|Transcript Title||Wingate, Doreen and Michael (O1994.22)|
|Interviewee||Doreen Wingate (DW) and Michael Wingate (MW)|
|Interviewer||Peter Ruffles (PR)|
|Transcriber by||Jean Riddell|
Hertford Oral History Group
Recording no: O 1994.22
Interviewee: Doreen Wingate (DW) and Michael Wingate (MW)
Venue: The Hollies, 38, Queens Rd
Date: 27th August, 1994
Interviewer: Peter Ruffles (PR)
Transcribed by: Jean Riddell
************** = unclear recording
[discussion] = untranscribed material
PR: It's Saturday morning the 27th August, 1994 and I've called in at short notice at The Hollies, 38, Queens Rd. the home of Michael and Doreen Wingate. We're almost in the garden which I saw last evening when I came. It's an absolute picture and it's a squareish garden for a town house and it is beautiful. We're in the modern conservatory. Doreen was looking at the garden and she's contemplating persuading Michael to remove a chimney stack and put in a new window. And there are various statues including one ….
DW: …. Leslie Purkiss-Ginn left us the sundial which is an old font which came from St. Leonard's Church ….
MW: No, it's more interesting than that, Maidenhead Street, Hertford. A church dismantled. I don't remember the name of it. There was Hertford on each side of the river, where Millbridge now is. There was Hertford north of it and there was Hertford south of it, each side of the river and on the south side near Maidenhead Street there was a church and I think I'm right in saying that that font came from it, that church and it was Purkiss-Ginn who acquired it somehow and had it in his garden when he lived at the bottom of Queen's Road in a house called The Nut Walk and that font is now in our garden and we use it as a sundial.
PR: And it sets off the garden scene very well!
DW: I don't know where I got St. Leonard's Church from.
PR: Well, same sort of …. age!
DW: An old church.
PR: St. Nicholas' Church, virtually on the site of Woolworth's.
MW: And that's where that sundial came from.
PR: I'm jolly glad it's still in Hertford!
MW: Yes, amazing isn't it.
PR: Now, the real reason for coming is just to sketch in some of the things that will interest people about the families, the Garratt family and the Wingate family and the Ginns. That's very much part of the Hertford scene and your family, Doreen, is very much part of the Hertford background. Could you just explain your family?
DW: My father was a Wyard and he first came from London to Bengeo and he had one of the first cars in Hertford and it was a car used for delivering yeast products for bakers. A van I suppose it would have been, I don't know what it looked. Like. I haven't got a picture of it. So they'd lived in Hertford for a long, long time ….
MW: …. but they were not Hertfordians.
DW: They weren't Hertfordians, no. And then my father had , I call it a 'go down.' What do you call it, a warehouse, in Abbiss's garage to keep all his equipment and stores for the bakeries. And so they came to Hertford to live, from Bengeo, and we were born. I think I can say that I was born in Market Place over the top of the shop that was called Westropes, and it was, um ….
MW: It's now the Halifax Building Society.
PR: After it was Westropes it became ….
PR: Howard Roberts!
MW: Oh, Howard Roberts?
DW: Oh, yes, it was Westropes when we were living there and they were flats and I was born in this flat and opposite was the Town Hall.
DW: The seedy side, probably the dungeons, where they used to take the prisoners in.
PR: You were born very much in the heart of ….
DW: In the heart of Hertford, almost in the market place, yes!
PR: Oh! Well, we won't at this point go into how you met, but it would be nice to know.
DW: Well, we left that place after that and for many years we lived in West Street in a house which had a garden which used to run down to the river, the River Lea. The one that runs through the Castle grounds. 18, West Street! It's now flats. But I met Michael because his mother and I joined the Operatic and Dramatic Society when I was quite young because they needed dancers to do merrymaking concerts for the troops. And I was only about fifteen I suppose, I wasn't, I should have been seventeen but because the war was on and they couldn't get any girls because people of seventeen and over probably were having to go to the war, I was fifteen and I was allowed to join and (was) looked after very well by all the top people. And we were taken down to all these hush-hush camps and we did a series of concerts for all the troops in Hertfordshire. (Pause!).
