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The Holbrook Sound Project: 
Exploring the changing sounds of village life 

Some of the sounds we have collected so far

Below are the sounds we associate with Holbrook. Some come from Warrenton's book and some from your suggestions.

Do you have any more information about the sounds Warrenton Page mentions in his biography such as:

  • What was the make and model of the mill engine? 

  • When did the blacksmith close?

  • What tune did Dilla Stiff play on his bugle five mornings a week?

 

You can use the contact form to add information to the sounds below

If you spot an error, or have more information about one of the sounds below, please use the contact form above and I will update the sound!

[The images are taken from various Facebook groups and from Google image searches. No copyright infringement is intended, and any image can be removed by contacting me.]

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Sound: The Blacksmith

Description of the sound: "... at intervals throughout the day the pleasant ringing sound of the Blacksmith's hammer on the anvil could be heard by people in the near vicinity.'

 

Hammer on anvil, bellows, fire crackling, water hissing, horses, workers.

What other sounds do blacksmith's make? When did the smithy on Church Hill close?

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Sound: The Wheelwright

Description of the sound: 

Hammering, sawing and shaping wood and the hissing of water on shrinking metal.

I believe that the Wheelwright operated out of a building next to the smithy.

 

More information needed

Date: 

Source: Warrenton Page book

Possible similar sound: no sound, but descriptive video set in Lowestoft - https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-sw-wright-wheelwright-1978-online

Sounds of wheelwright at work -

 https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-wheelwright-workshop-in-stapley-1976-online

image not of Holbrook and taken from https://images.app.goo.gl/7ot7vjSVEKJP87f96

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Sound: Horse Worker

Description of the sound: "The horses were guided by verbal instructions, as well as by reins, namely 'Cupee-wee' meant go to the left, 'Gr Wherr-ee' to the right, and the well known 'Whoa'a there' meant stop." 

Date: Linked to mechanised farm machinery? When did the horses vanish?

Source: Warrenton Page book

Possible similar sound:

Horses Ploughing with Roger Clark in Suffolk, 1998

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Sound: Hob-Nail Boots

Description of the sound: "As there were very few machines around, it was possible to hear the footsteps of the workmen with their heavy footwear, going to and from work. One pensioner (Abraham Stiff) who was bedridden, would guess, mostly correctly, who was passing his house, by the particular 'step"

Date: 

Source: Warrenton Page book 

Possible similar sound: image taken from https://images.app.goo.gl/BaPxsYmGZ8BPXmUx8

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Sound: Stutton School Bell

Description of the sound:  "If the clock on Stutton School was heard striking, it was considered a sure sign of rain approaching." 

Date: 

Source: Warrenton Page book  

Possible similar sound: image taken from https://images.app.goo.gl/SwgAJCWSNojmL1Fq5

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Sound: The Sound of Pigeons

Description of the sound: "Growing up in The Street, my bedroom overlooked the village hall green. My sound is that of the wood pigeons cooing in the mornings when I woke up. Years later I now live in a different part of the village but still hear the pigeons in the mornings. Sounds like home!"

Date: Within the last 100 years

Source: Website submission

Possible similar sound:

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Sound: Dilla Stiff Bugle & Percy Abbot's Whistle

Description of the sound: "At about 9 a.m. on five mornings a week the bugle of 'Dilla' Stiff could be heard, and at 1 p.m. Percy Abbott blew his whistle, and those people who required goods from Ipswich would give their order to o n e of these two carriers."

Date: 

Source: Warrenton Page book 

Possible similar sound: 

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Sound: Waterside Works

Description of the sound: "When the wind was in the right direction the hooter or bell at Waterside Works could be heard distinctly. It sounded several times during the day, but at 7.45 a.m. people took special note of it as it was accepted as Greenwich time. and workmen would set their watches at the correct time."

Where is this?

Date: 

Source:  Warrenton Page book

Possible similar sound: 

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Sound: Butchers

Description of the sound: 

"As each butcher killed, on the premises, the animals which supplied the meat for the shops, some very distressing noises were often heard.

 

Pig killing probably caused the greatest concern, and as I lived near to the slaughterhouse at Reed House I have vivid memories of the piercing shrieks that could be heard at killing time. The mournful blare of the bullocks, and the continuous bleating of the sheep was sure evidence of their unnatural surroundings."

