The Story of Heyford (Extra): Dear Diary – August 1961

The past year has been a real change for me. I left school in July last year and started work at The Express Lift Company the following week. I chose there mainly because it’s on our bus route. Some of my other girlfriends chose hairdressing, nursing and dressmaking. I catch the No. 305 bus at 8:20 am, outside the Foresters Arms, sit upstairs with my cousin Ken and enjoy the ride through Bugbrooke and Kislingbury. You can only smoke upstairs.

The bus arrives in the village with “Lower Heyford” on the front, then, after it’s turned round outside the shop, the conductor changes it to “Northampton”. As Heyford is the terminus and I’m usually early, I can sit and watch people coming round the green at a leisurely pace, to catch the bus. One day the conductor will ring the bell and the bus will go off without them. If Mr. Faulkner is the driver, he knows everybody because he lives here. He sometimes teases them by starting up the engine.

Dad bought me a season bus ticket so that I can use it at weekends as well, plus it’s cheaper that way. I am working in the Personnel department which means I get to meet so many people, it’s great. I’ve started a part-time course at the Technical college for Shorthand & Typing, one afternoon and one evening which the company are paying for.

Mum bought me some new clothes to start work. Up to then I’d lived in socks and flat shoes, so she got me stockings, a suspender belt and some shoes with little heels, with two new skirts, two new blouses and a Duster coat, so I’m all set now until I start earning enough to buy my own.

I was very nervous on my first day at work. I had to report to the Commissionaire at the front gate and someone came to fetch me. The place was huge and quite frightening but now that I’ve been there a few months, I’m more familiar with the offices and the factory, but I still worry I’ll lose my way, especially after I’ve been to the canteen.

There’s a new programme called Coronation Street on TV. In it is a pub called The Rovers Return which is run by Annie Walker, a little corner shop run by Florrie Lindley, and a Mission Hall run by Ena Sharples. There’s a family called Barlow and a lady called Elsie Tanner who has a son just out of prison. It all happens in this lively Manchester ‘soap’. I like the adverts between the shows as well, “The Esso Sign means Happy Motoring” and “Put a Tiger in Your Tank”.

I’ve had two boyfriends since I started work. The first had a motorbike which I thought was great but mum was concerned because we didn’t wear crash helmets, well nobody does, do they? He’s gone. The second boy took me to see The Cobblers play one Saturday afternoon, went through the turnstile and left me to pay for myself. He’s gone as well.

I wish I hadn’t started smoking but when you sit on a bus to town upstairs and everybody else is doing it, you feel like joining in. I don’t indulge at home or at work, only when I’m out although I might as well, as the pubs smell of smoke. Even mum and dad smoke which means that the ceiling turns yellow and has to be painted every year.

Dad had us save all the Chronicle & Echo’s for him to cover furniture when he painted the kitchen at Easter. I like this daily paper because it’s all local news and the Situations Vacant pages are always full, giving details of jobs including hours of work and pay. Trouble is it’s so big and hard to handle.


First published in The Prattler Edition No. 443 – August/September 2021

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