Memories of Stock - Jim Sargant
As the Garage site was redeveloped several years ago, I thought you may be interested in the following piece.
The Sargant family moved to the Garage soon after World War Two started in 1939 and the sketch shows the layout ofnthe property - all very much from memory and certainly not to scale. The bungalow was probably built in the 1920s, definitely before the petrol pumps were in place and maybe before there was a garage at all. The original bungalow consisted of four rooms, each roughly one quarter of a square, linked by a central tiny lobby, the entire walls of which were taken up by the four doors. A fifth room, the kitchen, led off the living room. Before the advent of mains water, the kitchen was served by a hand pump from a well in the back garden. Stock Garage from the 30/40s
Click on picture for full size
When the petrol pumps were installed, the kitchen and living room had been on the opposite side of the dwelling, so another kitchen was built onto the opposite side of the bungalow and what had been a bedroom became the living room. The new kitchen was a lean-to construction of brick with a corrugated iron roof. It was long and very narrow. A brick-built solid-fuel copper and an old deep sink were permanent fixtures. Behing the copper was a stained glass window, which had originally been on the outside wall of what was now the living room. The window had been in a shallow recess, now enclosed by a pair of doors in the new living room, and this was our medicine cupboard.
Outside the kitchen, you entered a lean-to glass-covered structure - rather like what would today be termed a conservatory. We called it 'the glass place'. The original living room became our drawing room and doubled as a bedroom. It was different from the other rooms in that it had french doors leading to a small verandah overloking the back garden.
The original kitchen became a small bedroom, but there was a distinct hazard if you sat up in bed suddenly. You tended to whack your head on the pump! This room had originally had a window looking onto the back garden. As part of the rebuilding, a lean-to bathroom had been added, so this window now opened into the bathroom. Pretending to open the window while my sister Kath was having a bath was a sure way of getting her annoyed! Further building work had enclosed the yard outside the old kitchen, bringing the outside toilet inside.
The sketch gives a better idea of the garden that a written description but a few points are worth expanding upon. In the back garden, with one end butting onto the wall of the garage, was a very small 'swimming' pool - only about 10ft x 4ft. A little way into the garage was a vehicle inspection pit. This was in a direct line with the pool, so maybe the pool was originally larger before the garage was erected. In the centre of the back garden was a raised circular rockery, in the middle of which was a manhole cover - the lid to the well.
To the east of the bungalow was a fir-sized side garden. Towards the front and behind the petrol pumps was a line of small trees and large shrubs. Much of this garden was enclosed by a thick laurel hedge, although nearer the bungalow bounding on the garage yard was an espalier apple tree which produced huge very sweet eating apples. The troube was that by the time they were fully ripe, the wasps had usually invaded them.
The forecourt in Mill Road on the corner of Well Lane consisted of a D-shaped bed in the centre of which grew a large monkey puzzle tree. A two-way shingle drive was flanked by three hand-powered petrol pumps, plus oil dispensing cabinets - Castol and Pratts were two I recall. Between the pumps and the line of trees and bushes were the manholes giving access to the underground petrol storage tanks.
The entrance to the garage workshop and yard was in Well Lane. The main building was brick-built with two pairs of large double doors and a pedestrian-sized side door leading to the bungalow. Alongside the main building at the far end was a large wooden workshop which had seen better days. Between the garage yard and the side garden, alongside the hedge, carboys of acid and distilled water were kept for topping-up batteries and accumulators.
On the opposite side of the path alongside and partially overhanging the kitchen, was a gage-plum tree which produced delicious fruit - really large and very juicy. Like the apples, however, the were particularly attractive to wasps. As I grew older, i used to climb the tree and scramble onto the kitchen roof. In the wall above the kitchen was a window - the only source of light into the attic.
The Sargants left the garage in 1953.
Jim Sargant
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