Life without Electricity


Stephen (sitting on mum Pauline's lap), younger brother David and dad Tony share their TV set with the pigs.

Stephen (sitting on mum Pauline’s lap), younger brother David and dad Tony share their TV set with the pigs.


In 1959 my parents, Tony and Pauline Brown, moved from their home

in East Suffolk to Albury, a village near Little Hadham in Hertfordshire. My father took a pig farm manager’s job on the Patmore Hall estate owned by Prince Frederick of Prussia (a second cousin of the Queen). I was only two and a half years old so memory of that time is, to say the least, very hazy. During the spring of 1960, Father bought a brand new 17 inch TV for the princely sum of £85.

Within a few months, and presumably homesick, my parents to return to their Suffolk roots and moved to a farm cottage in East Green, Kelsale. Unfortunately, there was no electricity in our 6s a week rented property and it was likely to be another two years before the Electricity board could add to the already overloaded transformer. Such was the plight of many small farming communities across the country.
Mention of our lack of power gained media attention and eventually a visit from the national press. Discovering that a neighbouring farmhouse and buildings did have electricity a publicity stunt was put together. On 25 November 1960 this picture appeared in the Daily Express with the accompanying feature reading something like:

‘Soon there will be no more television in Tony Brown’s pigsty, the 26 year old farmer has decided to sell the family’s new set. “It’s no joke watching Gun Law with a pig nibbling the volume control.” The pigsty is the nearest place to the family home with a power point. “So we decided to try viewing in the pigsty. You see, my wife Pauline and our two sons, Stephen and David had become used to television and missed it badly.”‘

Needless to say the national publicity of our plight meant that we didn’t have to wait two years for electricity to be installed. As a four year old, I was starting to follow in my father’s footsteps with a liking for westerns. For me though, it was the early Gerry Anderson TV series Four Feather Falls that took my attention setting me off on a lifelong affection for all his 1960s puppet shows.

Stephen Brown, Erdington, Birmingham