The Story of Heyford (Extra): Dear Diary – December 1963

M was 21 this year. He didn’t do much celebrating because he broke his leg playing football for Express Lifts and was in plaster for 13 weeks, not that he planned to do much anyway. He couldn’t ride his scooter so he had one or two mates with cars who ran him to his darts matches and down the bookies, but he is planning on learning to drive himself when he can. His lessons are booked with Dennis Slinn, a local at The Castle Inn where he plays darts, at 17/6 a go instead of the guinea he usually charges.

I went on holiday with M and his parents to Clacton in a caravan in July. His brother came too so it was a bit squashed. I’m doing well at Tech and passed my Shorthand & Typing exams again this year. I enjoy my one afternoon a week there, it takes me out of the office and I’ve made more friends. M is also at College to learn Engineering during his apprenticeship, until he’s 22 at least.

My uncle got married in September this year and I was one of two bridesmaids. M was an Usher and the wedding was at St. James Church. This means we have one less living in our house but he was always out ‘courting’ or with his mates, so it’s not much different. I miss him though. He’s 10 years older than me but more like a brother. He moved in with us when his parents (my grandparents) died. Not quite true as we moved in with him really as their house was bigger than ours.

We’ve had a telephone installed. It came to a head when dad was ill recently and mum had to go across the road to the public telephone to call the doctor. It’ll come in handy to call her brother in Leeds and if I miss the bus home I can let her know. Dad can give me a ticking off over the phone rather than face to face then.

Every Saturday night we go dancing at The Salon in Jimmy’s End. They have some big bands there and it’s great to dress up and dance. The only problem is that M often gets a nosebleed during the evening and I sit out like a lemon waiting for him to recover.

On Sundays we alternate. One week I go to M’s house for tea and we go to St. James church then on to the working men’s club until my bus comes. He comes to Heyford (the terminus) on the bus with me, then goes back on the same bus, sometimes after sharing a pint with the conductor and driver, although on Sundays the pub shuts at 10:30. He’s not the only one who does this either. The following week he comes to my home for tea and mum buys a tin of meat and a Battenburg cake, we go to the village church then cross the buttercup field to The Old Sun until he takes the last bus home. It works well.

Christmas will soon be here. My Christmas list so far is hankies for dad because he gets through loads, and face powder for mum. My cousin will be with us along with my aunt and uncle but I’m not expected to buy them anything. I think I’ll get M a pen as he’s always looking for something to write with and I could get his mum and dad some fancy biscuits. We’ll play games like snakes & ladders and cards in the front room where dad will light a coal fire. Trouble is you sit round it and your front is warm but your back is cold. The living room is always warm because of the rayburn but it’s traditional at Christmas to use the front room. Other times of the year it’s a
waste of space.

I may not see M for Christmas day or Boxing Day as the buses don’t run much over the Christmas period but he’ll keep.


First published in The Prattler Edition No. 445 – December 2021/January 2022

The Story of Heyford (Extra): Dear Diary – October 1962

I had a disappointment recently. I was due to meet my new date under the clock in the Derngate bus station and he didn’t turn up. His excuse was that he must have been hidden behind a “green ‘un”, the sports paper, and didn’t see me. I’ll just call him M for now in case he doesn’t last long. Anyway all is forgiven. He’s an apprentice at Express Lifts, at the moment working with Tom Lawrence, who gets him to choose his horses for the bookie’s runner at the factory. He’s been to Heyford for tea with Tom and his wife in Furnace Lane. I’ve now met his parents and his brother. His mum gave him a ticking off for bringing me in through the back door. I don’t know what she’s worried about, we all have a coal hole and an outside lavatory.

M took me on a train from Northampton Castle Station to Wolverton last Saturday to visit his auntie, uncle and cousins. It passed through several small stations like Roade and Castlethorpe. His auntie spent the afternoon serving her extended family while his uncle rolled his fags for the week, both so laid back. He’s got his eye on a Zundap scooter so it won’t be long before we’re spinning along country lanes.

