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Old 20-01-13, 11:52
AndyHoldcroft AndyHoldcroft is offline
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Below is a short piece we found when my Grandmother died in 1984. It seems to have been written in the early 1920s about an incident in Edwardian times & with an eye to posterity. It is a straight transcription with some notes I added for the benefit of readers, and is one of four transcriptions of family material I have made & could share if anyone is interested. This one has a charm of its own!
“In a Baker’s Cart”
by Mary Dolton (later Cooke) (1896-1984)


In a Baker’s Cart
This is a story of a journey I had to take when I was 12 years old & I am telling it to you because it is so different to the kind of journeys that you, my children1, take in these days of motor cars.
It was in January & very cold weather & snow was on its way. I had been ill & Mother2 decided that it might do me good to go and stay with my eldest sister Beatrice3 who lived fifteen miles away. Both our homes were in the heart of the country and no buses ran in those days4. The nearest railway station was five miles from my home and three from my sister’s.
The only way to get there was by horse & trap. My Father 5 was too busy to take me, and my brother in law6 the same, so Mother arranged for the baker’s delivery man to take me when he paid his weekly visit to Lea End where my sister lived. I had to walk to Redditch to the bakery. This I found very tiring and was not yet strong. When I arrived the man was nearly ready to start. He helped me to get up the very high step into the cart & wrapped me up in a travelling blanket and put some straw over my feet. I felt quite comfortable & the smell of the new loaves packed up behind me was lovely & the nice horsey smell of “Nancy” the mare thrilled me very much. I had never been in a baker’s cart before.
We started off in the early afternoon & did not call at any houses until we left the town.
Nothing exciting happened & we just jogged along from one cottage to the next until we got right into the lanes & had long distances between each farm. It was a long way as the baker had to go round to two villages which were not on the direct route. It began to get dark & I was feeling stiff from sitting on the hard wooden seat. I had a piece of chocolate which I ate & at one cottage a woman gave us both a cup of tea. When we had finished, the baker lighted the lamps & also a lantern which he hung up in the cart. We set off again, it became very dark. Nancy trotted along well because she knew the road, having done the journey so many times. We came to a farm which was some distance from the road. The baker had to walk up to the house. He said “ I won’t be long. You will be alright”. I felt rather lonely after he had gone & I could no longer hear his footsteps. To try to keep cheerful I spoke to Nancy, but she thought I wanted her to go, and started to walk off. This worried me a little & so I said “Woa!” very gruffly & fortunately she stopped. After that I sat very still. It was so quiet until suddenly quite near a loud “Too-Woo” echoed in the trees. It startled me so much I nearly jumped off the seat. Then a sudden squeal sounded in the field just over the hedge. Nancy pricked up her ears & made a snorting noise. I, being brought up in the country, knew what the squeal meant, it was a young rabbit caught by a stoat. It made me feel sad & I wished the baker would come back. He was a long time at that farm but after a few more minutes, I heard his footsteps. When he reached the cart he said he was sorry he had been so long but they had something strange to show him. It was a baby pig which had been born with two tails & four ears. The farmer’s wife had it in a basket by the fire as she was afraid its many brothers and sisters might hurt it. They do sometimes, if one little piglet is weaker than the rest. I thought it must look a funny little pig & wished I had seen it.
We set off again & did not stop until we arrived at Lea End.

I felt so stiff & tired that I could not get down from the cart myself. The baker had to nearly lift me, and then I could not stand steadily. My sister heard the horse stop & came out with a lantern to help me in. It was lovely to get inside to a nice bright log fire & the lamp alight. We asked the baker in & he stayed & had high tea with us, after giving Nancy her bag of chaff. When tea was over, he set off for Redditch & I thanked him for bringing me. I was put to bed & was soon fast asleep.
M Dolton





Written by Mary Cooke (neé Dolton) 1896-1984 at some point prior to her marriage in 1927 to Ernest Walter Cooke (“Peter”) (1895-1949) and transcribed by her grandson Andrew Holdcroft in 2011.


1 She would later have two children: both still living
2 Eva Ruth Dolton (née Jones) 1865-1935
3 (Eveline) Beatrice Jackson (née Dolton) known as “Beatie” 1885-1964
4 Mary lived in Redditch & Beatie at Lea End Farm, near Alvechurch.
5 Edward William Dolton 1848-1931
6 (Thomas) Ewart Jackson 1882-1964
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Old 20-01-13, 12:54
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Mary from Italy Mary from Italy is offline
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What a lovely story!
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Old 20-01-13, 13:55
AndyHoldcroft AndyHoldcroft is offline
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Thank you! Has certainly touched everyone who's seen it. Glad you liked it too
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Old 20-01-13, 13:59
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That's fascinating and so beautifully descriptive. Thank you for sharing it.
I just fancy some freshly baked bread now I can smell it

Oh what happened to the little piggy ? I suppose we'll never know but maybe it grew into a huge pig and became famous ....
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Old 20-01-13, 14:36
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Lovely story. Thanks for posting it.
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Old 20-01-13, 15:04
AndyHoldcroft AndyHoldcroft is offline
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My pleasure: thanks for the positive feedback: I'll post the other transcripts over the next few days. Sadly I have no idea about the pig: no-one even knew she had written the story or we could have asked her about it. I wonder about whether today anyone would send a 12 year old child recovering from illness by herself on a cold January day by foot into town to get her lift?
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Old 11-02-13, 14:15
AndyHoldcroft AndyHoldcroft is offline
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Attached is a picture of Mary Dolton (later Cooke) taken around the time the events in her story took place
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File Type: jpg Baker pic.jpg (10.2 KB, 5 views)
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