Portrait of a Parish - Page 27

Reminiscences of Terry Love - 1940's/1950's


In 1947 my father left his civil engineering job to take up farming, whereupon we moved to Woodlands. It was a good living in a village in the post-war years. It was a community then, before the days of widespread television and the erection of vast, ugly buildings. People made their own fun and went to the village school. Kids walked in from all over the areas to attend class presided over by Mrs. Johnson and her Jack Russell, Kimmy. She was strict some of the time, but most of the time wasn't, so things would sometimes get out of hand and classes were quite large with a fair percentage of evacuee kids from South Africa. Goodness knows how they came to be there. At one end of the room was a big pot belly stove and the older kids took turns to light it before class and keep the big coke bucket filled during the day. Even now I can smell the warm gassy odour of that stove.

Mrs. Coomes ran the village shop in Julian Cottages. A dark flagstone passage led to the big wooden counter with the rounded top. Jars of boiled sweets lined the back shelves and three old pennies bought you a small block of Walls Cornish - proper ice-cream with wafers thrown in the deal.

Freemans flock mill was in full swing and the mill house must have been a time warp. I remember two bronze cannons guarded the conservatory whilst the coach-house contained a wonderful open landau and a couple of penny-farthing bikes, and in the outhouse was a horse-drawn doctor's gig complete with harness.

The railway ran through the middle of the house! Well it would if it was still running today. It used to run through the bottom of the village and the station and goods yards were intact until the fifties. A couple of crossing gates spanned the road to the mill and, if memory still serves, a midday coal train was still running up until the time of the Beeching vandalism. The station was a good place to hang out, for you could catch newts from a slate tank behind the waiting-room and, depending on the driver, you could sometimes get a ride on the G.W.R. tank engine - called Clank - as far as the bridge crossing the brook on the lower Stoke road. The driver would make an unscheduled stop and kids would clamber off and gallop back along the line to the station.

Terry Love: page 25 - page 26 - page 27 - page 28

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