Leisure Activities


Godfrey Jellyman (born 1923)

Occasionally we would go into Stroud, we had to walk down the hill and catch a railcar as there were no buses then.   If we was lucky we would have faggots and peas down Gloucester Street, that’s all they did.   Anytime we had to go in for clothes and that, mother used to take me.   Later on when I was older, when the buses were running, we went to the cinema;  I must have been nearly leaving school then.

We used to go down there on the River Frome and do a bit of snatching.   You would tie on three fish hooks and swing and snatch it, it usually ended up with it wrapped around.   We was fishing for pike not the trout, that took up a lot more time. 


Dulcie Brimfield

We used to have the usual fetes in the village and when it was George V Jubilee, along at Chalford Hill School we had a party.

The hut in the pleasure ground was a bit tumbled down.   During the war they used to have dances there.   British Legion had their own hut and then they had that building put up.   We used to go into the pleasure ground from the school for sports and to play rounders, cricket or whatever they got us doing.


Anne Sutton (born 1927)

My family was very very musical.   We grew up singing and playing things.   My oldest sister, Joan, was very musical, played the piano beautifully, she learned the organ as well and in the fullness of time she became the organist at the Baptist Church we attended.   My mother took over the choir, it was a very good choir, they used to put on things like The Crucifixion at special times.   They used to come from far and wide to hear it.   In those days you might have people round for a musical evening.   Yes, and playing bridge, it was a very good social life.  Both my parents played hockey, my mother was an absolute demon, they both were.   My mother wore long skirts when she started, her and her two sisters.  


Name withheld

I only ever went to Saturday morning pictures twice or three times because of doing the milking on Saturdays and Sundays.  At the weekend after the milk round, we used to go and play down the fields, down where that plane crashed, climb trees, chase over the fields, hares and hounds,  and then when we got a bit older we used to play football up at the pleasure grounds against different teams, like Bisley, Oakridge, Coppice Hill Rovers and Minchinhampton.  I played for France Lynch.   We used to walk to these places to play.   There weren’t any buses between villages.    We had a cricket team and a football team so that’s what we did.   Especially in the summertime.   It was double summertime then so it was light till 11 o’clock.   You could stop up to 9 or 10.  I used to go to Swindon on the train to watch the football, every now and again.

We used to go down to the canal fishing with a beanstick, a piece of string and a hook.   We used to catch tiddlers.   The canal wasn’t used a lot.   There was a few boats on it but not very many.  There was one big open rowing boat left on the side of the canal near the police station, and it rotted away.

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.


Name withheld

Toys we used to play with:

*A whip and a top shaped a bit like a mushroom with a metal stud in the bottom and you had a stick with strong piece of string on it and you wrapped the string round the top and pulled it and it would spin.

*We used to collect snails and put them in a line and have snail races.

*We used to collect golden syrup tins and when we had a pair, my father used to put holes in them and a bit of string and we had stilts.

*The girls played with dolls and prams until they were 12 and the boys used to cadge planks and wheels and they made trolleys, using their feet as brakes down the hills.

*Ball, skipping and hopscotch and you used to get told off sometimes if people didn’t like you chalking the hopscotch outside their gate.   We used flat stones to throw into the different squares.

*We used to play out in the dark – “whistle or holla or we shall not follow”.   We used to call it ‘hares and hounds’.

*Sardines, where one person hid and the first person to find her hid too and then the next until everyone was crowded into a small space.

Otherwise we used to wander at will wherever we wanted to go.   We used to beg food from our parents for a picnic.   We used to go up the top of King’s Head hill and into the field, spread our coats out and play games and eat our picnic then go home for tea!

In front of (Haydon Hunt), Gunner’s field, a gang of us used to play cricket in the summer.   The path went across the field.   My uncle Walt always came down across the field about 5 or 5.15 when they weren’t busy working.   He always had a pint of milk.   If we were playing cricket he used to shake and curse and all at us kids and we used to scatter.   After he’d gone, we’d all go back again!   But when Cyril’s Dad and family came up to the pub with my Dad on a Saturday night they used to stop and play with us, but never Uncle Walt!

In the winter we always used to go sledging behind the Court House and you landed in a stream at the bottom.   They we used to make slides in the ice down Court House Hill and we used to get into trouble for that.

The France Lynch Rooms were used for quite a lot of different things.   The France Lynch Brownie Pack had their meetings in the upstairs room.   There was a youth Club weekly on a Friday where table tennis, badminton, to name two, were played.   Village Socials took place here too – these were basically dances with refreshments.  Country Dance lessons were given here, great  fun had there, but it was usually women & girls  taking part in these.   Plays were put on and I can remember one Variety Show, with a great deal of laughter.   It was hired for wedding receptions too.

There was a hut in the lower half of the Pleasure Ground the YMCA.   It was used for several activities.   A Mr. Cambridge or Mr. Tritton used to run a Boys Club where he would teach them boxing skills.   The France Lynch Scouts held their meetings there under the guidance of Mr. Wood.   At a different time, the France Lynch Guides would meet there with Mrs. Wood taking these sessions.   It was licensed for dancing and the sale of alcohol too.

Next was the British Legion, in what is now called Haywards Lane.   Again this was licensed for music, dancing and alcohol.   As the name suggests, it was originally started for Service personnel.   It could also be hired for wedding receptions & private parties.

The Chalford Sports & Social Club came about when the owner of the field donated it to the local community for sports.   The men and boys of the village spent hours on their hands and knees picking up stones to make the field suitable for football and cricket.   The club house was built much later (1970s maybe).   When it first came into use for dances and cabarets the local skittle team, tennis players, footballers & cricketers took it in turn to run the bar, get the venue ready and latterly clean up afterwards.   It was run this way for a number of years and was very very popular.

Although I am sure there were more fetes, two stick in my mind.   One which was held in the field opposite the Doctor’s surgery (now a housing estate, originally built by the council).  Dr. Middleton and his family had just moved into the surgery and at this fete he played the bagpipes whilst his wife and daughter did sword dancing.

