Godfrey Jellyman (born 1923)
There’s a row of houses along there and I was born in the second one along this way. That’s in Brownshill, six houses along with the post office on the end. There’s a plaque up when they were built. I was born in that house. Father had a farm down over by Brownshill House and this property came up for sale so we bought the two dwellings at the sale and Mr. Aldridge next door bought one of them from father. There was a paddock where Polly’s is, Mr. Aldridge wanted the one with the paddock. Father was a farmer at nearby Brownshill House, he kept cattle, pigs, chickens. We then moved to Bussage School and came back home across the fields. There was no water laid on but I got nobbled to fill the big tank from the well with pump.
No milk in bottles. Government did bring in milk for school children and father got the contract for that and that went on very well. That was Bussage school because we used to deliver round Bussage. Supplied for quite a while and then went all modern they wanted it in bottles so we didn’t bother with that. Third of a pint was odd we had quarter of a pint and a gill, half and quarts. Father delivered milk with horse and cart and might have sold a few eggs. Chickens laid in the spring but we was short in the winter. Mother would pickle the eggs. She had a big dish and put the eggs in and poured liquid over to stop them going rotten so we had eggs in the winter. They were in shells uncooked. Mother could make cakes etc. We had a range and everything round the range. Mother was a very good cook and had to make do as everybody else.
In them days there was a private school in Bussage run by two ladies and we used to go along and get what I call swill, all odds and ends from the girls what they didn’t eat, once a week and had it for the pigs. If the cart was about that was easier. They didn’t know what to do with the swill in those days.
Mother did the washing on Mondays in a copper that had to be lit with firewood and coal quite early because it had to boil. Sometimes if the wind was in the wrong direction it didn’t want to boil. When it did eventually boil they had two baths with cold water and all that had to be rinsed out. If that wasn’t good enough they had to go and do a second one. Of course the collar had to be starched on the shirts. The water was pumped from out back, it was rainwater from the big tank from the two houses. Mother had too much work in the house to do any other work outside.
Anne Sutton (born 1927)
I was born at Vale House in Chalford, 90 years ago, I’m nearly 91, and I was one of 11 children, I was number 9. They got more spaced out after me. Very, very happy childhood, we had a nice big house so I wasn’t crammed up like some big families were. There was a family very near us and they were in a one bedroom house, they had a sort of partial partition. There was no kitchen and an outside well, they filled up a washing up bowl and dabbled about in it. Obviously no bath or anything. An outside loo and they were as many as we were in one room upstairs with a slight partition for the parents. I was very lucky we had a big house and a lovely big garden, so great activities there.
My mother would not tolerate squabbling, she said ‘in a big family you have got to learn to get on’, so that was understood and we didn’t.
One had to help in the house, it was just an accepted thing. My sister Pat and I always did the potatoes and I can remember dusting down the front stairs which had brass rods through that held the carpet in. I can remember cleaning the brasses and things, we had to go and get all of the rods out of the stairs. Yes, I think it was accepted that children helped. Housework was hard work then, you didn’t just shuffle round with a hoover and waft a feather duster. Places got very dusty because of coal fires you see.
Wash day was Monday and it took all of Monday. We had a wash house out at the back and the copper in the corner and sheets and everything were boiled in there and shirts, because they weren’t drip dry or anything. So all these whites had to be done in there and there was a procession of zinc baths. From the copper into the biggest one and down the procession. Then it was the mangle, then it went into perhaps a starch, certainly a blue bag was in the final rinse and then starch as necessary. We were lucky we had indoor passages, well I mean at least undercover, with all these lines strung across so it could be dried if it was wet and then a back yard if it was fine. Turning the mangle was quite an operation I can tell you.
We lived in Hillside Farm on the way to Avenis Green. It was a mixed farm, virtually everything. I helped on the farm when I could.
Lots of people used to keep their own chickens in the village. Pigs as well. In those days, the pigs were twice the size of what they are now when they went to market. I suppose in modern times people didn’t want fat. They were bred to be long and slim. Sometimes they slaughtered them at the farm. A butcher from Bisley would come and butcher it and we kept it. It was laid out in the dairy at the back of the house on a kind of platform and when we came home from school our job was to rub in the rock salt for half an hour, for several months I suppose. My Dad and his mother who lived there too used to go and slice it and put it in the pan and it fried itself in its own fat. Never put any fat with it.
It was a happy childhood. It seemed to be a lot more free. Especially on summer nights you could virtually go to Bisley and back and no-one bothered. The only thing we couldn’t do was play outside the garden on a Sunday.
Mother was at home but she wasn’t very well for a lot of the time. Women didn’t work then, they had children, bottled all the fruit, made jam, chutney. It was the single women who went to war work.
End of the summer we used to collect rosehips for the troops and blackberries, for jam, jelly or vinegar for when you had colds with hot water and hazelnuts and filbert nuts. Lots of people had orchards in them days. There were a lot of cider trees. They used to take all these apples to this place at Cainscross to make the cider and they’d bring back 60 gallon wooden barrels that were old whisky barrels. The men drank at home mostly not at the pubs, Doreen my sister got drunk on it once. These barrels were in the coalhouse with cups there.
We had cooking apples and eating apples in the orchards too and plum trees, pear trees. We had all sorts of fruit in the orchard, red, black, green gooseberries, black, red and white currants, damsons, loganberries, greengages, all types of apples.
The excess of fruit used to go to Mills’ Shop at the top of Marle Hill, for sale. I was sent back to school at dinner times carrying baskets and I used to give stuff to Miss Mallett at school who was engaged to Mr. Mills. My grandmother kept hens and we used to preserve the eggs in icinglass in crocks, in their shells. We used to preserve runner beans like that, layer of salt, layer of beans, layer of salt. Now you freeze them.
Rationing didn’t really affect us, probably did our parents. Most people in the village had big gardens and allotments so we were self-contained. We would grow all our own food. We had a meat ration but we didn’t go hungry because we had the rabbits and chickens.
George Gleed (born 1930)
Born in Brownshill in 1930.
We had to get water out of a well and save our rain water. It was hard times. We didn’t realise it so much because we weren’t used to anything else I suppose.
We had two bedrooms. My father and mother had one and I had to share with my two sisters, one was five years older and one nine years older. My father was in the Navy and used to be away for three or four years at a time so the family was spread out. I was too young to help out. I didn’t have a lot of friends to play with as too young.
Cynthia Gleed 9born 1933)
Born in Bisley in the house called Bear View which looks down at the pub. It was just a simple cottage. We had a pump in the kitchen from the well. I had to help Dad in the garden. He’d make us do jobs before we were allowed out. Other girls could go to Bisley dances but I couldn’t until I was 15.
We went to live at Lypiatt when we got married, for 7 years, then we moved to Chalford and we lived at Skiveralls. A lovely little cottage but very high ceilings and there was like a black range for heating but all the heat went up to the high ceiling. No sanitation. We had this awful bucket lavatory and no water.
Grace Banyard (born 1930)
I was born in 1930 and grew up with my 2 brothers and sister in 1 Field Cottages, France Lynch. Tom was my eldest brother, then Mildred, then Raymond and I was the youngest. Raymond suffered from rheumatic fever and was kept home a lot. We lived in one end of the house, 2 bedrooms upstairs and a kitchen and living room downstairs. The fireplace was in the living room with a hob on each side and an oven on one side; there was only a small primus in the kitchen to boil the kettle. We had no electricity or running water. We managed. It was only a small cottage. It had a kitchen but we didn’t have any cooking facilities in there, the cooking facilities were in the front room, a range with things on the side where you put your saucepans and a little oven on the side. Then we had gas put in. Before that it was oil lamps and candles to take to bed, which we had to put out as soon as we got undressed. We had a double bed and a single bed in the bedroom but in the summer we always slept out, until I got married.
For water we used to have to go up the road to the well, just before where Hayden lives. It’s still there because the dogs go and drink the water. We used to have to go and get a bucket every night for tea and coffee in the morning but otherwise we used water from the stream at the bottom of our garden – dad made a spout to make it easier. He grew watercress down there. We had a great big rainwater tank which we used for washing hair and having a wash. There was always a jug, basin and soap dish upstairs and we had to wash in cold water from the jug – we used to empty our hot water bottles into the basin in the morning.
