Aldbourne Heritage Centre

OO: Where they re-built the school, we used to be in the little school which was next to the Aldbourne Church and we were there, that was there first of all when we went when we were infants, to that school there you see and we had a teacher called Miss Hawksworth. And she was a very straight lady, very straight and we used to have the little baby chairs, the little round ones, little round arms they had and then if we were to swing back on them she would catch hold of us and roll up our sleeves and smack our arms for us, I always remember that. It was funny, that was really you know. It wasn’t funny itself ‘cause we were all small children you know, a very straight lady she was. And where Mr Warrington lives now, it belonged to the Aldridge family and Mr Aldridge had a little shop, had a little workshop down the side, you know, that he used to work in.
Q: Was he the person who was the farrier?
OO: I believe he was, of course I can’t quite remember really what he did, I remember that he had a little shop.
Q: And you remember about your grandparents house?
OO: Yes, my grandfather lived there. We used to go up a little path and there were two houses there and my grandfather lived in one and someone else lived in the other one.
Q: So when did they pull those cottages down? During the war? You were born about the same year as me weren’t you, the 1930s?
OO: Yes, 1934.
Q: But you remember the house being there? And did they have a well?
OO: Yes, they did have a well in the front. There was a path and a little garden and the well at the front.
Q: And was that shared between the two cottages?
OO: I’m not sure whether it was or not. That was my father’s father that lived there. My grandmother she lived in the little cottages, you know where the Stacey family live, next to Spragnells. She lived there for many years and we used to live up Baydon Hill, at the top of the hill where the Cock’s family live?
Q: You mean the Windmill cottages?
OO: Oh no. This is opposite where the old chapel was going up over the bank. We were facing there, we lived there in the cottage there. Of course when my mother and father, and I was a child and I lived there it was two houses then and my father had the two houses made into one. As I say you came out of the bank, you went down Lottage Road and my grandmother lived in the cottages where the Stacey family are now. There was an elderly lady called Mrs Bull who lived next to it, at one time there were three there. She lived in one, my grandmother lived in the other and a lady by the name of Mrs Plant lived in the other one.
Q: Do you remember mains water coming to the village? Were people on mains water when you were a child?
OO: Oh yes, so it must have been before that.
Q: I think it was the late twenties.
OO: I imagine so, yes.
Q: We’ve done investigation into the drains and things like that
OO: Which I don’t know.
Q: So you were at school, do you remember other people you were at school with?
OO: Oh yes, in fact well she’s a cousin of mine, Sue, and when we went down to the fair at Carnival, they come from Coventry down here now I went to school with her and also this Mrs Plant that I was telling you about that lived next to my grandmother, her daughter was a little bit younger than me, not a lot, but a little bit younger and she came from Australia, she’s come over from Australia or New Zealand, one of the two I’m not quite sure where it is she lived because I was going to speak to her and then she was talking to someone so of course I couldn’t speak to her and then she was gone.
Q: Do you remember the fair coming when you were a child?
OO: Oh yes, I remember that very vividly and the cottage that is by the car park, the big cottage a Miss Foster used to live there, and she used to every Aldbourne Feast she used to give so much money to the fair for all the children of the village to have free rides on the roundabouts and the amusement things that were there.
Q: What sort of rides where there?
OO: In that day we used to have what they called the Noah’s Ark, which went round, that was lovely the Noah’s Ark and also the Chairoplanes that you sat in the chairs and you went round not like they do now going up and down. And the swinging boats of course.
Q: The ones that you did yourself?
OO: Yes that’s right one sat one end and the other sat the other and you had your rope and you crossed your rope and you pulled.
Q: And then when you were a bit older you went to another school building did you say?
OO: The top was the infants school and then there another school, the bottom of like, by the pump and that was we where we went to and after that we went on to Marlborough. At first when we went to Marlborough we didn’t go to the Chopping Knife Lane like they do now, we went to the huts on the common. They had huts on the common for us to go to school.
Q: So many huts, how many children were there? How long were you there?
OO: I didn’t go to Chopping Knife Lane at all, I mean my children did, but I was in the huts until I left.
Q: So you were what?
OO: 14, I left school at 14.
Q: I didn’t realise.
OO: Oh yes, they had ambulance as well.
Q: So that we really the whole school that was there.
OO: Oh yes, it was.
Q: The Cherry Orchard site, that was the grammer school was it?
OO: I can’t quite recall.
Q: The old building down where St Peter’s School is now, that might have been the grammar school.
OO: It probably was, I’m not quite sure.
Q: How did you get to Marlborough, were there buses to take you?
OO: Oh yes, we went by coach. We were picked up just as they are now.
Q: And that would have been just after the war?
OO: Yes. Of course then we lived up Baydon Hill, my father was the thatcher and he did an awful lot of work all round for everyone you know. He did an awful lot of thatching for Captain Brown then, the grandfather to Mr. Anthony Brown.
