Q: How long have you lived in the village?
CB: I was born in 1924 at Lottage Roadand I am now 82 years of age. My parents, on my father’s side, can trace back to the 16th century.
Q: Do you know when the family came to Aldbourne?.
CB: Well I think it all started; they came from Highworth and they were woodmen, weavers, that type of thing.
Q: So would your grandparent have been the first relatives in the Village?
CB: I didn’t know my grandparents
Q: Obviously your parents were in the village
CB: Yes, Yes
Q: Therefore you are a Dabchick. That is something special to be proud of?
CB: Oh yes it is . I’ve been in the pond a main few times. Yes it’s a tradition
Q: What is the first thing that you can remember about Aldbourne?
CB: I suppose I was a child of about four years of age. There was a farm opposite where I lived in Lottage Road owned by Richard Stacey and I was very friendly with the family especially their son Geoff. I went to school with him. I used to spend a lot of time over there. Watching, milking of the cows, feeding the chickens and everything.
Q: So you grew up around the farming business, sort of thing?
CB: Oh, Yes, that’s right.
Q: Did you go into farming when you were a young lad?
CB: Well, before I left school, I was thirteen years of age, I went to work all the summer for Oliver Hawkinsat Claypond. He had the farm there; I worked for him all through the summer.
Q: What sort of farm was that?
CB: Arable farm with quite a few cows and chickens.
Q: What did you do on the farm?
CB: Well I used to go over there at 7 o’clock in the morning to get the cows in ready for milking. Then it was, well, clean the cow shed out. Things like that, and during the harvest time helping out in the harvest. Going round with the binder lady and helping with the stacking of the sheaves.
Q: There was no Combined Harvester.
CB: No, not in them days.
Q: Was this in the days of horses?
CB: Yes. We did have a tractor in the finish. But no! It was horses in them days, mostly.
Q: What did you do for playtime as a youngster?
CB: We, quite a few of us, used to get about kicking a football about up in the field or in the street, actually, because there wasn’t any traffic about then. We used to play around the village at night-times, especially around the pond. Then the policeman would come along, Mr. Blake, his name was. He always carried a pair of leather gloves. He never wore them, he just carried them, and if you’d been a bit of mischief you got that across the side of your ear and he would say “Now go home and tell your father” and he would give you another one.
Q: That was the discipline in those days.
CB: Yes. I mean, it didn’t worry us at all.
Q: But you learnt respect.
CB: Oh yes, well. We used to play up on the Green quite a lot. Football, cricket. Broke quite a few windows up there playing cricket. We used to get round it.
Q: Did your family, as such, attend Church or Chapel?
CB: Yes, we went to the Lottage Chapel which was the Wesleyan in those days before they turned Methodist. We used to go there, Sunday School Chapel in the morning, Sunday School in the afternoon and Chapel again in the evening.
Q: That would be the whole family, apart from the Sunday School.
CB: Well we didn’t all go, no. Well, we went at different times. I wouldn’t say we went all together. Then in the week there was the Band of Hope, which as youngsters we used to have to go to.
Q: Describe the Band of Hope. It is only a phrase that I know.
CB: It was about not drinking and so forth. And religion. But we always used to have what they called Chapel Anniversary once a year and that was the choir, the children, the choir singing and the children saying their pieces afternoon and evening. A big day that used to be. Oh, yes.
Q: Was it attended by most of the village.
CB: Oh, yes, because the West Street Chapel and the Lottage Chapel. They had theirs and we had ours, as you might say.
Q: Did you ever get an opportunity as a youngster to leave the village for outings or anything.
CB: The only outings I ever went on, when I was a child, was the Sunday School outing, once a year. Used to go on the charabancs, they wasn’t called coaches, they were called charabancs. We’d either go to Western-Super-Mare, Bournemouth, Weymouth. That was once a year.
Q: All the coastal trips.
CB: Yes. That was the highlight of the year. I suppose I never went to Swindon. About twice when I was a child. That is the only time we went out the village.
Q: What was a treat for you at home, a special treat, birthdays and things like that.?
CB: Well no, nothing special on birthdays. We were a poor family. There was four brothers and my sister. We lived in four cottages together. It is only two now. And they was one down and the scullery and two up. Yes, it was a bit rough. But anyhow we were a happy family. Well looked after and disciplined family. Well respected.
