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Memories of Sandy Lane

Brian Callan’s excellent book on Belton suggests that Sandy Lane handy Lane has been around since the Bronze age. To my knowledge it does not go back that far! I was not around and was likely not much aware of my surroundings until a few years later and then I left Belton, after the death of my father in 1966. I shall confine my observations to this period with additions from historical document sand later “nostalgia” visits.

Growing up it was universally called Goffins Lane and it appeared as such in the records of the 1841, 1851,1971 and 1881 census although one of the earliest Ordnance Survey maps of Belton published in 1884 shows clearly as Sandy Lane. The 1841 and 1851 census foe Suffolk shows Thomas Goffin b.1791 in Lowestoft, a Master Carpenter employing one man, living with his wife Martha in Goffins Lane, In 1841 also listed is Thomas Goffin aged 75, likely his father and a Judith Bullock aged 14, likely to be their servant.
The 1871 census reveals that one of the six entries for “Goffins Lane” again was a Thomas Goffin aged 80 a widower and retired carpenter living with Harriet Harman, his house keeper and Rosa Buck a servant.

Other residents were of Goffins Lane were:

Samuel and Ann Chester,

– Agricultural Labourer, with his wife Ann and children Edward and Anne.

James Sharman,

– Agricultural Labourer, with his wife Mary A, and children William, Mary A James, Charles, Edward and George.

Edward Skipper,

– Gardener, his wife Caroline and children Caroline, George, William, Elvira and Fredrick.

George Beckett,

– Blacksmith, with his wife Eliza, and children Harriet Mary A and James

Charles Burgess,

– Agricultural labourer, with his wife, Lynne, and sons Horatio Warner and Henry.

The 1881 census lists the following people as residents of Goffins Road(not Goffins Lane) in six houses. Thomas Goffin is absent having died towards the end of 1877.

Residents of Goffins Road were:

Sarah and Jane Saunders,

– Sisters both unmarried.

Samuel and Ann Chester,

– Married,

James and Maryann Sharman,

– with three teenage children James, Charles and George.

Charles and Louisa Burgess,

– with five year old Ernest plus Horatio and William Warner. (Lodger)?

Edward Beckett and Eliza Beckett,

– with their son James together with John and Mary Hales (shown as married), nineteen years old Harriet (shown as widowed) {I’m sure there is an interesting story there}

Charles and Caroline Skipper,

– with their teenage children William, Fredrick and Elvira,
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I recall whichever way one named it, the mail was successfully delivered. My parents invariably used as an address “Hill Cottages,
Belton”. with no street name, and the mail always arrived. I understand too tat the finalisation of the name occurred since Sandy Lane appeared as the address on individual house deeds.

At the time  of the 1884 map, and for years afterwards, it shows but a few buildings, As a pair on the East side of the road by the stream (which remains the only dwelling on that side of the road), a cluster of two or here buildings near the junction of Marsh Lane and Hill Cottages , one of these was my birth place, just past he right angled bend  y what was then he Common, It would have seemed likely these were the dwellings listed in the 1841, 1851, 1871 and 1891 census and they were built before 1871. I have no records for other than Goffins before 1871.
No dwellings were shown as unoccupied in 1871 & 1881 so it looks as if this accounts for a pair of houses near he stream and the three Hill Cottages. however I recall the houses by the stream showed evidence of a bricked up window on the upper floor. Was evidence of a former tax (repealed in 1851) or perhaps it was originally one dwelling and later converted to two? The cluster of buildings near the junction with Marsh Lane looks to be more than one dwelling on the 1884 map, so maybe the census missed somebody. I t is not possible from the census data to determine who lived where. Street numbers would have helped.
Incidentally, the two census also shows four families with the address “Belton Common” Their dwellings would likely be the pair of cottages at the far end of Marsh Lane and the cottages adjacent to the old railway line a few hundred yards on the Fritton of the former station. I have no documentation to show the census for 1861, 1891, 1901 and 1911.
Looking at the 1904 map, not much has changed, The new dwellings by the stream have multiplied and likely to depict the glass houses and other agricultural buildings on the site. Certainly similar buildings off Station Road are much in evidence so the market gardening era is now well under way.
The 1926 map shows that three newer buildings have appeared just to the North of the aforementioned “complex” at the junction of Marsh Lane. There was a further addition of one house(with drive way and garage) and a bungalow sometime before WW II with a further bungalow further down almost across from the cottages on the north side. I n addition there were also buildings on the other side of the Marsh Lane junction. I have memories of the remains of what looked like a brick chimney there. Was there a fire which caused the destruction of the building? I recall that during WW II he people at this location lived in a caravan (Old Romany style but larger) although there is still a brick building with the traditional coal fired “copper” for laundry. Also shown on the map is a largish building, wooden as I recall which resembled an Ex – forces barrack hut, (maybe it is still there). here was also a further dwelling, not strictly on Sandy lane, but its plot started a few yards down Marsh Lane and backed onto the newer houses on Sandy Lane. This property also had an exit onto Sandy Lane adjacent to the last bungalow on the west side of the road. These remained the sum total of houses until after 1945. It is amazing that the crash of the B24 “Belle of the East” in August 1944 managed to miss everything except Walter Sharman’s pig sty (even sparing the pig!) fifty yards further South and two cottages would have been right in the flight path.
I also looked at the map revised in 1946 and published in 1950 Strangely this seems identical to that published in 1926
&houses which were certainly there do not appear (neither does Bell Lane Paying Field with its buildings).
The map also shows the presence at most location ]s of a well or pump. I can certainly remember those in the case of Hill cottages where I lived the original well was fifty or so yards to the north of the buildings and quite shallow (no more than eight feet or so) The commencement of the sand extraction m the common around 1950 caused this supply to dry up and a new well sunk on the other side of the cottages closer to then council houses. Before leaving Hill Cottages in 1961 water had been laid in lane and a stand at the front gate was provided. Still no inside plumbing or water supply.
During and post WW II, I recall at the junction with Station Road on the Station side, that the building (or just the fencing) there were used as advertising hoardings. Maybe well know products were advertised. The lane was surfaced just as far as Hill Cottages (still is) and then continued as a sandy or muddy track, depending on the season, until halfway along New Road in Fritton. During WW II it saw a great deal of traffic related to military activities on the common. I can remember it once being resurfaced, The equipment consisted of a hand pulled, coal fired, wheeled boiler arrangement from which hot molten tsar was sprayed onto the road surface, then a gang of men threw gravel onto the hot tar low tech but effective enough.
Additional buildings commenced in c:1950. A bungalow, next to the council houses appeared first followed by the house just down Marsh Lane for he person who took over that small holding. On the other side of the junction the building can now be described. They consisted of two separate brick dwellings, the one on Marsh Lane being the smaller of the two. This smaller building was connected by the remains of the roof woodwork of an earlier building to a very much older building which, if I recall correctly had a thatched roof. This as since been remove. Further down the lane, three further bungalows were built between the pre – world war built houses and the stream.
That was the situation, to the best of my recall, when I left Belton in 1961. Periodic visits since then, up to February 2016, have shown the west side of the lane to be almost completely developed. The lane also seems muck narrower than I recall. I think the hedges may have been trimmed back more in the past years perhaps. The council houses are now private dwellings and Hill Cottages, after a some what miserable period when they were all vacant, are now renovated and inhabited. I visited my old birthplace and found that its present inhabitant was the nephew of my late sister’s husband. I’d known him 50 plus years ago, so a pleasant reunion.eckett

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