Page 18 of 19
A Walk Through Hilton in the 1930s, final part
The final dwelling on that side of the Green was a bungalow. It was demolished about fifty years ago and St Francis Toft was built on that site. In the early thirties Mr Draper, his wife and two sons lived in the bungalow. He was a poultry farmer and his main business was selling one-day old chicks. He owned a large incubator for hatching the chicks. When they had all hatched and dried, he would put them into cardboard boxes, which had air holes and would be clearly marked “Live Chickens”. He would then take them to the railway station to be sent to various destinations by train. They would travel in the guard’s van of a passenger train as they were much quicker than the freight trains. No doubt his customers would meet the train to collect the chickens when they arrived.
Mr Draper and family left Hilton about nineteen thirty six and Mr Lincoln, his wife and daughter came to live in the bungalow. Mr Lincoln (better known as Jimmy) was a pig farmer who had an arrangement with several restaurants and RAF stations to collect their kitchen waste, which he would feed to the pigs. He owned an old lorry with some tanks on the back in which he would collect the waste. He often talked of the amount of good food that the RAF threw away (joints of meat, whole chickens, packs of sausages etc) and said that his pigs had better food than he did!
At this time after the potato harvest, the crop had to be inspected by a ministry official before it could be sold. If it was deemed unfit for human consumption it would be sprayed with a purple dye and it could then only be used for animal food. Jimmy would buy these potatoes and boil them in a large copper, along with the kitchen waste and feed them to the pigs.
During the war there was a searchlight sighted in the meadow at the south corner of the Green. There was another on the St Ives road, in a meadow now called the “Paddocks”. The soldiers who manned the searchlights had quite a comfortable war! It was for them to illuminate the enemy bombers as they flew over to bomb the towns in the midlands. They could then be seen and attacked by our fighters. These bombers always flew over very high; I often heard them fly over but never saw one illuminated or heard of one being shot down locally. There were no anti-aircraft guns in or near the village and Hilton never suffered any damage during the war. On a few occasions the German gunners fired at the searchlight as they flew over but they were hopelessly out of range to do any damage.
A few bombs were dropped in the fields around the village making some craters and one of our Lancaster bombers was shot down by a German fighter one night when returning to Graveley airfield. It plunged into a field about half a mile down the Graveley Road, killing all the crew.
To complete my walk I only have to cross over what must be one of the prettiest village greens in England, to my thatched home on the north side of the Green.