I can remember we didn’t have toothpaste years ago we just rubbed our finger on the soot in the chimney and rubbed it on our teeth. We used to have a school dentist – I hated that. When they brought the polio and that out we all had to go there and my arm was very bad, reacted very badly because of my colouring. I had to have it done a second time. I went with my Auntie and cousin – my mother didn’t have the time.
It was hard but we always had a cooked meal at dinner time. We always used to drink the vegetable water because it was iron. I know when my sister brought her boyfriend to tea one day, she told me not to misbehave. We had boiled eggs for tea and my sister always said she didn’t like the yoke. So I sat there and her boyfriend couldn’t stop laughing at what I said. She was always so staid and old fashioned. My brother Raymond was the one who was always ill.
I was the baby and I was spoilt! Quite a happy childhood. I didn’t have many girls to play with, it was nearly all boys. There was a top road and a bottom road in France Lynch and the older girls went the top way and wouldn’t let us younger ones go the top way so we used to call them the Israelites. That was Dulcie Brimfield, Josh Rolls, Daphne Smith and another girl. As I got older I used to go and there used to be someone called Mrs Parker up the top and there was a shoe shed that was Angela Lilliat’s father’s and we used to love to go in his shed and watch him do that.
My mother believed in herbs – we used to go down to Blizzards to get the herbs. Dad went into hospital with cancer and he ended up at Salterley Grange and he wasn’t eating and he was on this machine so I asked if I can bring him something in. Mother always used to make beef tea. Then you could buy it in the chemist like bottles of Bovril and so I took this in one night with a spoon and he ate every bit! I used to take him some in every night. He got better. He was 70 something then and the nurse said she had never heard of that before.
Shirley Bushell (born 1943)
I was born in Cheltenham but always lived in Chalford, from 16th July 1943. My father came from Yorkshire but my mother grew up in Chalford. I have a half bother who is 9 years older than me. My earliest memories really of Chalford was the freedom we had as children. We used to roam the fields and woods. We could walk along the High Street. There was no cars. We were quite safe. School holidays were just spent outdoors; unless it was pouring with rain we were never in. My mother had four sisters and a brother who lived quite close by so when I was growing up I had no end of cousins to play with. Christ Church was our local church and in my time the school and the church were just inseparable. If you went to school you went to church, Sunday School, and you were expected to join the choir!
No indoor bathrooms. Some people had a toilet inside and some outside. Lots of toilets by the river, the toilet would be over the river – until the sewers came though Chalford in early 60s. Then everyone went on to the mains sewers. I remember the roads being dug up. There was mains electricity by then. A lot of open fires. We used to go wooding. You’d see lots of people bringing back wood in winter. Coal merchants, Smarts, were just across in the yard. The Coop used to deliver coal too I think. Some people had chickens and we used to keep rabbits at one time.
We used to build dens and camps and all sorts of things up in the woods. I remember a carefree, happy childhood where we played. We had nothing else to do! We didn’t have a computer, television, phone. So you couldn’t sit in. You just went out and did things.
Gerald Gardiner (born 1933)
I had two brothers, one younger, Ronald, he went into journalism and he researched our family and that. He lives in Hucclecote, he’s 81. And one older, Fred, he’ll be 90 in September. He lives in Kings Stanley. We grew up in a house on the High Street. It was like an orange box. One bedroom and the boys’ bedroom. Most of it was under the road and they got demolished – three cottages, and they are now a passing place. Very near Sevilles Mill. They knocked them down in ’62, when I moved up here along by the pleasure ground. The High Street’s not the same now, too many cars parked. I think Mr. Mills, Colin Gubbins and Mr. Reg Clark – they were the only three cars down the valley then.
There was a butcher’s shop at the top of that hill in the valley opposite the Sunday School and we mostly had rabbits. Tony Dean’s dad was a poacher. He had a big coat and he had a couple of ferrets in the lining of his coat and a little dog. Tony and his cousin Godfrey were my friends. Tony lived just up the road from us on the other side. Not like now, then, you knocked on the door and waited – very seldom you were asked in. You never went upstairs in other people’s houses. They nattered outside.
My dad worked for the gas company, laying new services to the houses. I worked with him for a while. I think most of the village was mostly electric but when I moved into the house it was only gas. You had gas lighting, then I had electric put in. You had gas right in the middle of the room. As you went upstairs it used to be oil lamps which smelled.
I was 18 when we married and Maureeen was about two and a half years older than me. She never knew her Dad. Her Mum was a cook working for Sir Robert Perkins in the big house at Far Oakridge and lived in, so Maureen lived with her aunties and an uncle.
My birth certificate was a pauper’s one – just a male in the parish of Bisley it said. The army accepted it and all that lot but when I went to go abroad for a holiday they wouldn’t. So I had to get a proper one and they said it was a pauper’s one. I said we were poor didn’t I and I meant poor.
As it got better Dad and Mum got this builder to put up a kitchen in the outhouse. It was just like a passage way. There was three of them (cottages) and I bought the one in the middle which you couldn’t extend. It cost £250 – I borrowed some off my brother’s mother in law. I was born in one and lived in the other. My parents moved up to Chalford Hill by the pleasure ground. We lived with Maureen’s mother after National Service. Maureeen worked at Bensons on a machine. She did that until ’53 when she had her first child. I was 20. We had five kids. My eldest two are almost like brother and sister to me. Boy, girl, boy, girl, boy. 13 months between the first two then four years between the other ones as one of the boys said, you went every World Cup year! They are all pretty well local still. I mainly worked in asbestos for Fibrecrete and they got taken over, and after all them years of washing my clothes Maureen got the disease that killed her look. She died 11 years ago. I worked from ’55 to ’67 with asbestos.
Margaret Mills (born 1934)
Born in a cottage in the High Street – opposite Tankard Spring – and I had one sister, three years older than me. Life was very simple there, you could go out and play in the road, no traffic, all very free and easy. There were some gangs of boys like Tony and Gerald and those, we grew up with. It was a self-contained village. Local shops where you could buy almost anything and most people had gardens and if you had too much of one thing you passed it on to each other. All very friendly.
We didn’t have a bathroom, bath in front of the fire – long tin bath. They called it a bungalow bath – a long oval bath. I suppose we heated the water with kettles. We had a coal fire with ovens and things. Eventually we had running water, my father modernised the cottage over the years and put in a bathroom and a modern kitchen. Before that we used Tankard Spring for water. Filled the bucket up – the brook was nice and clean then and you could almost drink it. We didn’t. We had an outside loo tucked round the side. We had two bedrooms. My sister and I shared one. It was a semi-detached house. During the war you had to grow your own vegetables, potatoes and green veg. And we used to swap with one another.
Graham Hobbs (born 1953 & Yvonne Hobbs (born 1954)
I (Graham) came to Eastcombe in 1975 from London. Yvonne’s parents had a cottage in Eastcombe they were going to retire to but they weren’t using it yet so when we got married we lived there and I could go to college in Cheltenham and Yvonne worked in Stroud Library. We moved to Brownshill in 1987.
When we were in the area, Manor Estate hadn’t been built. We used to picnic in the fields that now the estate covers. The Spine Road, Ashley View and Velhurst Drive were built but then the developer went bust which was a help to us at Brownshill as we needed to build an extension and we saw the old developer’s building hut had been abandoned, wrote to Stroud Council and they gave it to us.
Later we moved to Chalford Hill. We had the water cut off in 2007 when we had the floods and we all had to go down to the village springs and collect what we could. We were cut off for 2 weeks but then after that we had to boil the water for another week or two. Our daughter and son in law and grandchildren were living with us at the time because they were flooded out in Gloucester. We used to have our own spring in Chalford but then they couldn’t supply Manor Farm as well so they bought it from Tewkesbury and those connected to the spring still had water in the floods. Most unfair!
There are more young people in Bussage where the houses are more affordable, whereas in the old villages they aren’t. People like us have stayed in our houses when the children have moved away. When we lived in Brownshill, there were quite a lot of families.