Q: Did you recall any events during the Second World War, did that affect the village?
CB: When the war started I was still working at the butchers shop then. That was 1939, when the war started. I left the butchers shop at the end of 1940 and I went to work at the Egg Depot then, which was up the Mason’s Arms yard at that time. It was run by Mr. Mays, several girls there working. In 1941 I started driving and I used to go round all the different farms collecting up the eggs to bring in to be graded and so forth. And used to do a little delivering in Swindon but mostly a lorry used to come and pick them up and take them over to Bristol and London to be distributed.
Q: Did you have to pass a test, a driving test.
CB: Not then. I passed my driving test in the Army.
Q: So prior to that you were driving but not having passed a test. It wasn’t mandatory.
CB: No, there was no test then. Anyhow, I really enjoyed that. And then I was called up as a Bevan Boy. Coal mines.
Q: Explain to me ‘a Bevan Boy’.
CB: You see you had your medical for the forces, to join the forces. You were asked what you would like to go into. Well, I said that I would like to go into the Royal Marines, what my brother was in, you see. So, you just then waited for your call-up papers. When my call-up papers come, it wasn’t for that, it was to work in the coal mines. You had no option. You was drawn out. There was a number on your, well I don’t know what they call it but they picked a number out and if that was your number for the coal mines that was were you had to go. You could not get out of it. If you refused to go, you went to prison.
Q: You were what Age then?
CB: 18. I spent just over two years there which was in Coventry colliery. I got out of that through ill health.
Q: Were you underground?
CB: Yes, I was underground. I was working on the coal face, pick and shovel, filling tubs up. You were working in water and all sorts, the roof dripping down on you. All you wore was, well you had nothing on actually, just a pair of thin trousers.
Q: That must have been a shock for a country lad?
CB: Yes, it was a big shock. See, the pit was half a mile down, the shaft, and you went out between two and three miles. We used to travel so far in what they called the main roadway, on a truck. Then you’d get off and the rest of the way you would have to walk, crawl to the coal face. We didn’t have ponies down there. They had donkeys, which was a machine, driven by steam and it drew this on an endless steel rope. That pulled the trucks back. We worked three shifts, six in the morning till two, or two till ten and ten to six.
Q: A low level of pay, because you were conscripts.
CB: Yes, absolutely scandalous. We were paid two pounds two shillings per week. To start off we lived in a Salvation Army Hostel, which was a disgrace and we paid twenty-five shillings a week to live there.
Q: So more than half your earnings went on your keep.
CB: Then we had to pay bus fares to get to work, because this was in the centre of Coventry and was two or three mile out of Coventry, the colliery was, and you’d catch a bus at 5.o’clock in the morning, get to the colliery, get changed, go down.
Q: Did your time start when you got to the face, or when you got to the pithead.
CB: No, when we went down, and we was always back up and finished by two o’clock. But it was rough. They had showers at this particular pit, which was a very good thing. There were three lads from this village in the coal mines. Leonard Liddiard, actually I was with him when we were training, and there was Bill Stacey, he’s dead now,.
Q: Len Liddiard is now living next to the foundry, the old blacksmiths.
CB: Yes that’s right.
Q: You were there two years, so how come you were relieved from the coal mine?
CB: I went down to about eight stone, I lost a lot of weight. I went before a medical board again and they got me out of that. Then I had to go in the Army. I done three years in the Army, so I did five years all told. I went to Colchester and did my training with the 2nd Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment. I did 6 weeks there and came to Bulford camp, was there a few weeks, and then we were shipped out to Germany. That was pretty grim over there. That was at the end of the war, I know. I got demobbed in 1948, Easter 1948. Yes, I did all my time in the Wiltshire Regiment.
Q: When you came back to Aldbourne after your time in the Army, what did you get up to?
