Memories of Stock - NORMA VICTOR (née Windley)
Memories of Stock In The Fifties and Sixties
Us Windleys, Norman, Joan and myself; Norma, moved to Stock from Boreham in March 1951 when I was eighteen months old. I have two very early memories, the first is going to the village hall to get a new ration book and the chair mum sat me on folding up with me! The other is the Coronation in 1953. The celebrations were dampened only slightly by the rain. I was supposed to enter the fancy dress as the Queen of Hearts, but mum decided that neither my health nor my crepe paper costume, complete with tray of home made jam tarts, would benefit from the poor weather. The celebrations took place in a field next to Greenwoods and there was maypole dancing. The Congregational minister's youngest daughter, Lesley Turner, was given a maypole ribbon to hold in her pram. There was a tea for all the children in the old barn that stands at the corner of Common Road.
We loved our house at Brookmans Road and dad grew every vegetable imaginable and a good deal of soft fruit too in the enormous garden that ran down to the meadows at the back. That was where Miss Cook kept her riding school ponies and I often went with dad to collect manure or to pick blackberries. We also took frequent walks in the woods in Swan Lane to shovel barrows of leaf mould for the garden or gather chestnuts. I remember the glorious bluebells too but I never much liked to pick them as they always wilted so quickly. When my grandfather died in 1958 my grandmother, Lilian Gowers, came to live with us and stayed with my parents until her death at the age of ninety-two in 1976. My other granny, Agnes Windley, lived in the almshouses which still had outside privies and poor old dad had the unenviable task of emptying the lavatory pail once a week! Mum's two best friends were Phyllis Cator, who still lives at Brookmans and Grace Doe. Charlie Doe was involved in some repairs to the windmill and wrote mine and his son Stephen's initials on one of the beams. Mum and Grace often did the refreshments for jumble sales and whist drives at the village hall and occasionally cricket teas in the old pavilion on the common, (Charlie was in the village cricket team at the time). Sometimes they teamed up with another neighbour, Edie Waddicor, and did the catering for weddings.
After I had started school mum took a part time job with Grace, working for the Macbeths, (Noel and Enid), who lived at Five Houses in Mill Road. We borrowed their caravan which was kept at Little Holland and had two wonderful seaside holidays along with the Doe family.
When I started school in 1955 the infant's school was still at the Rectory Hall and Miss Holland was the teacher. I then progressed to Miss Scales' class at Stock C of E Primary. The Reverend Tatham was a regular visitor and made a rather scary figure in his black berretta and long cape. The other teachers were Miss Lambon, (later to be Mrs. Bull), Mrs. Leighton and of course "Pop" Jones, the headmaster. Mr. Jones always took the singing lessons, pounding out folk songs and sea shanties on the piano. Because the school had no playing field, sports day was held at Stock Lodge in those days. Us children from the estate used to walk to school together down School Lane, sometimes stopping to play in an old "blasted" oak tree. I always felt sorry for the Savory children who had to walk all the way from Impey Hall Cottages in all weathers. There was still a blacksmith's shop in the village at this time and I used to love to stand in the doorway and watch Mr. Brown at the forge. His daughter Peggy Stripe later opened a hairdressing salon on the site. Next door to the blacksmith's was a radio shop, run by Miss Stone. We hired a portable radio from her to take on one of our seaside holidays. Mr. Bosko ran his shoe making and mending business from "St. Crispins" and his children, Peter and Lucy, had a child sized tandem. Mr. Baker owned the fish shop, greengrocers and butchers but oddly did not have a bakers shop! Bill Essen was the assistant in the butchers and he had been mum's dancing partner when she was a school girl in Margaretting. The village had a second butchers shop at this time, Wrights, (later to be Shiner's antique shop), on the corner of Back Lane. Granny Gowers used to give me a shilling every week to pay into their club and she would "surprise" mum with it at Christmas. There was a multitude of grocery stores at this time, Mr. Harvey's on the corner of Swan Lane, with its grand staircase and big tins of loose biscuits at the front of the counter, Mrs. Owers', (with its Mazawattee Tea display case), and Mrs. Eves', (packets of Grape Nuts and Force), in the High Street, but my favourite was Miss Watson's, (later to be Weston's). Dried fruit and sugar were weighed and packed in blue paper bags and a tortoise shell cat often snoozed in an open sack of dog biscuits. How would that go down in these days of stringent health and safety requirements? There was also Mrs. Dearing's in Mill Road opposite Palmer's Garage, we would sometimes go there on a Sunday as it was the only shop open. Mr. Upson's cycle shop was dark and mysterious inside and outside was embellished with old advertising enamels. The Simpsons kept the paper shop and Gordon Barker was postmaster at the old Post Office. There were several adults who rode three wheel cycles at this time. Dr. Patterson's wife, Hilda, was one, there was also a rather eccentric old lady who made all of her own clothes; tweed costumes and hand knitted stockings. Another trike rider was Malcolm Smith, known as "the bee man", he wore shorts in all weathers and of course kept bees. I remember Prince Phillip's visit to open the Animal Health Trust. My school friend Ann Smith's dad was one of the scientists employed there and some years later was mentioned on the Archer's because he had discovered a cure for salmonella in sheep. Another memorable event was Admiral Haggard's funeral, all of us school children attended and a coach load of sailors arrived to fire a salute over the grave. I was occasionally allowed to visit the Cock with mum and dad and sat in the "jug and bottle" where the old ladies drank Mackeson. I remember a pot man with one hand and Trumans served straight from the wood. Behind the Cock was Miss Cook's riding stables where I would sometimes go with my friends to help clean the tack. None of us could afford riding lessons but like most little girls were pony mad. Sometimes dad would take me to the Baker's Arms on Saturday evening to pay "the club" and buy me an American cream soda, a real treat! My favourite memory of all is carol singing by the huge Christmas tree that was put up by the War Memorial every year, I do hope this tradition is still carried on!
NORMA VICTOR (nee Windley)
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