Beryl Freebury (born 1941)
My parents married in 1939 in Bisley Church and lived in Eastcombe all their married life. I had one sister. My grandparents also lived in Eastcombe. My mother’s father was a gardener at Lypiatt Park when it was owned by Judge Woodcock. My father was in the Second World War so I didn’t see much of him for the first five years. I remember he made me a doll’s pram all from wood, a wheel along horse which I could sit on, and a shop during the time he was in the war, either as a birthday or Christmas present. I played with these toys a lot as it was the only present I got except for an orange and a chocolate in one of my Mum’s stockings at Christmas. But I had a very nice auntie who bought me a china doll and made lots of clothes for it.
Mum found it very lonely when Dad was away in the war. But she was supported by her parents and brothers and sister. I remember that Auntie Violet spent Saturdays with us as she worked during the week. My sister was born in 1946 and my Auntie came to take me to my grandparents when my sister was born at home. I was nearly five years old.
Luckily my auntie was a needlewoman and made all of my sister’s and my dresses. Mum knitted our cardigans, only buying socks and shoes, coats and underwear. When I was young I always wore a liberty bodice on top of my vest to keep me warm. Hats and gloves were always knitted.
We always wore our hair parted in the middle and tied with two bows, the colour depending on what we were wearing. My parents were poor compared with some families but we were always clean and tidy.
We always ate well as the family had a big vegetable garden and fruit bushes. We had gooseberries, red and black currants and we collected blackberries from the hedgerows and lovely rhubarb, also apples and plum trees. My Grampy was very good art catching wild rabbits and most Sundays our meat was rabbit which my Grandma had skinned and prepared ready for cooking.
I had a very happy childhood. I missed my father but life was good especially for my mother when he came home after the end of the war. I was too young to remember the war though we had rationing and I remember playing with the shop. My mother used to collect little oxo boxes and custard tins and my sister and myself would play shops with these and we were given the ration books and we used to use the stamps to pay for the goods which is a shame as we didn’t have the ration books for a keepsake. I remember the shop was blue with black handles. Three foot by two – it had two shelves at the top and places where you could store things and four little drawers. All made by my farther and the pram he made was all upholstered because later in life he was an upholsterer. My china doll always had plenty of knitted clothes. I lived down past the Lamb Inn in what we called The Street.
We had an outdoor toilet – you had to walk right round the house to get there. You had a bath round the fire on a Sunday night. There’s a spring by the old cottage where we lived on the Street and we used to have hair washed in that water – heated first! There was no running water. When they built the reservoir on the Bisley road they put water pipes right across the fields into Eastcombe and then round the village. Before that water came from wells and springs. My granny had a well and you would turn the handle and the bucket was on a rope.
When I was 11/12 I used to go and play cards with Grampy on a Friday night and it was an oil lamp on the table. They had a black lead grate which they had to clean a lot and a tub in a little lean to that you stoked. We played cards, I’d have a drop of cider and put some cheese on a tin plate in the oven of the grate and we’d have that with a bit of bread. It was a treat! It was a happy time and everyone got on so well.
I stayed in Eastcombe until I went to school in Stroud. We never went out anywhere else. We never had a car so our life revolved round the village. It was a big thing for me to get on a bus and go to school in Stroud. It was a normal service bus. It left Eastcombe at 5 to 8 and got home at 10 to 5. I remember a couple of years when we had snow and when I was the eldest we used to have to walk down to the garage at Toadsmoor bacause there was a turning the bus could turn in. One winter we walked all the way down to the main road and I had to go to the Headmistress to ask to leave an hour early to get home in the snow. They wouldn’t believe we had all this snow up here.
Daphne Neville (born 1937)
We bought Baker’s Mill at the end of 1964, my youngest daughter was born that September. I think my daughter was eight months old when we moved in properly as the building was previously uninhabited, that must have been the spring of 1965.
My husband and I adore it here and he was always keen on boats. We only have an old punt now but the children learnt to sail on the lake and then he built a little boat as well. To be able to live in this beautiful valley and I’m very lucky because there are always people who want to camp in the field or whatever. The only problem with this house is that we don’t get the sun for three months over the winter, when you go up to Oakridge and the sun is shining you wonder why we are living in the bottom of a valley. The sun usually comes back on St. Valentine’s Day. You do need quite a lot of heating down here in the winter.
Socially, because the children did get their ponies, quite a lot of the socialising was to do with the hunt. We would go to the occasional Hunt Ball and also because our neighbour, Brigadier Fabian, being the secretary of the local hunt, we used to go to the polo in Cirencester Park and that sort of thing.
Bob Messenger (born 1950)
I was born in Tetbury in 1950 and have been in Chalford 64 years. My Dad worked on the buses in Stroud. Father had shifts on the buses but don’t know what they were. Our Dad had a pushbike. Used to take it down by Lionel Padin’s, leave it there and catch the bus then bring it back nights. My Mum was at home with the seven kids. I’m the second oldest.
I started school in Chalford Hill School. It was good, good teachers. Used to walk down there and back home for dinner. You could get dinners there. They got canteen there. Discipline was strict. First of all went to the Poly at Brimscombe then 1971, I think it was, I went to Thomas Keble, Manor School.
I lived in this house – the same house all the time. We used to have a pantry here, an old fashioned toilet, the old flush box, no bath. But it’s all changed now. We used to sleep in the attic, us boys, and the girls had the small bedroom. Mum and Dad had the big bedroom. It was a squash. We had to look after the younger children. Water was plumbed in. I think they used to have a well years ago, up on that path. All filled in now.
My mother didn’t work. She stayed at home looking after us. She used to go out nights down the Legion, Monday and a Friday, with my sister next door. Used the bus or rail car or walk – no car.
In the very cold winters, all the pipes used to freeze up, used to put lagging round the pipes and used to have the old bath in front of the fire. The roads was horrible. Couldn’t get no buses up here at all. Usual, months of snow, everything stopped. All the shops used to run out of food an all.
Audrey Bishop (born 1932)
This had been my mother’s house, she was born here – and one or two of her brothers and sisters. There were seven of them I think.
My mum was widowed and stayed here, but my grandfather was here, look. He lived here, he was her father. So that made it a little bit easier – there was somebody to help out. She would have been alone with us otherwise. But he was here, keep his eye on us! He was a wonderful grandfather. I loved him dearly – his kindness, broad Gloucestershire – theeing and thouing, you know. We knew what he meant, if a lot of people didn’t! But he was a wonderfully kind man. I suppose he replaced our father really. He kept us in order when we were naughty – brothers and sisters squabbling. I’m the older one of two – about 14 or 15 months between me and Maurice. My father died when I was two and Maurice was younger, but we had a good childhood, with this wonderful grandfather behind us.
My brother was only a little boy but my grandfather was very good. He’d have our Maurice down the shed ‘Sort out they nails, Mar’. Of do this, that or the other, you know. So he saw our Maurice interested in the shed, just down the bottom of the garden by the wall. He had all his tools. He could do anything but it was rough, no finesse, but if he knocked it together it didn’t fall to pieces. And he made me a doll too, which I’ve got in the other room. Quite a tall doll. Actually the head belongs to – I can remember the head as a child. On the other side of here was the old coal house, you see, and you bent in the door and it was always on a shelf. I can remember seeing this head now, covered in coal dust. I never queried it at all. And I never missed it when it disappeared. So Gramp must have taken it down, look – he must have cleaned it off a bit and took it to my uncle in Gloucester who was an artist, got it all painted up. Bless ‘er. I was ten, I think – that makes her 83 now, I think.
We had enough ground out here for my grandfather to grow vegetables. It’s all stoned over now because I can’t do it, but he did it.
We were allowed out to play on the path and up on the pleasure ground, when I go a bit older, and certainly up and down the road because until the traffic really got going there wasn’t any traffic about.
Nancy Gardiner (born 1924)
My parents weren’t very keen on town life and they came to Brimscombe. I was away in a home at the time because my mother’s nerves were so bad. For a year I was away in this home. It was terrible. I thought I was just dumped. I wasn’t old enough to understand. It was Compton Bishop in Somerset. Mother came down occasionally and took me out for the day to Weston. I was only there about 11 months. I was about five and a half. . In that time they moved to Brimscombe. Then I had tonsils and adenoid problems so I had to go to Bristol Children’s Hospital. I thought I was dumped again!