Some of us girls went to see Breakfast at Tiffany’s at the pictures last weekend, with Audrey Hepburn – lovely. There was a ‘B’ movie, then advertisements, cartoons and Pathe News, with a break for ice-creams before the big movie so we were there for hours, by which time the air was a bit thick with smoke.

I’ve got a French pen-friend who I regularly write to and I’m learning to paint and draw which I love. I’ve started going to the YMCA dancing by candlelight on Thursday evenings. I meet my friends in the Wimpy Bar for a burger, then we go up Cheyne Walk for dancing. It’s only a short walk at the end of the evening to the Derngate Bus Station and, if he’s there, M catches the bus with me and gets off at Jimmies’ End where he lives. He’s teaching me to Jive.

This year we have had work trips to the seaside and NME (New Musical Express) concerts; after all there are several office girls and apprentice boys to fill the buses. I went on holiday with my friend Janet, to Poole in Dorset in July. We stayed in a boarding house for a week. M went to Blackpool in a caravan with 4 other mates and wrote to me twice.

Saturday evenings are mostly spent in town. Regular double-decker buses are full going in at teatime, returning at the end of the evening, packed to the gunnels. If one of our regulars is late for the bus, the driver hangs on at the request of the rest of us. One of our most popular drivers is Ron who lives in the village. He knows us all, teases us if we are late, but looks out for us on the journey. Of course there is always a conductor on the bus to ring the bell, keep order and take the fares. If the bus breaks down he can walk to the nearest phone box to ring for a replacement bus. The driver has a separate cab at the front, not accessible from the bus itself.

Aunt Beatrice came to tea last Sunday. Mum panicked, we cleaned thoroughly, we made salmon sandwiches & a cake and got out the best china. This auntie is well off, lives in London and wanted to bring mum & dad a present of a really heavy vase which now takes pride of place on the piano. Mum embarrassed me by telling auntie that I have an office job, a shorthand/typing course at the Technical college and I’m courting a lovely boy who is doing an engineering apprenticeship. I was glad to escape to church for the 6 o’clock service.

There are now new homes off Watery Lane and talks are being had about a new estate at the end of Close Road on the field behind Furnace Lane. The builders are Wilson.

There’s a Jumble Sale in the church rooms on Saturday. I shall go along because you can get some good bargains, a cup of tea and biscuit and I like reading so I’ll head for the book stall.


First published in The Prattler Edition No. 444 – October/November 2021

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

The Story of Heyford (Extra): Dear Diary – Spring 1960

Fashions are changing rapidly. The mini skirt is in, thanks to Mary Quant, pillbox hats like Jackie Kennedy wears, beehive hairstyles like The Ronettes and false eyelashes. Hippies are wearing tie-dyed shirts and bell-bottoms. All great stuff. I had a Record Player last Christmas so I bought my first record by Elvis Presley, “It’s Now or Never”. Brilliant. I also had a Premium Bond from my auntie. They cost £1 and your number goes into a draw each month. They are known as ERNIE Bonds (that’s Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment) and you can win prizes up to £1,000. Now, what would I do with all that money?

The first part of the M1 Motorway is now open and a new roundabout is in place at Upper Heyford. It isn’t lit and there is no speed limit at the moment but I bet that’ll change when more traffic gets on the roads.

Princess Margaret married Antony Armstrong-Jones in May in Westminster Abbey and it was shown on Television. Her brother-in-law, The Duke of Edinburgh, gave her away because her father, George VI, had died. The love of her life was Peter Townsend but he was divorced so thought not suitable.

The new Village Hall was officially opened in May as well, by Viscount Spencer. It’s been ongoing for months, built entirely by volunteers from the village, and social functions have been held regularly in the Foresters Arms to raise money to build it. What a great asset this will be for everyone. I look forward to enjoying many happy
events here in the future.

They’ve dismantled the old stone coach bridge crossing the river near the mill and replaced it with a concrete footbridge. It’s not as charming as the old one but we don’t have horse & carts any more so it makes sense I suppose. The old bridge was best for playing Pooh sticks though.

