Aldbourne Heritage Centre

Q: How long have you lived in the village?
DK: About 71 years.
Q: What brought you to the village in the first place?
DK: Well, me mother couldn’t look after me, my parents couldn’t look after me where I was born in London at Lambeth and I was sent down to my aunt . Me auntie was here at 6, Lottage Road and that’s where I have been ever since.
Q: And I wonder what the first thing you can remember is? You were about four weren’t you?
C. Nothing important I don’t think
Q: What was a treat for you, perhaps you can remember that?
DK: Holidays, that was a treat, because I didn’t like school.
I. Was there something about an Easter Egg?
DK: Yes, my father got me an Easter Egg when I was about six, I think. It was a very big one, as big as a football.
Q: How often did you leave the village, in say a week or a month or a year and why?
DK: I used to work on my uncle’s farm just out of the village at Membury, driving tractors and driving the horses on the horse rake in haymaking time, it was called the buck rake then.
Q: Did your family attend church chapel?
DK: Church – my aunt.
Q: Did you go to Sunday School, were you a good boy?
DK: Yes, and, no, I wasn’t a good boy at all, I’m afraid.
Q: Did you have any outings at all with the Church?
DK: Yes; I think we used to go on a few outings.
Q: What can you remember about your childhood home growing up with your aunt, she was really like your mother wasn’t she?
DK: She was wonderful, yes, wonderful.
Q: You had a good home?
DK: Yes, very good, yes – didn’t appreciate it at the time.
Q: I think you said that your aunt had lodgers?
DK: Yes she had lodgers, stable lads form the stables in the village
Q: She told you some nice stories?
DK: Yes.
Q: Was crime a part of your life at all; not in that way!; did you see much crime?
DK: No, not much crime at that time, well there was a policeman here at that time.
Q: And tell us about something called apple noggin?
DK: Stealing people’s apples, diving over the fence, wasn’t very good, but we used to enjoy it.
Q: Did you ever get caught?
DK: No, I never got caught.
Q: What about the effect of modern life on living in Aldbourne – did you have a car, a washing machine or any mod cons?
DK: Well, had a motorbike many years ago and then I had a car, but this is much later than when I was at school.
Q: Didn’t you say that your aunt used to wash American’s uniforms?
DK: Yes, and I used to deliver them. I used to live with the Yanks at that time.
Q: Were you employed in the village?
DK: Yes, Aldbourne Engineering it was called then, car repairs and tractor repairs and that sort of thing.
Q: Didn’t you say that you had a cousin who had a farm, that you used to work on?
DK: When I was a schoolboy my cousin had a farm and my uncle had a farm, so I had a choice –I worked for my cousin in the village on his farm.
Q: Were there lots of other young people there?
DK: Yes, there were quite a lot of young people there. I worked on the farm for two years and then I went to work for Aldbourne Engineering.
Q: What did you lads do for entertainment in those days?
DK: Well the Americans had dances and that sort of thing in the village and they made a picture house of the Hall. So we used to go to the pictures there as well.
Q: What about sport?
DK: I played football for the village, was never much good, but I used to enjoy it.
Q: And what about the facilities in the village, can you remember what there was in those days?
DK: The shops and pubs, plenty of pubs.
Q: And what about farming practices, anything about that, did you like working with the tractor?
C When I was 10, 11, 12, 13 something like that, I used to drive the tractor, loading the wagons with the corn, take it to the ricks, they used to put them to the elevator and they would make a rick of it.
Q: And what about holidays, did you have holidays?
DK: Yes, I did, because one of my aunts lived in Brighton.
Q: How did you get there?
DK: By train.
Q: From Hungerford?
DK: Yes.
Q: What about house values, because they have obviously gone up a good deal?
DK: I just can’t remember what my aunt gave for these three houses, I’m sure; because she bought three houses, I don’t know what year, a long time ago.
Q: What about leisure activities, what did you get involved in?
DK: Football mainly and I was in the Army Cadets and I think I was in the Scouts as well, I’m sure I was. But after that I was in the Army Cadets.
Q: What was this about uniforms, that if you had one you could go on a plane?
DK: Yes, if you had a uniform you could go up with the Americans at Membury and go flying for an hour or two, which was an experience.
Q: Can you remember about the lost buildings that are not longer in the village?
DK: The main school, when I went to school, the big school they used to call it, and that’s gone.
Q: Did you say there was farm in the middle of the village?
DK: Yes, that’s right; there was a farm in the middle of the village.
Q: Can you tell us more about that?
DK: It was Liddiard’s farm, I think.
Q: Did they have animals?
DK: Yes, they had cows, wandering across to the pond and they used to take them up Four Barrows, it was; they had fields up there.
Q: What about local industries, can you tell us anything about those? The bells come into it.
DK: That was rather before my time. The foundry, I worked there but they didn’t make ploughshares any more; they just done tractor repairs.
Q: And in terms of organisations in the village, I think you said you were a Scout and your aunt was a member of the WI?
DK: Yes, I think she was.
Q: And I think you were an Army Cadet and played football; that kept you busy.
DK: Yes.
I I wonder, any views on how the village has changed over the years?
DK: I don’t think it has changed that much really, just everybody’s got cars and drives everywhere, but otherwise not much change really.
Q: That’s nice to hear, I think a lot of people think the village has changed an awful lot. What about the provision of medical care, did you need medical care?
DK: Yes, we had a surgery in the village, we haven’t got one now, we did have then.
Q: Tell us a bit about your schooldays.
DK: Not very good, I’m afraid, schooldays for me, not very good.
Q: Did you have any favourite teachers?
DK: Not really, no.
Q: You just couldn’t wait for it to be over?
DK: That’s exactly it.
Q: How about special events and celebrations?
DK: We had the Carnival and Aldbourne Feast.
I. You used to throw pennies at the Carnival?
DK: Yes.
Q: Did you get involved in VE Day celebrations?
DK: Yes, we had a bonfire in the village, in the centre there.
Q: How did you get around; what were your transport and travel arrangements?
DK: I had a bike up to I was 16 and then I had a motorbike and then I had a car later on when I got married – I was 22 when I got married.
Q: Were you married in the church in Aldbourne?
DK: No, registry office.
Q: How about anything on traditions of the village – you weren’t actually a Dabchick?
DK: No.
Q: Presumably you know Dabchicks?
DK: Yes.
Q: Anything else you can remember about Feast and Carnival?
DK: We always had a Fair and there was a woman called Miss Foster, who collected paper for the war effort and us lads and everybody used to help collect the paper. She used to pay for us to go on the fair for a certain amount of time. That was quite good at the time.
Q: That brings us nicely to the last question, which is about war time memories, can you remember anything more?
DK: No, I don’t think so, we had a couple of lodgers in the British Army and then some Americans later on.
Q: And then there were some people billeted from London?
DK: Yes I forget what they called that, certainly not refugees; if you had a spare room you had to have people in them.
Q: And you said something about bombs that fell outside village, you heard them fall?
DK: Four, yes, I did.
Q: That must have been pretty terrifying?
DK: Well, we were just young lads running around, didn’t take much notice of it actually.
Q: Thank you very much Mr Keen, this concludes the interview.