Flora & Fauna

Local Characters

Our first "In the Spotlight" interview is with Roy and Janet Butler and their Q & A session is below:

Roy's earliest memory of Monkton is living at Aplin's Farm. His family moved there when he was about 7 or 8 years old and lived in part of the farm house. Later his parents were provided with a council house in Otter View. The local residents at the time voted on who would live in the new houses. In those days there was no electricity or mains water in Monkton. There was a pump or a well for four houses and toilets in the gardens.

Initially the family relied on tilley lamps for lighting but Roy's father, who died sadly early aged 53, was an electrician and their house was the first to have electricity after he installed a generator. At one time there was a school in Monkton, but not in Roy's time. The building is now used as a Village Hall. Roy attended Honiton Primary School in Clapper Lane, and subsequently secondary school in Honiton. A Company called Sprague’s Coaches took the children to school. The A30 was so quiet in those days that the boys often played football in the road whilst they waited for the bus, using their jackets to mark the 'goal posts'.

In the early days the children had to walk in the main road to get to the bus stop to wait for the school bus. There was no footway. However, as time passed and the A30 became busier, it became increasingly dangerous for them to do that.

In order to draw attention to the danger the mothers walked in the road with prams and pushchairs, deliberately to hold up the traffic. As a result the footpath now known as Butler Way was created at the side of the road.

Roy followed his father's career to become an electrician and worked for the South West Electricity Board. He was on call for breakdowns as well as domestic work until he retired aged about 60. Both father and son have served on Monkton Parish Council over the years. Roy's favourite hobby is sea angling.

What does Roy miss about those early days? The Youth Club, the Sunday school and the Youth Choir at St Mary Magdalene Church. At one time Tom Travers was both the church warden and a bell-ringer. The Church has been closed now for about 5 - 6 years and Roy feels that it was one of the worst things to happen to the village.

There was a cricket field owned by Archibald Coombes on the left hand side of Ford Bridge and Roy was scorer for the cricket team when he was 14. He and his friends sometimes earned pocket money by cycling up to the far side of Aplin's Farm to tell drivers how to avoid the worst of the heavy holiday traffic though Honiton. Appreciative drivers would often give them a couple of bob for their trouble.

Roy has a younger brother and two sisters, who all live fairly locally. He met his wife Janet in Sidmouth, where she was born. When they were courting he would cycle to Sidmouth at weekends just to see her. They married in 1959 and had four children. They have lived in Monkton ever since. Janet says that she knew the name of everyone in the village in those days and folk did not feel the need to lock their doors.

Other changes include a largish house opposite the Little Chef which has now been pulled down. In Monkton itself there was a garage and shop almost opposite the Hotel. However, it closed when the owners moved to Dunkeswell.

Roy remembers the family that lived at Tovehayne Farm at that time and he recalls Monkton Court Hotel being run by a Miss Dobbin and Miss Jones. That would have been over 55 years ago. A subsequent landlord was Charlie Parrott. Roy believed Charlie Parrot was a very good landlord and Roy can remember very good times there.

Charlie also owned Parrots Frozen Foods which was based in Weston Super Mare before being bought out by Birdseye. Janet worked behind the bar in the Hotel and was later a grill chef in the Little Chef near Honiton. That was a very busy job. Recollections of the little Chef are that the Little Chef had a petrol station on site at one time and also that the Tour of Britain cycle race once stopped there.