HELPED TO REMOVE TOLL-GATE. HATHERN MAN RECALLS INTERESTING INCIDENT. 80 years of age and still at work on the roads.

Mr Edward Bramley of Hathern is the subject of our sketch this week who, in his 80th year, still works as a roadman. Though somewhat of a retiring disposition, he nevertheless takes a great interest in village matters.

When he was but a lad he was called upon to perform some duties from which a few pence could be gathered to add to the comfort of the cottage home. His first work was bird scaring he used to start in the morning taking sufficient food to last him all day.

With early duties crowding in Mr Bradley received that little education. His first regular situation was in connection with farm work at that period the farmers had to do a great deal of hiring. Young men were engaged and lived in. His first years work gave him 3 pounds and his food. After several years, being of good physique, he went to work at a stone quarry on the Charnwood Forest. All the stone had to be got by hand and broken by hand. They used heavy sledgehammers and for breaking stones they used “whip hammers”.

An opening presented itself on the railway which he accepted, and the two years he worked between Trent junction and Barrow-on-Soar. he also worked on the Erewash Valley, assisting on making a new line. When Mr. Bramley first worked on the railway there were no sidings in the Osmaston(?) Park, and he was one of the first to work on them.

For 45 years he has worked on the road in the employee of the Loughborough local council, and has served under no fewer than 10 (?) surveyors. Mr Bramley remembers the old Tollgate at Hathern being taken down and he helped in connection with the widening of the road.

Referring to the great changes which have come over road making he says at one time it was customary to put tons of big stones on the roads and to leave them until they became embedded by the traffic. They have no rollers in those days and they use rakes with which they pulled the pieces of stone into the deep ruts made by heavy carts he says travelling in those days was often very difficult and the heavy loads made a big demand on the strength of the horses.

Mr Bramley does not hesitate to say that the position of the poorer people has considerably changed. In his childhood the working people had to be content with remaining in their own villages. Life had no variety, and there were no means of getting to know what was going on in different parts of the country. The working conditions were as bad as could possibly be, and wages were so small that even with the strictest economy it was impossible to save anything. The idea of a holiday was out of the question it was work from early morning until late at night and recreation was reduced to a minimum. Everything was so dear and the people’s purchasing power so limited that reading was not done to a great extent; besides there were so many people who had not even had the least education that some of them could not have read had they been afforded the opportunity.

Mr Bramley remembers before the brickworks at Hathern were opened and before Hathern station was built. If people desired to go to Loughborough they had to walk and then at a later period they could travel by the carrier’s van. In that respect they had come about a wonderful change and to contrast the old roads, often narrow, with a deep ruts and big pieces of stone everywhere with the roads of the present time was something we set one wondering.

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