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Old Keepers Cottage - Noak Hill

As the name suggests the local gamekeeper once lived in this cottage, in fact it was the home of successive gamekeepers to the Neave family. It was retained by the Neaves in the 1919 auction as part of the Dagnam Park estate. It is now a private dwelling and is in part modernised.

In the late fifties this building was abandoned for some time. After a while some of us Harold Hill kids used it as a playground. We were avid birds' nesters. There were house sparrows in the loft and swallows in the out buildings. I found a wren's nest in an old outhouse to the left of the main building and catastrophically a friend kicked a rusty old paint can out back from which emerged a distraught robin and it's eggs which sadly were all broken.                                                                Del Smith.

It is a grade 2 listed building . Listing Text below
5107 Noak Hill
Old Keepers Cottage
TQ 5493/5593 2/7
C19 cottage, listed mainly for group value. Timber-framed, weather boarded, 3 bays wide, 1½ storeys high. Half-hipped mansard roof with modern tiles. Off-centre axial stack. Modern windows door and hood.
Listing NGR: TQ5414493586


Old Keepers Cottage Noak Hill.jpg


Old Keepers Cottage, Don Tait  June 2003.jpg


Old Keepers Cottage Noak Hill, 22-6-08 D Tait.jpg

By June 2003 The cottage is looking a bit sorry for itself but by 2008 things are looking up. The property has changed hands several times over the past 20 years.

Thanks to Don Tait for both photos.



Lot 12. The small holding at Noak Hill, known as Keepers Cottage, details from the 1919 auction catalogue.

(After the sale the property was renamed Pentowan)

Containing three bed rooms, box room, two sitting rooms, kitchen and pantry.

The buildings

Comprising a three stall stable with loft over. Loose box, coach-house and fowl house, and 9a. 3r. 19p. Of arable and pasture land. Let at rents apportioned for the purpose of this sale as follows :-
Mr. W. Knight. 4a. Ir. 18p. at £5 yearly.
Mr. Edwards. 5a. 2r. Ip. at £24 monthly. A total rental of £29 per annum. Outgoings : tithe rent charge (commuted amount) £5.

Land tax. charge (commuted amount) £1 2s 6d. The growing timber is included in the sale.

Water is laid on to the house from the company's mains.

The purchaser was. Harriet Emma Hammer, old crown farm, Noak Hill, who paid £1200 for it.

lot 12 auction map.jpg
Pentowan Sale receipt 1919.jpg

After purchasing the Keepers Cottage in 1919 the Hammers renamed it Pentowan...

and shortly after that they opened a combined store and cafe on the frontage, which remained open up until at least 1939. (the cafe was removed from rating on 15/11/1939) The exact date of it's closure is uncertain but the building existed through the war as can be seen on the destination board of the 238 bus below. It was eventually dismantled and moved to land adjacent to St George's Church on land close to Waverly Crescent off of Straight Rd in about 1948. It was then opened as a church hall on 11th September 1948.

Pentowan noak hill stores.jpg

In August 1958 the 174 bus route (see below) started an extended service terminating at Pentowan. Though only very few buses went all the way, most terminating at Tees Drive or the Gooshays roundabout in Harold Hill. In April 1974 the Pentowan service was reduced to schooltime only and it finally ceased altogether in May 1980 after the closure of the Noak Hill School in 1977. Even though by then the service primarily transported children away to Secondary Schools as opposed to importing children in to this Infant/ Junior school.

Noak Hill pentowan bus.jpg

                        Public bus from the days of the Pentowan Cafe.

C94 was rescued from a farm, still wearing its 480 blinds, and is in preservation. Its future was further secured when it was acquired by the London Transport Museum. More info

This route ran on Mon - Sat, 29 Oct 1941 to 25 May 1946. More info

Route 174 ran between Dagenham (Kent Avenue) and Romford (Parkside Hotel) via Rush Green in 1950, and was extended in October of that year to Harold Hill (Myrtle Road) via Gallows Corner, replacing withdrawn route 86B. In February 1952 it was further extended in Harold Hill from Myrtle Road to Gooshays Drive. It was extended in 1955 to Noak Hill. In November 1955 an express service was introduced during Monday to Friday peak hours and Saturday shopping hours, running between Romford Station and Harold Hill (Gooshays Drive). In 1957 the Saturday express service was withdrawn, but the peak hour express journeys remained unchanged for the next two decades. From January 1958, some Monday to Friday peak journeys were extended in Dagenham to Ford’s Foundry, and in August the same year, Monday to Saturday journeys continued to Noak Hill, Pentowan, and in November, the Ford’s journeys became daily. In April 1974, the Pentowan journeys became schooltime only. The express service was withdrawn on 23 July 1977. In May 1980 the 174 was diverted via Oldchurch Hospital and the Pentowan journeys were withdrawn. In June 1986, a Saturday express service was reintroduced and weekend journeys to Ford’s Foundry on the 174 withdrawn. The 174 was rerouted northbound in Romford to serve the Bus Station during February 1987. On 5th April 1988, Monday to Friday peak journeys were introduced to Dagenham Dock. The express service was yet again withdrawn on 1 September 1990. Today’s route 174 runs between Noak Hill (Tees Drive) and Dagenham (Kent Avenue) via Whitchurch Road, Harold Hill, Hilldene Avenue, Gallows Corner, Romford, Oldchurch Hospital, Oxlow Lane and Dagenham Heathway, extended to Dagenham (Marsh Way CEME) on Mondays to Saturdays.

