The Story of Heyford (Extra): Dear Diary – December 1949

December 1949

Dear Diary,

I’m so excited. Christmas is nearly here. The chimney sweep’s been so that Santa won’t get his suit dirty. Mr. West, the coalman has delivered a sack of coal ready for a fire in the front room on Christmas Day, and I’ve asked mum if she can send Father Christmas a letter saying I would love a doll. I’ll do it myself next year when I can write better. I’ll hang my stocking in the fireplace though. I may get an orange, some nuts or coloured pencils.

I live in a Council house in Furnace Lane, on the left, with my mum and dad. My bedroom is at the back of the house and I can see right across the fields. I can see our long back garden with a little lawn for me and our dog, Sally, to play on and dad’s vegetable patch at the bottom, and all the way down one side is a line for mum’s washing on Mondays. I like Mondays because the copper in the kitchen where mum boils the washing, smells lovely and steams up all the windows.

After Christmas it’ll be 1950 and I shall be starting school because I’m four now. I want to go to be with other children, because there’s only me, but I don’t want to leave mum on her own all day. Still, she has my grandparents, a sister and brother and lots of good neighbours in the village so she can always visit one of them. School starts when the bell rings at 9 o’clock. I shall walk down Furnace Lane, with mum of course, and cross the village green on the footpath that runs from the corner by the chapel straight across to the school. There’s another one that goes opposite to the shops. If we took that one I might be tempted to jump the stream that runs along the side of Hillside Road. Still, I just remembered, the cows are on the green some days, chomping away at the grass so we might have to walk along The Tops. She said she’ll fetch me home for dinner at 12 o’clock but I have to go again at 2 o’clock. I’ll probably fall asleep in that time; it’s so quiet while dad’s at work. He’ll be home when it gets dark for his dinner, then perhaps he’ll have a
game of snakes and ladders with me before I go to bed at 6 o’clock.

I’ve started Sunday school and we have been learning all about the baby Jesus and singing hymns. When dad fetches me home we go up Church Lane to see Mr. Potter’s horse. It’s a big horse and it pulls the milk cart round the village so that we all have fresh milk delivered to our door. The lady who delivers it doesn’t need to tell the horse when to stop, it knows.

Well, I’m about to have one of my Nan’s boiled eggs with soldiers for my tea. She has lots of hens in her orchard and I help her collect the eggs sometimes. It’s about this time of year that they seem to die, maybe they get too cold.

Polly

Letter published in The Prattler – December 2019

 

Letters: Happy Days – October 2019

Happy Days

The semi-detached dormer houses in Church Lane were built by Adkins and Shaw in the late 1960’s. After our wedding in 1967, Tony and I moved into No. 4 which was bought for the princely sum of £3,295. At that time most of the occupants of these houses were like us, newlyweds or not long married with young children. The land on which the houses were built had been owned by a Mr Potter whose widow lived at No. 3. The builders had not been able to develop the rest of the field because it was too low to support a sewer which is why the houses have long gardens.

At that time, the late Dennis Clarke who lived at the old bakery in Furnace Lane had a van from which he used to come round the village selling vegetables, fruit and fresh fish. He would park up in Church Lane and firstly visit Mrs Potter who was elderly and not able to walk too well. She in turn would have a cup of tea ready for him and so they would sit and chat and chat. In the meantime, all the potential customers were either waiting patiently or not so patiently for Dennis to appear. We became used to this routine and did not wait at the van unless we too wanted a chat but would keep checking to see if Dennis had appeared. But despite the wait, it was worth it just alone for the hand sized pieces of Plaice he sold, which were delicious steamed and loved by our children. Happy days indeed.

Maureen Wright

 

Dennis Bell

“I’ve still got the bell that Dennis used to ring when he parked up to start selling”

Trev Clarke

The Story of Heyford (Extra): Church Lane 1960’s Happy Days

Happy Days

The semi-detached dormer houses in Church Lane were built by Adkins and Shaw in the late 1960’s. After our wedding in 1967, Tony and I moved into No. 4 which was bought for the princely sum of £3,295. At that time most of the occupants of these houses were like us, newlyweds or not long married with young children. The land on which the houses were built had been owned by a Mr Potter whose widow lived at No. 3. The builders had not been able to develop the rest of the field because it was too low to support a sewer which is why the houses have long gardens.

At that time, the late Dennis Clarke who lived at the old bakery in Furnace Lane had a van from which he used to come round the village selling vegetables, fruit and fresh fish. He would park up in Church Lane and firstly visit Mrs Potter who was elderly and not able to walk too well. She in turn would have a cup of tea ready for him and so they would sit and chat and chat. In the meantime, all the potential customers were either waiting patiently or not so patiently for Dennis to appear. We became used to this routine and did not wait at the van unless we too wanted a chat but would keep checking to see if Dennis had appeared. But despite the wait, it was worth it just alone for the hand sized pieces of Plaice he sold, which were delicious steamed and loved by our children. Happy days indeed.

Maureen Wright