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ORAL HISTORY - JACK HATT - WEDNESDAY 7 JANUARY 1998.
Jack Hatt was born locally in 1913 and came to Woodcote in 1940 at the age of 27. He formed his own haulage company, W.J.Hatt Ltd with a couple of lorries and tipper trucks and used them to haul coal from Goring railway station.
In 1941 he was ask to assist with the haulage of materials to the site of 70MU, and he was employed, presumably by the contractor, to collect the long lengths of steel from Goring railway station and deliver them to the site of 70MU. These lengths of steel were later used in the erection of the Storage Sheds and he collected them with his Austin lorry which towed a pole/timber wagon. He did not have an articulated low loader at that stage.
He recalls that E.T.M.Barrett, who also owned a local contracting company called British Estates Ltd, and who also owned the Chiltern Queens Bus Co had the contract for all the blasting and earth moving with his D4 bulldozer.
Jack recalls that the land on which Site 3 was built belonged to Mr.Hignett of Hook End Farm, Checkendon, the owner/director of Butterfly cigarettes. Hignett later sold the woodland to Charles Clore, famous in the 1960s.
He recalls that Sir Charles Rose owned that part of land bordering the B4526 and Eastfield Lane on which the Site 1 Storage Sheds 1 to 5, and other associated buildings were erected. (This is the land that Rose is likely to have bought from Goring Heath Charities in 1944)
In 1953 or 1954 Jack bought the woods and land on the opposite side of the road which had Site 1 Storage Sheds 9 to 13 and other associated buildings erected upon them. He paid £28 per acre, total £4,400, to Leslie Garton of Garton Estates who was associated with Garton Sugars/Tate & Lyle. Garton owned Great Oaks wood and House, which is currently the preparatory school to the Oratory.
The HQ Site and Sewage works were owned by Goldsmid leaving the remainder of Site 1 and the whole of Site 2 to be owned by Palmer and Christ Church College, Oxford University.
When Jack purchased his land, the Site 1 was already run down and when returned to him in 1959 all the Storage Sheds had been cut off at the base. The steel girders that formed the frame of the Sheds were not driven into the ground, but encased in the cement base. This made the erection of the sheds easier but also made the demolition easier, except that by cutting the frame at the base left jagged pieces of steel sticking out of the ground which damaged his lorry tyres. Other sheds that could be removed were, and he believes that all buildings that were removed were sold and sent to Egypt. Those that had no real value were demolished on site, or at least that was the plan. When the RAF had left he was still due to demolish the boiler house and the dope sheds. He did not, and as no one checked on him over the years, that is why the boiler house and now only one dope shed remain. The static water tank is used for fire fighting, but it does not look as though it would hold water. He had in fact wanted to keep all the buildings on his site but as the terms of the requisition were that the land had to be returned after the war in the same condition as it was formed, he was not allowed to.
Jack's other memories were of being offered to buy a V8 vehicle engine which had obviously been stolen from 70MU; seeing the fire canvas hoses hanging up to dry outside the Ambulance and Fire Station at HQ Site; the Italian Prisoner of War camp at Scots Farm; a German POW escaping from the German POW camp and never being caught or in fact never mentioned; a flying bomb exploding not far from his mothers house - he still has a piece of the bomb; that George Mitchell was a driver during the building of 70MU; that Mr Hall who helped build 70MU father kept the Greyhound Pub at Exlade Street, now known as The Highwayman Inn.
Jack suggested that I also spoke to his two drivers, now retired but working for him at the time, namely Eric Cooper at Nettlebed and Alanby Gingell of Woodcote, and also Norman Hodges, a small holder of The Hollies, Goring Road, Woodcote.
Jack has erected the Dutch barn and saw mills on Site 1, a new shed on the site of the old dope shed. All buildings are currently let and G.T.Tull occupies the remaining old dope shed.