CB: I went straight to Barnesto work, the coach people. I started there just after Easter 1948 and I stayed there until I retired in ’89. That was practically 42 years. I was driving and actually I took the first coach abroad. I went to Germany for a fortnight. It was with the Christ’s Church from Swindon, the youth. We drove down through Holland, Belgium into Germany, Cologne. Stayed at Cologne for a couple of nights then drove on down to Heidelberg, which is a university place, then on down to the Black Forest at Freiberg, We stayed there and travelled around quite a bit. This was a church group outing for a fortnight. That was the very first time a Barnes coach went abroad. I did two more after that to Normandy and Paris. That was quite an eye opener too.
Q: Tell me more.
CB: I’ve never been there before, and finding your way around was a bit difficult.
Q: Did you have a courier or an assistant driver. You were totally on your own?
CB: One of the teachers that went had been there before, and knew it pretty well and sussed it all out. But we worked between us. Apart from that I used to travel all over the country. Then back in the late ‘70s, early ‘80s, I didn’t actually pack up driving but I didn’t do so much driving, I worked in the garage then. On the repairs and the servicing. I did that until I retired in ’89.
Q: Have you any anecdotes from when you were a child?
CB: At the time when we were living in Lottage road, one of my brothers had to take me out in the pram, you see, for a walk down Lottage but, opposite Kandahar, there used to be a brook or stream all down there, it is all piped now, but it used to be open, see, and at Kandahar used to be the builders yard for Jerram Brothersat that time, when I was a child. Anyhow, my brother, he tipped me in the brook and one of the men from the building yard came across. Joe Bowes was his name, lived in the village, and he got me out otherwise I wouldn’t be here today. Yes, my brother got into trouble. I didn’t know anything about it. Yes I was told this subsequently. There was another incident when I worked at the egg depot. This was in Lottage Road as well. Where Lottage Farm, where Mary Bartrop lives now, there used to be a big barn there, and we used to keep the egg boxes down there, during the war, and we would have to go down and repair them and so forth. So anyhow, after lunch one day, we was going back down there I was on my bike and two or three of the girls was walking down with me, and I gave one of them a ride on the crossbar, see, and as we were going by the Police House, he shouted out, “Stop there.” I had to go up there. Cor! he told me off and do you know what? He reported it and I had to go to the magistrates’ court at Marlborough, and I was fined five shillings.
Q: What for having someone on the crossbar of your bike.
CB: They would laugh nowadays.
Q: Well I never.
CB: Yes that is absolutely true.
Q: You were saying that you worked at the Butchers at that time.
CB: Yes, I left school at Christmas, in 1938. I was going to school for the last day, as I thought; I was walking by Smithfield House which was the Butcher’s shop in them days and a voice shouted out, ”Come on, boy, you’re starting work today, I’ve seen your father”. And that was that.
Q: No interview or anything like that?
CB: So I went in and he said “We’ve got a lot to do”. I want you picking chicken ready for Christmas. He gave me an old brown smock out in this shed in the back, and that was what I was doing the first day. Picking chicken, frozen to death, and, er, that was that. I carried on working. Never had any holidays. Anyhow that was quite a business working there.
Q: So how long did you work there? Would have been Mr. Humphries in those days.
CB: No that was Liddiard, the name was.
Q: The butcher was Liddiard .
CB: Liddiard then. Yes, and his daughter worked in the butchers shopas well. And there was another chap there, but that was quite something working there. On a Monday was clean-up day. Had to light the copper up first thing so that you had loads of hot water. Then you had to scrub-up everything in the shop; all the benches help scrub the floors. Well it was clean-up day.
Q: All the rails.
CB: All the rails, inside and outside the shop, and it was also cattle market day at Swindon on the Monday and the boss, Mr. Liddiard always used to go with one of his friends, and he come back a little worse for the wear. He had quite a few drinks. And he’d inspect the shop, if it all was not up to expectation, you had to turn round and do it again. It was no good saying ‘no’, not in them days. Well that was Monday. Tuesdays, well, I used to go round on the trade bike then, all round the village.
Q: The old bike with the small wheel.
CB: Yes, with the small wheel, with the basket fastened on the front. Go round to get the orders then, and go back round to deliver them. In the afternoon, I used to go on this trade bike and I used to go down to Preston, up to Marriage Hill, back round to Whittonditch, over to Ramsbury, then back down through Crowood and back home.
