The Story of Heyford (Extra): Dear Diary – October 1957

October 1957

Dear Diary,

I’ve lost both my grandparents now so we’ve moved into New School House so that my uncle has a home and we haven’t got a spare bedroom for him in Furnace Lane. I love this house but Mum says it’s draughty and cold. We have a huge garden so loads of room to play. My bedroom is at the side of the house near the jitty. In the evenings I hear the twins, Joe & Len, who live in Church Lane (Back Lane as it’s known), going home from the pub. They walk well apart and talk like it’s the middle of the day. The Headmaster collects our rent once a month because the house is owned by the School.

I miss my pap, he made me laugh. When I asked him one day why he had so many relatives in the village he simply said “our cat went up their alley” whatever that means. I miss helping my nan shell peas, popping down Mag Courts for some groceries ‘on tic’ and going over to The Foresters Arms to collect her nightly bottle of stout.

I had another nan, dad’s Foster Mother, but we didn’t see so much of her because she lived in Bugbrooke and we had to go by bus. The good thing about visiting her was that she bred Pekinese dogs, kept turkeys to fatten up for Christmas and had a parrot in a cage on her kitchen table which used to swear. She’s no longer with us either.

It’s Heyford Feast weekend soon. Families get together, go to church on Sunday and to the fair which usually runs every evening until after the pubs shut. I hear that in the past, when one man came out of the pub at closing time, he forced the swing boat over the top, losing all the change from his pocket. They wouldn’t allow them to go so high now I bet. Abbott’s fair comes every autumn and parks its caravans and lorries on the green opposite the school. The children from the fair go to the village school and most of the families attend church on the weekend they are here. Two things we can all guarantee winning at the fair is a goldfish and a chalk ornament which is great for drawing on pavements. When the fair leaves, we scour the green for loose change hidden in the grass.

I was confirmed in Kislingbury church this year by the Bishop of Peterborough along with some others from Heyford and surrounding villages. Robert Hensher, the vicar, gave us lessons for 4 weeks beforehand. Now I can go to church regularly to take Holy Communion.

There are plans to build a Village Hall along the area by the top of the green and the first soil was turned recently. It will be built mainly by village volunteers so might take a long time, but how great that will be. Also planned is a motorway from London to Leeds which will run past Upper Heyford. Any soil from this is to be dumped in the old brickyard in Furnace Lane to fill in the pits where the motorcycles used to race.

I’ve done my first year at Duston School. Our school motto is “Have Faith”. There are far more classrooms than the 3 we had in the village so it takes a bit of getting used to and we have a timetable to follow. I lost my sports shorts last term so mum is taking me to Brierley’s for some new ones. “I’m only getting you cheap ones this time” she said. I had a rotten school report this year saying I did too much talking. I can’t believe that.


Letter published in The Prattler – October edition 2020

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