The following is taken from the 'Ruridecanal Magazine', for October, 1924.

'THE PLOUGH - Although Mr. and Mrs. Pannell are leaving the Plough, where they have been for 13 years, we are glad that we shall still have them amongst us in the parish - for a time at least.  We offer a welcome to Mr.and Mrs. Bailes, and wish them a happy residence in Birdbrook.'

Tenant landlord, Mr. Pannell, saw three changes of owners in his 13 years at The Plough,  E. & H. Pilgrim from 1911-13, then Watney, Comb & Reid 1913-19, follwed by Benskins Watford Brewery.  


Frances Phypers and Phylis Bicknell outside The Plough, sometime in the 1930's when it was owned by Benskin's

  Photograph thanks to Jackie Browne.


The following comes from Haverhill Echo June 10th, 1971.

 Post office and parson have gone but.....



A VILLAGE with no post office and no parson is inconvenient but without a pub - inconceivable.  That is how the people of Birdbrook feel.  The showpiece Essex village, which has been the runner-up in five best-kept village contests, lost its post office four years ago when the late Mr. Herbert Kendall and his wife retired.  At the end of April the Rev. Fred Cordingly retired from the parish with the midas touch - the church was left £40,000 - and moved to Yorkshire.

But now plans by Ind Coope brewery to close the village's only pub, the quaint thatched building, has prompted villagers to action.  At the weekend a petition was signed by 237 villagers and visitors protesting that the closure is "for no apparent reason".  The petition was raised by a regular customer at the Plough, Mr. William Hynds of 13, Moat Road, Birdbrook.


Mr. Alfred Mitson a 65-year-old retired farmworker of Willow Cottage, Birdbrook, has drunk a daily pint in the Plough for 51 years (the age limit was 14 when he was a lad) "It's disgusting," he said.  "Come winter I won't have anywhere to go for half an hour to talk to someone."

Birdbrook is split into three hamlets, Baythorne End, New England and birdbrook Street, population 150, where the Plough stands.

The other two hamlets, over a mile away from Birdbrook Street, have pubs - the Colne Valley Arms and the Swan - but although their populations are smaller, the pubs stand on the main A604 and have a passing trade.

The brewery feel that the Plough does not attract sufficient trade.  Recently widowed Mrs. Edna Friend (55), now licensee of the Plough, disagrees.  "The beauty of the village and the pub attracts people from as far away as Colchester, Chelmsford and Braintree.  We are always busy at weekends," she said.

 The pub is certainly attractive, with low ceilings and wood panelled walls.  It has a neat public bar, a Regency styled saloon in red and gold with a wealth of brass and a very plush public lounge with thick pile carpet, settee, armchairs and tables.  "We had 25 couples visit the pub last week.  they all wanted to come in as tenants, but the brewery are going to close the pub.  I only hope someone will buy it as a free house," said Mrs. Friend.

Many villagers who watched the disappearance of the post office and parson without consternation, see the pub in a different light.

Landlady Mrs. Edna Friend: "I hope someone will buy it as a free house".

 " We can do without them, but a pub never," said 23-year-old Janet Walton, of Wash Farm Cottages, a Plough regular with her husband, graphic artist Stuart Walton.  They feel that the pub is the focal point of the village and the only social meeting place.The village has a community centre financed by a trust, the Price Foundation, but this caters for the elderly and children.

"We are a rich village, but with no social or public amenities," said Mrs. Doris Jowers, of the village stores.  "The loss of the pub will be a great blow for the village and our small social life."


The church has somehow never attracted a lot of interest from villagers.  With an annual income of £2,000 from the £40,000 left by a former rector's wife, Mrs. Edith Clara Young, it has never wanted for money and has not held functions such as other churches.  This lack of activity has deterred three prospective candidates for the post of rector from taking the job.  They felt that too much was laid on for the church and there was nothing for them to work or fight for.  The board of patronage, which recommends appointments to the bishop, will interview four prospective rectors next week.  Villagers are keeping their fingers crossed.

Unfortunately the only thing that is unlikely to return to the village is a post office.  Mrs. Jowers at the village stores runs an off-licence and is not prepared to take on the extra resposibility of running a post office.

Pensioners have to travel almost two miles each week to the Baythorne End sub office for their pensions.  Mr. Mitson feels that the journey is a bit much in the winter.  but wryly comments, "That journey is only once a week.  I like to go to the pub every day as I have for over 50 years."

People at Birdbrook can certainly vouch that money does not bring happiness.



The above pictures by the Haverhill Echo and following article comes from the Haverhill Echo, Thursday, June 17, 1971. 


  Villagers win fight to keep their Pub

Birdbrook will not lose its only pub.  The Plough has been sold by the brewers as a licensed premises and the new occupants will move in when the present publican leaves.  Last week 237 villagers signed a petition asking the brewers Ind Coope not to close the attractive thatched pub which has served the village since the seventeenth century.  Village residents felt they could not survive without a pub as this was a social centre of the community.

The new publicans will be Mr. Wilfred Oxman, a 50-year-old ex-senior steward with BOAC and his wife Doris.  At present living at Paddington Hall, Hascot Hill, Barking, near Ipswich, they have been looking for another pub since December, when they left the Albion, Kingston-upon-Thames.  They had their first look at The Plough, advertised for sale at £7,500 and described by the agents Edwin Watson and Son as 'picturesque and in the centre of this much liked rural village,' on Monday.  Mr. and Mrs. Oxman fell in love with it and bought it on Tuesday.  'It is a very attractive village pub.  A really pubby pub with no gimmicks,' said Mr. Oxman.  They will move into the pub in July.  Under the contract of sale Ind Coope will still supply the pub with beer for the next ten years.

The retiring landlady Mrs. Edna Friend said there had been a lot of interest in the pub with 25 couples from all over the country coming to look at it.  As well as the petition drawn up by Mr. William Hynds of 13, Moat Road, Birdbrook, Ind Coope also received a letter from Mr. John Rook of Birdbrook Hall.  A teetotaller himself, he felt that the community needed a pub.  He contacted Mr. W.L.B. Walker, the brewer's cheif executive, who confirmed that the pub would be sold as a licensed premises.

If The Plough had been closed, villagers would have had to travel over one and a half miles to the Colne Valley Arms, New England.

Nearly forty years later and the battle goes on!

Westside of the Street

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