The second was held in the Pleasure Ground and on this occasion three members of The Archers (an everyday story of country folk) came to open the proceedings.   Phil & Jill Archer and Walter Gabriel were definitely there.   There was a fancy dress parade lead  by the Chalford Silver Band.

In the 1940s in the summer a marquee was erected and people gathered for community singing.   Sometime in the 1950s a fair came to the pleasure Ground with the usual dodgem cars, swing boats and side shows.

Children were not restricted in the 1940s and were free to wander where they would and did.  Bidcombes was a good playing area as a group found a binder twine hanging from a tree in a coppice at the bottom of the field.   It was strong and many an hour was spent swinging over the stream with tarzan whoops.   Luckily, when it gave up the ghost no-one was on it so no harm done.

From there we wandered through the wood down to Ashmeads, where in the coswold stone walls, and  being near the canal and River Frome, newts could often be found, captured and taken home.

From there we would climb the not too safe track up onto Jackdaw Bridge, where we stood in hope waiting for a steam train to pass under us, covering us in smoke.   We also played out at night too.

In the summer/autumn women with their families would walk through the fields collecting blackberries, some of which were made into blackberry vinegar.   Diluted with hot water and some sugar this was a remedy for coughs and colds.   Hazel and Fibre nuts would also be picked and stored for Christmas fare.   School children were encouraged to pick hips which were taken to school, sent off somewhere to be made into Rose Hip Syrup.

The village had its own brass band, Chalford Silver Band.   Besides playing at local fetes and fancy dress parades, they were hired to play at the different public houses and in the summer travelled to play at Stratford Park and, on at least one occasion, Bourton on the Water.

The village women got together and founded a Jazz Band.   Not sure how to describe these instruments.   They were popular though but the sound was rather tinny.   If someone wanted to join but didn’t possess one of the jazz instruments, a comb and paper was a good substitute.


George Gleed (born 1930)

We always went along to the Women’s Institute at Bussage for festivals (e.g. Silver Jubilee, George V).   There was games and somebody would do some comedy.   It was quite good.   We used to look forward to it as it was pre wireless times for us.   We used to play cards and things like that.   Nothing of any consequence.

The Easter Fayre at Minchinhampton, but I never ever went – it was too far away.

Accession of George V – same sort of thing at the Women’s Institute at Bussage, games out in Bussage Pleasure Ground, races and childlike things. Christmas:  it was very exciting.   I used to do quite well as my sisters were seven and nine years older.

We played football, rounders and dangerous longball as they called it.   You got in a line, you take it in turns to hit a ball.   One side doing the fielding.   Similar to cricket but used your hands for bats.   Just boys played.

I went looking for wood for the family – never asked if it was allowed!

Airplane rides on Manor Farm fields – between the wars.


The cold winter of 1940 (?1947), absolutely terrible.   Huge drifts, up to your neck in places.   Absolutely colossal.   Never seen a winter like it before or since.   Enjoyed it to a certain extent.   We made a sledge, had snowball fights and made slides.   Toadsmoor Lake got frozen and there was people down there skating.   Fellow that owned it – Carneer was his name, spiteful sort of fellow used to shift us off now and again.   He didn’t like people down there.

There were dances in Bisley and an occasional one at the Women’s Institute at the bottom of the pleasure ground, but it’s been pulled down now.   Twice a week we used to have boxing.   Father was a champion boxer in the Navy and he used to train the boys and we had contests.   Kept us out of mischief.

I met Cynthia in Woolworths.   I was on leave from the Navy and I went in one day and saw her behind the counter, we had a tiny chat, and went in there a couple of days later and we had another chat, then we made a date.

There were two cinemas in Stroud, the Ritz and the Gaumont.   Saturday night there was a dance at Bisley.

I was always interested in country life.   My favourite pastime was rabbiting.   I used to keep ferrets and father did.   Sometimes I used to go with father.   We used to get rabbits – most weekends it was rabbit for dinner.

I went beating at Bathurst Estate.   He was a nice fellow, Bathurst – a real gentleman.   He was always grateful, he’d come round and thank us.   Not stuck up at all.


Cynthia Gleed (born 1933)

In the winter we went sledging down at Crickety because there was a nice steep slope.   Me and another girl used to walk over to Nash End every week because there was an old lady who used to have a raffle ticket and this friend of mine with her auntie and Gran and they done the WI dance, we had to sell these raffle tickets for this granny.

One pub was called the White Hart, which has been closed for years.   A lady doctor who lived there she ran a girls’ club for us there, 11/12 year olds.   Another highlight of our time at Bisley we used to go and watch the blacksmith shoe the horses.   George told me he used to bring his horse over from Brownshill and have it shod.   It was the highlight of our day to watch it.

When it was bad weather in the winter I used to have to walk over to Stroud with my brother and mother to get the shopping.   My mother was a Stroud person and come hell or high water she had to get to Stroud on a Saturday.

Kids were more content then than they are now.   They annoy me how they get all these benefits now.   We played with skipping ropes, excitement if we seen a car coming along the road!   I had to pass a driving test.   I failed the first one I was so nervous!   It was my only ambition in life, to learn to drive.   I used to go to the local farm and ride round on the tractors when I was still at school.


Grace Banyard (born 1930)

I hated sport.   We had to go to play rounders at the playing fields and we used to go on the bus to Stroud then walk to Stratford Park and they tried to teach us how to swim.  They put me on the side and pushed me in.   Trouble was when I was little I had bad ears and was frightened of water.  

It was a good time to grow up.   We used to go down the fields, Bitcombes and Okridge Banks.   There was three meadows, and a style over here.   We used to play up in the thicket for hours, lighting little fires, collecting the firewood.   Lots of freedom then.   France Lynch is all built u now.  I wouldn’t know it now.

They had a YMCA hut just inside the pleasure ground going along from John Sawyers and there was a bloke called Donald Baker in France Lynch and him and John Sawyer used to sell batteries and accumulators for radios in Donald Bakers shed down the valley.   Donald left and John Sawyer bought the shop.   Donald used to buy great big slabs of cakes and we had like a little youth club up at the YMCA hut.   We were still at school then.   Me and two mates used to get up on the stage and sing!   Don’t know who we thought we were!   Then on a Saturday we had a little dance up there and all the airmen used to come up from Aston Down and they’d come over from Eastcombe.   It must have been during the war.

