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  Growth & Predominant Occupations, 1875 & 1968.  

In 1875 Fairwoode was one of nine small hamlets of Cranborne the population of the nine was 2,562. The principal landowners of the whole were the Marquis of Salisbury, also Lord of the Manor, the Earl of Shaftesbury, Earl of Normanton, H. F. Brouncker, esq., W. Fryer esq. and G. Churchill, esq.   The occupations of people in Verwood recorded in 1875 were:- 

  • one potter; 

  • one coal merchant at Heath Poult Inn; 

  • one farmer and miller; 

  • one bricklayer and 

  • the proprietor of the Albion Hotel adjoining Verwood Station

The 1886 record shows a slightly different picture of occupations. There was a station master, and an omnibus ran twice daily from Verwood station to Cross Keys Inn (on Holt Common) where there was an agency for the London and South Western Railway Company. Other occupations recorder were:- 

  • one Blacksmith, 

  • four potters, 

  • one brick manufacturer, 

  • one bricklayer, 

  • six farmers, 

  • one rate collector, 

  • one grocer, 

  • one proprietor of the Albion Hotel., and 

  • one postmaster-shop keeper - beer retailer.

In 1890 there were:-

  • six potters, 

  • two dealers, 

  • two blacksmiths and 

  • one

In 1891 the village was recorded as having a population of 1,191.

1894 was the year in which Verwood became a Civic Parish; the Local Government Board transferring it from Cranborne. It included then and still does, Three Legged Cross.

The 1895 records show that :- 

"The parish is in the Eastern Division of the county hundred of Cranborne, the petty sessional division and county court district of Wimborne, Wimborne and Cranborne Union, the Rural deanery of Pimperne, Archdeaconryy of Dorset and diocese of Salisbury."

The principal landowners at that time were:-

  • the Earl of Normanton of Somerley and 

  • Sir Frederick W. Rolls Fryer K.C.S.J. of Government House Rangoon, J.P. Lord of the Manor.

The occupations recorded in 1895 were:- 

  • five potters, 

  • two earthenware dealers, 

  • two hawkers, 

  • one general dealer, 

  • six farmers, 

  • two blacksmiths, 

  • one coal merchant, 

  • one brickmaker, 

  • one game keeper, 

  • one shopkeeper-beer retailer and 

  • one hotelier. 

"There was a conveyance from Verwood Station to the Victoria in Cranborne twice daily."   In 1895 the sub-post master was permitted to deal with Money Orders It is supposed that until then the villagers had to go to Cranborne when they needed money orders.

The occupations recorded in 1915 show an increase in craftsmen, they are:- 

  • two earthenware dealers; 

  • three wheelwrights, 

  • two brick makers, 

  • two besom makers, 

  • two earthenware manufacturers; 

  • two blacksmith,

  • one saddler and 

  • one higgler (hawker). 

The Gotham Brick and Tile. Company is mentioned for the first time in this record, as is the St. Gabriel's Home for waifs and strays.

The population of Verwood in 1921 had risen to 1,217 and in the following year West Moors became a separate ecclesiastical parish.

Kelly's directory of 1927 shows the first record of a County Police Constable in Verwood, although a Dorset Constabulary Register of Bad Characters dates back to 1862, and contains signatures of a Verwood Constable. 

The occupations recorded in 1927 were:- 

  • two higglers, 

  • two earthenware dealers, 

  • four besom makers, 

  • one mat maker, 

  • two blacksmiths, 

  • one contractor of cement, sand and brick and tile makers at the Gotham brick and Tile Company. 

There was one pottery at the crossroads (Now the Verwood Heathlands Heritage Centre).

The principal products of the village during these years were bricks, earthenware and besom brooms. Some higglers or hawkers took their garden produce to Ringwood or Wimborne markets or into Bournemouth.   

One higgler made the journey to until 1952.   Other higglers travelled with horses and waggons containing earthenware and besoms over various routes.   Some travelled to Mere and Portland and others to Basingstoke, to which a railway van had been sent from Verwood Station with fresh supplies for the return journey across country.   One gentleman in Verwood remembers travelling with his grandfather, leaving the village at four a.m. and travelling through the higgler made the journey to

The earliest record of an earthenware dealer Is to be found in the Poole Town accounts of 1731/2 "half load of earthenware Mr. Lawrence of Verwood.....6d". This entry refers to cartage of earthenware from Verwood to Poole for export.

Until 1910 Verwood bricks were taken to the surrounding villages by horse and waggon, the number of bricks per load depending on the size and capability of the horse. Some horses could pull 350-400 bricks. After 1910 the bricks, tiles and pipes were transported by Foden's steam lorries and could be distributed farther afield.

