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.
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.
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.
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.