We used to go to dances up at Aston Down once a week.   You had to go down to Chalford bottom, I went on my bike down the hill and if you couldn’t catch the special bus from Stroud you had to walk, then get it back before 12.   My Dad was very strict.   We had to be in by 10 usually but my mother used to leave the kitchen window on a little string so we could get in.   She used to put the bolster down the middle of the bed so Dad thought we were in.

We had Guides and Brownies.   We had plays.   I can remember being a cowslip and I went out in the field to pick cowslips which were all round my dress.   Doris ran the Brownies.  Hazel Mills now Godwin, Gwyneth Mason, now Weaver, were the only girls my age.   I used to play with Rosemary when she came first then lost track of her over the years.

Then, at the church rooms, they had social clubs on a Friday for the older ones and a dance on a Saturday.

They had fundraising up at the playing fields, men used to dress as women and vice versa.   Me and my friend down the road done the teas for 300 people for the Coronation.   We had a street party, a BBQ in the middle of the road by the Stirrup Cup.   We used to have a dance committee and when the flower show was on we used to run a dance for the youngsters in the evening, a disco or something.   That money either went to the church or for the tent.   Then I ran the Ascension for 17 years – with helpers.   They used to say to me “we hate you, we know you’re going to ask us something whenever you come near us”!   They young people used to behave themselves when you talked to them as people.


Jenny David (born 1933)

You had the France Lynch lot and the valley lot.   And they had just swings down there.   We had a seesaw and a building of sorts.   There was a slide.   This would have been when I was five, six years old.   And the seesaw was about that thick, just a big plank of wood there and this little bit of rail round the back.   But you loved it.   The kids loved it.   It’s all we had to play with in the village.   This is the pleasure ground.

School holidays you were out all day.   But when we were six, me and Malvina would go walkies, between chapel in the morning and Sunday school and chapel in the evening.  We would go to Strawberry Banks.  There was a big bush of pink flowers on the way back and I used to take a bunch back as a sweetener.   It worked for a while.   And then I was in real trouble one night because I wasn’t back and it was time for mum to go to the chapel for the evening service and I hadn’t turned up so she couldn’t go.

I was about 17-18 when we started courting.   You had the local club and everyone came to that.   Saturday night would have been a dance at the YMCA in the Player’s.   At the Pleasure Ground, there was this rickety thing – but it was the place to go.   I don’t think there was much going on in the week there.   I’d known him all his life and we all went there and were friendly with each other.   You knew everybody and everybody knew you.


Vesta Rock (born 1934)

In later years we had a skittle team at the sports club.   We were 10 of us.

   And the people who had been running the old people’s party for years, they were giving up.   And I thought, well we’ll take this on.   And what a success it was.   It knocked spots off what had gone before.   They used to hold it at the legion and they’d given them trifle or something.  A crowd of ladies had run it and they didn’t have any restrictions on who to invite.   Well, we did.   We had a line – we had boundaries – the bridge along here, the corner along here.   65 – if your husband was younger he couldn’t come.   We had to draw the line because we were looking at a hundred people.   We went to the committee and they agreed with us that that line was going to be forever.   Of course we had to earn money to start with – we had rummage sales, dances, raffles.   Our first party cost us £600.   We put a big notice in the paper, ‘If you need transport for the party, contact Mrs. David’.   She had a list of drivers.   We had to entertain them.   I went around to all the pubs to collect money, went to the shops and said ‘can we have a discount for the old people’s party, or have you got something you could give us for the raffle?’   The first year we had Craig and he was giving out sherry.   You had to entertain them but you were entertaining people of 85 and people of 65, big difference.   We had the chappy on the piano.   Brilliant.   People wanted to come.  But people who had left the village – like Des’ mum had left – they couldn’t come.   I think this was the late seventies.   We said we’ll run it for 10 years and we raised the money really.   I gave everyone a job and one girl said she couldn’t do anything and I said ‘right, you put notes through people’s doors when you go to school to collect your child’.   We had this wonderful bazaar a Eastcombe Hall and I rang Shire Hall and said it’s for charity so we had it for nothing.   We had Mr. Derby’s Father Christmas.   We had stalls, we had jams and pickles.   Mary Harris’ dad had just died so we had all his stuff.   This was just once a year, at Christmas.   But we had to make money throughout the year.   We had a knitting group.   I had a big table and we were knitting everything in sight.   No one else will run it now.


Shirley Bushell (born 1943)

There were a couple of swings in the playing field.   I bet that’s all in those days.   There weren’t any sport teams down here.   That was up on the hill.   We used to play games as children on our own.   We had quite busy lives.   We used to have a youth club in the church rooms which is the village hall now.   Up by Sylvia Padin on a Monday evening.   In the summer we used to go up to the Vicarage field (called the Parsons now) and play rounders.   Church fetes were held up there then.

One of my childhood memories was going into Stroud on my birthday and buying a twin dolls pram!   I brought it back on the rail car.   I was very proud of it.   I had one dark doll and one white doll.   It was like a replica of the Silvercross prams that everyone had.

We used to wander around the donkey trails.   There were loads of tracks round.   There was a beautiful walk all along up here in the woods but it all gets overgrown now – where the escape road is by the bottom of Cowcombe Hill.   Sundays everyone went for a walk.   You went to church and then you went for a walk.   You used to meet all these families out and people kept all these pathways open.  

We often walked up to Minchinhampton and back again as one of my mother’s sisters went to live there eventually.   We’d walk up Hyde Hill or through the woods.   All round the woods and fields everywhere.   In those days they kept the trees cut back.   These days they only cut it when it gets desperate.   We often walked up along the canal to the Daneway.   It was very much like it is today.   Another inn for the barge people.

You never went up to Chalford Hill to be honest.   As far as I know we never had cricket or football teams in the valley.   There was still a divide between the hill and the valley.  

