Eileen Neal recently left the village to be closer to relatives, having lived in Barrow most of her life. She has some interesting memories of the village and its community and one of them is recalled here. Eileen was one of the first members of the Barrow Good Neighbour Scheme.
During the early days of Barrow Voice, before we had proper printing and lovely coloured photos it was just an A5 publication on 8 sides with an interesting article or two plus details of community education and swimming pool times. One of the articles was about Eileen’s father, Bernard Neal, written by Jan Hind. It’s such an interesting piece, written so long ago we thought you might enjoy reading a little history about a man born over 100 years ago.
Bernard Neal – Old Barrovian, written in 1977
Bernard Neal has been a “Barrow Boy” since the late nineteenth century. Now 86 years of age but looking much younger, he remembers vividly changes which have come about since he was a boy..
As a youth he enjoyed spending his spare time at the lime kilns watching the horses pull the wagons of limestone which had been dug out of the delf nearby, to the base of the slope. Here the stone was hauled up by cable and poured down into the kilns. This took place in Brook Lane on the site now occupied by North’s Grocers (now Ina’s Kitchen). The stone came from the Famous Blue Lias beds which produced a high quality limestone.
It was very handy for the local gardeners, having the lime processed in the village as they were never short of a sack or two for their potato crop. Every year the lime sacks were loaned out, the potatoes dug out of the allotments and carried home – the sacks were always returned.
Bernard Neal clearly remembers the distinctive smell of burning lime which hung in a visible cloud all over the village. It was supposed to be very healthy and people came from all around to breathe the lime fumes. “There wasn’t much chestiness around then” says Bernard.
When war was declared in 1914 Bernard Neal served his country in France, Belgium and Italy. During this time not a month went by without a parcel sent by his young lady. At the end of the war it was time to pick up the threads and start again.
Bernard Neal remembers the Service of Thanksgiving which was held outside the church for all those who came back. The Reverend Stone stood on the grass above the wall and faced the congregation before him in the street. During the service he read the list of those who had not come back – amongst them his own son. Of Bernard Neal’s original Company of 250 only 36 returned.
Then it was “back to work” and Mr Neal began his long career at Ellis’s as a joiner and pattern maker, progressing to being responsible from drawing board to delivery of all manufactured units. Ellis cement was particularly good since it was known for setting under water and much of the raw material came from right there on the site. He remembers being amazed when he first walked down the slope into the underground workings which stretched right through to Seagrave. It was a most impressive place. One of his well-remembered projects was the pattern which produced the impressive fluted pillars outside St Mary’s Catholic Church in Loughborough. He is very proud of these and they stand as a fine testament to local workmanship.
If anyone deserves to be called an “Old Barrovian” surely Bernard Neal does. He and his wife enjoy their gardening and remain very active and busy. Long may they continue to do so.
This piece was written by Jan Hind and has been copied “verbatim” from the original article.
Eileen, was one of the first members of Barrow Good Neighbour Scheme (BGNS). The team of local volunteers helped her with shopping and a friendly face or voice at the end of the phone for a chat.
New volunteers and members interested in the BGNS are very welcome. See the Facebook Page or ring 0777 162 5591