Aldbourne Heritage Centre

Q: David, You can start off by telling me the year you were born and where you lived at that time.
DP: Aldbourne, 1945, at what is now 77 Lottage Road, what was in them days 9 The Council Houses.
Q: You’re actually a Dabchick then, Dave?
DP: Yes, could say that I’ve been in the Pond many a time, and the dew pond.
Q: Which dew pond was that then?
DP: The one up Peakes; I believe there’s some sort of pond there now, but its been concreted or something.
Q: Your Mother and Father?
DP: My father came from Wales and he was a cowman, and they lived round Aldbourne. My mother was a Dabchick, she was born in Aldbourne.
Q: Her maiden name?
DP: Sheppard. Several Sheppards were around at that time, and they worked on the farm; they lived originally at Snap and worked for Mr Bomford. My mother worked for Lord Dalton, Chancellor of the Exchequer; then they moved to Aldbourne and Liddington Warren. Lived there for a short while and then we moved to Foxhill. Foxhill was where my father had an accident on the farm and eventually he died of a tumour on the brain. That was when we moved to Crooked Corner, my mother and my brother and myself.
Q: Your father’s brother, tell me who he was.
DP: He was Don Powell, he had a small holding in the village, driving a …. , and his wife was Ruth Powell. He used to drive the cattle lorries round the local farms collecting for the abattoir. After we moved to Crooked Corner my mother had to work at the Thames Valley eggs at the Egg Depot; not whilst it was at the Mason Arms; not sure when it moved at the top of the hill but she originally worked for Mrs Smith who was the boss there.
Q: How old were you when you moved to Crooked Corner?
DP: It must have been before school, some people called it Crooked Corner, – others called it Vicarage Hill because the vicarage was at the top what they call The Court House now. In them days it was the vicarage.
Q: The vicar was then?
DP: Rev. Gilding, I believe. Might have been one before him, I can’t remember now. On their lawn, its just a lawn now, there was a tennis court and there was a tennis club up there.
Q: When you got to school age, which would have been five, you went to the school here, who was your teacher there?
DP: The little school, Mrs Moulding.
Q: That was the school that’s now the meeting room, isn’t it?
DP: Yes, the kindergarten, or pre – school, or something.
Q: When you moved up in class, whose class did you go into next?
DP: Mrs Wood. She was a terror with a ruler, would rap the knuckles a bit quick.
Q: What do you remember of Mrs Moulding, she was old, wasn’t she?
DP: I’m not sure when she retired but she was a pretty good teacher. There was another one there but I don’t think I ever had her. Mrs Hallows, something to do with the vicar.
Q: I had her, Mrs Moulding taught on one side of the room and she taught on the other. Then when you went up in class you went to Mrs Wood, which was in the main building.
DP: Yes then it was still split, with one lot being taught at one end and the other at the other end. Discipline was a bit different in them days.
Q: Who can you remember were your schoolmates, from that date, who are still living in the village now?
DP: Malcolm Palmer was a bit older than me, so was Ian Comley, Roy and Joy Morgan, Terry Barnes, Carole. The Williams, Barbara has moved out the village now, and there was the family Mabbuts.
Q: You were still at school when the Coronation came along then?
DP: Yes,
Q: Is there anything that sticks in your mind about school that happened?
DP: I can remember looking out of the window and watching them paint the Church clock. One of the things….I also remember Mr Wood and at the back of the school there was a little garden. We used to go out there and have gardening lessons. One day out there he decided because there was a lot of dead grass, to light the bonfire; the wind suddenly got up and it was all aflame heading towards a field of corn up the top of the field. We were all beating out all these flames.
Q: That would have been the Brown’s, would it?
DP: Could have been. More gales in them days, you put your finger up in the wind to see what way the wind was blowing. Lighting a match and the whole of the bank and the playing field caught light. Whatever happened to the stuff they grew in the garden nobody ever knew.
Q: The headmaster grew them?
DP: Mr Wood.
Q: Where did they live?
DP: Down in One Ash.
Q: Down in South Street.
