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Frank Wilkingsons history of Carterton

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					William Carters vision or the idyllic
land of opportunity




Out of a Dream a town
is born

Price, with two acres of land £185
CARTERTON — the place of opportunity where land
                              ex
was cheap and the prospects excellent for a good living.
On such promises was the town founded as turn of the
             tlers"
century "settlers" were enticed to the wide open spaces of
West Oxfordshire.
The dream was to turn it into a "garden city" with
smallholders carving out their own idyllic living.
                                          tempting
Founding father William Carter sent out temp
brochures hailing the area as the land of opportunity.
"Why emigrate when really good area hold land suitable
for fruit and poultry farming can be bought at home for just £20 an acre," he asked.
Such hype didn't exactly prompt a land rush but by 1902 16 houses had been built and the
town of Carterton was established.
One of those early settlers was a Mr John Ernest Garner whose arrival and settlement in the
area has been charted by his grandson, Frank Wilkinson.
Frank, who lives in Fulbrook, still has many old documents and photographs which tell the
story of his grandparents.
                                  Bur ford's
Now retired after 49 years with Bur-ford's brewery where he started as office boy and became
managing director, Frank has developed a keen interest in the history of Carterton.
                                                                            presen
He is often called upon to give talks to local groups and societies and has presented some of
his documents to Carterton Town Council.
                                    history
"I haven't so much researched the history of Carterton as grown up with it," he said. "I lived
there for most of my early life and was always hearing stories about the place from my
mother and grand-mother."
One of Frank's proud boasts is that he
was carried as a babe in arms to the
opening of the town's first church in 1915.
And he was there is June 1963 to read
the lesson when the church closed down to make way for a new one — the present day St
John the Evangelist.
He is presently trying to persuade the town council
to name one of the new roads in the town after his
grandfather.
                                  had
"A lot of the early settlers have ha roads named
after them and I think it would be nice for my
grandfather to be remembered in that way as well,"
he said.
One of Frank's most treasured historical mementos
is the original brochure his grandfather received
from William Carter.
                 ontains
The brochure contains some gems of philosophy
which illustrate the lofty ideals behind the efforts
to get people back to the land.
"Cheap land is absolutely necessary for the healthy
expansion of our rural towns and industrial
villages, thus helping to develop a sturdy class of
yeomen, the backbone of the nation," it claimed.
The land was certainly cheap — Carter's boast was
that he could sell a square yard for the price of a
pint of beer — one penny.
Good land on
solid rock
                                               Farm,
Carter had bought 740 acres of land at Rock Farm, originally owned by the Duke of
Marlborough, in 1901 and divided it into plots.
A bungalow with two acres cost £185 while villa plots could be bought for £10 each.
                                                                              cul
The brochure also contained handy hints for the settlers on how to go about cultivating the
                               ing.
land for fruit or poultry farming.
Although based on solid rock which made drainage a problem the land was obviously good
and Carterton became famous for its fruit, especially tomatoes.
Frank's grandfather settled in the area in 1902 when he bought just over four acres of land and
moved his family from Copstone Mill in the Chilterns — its windmill featured in the film
Chitty. Chitty Bang Bang.
Frank recalls stories from his mother about how as a girl she used to cycle the 40 miles from
Copstone on her "boneshaker" bicycle to watch the new house being built.
Mail in those days was collected and delivered by horse drawn van on its way from Burford
to Faringdon.
There was also a horse drawn passenger service to and from the nearest railway station at
Bampton provided by a Mr Charlie Walker.
"The story is that the horse used to stop automatically outside the Carpenters Arms, Brize
Norton, because Charlie always found an excuse to call in," said Frank.
The first shop opened in 1902 by a Mr Gallagher who brought all his stock and furniture from
Scotland by horse drawn van.
By 1906 the population of Carterton was between 200 and 250 and in the following years the
building of a church and school firmly established it as a separate community.
Until then it had been a rather long and straggling village without a proper centre with settlers
still looking to the nearby villages of Black Bourton, Alvescot, Shilton " d Brize Norton.
These of course have remained villages while Carterton has mushroomed into a busy and still
growing town with a population of around 13,000.
The growth was mainly due to the establishment of RAF Brize Norton which started life as an
aerodrome in 1937.
The place was bombed by the Germans in 1940 when 45 planes were destroyed.
After the war in 1950 it was taken over by the United States Air Force and then reverted to
the RAF in 1965 when the largest aircraft hangar in Europe was built.
"This was when the town really started to expand, of course," said Frank. "It has developed
°and grown very quickly.
"There is now an enormous number of new houses and the place has really changed. But it is
nice to look back and see how it all started."

				
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