My cousin lives in Far Cotton and I go to stay with her sometimes. Sad to say they are closing one of our haunts there which is the Tivoli cinema, just down the road from her house. Still, the nearby Railway Club lives on. My uncle Jim is a train driver, like his dad before him, and used to live in the Railway Cottages up Furnace Lane. He said you get used to the noise of the trains.

I hear that we are to have seats around the edge of the green which will be handy for watching the football and cricket matches. There’s also to be a new Secondary school at Bugbrooke, that’ll be better for Heyford pupils but not me as this is my last year at school. I shall be 15 in July, the week before I leave.

The old gasworks along the Bugbrooke Road are being dismantled now natural gas is here. I hope they leave the poplar trees but get rid of the scrap by the old shed, it’s an eyesore.

A gun club is being formed and they are to use the shed at the gravel pits. I hope we can still go for walks there when they start as it’s beautiful in the Spring when the flowers are out.

The Methodist Church has closed and the building is to be used as a youth club. I wasn’t a member of this church but for a while some of us joined in a sing-song occasionally with Noel Stanton but I think he now just preaches in Bugbrooke.

When we went out to play on Saturday “old Peet” was on the prowl, that’s Mr. Peet, the local bobby. He lives in Bugbrooke but cycles to Heyford regularly. He keeps his eye on us but we know how to avoid him, so we went down the river to play on the island, out of his way. This island is only there when the water’s low and, if you dare, you can climb onto a pipe attached to the bridge and jump down, then you need to jump from the island onto the bank, great fun, just like The Famous Five. I love reading about The Famous Five, they have such fun.

My uncle and his family are visiting from Yorkshire at Easter and they have a car so we get to visit places like Banbury Cross, Leamington Spa and Everdon Stubbs. The family stay with my aunt and uncle up The Peak, but we have lots of visitors in our house over the time they are here because this was always the ‘family’ home.

I’m now looking for a job because I leave school in July when I shall be 15. The Careers Officer is coming to school to talk to each of us and give us some guidance on our future career. I think I’d like to learn shorthand and typing and I love English so maybe an office job. I’m ready for a new challenge.


First published in The Prattler Edition No. 442 – June/July 2021

The Story of Heyford (Extra): Football on the Village Green – Mick Parker

On April 30th 1988 the last competitive football match was played on the village Green. The opposition were fierce rivals Spratton, the result was a 1-1 draw. Mark Collins will go down in history as being the last Heyford player to score on the Green.

A historic day in the story of Heyford was recorded on video for posterity, with Ade Miller and John Gibbins braving the scaffolding structure to film the events of the afternoon. Ade was the camera man and John was our own John Motson commentating on the game. Well at least that was the plan but unfortunately he forgot to turn on the microphone.

After the game skipper Jeff Buck was presented with the Premier League trophy, as manager Chris Clarke’s side had achieved their goal of winning the league. The presentation took place outside the changing rooms which were situated in the village hall car park.

The portacabin changing rooms were soon to be uprooted and moved to the new playing fields, where although they have since been extended they still remain. The changing rooms had been purchased in 1975, after a tremendous amount of fund raising by a very strong committee, led by secretary Eric Miller, along with players and supporters. Fund raising such as the Tote which entailed a lot of traipsing the village on cold nights knocking on doors to sell numbers. There were also jumble sales, dances at the village hall, sponsored walks and weekly bingo hosted by Roy Pancoust.

Previously the football club had used the Baptist chapel, the youth club or on occasions the Foresters Arms cub room to change. The Foresters was very much the clubs headquarters in those days. My dad Alf Parker was landlord and football club chairman. Monthly Sunday morning committee meetings would conveniently finish at 12 o’clock opening time.

The hard work that had been put in off the field in the 70’s led the way to the club’s most successful spell. The knockout cup was won in 1974. The league was won in 1975. Then amazingly in 1976 the Blues won all 4 competitions that they had entered, the league, ko cup, Lower Junior cup and the Byfield and Bethel cup. Success brought great times and great support.

