Bewholme’s heart is still beating

Gussie Beal’s hammering of the piano keys in the village hall for local dances; the village shop in Mrs Edmonds’ living room; and the sound of children playing at the local school are all happy memories of Bewholme’s past.

Caroline Wergrzyn (right) and Jane Evison pictured with the HART Rural Transport vehicle at Bewholme.
Picture by Simon Hulme
Caroline Wergrzyn (right) and Jane Evison pictured with the HART Rural Transport vehicle at Bewholme. Picture by Simon Hulme

This tiny village three miles from Hornsea with a population of 232 no longer has those amenities, which can make it difficult for an outsider to see whether it is a community at all or simply a collection of individuals.

The parish council meets in the church; there is a playing field with goalposts and nets; and a recently developed delightful pond with park benches and daffodils just out - but that’s about all.

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“What we have today are two litter bins, a grit box, post box, notice board, playing field, pond, telephone box (not in use) and St John the Baptist church,” said Lesley Butler, a resident of 43 years. “The biggest change was when the school closed because you don’t hear children anymore, but it’s still a friendly village.

St Johns Church, Bewholme Picture by Simon Hulme

“I moved here with my parents and married Michael, a local boy. Our three children went to the school and when I was younger I remember Mrs Edmonds’ shop in her front room. She had a freezer and shelves with various essentials. That was our village shop.”

Francis Richardson has lived at Bewholme Hall all his life, where he has a mixed arable and livestock farm.

“My family bought the farm in 1911 and my father came here in 1938,” he said. “When I was young there were several small farms but only two proper farms left today. My father passed away three years ago at the grand age of 95. It was he who told me the stories about Gussie and the village hall.

“My father also told me of one time when a lady who was perhaps being a little too ambitious with her dancing went through the dance floor. The village hall was well used but one of its downfalls was that in its deeds it was not allowed to have alcohol. It eventually became dilapidated and was closed over 15 years ago. We’ve never had a pub.

“All of our children Mark, James and Lucy went to the school. It was the heart of the village and it was a big shame when it went. It also caused employment in the village for two or three dinnerladies.”

Bewholme’s primary school finally suffered the axe in December 2003 after years of low pupil numbers.

When I visited Bewholme ten years ago as Country Week first started the better news was of a rural bus service HART (Holderness Area Rural Transport) being provided for the village and other similar communities.

Caroline Wegrzyn moved back north to Yorkshire from London with her young family having been attracted to the village partly by the school, which had a great reputation and a good Ofsted report. Since its formation in 2003 she has been responsible for HART.

“It came about when parish councillors formed a working party to provide a rural transport service to meet the needs of rural villages including Bewholme,” she said.

“One of the things that came out was that people were having problems getting to hospitals and health appointments. Initially a Medibus was started but HART has now grown to eight vehicles serving the isolated villages from Bempton to Spurn right along the rural strip of Holderness. We provide a shopping service at least once a week which is popular for getting people into Hornsea, Withernsea, Beverley and Hedon.

“What we do is fill the gaps left by the area’s commercial operator EYMS that can’t serve every little village regularly. We work closely with Peter Shipp who runs EYMS and have a variety of funding strands to make the service viable.”

Lesley understands the benefits of HART and how it can help Bewholme villages elsewhere.

“The thing about coming to live in somewhere like Bewholme is that you do know you really need a car, but my mother and her friends use the HART service regularly and really enjoy having it available to them,” she said.

Lesley’s son Jason also adds colour to the village by growing pumpkins. This year he’s growing 18,000 to attract visitors to Bewholme. It seems its heart is still beating in several ways even without much in the way of amenities.

Village’s claim to fame

Bewholme has a real claim to fame in the horse world.

The Richardsons are renowned Shire horse breeders and won at the Horse of the Year Show in 2007 with Mawstone Whinny. They also bred Bewholme Wendy that won several times. Francis is hoping that their latest hope Bewholme Brittania will as he says “rule the waves”. Alison Ives runs the world’s leading Irish Draught centre just down the road at the Balinmore Stud.

“At one time the village had its own Horse Power Weekend,” said Francis. “Bewholme is still a lovely village and it’s quite amazing that it has two of the world’s leading horse breeders just up this little street.”