Twentieth Century

Winfrith Newburgh has had its ups and downs throughout more modern times, but gradually a degree of prosperity came after the Second World War. New houses were built, people travelled further afield to work and, most revolutionary of all, the name of Winfrith became internationally known when part of Winfrith Heath became the site of Britain’s second Atomic Energy Research Centre.

In the fifty years or so since the construction of the experimental nuclear power plant, much has changed in the village and elsewhere in the parish: the Atomic Energy Centre is now being decommissioned – Magnox has published an interesting timeline here. East Fossil Farm (where Caerphilly cheeses were made in the 1950s) is no more – although the farmhouse still exists in Winbrook Fold – and fords at either end of the village have been bridged.

Roadway covered in shallow water with a car going through

Both ends of the village still get a bit wet in prolonged heavy rain, but not to the point of being impassable

The last word is with Harry Cox, born in 1880 and still going strong in 1957 when construction of the Atomic Energy Research Centre began on the heath. “Some of us mayn’t be too keen on the idea but you can’t selfishly stand in the way of a thing like this. I think we can go along with it and still keep our best characteristics as a village. ‘Twon’t make all that difference to I anyway. I shall still help my son at the forge – he’s the fifth generation of the Cox’s to be a blacksmith here. And I shall still climb to the top of the church tower once a week to wind the clock like I’ve done for forty years or more”.

Inner mechanism of the church clock being wound

The clock is still wound weekly, by hand, in the twenty-first century


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