Aldbourne Heritage Centre

Q: Can you remember back to when you first came to Aldbourne?
PJ: Yes, I was nine years old.
Q: And you came from?
PJ: Cotmarsh, Wootton Bassett way, Broadtown.
Q: Still in Wiltshire?
PJ: Yes.
Q: And was this very different, Aldbourne, from Cotmarsh?
PJ: Yes, very different, because where I lived at Cotmarsh was very quiet and Aldbourne seemed quite a busy place.
Q: And you went to school here?
PJ: Yes, to the local school but I didn’t ever go to the local small one because I was nine and I went into the big school as we called it then.
Q: And is that the one now up by the church?
PJ: That was the small one, the other one’s gone.
Q: Where was that?
PJ: Up at the top.
Q: Where the new one is?
PJ: Yes.
Q: Before the new one was built. So were the children friendly?
PJ: Yes, very nice. I got on very well with them.
Q: Good. And you were living here and your father went to work in Swindon?
PJ: Yes, he came home weekends. I lived with three Aunties. He came home on a motorbike. Friday night till Sunday night.
Q: Did you ever get a ride on the motorbike?
PJ: Oh yes. I was on the back of the motorbike a lot. He had a sidecar years ago, before then. I was in there, I imagine, but I can’t remember that.
Q: Did you go on the back behind him?
PJ: Yes.
Q: But no crash helmets in those days?
PJ: No.
Q: You went to chapel?
PJ: Yes, three times a day. Chapel in the morning, Sunday School in the afternoon and Chapel again at night.
Q: With your aunties?
PJ: Yes. They were unmarried ladies and very, very religious.
Q: Do you remember anything else about school or playing around the village.
PJ: Yes, we used to play down Lottage Road, we used to jump over the brook which is now filled in. Also we used to play round the Pond area, with the railing round we did somersaults over them. And we used to play ierkie all round the Square.
Q: What’s that?
PJ: Well, hiding. One hiding and one looking for people and five or six of us hiding, and then they’d shout ‘ierkie’.
Q: Did you have toys?
PJ: Yes, as I was an only child, I had a lot of toys.
Q: But not bicycles?
PJ: Yes, I had a bicycle but when I got older, not at 9; – 13, I had my first bicycle.
Q: Did you have any holidays from the village?
PJ: Yes, I was very lucky. My father worked for the railways and he had free passes so I went every year which was very nice.
Q: So you went on the train, to the seaside.
PJ: Yes, and back again on the train.
Q: So you would go to Swindon on the motorbike and then catch the train.
PJ: Yes.
Q: For a week at a time?
PJ: Oh, yes, just a week.
Q: Have you any special memories about Christmas?
PJ: As a child, if it hadn’t have been for somebody that, which was the policeman and his wife, unofficially adopted me, my Christmas would have been dreadful. But because I had them to go to; I spent most of the time with them.
Q: You could join in with their family?
PJ: Yes, they didn’t have any children, just two dogs, two black Labradors.
Q: So you spent quite a lot of time with them?
PJ: Nearly all the time.
Q: And then when you left school, how old were you?
PJ: 14.
Q: And you went to work?
PJ: Yes, I went to work in a shop in Aldbourne, where the hairdresser is now.
Q: Pond House?
PJ: That’s right, I went to work there, first. Then I went as a nursemaid. Then I went to the factory at Chilton, rode my bike there.
Q: Was that electric things or aeroplanes?
PJ: Aeroplanes. But when it came to the winter, I did it all through the summer, my father was rather worried about me biking so I left and I went to Swindon to the library there.
Q: To the big central library?
PJ: Yes. And then from there I went to the egg depot, because my grandfather was ill and my auntie wanted me home. That was the reason why, and I stayed there until I was married. I learnt to drive then.
Q: So the egg depot was going before the war?
PJ: Yes, no, I’m not sure about that – this was after the war that I went there to work. I was 16 I suppose. And I was there till I was married.
Q: Were you a nursemaid to a local family?