I married Stan at the mission chapel at Brimscombe corner in 1947. We borrowed some money and bought Maplehurst, quite a big house, opposite the polytechnic with the Bourne estate on one side. As a child we used to play in the fields opposite Maplehurst and look across and imagine that we lived in it. We felt like king and queen in that house. It really was a well-built house with cement all down the side so you never cracked your corners! It had lovely big rooms, nice views because Bensons wasn’t there then so you looked over the canal and the other side of the hill. The children loved it. The only thing was it was very much on the hillside and the garden was a swine to do because it was so sloping. I made a sort of flat lawn. I cut down the trees. The garden was so overgrown we had to chop a way to the house to get the furniture up there. We found after we’d chopped the garden down that there was a huge low sort of greenhouse full of tins of fruit, beans, potatoes, everything. She (Reverend’s wife) must have bought in a lot of stuff during the war, tins and stuff. She must have saved them for the war and didn’t use them all and when they moved they just tucked them all in the greenhouse! There were rats everywhere. We couldn’t eat it because it had all gone rusty.
Maplehurst was such a lovely house. The only fault was, it was spring water from somewhere into a well. When we bought it we were told it is quite easy to pump up the water, just twice a day. But we finished up with four children and we were pumping all day! So Stan and a friend put in a pump so it worked electronically. We had rather a funny toilet. It was a big wooden seat, goodness knows where it all went because we weren’t on the sewers! It went down the lissom as they all did. I reckon it went into the canal!
Stan’s father had bought Woodlands when he was going to get married. When Stan’s father died his mother tried to carry it on. Stan didn’t want to take it on at the time. I had to come to live in Woodlands in 1960 to look after Stan’s mum. She kept having strokes. The holding wasn’t really anything by then. We had the house divided into two I insisted on my own front door! She had the back bit. She looked after herself more or less. When she died around 1965 we had it put back into one.
When my mother died, Dad sold the bungalow and had nowhere to go and asked to have a live-in van in the garden. He gradually went blind so I had to tie a rope from his van to the house. He used the pig sties as his shed.
Stan and I didn’t ever farm the fields at Woodlands. We had ponies but otherwise we let the fields out to some farmer who had cows there. We had poultry in the cow shed and sold eggs. The kids had guinea pigs and rabbits. Stan wasn’t interested in the farm. All the children went to Chalford Hill School.
We had to have mains water put on at Woodlands. Before that we had to pump the water a certain way, it wasn’t very good. It was from a well right by the back door. There were no sewers or anything. We had a sceptic tank put in. We had a loan from the Council to improve the cottage. As long as you stayed more than seven years you didn’t have to pay it back – about £7000, so we paid the builder to put in the septic tank. Before that you had to go down the garden. It (the toilet) was propping up a plum tree! We had a lot of trouble with the septic tank. It was all right for the first few years but being on a clay bed it silted all up and started overflowing. They only emptied it once a year unless you paid for it. When we went on the mains, Stan filled the septic tank up with cans of paints, anything. He was afraid it would give way (which it did with the next owners!)
I used to love that orchard with the water coming out of the spring. They used to come round selling elvers, a jug full for sixpence. I bought some. They are still alive when you buy them so I put half a dozen down in the spring and forgot all about them. We were down there messing around and I found this long worm. I threw it away then realised it was one of the elvers about five years older! If I’d thought I’d have kept it longer. There was water cress there but Stan wouldn’t eat it unless it was tested. Everybody in France Lynch had springs.
May Smith (born 1924)
I was born at the Bunch of Nuts in Chalford Hill on 20th June 1924. I had one brother, Denis, who died. My parents were Walter and Edith Davis. My father couldn’t do very much because he had his arm shot off during the First World War. Before that he was working in the stick mill. When he came home he done a paper round and we moved from the Bunch of Nuts. We moved along to the Wheatsheaf along the village when I was about 9 or 10. It was up a little lane. It’s pulled down now – they’ve built houses.
I had lovely parents. We always had food on the table. My Dad would grow all the vegetables. Mum was a good cook, lovely puddings. I had grandparents at Bussage and Chalford Hill. I used to see the ones in Chalford Hill quite a bit, the name of Kingdom.
I remember the cottage at the Bunch of Nuts. My brother and I used to walk around to see my grandparents in Chalford Hill. My brother was very protective of me, pushed me against the wall when a car come.
We had to move from the Wheatsheaf because they were going to close some of the pubs around Chalford Hill because they said there was too many. We were on the list to move to the Fleece Inn where we went when I was around 13. Mum and Dad built the trade up and the brewery wanted the licence back again so Mum and Dad bought it off the brewery and called it Fleece House. I loved it there but didn’t like going up to the attic!
My Mum used to take in lodgers there, four at a time sometimes. Quite a few worked up on the aerodrome. Dad used to keep the beer barrels in the long cellar and Mum used to cook round there and there was a pantry by the side. The men used to come in at night and have their pints of beer in the long room. I got married from there when I was 23 and then moved to Eastcombe and lived with my mother in law for about 18 months then we moved up to a cottage in Fidges Lane. I had my second baby over there, Michael at the Fleece. Pat was born at Tetbury.
It was lovely growing up in the village. There’s quite a lot of children. Much better than what it was today. We were happier, we could go out anywhere. We could go to the woods and not be afraid. We didn’t even lock our doors at night. It was a lovely life, it really was. Quite, quite different today.
Mum was very good at cooking and looking after us. She died when she was 79. Dad was still over there in the Windermere bungalow what my husband built. When Dad sold the Fleece House he bought this big field up there for my husband to build on. Dad didn’t die till he was 97. His grandson, my brother’s adopted boy, used to stay there and I used to go over twice a day.
Judith Newman (born 1943)
I came to Chalford Hill in September 1949, when I was 5. My sister and I were put on the railcar and arrived, collected by my father on the platform one evening, because they’d already come up the day before to move into the house and we’d been sent on later, as parcels! And I remember climbing the hill, very dramatic, coming up behind the cottages, up on the steep bit and along the bit and up here, and we found this red-brick house – because my mother always wanted a cottage, and she found she had the only red-brick house in Chalford (laughs).
That was 2 Belle Vue Terrace, and I was only five so I didn’t really take a lot of notice, but we’d just left Gloucester, where I was born, and my brother and sister, in a brand new council house where we went to live just after the war, and we were driven out by neighbours, oh, awful neighbours; and we had hot water and indoor bathroom and everything there, and we came to Belle Vue Terrace and found we didn’t! We had an indoor loo, of a very basic kind, and a bath in the corner of the kitchen where the coal would have been kept at one time, three bedrooms; it was a very nice house but it needed a lot of renovations. People didn’t renovate or update in those days, they just moved in and got on with it, I think. But we had no hot water. So we put all that in, and it became a very comfortable house. And my parents had both lived in red-brick houses when they were in Gloucester, my father on the railway, and I suppose he saw a red-brick house and thought ‘that’ll be all right’; so it’s modern in his terms because it would have been not more than about 40 years old at the time and yet, when I think back, it seems archaic; gas brackets in the kitchen, one cold tap in the kitchen, you know.
The bath must have been plumbed in. And we had very basic light sockets and switches, brass switches, which must have been very dangerous, panelled doors, lovely Edwardian fireplaces, cast iron basket fireplaces, where smoke traps in the bedrooms, and we took them all away. Panelled over the doors, but we put in comforts like a nice coke boiler in the kitchen, radiator upstairs…eventually, just before we all left home, a new bathroom upstairs too, but that took a long time. We did actually have a bathroom downstairs, but it was very basic, just a cupboard with a bath in it, and a toilet in it, just off the kitchen. So we lived there, five of us, in one very small house – well it wasn’t very small, for a red-brick terrace it was quite a good size, but with five of us, plus Auntie, plus a lot of visitors, it was quite a squash.
