Redwood, Ernest (b.1897)

Ernest Redwood started working on a farm when he was twelve years old at a wage of sixpence a week.  He helped with everything, milking, ploughing, cider making and sheep shearing.  Ernest lived in Milverton all his life.


His father kept two pigs a year that were slaughtered.  His mother would cure the pigs and prepare hams and pork.  Lard was made from the pigs fat and she used to make ‘scrap cakes’ with the lard.

Unknown boy with slaughtered pig, c.1900. Unknown boy with slaughtered pig, c.1900. Photograph courtesy of North East Lincolnshire Council Library Service Hallgarth collection ©NELC.
Sound File
Listen to Ernest Redwood - 1.78MB Duration 3:52 min.

ER: Well, course, in those days we had our own old remedies for different complaints, and many of them, even today, I think are well in front of the stuff we get to take.  We’ve been told, back in my young days, always keep a bottle of cold tea by you and that was for scalds and burns.  Brimstone and treacle, that old remedy, would keep the colds away.  A boiled potato put up to your throat would cure a bad throat.


Onion broth, now this was a favourite thing in the olden days, now this was for bad colds.  Old beer, and I mean old beer, I don’t think there’s any of it about today, but it had to be warmed, and this was done to make thee sweat out all your complaints.  Bread poultices put up for boils in the skin.  There was another old thing sold called balsam of aniseed, this was for colds as well.


There was another old thing called Friars Balsam.  Now with this you put it in hot water in a big pan and it steamed.  You put a towel over your head and you inhaled all the steam.  This really cured quite a lot of complaints, including colds, throat complaints, well, quite a lot of different things.


My old mother used to advise that, course, when we were children it wasn’t like, we didn’t live in the welfare state, we had to put up with whatever come along and all these old remedies didn’t cost much money.  We just had it and believe me many of them are well worth trying even today, so if anyone ever listens to me, you’ve got any of these complaints, just try one of them and try me out as well.


To have a bit of a treat years ago when I was a boy, my father used to try and keep two pigs in a year and when he had one of them killed a special man used to come around and kill the pig which was quite humane and the pig never suffered much and then they’d light up a furnace of boiling water and scrape all the ’airs off and then the pig used to be taken into the kitchen and hung up.


But today, they wouldn’t like it today, many of the young people, I don’t think but we used to think it a treat because we had a bit of pork for a few weeks.  Then we’d get in another little pig and when that one was big enough we’d kill that one, we used to have another treat.  So that’s how we used to get on in the olden days, but I wish I could remember everything about what I’ve to tell thee about, but I can’t remember these days much.


KW: Did your mother ever salt any of the pig meat?


ER: Of course, they had big wooden, what we used to call trinnels, and all this meat, the next day the man that killed the pig would come around and cut him up in small pieces and it was all pushed into this big trinnel and salt rubbed into it to keep.  That’s how they used to keep it.  Yeah, mother had a busy time rubbing salt, it took quite a lot.  It wasn’t in packets in those days; you could buy a block of salt, quarter of hundredweight in one lump.

Copyright Information
Copyright. This recording was made by Kate Walters in 1973. Photograph ©North East Lincolnshire Council Library Service Hallgarth collection. For access to full interview please contact the Somerset Heritage Centre.