Let there be light - at long last!

By Liz HearnshawAFTER spending 37 long years hand washing clothes and climbing the stairs by candlelight, life has just been made a little easier for Pat and Margaret Payne.

By Liz Hearnshaw

AFTER spending 37 long years hand washing clothes and climbing the stairs by candlelight, life has just been made a little easier for Pat and Margaret Payne.

Until yesterday, the couple enjoyed none of the labour-saving mod cons most of us take for granted. Living without electricity - an inconceivable notion for many people - was, for them, a reality.

But everything changed yesterday morning when the power was finally switched on at Folly Farm, their home near the village of Whepstead, just outside Bury St Edmunds.

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The couple's home was quickly transformed as the sound of hairdryers, toasters and electric kettles filled the air for the first time.

Mrs Payne was eager to test her new gadgets, trying out her vacuum cleaner just minutes after the supply was switched on for the first time.

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“It is really very exciting and I made sure I was the first to make a pot of tea and test out the new kettle,” said the 72-year-old, who has raised nine children at Folly Farm.

“But I am so used to boiling water on the cooker that I automatically went to collect the old kettle from the hob - but realised it was cold. I think it will take a while for us to get used to having electricity.”

The East Anglian Daily Times revealed last month how the couple had lived without electricity at Folly Farm.

Before the supply was switched on, the downstairs area at the farm was lit with gas, while candles and torchlight were needed for any journey upstairs.

Mr and Mrs Payne were forced to hand wash all their clothes and carefully plan the week's shopping around which items could be kept without the use of a fridge or freezer.

They also relied upon gas to cook meals, but did indulge in one luxury item - a black-and-white television run from a car battery.

So tuning in to a colour set, especially as the couple's story had been told on many television shows throughout the day, proved something of a novelty.

“This is the first time we have had a colour television and it seems strange as we were watching the black-and-white set on Thursday afternoon,” said Mrs Payne, who was given a kettle, toaster and sandwich maker by her sister-in-law as a present to mark the big switch on.

“And the vacuum cleaner is a lot easier to use than the push-along cleaner I used to have, but it does seem quite noisy at the moment.”

She added: “It will be difficult to get out of the habit of taking a torch upstairs all the time, although everything should be quicker and much easier now we have electricity.

“Before I just had to get on with life. I coped, as you could waste a lot of time worrying about things you haven't got, and once you have things, you tend to take them for granted.

“But we did used to smile when there was a power cut in the village and we still had our lights.”

The couple were finally connected to the electricity supply after their daughter, Linda Brickell, and her husband, Alan, moved to Folly Farm and met the £19,000 cost of installing mains power.

Mr Payne, who is aged 74 and grew up at the house, said: “I am very pleased. It could have gone in years ago if we could've afforded it, but it is nice to have it now.”


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