Village football was very competitive in those days. Most villages had a team, and there were regularly large crowds on the Green. Especially for the local derbies against the old enemy, Bugbrooke. Everyone that played on the Green often
reminisce about the atmosphere created.

Although it wasn’t the best surface to play on, there were many undulations, and a footpath ran across the pitch from the Pound towards the shop. A footpath which was once used on a Saturday afternoon by ladies on the way to do their shopping holding up play. The goal mouths were usually devoid of grass, due to kids playing in the goal after school all week.

The ball would often get stuck under passing cars, or vehicles parked near the shops. At times a goalkeeper would be seen racing down Church Street to retrieve a ball rolling down the hill. Taking a corner from the sloping village hall side which was very close to a tree was a skill not many mastered. One player who mastered the art was the late great Martin Carnague.

We are lucky to have such a tremendous playing field in Heyford, which has taken many people a lot of time and effort to set up and maintain, but there is nothing like playing on the Green.

The earliest records of HAFC playing on Green is 1908. So there was at least 80 years of competitive football played in the centre of the village creating many memories. I’m sure not all good but many were.

Mick Parker 2021

The Story of Heyford (Extra): The Ox Hovel

The Ox Hovel

The ox-hovel was first mentioned in the sale of the farm in 1758. Several local estates were being sold by auction after the death of William, Duke of Powis. The ox-hovel seems to have been built with stone from an earlier demolished manor house. It includes several interesting features such as rounded corners and substantial stonework suggesting this was an important building on the farm.

The auction took place on Monday 13th November, 1758 and the two following days at Covent Garden. The ox-hovel and the surrounding fields were part of lot seven, up for sale for £2200 and they were brought by John Devall for £2440.

The ox-hovel was used for cattle until the mid 1970s when the farm gave up its dairy herd. Over the years the thatched roof was replaced with a corrugated iron roof. At that time this was seen as a great improvement. Since the 1970s the ox-hovel was left derelict and was subjected to various forms of anti-social behaviour and was even set on fire. Restoration work was performed.

This is a rare and interesting building the like of which is not know anywhere else in Northamptonshire and may be one of the few examples of early cattle housing buildings of this type left in the whole country.

Historic England listing:

Jez Wilson

The Story of Heyford (Extra): The Pantomime

Nether Heyford’s Tradition of Pantomime – November 1995

As we approach pantomime season it is worth reminding ourselves that there has been a pantomime in Nether Heyford almost every year since 1969.

The article below written by Joan Juland (November 1995) gives us an insight into the enjoyment given by the Monday Club pantomime to both the audience and performers.

This year, as usual, the Heyford Players continue the tradition with ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” – Performances will be: 7.30 pm on Friday 26th January, and at 2.30 pm and 7.30 pm on Saturday 27th.  

The Monday Club pantomimes began in a small way, but grew and grew, and still continue now under the Heyford Players. They started as an alternative to a Christmas party, and were put on in December” mainly because we wanted the worry of it out of the way before settling down to arranging the family Christmas, later they were presented in January so that the main rehearsals were done in the quiet time after New Year. The list to date reads thus:  

  • 1969 Red Riding Hood
  • 1970 Goldilocks and the Three Bears
  • 1971 Jack and the Beanstalk 
  • 1972 Cinderella
  • 1973 Sleeping Beauty
  • 1974 Dick Whittington
  • 1975 Hey Diddle Diddle
  • 1976 Aladdin
  • 1978 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  • 1980 Beauty and the Beast
  • 1981 Mother Goose in Space
  • 1982 Alice in the Underworld
  • 1983 Robinson Crusoe
  • 1984 Snow White
  • 1985 Old King Cole
  • 1986 Jack The Giant Killer
  • 1987 Cinderella
  • 1988 Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood
  • 1989 Aladdin
  • 1990 Peter Pan and the Magic Snowman  

At this point the Monday Club decided to finish doing Pantomimes mainly because our membership numbers had fallen so much that we had many more ‘co-opted‘ members purely to take part in the Pantomime than we had members.   