Q: On the bike
CB: Delivering all on the bike. Oh yes. Of a Wednesday we was always slaughterhouse day, Wednesday morning. Used to have a couple of pigs, say, and a couple of sheep. All the spring lambs, the first spring lambs always came from Captain Brown, William’s Grandfather, and the pigs, well, we used to keep pigs round in the Mason’s Arms yard, there was some pig sties round there, which he rented, and other people inn the village used to fatten pigs up, and we’d have theirs as well.
Q: You drove them through the village to Smithfield House.
CB: That’s right , yes. Tom Humphries, was the slaughter man; he used to come in on a Wednesday morning. I used to have to help. Well, both of us that were there did. Get the humane killer out and knock it down, pull it up on the pulley then he would get the knife and –
Q: Eviscerate it.
CB: Yes. And always mid-morning after that was done, he always used to have a bottle of beer and bread and cheese. Never washed his hands or anything – blood! Oh, it was fantastic.
Q: And you never had any illnesses.
CB: No. None at all.
Q: People were a lot more fit in those days.
CB: Yes. The pigs that went for bacon for salting were taken to Swindon
Q: But some were sold in the shop.
CB: Yes, that’s right.
Q: That was on a Wednesday.
CB: Yes, and Wednesday afternoon I would be back out on the bikeagain up to Baydon and we had to push it the best part of the way there. Go round Baydon, and then go down into Russley Park. There used to be stables there in them days, big racing stables, and we used to do quite a bit of trade down there. Then back up and out to Foxhill, on the bike, then, from there, we used to go to what we called Wanborough Plain across the Downs into Liddington Warren. There used to be some cottages down in the bottom, used to ride down there and then we had to push the bike up to the road, then back home.
Q: In those days, did people have the telephone or did you take the order for next week?
CB: Took the order for next week- yes. The orders that were taken that Wednesday afternoon would be delivered on the Friday. Thursday is half day. Well you’d finish about 2.00 o’clock. Yes, that’s half day. Friday, that was quite a big day, delivering. Oh, Yes. We used to start at 7 o’clock and carry on with the business until 7 o’clock at night, because you would be getting out the orders ready for Saturday. Saturday mornings we used to go in at 6 o’clock and work in the shop for about an hour. Stop. We’d have breakfast there then, and then start off and work all day, and carry on till we finished which was 5 o’clock. Probably 6 o’clock when you got home.
Q: Did they have the traditional butchers display in the window?
CB: Oh, yes, all the meat was displayed on the rails there inside, and in the winter time, outside on the rails. Game as well. Do you know how much I earned?
CB: It was between fifty and sixty hours a week – ten shillings a week.
Q: You were then seventeen?
Q: What age were you then when you started at the shop?
Q: That was just after you left school
CB: Yes, and I left there when I was sixteen, just coming up to seventeen. Ten shillings a week!
Q: And you had to contribute to the household income, then.
CB: Yes. Mother used to take nine and sixpence. She used to clothe me then. Sixpence to spend! Well, we used to go to the boys’ club then. It was where the Sports and Social club: is now.
Q: Behind the Village Hall.
CB: Yes. That used to be just a Young Men’s Club. No bars or anything like that. You had games, you know, billiards, snooker, darts, table tennis and all that sort of thing. It was really well run. Well, that was tuppence to go there; my other interest was the Band.
Q: When did you first get involved with the Band?
CB: I first joined the Band in 1937.
Q: What instrument did you play?
CB: I was playing the Tenor Horn, then, when I started. My very first contest was at Reading that year. We were in the prizes. Then the following year, 1938, we went to the Alexandra Palace. Now that was a day job. We left at four o’clock in the morning and never got back till four o’clock the next morning.
Q: That would have been by coach?
CB: No, well charabanc, yes. Of course there was no motorways or anything then. We went off, four o’clock in the morning. Got up there and had breakfast. Then go for a rehearsal, and then on to Alexandra Palace.
Q: How many members would there have been, in the Band, in those days.
CB: How many would have been in the Band. About twenty-five.
Q: Quite a sizable Band.
Q: And well respected.
CB: Yes. It was a very good Band. Good discipline.
Q: How did you learn to play the instruments.
CB: Well, one of the older players. Actually, Bob Barnes, his name was. Well he was one of them.
Q: From the coach family
CB: Yes, he taught me.
