The Life of my Family around the Canal

Family life for over a hundred years

By Julie Barnfield

Photo:Sandfield Bridge

Sandfield Bridge

Julie Barnfield

Photo:Thomas Hunt with his dog

Thomas Hunt with his dog

Julie Barnfield

Photo:Dorothy Hunt 1908

Dorothy Hunt 1908

Julie Barnfield

Photo:William, Grenville, Bunny and

William, Grenville, Bunny and

Julie Barnfield

Photo:Mum, Gampie Hunt

Mum, Gampie Hunt

Julie Barnfield

Photo:Dorothy 1912

Dorothy 1912

Julie Barnfield

The Gloucester and Sharpness Canal has featured strongly in the life of my family. For myself, I was taken as a baby to the Drum and Monkey on a Sunday evening where my dummy was dipped in Stout - after which I slept well!

My name is Julie Barnfield nee Doughty and my connections with the Canal are these:-

Sandfield Bridge

Tom Hunt, pictured here with his dog, was born in 1864 and died in 1935.  He is standing by the bridge hut at Sandfield which was adjacent to the modern hut.
We think that Tom's family were probably navvies who took the bridge on the Canal's completion.
Tom married Emma who had been born in 1862 and died in 1909.  They had three children Reginald (known as Bunny), Leslie (known as Razut), and Dorothy (known as Dolly or Dorrie).
After Emma's early death Tom remarried a Mrs. Fennel who brought her two children, Fred and Bossie, to live at Sandfield.

School in Gloucester

All the children attended Saul School but it appears Dolly was rebellious and was asked to leave. At 14 money was raised for her to attend The Bastion House School in Gloucester. She travelled from Sandfield up to Gloucester on the Wave or Lapwing each day walking from the Docks to Brunswick Road. Dolly was a very good pianist and formed a small-time trio which as in great demand for local dances. She also accompanied the silent movies at the Picture House in Frampton.

Dolly married Greville Doughty whose parents kept the coal yard and lived on site at the Freehold, Parkend Bridge. The house was demolished and the stones used to build the house sited behind where the Freehold stood. Greville as a lad delivered the coal with horse and cart but lost his job after being bored enough to ride standing on the horse's back full pelt through Saul. He later joined the Merchant Navy. Dolly and Grenville were the parents of my father Thomas Reginald who was born at Sandfield.

Life moves on

When Tom retired his son Bunny took over the bridge and married Frampton girl Lil Dawes. Lil was a big strong wench and as well as raising 3 children she took over the bridge keeper's job whilst Bunny went up and down the Canal on the mud hoppers towed by the little tugs. Sandfield was a push bridge and Lil must have been strong to open and close the bridge many times during all winds and weather. Her passion was keeping canaries which were housed in many cages. She also kept chickens which village children loved to help Lil feed. They roosted in the stables which had once housed the barge horses. The reason that Sandfield was different to the other bridge houses was that it is half way between Gloucester and Sharpness and used to stable the horses. Saul Lodge was the home of the Canal Engineer.
Eventually Bunny and Lil retired to a council house in Frampton and the bridge went mechanical.

All the kids were taught to swim in the Canal. They were tied to a rope and dangled over the side of the bridge into the water whilst the holder of the rope walked back and fore.

My childhood memories

I was born at the Tobacco Box in 1951 which was then in Fretherne Parish (my mum's family). This row of 3 cottages is believed to have housed a woman who sold tobacco to the Canal navvies as it is only 500/600 yards across the field from the Canal.
Before the piling of the Canal we would go to an area on the Frampton side opposite Saul Lodge nicknamed the Cow's Drink (that was what it was) and we would spend the whole day picnicking on a bit of sand and learning to swim. Great delight was taken when tugs and hoppers went by creating waves. My mother was an excellent swimmer and swam from Fretherne to Splatt and back regularly.

So you can see the Canal has featured large in my life.

Julie Barnfield

This page was added by Jean Speed on 17/02/2009.
Comments about this page

can you correct the following - emma and mrs fennell are the same person.  abigail was tom's first wife who died, he remarried emma fennel who had fred and elizabeth, not bossie. they then had 3 children together, when emma died, my granmother elizabeth helped raise them.

By kay roberts
On 06/09/2012

What a wonderful story to read about Julie's family. I'm an Australian cousin of Julies (on her mothers side), so nice to read about her fathers side.

By Maree Hogan
On 21/01/2014

My family lived at the Tobacco Box,are these cottages still standing?

By Mark Day
On 21/01/2014

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