A decayed market town! It is our village epitaph and sad as true. One by one its industries have left it, due partly to change of methods and demand, partly to much increased swiftness in transport, the last being the chief factor in making Banbury market and town the trading centre it now is. Horses, leather gaiters and other specialities, together with the famed pudding pies of Deddington Fair, are no longer in demand here, but several good shops still successfully ply for orders round about, as well as supplying the needs on the spot.

Change from horse power to petrol in the end did away with a very famous industry – Joseph and Samuel Mason's Axle-tree factory. Its last proprietor was John Ward who sold the patent to Walker's of Wednesbury. But such a hall-mark of excellence was Mason's of Deddington that other axle-trees used to arrive at their destination by a round-about route in order to get labelled with Deddington's nearest railroad equivalent. It was established about 1820 and removed 37 years ago. Some 60 to 80 men were employed at the foundry on whose former site the British Legion Club building now stands A member of the Clark family who worked there still survives, and Mrs. Robert Tucker, wife of the ex-postmaster (now retired and living at the "Priory", Hudson Street) is a daughter of its last Deddington proprietor, John Ward. It was the firm's proud boast that hardly a crowned head in Europe but rode in state above those axle-trees, and Queen Victoria's Coronation coach was furnished with them.

Most lamentable of all - perhaps because to the outsider it does not appear to have been inevitable in spite of war-time eclipse - was the closing down of Franklin's Church building and restoration firm.

The brothers H. Robert and W. Franklin carried out other work of a high class, but it was in connection with the embellishment and restoration of ecclesiastical buildings they were most noted. Mr. David Hancox, one of Franklin's head men, has been good enough to furnish a record of some of the work executed by the late H. R. and W. Franklin between 1884 and 1917 - a formidable list though detailing only a part of their achievements. Space permits but a meagre selection from a range that includes every form of design and artistry in wood, stone and brickwork:

'Of famous churches and schools, names that spring to the eye are St. Giles' and St. Margaret's, Oxford; Cowley St. John's; Stratford-on-Avon Church; Magdalen College; the Abbeys of Wroxall and Barton; Marlborough College, Salisbury School and Cripplegate, London; Clumber, Eccleston, Burton-on-Trent, St. Ives. Franklin's range was not local but throughout the kingdom and beyond it, for Hobart Cathedral, Tasmania, prizes among its greatest treasures a pulpit and chancel screen made by Deddington's artist-craftsmen, finished and transported there, respectively in 1903 and 1916. Chancel screens were perhaps most in request. Franklin's specimens of oak carving and design up and down the country did not, however, by any means stop there. Pulpits, organ cases, rood beams, panelling, reredos, etc., alike gave scope to a skill for which the Deddington workshop served both as training school and headquarters of rare master builders, equipped for dealing with materials the most massive, intricacies the most delicate.'

Mr. Hancox's list ends with words briefly tragical: '13th February, 1917, finished for Franklin's as works closed down.'

Thus was 'finis' written - a loss not only in employment to a couple of hundred (sometimes more) of the highly skilled, but to the community at large for whom that skill was no longer exercised.

'Aynho on the hill, Clifton in the Clay, Dirty, drunken Deddington And Hempton high way.'

We may deprecate, we may smile, we may even try to explain away, but the fact remains that such is our local rhyme and we had better make the best of it.

This town like Banbury has been long celebrated for the goodness of its malt liquor, from whence it obtained the appellation of Drunken Deddington', wrote the compiler of the 1852 Directory and Gazetteer of Oxfordshire. Malt was a principal product - maybe competitors were jealous, and anyway those who too well appreciated Deddington's beer no doubt came from far and wide to bring upon the town its bibulous reputation.

Notes from the Latin Roll of A.D. 1424, relate that at the Court held in 'Dadynton' the following officials were elected for the ensuing year:

'One Bailiff, two constables, three Beer Tasters, three overseers of butchers and bakers, who are to report concerning false weight, or inferior quality.'

Severe penalties and punishments were in store for offenders, and we may note that the standard of beer had three to keep it up, while meat and bread shared three between them. Even so the liquor of Deddington has been well guarded right up to the days of John Knibbs, 'Ale Taster' by appointment of 'Court Leet' who tasted for the Bailiffs to see that the beer was up to standard. He died aged ninety-four on March the 9th, 1901. Knibbs also combined with this the Town criership, an office at present held by the sexton, who has now little occasion to ring his bell and proclaim.

In spite of belonging to another County (Northampton), Aynho plays an important part in local history besides heading the local rhyme. First, obstructing in 1858, through its squire, Deddington's desire to become a poor law centre. Later, making amends by procuring a privilege. For Aynho's squire - bargaining this time instead of obstructing - obtained for would-be travellers the boon of a second Great Western Railway Station, 'Aynho Park.' A shorter cut to London via Bicester having been devised, this was the condition exacted by Squire Cartwright for permission to run the line across his property.

