to drink! As Edward could hear the tractor he assumed work was being done. Peter also recalled taking a bull to Norwich Market in a bullock cart.

Taylor made Bullock Cart exhibited at Gressenhall Museum

The picture above shows a Taylor made Bullock Cart exhibited at Gressenhall Museum

They left very early as it is some 13 miles. They had a slap-up lunch in a pub next to the cattle market (is now Anglia TV and The Mall) and rode back to Bedingham in the bullock cart. Unfortunately Edward also enjoyed a drink or two and would frequently take the horse and tumbrel to the King’s Head. After closing time the landlord would carry the old gentleman into the back of the tumbrel and the horse would plod home. I guess it wasn’t the most productive farm in Norfolk.

Sometime in the late 20’s Edward and Ann moved to Blofield. He died in 1930 and is buried at Blofield Church.

Edward's son Tom was apprenticed as a tinsmith and blacksmith and emigrated to Canada in 1912 with his brother Arthur. Arthur returned to England and enlisted in Princess Patricia's Light Infantry and finished the was as a 2nd Lieutenant. Tom married Bessie in 1916 (I believe). Bessie was an American girl who travelled up to Manitoba with other girls to find a husband and a new life in the Canadian Prairies. It was at the time when virgin land was available to new settlers and Tom and Bessie took advantage of this. They set up a wood yard, general store and bacon factory in Roblin. Tom later became Mayor. They had no children and Tom dies of Parkinson's Disease in the 1960's. Bessie died much later aged 106. Nicholas Taylor visited Bessie in the early 70's and remembers her as a charming but tough old lady (I guess they had to be).

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