Lots of things happened in the vicarage garden – they had this big field.   Vicars always had big houses in those days.   It’s a lovely house.   We had the village fete in the summer there.   We always had a fancy dress – we all dressed up, usually something made in crepe paper.   There were stalls and everyone in the village took part.   It was always raising money for the church.   Then we had a harvest supper.   In school, we always had concerts.   I think we were quite lucky in what we had to do.

We also had the Girls Friendly Society which was a church based thing which we did one evening and we also used to go to what we used to call a Magic Lantern Show in the Wesleyan Chapel where the Owens live now.   It was the people who lived there who put it on.   It was an interesting evening for us children.

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)

When we lived down the High Street there was a little park – it was mostly a rubbish tip!   I think there was swings and a slide at the end but not much when we were kids.   A lot of the time we went along Ashmeads and played football in one of the fields.   By what we called Old Hills they used to have motorbike and sidecar trials up the wooded hill.   The trust’s got it now and they are not allowed to do what we used to do.  We used to go up there anytime we wanted to to get to France Lynch but I haven’t been up there in a long time.

We played rounders as well as football.   We played gloggies (marbles).   You had two forms of it.   You put one in the middle and played from two ends and the other game you dug a hole and had to knock one with another into the hole.   You won them from each other.   Not too long ago I found a marble, after all them years, over there under the table.   I said ‘This is haunted’.   Mrs. Geoff lived in this house and she used to hold séances.


Margaret Mills (born 1934)

As long as we got back in time for dinner and tea whatever, we could go into Ashmeads Woods and play and in those days there were a lot of tramps walking around and they were fine and didn’t do us no harm.  They used to come to the door of you house and we would give them something to eat.   I suppose like the homeless people now.   They liked the freedom.   We didn’t have so many fears of anything and of letting children out to play.

When I was at Chalford Hill School every year a drama group used to come to the British Legion hut along the lane opposite the school.   That was more or less my introduction to the classical drama.  Saturday morning pictures in Stroud we used to go to – there was nothing in the village.

For birthdays, nothing very special, a little party with your friends.   Christmas, a lot of our family lived in the village you see so we all got together and went from one house on Christmas Day to an auntie’s on Boxing Day.   We really celebrated Christmas.   We went out Carol Singing quite freely in the dark, round the doors.

We had bonfire night down in the valley along by the Red Lion.   We used to all help build up this big bonfire.   We did have some fireworks – we had a good time.   The bonfire was the main attraction.

I belonged to the Girls’ Brigade for many years in our Baptist Church – like the Boys’ Brigade, the girls section.   We had quite a thriving thing there.   We would do all sorts of things, such a PT, I used to take a PT class – it was after the war.   There was  guides and brownies in the village but we didn’t go there.   We belonged to a tennis group, you know where the old Congregational Church is there was a court at the back there.   I played quite a lot of sport at school.   I was quite interested in sport, rounders, netball, tennis but not hockey – too rough!   I liked gymnastics very much.   There were no sports halls like now.   There were always dances in local halls as we got older.   In the pleasure ground here there was a hall and it’s strange but Mike says he can never find a photograph of it.   I don’t know what it was called.   It was a wooden building.   They used to have all sorts of things going on there, youth groups, dances, bands.   It was down the bottom end of the pleasure ground.

We used to play outside in the road, hopscotch in the High Street, very occasionally something would come by – they would just toot!   That was our play yard.   We played cricket with some of the boys.   They used to play footie.   Then of course we all had bikes at one time and went off cycling.   Trouble is round here if you go down a hill you have to go up again!   We used to go sledging in winter – ’47 was the significant one.   You didn’t have to go far to find a slope.   Even in Rack Hill there was slopes.   I suppose some people went skating.

We had our first television at Tankard Spring, black and white obviously – a little tiny thing.   Into the ‘50s probably.   We didn’t have it for the Coronation.   But Mike has always been into radio and he had a small television and we saw the Coronation on that in his shed!   On the radio we listened to Housewife’s Choice and the children’s programmes – five o’clock or so and always the news, especially in the war.


John Hemmings (born 1936)

As a kid the amount of caves I went in in this area is amazing.   The hills are full of them.  The biggest one, if you go up Hyde Hill, large house on right hand side and a bit of wood on other side and I think they’ve capped it about 20 years ago but we would go in and crawl around as kids.   Lots of bats.   You crawled through and came out into a space bigger than Gloucester Cathedral.   Story is that the cave goes through to Minchinhampton.   We never went but the hills are full of these.   There’s one when you come down by the cemetery by the bungalow set in the corner, before you get to the Old Neighbourhood.   Just behind there there’s a huge one.

We used to have Chalford Feast – everyone drank too much.   The Smart family were by then teetotal.  When they were coming up for Chalford Feast he would hire a private train to the area to take all the local children to Weston for the day.  


Beryl Freebury (born 1941)

It was usually running around in the school playground but outside of the school probably from when I was about 8, there was skipping, hopscotch on the road cos there were very few cars on the road then ball games played against garage doors and a game called  Five Stones.   You shuffled the five stones and let them drop on the floor.

We played hide and seek and also tracking.   We played with older children who lived near us.   During the summer after school and Saturdays was the most popular time for the games outside.   Not Sundays as we went to Sunday school and it was family time.

Derek and I knew each other from primary school and on a Friday night there was a youth club in the primary school and both sets of parents were church people so we joined the choir and we met at choir practice on Thursday nights and when I was nearly 16 and Derek nearly 18.   My parents were quite strict and we used to go for a quick walk – had to be back home by 9.30.   We used to hope and pray choir practice wasn’t that long!   At Christmas and Easter there were anthems to practise so it would go on and we wouldn’t have much time!

We used to have a choir outing to Weymouth, Bournemouth or Brighton with Beavis coaches for the day and take a picnic.   Life was all centred round the village, people would organise things.   My father was church warden at St. Augustine’s and there was always a Sunday school party at Christmas and on Mothering Sunday when the church was absolutely packed and he would organise a pot plant for every child to give to their mother, either a polyanthus, hyacinth or daffodils.  That was quite a big thing.