PJ: Yes, actually the man that I was nursemaid to was on the television in those days and I can remember seeing him and shouting ‘I worked for him, I worked for him’.
Q: Can you remember his name?
PJ: Yes, Mr. Robinson.
Q: And you looked after his children?
PJ: Yes, two girls and then they used to have cousins come down and they were two boys so I had the four then. They only came on holidays.
Q: You had quite a variety of jobs.
PJ: Yes.
Q: And then you worked at the egg packing station, and you said you got married from there.
PJ: Yes, in those days married women didn’t work quite as much as they do now. I desperately wanted to stop and they desperately wanted me, because I could drive as well.
Q: You had to stop.
PJ: Yes, no wife of his was going to work; it was a down on him.
Q: Would you like to tell us how you learned to drive?
PJ: First of all I used to go out on the great big vans that they used to collect eggs with; and I used to keep on saying “could I please have a drive”; and one day he let me, on a country lane where there wasn’t very much traffic in those days, and then I went back and said to the boss “could I drive the van”. Because you didn’t have to have a test then, and he went out with me a couple of times and then he said he thought I was alright; and then I drove, just to Marlborough, to pick up eggs or take eggs back – to deliver.
Q: Quite an achievement, there couldn’t have been many women driving?
PJ: No, I was the only one at the egg packing station that drove. We had one man that was a driver as well.
Q: So you were married in St. Michael’s Church?
PJ: Yes.
Q: Did you have a party or reception afterwards?
PJ: Yes, in the Hall.
Q: In the Memorial Hall?
PJ: Yes.
Q: Which was new then was it?
PJ: No, it had been there after the First World War. It was just before they altered it all.
Q: Did you have a honeymoon?
PJ: Yes, went to Torquay to a hotel for a week.
Q: Wonderful; then you came home to live with your in-laws.
PJ: Here, yes.
Q: Where you live now in West Street?
PJ: Yes, we were here about 3 months before we moved to the army huts.
Q: And can you tell us a little bit about the army huts, where they were?
PJ: They were up Castle Street, past the old cottages on the left straight in where you go into Westfield Chase now. And there were seven army huts in there.
Q: Wooden?
PJ: Yes.
Q: With corrugated iron roofs?
PJ: I think they were just felt. Only one house had water and that was what used to be the cook house, all the rest of us had to go to a tap outside and fetch all the water, all the drinking water, the bath water and the washing water.
Q: You had electrics?
PJ: Yes, they all had electric. So we had a very small little stove but we had a big black one that we used to do the cooking on with the oven, just enough – I don’t think we had any very big plugs, and also we had a small round one with a pipe in the bedroom.
Q: You had electric, you had to go and get your water and then presumably you had an El-san toilet?
PJ: Yes, it was outside, up the side.
Q: It was your own house?
PJ: Yes, we paid rent. I can’t remember how much it was.
Q: And your husband, being a carpenter, made it more comfortable?
PJ: Yes, I think we had one of the smartest ones up there. I mean everyone else’s was, ours was really quite nice. And walls made of, I don’t quite remember what it was but it was in sheets and instead of having bits and pieces you could have one sheet and then join them up to make partitions. We had a kitchen; a very, very big dining room, sitting room and two bedrooms.
Q: Ideal. And you were living there when your daughter was born.
PJ: Yes.
Q: And you went to Kingshill, Swindon to have her?
PJ: Yes.
Q: And brought her home; what did you call your little hut?
PJ: Cosycot.
Q: And you’ve got a photograph of you there – lovely. Were the huts pulled down?
PJ: Yes, they were.
Q: And you moved from there to?
PJ: Westfield Chase.
Q: When they were new built?
PJ: Yes, we had to put our name down because they were going to pull them down anyway. and some of the houses were built down by the football field; and you put your name down and you either went down there or up Westfield Chase.
Q: You mean Farm Lane.
PJ: Yes.
Q: You moved into a brand new house.
PJ: Yes, wonderful; to have a bathroom was absolutely wonderful.
Q: Water.
PJ: Oh, yes.
Q: Main drain and a big garden.