The Heyford Players were then formed and they have continued the tradition ever since with the following:  

  • 1991 Dick Whittington
  • 1992 The Adventures of Alice
  • 1993 Sleeping Beauty and the Beast 
  • 1994 Ali Babe and the Forty Thieves
  • 1995 Mother Goose  

Many names that appear in the programmes for the early shows have sadly passed on, such as Reg Collins, who always enjoyed having a laugh and causing a laugh even if it wasn’t in the script. Molly Dawson who also helped with costumes in the early days, and Mike Wallis who was one of our ‘Ugly Sisters’. Many people who have since moved away, some as far as the USA namely Anne & John Martin who both took part in our events. Bev Sewell, Pam & Glyn Bowen, Suzanne Brett, Gwenda Benstead, Angela Dixon, Sheena Harland and Jeanette Purcell are names that spring to mind but I know there were many others that you will remember, not least of all Tim Short who played a memorable Dame on many occasions and I understand still does so!  

We had some ‘accidents’ during our performances that the audiences did not always know about, such as the camp bed that collapsed in Goldilocks when Dave Norrie sat on it and the Aspidestra that was dropped from a great height during a scene change and had to be hurriedly swept up, that was in our first Cinderella .

The lines of a song that Gordon Hayes had difficulty remembering so he wrote them on the back of the beam, and then couldn’t read them because of the lighting, but his wife helped him out from the audience, Kathleen had heard them so often at home she was word perfect .

Do you remember our Growing Beanstalk in Jack and the Beanstalk, and the wonderful wigs in Cinderella as well as the ballgowns. The water fountain in Dick Whittington, which Dick didn’t expect to work, but it had been rigged.

We also had our chorous girls a group of girls mostly the daughters of the cast who sang and danced as fairies or soldiers etc.

We have also had a variety of changing arrangements, for the early performances we had the green curtains pulled round the kitchen corner and had to do everything in there — boys & girls together all very friendly The cast would run down the outside of the hall round the old boiler house that used to jut out, right round to the front of the building and in through the front emergency exit which was curtained off – you can imagine how cold it was on some December nights! We also had to be very quiet, especially on Saturday afternoons when all the children were there and were very inquisitive!

We then had the comfort of the football portacabin, which also meant running through all weathers into the emergency exit. That too was all very well when they were playing away, occasionally they were at home and then we used the Baptist schoolroom — an even longer run through rain and snow!

As many of you will know we were always well supplied in the changing rooms with ‘Dutch Courage’; Sometimes it was tea or coffee, but mostly it was a little stronger, it was the only way we could get some of our cast on stage!!

We tried not to leave out the most important member of the whole show that of the pianist, who was for many years Mrs Marjorie Rogers, The first couple of shows I believe were done by Mrs Betty Sillence, and latterly by David Farmer.

A few weeks after the show we always had an excuse for a party to hold an inquest on the performance and to vow that we wouldn’t do it next year, but we nearly always did and thoroughly enjoyed it for my part for fifteen years.

I was always greatly indebted to my typist who would read my long hand scribbled scripts and make sense of them, often as many as 22 pages, also of course the scenery painters and constructors, props and sound effects which always turned up in time for the performance even if they weren’t thought of until dress rehearsal!

Of course one of the highlights of the day for the children in the early years was the arrival of Father Christmas and the gifts that he brought them.

Joan Juland

Published in The Prattler – November 1995

Newspaper Cutting – Mother Goose 1995
Hey Diddle Diddle 1975
Hey Diddle Diddle 1975 – Cast
Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs 1978
Beauty and the Beast 1980 – Jeanette Purcell, Pauline Thackray, Chris Metcalfe, Marion Williamson
Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs 1984
Cinderella 1987

Nether Heyford’s Tradition of Pantomime – Continued…..December 2020

The Pantomimes continued…….