The Sunday School teacher was a volunteer.   It was Mrs. Andrews who taught me and she was an elderly lady and she was very much into the village.   She was also interested in the Girl Guides which I belonged to and she tested me for my cookery badge.

When people move into Eastcombe they don’t tend to move out.   They may change houses but they don’t move away.   When we had young families there were a lot of families growing up together and we used to have dances in the Village Hall every couple of months, on a Saturday night.   There was take your own food and barn dances as well but it was usually like a disco and then we had Harvest Suppers.   The Scout and Guide HQ wasn’t built until 1987 so it was always in the Village Hall.

There weren’t many cars when we were growing up.   People used bikes really.   My pastime was to draw two lines on the road and pedal the bike between the lines until they got narrower and narrower.   You wouldn’t really see a car.   We used to make a tent on that bit of grass across the way as there was no traffic, so much quieter.   My father was one of the first in the village to have television, in 1952/3.   We used to have all the old men in watching the cup final!   Just BBC in those days – just one channel.

We used to have to go up to Mr. Gaston’s house opposite Bracelands.   He had a shed and you used to have to take your accumulators and he would refill (recharge) them so you could use your wireless.   You would have one there and one at home – so you could exchange them.


Derek Freebury (born 1938)

We used to play cricket in the street and you had to retrieve the ball over the wall into somebody’s garden.   One day someone got on the wall and there was a little border you had to get over and someone got on it one day and the border went straight down!   In the holidays we were down in the woods all the time and we had a bit of a craze and we used to go tracking on bikes – obstacle courses with bikes, down the hill and to Brimscombe, back along, up the Toadsmoor Valley, up through Bussage and back along.   We used to get steel hoops and go along pushing them along.

I  played football and cricket for Eastcombe.   We had to go to other places for matches.   I was Treasurer for Eastcombe Football Club for 20 odd years then I got involved with Stroud District Football League and would go to meetings every two months to represent the club.   Meetings were at the top of Union Street, where the market is in Stroud.


Bob Messenger (born 1950)

We used to play football and cricket with the local lads.   Used to go over the fields apple sprogging.   Used to go over to Swindon watch football.   Used to go to Highfields (sports club) sometimes.   Went to the Odeon when I was younger, where Dolby is now.   There was dances in the Sub Rooms.   We used to go to Sub Rooms wrestling, watching.

We used to have a fete in the valley.   Didn’t have none on the Hill.   We used to go and watch the carnival at Stroud Show.   Had floats down the centre.   They used to have the Carol Bus up here, used to stand on corner and watch it;  started in Stroud.   At Christmas we just did normal things, chickens, turkeys, Christmas tree.


Audrey Bishop (born 1932)

A club started up in the school where mum started work during the war because we used to go on a Saturday night up there.   Various parties from time to time.   There were guides but I didn’t belong to them.

(Later) At weekends I went to social things at the church village hall, up the road there.   There were clubs and various things.  I don’t know about holidays with the church, but often there were outings, yes.   Friends and I used to go on holidays together from work, wherever.   On Church outings we went to Weston or Severn Beach or somewhere like that.   I don’t really remember going any further afield – I’m not saying we didn’t but I don’t remember going any further.   The coach would come up and collect us.   Up on Thrush (?) Roads.   Yeah I can remember going there.   Well, I say quite often.   I suppose whether we went there for a year or what I don’t know.

There was church fetes and I think a fair used to come occasionally.   It would have been on the pleasure ground.   The church fete, more often than not, depending on the weather, would have been in the vicarage garden.   But if it was bad weather, up in the church school, or up the road.


Nancy Gardiner (born 1924)

Two or three of us had started a WI at Brimscombe so I thought, when I moved, that I’d go to the one at France Lynch and I went to introduce myself and ask to join.   The one in charge wasn’t over welcoming but (luckily) there was another two people who were new about the same time as me.   One wanted to start a drama group, Mrs. Mallow.  So we started this drama group and we got to know everyone.   That was my life saver.   I did run the drama group for a while and we used to compete in the Gloucestershire ones – we got second and third occasionally.

Another thing we used to do which was quite nice, I started them with Stroud Show.  We had the lorry in the field and dressed it up the night before.   We won first and second once.   I had to take the children on the float with the driver, sometimes I’d dress them up.  One day we had a washing day theme – a big old mangle and a washing line with funny washing on and the driver went down Toadsmoor at a rate of knots!   We were hanging on to everything and the washing was flapping!   We did have some fun.   Another time we did a British thing, ‘Britain’s best’ that sort of thing – they thought we were sort of advertising some odd group but we got second that year.   I think I was Churchill!


May Smith (born 1924)

It was lovely growing up in the village.  There’s quite a lot of children.   Much better than what it is 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.

We went to Sunday School every Sunday at France Lynch Church.   Easter bonnets on Easter Sunday.   I know we were poor, we never had the money like they’ve got today but it was a lovely childhood.


Judith Newman (born 1943)

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  and had picnics there, it was very lovely.

When I had Jo to play with, which I did most of the time (except she used to go off on holiday every year, I didn’t), we played in her fields nearly all the time, or in her house.   She had a big house with 5 bedrooms in it and so I spent a lot of time at her house, and then we’d go into the fields – there are houses there now but there used to be pig styes and a large farm building on 2 floors they used to keep chickens in….  They kept 2 or 3 cows, lovely things, and chickens, so we spent most of our time over there, and the next field to that, playing in the stream, damming the stream at the bottom, making little brooks, harbours and pretend it was a seaside.   It was just lovely.

The play park down there had a couple of swings and a slide and I don’t remember anything else, but when I was a teenager we’d go down there and play a bit more ‘cause there were some boys down there as well.   But mostly, when we were pre-teens, we’d just play in the fields, in our houses or just walking round the village a little bit, or going to the shops for ice creams and coming back.   Or over the Barley Grounds or over Cowcombe Hill.   Great amount of freedom, we’d go in the woods, we’d walk to Oakridge, Frampton Mansell, Sapperton.   We were quite small children and never thought anything of it.   It was lovely.   Yes, summer mornings it was just magical, I would hear the chickens over in the Weavers’ garden, get on my shorts, go over to Jo’s, rush off into the fields, lie in the grass, listen to the grass hoppers – wonderful!

