GESTINGTHORPE 'THEN & NOW' PHOTOGRAPHIC BOOK - COMING LATER THIS YEAR
Arthur Nears 2nd Interview
Harold Cooper (a film by Tom Hastie of Foxearth)
Brian Sandfords Ciné record from the 1960's.
This is Mr Henry Cook. Gestingthorpe’s handy handless man.
A film was made of Henry working in the Grain Mill at Belchamp Walter in 1912, 'A Handy Handless Man' it was only 5 minutes long and was shown before the main feature in the local cinemas - despite a comprehensive search we have been unable to locate a copy, we would dearly love to discover if this film is still in existence on a dusty shelf somewhere.
Below is the obituary that was taken from the Halstead Gazette on December 18th 1940 that gives a little more background to Henry.
Our obituary column last week recorded the death of Mr Henry Cook which took place at St Michael’s Hospital, Braintree, on November 30th, at the age of 77 years.
He was a native of Gestingthorpe and resided in that parish for most of his life, being admitted to hospital about three years ago. For three weeks previous to his death he was confined to his bed.
Mr Cook was well known in the district to which he belonged. From his early years he was afflicted, having the misfortune to lose both hands and portions of his arms to within two inches of his elbow. The first accident occurred when he nine years of age and was helping to cut corn. Then when he was sixteen he lost his left hand while employed at a steam chaff cutter.
Many men would have despaired of not being able to work after this double misfortune, but Mr Cook, horrified at the idea of becoming a pauper, persevered and with the help of friends was fitted with “iron hands” by a London firm. Later, publicity resulted in new equipment, known as “bottle arms”, being fitted by the Surgical Aid Society, straps being utilized for fixing the arms by the shoulders.
Gradually he found he could adapt his “hook” hands to various jobs, and after a while he took over complete charge of a small flour mill at Belchamp Walter, then he found the hook convenient for opening the furnace door, gripping the sack when the corn had to be hoisted to the hopper. In the case of shovelling, a leather “eye” at the handle of the shovel enabled him to place the right hook in the eye and the other in the centre of the handle, the force being supplied by the right, whilst he lifted by the left. By this means he claimed he could shovel with anyone. In the same way he was able to do gardening and was able to stack.
He drove carts to the market and eventually learned to drive a traction engine, his “hands” he said were well suited to the steering wheel. In an interview some years ago he did not question his ability to drive a traction engine from Belchamp to Bermondsey, Mr Cook was able to fill and light his own pipe and at mealtimes he unscrewed a combined knife and fork in place of the hook; for drinking he had to place his lips on the edge of the cup, balance it and drink. When half empty, he to grip the cup with his teeth and drink in that fashion.
He was also able to ride a tricycle and for writing he had to unscrew one of his hooks and stick a fairly thick pencil in the cavity. Despite his great handicap, his will power and ingenuity enabled him to enjoy life and to use his own words he “was as happy as any man in the parish”.
May 22nd 1889 - Pebmarsh. Henry Cook who is in the employ of Mr Coles of Gestingthorpe whilst working with a chaff cutter at Pebmarsh happened with a serious accident which caused him to lose an arm below the elbow, he was conveyed to St Leonards hospital where it was amputated successfully by Dr Holden, the poor man is getting on as well as can be expected, when a child he had lost the other arm in an accident.
Tom Rowe recalls, "My grandfather had lost a hand - I remember him, Henry Cook and Frank Marsh together in Grandfather's house one day. Henry Cook had lost both his arms, and Frank Marsh one of his - three men with only two good arms between them"!
Bob Raymond remembers, "He used to do a full day's work in spite of his disabilities. If you met him on the road he would be likely to say 'fill my pipe, boy', and you took his pipe from his mouth, his tobacco and matches from his pocket, filled and lit the pipe and off he went"!
Mr Harry Rippingale of Gestingthorpe started his bus service in 1922 with a Ford lorry which he converted into a 14 seater bus, entrance to which had to be gained from steps up to a door in the back. At first he carried workers and school children from Gestingthorpe and the surrounding villages into Halstead but he very quickly established regular routes from these villages mainly to Sudbury and once a week to Halstead, followed later by a market-day service to Braintree on Wednesdays.
The Gestingthorpe-Halstead service ran on Friday evenings until the war, a reminder that in those days, shops kept open later in the evenings but during the war it was changed to Tuesday afternoons and later was extended to start from Belchamp Walter on that day running additionally from Gestingthorpe on Friday afternoons.