  • 1996 Snow White
  • 1997 Cinderella
  • 1998 Aladdin
  • 1999 Babes in the Wood
  • 2000 The Emperors New Clothes
  • 2001 Jack and the Beanstalk
  • 2002 Dick Whittington
  • 2003 Peter Pan
  • 2004 Cinderella
  • 2005 Snow White in the Palace

Thanks to Sheryl Scarrott and Pauline Thackray – December 2020

The Story of Heyford (Extra): Americans put Northants village on the tourist map


Who is this and What was it all About??
Sally Smith MBE (formerly Sally Foulkes)
Students from the USA visit Nether Heyford May 1979

Recently there was a photo posted on the Heyford Facebook page, with a question “Who is this?” Several people had answered before I saw it and there is a story behind the photo.

The picture was of me taken by the Chronicle and Echo, then a much read daily local paper. There was an article on the front page in the edition printed on Tuesday May 15th 1979, 42 years ago. Margaret Thatcher had just become Prime Minister, the shop that is now Restore was the Post Office run by Mrs Blaney and the Eales family was running the “VG” store just visible in the picture, which was much smaller and their living room has now become part of the shop. There was a bus shelter since removed because of vandalism. It was a very hot early summer, hence the sun dress! Unfortunately my copy of the paper despite being in a plastic box has been attacked by a mouse, but gives the details of why I was looking quizzical.

”I was then Parish Clerk, and a letter arrived at the Post Office addressed to the “City of Nether Heyford Tourist Information Office.” Mrs Blaney gave it to me. It was a request for details of hotels or other accommodation in Nether Heyford from a Professor at Concordia College Minnesota USA. I wrote back to say we were a very small village without any hotels. They wrote back saying they really wanted to stay in Nether Heyford and after discussion with the Parish Council and other people in the village it was decided we could offer ‘B and B’ in local homes.

The students from Concordia were going to be visiting the UK and Europe on a cycling tour using backways and byeways. Their tour would start from London and take them via Bath and Stratford upon Avon en route to Cambridge, Denmark and Paris. We told them about Sulgrave Manor which would be on their route from Banbury to here so that was added to their itinerary and they arrived here in mid May, assembling on the village green to meet their hosts. We organised a tour of the Church with the Rector Alan Horsley, before everyone went off for a wash and change and evening meal with their host families. Later we all met in the games room at the Foresters Arms where local historian Ron Greenall of Leicester University gave them a lecture about Heyford and Northamptonshire, with slides, followed by games of skittles and darts, shove ha’penny and plenty of local beer. After a good “Full English” the next day the group set off for Cambridge and the rest of their European Tour. Concordia students came back to Nether Heyford several more times as they had enjoyed their visit so much.

And why did they want to come here… our village is half way between Stratford upon Avon and Cambridge, it was as simple as that!

Sally Smith MBE (formerly Sally Foulkes)

Letter published in The Prattler – December edition 2020

The Story of Heyford (Extra): Dear Diary – December 1959

December 1959

Dear Diary,

This year has been special to me because I went on a school trip to Germany for 10 days. I didn’t think I’d be able to go as it cost £20 but mum, bless her, got a job in the kitchens on the M1 building site where the offices are, so that she could pay £1 a week. I saved the £6 pocket money we were allowed to take by running errands for Mrs. Davis at The Olde Sun over to Sid Capel’s butchers shop. There were 12 Marks to the Pound so we had to work out roughly how much things cost. We had to take extra clothes including spare shoes, 2 handkerchiefs and a full change of underwear. I bought a 12 film for my Brownie camera. We stayed in Boppard on The Rhine, visiting several interesting places including Cologne Cathedral where I have a photo of me and Jane at the top with a view of The Rhine. I’ll never forget this wonderful experience.

