Carpenters

 

There was always work for carpenters in Brook and the surrounding villages.  In 1841 there were three carpenters, Benjamin Groves, 54, his son Barnaby, 28, and a William Leigh, 45. In 1851 the carpenters were Walter Jacobs, Barnabus Groves and a young William Newbery, aged 21.

In 1861 something big was happening in Brook; there was an influx of carpenters and they were lodging in various houses in the village: James Rendell, George Childs, George Simmonds, William Hale and William Smith came from Kent, Bristol, Hastings, Lincolnshire and Middlesex and worked alongside William Newbery, now aged 31. The Seelys had recently bought Brooke Estate and extensive carpentry work must have been needed both in the House and in the outbuildings.

In 1871 we see that William Newbery, now 41, has five local men and three apprentices in his employ, two of them being his own sons William, 18, and Henry, 16, with William Cook aged 20.

By 1891 things had changed again and the carpenters must have needed to seek work further afield as we see John and James Newbery are now listed as ‘carpenter journeymen.’

In 1901, Henry Newbery is listed as a Master Carpenter, aged 46, alongside brothers John and James Newbery, now in their 40s. John’s 16 year old son William, and Frederick Newbery, a nephew, were apprentices.

The three Newbery brothers traded as carpenters, joiners and wheelwrights and were appointed as carpenters to the Seely Estate making, typically, farm gates, posts, fencing and farm carts and wheels. The brothers were also responsible for looking after the many private and Estate houses, making and mending doors and window frames and also making furniture for the Seely family at Brook and Mottistone.

1911 was another boom year for carpenters in Brook. The census lists eight carpenters and joiners: John Hookey, Walter Hookey, Ernest Tribbick, Robert Hayter, Frederick Hayter, Charles Newbery, James Newbery and William Newbery. This demand for work was probably driven by the construction of the monumental Brook Hill House for Sir Charles Seely up above the Church.

As well as general carpentry, the Newbery brothers made coffins and organised funerals. Mr H Newbery, for example, made the arrangements for Ben Jacob’s funeral in 1929. When John Newbery died, the business was taken over by Jim’s son William (Walter) Newbery (1884 – 1971), who lived with his wife Daisy and daughter Joan in Meadow Cottage on the corner of Coastguard Lane. As a young man, Walter had worked for builders in Freshwater, Yarmouth and Lymington, and would ride his bike to and from wherever the work was each day. Under Walter, the business thrived and he was helped by William (Bill) Newbery and by Bill Humber from Mottistone. Carol Worrall (Barnes) remembers as a small girl the strong smell of fresh sawdust as you walked up the lane past the Newbery brothers’ carpenter’s shed and sawpit.

Walter Newbery  is still remembered today by many people, and especially his grandson Robin Shepheard:

My grandfather, Walter Newbery, was the Seely Estate carpenter and had his workshop at the top of Carpenter’s Lane. My grandfather was always on call for Lord Sherwood and his partner Mrs Ranger and would regularly be making and repairing furniture, especially I recall, sash windows. These were quite elaborate with weights, but if made correctly were very efficient. One project I remember he was called upon to make was four large four-seater oak seats with all the correct joints (mortise and tennon etc. ‘NO nails’).  These had to be placed at various sites around the Estate, located at an easy walk from the house.  One was quite close, at the end of Bush Rew, one at Brook Church and another at the end of a long avenue of trees which ran from the road going into Brook towards Hulverstone. The most difficult site of all was the one on top of Five Barrows... it took most of the day to get there, walking and carrying the seat up Brook Shute, resting on the seat all the way.  I think Bill Humber helped us. It must be remembered that in those days all joinery work was completed by hand with hand-made planes and shaping tools, although saws and jigsaws were available. The workshop was a great place for me with the smell of timber being worked on and the smell of various wood glues was very strong –no need to sniff anything in those days!  Most of the implements such as planes, awls, etc. were home made. If anything needed mending in the village there was something in the carpenters’ shop to fix it, finding it was a little harder! I can remember using many of the tools in the shop in the years between 1947 and 1957. Although everything seemed to be in a mess with planed and un-planed wood everywhere, boxes of nails, screws, catches and just about everything one would require. Travellers would come from suppliers, typically Hursts and Plumbleys, with just about everything the business needed.  Moreys would supply all the timber. Walter Newbery died in 1971 and the business ceased as no one was willing to carry it on and by then other larger builders were well established in the area.