                                                        Taylor Verses Hammer.
                       Noak Hill. Farmer Charged with Unlawful Shooting
                        Romford Times October 1921

At Romford Petty Sessions on Thursday, before Henry Joslin, Esq (chairman), and other Justices.
Ernest Hammer 46 a farmer from 'Pentowan,' Noak Hill, was charged on a warrant with unlawful, maliciously, and feloniously shooting at Oakley Turner, a farm labourer, of Tanhouse Lane, Navestock, with intent to do him grievous bodily harm, at Noak Hill, on October 5th.
Mr. L. G. Peake said he appeared on behalf of the defendant, who was arrested that morning, and there had not been time to go into the facts, he asked for an adjournment for a week.
The prosecutor, who is very deaf, was called into the witness box. The Chairman: It seems desirable to adjourn this case for a week; you don't raise any objections to that, do you. Prosecutor: No sir I think it would be nice for the police to visit the spot; Supt, Hewlett: From the police point of view I am very anxious that there should be an adjournment. We have not had time to do anything in the case.

Mr. Peake said his application was that the defendant might be admitted to bail.
The Chairman: It looks to be a serious case. Mr. Peake: Defendant is a dairy farmer at Noak Hill and has been there eight years. Defendant: My own place-freehold: The Assistant Clerk (Mr. Jones) was giving the Bench privately some particulars of the alleged circumstances of the case; When Mr. Peake said he did not wish the Bench to hear anything of it until they could also hear the defence. He was going to tell them that the prosecutor was supposed to have attacked the defendant with a knife. The chairman: It seems a serious case. Mr. Peake: I agree that it is serious that you let the defendant out on bail on his own recognisance. Mr. J. Z. Cahill, J.P. We must hear something about the case. Supt. Hewlett: I think you should hear of the case of arrest. Mr. Cahill: I should think so too.

Sergeant Hyde said that on Wednesday he issued a warrant for the defendant's arrest. At 8.30 a. m. on Thursday he went to Noak Hill in company with detective Bedall. He saw the defendant and told him he was a police officer. He read the warrant to the defendant and cautioned him "Yes" the defendant said"after he he had threatened to stab me with a knife. There are two sides to this; my solicitors will deal with it. I wonder there was not someone shot. We were all on the ground struggling together. He got hold of the gun, which was loaded." The Chairman said the case would be adjourned for a week.

Mr. Peake said that that Bench had had before them the evidence of arrest and had agreed to a deferment for a week in order to give the police and the defendant an opportunity to have the facts before them. He applied for bail for the defendant, who had been at Noak Hill for eight years. Defendant carried on business as a diary farmer, and was a substantial man. The police had no objections to bail, and sureties could be found provided the bail fixed was reasonable.
Defendant was admitted to bail himself in £50 and one surety in £50. Mr. J. R. H. Chippington, school teacher, of Noak Hill, became the surety.

The Romford Times Wednesday October 19 1921. Farm Shooting Affair.

At Romford Petty Sessions on Thursday before Sir Joseph Broodbank and other Justices, Ernest Hammer, 46, a farmer of 'Pentowan' Noak Hill, was charged on a warrant, on remand, with shooting at Oakley Turner, a farm labourer, of Tanhouse Lane, Navestock, with intent to do him grievous bodily harm, at Noak Hill on October 5th.
Ernest Hammer, the defendant in the last case, and Alfred Berthon Luffman1, a farmer's assistant, of 'Pentowan', Noak Hill, were summoned for assaulting Oakley Turner, at Noak Hill on October 5th; and there were cross-summonses against Turner for assaulting, Hammer and Luffman on the same occasion.
Mr. F. A. S. Stern prosecuted, and Mr. L. G. Peake defended.