Q: So you learnt, and when you were good enough, they let you play in competitions.
Q: Did you always play the tenor horn?
CB: Oh no, when I finished I used to play the bass, when I finished. One of the big ones. I loved it. I was in the Band 45 years.
Q: I understand that you are still connected with it..
CB: Yes, I am the librarian, One of them; there is two of us.
Q: So at the moment you lay out the music for them.
CB: Yes, that’s right. Sort the music out. Well, you know, it is a bit of interest.
Q: Tell me about the shops then. You were involved with the butchers.
CB: If you walk down West Street, used to come to the fish shopon the right-hand side. It was fruit and veg. and wet fish shop. And just, well the Framer is there now, and just this side it has all been done up now, used to be the fried fish shop. Cliff Brown was who done it then. And then on the opposite side to that was a garage with petrol pumps.
Q: So that would be opposite the Mason’s Arms.
CB: Opposite the Mason’s Armsand the people that owned that then was by the name of Couch. And in there was a daughter who still lives up on The Green. That’s her mother and father’s place. Then we had the pub next, the Queen Victoria, which just below on that same side. Used to be a public house. Queen Victoria was owned and run by George Dew and his wife. Then there was the Mason’s Arms, which is still going now. And then on the corner was the baker’s shop.
Q: Opposite the present Post Office?
CB: No, before you get there. It used to be the hair dresser. You know where I mean? Well that used to be a baker there, and a grocery shop. That was run by Mr. Frank Wilson. Next to that was the other shop, was Richard Hale; his mother used to have it, well his grandmother had it, which was Louise Stacey. That was a grocer’s shop.
Q: Another grocer’s shop.
CB: Yes. Then over the road you had the public house, the Bell, which is Barnes’s offices, but they have finished there now.
Q: Yes, next to the garage.
CB: Then there is now the Post Office that just used to be a grocer’s shop and baker. Then opposite that used to be the Aldbourne Engineering Company, petrol pumps, and next to that was a shop, a baker’s shop, run by Bert Stacey as a baker and grocery. Opposite was the butcher’s shop, Humphries, and opposite there.
Q: So you are getting along to the pond now.
CB: Getting to the pond. Opposite there, opposite the butcher’s shop was another grocer’s shop.
Q: On that little triangle.
CB: On the little triangle, yes, Fred Barrett, his name was. And where the hairdressers is now.
Q: The Gallery.
CB: Used to be the paper shop, sweet shop and newsagent. Then the Crown, the public house. Then along to Smithfield, used to be the butcher’s house, which was run then in my time by Arthur Liddiard, and just past there on the corner was another baker’s shop and confectioner. Brilliant, he was too. Up the road, where the Co-op is now, was Palmer’s Stores,. That was another baker’s shop and general store. There were 5 bakers and three petrol pumps.
Q: So there were a lot of businesses. Was there a bank, at all, in the village?
CB: Used to be Lloyds Bank, next to the butcher’s shop, where the Gallery is now.
Q: Next to Pond House.
CB: Yes. I think it was Lloyds. I am sure it was, yes.
Q: And was there a Post Office?
CB: The Post Office used to be up in the Green, actually.
Q: Oh, I know opposite the Church.
CB: Yes, on the south side of the Green, on the right-hand side. It was run by Mrs. Orchard, then. Then Honor Liddiard took it over. Then when Honor finished Marion Bradley had it. And when they finished, we nearly lost the Post Office, because if Howard hadn’t taken it on, nobody else. We wouldn’t have had one.
Q: Tell me about medical things. Was there a Doctor’s, a dentist in the village?
CB: In the village there was a doctor; a Doctor Varvill. He used to live in Barn House, and then there was a doctor from Ramsbury, a Doctor Kellet in those days, first off as I can remember, and he used to have the surgery at the Green, opposite the Post Office, the Old Post Office. He used to come there. A horrible man, he was. And then there was a Doctor Gardner, took over from him ,I think. And then we had Doctor Mills, who came to the village about 1936/37. Marvellous man, he was.
Q: When was there a Doctor’s at Nealsthen? Was that after the War?
