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Thatch End - 54 Mill Lane Greenfield

Thatch End - 54 Mill Lane February 2011
Thatch End - 54 Mill Lane February 2011

Thatch End is a pretty, thatched cottage standing gable end on to the road in Mill Lane. It was listed by the former Department of Environment in July 1975 as Grade II, of special interest. The department dated the property to the 18th century. It is of timber-framed construction, half of it colourwashed rendered and half with weather-boarding. It comprises a single storey with attics.

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. The valuer visiting the property found it was then divided into two tiny dwellings [DV1/C269/74-75]. It was owned by Mrs. Osborn.

The building was split north-west to south-east. The south-east part was occupied by W. Whiffin who paid rent of £1/6/9 per annum for a living room and small kitchen with two bedrooms in the attics. Before the Great War the rent had been £1/2/6 per annum. The other half of the property was identical and was occupied by J. Taylor for the same rent.

William Whiffin in 1932
William Whiffin in 1932

The Bedfordshire Times of 12th February 1932 had a piece in which a number of old people in Greenfield were interviewed. One of them was William Whiffin: "In a quaint old thatched cottage our reporter interviewed Mr. William Charles Whiffin, who was 74 last birthday and is still "going strong". he is a native of Ward Hedges and excepting for a short time in Flitton has lived in the village all his life. He is a descendant of a family of market gardeners and has followed their occupation, having thus spent most of his time in the fields. After attending Pulloxhill School he went he went to Ampthill and then started work udner hus father. Until his retirement a few years ago he carried on the business. Mr. Whiffin is convinced that people have  amuch better time today  than they did when he was young. He pointed out that they enjoy better living, better educational facilities and certainly have more time for amusements and recreation. In his young days, he said, men were considered fortunate if they earned ten shillings a week to keep a family on. Nobody with any sense would care to go back to the old standard of living".
 
"Referring to market gardening, Mr. Whiffin said that as with everything else, machinery had been introduced into cultivation and consequently fewer men were employed on the land. When a boy he used to go with his father to Luton to take the produce in by horse and cart; now a motor lorry would take as much in one journey as they would in five. Few changes have taken place in the district, he said, but there is now practically no harvest. Corn growing in the neighbourhood has disappeared. He was one of the first to cultivate  strawberries in Greenfield and did an extensive trade with them until recent years, when for some reason - attributed to a peculiarity of the soil - the crops failed".
 
"Mr. Whiffin has been caretaker of Greenfield School since it was built in 1863 sic - 1869 - even then he would only have been 11!] by Lady Cowper, of Wrest Park, and  for sixty years has risen at half-past five in the morning. He goes to bed early, however, and this, he says, keeps him fit. He deplored the fact that young people today would not go on the land to work , and remarked that it was a rarity to see a boy  picking stones or "twitching"as they used to. He has been married for 33 years; his wife is still living and assists to look after the schools".
 
"Mr. Whiffin believes in leading a quiet life, and, free from any worry, looks forward to many more years of well-earned retirement". Flitton parish registers reveal that William Charles Whiffin was buried on 27th January 1940, aged 82.