"He was a quiet man, but very polite. He was an inventor and a bit eccentric in that he went about things in a different way to most people's thinking. He would work and work at something to get it just right. Some of his inventions were successful and can be seen in use today."
Ken's engineering skills were crucial in turning Mr Spencer-Thomas' ideas into working prototypes. Sky Hooks, for example, were the first form of plastic greenhouse protection to be invented. These were pre-formed plastic domes, secured by netting, using small, 12 inch fan heaters, to generate enough air pressure to keep them rigid. He used them successfully over strawberries and vegetables to extend their season. The idea was developed commercially and Tottenham Hotspur were one of the first customers to purchase the system, using it to keep their football pitch snow free and prevent it from freezing in winter.
Another invention was FizzIt, a means of making sparkling wine from still wine. Another was called Cham-Cham. It was a polythene packet which generated carbon dioxide and put the fizz into water and other still drinks. Ken remembers during the later years Mr Spencer-Thomas was working on ideas for robotic arms, certainly, getting a finger and thumb to meet. This developed out of inventions for pneumatically opening doors and farm gates.
He was one of the first farmers to build the necessary plant for washing and freezing vegetables on site. These were sealed into large packs under the trade name Froveg and supplied to wholesale markets in catering and hotels. He was a shrewd business man, ensuring his ideas were patented.
When the other half of Braughing Bury became vacant in the late fifties, the Spencer-Thomases began turning it back into one building. Ken recalls many hours being spent taking out the years of additions, such as fireplaces, to return them to their former glory. Both Mr and Mrs Spencer-Thomas were always meticulous, wanting to make sure every repair or renovation was architecturally and historically accurate.
The farm was sold in 1973. Some of the land was bought by the Co-operative Society to add to their Hay Street farm. The house and remaining land was sold to Mr and Mrs Gredley. The Spencer-Thomases lived in Ivy Cottage for several years before moving on to Bedfordshire and then to Gnosall near Stafford. However, Mr Spencer-Thomas continued to return to the village every year, right up to last Christmas, to collect rents, but much more importantly to him, to keep in touch with former employees.
Mary Cook writes: "He was a gentleman, polite and thoughtful. He always remembered my birthday the twelve years I worked in the house at Braughing Bury. Since then, he always brought gifts at Easter and Christmas, no matter what the weather, to Peg (Tott) Madge (Clark) and myself (who also worked in the house). I knew Mr Spencer-Thomas most of my life as my father was foreman on the farm and we lived in his cottage in the Street. Dad worked there for more than 25 years and I worked in the house after he died for twelve years. They were very good to us, letting my mother stay in the cottage till she died."
From Role and Ada Bonner: "Role worked for him for twenty five years. Ada was in the Land Army and worked there during the war.
From Irene Sayer: "It was through him I came to Braughing in the Women's Land Army and met my first husband, Ned Mardell.
Jim Prior said: "the best man to move to Braughing. He made plenty of work for everyone." The story of Ivor Spencer-Thomas' quietly extraordinary life reflects so much of what has happened in rural areas all over the country during the past seventy years - but his impact on Braughing was and remains unique. We shall not see his like again.