Memories of Fazeley, written by Joseph T. Hunter in August 2008 when he was 88 years old.

The Tree Fellers of Fazeley

The timber company was in existence in 1910, because recently I saw a photograph of that year showing Mr Ben Aucott senior with a work force of about 12 men and 2 boys. One of the boys was his son Ben who was to also run the business for many years.

The business in those days was called Fazeley Rustics and they made wooden garden furniture. Ben Aucott had three children by his first wife, who I believe died in childbirth and ten children with his second wife.

When I was a child he lived at the Junction House. He had 5 boys and 5 girls in the second marriage and 4 of the boys followed him into the business. Ben, a well known singer, had been a farrier in World War 1 and he managed the business while Lawrence drove the coal lorry. Norman was a wheelwright , Edward a timber man in charge of the men who brought in the timber and was himself a good axeman. William was a yard labourer and lived with his uncle David in Lichfield Street.

The firm had a huge crane and an even bigger stack of trees, the crane being used to take the trees to the huge saws. They had horses kept in the yard and also a blacksmiths shop, for Ben did the metalwork for agricultural items and shoes for the horses.

They also employed local labour outside of the family and as a child I marvelled at all the activity.

There was a huge vehicle pulled by horses that carried the trees and each day the team would go out early to cut down and bring in the timber. The team was Eddie Aucott, Alec Bott, later killed in the army, Mr Fisher and sometimes his wife and they were loaded up with axes and saws to go out to work.

If they would be cutting down trees locally I would follow them, there was always something to see or do.

Lawrence Aucott, who drove the lorry would go out later to bring in the side branches which were sold as firewood. Mrs Fisher would gather up the twigs to be burnt on the spot and then came the heavy work to get the trees on to the timber wagon for there was no lifting apparatus.

The team must have operated at a radius of 10 miles or so , for I was told recently by Eddies daughter that trees were cut down at Haunton, but I never followed them that far!

Harry Barlow was the yard foreman. He married one of Ben seniors daughters and lived in a cottage in the woodyard whilst Ben juniors youngest daughter did the office work in an outbuilding in the yard, so it was truly a family business.

Mr Fisher looked after the horses and he and his wife brought up 7 children. Mrs Fisher lived to the age of 101 so her hard life did her no harm. She was also a hard worker for St Pauls Church, Fazeley.

An old gent did the menial jobs around the woodyard and he lived in an outbuilding. When he popped out to have a drink at the nearby Three Tuns, Ben Aucott would throw back his bedclothes and sprinkle the sheets with 'Keatings Kills', a flea powder.