A History of STOKE GIFFORD & Nearby Parishes
Edited by Adrian Kerton
Bradley Stoke Primrose Cottage Courtesy of David Baker
Here once stood two back to back cottage. The one facing the Patchway brook was Primrose Cottage. At its eastern end, In around 1900 a Mr. Milliner established a bread oven and the cottage became the first commercial bakery in Patchway. He supplied the local area and drove to Bristol daily to supply the city. The bread oven was also used by everyone in the village when the bakers’s work for the day was done.
Note the colour of the door
Sadly, the cottage was demolished to accommodate Bradley Stoke way, but in recognition of it, Primrose Bridge now spans the new road. If you stand upon the bridge and gaze towards Savages Wood in the south, you will see immediately below you a few fruit trees bordered by a shaft hedgerow – all that remains now of the cottage garden.
The Baker at Primrose Cottage
Map of 1971 Courtesy of South Gloucestershire Council
Primrose Cottage, A tale by David Baker.
Bowsland Lane had always been a quiet, peaceful little lane. It ran from the common belonging to the hamlet of Patchway, itself a quiet little place, to Bowsland Farm, and there it stopped. So the only users of the lane were the people of Bowsland farm and the inhabitants of two cottages part way along the lane, near the stream.
One of the cottages was known as Primrose Cottage and nothing much of note happened there. But around the start of the 20th century Mr Milliner established a bakery in the second cottage. And a jolly good bakery it was, Mr Milliners bread was famous, known right down into the centre of Bristol. So Bowsland Lane became a little busier with the people of Patchway calling for their bread and Mr Milliner traveling back and forth making deliveries.
So good was the bread that several of the local farmers’ wives gave up baking their daily bread and instead used Mr Milliner’s.
So it was on a fine May morning young Ned Briggs idled down Patchway Common on his way to the bakery. He worked, in a manner of speaking, for he was only eleven, for Farmer Snow and his wife of Pond Farm just up the common. He did odd jobs for them, ran errands, including fetching bread from the Mr Milliners bakery.
It took quite a while for Ned to reach the bakery. Not that the distance was over far but for a boy of eleven there were a great many distractions. There was Green farm and then Manor Farm (Although in those days it was called by another name, changing the name of a farm was a favourite pastime of farmers, perhaps it fooled the taxman for awhile). Not only were there the farm animals to visit, and at this time of year there were many young animals to admire but Manor Farm had a pond right by the side of the lane where there were sticklebacks and tadpoles and many other creatures to admire, and catch if there was half a chance. And at the cottages there were fine stands of primroses (hence the name Primrose Cottage) some of which Ned could pick to take home to his mam.
But eventually Ned reached the door of the cottage. As usual it stood open and Mr Milliners wife stood within. “hello young Ned” she said “Come for Mrs Snow’s usual have you?”. “That’s right Mrs Milliner. Two farmhouse and one cottage loaf please”. Now in case you think that this was a substantial portion of bred you should remember that Pond farm was a busy farm with a resident ploughman, two milkmaids and a cowman all of whom would be fed lunch by Mrs Snow. Bread would feature large on the menu as would cheese but no-one would believe they were sitting down to a ‘Ploughman’s Lunch’, such a phrase thing was an invention of many years later designed to lead ‘townies’ into thinking they were having a taste of the countryside.
Mrs Milliner placed the loaves into Ned’s basket and sped him on his way with “Tell Mary she can settle up at the end of the month as usual”. Now it so happens that on this particular day Ned had loitered in bed and as a result had missed his breakfast. The warm bread made Ned’s mouth water and as he walked up the lane and onto the common temptation gave way to action. He tore off the top of the cottage loaf and stuffed it into his mouth. For a few moments bliss but then the cold light of hunger satisified day returned. Mrs Snow would be less than pleased when she saw the loaf and Mr Snow had a heavy hand. Come to think of it his own mam had a heavy hand for transgressors. What to do?
Mrs Snow was in her kitchen counting eggs when a flustered Ned burst through the door. “Mrs Snow, Mrs Snow you will never guess what has happened.” “Why Ned” said Mrs Snow “whatever’s up?” “That old hoss of gaffer Jones at Green Farm was by the fence and when I went to pat him he reached down and bit the top right off your cottage loaf” said mendacious Ned. “Oh” said Mrs Snow “That was wicked of him wasn’t it? And to add insult to injury he must of sprayed breadcrumbs all over your shirt, And your chin and your lips”.
Walk across Primrose Bridge
View across the bridge