This picture taken around 1920 shows the corn mill and the adjacent managers house in the background in which the Kearley family lived.
We have just received the following information from Mr Adrian Kearley concerning the time that his great grandfather and grandmother and their family lived in what was the mill manager’s house, which was adjacent to the old corn mill before, from the early part of the 20th century until around 1957.
It relates to an article that his uncle William Kearley of Cowes wrote at the time of the demolition of the mill premises at the end of 1962 early 1963 and it is believe to relate to an article published around that time in the County Press. In the article William [1905-77] goes on to explain how during the 1914-18 war he helped mother Mrs Emily Mary Kearley [1875-1960] bag coal as it arrived at Wootton.
His father John [1867-1937] [held the agency for the Wootton Coal Company [see article on main web site under Wootton 1900-49] and was away on war service. In order to support her young family of five young children and retain the agency, Emily took over the heavy manual work of bagging the coal in 56 lbs bag helped by her 10 year old son William. Once bagged the coal was delivered on a truck by William.
The arrival of the coal barge “Ada” with its cargo of a 100 tons of coal at the quay in Mill Square was a hectic time for all, labourers were hired to unload the barge being paid 6d per ton, to allowing the barge sail, tide permitting
During this time Mrs Kearley “special” customer was Mr John Samuel White, chairman of J.S.Whites, Shipbuilders, Cowes who at the time was living in Fishbourne. His order was for a ton of coal each time and was made of selected “nuts, this involved a few pence extra per bag and was delivered to the house in a horse and cart.
On his return from the war, John again took over the coal delivery business until it was sold to the Wootton Trading Company in the early/mid 1920s.
Back to William, now going by the name of Jim, he left school [one has to assume National School on New Road, see article] at the age of 14, having never missed a day through illness. He started work in 1919 as a labourer at the adjacent corn mill, his day began at 6.00am and his first task was to coax the old gas engine that ran the mill into life. Some mornings it was a difficult task as the machine was old and temperamental and prone to back firing. When this occurred it shook the whole building and half the village of Wootton had an early awaking. The mill owner at that time was Mr. Leonard J. Souter [again see separate article on the family on the main web site]. Another of Mrs Kearley’s skills/occupations was to sew the silk screens through which the mill sieved the flour.
In order further supplement the family income Mrs Kearley preformed many other services to the poorer residents of Wootton, these included midwifery and the laying out of bodies ready for burial. She also was the caretaker of the nearby Unity Hall, which at the time was the headquarters of the Liberal Club.
An interesting fact to that has emerge from writing this article is the information that Wootton Conservative club first held their meetings in a large room in the Mill House.
One has to assume that this was prior to the completion of building now known as Bumbles Lane in 1924. The room in Mill House was also used for the early meetings of the Royal British Legion.
Mr John Kearley died in 1937 aged 69,
The two ladies in the picture below are Mrs Kearley [died 1960 aged 85] standing at the the back and her mother is siting, the Kearley family left mill around 1957 having lived there for some 50 years
Source:- Mr Adrian Kearley & County Press