Christmas is nearly here and the girls in my class each made a Christmas cake at school, a picture of which was in the Chronicle & Echo. This year I have some money to buy my own presents so I’m meeting my friend Janet in town on Saturday to shop. We’ll start at Woolworths I think. Mum and Dad are planning an evening at the pub because they are open until 11 o’clock, half hour more than other nights so I shall write out my Christmas cards and wrap my presents when I get home. I hope we’ve got plenty of brown paper and string.

On Sunday we are having a Christmas concert in church and the choir have been rehearsing. It’s mostly Christmas carols, just one short anthem, and everybody joins in. I’m looking forward to this. The crib is in place where everybody can see it and the ladies will fill huge pots with Christmas roses and holly. Mum and Dad are even coming for a change.

I warned the chickens that they don’t have long left as dad is hoping to pluck and draw one for Christmas lunch. I dare say I shall help him. He’ll wring its neck, which I don’t watch, then he gets me to hold it while he pulls out its innards (they don’t half stink), then there’ll be feathers everywhere when he plucks it. He’ll pick the Brussels ‘yuk’, carrots and spuds from the garden and the Christmas pudding is made – we all had a stir for luck. Hope I get the silver thrupenny bit again this year, it’s usually in my piece, I must just be lucky. If my cousin comes I bet he’ll get one as well, though he’s only 4 so he could swallow it.

We have a huge table in our living room so we can seat us all round it for dinner. We have some home-made Crackers to pull, a tin of salmon for tea plus the Christmas cake I made, and plenty of coal in the shed for the fires, one in the living room and one in the front room, which is a rarity. After dinner I bet we have a sing song. Mum will play the piano and we join in the songs we all know. Her latest favourites are Three Coins in a Fountain by Frank Sinatra and Oh My Pappa by Eddie Fisher, then she’ll revert back to the good old War songs that the oldies know, and Christmas Carols of course. I wish she’d learn to play a bit of Elvis Presley.

After this the grown-ups will fall asleep, especially if they’ve had a beer or a glass of sherry and I might help my cousin do a bit of colouring because he will no doubt get a new colouring book and pencils for Christmas, that’s to keep him quiet for a while I expect. I might read my School Friend with Dilly Dream which my auntie usually buys me and my cousin will probably get a book as well. Neither of us know what else we’ll get because we don’t get to choose, we get whatever our parents can afford, but we drop hints. All we need now is a bit of snow.


Letter published in The Prattler – December edition 2020

The Story of Heyford (Extra): Bob Smith’s Memories

Lower Heyford known now as Nether Heyford is a village steeped in history. When I first moved here in October 1964 the village was quite different to what it is today.

We moved into 75 Furnace Lane, a chalet bungalow, opposite was the dairy field with a big house owned by the sisters Green. There were 2 big houses as you came down the road from the A5 on the right hand side, and a bungalow owned by Pinky Lilley on the left. From the bungalow, the field reached down to the council houses.

On our side of the road we were next to the big houses. Our houses had just been built by Mr Howe, a former constable who came from Luton. I think that there were six chalet bungalows built in all. They led down to the council houses on the right of Furnace Lane.

Coming into the centre of the village was the Green which is I’m told is the largest green in the country. Surrounding the village green were thatched houses, the Baptist chapel, school, village hall and a few houses. Opposite Furnace Lane is Church Street where I now live.

There was a shop on the corner which once was owned by Major and Mrs Blaney. Next to the shops was a house that used to be a chapel and when we moved into the village, an old thatched house was next to a bigger chapel that used to be run as a Youth Club. The shop next door was owned by Mrs Court but was run by Mrs Highfield and there was a small fish and chips place just between the chapel and the shop.

The 3 storey house next to the shop had a row of houses which are now no more and next to them was an old forge which was used later for a garage. The thatched house was beautiful and had a well with wrought iron covers just inside the entrance.

This is the true centre of Heyford.

On the road to the church, there was a bakery which used to cook the congregations Yorkshire puds while they were in church, a wheelwright, the co-op and another small shop next to the jitty and also a ladder makers as well.



Bob Smith

Letter published in The Prattler – December edition 2020