Apart from one, the potteries closed as the result of galvanised zinc pans being produced and because of the village men being called up to serve in the 1914--1918 war. 

The second world war contributed to the closure of the brickyards, partly because the men served in the war and also because the kilns could not have been fired at night, as there was the danger of their firelight being seen by enemy aircraft.

By the 1920s the village began to take on its present form.  In 1921 the village had its first doctor. Dr. Gerling, who held his surgeries at the Restyng House. Until then the villagers went to the Cranborne Doctor at Cranborne, and the Church had a wheelchair for loan to the villagers. The surgery was then transferred to a house on which Lloyds bank now stands and after Dr Pearson it moved to a surgery further down Manor Road which has since been demolished and replaced by flats. The surgery then moved to its current site on Station Road. The Cranborne surgery have also since build an additional surgery in Lake Road. 

In the 1920's  there was an increase of shops, builders and decorators, two banks, a butcher and a florist. With regard to  social activity it was recorded that there was a Tennis Club, Working Men's Institute, cricket and football clubs. 

The Hants and Dorset Bus Company was, by this time running a bus service linking Verwood with Ringwood, Wimborne and Bournemouth . Until then people had relied on the train service or horsedrawn vehicles or, when it was necessary to take cattle to market in Wimborne or Ringwood, it was a case of driving them on foot. The railway closed under the Beeching axe of the 1960s.

The advent of the motor car really changed the character of Verwood; the original village industries gradually died out for reasons previously mentioned and people could travel out of the village for employment.

The population of Verwood in 1952 was given as 2,296. Many council houses have been built since then to enable families to remain in the village. Small industries have been encouraged to the area, several making use of existing sites. 

A paint factory was established in 1945 on the site of an old brickyard (Blackhill - Currently Bradfords Building Supplies), and a mushroom farm was in production on the site of the station brickyard in 1946. This was demolished and a factory making prefabricated buildings established in its place (Lessors Buildings) has also been demolished with housing replacing it. A radiator factory (Stelrads) was in production near the paint factory but this has now closed, though the social club still exists. The main industrial centre in Verwood is now mainly situated on the Ebblake Industrial Estate.

Thorne's sawmills was situated in Dewlands Road just off Station Road on the edge of Dewlands Common. This began during the First World War when a farmer at Romford Farm saw the need for pit props to be used as trench props during the fighting in France. So began a thriving business in an area of woodlands. At the same time the farmer bought two traction engines, and found a considerable amount of work at the Blandford army camp. This lead to a successful haulage and threshing business alongside the sawmill.   The threshing trade has come to an end with the. advent of the combine-harvester, but the saw mill continued to flourish until recently with the wood being hauled by road.  The Dewlands Road site has now been closed and is now a housing estate and the business has now been transferred to Three Legged Cross. In 1968 one hurdle maker remained with the firm, and stacks of hurdles and faggots could still be seen awaiting delivery to other parts of the south.

As the soil of Verwood is sandy, it is not surprising that there are sandpits south of Stephen's Castle. Sand was dug from here from 1908 taken by horse and cart to Verwood Station and transported by rail. In latter years it was hauled be a fleet of lorries.  These sandpits are now closed and recently the public have been forbidden entry as the site had been illegally occupied by Dorset gypsies with the inevitable fouling of the area.

The population of Verwood in 1968 was 3,480. It would be difficult to record a list of occupations of the village people as so many go from the village daily to Ringwood, Bournemouth, Wimborne and even further afield. There are also many retired people living in the village.

The following list shows the types of occupations in Verwood in 1968.

  • Paint factory.

  • Radiator factory.

  • Saw Mill Prefabricated buildings factory.

  • 8 farms

  • 3 Grocers - 1 with an off-licence.

  • 1 Post office

  • 2 hardware shops,

  • 2 butchers

  • 1 off licence

  • 2 Public Houses

  • 1 tea rooms

  • 1 cafe and grocer

  • 1 coal merchant

  • 1 electrical shop

  • 2 confectioners

  • 2 bankers

  • 2 hairdressers

  • 1 pet shop

  • 1 draper

  • 1 shoe shop

  • 1 fish- shop

  • 1 newsagent & toys

  • 1 chemist

  • 1 hardware

  • 1 fencing maker

  • 2 printers

  • 3 garages

  • 1 wrought iron smith

  • 1 library 

  • 1 besom maker        

  • 4 builders              

  • 4 painters & decorators

  • 3 electrical contractors

  • 2 driving schools

  • 2 car hire businesses.

In 1968 the village had two resident doctors and several Ringwood doctors attended patients in the village. There was also a resident District Nurse and Welfare Nurse. Currently there are two surgeries with a number of doctors in each along with physiotherapy and other services being available.

Copyright P Reeks.     


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