I’ve got an older brother who is four years older and a younger sister who is three and a half years younger. So we just loved living here, we had a lovely garden, big, Dad grew vegetables everywhere, except I was given a little flower patch at the front, and we just played and played and had a great time there. Wonderful views across to Cowcombe Hill, which was then denuded of trees because after the war, prisoners of war cut all the trees down, for whatever reason, and you could see a cottage over there, which I’ve got a photograph of; my sister says she remembers going into it, but, I don’t know what happened, it fell down; and we just used to walk over there into what we used to call Cowcombe Hill, not Woods, there were no woods, and we picked strawberries, had picnics there, it was lovely. And look back at our house, wave to Mum and Dad. And we used to spend a lot of time in the garden, and sitting down on the bench at the bottom of the garden and waving at trains, because my father was on the railway, based at Brimscombe. He drove the banker which pushed the big goods trains up the bank because it was a steep incline as far as Kemble, up to Sapperton Tunnel. I don’t know if he went further than Sapperton Tunnel but anyway, when he finished pushing the train he would uncouple and come down, rattling back down the railway line at high speed, backwards, back to Brimscombe, and that was his job, up and down, up and down, up and down. Eventually he also became the railcar driver, and that was great because we had lots of trips to Gloucester on the railcar, not free, we had privilege tickets, so we could travel back and forth, and that was great, a lovely way to travel; you could put prams,and bikes, and shopping and everything on it, but of course dear Dr. Beeching took it away in 1964 and lost my father his job.
He worked from 2.0 am till 10.0pm It was three shifts a day, you know, like night shifts, coming in in the early mornings as we were getting up he was coming home, I’d sometimes get back from school at about four, half-past four, five, and he was just going to bed. And I wouldn’t see him for hours, days sometimes. Very unsocial hours. Poor Mum was tied to the kitchen, she was preparing a meal for him all the time.
We had three holidays, or was it four, in my life when we lived in Chalford because not only my dad’s shifts were like that but his holidays, I suppose they would have been March/April, he could have them in September, November, or he could have them in July or August. Every third or fourth year he could have a holiday that we could go on as children because we were at school, so it was only once when I was eight, when I was eleven, and when I was fifteen we went on holiday. And we went free, because we had free passes on the train, and we had some great holidays, lovely holidays.
He worked on Sundays and Christmas Day. He didn’t get any time off at all. He enjoyed it, it was just what people did then. It was just sort of accepted then. He’d have a day off, he didn’t work seven days a week, and when it was at a weekend we’d go off visiting relatives in Gloucester.
My mother didn’t do anything apart from her favourite thing was to read and to just go out in the garden or walk in the Barley Grounds and pick flowers and blackberries and wild strawberries and make jam and stuff like that, but that was only to entertain us. She didn’t have any life of her own at all.
Peter Clissold (born 1931)
I’ve lived in Bussage all my life on and off, bar my time in the RAF, and I lived away for a few other short stints. I was born in 1931 down in the bottom half of Bussage, where my father bought a goat field off the landlord of the Ram, Harry Hall. He built a bungalow on the land for £350!
My father had lived opposite the Ram at Rose Cottage. He had eight brothers and sisters in that two up and two down cottage. They just slept nose to tail. They had to. Five boys and three girls. They didn’t light the fire until 6 o’clock at night because they couldn’t afford the coal. Bu they were quite happy people. They didn’t expect too much in their lives, did they? A simple life.
Hayden Hunt (born 1941)
I was born in France Lynch, in Field Cottage just down the road. Well, first of course, I was born in the next cottage down; it was called ‘The Haven’ then, well it’s called ‘The Hayden now’. We used to play in the fields up to three years old, as we were kids growing up as we had the farm, Hillside Farm; they had chickens over there and we used to get into trouble, filling our pockets with eggs, and going and smashing them, you know, we used to get into some serious trouble for that! and that’s you know, basically yes, just good fun; I mean you’d go anywhere, and then just go round wooding down in the woods and all that sort of thing, or just go out more or less all day sometimes.
There were all local kids used to get together, you know, have little gangs and off they’d go, you know, out shouting and all the rest of it. Sometimes you’d stay out all day; sometimes you’d go down to Bitcombe and take a little lunch with us, to our little camp there down at the bottom. Once you get down to the old bridge, we used to go down a bit farther there’s a stream down there, and we used to have a fire sometimes, there was always something going on there, cook some spuds or something and then the smoke would get in the way and that sort of thing. Our mothers didn’t worry because it was all different. There were always blokes walking around, you know, all the time, going to work or whatever, so they used to see us, you know, Jimmy Mason, he was always around somewhere. So you know, you were as safe as houses really. And if you are a country boy, you get to know if there is anybody a bit strange. But then there was a group of us sort of, half a dozen of us or so, we were quite safe.
My father was in the Army (during the war) so I didn’t see much of him until he came out of the Army. I saw him once or twice. After Dunkirk he was over here for about, I think, about three and a half, it was a good three years before he went to Italy. After it was Aden and Kuwait and then I didn’t see him until he came home on leave.
Later on, when I was five going on six, we moved to Audley Cottage, or Audley House, which is down the bottom in Bisley or in Eastcombe; and when father came out of the army, he went to see the chap who had Lypiatt Park at the time, Judge Woodcott. He came out and said ‘ah yes, you can go and live in Audley House’. Anyway, we lived there for a year and then we came back to Chalford Hill and lived in Bryn Cottae, almost opposite The Corderries area; next door there were two families, the Davis’s and the Davids, it was a bit complicated, it was sort of three in this complex sort of thing.
We had the farm so we didn’t have to buy stuff, you know, so we were all right with food and that, the only rationing I can remember is when we raced up to the shop and got sherbet.
I can’t remember what sort of toys we played with when I was small. Wouldn’t have been a lot, because we could play down on the farm, you know, on the carts. There was an old car there as well, I think it was a Morris, or a Model T Ford. It was just a chassis up there, it would fascinate us for hours you know. It was great. We made our own fun.
At home, if they wanted something done, then you’d do it, but you weren’t really sort of pressurised too much. We used to fetch the water perhaps, or something like that, when you got home, but it was quite, you know, I used to help our Gran sometimes, to peel the spuds or whatever, but there it is… I used to help on the farm as well. It was my grandfather’s farm; when he was still alive, we used to help with the hay making because that was a big job really, the hay making….we would all pile in then, because you had to do it in a very short space of time with the weather sort of thing, so that’s what you had to do, you know
I didn’t have any brothers or sisters so it was just me and my Mum, until when Gran moved down and lived in Field Cottage until I was about five, so that was different – so meals were fairly quiet, we ate together anyway, the three of us, we always ate together. We ate just like standard stuff that we normally eat today, you know. We just carried on eating you know, what was available at the time; we had the farm and all that, and we just carried on. My mother was a good cook. We had a big garden. My mum looked after the flowers and then (later) my dad, he used to do all the veg. You know. It was always fresh.
Time in the woods: Mum had left us and so we came to live with Gran (in Cowcombe Woods). My brothers went into children’s homes in Cornwall and Jean, my older sister came with me to Gran’s. I remember Gramp taking me to school one day without Jean. Jean had been to Chalford School before because we were born at Cowcombe Hill. Gramps said to me one day that Jean wasn’t very well so she isn’t coming to school today – this is when I was at Christ Church. It seemed really weird. I was in the Infants. I cried all morning. We had a very understanding teacher, Miss May, but I think she got fed up with me and said ‘stop worryting!’ I seen Jean at playtime so I was alright after that.
Living in the woods was quite an experience. It’s nothing like it looks now of course because it was all huge trees – mainly beech. Lots of people wouldn’t have known there was a house there. The only child who would come to play with me was an evacuee called Sheila and her brother Albert. They were with Mrs. Durn who lived down steps next to the post office. You went down some steps by the gates. I never went into Mrs. Durn’s as she always seemed very strict. Sheila thought it was a miracle living in the woods, like Red Riding Hood. I did tell her there wasn’t any wolves! I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. I considered myself very lucky. But not many people were willing to come up and play when I was little.
Gramp worked around Wallers. It was handy for the cottage. And he was also a night watchman at the aerodrome. Gramp was cleaning a machine and someone switched it on and he lost the whole of his right arm, so he couldn’t do very much after that, but he did dig the garden. We could only plant potatoes. Anything green the rabbits had. The cottage was rented from Mr. Peacey who lived at Greenbank, down Rack Hill.
