Against the tide and on the grid

While hundreds of homes are kicking out utility companies, and providing their own power, a Suffolk couple finally had an electricity supply connected to their home yesterday – after 37 years.

Pat Payne, 74, and wife Margaret, 72, raised nine children in their farmhouse in Whepstead, near Bury St Edmunds, without electricity. We shall return to the Payne’s in three months time and find out whether electricity has made them happier.

Before the electrcity was installed, the Paynes used candles instead of lightbulbs, did their washing by hand and scrubbed the floors instead of using a hoover.

But one of their children has moved back in and is paying 19,000 to have electricity installed at the 200-year-old property.

Mrs Payne told The Times: “I think the family are more excited about us getting electricity than we are.

“It might have been nice to have been able to do the ironing or to have a Hoover instead of having to scrub the floor but we got through it.”

In fact, she believes not having electricity may have been a good thing for her children.

“Instead of watching television they played together and would invent games or read books,” she said.

The couple have lived mostly off the land. Mr Payne, a former farm laborer, grows vegetables in the three-acre garden.

“With our fresh vegetables and not having central heating it’s been a very healthy way to live,” Mrs Payne added.

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