There were gangs of boys mostly, and of course people from the bottom of the village didn’t mix with people at the top of the village.   We were in the middle so were very neutral!    But you did walk through parts of the village with a bit of trepidation just in case.   But no, children, they were mostly round and about playing.   I don’t remember much, just Jo and I and we stuck to our patch mostly.   There were a few other girls round here, but I didn’t play with them very much, sometimes you’d invite someone home for tea, I suppose it was a birthday or something – but no, it was just the two of us really.   We knew the other girls and we liked them and they were at school, but you went home to tea and then you played afterwards if it was still light and then you went to bed.

Cold winters – Oh yes.   As a child I always associated January/Christmas time with snow.   It couldn’t have snowed every year and I remember one Christmas when it was so warm and thundery and pouring with rain.   Snow boots, creepers, which were made by Taysum Blacksmiths down along by the church (the building was demolished years ago).   I’ve still got a pair of those creepers, you’d tie them on with a rubber strap, presumably to go up and down the hill, so everybody in the family had creepers.   They were just a metal like a crampon and you’d have it on the instep of the shoe, and a strap round the top of the shoe, and you put them in  a bag when you got to the bus and then put them on again when we came back to get up the hill.   I remember getting to school, the school playground was one big ice rink and the boys were slithering all round it;  and trying to walk back down the hill on those days was not nice.   And there was a lot of that.   And I have a vision of going over the fields which looked wonderful, like cotton wool you know, and we had our scarves on and two pairs of socks, wellingtons, always a skirt, never wore trousers, woollen gloves, four of us would start making snow balls and ‘my hands are cold’, ‘there’s snow in my wellingtons’, ‘I want to go home’.   So I didn’t enjoy that very much.  Very little traffic in those days;  I do remember there being car tracks in the snow, because they had their chains on and you could see the chain marks;  but no, we could play in the road we could sit in the roads, you’d hardly ever see a car.

Films in Stroud – oh yes, we’d go into the Gormont or the Ritz.   The Ritz went down of course, but the Gormont which is now that nightclub.   Hardly ever went to the cinema when I was a child apart from when I went on holiday to my grandmother in Gloucester.   She would take me to the cinema in Gloucester, I saw lots of films then, but my parents never ever took us to the cinema.   I don’t know why.   When I became a teenager, I went to see ‘Lady and the Tramp’, it was my first venture into films after coming out of school, when I was at High School.

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.   I always thought ‘why did she not?’   She’d missed out on education because her father couldn’t afford to send her to grammar school.   Why didn’t she go to evening classes or go to Stroud College?   Or join a club?   She wasn’t that sort of person, she was very quiet and shy.   She just took on her wifely duties.   Probably just exhausted!   Because that’s the one thing, when we first came here, and for years after, on a Sunday we would go to church and then after that we’d go straight for a walk, which would be over to Bisley, over to Eastcombe, sometimes we ended up at Winston’s Ice Cream Factory, all of us dressed in our best parading behind father like a lot of geese, you know.   He would sometimes carry my sister in his arms when she was little, but later on obviously not, and then we’d end up at a pub, either The Ram, or The Lamb or The King’s Head, and he’d go in for a pint, ‘a glass of lemonade and a packet of crisps for you’, mum had a glass of sherry, or I don’t know what she drank, and then he’d pop back in the pub and say ‘you go on home now and have the dinner ready’.   And we were sent home.

It was a lovely place to live and you could be with lots of people if you wanted to be or you could also live a very solitary life it you wanted to.   Nobody minded what you did really.   We’d often walk, just my friend and I, for miles and miles.   We’d go up Accommodation Road and beyond – now they’ve got the Sports and Social Club up there – it was just carrying on up towards Bisley.   We used to walk up there, walk over to Miserden, just keep going.   Lovely fields, and blackberries and wild flowers.  Of course for Brownies I collected lots of wild flowers for my collector’s badge.   I learnt every wild flower, I still know them now.


Peter Clissold (born 1931)

We used to play in the woods here (Frith) and out in the pleasure ground park there.   Yes, we had a good time.   A jolly good time.   There was always a bit of anti between Eastcombe and Bussage and Brownshill, but it was fun more than anything, almost like playing soldiers – yes there was always a bit of that but all in good fun.

We all would go out and spend our holiday down in the woods making fires and cooking all sorts of rubbish and eating it (because you would, wouldn’t you?)   Great adventures.   When there were all ferns on the bank we’d make thatched huts, we’d put all these saplings together and then thatch them in with the green ferns.   It was a nice time to grow up around here, despite rationing, and I don’t think we did badly really at all.

The Ram was also a farm – Bill Pincott had the farm there.   Bill used to make me laugh, he had a very dry sense of humour. As a little boy I used to love fishing down at Toadsmoor Lake and I’d go along and ask if I could have a few of your worms and he’d say, as long as you bring back the ones you don’t use!   He’d wait to see if I caught one or not and then he’d have a laugh.   We all used to go down there to fish and one year it froze and we all went there to skate.     We used to go down there and get bull rushes and turn them into cigars – chop them off and put a wrap around them and get them back up to school and you couldn’t see across the room sometimes.   The teacher would come in and you’d put them in your desk and hope they’d gone out quickly – but one or two didn’t and you’d see wisps of smoke coming out from the sides of the desk.   Happy days.

My mother, Lilian Aldridge, was from Chalford and she was very musical and she always liked to be in all the WI plays and that kind of thing.


Hayden Hunt (born 1941)

We used to play in the fields up to three year 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 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.

It was all safe.   There were always blokes walking around, you know, all the time going to work or whatever so they used to see us, 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, so we were quite safe.

Played a bit of sport then (at school), football and all that sort of thing, yes there was a bit of a school team towards the end, but not in the early days, didn’t get really organised til towards the end when I left.

Wouldn’t have been a lot of toys (when I was a young child) because we could play down on the farm, you know, on the carts.   We just played about with the carts up there and there was an old car here as well, I think it was a Morris, or a Model T Ford.   It was just a chassis up there because it would fascinate us for hours you know.   It was great.    We made our own fun.

