Modern residents would notice most, the levels of self-sufficiency in the village during this era. Shopping was done daily from the bakers, grocers and butchers, of which there were several of each. Vegetables were grown in the garden or on one of the many allotments. Fruit was obtained from villagers’ own trees or a local orchard, and the surplus sold at market. Milk came from local farms, delivered by the farmer himself and many families kept chickens and possibly a pig. Not only were there cobblers, haberdashery, barbers, a saddlers, blacksmiths and wheelwrights, but an agricultural engineering yard, wood yard and watermill. Between these businesses and the local farms, most of the men were employed in the village. The mill was still grinding corn in the late 60’s although then powered by other means.
WW2 heralded the beginning of the end for this rural way of life, and although today, such a way of life sounds very utopian, life was extremely hard for many local families. However there was much good feeling and community spirit and everyone helped each other out.
It is into this very close knit community that “outsiders” have slowly descended, causing a substantial increase in population, from 1050 in the 1920’s, 2625 in 1970’s to close to 3500 today, and with it a much changed pattern of life with few people working in the village.
Sources: Bassingbourn Parish Council and Bassingbourn-cum-Kneesworth Parish Council Minutes Cambridge Chronicle Previous Bassingbourn-cum-Kneesworth website Royston Crow Victoria County History