Many people in the village today remember their childhood days of the 1950’s ‘60’s. The words below record some of the memories of Ken Garrett.
When we were young, Heyford School had a uniform. The blazers had a school badge on the top pocket. It was a blazing torch motif as seen on the road signs for schools.
Sports days were held, as they are now, on the village green, but we also sent representatives to a county sports day which was held at the sports ﬁeld of Daventry Grammar School. Swimming lessons were also on the agenda and this meant an afternoon out on a Yorks coach to the Midsummer Meadow swimming baths, which sadly disappeared a long time ago, although the water was never that warm. A lot of people owe their swimming prowess to those days.
The headmaster at that time was Mr Woods who was quite strict, and if he found any of his class out on the streets after a certain time he would send them home saying that they needed to be at their best to do justice to their lessons the next day.
Gardening was also part of the school day and the school gardens were found in different places, ﬁrstly on the Bugbrooke Road, then in the jitty near to the new school house, and then in the garden behind the school itself.
When we were young the fair always set up at the Furnace Lane end of the village green for Heyford Feast. The green was, to say the least, uneven at that time. It was levelled at the time the motorway was built. The dodgems were the main attraction, together with the octopus ride which was added later. The dodgem track had to be set up using large heavy wooden boxes in order that the track was level, and a series of steps up to the track side were to be found at one side. Because of this levelling process there was a big gap under one side of the track which gave us a great hiding place for our games of hide and seek or to read our comics, or dare I say it, to smoke our Woodbine cigarette which could be won on the penny slot machines.
The stallholders would often give out vouchers for free rides on the dodgems in exchange for us fetching water for them. This we did in churns similar to milk churns which were heavy, especially when filled with water obtained from the tap at the bottom of Furnace Lane. The stand where it situated is still there. And it tested our ingenuity to the limit – our home-built ‘go-carts’ were the normal solution. The landlord of the Foresters Arms, Tommy Rolfe, was also known to hand out vouchers although what the reason was, I cannot remember.
When the fair had been dismantled and moved on we would always search the ground where the various stalls had been in case there was the odd stray penny.
Fox and hounds, swimming, and scrumping
When we were young we played ‘fox and hounds’ in the evenings. This usually entailed two or three ‘foxes’ setting off to be chased after a suitable wait by the rest of the group. The boundaries for this pastime were normally the brickyard in Furnace Lane, the river on the other side of the village, ‘Lover Lane’ bridge on the Bugbrooke Road, and the canal bridge on the Weedon Road. Games like this would last for most of the evening and it was not unheard of to run across the river with water up to the knees in order to avoid capture.
We also swam in the river on warm summer days, either by the old Coach Bridge below the manor, or in what we knew as ‘the baths’ situated between the road bridge and Heygates. We did swim in the canal as well. Was it really cleaner that it is now? And this we did at White Bridge, or at Sandbanks which were to be found along the Weedon Road stretch between Swingbridge House and the road bridge.
After swimming and in season we were known to go scrumping in Bens Orchard, and if we weren’t caught we would climb the hay bales in the dutch barn that stood in the orchard and eat our ﬁll. If discovered it was every man for himself!
OH HAPPY DAYS!
The village lads
This photograph, taken in the early 1950’s, shows some of the village lads, including Tony Nickolls, Colin Haynes, Barry Nickolls and Brian Clements.
Extract from “The Story of Heyford” – Local book series published in the late 1990’s
Volume 4 of 4 | Chapter 8 of 8 | Page 31 & 32