We couldn’t catch rabbits because someone had the shoot, although he gave us one now and again, but we kept chickens and goats for milk. Every now and again Gramps would say the goat was going on holiday, but I know where he took it, up Cowcombe Hill – the other side of the road to the White Horse is a big house on the corner – and it came back and then a little while later there was a kid, so it had a nice holiday I suppose!!
It was hard work in the cottage. Four rooms – kitchen was the main one where you went in the door – big grey door on the corner – had a key but never locked! Everything was done in that one room, had to cook on the fireplace, and a table, chairs and dresser and 2 pianos! Occasionally the cousins came and tinkled around a bit.
One window looked down towards Chalford bus stop and the other one out the front. Upstairs was the sitting room which had the posh stuff in – a mahogany table and the rocking chair and a small fireplace with a fringe round the mantelpiece with tassels on, and a sideboard on one side where Gran kept her home made wine, made out of elderberries, cowslips, dandelions. She was very good at that. We had a big orchard out the back but it was so old there wasn’t much worth having. There was a cider pear tree which was the easiest to climb. I used to think to myself, I could climb that tree at night and see what happens, but I didn’t have the nerve!
Sometimes it was frightening. Not when I was little but when I was in my teens and I wanted to go somewhere it did. When I was small it was quite funny because if I wanted to go to the toilet in the night I used to call out to Gran – we had a chamber pot but just for wee – Gran did wake Gramp up, Gran would light the candle, then we lit the hurricane lamp, so you had not to be too desperate, and then he took you round to the back of the house to the toilet and stand outside the door. I think he had a smoke. Gran didn’t like him having a smoke but I think he did. He used to call out ‘Are you alright wench’. Then he’d go back and put the hurricane lamp out. There was a loose tile on the roof and it rattled at night – quite comforting at night and you heard the animals and things. It was nice.
There was a cave that when my cousins did come we did play in and pretend we were cave people. We had a chimney sweep but if it needed sweeping and we couldn’t get hold of him, Gramp used to cut a branch off the holly tree, tie it on to the clothes prop and it was surprising how much soot came down. Nothing was delivered you see. But we did burn wood. We did have coal, it came up in a lorry as far as the field gate and Gramp had a sheet of corrugated iron with holes at each corner of the narrow end, with a wire on, and load it on to that and drag it back to the cottage. Occasionally they did get the lorry along the path but they’d swear because it was difficult o turn the lorry round.
The strange thing was, the stable block was a lot bigger than the house. It’s before you get to the cottage. You can still see the ruins of the stable block, you could see the cottage in the winter when the shrubs were down. Massive stable with a manger the length of it, and next to that was where we kept the goats which was quite a biggish place, and next to that was the chicken house. We knew it was that because there was a hole where they could get out. Then next to that was three pig styes.
This cottage was really a house. Two bedrooms divided by a wooden partition. You had to carry the water up from the stream – it belonged to the railway that bank. That filter thing comes out of a stone built thing, but a little bit further up is where the water came out of the ground. That was the first thing Gramp did every morning was go and get a bucket of water, and on wash day. The rain water butt water was kept for rinsing. It took 9 buckets to fill the boiler which was attached to the house but had a sloping tiled roof. It was also the coal house. Wash house had a big bench where Gran kept the chicken food and things like that.
People walked past and if they were strangers they all stopped and stared. Gran used to say ‘I wish they wouldn’t do that’. I loved it there but I did miss company. I was always Maureen to Gran and ‘my wench’ to my Gramp. He missed the city because he went to Gloucester a lot and he walked a lot, and I used to say ‘can I come?’ especially in the holidays, and he would say ‘not this time wench’ but one time he took me and he always took bread and summut and this time he took me and so he had to have a bit more. I never asked to go again! We walked to Cirencester through the Duntisbournes and back. I was 8; I didn’t ask to go again!
When they came to cut the timber, Gran cried because she thought everybody would see us. At the back of the house you had a lovely view from Paul’s ground up. It was really nice, but when they cut the wood – I think it was prisoners of war who cut it. I must admit the ones we saw were very polite. A couple could speak English and they knocked on the door and I think it was about twice, and asked if we had anything they could use for bandage. Gran always gave them a piece of sheeting to tear up to use as she said I hope someone would do it for one of ours. One of them had a beautiful singing voice – nowadays he would be on telly. He used to sing a lot. They were always very polite. They would nod if you had to pass them. Gramp always had a spare bucket hidden down by the stream and all the family members knew where it was, so if they passed the stream on the way to the cottage they were supposed to bring a bucket of water up with them, as Gamp with only one arm could only carry one at a time, and the prisoners would bring one up often too and left it by the gate. When they cut all the big trees, it was sad and opened you up to everything and we felt very exposed and Gramp hated it.
When they cut the trees which were so big they left big round circles and me and my little cousins used to decorate the rim with ivy and feathers and pretend they were ballrooms for fairies. The glade which was just down below the cottage, I’m convinced it was haunted. I still think it is. It looks different now but it was just evergreens in the glade and the goats would never ever go there, they would not be tethered there or put a foot there, but people used to ride horses there and several times you’d hear people calling and the horses would stampede. They didn’t like it. This was the flat bit near the top. When you pass the cottage to go towards Cowcombe Hill we had the Green Bank on one side, which is where goats were manly tethered, and you went on down a bit and then that bank down into the glade. You come out of the field gate there. I lived there for years.
I had two of my children while I lived there. I had a small pram first of all and then, when Sean was born, I bought a high pram for the two babies which was better because the wheels were bigger. You had to drag it backwards up the hill. Mr. Barnfield worked at the garage by the Coop, he lived at Cowcombe Hill, he used to oil the wheels for me if they squeaked. He’d say ‘hang on a minute’. People were very kind.
I had nice clothes because Gran was a dressmaker, but they were always sensible. Skirts with a hem that could be let down. I wanted pleated skirts, preferably tartan, and white socks and black ankle strap shoes. I never got them.
Your imagination could run riot in the wood. You’d hear things. When I joined Girl Guides in the Pleasure Ground, Brantwood Road, in the YMCA hut – they had dances there as well – but in the winter Gramp used to come and meet me by the bottom of the lane by station bridge with the lamp. One day he said ‘I’ve got something for you wench’ and he gave me a torch. So he said ‘I won’t have to come down for you now’. I never used it! I didn’t want people to see where I was going! I did feel safe, I wasn’t worried about them, but I never used the torch. If the airmen saw where I was going and I yelled, I was sure they would come. I wasn’t worried about them!
The one thing I remember about Cowcombe is the sheet of bluebells and butterfly orchids and their scent, absolutely beautiful. Gran told me I must never pick them as they were rare. The big stone when you go to fetch the water from the stream by the side of the path, my brother when he was little, fell off that stone and knocked his two front teeth out! Gramp always used to stop there on the way to the stream and get crumbs from his pocket and whistle and a robin came to eat the crumbs from his hand.
My Auntie Barbara who lived in Burcombe Way, she didn’t like the wood much even though she grew up there. She didn’t like Jenette coming up to the wood. Her excuse was she didn’t think the bed was aired. We had feather mattresses and pillows. Now and again you pull one out and we’d blow it up to see how far it would go up. They were small and curly feathers.
When Gran used to go to Stroud in the railcar, Gramp always met her and always took our dog with him – an old Great Dane, and his bed was underneath one of the pianos and it snored, but it always went with Gramp and so had to go and meet her, and Gran had to sit near the door because the dog, Wopput was its name, wouldn’t let anyone off the train until Gran came off! The station master was ever so understanding. Gramp had a very kind heart. We had cats. We’d end up keeping most of them. He used to say ‘he’s got a big head, we’ll keep that one, it’s a Tom’. He wasn’t always right. We had a lot of cats!
Keith Weaver (born 1932)
I was born in 1932 in 5 Belle Vue Terrace. I had one sister. My father was in the building trade with several different builders and finished up working on the building team for Stroud Brewery. He went to work on the bus. Mother more or less spent time at home until we got older and left home, and then she was working as a dinner lady at Chalford Hill School.
My earliest memory was going to Gloucester on the railcar when I was three, to Bonne Marche to see Father Christmas.
We had flush toilets and sink and drain in the kitchen. We moved when I was six to a cottage which didn’t have a sink or drain in the kitchen, but it had a tap. The toilet was a shed in the garden which my great grandfather called a closet.
