|It was interesting to read that hay to feed the horses at the Equestrian events at the Olympic Games was supplied
by Old Hall Farm.
In the mid eighteenth century Old Hall used to be one of the busiest places in Tollesbury. The inn there was called the
"Crooked Billet" and was kept by a man named Chaney. There was a windmill, two brick kilns and one like kiln, a granary,
a coal yard, two wharves and a boat building yard. We know that in the last century brigs used to come down from the North
with coal. My great-grandfather, father and uncle carried on the tradition of piloting these vessels up to Old Hall and
"Woodup", some of the vessels drawing as much as nine feet of water.
Ship Ahoy before 1910
The inn in those days had been re-named the "Ship Ahoy" and was kept by a Mrs Cole. The names of some of those vessels,
THE LEO, THE LITTLE LEO and the THOMAS STRATON were from the north. The Geordies used to be great ones for singing and
dancing and it can be imagined that the Blaydon Races and the keel Row, would be among their favourites. It was said
there was as much beer on the floor as there was on the table.
As well as the coal vessels there used to be barges coming up with London manure and going back with stacks of hay and straw.
This was to meet the need of the horses drawing the London omnibuses, as well as for the police and army horses and those
belonging to the cartage firms. The barges also came up with stone for road making, and going back with corn.
In the later days, when the brigs ceased coming, barges went north for coal and sometimes bricks. This also went
on at Woodup.
I remember my father brought a barge up to Woodrope. The merchant wanted it laid up and down the Hard so he could load
two carts at the same time. My father refused, but the merchant said he would take responsibility.
He said "Right that's your affair now". During the night he came up saying "John, John, I shall have to get you to go and
move that old barge or she will break her back. I'll pay you alright". Father said "I've been bringing barges up here
ever since I started work and you wouldn't listen." He went down Woodup and placed her in the correct position.
Sailing barge MARY & KATE on Woodrope Hard, before 1922
She was owned by the Frost family
The coming of the railway and motor transport killed all this and I don't suppose we shall ever see a barge trading at
Old Hall or Woodup again. Had they still been trading the hay would no doubt be going over the the continent on a
Stackie barge. Quite a lot of these fine old sailing vessels were loast at Dunkirk, but a lot are still being converted
"Woodup" is also known as "Woodrope" or "Woodrolfe".
Recollections from Fred Garrod 1.
April 2021 typewritten copy sent by Kevin Bruce. Typed for web and photographs added.
Photographs from Cedric Gurton.