The service from Gestingthorpe or Little Yeldham to Sudbury developed a number of route variations and ultimately operated on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in the evenings as a cinema facility and on Thursdays and Saturdays provided shopping journeys. In 1947 Mr Rippingale made an application to extend this service to start from Castle Hedingham but this was refused by the Traffic Commissioners.
Up to 1931, no service from Gestingthorpe to Braintree had been established but in that year Harry made an application to the Traffic Commissioners for a service, Gestingthorpe-Wickham St. Pauls-Braintree on a Wednesday which was granted but it is doubtful if this ever operated, if so it was only for a short time as at the same Traffic Commissioners hearing, Mr B. K. Jennings of Ashen who had been operating on Wednesdays from Ashen to Braintree via Gt. Yeldham and Toppesfield withdrew his application for this route and an immediate application by Harry to operate a service Gestingthorpe-Gt. Yeldham-Toppesfield-Braintree covering the Jennings route from Little Yeldham onwards was granted. As Harry would not have operated two services to Braintree on the same day and at the same times it can be assumed that he did not operate the first route granted to him but abandoned this for the ex-Jennings route. This route originally ran from Gainsford End to Braintree through Blackmore End and Beazley End but the construction of the Air Base at Wethersfield closed this road and thereafter it returned from Gainsford End to Great Yeldham and worked thence via the main road to Braintree.
Born in Gestingthorpe, Essex, England on 29 Sep 1889 to Walter Rippingale-Broyd and Eliza Felton. Harry Rippingale married Ellen Corder and had 1 child. He passed away on Dec 1978 in Sudbury, Suffolk, England.
Harry on his retirement in 1956. Conductress Gladys Finch is behind with Stanley Baxter in the door.
This was the very first bus owned by Harry Rippingale. It was a Model 'T' Ford lorry purchased in 1922 for £170 and was used during the day for haulage. In the evening the bus body was lowered onto the vehicle by two pulleys and steps placed at the rear. It was used evening and morning for taking workers to and from Courtaulds factory in Halstead, carrying fourteen passengers.
Harry Rippingale and his REO coach (VX 1266) at Gestingthorpe. This was the first real coach owned by him. The earlier ones had been adapted from lorries. He always drove the coach himself. It had previously been owned by Hicks Bros.
VX 435, a Chevrolet, was bought around 1929 in chassis form by Harry Rippingale who the built on the lorry body himself. It was used for delivering coal for his coal merchant business, also for carrying bricks from Rayners Brickworks at Gestingthorpe to local builders and to Hedingham Station for transporting to London. However, Harry was nothing if not resourceful and when, later, he needed another bus he resolved the situation with his usual flair (see above).
VX 435 in a new guise. It was seen after, fitted with a body from a Lancia bus being mainly driven by Herbert Warren. In 1930 the Traffic Commissioners came into being and eventually got round to inspecting the vehicle as being suitable for Public Transport (until then, bus operators had almost complete freedom of action). They commented that the modification from lorry to bus was 'very good camouflage'.
The Battle of Agincourt was fought on St. Crispin’s Day, 25 October 1415. It was perhaps the most famous battle of the Hundred Years’ War, when the outnumbered English forces defeated the French, with the English longbow archers making a decisive contribution defeating the French cavalry. The battle was immortalised in the 16th century by William Shakespeare in the play Henry V (written c.1599) and by Michael Drayton in his poem Fair stood the wind for France (c.1605).
As Prince of Wales Henry V had fought the Welsh and it was not long after he succeeded his father Henry IV I in 1413 that he sought to raise an army against the French and renew the claims of his great-grandfather Edward III to the French crown. In December 1414 Parliament granted him a tax for war against the French. Henry V and his army landed in northern France on 13 August 1415.
The campaign started with the siege of Harfleur. The town did not surrender until 22 September, by which time the summer, and the best conditions for military campaigns, was nearly over. The English had also suffered casualties during the siege, notably to dysentery and other diseases.
Among those who died at Harfleur was Michael de la Pole, 2nd Earl of Suffolk and lord of the manors of Langham and Nether Hall in Gestingthorpe. His son Michael, 3rd earl, was to die a month later at Agincourt.
Extracted from the Essex Records Office blog: http://www.essexrecordofficeblog.co.uk/category/essex-at-agincourt/
Below are a number of documents relating to interviews or information about the village or our activities within it.