When I was five, my mother, my sister and my mother’s friend went on holiday to Weston-Super-Mare. We were camping. Every day we went on to the beach. It was very hot and we all had a donkey ride. Every morning my sister and myself used to go down to the farm to get the milk. There was a plum tree there with big plums on it, and the farmer always gave us one each. He took out a penknife and took the stone out before he gave me mine.
Before the war we often went on picnics with our neighbour and her two sons. One place we went was the Barley Grounds, but more often we walked up the canal to Whitehall Bridge. There was a freshwater spring just up the lane which went on up to Oakridge. Then our mothers lit a fire and made tea. We would stay all day. We had sandwiches for our picnic. At the end of August we would walk up to Sapperton to pick blackberries. There was a good place in the field where a large chimney came out of the field from the railway line below.
My Dad had an allotment up by where the Sports Field is now before the war but he didn’t have one after. I can remember him pushing me up there in a wheelbarrow. I didn’t do much when I got up there. I used to lie down on the grass! My Dad always grew the vegetables and if he didn’t have enough, he would get them from someone else. Most of us had allotments then.
We only had oil lamps in Belle Vue Terrace at that time. I don’t remember when we had gas. We had a gas stove for cooking on. I remember having lamps in there and to go to bed with, and candles. When we moved over when I was six, to the other house, we had one room with one gas light in, nothing else.
In 1938, the Gloucester Electric Company allowed you one plug and three lights. The room we lived in, we had a plug and light put in there and one in our front room and in the kitchen. None upstairs. So we had to put those in afterwards. We had candles. For heating we just had the gas stove for cooking and the fire. As I said before, the kitchen wasn’t very good as it was just a tap. We had running water. We did have a jug and bowl upstairs on special occasions, and a tin bath where the gas light was.
After the war my Dad had two pigs he used to keep over the road in the sty. If you reared them they go to Hilliers’, you’d keep one and they’d give you some back. We had a leg of bacon on the back of the front room door which we had to carve something off. My Mum and Dad always kept us well supplied. Although my Dad had to go to work in London before the war finished. He was up there when the doodlebugs were coming over – for the building trade. Last 18 months of the war. Before that he was working in Gloucester ‘cause he had to do a lot for the war wherever they sent you.
During the war my mother didn’t work but she had two refugees and sometimes a friend from London used to come to stay too, and my aunt from Coventry.
Ross Forsyth (born 1940)
I was born in France Lynch in 1940 so the war was on. It was a house dominated by females because all the males were in the forces. I had two younger sisters who came along later, one in ‘44 and one two years later at Chalford Hill. The day before I was born was the airplane crash down by Oakridge fields.
One of my earliest memories is playing with Hayden Hunt because he lived next door. He was a little younger but we used to spend a lot of time and, once we were old enough, we were out on the bank shooting down the Germans. I can remember the house being quite busy some weekends because we had relatives who used to come down from London. One of them came here to live and one married here then went back to London.
If you go past the church, to a hump in the road and turn into Styrmes Road and up there there is a little green and our cottage is down a long path to the right. It was called The Haven and now it’s called Westbrook.
My younger sisters; we got on when we were very young. Dad was still in the Navy then but when Dad came home, it got a bit competitive. Because I was a boy and the oldest, he expected me to be better and it bred an unhealthy thing between me and the girls, and they were within two years of each other. They would wind me up and it would end up with me doing something stupid and getting into trouble. My Dad should have stayed in the Navy really. He was a man’s man and he enjoyed playing cards and laying bets on boxing matches – all the kind of stuff they would have done. I don’t think he quite got the hang of doing a day to day job and coming home every night.
It was much stricter when he came home. He came out in ’49 when I was 9 and we had moved out of The Haven and were living in a council cottage just along the road here. You know where there is that little power station thing, down the path there were two cottages which the council had renovated. Before, we were living in my grandparents’ house because my mother had lived there all her married life because my Dad was in the Navy when they got married. It was a culture shock for us kids when we moved. My mother’s younger brother lived with us too – he was 15 when I was born but otherwise it was just females. He went in the RAF as soon as he could.
I can remember having pocket money when I was six or seven – about 2s. 6d. It mostly went on sweets. We didn’t have many toys in the war. I can remember having a push along wooden truck – my aunt made that. I did have a pedal car which was fun.
Towards the end of the war, when I was four or five, I can remember the sweets coming off the ration and the stampede! The sweetshop then was in Midway – kept by Miss Jason. Reasonable choice of sweets. There wasn’ t the range of chocolate bar choice but there was traditional sweets like humbugs.
We had a lot of snow in 1947. I can remember walking up Middle Hill and you couldn’t get up with traffic, and the snow drifts on the sides of the roads were way over the walls and you were walking on top of a snow drift and you were at bedroom level. We seemed to get some snow most years.
Monica Ridge (born 1943)
I was born in a Cheltenham nursing home and I didn’t move go Springfield until I was just over one. My father saw it advertised, I have no idea where,and he just said to my mother that ‘the place I want is Springfield’. I think it was 1945, it was just after the war. My mother’s name was Eileen and my father’s name was Leonard. My father became the manager of London Uni-Works at Air Plants in Brimscombe, where they used to make these big fans and things and they were used in the underground in London.
We had a car. He was in Germany a lot in the war time and he bought a VW and drove it out of the factory from Germany and brought it over here. I can remember in Stroud, by the 4 clocks, there used to be the photographer’s place, and I was sitting in the car (because you used to be allowed o park there), and people stared at the car, it was so unusual, saying ‘what is it, is it a jet car?’; and I had a very small dinky vintage VW that was actually on the front of that car. I think it was black and I think it had a little red stripe round it, and of course the engine was in the front. I had 3 brothers, and my aunt used to live in Cheltenham and we used to go across and I used to go where the luggage used to go, behind the seat and, it shows how tiny I was, because I used to sleep in the back.
My b 3 brothers were all older. There was Robin, the eldest, and he was 12 years older than I am; then Trevor came along, he was 10 years older than I am; then there was a gap and then Tony came along (his name’s actually Anthony but he was always known as Tony), and apparently mum got pregnant again with me and they automatically thought it would be a boy. I was a shock!
We all grew up in Springfield House. My 2 eldest brothers went to school at Claysmoor (?), Dorchester way I think, so I didn’t really know them that well, and I didn’t like them very much. They were much much older than me, Robin being 12 and me being nothing, it must have been a big gap. And then Tony, he didn’t go to boarding school (he was very upset about that because he was hoping to go but he didn’t) so he went to Marling School in Stroud.
My parents were very Victorian. Well I think, because my father lost his mother when he was 5, and he also lost his father, but I don’t know what age he was when he lost his father, so he had no parents, and he was then looked after by 2 aunts who were very horrible to him, they were very strict with him apparently, and I think he thought that was just the way.
My father was everything to me and when I went to see my uncle, they would say something and I’d say ‘no, that’s not what my daddy says…’ My daddy was everything, even though he was very straight down the line, but you knew exactly where you stood.
My mum was always very busy, she was always busy in the kitchen and I’d come along and ‘Not now, not now…’ because the boys had been in and out.
No, it was a happy family but it was rather sort of, I was told ‘you don’t go and play in the village’. I’d get my bicycle and I’d go down the canal path with my bags and things.
When my parents bought the house, there was a lady called Mini, and Mini was employed at Springfield when she was 12 as a servant and she always came to the house – she came with the house – she didn’t live in the house then, no, she lived up Rack Hill. I can’t remember her first surname because she was married, but she was a Mrs. Marks, Mini Marks, and her husband, Mr. Marks, died and then my parents made a room for her and she had a room at Springfield House and she lived there because she was on her own. She was getting on, 60 maybe. And I can remember her when she was scrubbing the floors and things and she had false teeth and, I couldn’t have been very old, I remember her because she used to stick her tongue out, and her false teeth sticking out made me laugh out loud. I couldn’t have been very big, I can’t say whether I was 3 or 2.
It’s a beautiful property. We lived there 20 odd years. My parents moved out from there in 1973, so I grew up there.
My bedroom, there’s a window there and another window round the side, which is the same room, and there’s another window at the back there. That was my bedroom and I had later on a boy friend who lived up there and we used to flash our lights at each other at night.