Q: How many were in your family?
OO: I’ve got just one brother. My mother came from a family of seven. Six girls and one boy and my father was from a family of five.
Q: Some people had big families.
OO: Oh yes, like the Barnes they were a big family, they had twelve.
Q: Like Donald.
OO: No not Don, no this was a different family.
Q: He was one of twelve or one of eight, one of a lot anyway he was.
OO: When you said Donald Barnes I thought you meant the Donald Barnes that I know.
Q: Oh no.
OO: I don’t know the Barnes now.
Q: So what do you remember of the war? Have you any memories of what happened to you as a child, fairly impressionable?
OO: I don’t remember an awful lot about it, but I do remember that one night we were all sat in the room and we heard a German plane go over and we heard such a terrific sound, it sounded awful at the time, and apparently seven bombs had been dropped on Russley but that was about the nearest that we knew anything like that.
Q: Do you remember the American soldiers being in the village?
OO: Oh yes.
Q: Do you remember anything particular about them?
OO: Well not really except that we used to have them come to our house, my mother used to do their washing for them and different things and they would more or less come there like their home, you know. They were only young lads, about 19, my mother had some lovely letters from their mothers in America, for what she’d done for them.
Q: You didn’t keep the letters?
OO: No.
Q: Perhaps you weren’t old enough to remember the trading with the soldiers that went on, that gave you chocolate perhaps and you gave them something in return?
OO: No, I don’t. They were quite generous with lots of things but
Q: So after you left school what did you do then?
OO: After I left school I went to McIlroys which has now been demolished, in Swindon to work and I worked there for a few years and after that I left there to work at a stationers in Old Town called Dobell Shearman and Company and I was there right until the time when I got married.
Q: And you were married in the village?
OO: Yes, at the church
Q: Was it a big wedding?
OO: 1952. We had a nice do you know.
Q: ‘Cause 1952 was still quite hard.
OO: Yes, that’s right. It was a bit.
Q: And then where did you live?
OO: For the first two years of our married life we lived at Pettywell, next to the Co-Op shop because the cottage belonged to my Aunt so we rented it from her. After that this cottage, Beaconsfield Cottage, on the Green it was for sale and I know there were several people, my father knowing the Brown family quite well, we went to see them and said that we would like to buy it. So they were very good, they let us have the cottage, so we bought the cottage from them and we were there then for thirteen years. That’s the one up the road towards the Blue Boar up on the left hand on the bank, the only one on the bank.
Q: You didn’t like the old cottage?
OO: Well to a certain extent we did but we found that the older property always needed some repair so when, a couple lived here for about eighteen months after these were built, and said that they were going and I knew the person that lived here and said to my husband oh do come and have a look at this, I’m sure you’ll like it and of course he came down and we decided to sell that and come here.
Q: What else do you remember – soon after I came here there was a combined church fete where everyone dressed up. What was that all about – was it Victorian? I remember you clearly behind a stall.
OO: That’s right, with the ladies group. It was a Victorian theme wasn’t it.
Q: I thought it was wonderful,
OO: I’ve got a photograph of it.
Q: Everyone had gone to a huge amount of trouble.
OO: Everyone dressed up. Yes, we were on the cake stall.
Q: I remember some old ladies had a stall full of some woodwork things.
OO: That’s right, yes.
Q: It was a much bigger place in those days.
OO: It was, yes.
Q: Who was the organiser of it?
OO: I can’t remember.
Q: I was just curious, it just seemed to me coming from outside what an effort.
OO: It was, yes. I can remember when the Post Office of course was on the road leading from The Crown. We used to go up there and of course then it was converted into flats. It was a nice house.
Q: I always remember letters were put in pigeon hole things behind the counter for each house.
OO: That’s right, yes.
Q: Then all your family you say they all went to the village school and then off to Marlborough. And by the time they were old enough ..
OO: Yes, they went to Chopping Knife Lane. When they were about eleven they went then to Chopping Knife Lane.
Q: I wonder when they changed over. Sometime in the 60s when the Chopping Knife Lane School was built.
OO: It was ready for children to go into when mine were old enough to go.
Q: I know that you came to Eastleaze looking after other people’s children
OO: Yes, looking after people’s children, a lot of dirty nappies. Edward and Christopher and the Oswald children:.
Q: Looking after father.
OO: Looking after father, that’s right. My uncle, my father’s brother, he lives at the bottom of the hill, the one which now they call Orchard Cottage. He lived there. They’ve made it very nice. Because of course it was a very old cottage and my uncle and Nan and her mother and father all lived there.
Q: Then you come to the next cottage up.
OO: Yes, where Jonathan Swash lived.
Q: Miss Sherman lives up there. I deliver her meals on wheels. What did you get up to as children. Did you do anything naughty or were you so good?
OO: The things that the children get up to today I think we would never have thought of doing.