Great Gran used to take me on trips and school trips;  we went to Windsor Castle once.

It was my second home, going down to Chalford Station, we used to spend hours there, train spotting and messing about.   And helping.   We used to trim the wicks for the signals and all that because it was all paraffin.   They were very good, they tolerated us, put it that way, as long as we didn’t do anything silly, we were tolerated.   Because there were several kids used to go down there and enjoy themselves.

I had a few special friends, we used to knock around together, all boys.   Ross obviously,but then later on he went off, so didn’t see  much of him;  John Cox who used to live just across the road from here;  Graham King, Kenny Bourne, who used to live in the Vicarage.  And Garth Harrison;  there was a lot of kids you know together, just having a good time.

I can remember the sports because I was quite sporty, – running and all that sort of thing, high jumping, long jumping and all that sort of thing you know, more athletics.      I used to go over there (Oakridge) to the shows, and they had running and high jumping and all that, some ran near the top but it didn’t worry me anyway, I just enjoyed it.

We’d go up to the top field, where Chalford would play cricket, getting ready the cricket wicket and that sort of thing.   That was interesting.   And sometimes I’d stop and watch cricket.   Then we used to go down to the Court House  for tea, and then go back up for the finish of cricket.   Then I started to learn to score up there, at cricket.   Yes, that was interesting.   I played later on, for Chalford when they moved up to the top here, in ’57 I think it was.   When they played the first game, when they started up there, so you know I was sixteen, seventeen.

 The first job I got with the Chalford Football Club was picking up stones, when they bought the field.  So we spent hours and hours picking up stones – that was allotments originally, the France Lynch ones;  I think they moved them over there after, but I mean that was allotments going back.   Bisley Feoffees, they owned it, and then they decided to sell it so fortunately the blokes over here had their heads screwed together and bought it for the Football Club, which was brilliant.   I was picking stones up, in ’51 we started, when I was only ten.   There were several, and there were older boys, we got so much a bucket;  it was great.

I’ve been involved with the Sports and Social Club ever since;  still Secretary of the Football.   


George Rowles (born 1928)

If it was nice weather he (teacher) would get his boat out, and of course the basin at Brimscombe is about 2 acres of water, maybe more, and we used to row, we used to learn to row round the basin and we could see all the fish, and he showed us, told us we had roach and perch and pike and things like that in the canal.   So we learnt all about that and it was quite pleasant to have a walk.   Children in those days didn’t have much …, what shall I say?   We had proper routine days really, we weren’t off to Majorca one day and the next day going to…   I think the only place I ever went away, because everyone then went to a Sunday School and we used to have trips.   We used to go to Weston-super-Mare and Cheddar Gorge and things like that.

We used to swim by the Brimscombe Station in the top of the locks.   We had a wire what used to go across the canal up across up to the top of the locks.   ‘Cos the canal was quite … there was hundreds of fish in there.   Sometimes, once a year they used to spawn.   And going from in the lock there was a chute that took the water, overflow water, and if you was to put a bucket in this chute you could catch about ten or twelve fish.   There were hundreds of them, most of them were roach;  I don’t want to exaggerate or under estimate, I should imagine between nine inches and a foot.   Then we had pike, they were quite big.   And I remember I caught a small pike in the lock, only a small one, about four inches long, and I went to get its hook out of its mouth, I got the hook out and it bit me like that, they have teeth that go forward, and I had a job to get it out me finger.   They were quite big in Brimscombe Basin, I should imagine they went to 10 or 12 lbs each there, I’m not sure about that, but I think it’s summ’at like that but it may be more.

I used to go dancing, I was in a dancing class, you know.   I can’t remember the lady that taught us, I should do but there were two dancing classes in Stroud and I went to the one not so popular, you know, and I learnt ball room dancing.   I used to go to a dancing competition in Bristol.


Keith Weaver (born 1932)

My earliest memory was going to Gloucester on the railcar when I was three, to Bonne Marche to see Father Christmas.

When I was 5, 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.

On the way to Sapperton there was a little shop owned by Mrs. Staithe, so we always went in to buy sweets.   Another place we used to go to was Rodborough Common.   We would catch the railcar to Hampton Halt and walk up the lane to where Winstone’s ice cream place is now.   We also went back to Whitehall Bridge in the autumn to pick nuts.

When growing up we played hopscotch which was marked out in the middle of the roads, no cars about then, whips and tops, hares and hounds, we played paper chase, and we played with hoops, some metal, some wood, and of course we progressed to roller skates.   You could go round the roads in safety in those days, although some of the roads were quite rough.

When I was 12, I started fishing.   I had been before with older boys so I knew what to do.   I fished for pike and the nearest and best place for that was the stretch of canal between St. Mary’s and Brimscombe Station Locks.   As boys we liked to get a large loaf of bread, straight from the bakehouse.  We would get a batch cake from Workmans in France Lynch or a small tin bread loaf from Gardeners in Chalford Hill.

Holiday times when I was about 13 going up to 16, when the weather was nice and warm, my friend and I knew of a field where we could go and light a fire, and there was water from a spring nearby, and stay there all day.

When we were 15 we cycled to Hawkesbury Upton and camped for two weeks in a field belonging to his uncle, who was a farmer.   We also camped with the Scouts -1944 Avening and 1945 Symonds Yat.

When I was about 14, some of my school mates and myself, we tried to form a football team.   We couldn’t get any help.   We didn’t have a football pitch to play on so we trained on the reed beds along Ashmeads.   We played other teams on their grounds.   We called ourselves the Chalford Valley Juniors.   The next year Stroud Football League started a youth league so we wanted to join that, although most of our team was only 15 and the youth league went up to (started at?) 18, so we thought there was no chance of joining the Stroud Youth Team;  but Mr. Waller, the local postman, said he would help us.   He lived up Cowcombe Hill.   He had contacts at Aston Down and he managed to get us permission to use their football pitch and the gym at any time.   We called ourselves Coppice Hill Rovers.   We bought shirts like Bristol Rovers and after the game Mr. Waller always had hot water, and at half time we had the segment of orange he gave us.   We had weekly meetings on a Monday evening in a room belonging to the Tabernacle on Coppice Hill.   Soon the girls who supported us wanted to come to meetings so the room was too small;  so Mr. Waller got us permission to use the YMCA hut at the Pleasure Ground on a Monday evening, and I left when I was 18.

