Aldbourne Heritage Centre

Q: Ian, I wonder if you’d like to tell us first of all how long you’ve lived in the village?
IP: I’ve lived in the village 72 years.
Q: And I gather you’re a Dabchick, does it mean anything special to you at all?
IP: Yes, I was born in Baydon Hill Road now called Oxford Street. I feel part of the village, and the village is part of me.
Q: What bought your parents to the village in the first place?
IP: My mother and father were both born in the village.
Q: I wonder what is the very first thing you can remember?
IP: The coronation celebrations of King George VI and the November 5th bonfire and fireworks night, the latter being held in the chalk pit in Baydon Hill. The bonfire was made up of hawthorn hedge cuttings, perhaps a week beforehand and villagers would parade up the hill with lighted tarred torches.
Q: And I wonder what was a treat for you in those days?
IP: Aldbourne Feast held on the nearest Monday after the 21st July. The origin of this was the changing of the church name from St Mary Magdelene to St Michael’s and the flag of St George is unfurled and usually flown on the Sunday. Then there was the cinema show held in the Memorial Hall once a week Friday evenings, admission 6d a time for children.
Q: Did you leave the village very often and if so, why?
IP: As a teenager, for work in construction and weekends for leisure in Swindon, Marlborough and Hungerford. As a rule, it would be Hungerford as it had a more convenient bus service. The longest period I left the village was in 1951 to 1953 as a National Serviceman, serving in the Wiltshire Regiment training in Devizes, Exeter and then to Hong Kong and finishing at Warminster.
Q: Did you family attend any church, either church or chapel?
IP: My family were Anglican, my father and grandfather were bellringers, Dad was also sexton and chorister. I was also in the choir as a boy.
Q: Have you got any sort of particular memories of church at St Michael’s?
IP: No.
Q: What was your home like as a child?
IP: Very basic, water drawn from a well, no proper sanitation, wash in the metal handbowl, bath was once a week in a tin bath. Mother would wash clothes and bed linen in the cast iron copper with water which was boiled by wood, coal, coke or any other rubbish that would burn.
Q: So you would say there has been an effect of modern life between then and now?
IP: Minimal compared by today’s standards.
Q: Were you employed in the village or outside?
IP: I was employed in the village when I first left school and in the early 1960s. The majority of working villagers went on bicycles or by firm’s private transport. So from the 1960s to the present day everything has changed. Most work, shop, and look for entertainment and leisure outside the village so, sadly, most of the community spirit has gone.
Q: And what sort of things did you have for entertainment?
IP: On leaving the Army in 1953 I worked in Swindon for WJ White, Cabinet Makers and was in their employ for 7 years which was a 12 hour day. On leaving home in the morning, and returning at night, pay was about £10 per week, from which transport had to be paid, private car to work and public transport home in the evening.
Q: And what about entertainment in those days?
IP: Weekly cinema, whist drives, social evenings, dances, pantomimes, shows by the Jumbo Nutters.
Q: And what about village facilities such as shops or pubs or general services?
IP: 1940s to 1960s Bakers and Grocers, E Barrett, F Barrett, F Palmer, A Stacey, J Wilkins, F Wilson, Butchers, Tapper, Liddiard, Jack Humphries, Newsagent and Confectioner Mr Belmont, petrol stations Charlie Allsop and Hardware Stores, F Barrett, T Lunn Hardware, McKeon Engineers, Farm Motors, Private Car Hire, F Barrett, George Dew, Tommy Lunn, Frank Wilson, Joe Wilkins and they were used for school transport, Public Houses were The Bell with Mr & Mrs Barnie West; The Crown Hotel, Mrs Smith; The Blue Boar, Mrs Davey; The Queen Victoria, Mrs George Dew; The Masons Arms, Mrs Harris. Builders: A V Jerram Brothers, Mr Charles Stacey, Farmers: Major Bland and Captain Brown at Warren Farm and Manor House Farm respectively. Charles Hale, Baydon Hill Farm; Oliver Hawkins, Southward Farm; Albert Pembroke, North Farm; Fred Gentry, Dudmore Lodge Farm; Fred Shepherd, Hillview Farm; Albert Palmer, Ford Farm; Albert Liddiard, Glebe Farm; Mrs Stacey, West Street Farm. Blacksmiths: Mr Aldridge and Mr Noah Liddiard. Greengrocers Mr & Mrs Clifford Brown and the Fish & Chip shop.
Q: And what about?
IP: Wait a minute, I haven’t finished! There were shoe menders in the village in those days Mr Billy Palmer (no relation) and Mr Edwards. TD Barnes, Coal Merchant and Carrier, Fred Barnes Coal Merchant and Pigs, Cattle & House Transport. Mrs T D Barnes had a tea shop. Mr Tom Palmer, my grandfather, and father were woodsmen and hurdle makers, suppliers of wood for the bakers and householders. Also there were seasonal sheep-shearing gangs 10-12 mile radius of Aldbourne. That’s all on that.
Q: What about leisure activities – can you tell us anything about those?
IP: No, I haven’t got anything about those. I’ve got late 1930s here as to what was the corn was cut. I’m on 16 now.
Q: Right OK – keep going on.
IP: Late 1930s corn was cut by horse drawn binders, the sheaves were stacked to dry and loaded in the horse drawn cart to a barn, made into a rick or high part of the field. Then at a later date it would be threshed by a steam engine driven machine and the waste straw was then baled or made into sheaves again and stacked into ricks for use to thatch the roofs of houses and barns. Tom Palmer would also supply the spars, wooden pins that the thatchers would use to hold the thatch in place. Note, this system is still used today.
