Bill Ballard

Bill was a Brook man like his brother Alec. They lived in Brook all their lives. Bill was born in Downton Rickyard, up the Military Road. They lived with their mother, I don’t know what happened to their father, in a little old cottage in Downton Rickyard. It belonged to Mr Hookey but I don’t remember it or any sign of it when I worked there, so I suppose it was all knocked down and cleared away by then.

When Alec and Bill got to working age they moved down to Brook Green. I think their mother was still alive then and she moved down there with them. I remember one of them telling me that they bought this house and paid about £350 for it all in, garden, sheds and everything. That’s where they lived for the rest of their days.

Bill wasn’t a farm man when I knew him, he was a bricklayer and stonemason and very good he was at it too. I worked with him at J R Bucketts for a while and we got on well together. He was a little different in temperament to Alec; if there was anything wrong he’d soon tell you about it, Bill would! I think Bill used to do all the indoor work in the house - cooking, cleaning and all such things as that.  

Alec used to do the garden and maintained the outside of the house. It worked very well I think, for a good few years. I don’t think they had electricity in the place right up to the time they died, or a toilet either. Electricity came afterwards. I know at one time they drew up water from a well in the garden. I’m sure Bill kept it spick and span inside; he was pretty good at being tidy so I suppose that’s how he went on.

I suppose in those days they had their groceries delivered, I know Alec used to catch the bus to Newport on a Saturday afternoon but I can’t remember him ever carting any groceries back. Several grocers in Newport and Freshwater used to deliver to Brook; I expect they had their groceries from one of them. The grocery people used to come round for your order perhaps on a Monday and they’d deliver it half way through the week perhaps on Wednesday or Thursday.

I was told that Bill had a lady-friend on the north side of the New Forest. At the weekend he’d come home from work, have his tea I suppose, get washed and changed. He’d get on his bike and ride all up over Brook Shute, down through Broad Lane to Yarmouth, catch the boat over to Lymington then used to bike right up through the New Forest to visit this lady. Then Sunday in the middle of the afternoon, after spending a couple of days with her, he used to ride right the way down back to Lymington, catch the boat over, do it all in reverse and get home Sunday, late in the afternoon.

I think that both Bill and Alec both belonged to Brook lifeboat in their early days; but I don’t think they went to sea. I know that Alec used to bring a couple of horses down from the farm for towing the lifeboat out to sea and bringing it back up to the lifeboat house again.