On 28th May 2014, my father Ernest Joseph BALDOCK passed away after long ill-health. It was unexpected, but he was victim to multiple conditions affecting each other at the end. His last days were in Kent and Canterbury Hospital, but he was in the presence of family – myself, my sister and my mother.
Ernest Joseph Baldock was born on 18 July 1929 at Marshside, near Chislet, to Ernie, a farm horse-waggoner, and Elsie. He used to walk across the road that became the Thanet Way with his mother, brother Geoff and sister Dorothy to Hilborough Infants School near Reculver. On the return one day, he spotted his father working the fields and ran to greet him. He was knocked down by a car which failed to stop. The German monocled farmer for whom his father worked shouted, “Get his number, waggoner, get his number!”
This was the first evidence of his cast-iron constitution.
Following his father’s moves from farm to farm, he attended Chislet Primary School and Minster Primary School. The family finally arrived at St. Nicholas, Down Barton Road, where he finished schooling at the age of 14.
On leaving school, which he freely admitted was not his forté, he joined his father in farming. Farming was in his blood. In tracing the family history, I have discovered agricultural labourers at almost every step, with generations traversing East Kent back to the late 1500’s.
Having been laid off farm work by Colonel Tapp one year due to bad weather, at the age of 24 he joined Kent River Board and aided in the construction of the Reculver sea wall defences after the 1953 floods. There is even British Pathé News film footage of him and his colleagues at work during the construction available on the internet.
In 1954, he entered National Service with the Buffs, and on his return re-entered farm work.
In 1968, whilst on a pub crawl with his mates, he ended up at the Five Bells at Eastry, where he met his wife and fell in love. They married, started a family and remained in St. Nicholas for 25 years until his retirement from Linnington Farms in 1994, when he moved to Westgate.
He preferred to be called Joe, since his father was Ernest too. They became known by some as “Big Ern” and “Little Ern”, but he became known to many as “Lofty”, since he was tall and his brother Geoff, or “Tich”, the short one. Some might have known him as “Cauliflower Joe”, since he was often found in his trade-mark rolled-up shirtsleeves and cap, cutting cauliflowers with his fellow workers in the fields, or driving his tractor bailing straw. His children often visited him there.
Joe didn’t suffer fools gladly, but if you became a friend it was generally for life.
Tragically losing his sister, Dorothy CHRISTIAN (nee BALDOCK) abruptly three months ago on 17 March 2014, and himself succumbing to long-term ill-health, his cast-iron constitution finally had to give in, and he passed away calmly on 28 May 2014 in Kent and Canterbury Hospital in the company of his wife and two children, Stephen and Lisa.
A genuine, hard-working, family man, and avid vegetable gardener until his retirement, he will be greatly missed by all friends and family.
He was laid to rest in the cemetery of St. Nicholas-At-Wade, after a wonderfully packed church service, on 18th June 2014. The family would like to extend thanks to all those who attended and whom we did not get to thank personally.
We may mourn his passing, but celebrate his life.
See ya, Dad!