DP: Yes.
Q: Did you have school dinners?
DP: Yes, because my mother had to work because she was a widow, when my father died, I was one of the few entitled to free meals. In them days we had to go down to the Hall, and trudge down; there used to be a path or a cobblestone path going the opposite way down The Green diagonally. We trooped down and you had to put the tables up before you got your meal, then walk back up for the school in the afternoon.
Q: You lived quite close to the fire station. Did you remember when the fire engines went out?
DP: Yes. We used to hear the sirens going.
Q: What was the siren?
DP: You had to turn the handle, it was an old air raid siren. Like you used to have in the war, I believe. You stood there turning the handle and then they’d come from all directions putting on their various amounts of clothes; Fodger tearing down on his bike.
Q: Who can you remember, of the firemen?
DP: There was ‘Winnow’, Fred Sherman; Doug, Roly & Tom Barnes; George Fodger, they used to call him, he was called George Chamberlain actually; Bill Sherman and Fred Isles. They did it during the war, because they were on the farm they had to do that and the fire watch. They went miles to the farm looking for what they thought was a bomb one day; it turned out well, forget what it was.
I.. You’ve got a brother haven’t you as well, is he a Dabchick? Does he live in Aldbourne?
DP: Yes, Rodney, He lives in Swindon now.
Q: How much older is he than you?
DP: Two years.
Q: He was born in the same year as Ian then?
DP: Yes, he was born in the December and Ian Comley was born in the February same Davina Powell. Same day actually.
Q: Davina and Rodney were born on the same day?
DP: No, Davina and Ian.
Q: Tim Barrett,
DP: Tim was the same age, next year down with Michael Palmer, and Rick Bendle.
Q: Can you remember much about the Coronation?
DP: Not a lot, I can only remember getting a Coronation mug.
Q: What mug is it?
DP: Well, it’s a glass which has the lion and unicorn either side, with the crest of the harp the red lion. Just says Coronation Queen Elizabeth June 2nd 1953.
Q: Can you remember how you received it?
DP: I remember I went up and was presented with it but where it was I’m not sure.
Q: On The Green, or the Hall?
DP: Someone said it was on The Common, they had sports and something that day.
Q: That was along Brown’s meadow.
DP: They had a big bonfire on The Common with fireworks or something. I can’t remember, it’s the sort of thing usually I’d associate with The Green for some unknown reason. Go up and stand on the market cross and they present it to you, usually.
Q: What about Carnival, do you remember anything about Carnival?
DP: We went in as kids doing different things, but also, we used to go down and help Uncle Don with his float. He was a great person for putting a float in every year.
Q: Uncle Don Powell?
DP: Yes, didn’t always go on it or anything. Rob did when they did with the Widecome Fair, they had a horse with the people sat on it. He used to like a bit of water as well, so you could be stood in the back with a stirrup pump pumping to get a bit of water out when they did the wet or dry, weather thing. I can’t remember who was doing the pumping at the back but a tub of water and a stirrup pump and water used to shoot out.
Q: Can you remember who the policeman was in the village at that time?
DP: Reginald Waite was the first one I can ever remember.
Q: What sort of policeman was he?
DP: He was the good old fashioned type, give you a clip round the ear, but, mind you, he used to spend quite a bit of time working on the farm in his spare time. Unlike the one later on in years, he went beating. He used to ride a bike about the village. It was better in them days I thought because they had their finger on the pulse.
Q: What can you remember about the behaviour of the boys in the village. What did you get up to when you were seven or eight?
DP: The difference was you still got up to mischief, but it wasn’t wanton vandalism or anything. A sign post turned round or something like that, something that could be corrected without a lot of fuss. It was like the Fair that used to come to Aldbourne; well, for the rest of the year we seemed to play wonderful games of cricket outside the house in the middle of the road. With a dustbin one end and something else the other end, but we never had a cricket ball. It was always a ball from the coconut shy, they seemed to go missing when the Fair was in town. We had a ruling that it was a six or out in the vicarage, so if it went in the vicarage you were given six but you were out, because we never found the ball again, or if you did it was about three years later.