Date: 

Source: Warrenton Page book  

Possible similar sound: 

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Sound: Air Raid Siren/Fire Brigade

Description of the sound: "We used to have an air raid siren to call the firemen down to the station or at the side of the village hall before the station was built I believe, I think it was a green goddess as well, you could hear it for miles around."

"In the 60's siren in the RHS clock tower that would summon the fireman to the fire station, most of them worked for the school's works department at the time."

Discussion in Parliament in 1946 about the use of sirens to call part-time firemen 

Date: When RHS under construction to 1960s?

Source: Facebook response

Possible similar sound: 

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Sound: Coal Delivery

Description of the sound: "... the lorry coming down the road with the bags of coal on the back & getting the coal scuttle ready in the passage out the back once the coal shed had been replenished."

"I remember the old coal man’s truck arriving too. He’d flip the full heavy sacks off the truck onto his back and walk them to our coal sheds. I remember the sound of the coal being poured into our shed, one sack at a time…"

Date: 

Source: Facebook response 

Possible similar sound: 

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Sound: Sporting Sounds

Description of the sound: "Monday Club after school - at the clunk of rounders bats on the village hall green."

Date: 1980s

Source: Facebook response 

Possible similar sound: 

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Sound: Children Playing

Description of the sound: "My children paddling in the puddle that formed at the bottom of Clench Road 

the swing chains clattering, creaky see-saw joints and the VERY creaky stand-on round about that was well overdue an oiling!" 

Date: 70s/80s? 

Source: Facebook response 

Possible similar sound: 

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Sound: Sweet Shop

Description of the sound: "The rustle of Small paper bags being opened by ‘Madders’ ready to scoop in our Ha’ Penny sweet mix." 

Date: 

Source: Facebook response 

Possible similar sound: 

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Sound: Brickworks 

Description of the sound: Brickworks at Lower Holbrook Creek

Date: 

Source:  

Possible similar sound: no sound, but this video might show similar techniques - https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-brickmaking-at-pycroft-brickworks-1974-online?play-film

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Sound: Shoe Makers

Description of the sound: There were at least two in the village - one at Holly Cottage on the Street, and one at the entrance to the Heath Field (possibly at the top of Heathfield road where the doctors now is?)

Date: 

Source: Warrenton Page book p10 

Possible similar sound: image taken from https://images.app.goo.gl/aq7rZGYzk7RShGy87 

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Sound: 

Description of the sound: 

Date: 

Source:  

Possible similar sound: 

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Sound: Holbrook Mill

Description of the sound: "On most days the 'putta-putta-put' of the gas engine at the mill could be heard from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m."

In March 2024 I contacted the Suffolk Mills Group to ask their advice about identifying the type of engine. They provided a comprehensive response that can be read in full here.

In short:  the 'putta-putta-put' might point in the direction of a two stroke engine. Petters were a major manufacturer of 'S-type' two stroke engines... [o]ther manufacturers of two strokes included local firm (Ipswich) Ransomes, Simms & Jefferies (Wizard models) but none were as prolific as Petters. 

Date: re 1926 (the year the mill closed) 

Source: Warrenton Page book

Possible similar sound: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4MbVHY7bJo or a Petters S-type 8HP - https://youtu.be/KjgVxikNZyk?si=tSTOmQQMaK4EVxRt and 15HP - https://youtu.be/F6SGPnLGf5I?si=UhAtDiIrUVXqu7xf

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Sound: Heavy Horses

Description of the sound:  

"The sound of horses' hooves on the picked stoned roads was quite common, and sometimes very interesting: each horse or pony had a distinctive step, especially when trotting. The heavy horses which pulled the waggons loaded with corn etc."

 

Heavy hooves on the rough road, cart wheels, animal noises

Date: 

Source: Warrenton Page book 

Possible similar sound: image not of Holbrook, but of horses ploughing in Suffolk in 1920s. taken from https://images.app.goo.gl/zskvba7pHow5rpNb9

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Sound: Ransomes' Engine / Thresher

Description of the sound: "First came a 'Ransome' Steam Traction Engine, pulling at threshing box or drum, and then followed an Elevator or Straw Pitcher. All three vehicles had heavy iron wheels and were without any kind of springs [...] when the threshing box had been 'set' along side a corn stack, more pleasant humming sounds could be heard, as the grain was separated from the straw."