Q: What games did you play?
OO: Hopscotch, rounders, hockey.
Q: You were out and about round the village without your parents being worried about you?
OO: Oh yes, used to go out with friends, used to go out for walks.
Q: Where did you walk in the village?
OO: All sorts, Greenhill, Four Barrows, the Common, all sorts of places like that.
Q: And your parents were quite happy?
OO: Oh yes.
Q: Were most of the roads metalled by the time you knew them, were they as they are now.
OO: Yes, most of the roads. Some of the tracks were very rough like they are now but the roads.
Q: Again, it was just before you that places like Castle Street were just a dust road. Your father would remember it like that.
OO: I expect there are a few people left of my father’s generation that would know a lot more than what I can tell you.
Q: Oh yes but I’m interested in what you can tell me. So these were new and so was Kandahar and when you, the cottages at Baydon Hill were finished, where the old cottages are.
OO: I can remember when we moved from Baydon Hill when my mother and father sold where we were we came to live at Hughenden, you know along here from the bungalow and when we came to live here first of all there was a farm house and an old barn that was where the Kandahar estate is now and apparently Kandahar was the name that an old gentlemen who’d been to India at one time had the property and he called the house Kandahar. We knew it when Mr and Mrs Hale lived there, the Hale family. This was Mr and Mrs Bert Hale, brother of Mr Charlie Hale.
Q: Charlie Hale’s brother. Bob Hale.
OO: That’s right, that would have been Bob Hale’s ….We lived at Hughenden and next to us was a big, very old barn and then where we are, I suppose now, stood the farmhouse.
Q: So all these were knocked down to make room.
OO: Oh yes, for the new houses to be built.
Q: So what other houses were along Lottage here. Not very many.
OO: Oh no.
Q: Few little old cottages where again I deliver meals on wheels. They would be here. And the farmhouse right at the end.
OO: Oh yes, that was, yes. That was where Mr and Mrs Holmes lived.
Q: But not much else.
OO: No.
Q: And fields.
OO: Yes, fields.
Q: And do you remember the farm being in the Glebe?
OO: Oh yes I do because we used to go down for eggs and things when Mr Liddiard had Glebe Farm. Where the houses are now that was the drive in and there were barns and things like that then.
Q: So you remember that so that’s your sort of childhood.
OO: Yes
Q: You were just about to say down West Street, there was a farm there.
OO: Oh yes, Staceys.
Q: Julie Alder told me about it.
OO: That’s right. Because I went to school with Julie, she’s a month older than me.
Q: And did she go to Marlborough School with you.
OO: Yes, marvellous really that she’s reached the age that she has under the circumstances because she’s had several operations and all this to try to help her grow. I haven’t seen her for years.
Q: I was talking to Dr Tiplady about Neals and he said I should talk to Julie.
OO: That’s right because they lived at Neals, when the doctors surgery was down there.
Q: Were the other children kind to her?
OO: Yes I think so, on the whole. I don’t think that there were many unkind to her.
Q: Her memory was that. She could vividly remember when the evacuees came.
OO: Yes, I can remember that very vividly.
Q: Apparently there was quite a big boy who was a bit of a bully, he almost took her under his wing, but he was quite kind to her. What else can you remember? When you had your children, did you go into hospital?
OO: My first one I did. My second one I had a lovely nurse and I had the baby at my mother’s but due to complications I had to go in again when I had the youngest boy. It was Kingshill when I had the eldest one but Princess Margaret’s with the youngest.
Q: When were they born?
OO: January 1953 the first baby was born, 30 September 1957 and June 1963
Q: So between going to hospital between your first and your third you probably saw a difference in the hospital equipment, because that was when everything took off about that time.
OO: Oh yes.
Q: Did you take any notice of what you were told about how to look after babies or did you just carry on and do it?
OO: Well it was something people just did, I’d had two before, you know. You know what you’re doing. More often with the first one of course but I was very fortunate, to have my mother to give me wonderful advice.
Q: Who was the doctor in the village at that time?
OO: Dr Mills was for the first one, I had a very nice doctor that used to come from the surgery then, his name was Dr Bennett. For the third one it was Dr Tiplady, because was of course Dr Tiplady was the baby doctor.
Q: Oh yes he told me about going all over the place to deliver babies, to Bishopstone in that winter of ’63.
OO: That was the year that my youngest was born, in 1963.
Q: People in the village remember ’63 as a very snowy year.
OO: Very bad year, we had a small window at Beaconsfield Cottage and it was just iced over for days and days, it turned into a sheet of ice.
Q: And deep snow.
OO: Yes, very deep snow.
Q: Was the village cut off, did traffic get through?
OO: I think there were a couple of days when nothing got through, it happens so rarely, the weather was so bad that people just could not get through.
Q: So that people wouldn’t be able to get out of the village to go to work?
OO: No, that’s right. That was a very, very bad year.