Q: What do you remember about the Fair?
DP: It was always good because you had the free rides in them days for the first hour or whatever it was.
Q: How did you get that?
DP: It was a Miss Foster used to pay for us somehow or another. Had some deal with the fair people, Edwards, or Scarretts was it? It was in their interest anyway because it got everybody down to the Fair early.
Q: Can you remember what sort of thing they had at the Fair then, it changes over the years doesn’t it?
DP: There was always the Noah’s Ark, there was chairoplanes over by the blacksmith shop, there was swing boats by the conker tree, you just missed the conker tree. Then the dodgems used to be on the corner by Marge Barrett’s.
Q: They never had it on The Green, did they?
DP: Not in them days. It only started when they came for Carnival and they weren’t allowed to block the road through like it does..
Q: Anything momentous you can remember from those early days.
DP: Not that much really, the highlight of the year used to be the Sunday School outing, once a year. That was the only time you got to the seaside.
Q: Was that the Church?
DP: That was the Chapel. We always went to Chapel – Sunday School. The dreaded Chapel Anniversaries we used to have to get up and read a poem or do something. I used to hate them.
Q: What about Rob, did he like it?
DP: I don’t think he liked it any better than me, he used to spend all week rehearsing it and then he’d go tongue tied on the day. That was down Lottage Road that was.
Q: How did you go on your Church outings?
DP: That was on the Barnes bus. We got to Weymouth and places like that. It would take all day. We had a Sunday School outing of some sort every year but that was about the only one you did have.
Q: How changed is it?
DP: Things that people just take for granted these days. I can remember when we had a sink put in our kitchen, the fact that it didn’t go anywhere, put a bucket outside for the water to run out to. But to have a sink and do some washing in the sink was one upmanship that was, at last. The toilet used to be at the end of the house outside. Before the sewerage got put to Aldbourne.
Q: You’d have to empty that wouldn’t you?
DP: Oh yes. We used to have the finest rhubarb in them days. Can’t grow it these days here.
Q: Tell me about the Red Cross in Aldbourne.
DP: I’m not sure how it started but it run for quite a while in Aldbourne and it was well supported by the youngsters. There was no Scouts and Guides, or anything like that in the village at that time, so it was something new to try. If you couldn’t be clever like, to play in the band, you had a go at the Red Cross.
Q: You had to be trained?
DP: They did bandaging and different things, they went in for competitions. Not very successful, like, but it was very good. I’ve made use of it over the years. I’ve been a First Aider for about 30 years at work.
Q: And this was all due to you learning the Red Cross when you were at Primary School?
DP: Taking an interest in it, yes.
Q: What sort of vehicles did you have, for the Red Cross?
DP: I’m not sure whether they had ambulance or not in them days. It was always in connection with Dr Mills, he was always keen on the Red Cross, in Ramsbury. There’s always been a big following.
Q: Tell me about the allotments. Did you have an allotment at that time?
DP: Yes. We always had an allotment. My grandfather, he was the main person used to dig it in them days.
Q: Where would that have been?
DP: Along the back which is, what would be Cook Road. You grew all your potatoes and carrots and vegetables to keep you going in food during the year, before the supermarkets and everything. The more you could produce, the better it was really.
Q: How was it done, very often?
DP: Quite a family affair, one would be digging, one be chucking the manure on it, you always had a load of dung every year. Somebody else would be going along putting the potatoes in and somebody else would be chucking a bit of fertiliser on it.
Q: Where did you get all the seed from?
DP: The seed used to come from Frank Noon down there. Either him or his mother or father, or somebody, used to run an Allotment Society which used to get seeds a lot cheaper.
Q: And the people in the village would get their seeds from them?
DP: They would give you a list at the start of the year, or tell you what they had in their packet, so many seeds. You would buy that pack and plant accordingly.
Q: Would you have been fairly self sufficient in vegetables then?
DP: Reasonably, if you made a stew or something like that you would just keep adding to it and make it last a week, provided you had a rabbit or something to go in it.