We didn’t have any gardeners. When we first moved here, all of this was overgrown. There was a fountain here, you couldn’t see, then round the back there, there was another fountain. That was just a mound of earth and rubbish. My parents worked really hard.
(Looking at photos)…What happened was, this lady was my parents’ au pair girl to my eldest brothers and she was a German lady, so when war broke out, she should have gone back to Germany, but my parents managed to keep her. Father had strong affinity with Germans and Germany because of engineering work, yes, and he was in the RAF and I’m not quite sure what line he was in. And his interpreter was a great friend of his, she used to come over and stay and have her son over. And then the gentleman there became her boyfriend, and he was a POW because he was n Italian, in Lechlade, and they used to come out to do gardening, and that’s how they met. And then they lived with us and had 3 children at Springfield. Almost like 2 families living together. And their eldest was my best friend, because we were a bit like sisters, only 2 years between us. My parents found a house for them called Prospect House, which used to be the old bakery, and my parents moved them there. And then they moved to Stroud.
In Rock House there was apparently a family and they were moving, and something happened there because they couldn’t move in or whatever. So my parents had them for a while. They had 4 children. I don’t know how my parents managed all these people all through the war!
And I remember very well, from the bathroom, we used to look across the garden down there, and look out of the window watching the fireworks, and I used to stand in the bath looking out of the window and watching the fireworks.
Halliday Mill – I used to think he was wonderful, Mr. Halliday, and he used to come up the side of the house and up here and at the back door there’s a corridor and we’d have a bench with jugs on, big white jugs, and I used to play milkman, I used to play with them for hours, but he used o deliver our milk to the back there.
On that corner, that used to be a petrol station. That belonged to Lional Padin, and Mr. Wright used to help him. I used to love Lionel Padin, he was lovely.
Opposite Lavender Bakehouse, Chestnut House. The Peglers(?) lived there. I used to play with the daughter Madeleine, and she had a brother but I didn’t like him, he was a bit difficult. But they went – I don’t know where they went from there. It was known as Chestnut House because they had a huge Chestnut tree.
Thanet House – She was a piano teacher, taught my brother. I learnt with her for a short while, but I wanted to play I think. And I’m very upset because I’m so much like my great great grandmother and she could play by ear. I love the piano but unfortunately can’t play. We used to have a pianola and I used to play that. And I can remember my grandmother and I’d pretend I was playing; she’d go to my parents and say ’you know Monica is doing extremely well on the piano!’
Going along the canal path there would have been foot bridges. Yes, I used to go along there, there was a row of houses, whitish houses (what are the Meadow Cottages now), I used to play with a girl called Pat there and we used to meet up at the swings at the playing field.
Because I was a bit like an only child, with my brothers being much older, I often used to go up into the woods on my own and I can remember getting lost, and I’d picked all these bluebells so I went up to the very top house, where Maureen Cornwell used to live; and there, if you go up through the woods opposite here, and if you keep going on, and you come to a fork and go left or right. If you go left there used to be a house up there. If you come down Cowcombe Hill and, you know the escape route, you go on up there, there’s a house up there.
And I think he was on the station or was he a postman? But I know he only had one arm. And he bought me home. But Maureen has told this for the book. That was her grandfather. But I always used to think it was wonderful up there. They used to keep chickens. There’s a sort of mound and there’s this lovely cottage. I used to go up there a lot and meet the boys up there and play and swing on the ivy; and then, reverting back now to home, at Springfield was all spring water and it came from over on the hill there, and we used to have to go up and make sure that the leaves didn’t block it. There’s a big tank there where the water would come in and pipes would come down and feed the house. The tank is still there but they are on mains now. And apparently years and years ago, people from far and wide used to go there and bathe their eyes in the water to help cure blindness. Like another spring on the left going towards Baker’s Mill, where water is exceptionally good for eyes because of the high iron content.
At Springfields we used to have lots of fruit, lots of apples, and I used to try and throw the apples to the engine drivers, and sometimes they got them, and sometimes they didn’t.
I remember steam trains and every Xmas we used to pick the holly and we’d have to wash it, because it would be so smutty and then, I think it was ’64, we picked the holly and we danced almost, ‘oh my goodness, we don’t have to wash the holly!’ The tennis balls, we’d have to wash the tennis balls every time we played because we used to have a lot of tennis on the bank.
I can remember when that bridge was redone because there, you can see how the canal goes straight through, and I used to come down and play down there. When they did that bridge the most awful thing happened. It disturbed all the rats and they all came up to Springfield. They were everywhere! That end of the house, we had another room with a door, where I kept my bike, and it had a brass knob on it, but when the rats were there I used to rattle the knob, my father said ‘don’t’. And we had greenhouses down the side in the back garden, and this duck had laid eggs, we had little ducklings, and my parents said we’d got to get them out of there because the rats would get them – but the rats got them before us, they were coming along and the rats got them. We had to get people in to get rid of them, there were too many. They disturbed them doing the bridge near Lavender Bakehouse. It was horrendous!
Alan Mayo (born 1943)
Born in Chalford High Street at Station View, opposite where the village shop is now, dead opposite the railway station and lived there for 23 years, until I got married. Our Dad used to keep his car in the garage there. I went to Chalford Hill School. Wonderful childhood.
My Dad came from a farming family in Quar House, Brimscombe and Mum lived in Meadow Cottages, Chalford. Her father he came from Hereford and married a Lily Parsons from Hampton Fields; they lived in Meadow Cottages, I think it was the second one along. I never knew Gran as she died about ‘40. Our Gramp was signalman up at the signal box and our Mum would tell stories . They lived so near they cooked dinner for him every day, so he was a lucky chap! They just went across the Clowes Bridge
Our house was semi detached and we lived nearest the Red Lion; and there was a bit of waste ground where we honed our football and cricket skills against the wall. There was, years ago, a house where the Red Lion car park is. Mum could always remember that, just past where the shop is, there was a butcher and they used to use the arch by the Red Lion as an air raid shelter during the war. I can remember the shop but when it was a bakery, before it was a chapel, so we were lucky to always have fresh bread. It was run by Reg Smith who lived just up the Rack Hill.
Terry Morris, Malcolm’s uncle; they grew up in Tankard Springs. Where Malcolm lives was his Dad’s orchard. They kept pigs etc. We grew up together. Terry and I could name everyone who lived in the houses when we were kids. Chalford was like two different places as regarding kids; down here and on the Chalford Hill. All the ones who liked sport lived on the Hill, and I loved sport. Terry my mate wasn’t a bit sporty – so if you wanted to play you had to go up the hill!
Terry’s wife’s Dad, Les Sollars, had a general grocery shop (was Noah’s Ark), wines and spirits, and he had a petrol pump on the other side of the road, where the bus stop is. I can remember a story. My Dad was a terror for running out of petrol. One of the first games of cricket I played, against Gloucester Railways – our Dad had to take us in the car but we ran out of petrol so he sent me with a can to Les’ garage, so I knocked on the door and he came out and did it! Good job I knew him. Les Sollars was a lovely bloke.
Trees all cut down by the station by German prisoners from Aston Down. My brother used to go up and play football with them.
My Gramp lived on till he was 70 or so. We lived with him. I didn’t know him when he was the signalman. He wouldn’t sell the house to our Dad but he’d sell it to our Mum!
It was a very close community. Aunty Nan, Terry’s Mum and Mrs. Seddon from Rock Cottage just came and put the kettle on – and the Able family who lived adjacent to Station View, about 6/7 of them – they’d come over and just jump over the fence. We had a tele before others and they would all come and watch it. They all came in on the first night we had it. Lovely time, thoroughly enjoyed it.
We used to play in the brook and got mucky. It was like a sewer in this time. Our dad used to get us big 25 litre empty cans from Baileys Paints and seal the top and we used to get some wood and make rafts. The house opposite the Old Red Lion, Mr. Williams the builder used to live there with his daughter and wife, and we used to see how far we could get up there on our rafts before he shouted at us. We used to put them in from our garden or Terry’s garden and paddle up as far as we could. We used to have some fun doing that. The canal was nice at times – very bullrushy. Our Mum used to tell us about the canal back in the early part of the century.