Living where I do here I was more friendly with the boys down here than up the hill.   My friends were mainly down here.   I had good friends on Chalford Hill too.   The boy who used to take the swill along, I was always good friends with him.   I knew him all my life.   I went on the hill for different things and my Mother was into everything, Mothers’ Union, Women’s Institute – she was one of the ones who first started it in France Lynch.   I have got a tea service that was given to her when she left.

Gardening clubs, no.   Alltoments, of course.   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.

There were one or two cars – Mr. Carter at No. 1 Belleview Terrace, but he was in Insurance and they seemed to have them;  and Mr. Gardener from France Lynch and he was in Insurance and he had one.   There wasn’t the driving about then like it is now.  The roads weren’t asphalt like these are today.   The blue road from the back of the church up to Bisley was the only one asphalted.   When they put it down first of all it wasn’t very good for roller skates, but they did wear down a bit.   Best place was the school yard.   Some of the boys had stilts as well.   One boy up here was on his for a long time! 

 In those days you had to make your own enjoyment as there wasn’t much going on.   That’s why my friend and I did our own cooking from an early age.   We could almost fend for ourselves!   About 10, I started lighting a fire in the garden, getting an old saucepan and making a stew in there!   My mother was a cook when she was in service before she got married.   I know that during the war, when she was out somewhere, I had one of these boys’ annuals with recipes in there and I’d make some cakes from recipes in there.   I didn’t get into trouble.

I never done any plays at school but at church we had a good vicar and Saturday evening club with the choir.   We had badminton, the vicar played the piano for a bit of country dancing, then we done four or five plays and even a pantomime.   The vicar produced it all, played the piano and did the scenery.   I helped him do some of the scenery.

There wasn’t much to do round here for younger people.  There was only Chalford Hill Football team for the boys, but they wasn’t interested in anyone who wasn’t playing for the team.   When I left playing for the juniors at 18 ( I was playing for the second team for two years but I wasn’t allowed to play for them after that) … I had to go and play somewhere else.   We done a lot of things – you move on…

I wasn’t into dancing.   There was dancing at Bisley, the British Legion and in the Pleasure Ground occasionally.   I got three left feet!

We used to go to the cinema in Stroud.   We used to come back on the last bus – 20 past 10 from Stroud to Chalford and 10 o’clock to France Lynch.   You used to have to go to the pictures a bit early for France Lynch bus.   Buses used to be every quarter of an hour then they changed it to every 20 minutes after the war which was OK really.   They went along the bottom to Stonehouse and turned at Standish.

I went sledging in this field here when I was growing up and on that field there straight across which comes down by Station Lane, goes up to the wood there and the field to the right, we used to sledge up there sometimes.   The trees were cut down in about 1947 so it was quite bare then.


Ross Forsyth (born 1940)

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.  

We used to know every inch of this village.   The whole summer was spent out, down the woods.   It was great.   There were one or two odd people but you knew who and where they were and you stayed away and looked out for each other.   We spent a lot of time playing down by the canal making rafts and things, where Noah’s Ark was, near the Round House, as there used to be a sunk canal barge which was covered up when they widened the road.   There was quite a big turn round for the barges so it had to be wide.

We used to play tennis at Smarts.   They had a court at the side of the house, now built on.   We used to go hang around watching the richer people play.   We also used to hang around by Smart’s coal loft and we used to go out on the lorry sometimes;  and one time he put the sheet on and said ‘when we get where I’m going you’ll have to get under that sheet’.   We went right over to the back of the airfield where they had the Lancaster bombers – some used for the Dam Busters film.   We shouldn’t have been in there at all!   It was a maintenance unit by then.


Monica Ridge (born 1943)

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.

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 (Green Bank),  and we used to flash our lights at each other at night.   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.

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…

There were a lot of (school) friends and I played with these girls here as well.   One thing I did do, which was very bad, on my bicycle – this boy used to have a motor bike, a green motorbike, and I’d be on my bicycle going down the High Street, he on his motorbike, me on my bicycle, and he’d put his hand on my back and we’d go along together, showing off, and then by the shop, the community shop –  opposite there is where the car park is now, but that used to be a mound of asbestos.   And it used to be like a long bank and we would go round the bottom of it on our bicycles – we used to have races round.

At 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, and 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 (Maureen’s grandfather) was on the station or was he a postman?   But I know he only had one arm.   And he bought me home.

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.

I used to go to the station quite a lot.   Vera Damsell used to do the tickers and she used to have plaits around her ears.   And then I used to go round to the signal box and they used to give me a lot of tea in a tin mug, enamel, with the enamel chipped off.   And then they’d let me pull (with their hand on mine) the signals.   And then again, 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.


Alan Mayo (born 1943)

Our house was semi detached and we lived near the Red Lion, and there was a bit of waste ground where we honed our football and cricket skills against the wall.

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.   So if you wanted to play you had to go up the hill!

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 were all in on the first night we had it.   Lovely time, thoroughly enjoyed it.

After the war, I can remember when they were demolishing the airplanes at Aston Down.   We used to wait for lorries coming down Cowcombe Hill, when they came down from Aston Down, and see if any bits of Spitfire fell off we could pick up.

Sport – cricket and football my sports.   Played cricket for the best part of 50 years and football for the village for about 20/25, first team – goal keeper when 14.   My brother was a really good cricketer and he was captain.   We had a really good side for 30 odd years we won everything we went in for.   We got to the quarter final of the village knockout and nearly got to Lords!   Now they seem to be leaning towards the short game.   We were so lucky that we had a good bunch of blokes all at the same time – all mates.  Lucky to have lovely sports field.   I was involved when we built the new club house and I’m a trustee of the ground now.

We used to play in the brook and got mucky.   It was like a sewer in its 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, 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.

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