REUBEN LITCHFIELD REMEMBERS (died 1982)
Reuben Litchfield was born 86 years ago in “The Carriers Cart” (now 67 High Street) which was then one of the six public houses in the village. The others were “The William IV” (now 93 High Street), “The Prince Regent”, “The Chequers”, “The Three Horse Shoes” (the site now occupied by 16 Church Street) and “The Plough”. “The Carriers Cart” was a beer house run by Reuben’s grandmother and then his mother. Its name perhaps derives from the other business carried on by Reuben’s family; that of delivering parcels by horse and cart from Cambridge to Shelford. The department stores of that day, including Robert Sayle’s and Eaden Lilley’s, took their goods to “The True Blue”, an old hotel in Hobson Street, Cambridge, whose stables went through to Sidney Street (now the site of Marks and Spencers). The carrier’s cart collected the parcels from “The True Blue” and, for a few pence, delivered them to Trumpington, Great Shelford and Little Shelford.
In 1909 Reuben’s father rented White’s Farm and the 70 acres behind it which then extended to behind what is now the Old Enclosure in Newton Road. It was a mixed dairy and arable farm and had farm workers’ cottages standing on the land between the house and what is now 30 High Street.
When “The Carriers Cart” ceased to be a beer house, Reuben’s family continued to sell coal and groceries from it. There were then other shops in the village, 6 Church Street was a grocers and post office. There were three cottages on the corner of Church Street and High Street, one of which became the post office. The blacksmith’s shop was next to Forge Cottage, on the corner of Garden Fields and Hauxton Road, and in the one nearest the road lived Old Josh, a retired farm worker. One day Reuben saw smoke pouring out of the upper window and climbed in to rescue Josh who, in bed reading his Bible by candlelight, had set fire to the clothes.
That was just one of the many dramas in Reuben’s life. Two others were narrow escapes indeed:- coming home from Great Shelford school, he hitched a ride on the back of a horse-drawn cultivator. Between the two water bridges he fell into the tines. He spent many weeks lying on the couch (which is still in the sitting room of White’s Farm) tended back to help by Dr Magoris, father of Miss Margo Magoris. In a later incident Reuben and a companion were driving the cart with flour collected from King’s Mill Lane. A cover kept off the rain and at the Church Street/High Street corner this blew over their faces so that they lost control of the cart which turned over, trapping them underneath. The pony continued home with the shafts and the occupants of the “Prince Regent” rushed out to lift the cart from the two unfortunates!
The two white houses of the corner of Newton Road and Hauxton Road were then one, owned by Arthur Austin. Behind the house was a brewery (now the site of 19A-C Hauxton Road) which supplied beer to the De Freville Arms in Great Shelford. Arthur Austin also farmed Manor Farm which he rented from Mr Clay. It was the Clay family which gave land to the church for part of the burial ground.
A former vicar of the church had the splendid name Edwin Trevor Septimus Carr. There had been some disagreement between him and Mr Toogood of Sainsfoins who ran the paper mill. This resulted in what must have been a splendid procession:- the Toogood family driving along with their servants walking ahead all being shepherded firmly to worship in Great Shelford!
These personal recollections of the village are fascinating - particularly to those of us who did not know those days and who would love to move more. Unfortunately the Village Guide can only report one each time which is all too little. The editor of this edition would love to hear from anyone willing for her to set down their recollections. It doesn’t matter if the details are hazy; the overall picture will come through. We could then perhaps have a “Book of Recollections” to be kept with the “Book of Little Shelford” which is held by the secretary of the Cecil Club.
Other sections on the Little Shelford history website