Portrait of a Parish - Page 7

50 Years Ago

The second World War hit the villagers of Monkton Combe when Operation Pied Piper came into being and many poor children from the East End of London were evacuated to the West country. Monkton Combe had its fair share of children, who were housed in the Village Hall and allocated to the good people of Monkton. Some were very lucky and went to homes far above their station of life and it must have been a shock for them. The air raid siren of course broke the peace of the valley most nights of the week as the German bombers passed over on their way to attack Bristol. Lots of people who lived at the top end of Monkton took their family, armed with blankets, candles etc. and made their way into the quarries at Bathite, where they sheltered until the all clear siren sounded; a lot of fun for the children, but very tiring for the poor mums. After the weekend of raids and destruction on Bath lots of families were homeless and some of them found their way to Monkton where they were housed in the Village Hall. One young family found a home with the local Vicar - a very colourful character! Luckily there were no fatalities among the young men who went to fight, only one young man who was killed in an accident just after the war and there is a plaque to his memory in the church.

The Village School flourished, children attended between the ages of 5 years to 11 years. It was very cold in winter, a pot bellied coke stove stood in the middle of the room and the children huddled round it for warmth. At playtime they drank their one third of a pint of milk, frozen in winter and luke warm in the summer. The shop was efficiently run at 1 Julian Cottages and brought delight to the children as they spent their old pennies on delicious boiled sweets, housed in round glass jars. The Mill was in full swing, where they made flock from old clothes. Often the children got foreign coins which came from the pockets of the clothes, so goodness only knows where the garments came from.

Fame came to the village when Ealing Studios decided to make a film about a country railway called The Titfield Thunderbolt, which is a classic and can be seen on video. It shows the station and surrounding countryside before it was swamped under an all weather sports pitch. The star of the show cruised round the village in a pink Cadillac - much to everyone's delight - and many of the village people had bit parts in the film.

50 years ago: page 7 - page 8 - page 9

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