IP: Now I’ve got something.
Q: OK right-oh
IP: A Holiday that is now
Q: Leisure Activity
IP: I’ve got a holiday. Holiday was to stay with an uncle or aunt who were prepared to have me for a week. The only time at the seaside was a day trip with the Church Sunday School. This was enjoyed by all but what was never had was never missed. That’s all I’ve got on that one.
Q: Do you have any memories about lost buildings in the village?
IP: The prices now are astronomical and young people find it impossible to buy property.
Q: How about leisure activities when you were growing up?
IP: As a young man I enjoyed playing football for Aldbourne and going to Hungerford in summer or the Kennet river in Ramsbury to swim. The winter months I enjoyed in a game of snooker in the local Boys Club.
Q: Are there any buildings which you might term as being lost that you remember?
IP: Yes Glebe Farm, barn and outhouses. Only the farmhouse remains. Both the original butcher’s shops have gone. Three grocers shops are now private houses. The baker’s house is now private. Stacey’s Farm in West Street has gone. Only the farmhouse remains. Two more barns in West Street plus a granary have gone. Two barns in Castle Street gone. Oliver Hawkins’ farm gone. Only the farmhouse remains. Ex farmyard and barn used by Stacey Builders for materials,and Grandwell and Son in Lottage Road. This went soon after World War II. The farmhouse and barn at Kandahar gone. Staceys Builders yard and buildings gone in Goddards Lane. That’s it.
Q: And what about local industries?
IP: Builders and farming except for Mr McKeon Engineering Works.
Q: What about organisations you were involved in as you were growing up?
IP: I would like to have been a scout but it fell through before I was old enough to join. A man by the name of Austin was the Scout Manager and his wife ran the Cubs, of which I was a member.
Q: What’s your sort of overview of the village?
IP: It’s changed. Communal attitude has been lost in comparison to former years.
Q: What about the provision of medical care?
IP: Although the Surgery at Ramsbury is really a fine building, I feel it is a real shame that Aldbourne and Baydon do not have their own residential GPs. Wanborough comes under Swindon and I don’t understand why it is manned by Ramsbury GPs. During the War Aldbourne had a surgery, two in fact, even if it was in a private house and at different periods. In my school days, the surgery was at 13 The Green. In later years it was at Neals, South Street. Some villagers used the Marlborough Doctors, others the Lambourn ones.
Q: Would you like to tell us a little bit more about your school days, Ian?
IP: I spent my entire school days in Aldbourne’s Church of England School. My first teacher in the infant’s class was Miss Hawksworth. Not a well-liked lady. I will never forget the day when she was warming her backside in front of the fire and the wall clock, for some unknown reason, fell on her head. She was known by the children as Hockey Ball because her hair was done in a bun at the back. My next teacher was Miss Sharp. She travelled in her car from Swindon every day. It was then Mrs Moulding, the Headmaster’s name was Mr Jackson. I think he retired about 1940. About this time the evacuees arrived from Dagenham – at a guess I would say about 50 children with a new Headmaster and his wife, Mr and Mrs Adams. She was a nice person, he was a tyrant. The worst person I have ever had the misfortune to contact. To my relief he departed to Box in Wiltshire. With the evacuees arrival, the school was not big enough so the Methodist Room in Lottage Road was used as a classroom. The teacher in charge was then a Miss Slade. I never attended there or any others of my age group. The Headmaster’s position became vacant and Mr Jackson was recruited back until the new master arrived, Mr Wood and his wife from somewhere in Norfolk Two new teachers arrived, Miss Mendham and Miss Williams and this time the evacuees had gone home. From time to time, some did return to stay with their host family.
Q: And what can you remember about any special events and celebrations taking place in the village?
IP: I cannot add to what I’ve already said.
Q: What about transport and travel?
IP: T D Barnes & Son ran a carrier service from Aldbourne to Hungerford, via Ramsbury and Chilton Foliat and day trips to the sea. Albert Smith from Axford ran a carrier service to Swindon via Foxhill and Liddington. The public who wanted him to call would tie a broom handle to railings with a newspaper wrapped around it.
Q: What about any village traditions? Tell us something about them
IP: It’s already been said. I’ve already said about the Feast, you see
Q: Right OK. What about any more War time memories to add to what you’ve already said?
IP: I’ve got more than I could really write about. Well, first off was the arrival of the Worcestershire Regiment. I don’t know what year that was but they were billeted in the racehorse stables called Hightown. The last of these have now been taken down and sent to America as the American troops were also stationed there. The first Americans to arrive in Aldbourne built the camp off Farm Lane as a matter of fact where we’re living now and this may even have been part of the camp where these houses are now. Right from here across to the road. They made concrete bases on which timber framed huts were erected. Opposite were Nissan huts for the cook house, mess hall, lecture hall, washroom and toilets. The last of these still exist today. We were issued with gas masks. Sand barricades were made in locations around the village. The local Home Guard was formed. There were several plane crashes around the village. Also a bomb was dropped near Hill View Farm, Marlborough Road. An American lorry loaded with petrol cans which were being filled at Lunns, West Street, caught fire and the Chief Fire Officer, Mr Alfred Jerram was badly burned.
Q: And finally, Ian, any memories about weather?
IP: Yes, the electric cables were brought down by the weight of frozen ice as were the boughs of trees broken off.
Q: Thank you very much indeed for your contribution.