Mr. David Hancox, whose hobby is bee-keeping, tells a story that again links Aynho-on-the-Hill with the Deddington that drinks. It recalls the times when malt liquor as intoxicant had a formidable rival in the bee wine of antiquity. A man of Aynho brewed so much metheglin (fermented honey with the comb) that the Deddington and Aynho publicans did not like it. They caused his removal - by bribing or intimidation is not stated - so as to keep the coast clear for beer.

Bee-Master Hancox makes the more refined honey brew - mead. This, unlike metheglin, is fermented from the run honey without the comb and is a mellow, most insidious drink.

"I've got some in my cellar years old," said he, "it goes down like milk but when you've had a glass or two you know it!"

It has not been possible to get many particulars of weaving being carried on here though there is proof that cloth was made and sold. Mr. Henry Stilgoe calls attention to 'the Overseers' Accounts for the years 1736 and 1742, showing the labourers' wages, also where, or for whom, they worked. The fact that the overseers sold cloth suggests that it was probably made by inmates of the institutions under their charge. There are entries which show that the cloth was sold at 7 1/2d. and at 11d. per ell.'

An obstinate tradition, too, connects the plush weaving, still carried on at Shutford, with Deddington. The story goes that there were here weavers skilled in the art who left for the former place, possibly as a more convenient centre, it already being known for its plush. Judging from the pay and prices customary in the trade, which Beesley's History of Banbury (1841) quotes, its followers fared but hardly. Much plush was then exported from Banbury, (later on Shutford became headquarters of this class of weaving). It was in the style of velvet and looms were of the olden construction, the shuttles passed by hand as they still are. "A man," writes Beesley, "ought to make a piece of livery plush 42-43 yards in a month for which he would receive £3." Boys did the winding, earning on an average one shilling and tenpence halfpenny per week, and the weekly average earnings of the ordinary worker is put at eleven shillings and three farthings. They were at the looms for nine hours, six days a week.

Referring back to the local rhyme, 'Clifton in the Clay' held a fairly important place with its industries. 'Hempton high way' contributed nothing but the 'high way' mentioned, which was and is a good road for a healthful walk with beautiful views of the churches 'Adderbury for strength, Bloxham for length', though 'King's Sutton for beauty'- which completes another local rhyme - is not so clearly in the line of visibility.

At Clifton a beaver hat factory was run in conjunction (rather aptly!) with the 'Duke of Cumberland's Head' and was apparently a thriving concern, especially when a low crowned beaver was as an important part of the rustic's Sunday dress as his smock and ribbed stocking. These three items were insisted upon by William Hirons in his recollections of 80 and 90 years ago. Farming implements, pumps and agricultural machinery made by Thomas Lardner was another source of prosperity.

Robinson's mill at Clifton is the only one in the Deddington district still working. Formerly there were several, the mills of Clifton being especially mentioned as contributing to the revenues of the Prior of Bicester in 1425, the priors having been holders of one-third of the Manor of Deddington since 1272, when even then our mills were grinding to provide the daily bread.

Names enshrining memories of mills no longer there are the Windmill Cottages on the Hempton Road and Paper Mill Lane, turning out of the Banbury Road on the east side and running towards the small river Swere. John Emberlin (1791) carried on his business of paper-making here, and Sophia Emberlin (1846) was probably the last of the paper-makers of that name.  Subsequently one Hobday occupied it, and in the 'eighteen-seventies' Z. W. Stilgoe of Adderbury Grounds purchased it and converted it to the purposes of a corn mill. Good writing paper, also Bank Note paper used to be made at these paper mills.

Going back to the annals of Deddington's traders, two names are conspicuous in the beginning and middle of the last century. William Hudson gave his name to a street and through his executors presented the Church clock. He was draper and storekeeper in Market Square where Wells & Son's furniture business is carried on. Centenarian Hirons with his characteristic chuckle told me, "Bill Hudson gave the Church clock - out of farthings they said! He had a general shop, grocer's and drapers, at Chislett's Corner. One day he went to get out a teapot for a party he was giving and sovereigns began dropping out of it on to the floor. (Didn't trust banks much in those days, you know, so he'd hidden them there). 'Never mind', says Bill, 'a sovereign or two don't matter'," which displayed a latitude certainly not usually associated with farthing hoarding though in sympathy with the disposition which planned giving so fine a clock.

The other big name in those days was John Samuel Hiron, printer, bookbinder, bookseller and stationer; he also sold music and Berlin wools. From his establishment in the Market Place he published The North Oxfordshire Monthly Times. Its first number was issued on July 3rd, 1849 and it was continued until December 1859 - possibly, according to Mr. Marshall, for a longer time. The newspaper was during the latter part of its career issued from Hiron's premises in the High Street. The subtitle of this publication was the Agricultural Advertiser and it appeared on the first Tuesday in each month. Mr. Thomas Smith, who has several copies of this journal, kindly lent them with much other valuable information on local history.