CB: Ah. That used to be the Surgery after the War. Yes, down at Neals. Doctor Mills used to come there then; and there was Doctor Tiplady. Then a Doctor, I think it was Morrison, used to come here from Lambourn. There used to be a nurse lived in the village; a Nurse Oliver, actually.
Q: Carry on.
CB: 1941 was a very bad one.
Q: For weather?
CB: Yes. We had terrific snow and everything frozen, all the trees, electric light cables, was frozen over. Thick ice. And on the Saturday night all of a sudden the weather changed, milder, and everything melted and we had the floods. It was pouring down West Street, pouring up through Lottage,
Q: Right across the roads?
CB: Oh! Gosh, yes it was deep, very deep. The ground was absolutely frozen so the water couldn’t get away then.
Q: It just came down from the hills.
CB: Yes. It was just the same over Claypond and Garlings. It was coming down there and everything was flooded. I remember it was up to the pond railings.
Q: Was it? That was a good two and a half feet then The pond has always been here; I suppose.
CB: Yes it was a pond before, it was a natural pond. A spring pond. It used to dry up occasionally, through the summer. Cattle used to go there to water, and horses as well. That used to freeze over quite a bit during the winter. We used to go skating on it then. Till we fell through. Yes, that was pretty bad, that was. Well War time see.
Q: Tell me about a typical day at home, sort of thing when you were a young man. Did you have a bathroom and suchlike?
CB: We had no bathroom, no. We had a tin bath which come in and put in front of the fire, boil the water up in the copper. Bring buckets of water in and tip it in the bath.
Q: Everyone taking their turn.
CB: Yes. If you was the last it was getting a bit colder then. That was typical, that was. Of course, There was no indoor toilets or anything, it was at the top of the garden. Walk up there at night in the dark.
Q: And then it had to be emptied.
CB: Emptied. Yes.
Q: Would that have been collected or did you have to dispose of your own.
CB: No. you just dug it into the garden. Everybody was doing that.
Q: The natural thing to do.
CB: Well, most people had to, anyway.
Q: You were saying what low level of earnings it was in those days, but I suppose that property and such like would have been relatively cheaper as well?
CB: Oh yes it would have been. I had no idea what property cost. All our water came from a well outside. Had to wind it up, see. There was no mains then, no mains water. All wells and pumps. There were a lot of wells in the village. I remember, once, it must have been about 1935, it was the time of Oswald Mosely; they used to be at Crowood you see.
Q: Oh! He lived there.
CB: Yes. With his troopers, and we had a dry summer, the wells were dry and the water in the pump in the village by the pond, that was one we used to go there, with buckets and baths and fill up with water, put them on a trolley and take it home. At Baydon, they were in a sorry state up there for water, and Oswald Mosely came with a lorry, with tankas with his men, and they filled them up and took them up to Baydon. I remember that as a child as plain as anything. It must have been about that time.
Q: Yes, of course being high up, elevated, the water would not have flowed to them. The ground would have dried out.
CB: Yes. That’s right.
Q: Tell me, after the war what would young men’s entertainment have been in the village?
CB: Well, we used to have quite a few dances, Saturday nights, in the village hall, or we would go into town on the bus to Swindon to the Pictures.
Q: Would that be live music or recorded music in the village hall.
CB: Recorded music, mostly.
Q: To records.
CB: Oh, yes, records. Actually I used to do some of that.
Q: Did you. What, playing the records?
CB: Yes. Playing the records for the dances.
Q: You were one of the early D.J.s An early disc jockey.
CB: Yes, that’s right. Yes, some disc jockey. No, we used to, Billy Humphries, his name was, he used to have the butcher’s shop and he had a radiogram and his records. Used to go to dances in Aldbourne, Ogbourne, Chiseldon and I used to go with him and help change the records. That’s about the main thing really, unless, as I say, we went to town or to Hungerford, there used to be a cinema at Hungerford, you see, and Marlborough.
Q: Then getting back late at night was difficult.
CB: Very often we used to pushbike.
Q: I see. What, as far as Hungerford?
CB: Oh yes, no problem, well, we were used to it then.
Q: That’s what about 7 or 8 miles
CB: Yes seven miles. Well, if there was two or three of you together, there wasn’t much traffic about, you weren’t worried.
Q: You met the girls?
CB: Aye, yes
Q: Well thank you.