Mr. Stern said that since the last sitting, summonses had been taken out by Turner against Hammer and his assistant Luffman, for assault, and Hammer and Luffman had taken out summonses against Turner. He proposed to make just a short statement of the facts, so that the Bench might be in possession of all the circumstances, and he would then ask them, if they thought right and proper, to take a certain course. Turner was in the employ of Mr. Taylor a farmer of Poplars Farm, Noak Hill. Hammer, or rather his wife, had recently purchased the adjoining farm, known as 'Pentowan'. Between the two farms there was a meadow, which was at present in the tenancy of Mr. Taylor but which had been purchased by Mrs. Hammer and of which Mr. Hammer was anxious to get possession. Notice had been served to terminate the tenancy next November. There had naturally been a tense feeling, Mr. Hammer being anxious to get possession, and Mr. Taylor being anxious to retain it until the end of the legal time. Certain acts of trespass had been committed and as a result Turner was instructed by Mr. Taylor to turn trespassers off the meadow.

About 7.30 a.m. on Wednesday, October 5th, Turner was in the meadow and saw Mr Hammer there with a gun. Turner was very deaf and therefore the conversation must have been held in loud tones, but he was instructed that Turner went to Hammer and said " You have no right in this field, and you must get off. Hammer said, "I am going to stop as long as I like" Turner said he would fetch Mr. Taylor, Hammer said "You fetch him, you can do what you like." Turner turned away, and he said that Hammer followed him and with the gun struck him in two or three places. His wrist was bruised, his hand was hurt, and he had injuries about his head. Turner was going away, and he alleged that Hammer, from a distance of two or three yards, fired off one barrel of the gun. One could hardly imagine that Hammer intended to shoot the man, because at a distance of two or three yards, it would be almost impossible to miss him. Whether he only intended to frighten Turner, or whether there was a struggle and the gun went off could only be conjectured. The fact remained that Turner closed with Hammer. There was a struggle and they fell to the ground. Luffman ran up having heard the shot and seeing men struggling he did what in his (Mr. Sterns) opinion was an improper action. Without inquiring what was the matter he struck Turner on the face with a stick, and drew blood. Luffman and Hammer struggled with Turner, but Turner eventually got away and went to Romford Police Station. The matter was considered to be serious and a warrant for Hammer's arrest was issued.

Hammer was arrested next morning and he said "Yes, after he had threatened to stab me with a knife. There are two sides to this; my solicitors will deal with it. I wonder there was not someone shot. We were all struggling together. He got hold of the gun, which was loaded." It seemed to him (Mr. Stern) that Hammer's suggestion was that Turner threatened him with a knife, that there was a struggle, and that the gun went off accidentally. Turner denied most positively that he ever produced a knife or in any way threatened Hammer. The position was that Mr. Taylor would hold possession for another twelve months; Taylor and Hammer were neighbours; and it was not desired, especially in these times of stress and trouble, that there should be any quarrels, they wanted to live, if they could, on terms of peace and quietness. Having regard to the fact that Turner had not been seriously hurt, he suggested to the Bench that, as cross-summonses had been issued, all the parties should be bound over to keep the peace for twelve months by which time tenancy of the field would have expired. He understood that Mr. Peake would agree to that course, and that Mr. Hammer would give an understanding not to trespass on the meadow. It seemed to him that the course he suggested would be a very desirable one, as it would have the effect of keeping the parties at peace during the remainder of the tenancy.
Turner was called and asked whether he was agreeable to the suggested course?
Turner: I should like some protection. The Clerk (Mr. F. J. Hunt): It is suggested that Hammer and Luffman should be bound over to keep the peace towards you for twelve months. Turner: I should have some protection from that gun.
Mr. Peake said that he did not wish to say anything that would aggravate the position, but in fairness to Mr. Hammer the story he would have told if the case had proceeded would flatly contradict the statement made by Mr. Stern. His case was that Turner proceeded to turn him out of the meadow, and did it very roughly, and there was a quarrel between them. He was willing that the Bench should bind the parties over. He thought the suggestion that had been made was the best one possible, and would tend to make the parties better neighbours.
The Clerk: Will you give the undertaking? Mr. Peake: We won't trespass on Mr. Taylor's land during the tenancy.
The Chairman: The Bench are glad to the proposed solution and they hope this treaty of peace will be kept.
The cases were withdrawn, the parties being bound over in £20 each to keep the peace for twelve months. They all shook hands and left the court.

Note 1. In the course of his research Don Tait discovered that Alfred Luffman was not simply a farmer's assistant but he was in fact a future son-in-law of Ernest Hammer, marrying his daughter Vera Edith Hammer in 1924. Don also considers that the correct spelling of Alfred Berthon Luffman's middle name is as given. There are various recorded spellings across numerous documents.
My thanks go to Ernie Herbert for tracking down the above story and transcribing it from the original newspaper report which was almost indecipherable.                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Del Smith

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