Naturally Mr. Hiron's advertising columns refer to his own 'special lines'. His was the 'Stamp Office' where licences - ranging from 'marriage' to 'hawkers' were sold. Among new songs to be obtained at Hiron's Music Warehouse were 'Oh, Willy we have missed you', 'Popping the Question', and 'Old Dog Tray.' Mr. Hiron also sold Horniman's tea and was a medicine vendor. Banbury tradesmen inserted their advertisements too in the Monthly Times, and a novelty recommended by one of these - 'patent elastic trouserings on an entirely new principle which for comfort and durability is unequalled' - makes one smile, though they were most likely far less absurd than the late 'Oxford bags'.

John and Thomas Fardon had the reputation for making excellent clocks here ; many examples of their work are still in use. Their names appear in a 'Universal Directory' published 1791-2. From this we also find that the King's Arms, kept by John Williams was, exactly one hundred and forty years ago, the Post Office. Thomas George and George Goodman were malsters – the old way of writing 'maltsters', William Williams a cooper, John Emberlin a paper-maker. The Fardons are described as watch-makers, Thomas being an ironmonger too. Thomas Williams kept the Three Tuns.

Under the heading of 'Traders etc' are Jeremiah Knibbs, collar maker; Richard Knibbs, Sadler; Thomas Knibbs, Girt-weaver; John Martin, peruke-maker, and William Skillman, School-master.

There was another innkeeper, who was a freeholder as well, Edmund French, but it does not give the name of his public house.

From Hunt and Co's Directory for 1846 the following names and callings are selected as throwing a light on the development of the place and its industries. Foremost, the axle-tree makers - Mason, Joseph and Samuel (patent). Auctioneer and Appraiser, Scroggs, John (the name of the last is noteworthy, for as Mr. Marshall in his Notes observes, he represented the family of Sir William Scroggs, Chief Justice in 1678, a Deddingtonian who rose to high office from humble parentage).

The Beer Retailers were W. Heritage, G. E. Petty, John Timms and George Whetton. Hop Merchants: Edward Bradley and William Margetts. John Samuel Hirons is set down as 'Bookseller and Stationer, Printer and Binder'. The King's Arms was kept by Ann East, it was 'Commercial and Posting'. The Unicorn, by William Sturch, was 'Commercial.' Inns and Public Houses were the Crown and Tuns, George Morrey; King's Head, Thomas Rutter; Plough, Thomas Matthews; Red Lion, John Rose; Three Horse Shoes, John Whetton.

Malsters were two: G. E. Petty, who figured previously as beer-retailer, and John Scroggs, unexpectedly combining malt with his auctioneering. Five straw hat makers are enumerated, it was a home occupation for women. Three 'Hannahs', respectively Ford, Franklin and Nutt, made hats, as did Elizabeth Strong and Mary Town.

Sophia Emberlin (in Hunt's Directory mis-spelt 'Embling') was carrying on the paper making, and there were no fewer than five Fire and Life Assurance Agents, who witnessed to the rapid popularity of that admirable and prudential safeguard.

By 1852 - the date of both the Kelly's Post Office Directory and the Oxfordshire Gazetteer, to which reference is frequently made - family names had changed less than businesses, though even these often have remained the same up to this day. There are Bennetts, one a baker, who we know made pudding pies. There are two John Bakers, Senior and Junior, both connected with the building trade. Four Hopcrafts made bricks, were masons, potters or stone-cutters. The famous Robert Franklin, under heading 'builder' is in the list. There are many named Churchill, Busby, Gibbs, French, Smith - all pursuing callings necessary to the community and several combining more than one.

For instance, George Eustace Petty was a brewer and malster who retailed his beer besides selling china, corn and coal. William Matthews, whose rope-walk was behind Hopcraft's building yard, made rope and hair-line. There were makers of bonnets and a maker of clogs, and the keepers of a 'Seminary', and 'Academy', and a 'Dame's School', commented upon elsewhere. Needless to say the farmers and agricultural interests were of immense importance but their place is not in a trade list. Also it goes without saying that their names, if enumerated, would closely repeat those farming today. As a stranger said to Mr. Thomas Smith, who was explaining a little about us:

"Why, good gracious me, the whole of Deddington seems to be related."

So much bustling activity in this market town, which is now a village, necessitated naturally plenty of means of transport for goods and for those passengers not catered for by the flying coaches.

Carrier services between Deddington and Oxford, and the towns of Banbury and Woodstock were as follows:

To Banbury: Richard French, Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays; Joseph Hemmings, Mondays and Thursdays; Thomas Gibbard, every Saturday; Thomas Nutt (from Milton) every Thursday.

To Oxford: Joseph Hemmings, every Wednesday and Saturday; Thomas Gibbard, every Saturday; Thomas Nutt, (from Milton) every Friday.

To Woodstock : Johnson and Ward from the Unicorn, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

London was reached through Parker's vans from the King's Arms every Tuesday and Saturday. They passed through Aynho and Bicester to Aylesbury where they joined the train.

To post a letter to London from Deddington in 1826 cost eight pence (Vide Paterson's Roads).