PJ: Yes, a very big garden out the back and a small one out the front.
Q: And were there lots of children for your daughter to play with.
PJ: Yes, most of us were young mothers. There were very few people that were over 30, I think everyone was young. I think that is how we had a house, you know, because we all had children.
Q: Did you make your own entertainment?
PJ: Yes, we did. My husband could play the piano, and I did have a piano then; and then we had friends, we always really ended up round the piano, singing. We used to have friends, when we were in the army hut, come up and they had a baby which, of course, they would talk about all the time, having this baby. We did occasionally go to the dances in the Hall, when we could get a babysitter, which wasn’t so good then in those days. Other than that occasionally, before I had my daughter, we would go to the pictures in Swindon on the bus, because we didn’t have a car.
Q: Would that be in the afternoon?
PJ: Yes, we did have a very good friend who had a car in those days and he would go sometimes in the evenings, and take us.
Q: Was there a WI in the village?
PJ: If there was, I didn’t go, I don’t know when it started up.
Q: Were there some amateur dramatics then?
PJ: Oh yes. My husband was in that right from the word go. I joined when I was about…. three years after I was married. Just the chorus.
Q: That was fun?
PJ: Oh yes, very good fun.
Q: So you sang and danced?
PJ: Yes, I did. I’ve got a photograph of a lot of us who are still alive.
Q: Lovely. Pantomimes and other things?
PJ: Yes, we had a lady that owned one of the shops, we started a dramatics little group; this is where we came to do the dancing and the singing.
Q: Can you remember carnival?
PJ: Yes, of course I can. I used to dress Heather up, or her grandma used to dress her up every year until she died, I could never think of anything. And then, as things went on, we had a lorry, the firm had a lorry, and all the cousins in the village used to decorate it, think up something and all I would do is supplied the teas because I was down here.
Q: So they’d be busy for the weekend before?
PJ: Oh yes; and, of course, Heather was on those because it was part of the family.
Q: Did you have any holidays when Heather was little, were you able to go away at all or not?
PJ: Yes, in a caravan. We used to go most years.
Q: Would you get the train?
PJ: Yes; well, now, that’s where my father’s motorbike came in. He didn’t have anybody but me, just one daughter, and he used to pay for the caravan for us to go and he would take Vin on the motorbike and I would have a free ride with a friend of his and Heather as a small child; and they would meet us at the other end and carry the suitcases. They always went up ahead. That was lovely, that was.
Q: Saves carrying the suitcases, especially when you have a small child. So you had some nice holidays then?
PJ: All caravans till we got a bit older.
Q: Seaside?
PJ: Weston Super Mare a lot, and Bournemouth. Mostly those two earlier on, and Torquay of course, we went a couple of times as we got older.
Q: Were there great celebrations in the village for the Coronation?
PJ: I didn’t go because Heather was ill, so I didn’t go at all so I really don’t know. She had a mug. I imagine they had something on the day.
Q: Presumably there would have tolled the bells when the king died?
PJ: Oh yes, they did that.
Q: Muffled.
PJ: Yes, that’s right. Used to hear a lot of that years ago.
Q: Can we just talk about the clock, not quite your memory but your sister in laws memory. You have a photograph of mending the clock?
PJ: Yes, Mr Jerram, elder.
Q: Fred Jerram, your husband’s father, who used to mend and maintain the church clock, including the gilding. There’s a photograph showing this.
PJ: Yes, she’s found it.
Q: You also said that the Jerram firm did a lot of maintenance on the church fabric.
PJ: Yes, that was all that ever went in there, the Jerram family. Nobody else ever did anything, just the three brothers and my husband.
Q: Did you do the books for the firm?
PJ: No, no, no; the people that ran it – they never had a secretary. Uncle Fred, my father in law Fred, he did the books, then I think Wilf did the books, then Vin did the books. The Office was there.
Q: Did you have anything to do with the other side of the business?
PJ: No, I didn’t have anything to do with any of it.
Q: But you got a lot of news from what was going on around the village?
PJ: Oh yes.