Date: 

Source: Warrenton Page book

Possible similar sound: 

Thresher and engine

Ransomes 'Enterprise' on road 

A Threshing Mill arrives on a farm

image taken from https://images.app.goo.gl/oQChCXscZAQcu14D7

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Sound: Brantham Xylonite Works

Description of the sound: 

If the wind blew from the opposite [South West] direction, the hooter at Brantham Xylonite Works could be heard,

This is 4.2 miles away from Holbrook. What does this tell us about the ambient sound levels of the village at this time?

Date: The factory opened in 1887 & closed in 2007

Source: Warrenton Page book

Possible similar sound: imgae taken from https://images.app.goo.gl/Ct4r5kcgwQQAdgmK8

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Sound: Holbrook School Bell

Description of the sound:  "In School Term time the bell at the village school could be heard at 8.45 a.m., 8.55 a.m., 1.45 p.m. and 1.55 p.m. reminding parents, as well as children, that it was time for lessons. One has to bear in mind the fact that very few cottagers had reliable time pieces, and so the schoolmaster was anxious to help the scholars arrive on time."

Date: 

Source: Warrenton Page book 

Possible similar sound: 

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Sound: Cattawade Train

Description of the sound: "If the wind blew from the opposite direction, the hooter at Brantham Xylonite Works could be heard, as well as the roar of the trains going over Cattawade Bridges." 

Date: 

Source: Warrenton Page book 

Possible similar sound: 

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Sound: Church Bells [Death]

Description of the sound: "One of the bells was used to inform the Village of a death. It would toll at intervals of three minutes, for an hour. I believe it was three pulls for a man, two pulls for a woman, and one for a child. The’ death’ bell was also tolled at the time of a burial. It began to toll about an hour before the time fixed for the Church Service. This was a signal for the villagers to draw blinds as a mark of respect for the deceased. On arrival of the cortege at the Church, the bell was silent until the end of the Service. It was then tolled until the procession reached the graveside."

Date: 

Source: Warrenton Page book 

Possible similar sound: 

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Sound: Church Bells [General]

Description of the sound: "... which were rung for each Service, every Sunday, and for practice for 11⁄2 hours on a Monday evening." 

Dennis Wombwell rang the bells on wedding days in the 1970s/80s/90s.

Date: 

Source: Warrenton Page book and Facebook  

Possible similar sound: Available to hear on Tuesday nights from 7:30pm

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Sound: Ice Cream Van

Description of the sound: 

"I also remember the sound of the ice cream van that used to visit Clench Road playing Greensleaves."

Note: I think that all Mr Whippy vans played Greensleaves as a standard song, but that other operators also used the tune once it was popular.

Date: 1980s

Source: Facebook response 

Possible similar sound: Mr Whippy van on YouTube

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Sound: Combine Harvesters

Description of the sound: 

Date: 

Source: Facebook response  

Possible similar sound: 

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Sound: Helicopters

Description of the sound: "... the helicopters overhead - coastguard but also we used to get the bigger sea kings come over I think possibly to RHS when royals visited?"

Also link in: Apache and - Chinook + Princess Anne landing on the Academy playing Field.

Date: 

Source: Facebook response  

Possible similar sound: 

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Sound: The Hunt

Description of the sound: "Years ago you would hear all the horses and dogs coming up the road and we would stand at the edge of the primary school field and watch the fox hunt go past!" 

Date: 

Source:  

Possible similar sound: 

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Sound: Alton Water Construction

Description of the sound: "I can remember the noises from the reservoir construction."

This was confirmed as the sound of the heavy plant machinery at Alton Water. Link to other large building work (RHS+ what?)

Date: 

Source:  

Possible similar sound: 

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Sound: Choir Practice

Description of the sound: "The sound of the choir singing. Under Marion Godley. Nothing better than a choir in All Saints Church. Every Sunday. Was beautiful."

Date: 

Source: Website submission 

Possible similar sound: 

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Sound: Donkey

Description of the sound: Warrington Page states on page 41 of his book that Bob Driver (who lived at 2 Barrack Row which I believe is now known as East Row) kept a donkey in his shed.

Date: 1920s?

Source:  Warrenton Page

Possible similar sound: Any other donkey?!

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Sound: Water Pump at Broom Hill

Description of the sound: Warrenton Had a job pumping water to fill tanks at the top of the house before going to school each day.

Date: 1910s (would fit in with WP's school age)

Source:  Warrenton page Book p37

Possible similar sound: image taken fromhttps://images.app.goo.gl/384eMjTDKaUB7Gax5 (there are many designs for pumps and it is impossible to know which one is correct)

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Sound: 

Description of the sound: 

Date: 

Source:  

Possible similar sound: 

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