Compton Dando villagers help Farmer Jack celebrate 100th birthday

THE flag was flown on the village church, and the Christmas tree lights were kept on, as most of Compton Dando turned out to help their oldest resident, Jack Carpenter, celebrate his 100th birthday along with family and friends.

Farmer Jack, as he is affectionately called, sat at a table, a pile of birthday cards before him, welcoming everyone to his party.

Photos showing various aspects of Jack’s life as a dairy farmer at Nutgrove Farm adorned the walls, and a feast was laid on for guests.

Jack was born on January 7, 1924, to Thomas and Beatrice Carpenter, then living in Temple Street, Keynsham.

They later moved to what is now known as Carpenters Lane in Keynsham, the family being so much a part of the town that the local council named the lane after them.

Jack’s father owned a haulage business, not with lorries but shire horses, and they were amongst the first to deliver stone for the building of Fry’s chocolate factory.

Thomas and Beatrice had two other sons, Thomas (Tom) and Robert (Bob).

Jack was just four years old when his father bought him his first pony, and his love of horses remains to this day.

When Broadlands School opened in Keynsham, Jack was one of its first pupils, and some years later when it was under threat of closure, he was among those who campaigned to stop it happening.

Jack’s love of cows began at an early age when he would milk cows for a farmer. His father later bought him a cow, which he milked every day.

After a while, she was sold to someone else but was soon returned – as she would not give up her milk to anyone but Jack.

Jack met his future wife, Peggy Bates, at a Compton Dando dance, and they were married in 1947, moving to Nutgrove Farm to help Stanley, Peggy’s dad. In time, along came their daughter Margaret, followed six years later by a son, Roger, who both still live at the farm with Jack.

When they moved in, there were 21 milking cows, with Jack bringing along his two shire horses, Dick and Royal, who carried out all the work that a tractor would do today. Jack bought his first tractor later, in 1953, a grey Massey Ferguson.

Nutgrove Farm had no running water at first, and Jack dug two wells in the garden by hand. Mains water came along in 1954, and electricity was installed in 1958.

When Peggy’s parents died, she, Jack, Peggy and their family took over the running of Nutgrove Farm.

For more than 20 years, Jack and Peggy held annual garden parties to raise money for St Mary’s Church – enjoyable occasions usually attended by most of the village. Jack also ran a weekly whist drive in the village hall for more than 20 years, and still enjoys going with Roger for a game of whist.

Each harvest, Jack would supply the harvest loaf that was blessed and then consumed at the harvest lunch in the village hall. He also provided the church with chrysanthemums for harvest decorations.

Today Jack still delights in his growing family, with the added joy of his four grandchildren – Lucy, Daniel, James and John – together with his great grandchildren, Jack, Rosie, Megan and Harry.

Pictured above, Jack with daughter Peggy Boucher and son Roger Carpenter. Below, Jack surrounded by his family