PR: Gosh! (Laughter!)
DW: Oh, that isn't how I met Michael, though. I knew Michael's mother. She used to produce plays and she asked me if I would be in one of her plays and it think it was 'Hands Across the Sea' but I'm not sure if it was that one. And I was in that play and Michael must have been on leave
then and she brought you along to see the play. It was somewhere outside Hertford and in the coach I noticed this rather good-looking young man dressed as a naval officer because he looked as if he was dressed as a naval officer although I wasn't too sure at that stage. And then we got to know each other and then you came to one of the pantomimes. One of the first pantomimes that was done in Hertford by the Hertford Dramatic am Operatic Society. I was chosen to be the principal boy. I felt very proud of myself. I was about seventeen then and that's when I first met Michael,
PR: It was worth going into. What a story!
DW: Although I had seen him a long time before, when I was fifteen or sixteen then there must have been a big gap.
MW: Well, I was in the Fleet Air Arm and I obviously came home from time to time, not very often, but on this one occasion I met Doreen when she was rehearsing for this play in somebody's house.
DW: He was a huntsmanl!
MW: Oh, yes, but that was in the pantomime after the war was over.
DW: Oh, yes!
MW: After the war was over, we both happened to be in this pantomime but the earlier days we met, I was in the play.
PR: That's lovely, but let's look at the complications of the Ginns, the Wngates and the Garratts.
Shall we talk about this property and who lived in it and how you came to be here? Will that help us to understand?
MW: The Wingates are strangers to Hertford, really, but my father and his brother came from Plymouth and they came to Hertford in the First World War and it was rather strange. And my father George and his brother, Jack, came to Hertford . And you might say why did they come to Hertford, and the war was on. I think really they were in London, both in the army and Jack got to know a person called Freda Garratt, Miss Garratt, who lived in Hertford, daughter of Walter Garratt and Maud Garratt. And one weekend he must have said to his brother, George, look I'm going to
Hertford next weekend to see my girlfriend, Freda Garratt. Now, she's a sister, Betty, why don't you come with me and you and I might, we might make a forsome of it And what eventually happened Jack married Freda and my father. maried Betty. So there you had two brothers marrying two sisters. Now the connection between all of that and this house is that this house was built in 1888 by Richard Ginn who founded Richard Ginn & Son the Builders and Richard Ginn married Elizabeth Hancock. Now they had children ….
(Tape stopped whilst Michael checks the family tree.)
…. six children, and one of them was Alexander Purkiss-Ginn who became a very famous person in Hertford because he was mayor three times and Alexander Purkiss-Ginn married, his second marriage, he married Sarah Ann Garratt who was a sister of my mother's mother, getting very complicated, and we have a complication where you have Ginns and Garratts intermarrying and it's so involved that to explain it is difficult so I will in fact cease there.
This house was built by Richard Ginn and his wife Elizabeth and they lived here. 1880, it was built and they spent the rest of their lives here. Unfortunately Richard Ginn died in 1906 and he died in this house. He fell down dead one evening after dinner in the hall and his widow carried on until 1910 when she died in the bedroom upstairs which is now our bedroom. Now they had, amongst the six children, two daughters, one was called Ella and one was called Gertrude, rather funny Victorian names. Neither of them got married and they carried. on living in this house I understand, as two unmarried spinsters after their parents died and carried on living here until about 1924 and there's a little advertisement I found, a very old extract from the Hertfordshire Mercury, I suppose, and it's Miss Ginn, that is Ella, advertising the fact that she is giving lessons, lessons in drawing and painting and she gives them at The Hollies, Queens Rd. Hertford, this very house. So she must have had people coming here and she gave them lessons. And we have got one or two of her drawings and they're very good indeed.
The other interesting thing is that Elizabeth Frances Hancock, the wife of Richard Ginn who died in this house in 1910, she came from the Hancock family, obviously. Now the Hancock family were Hertfordians and there are quite a few relatives still live here or in the surroundings. Now that is a very famous name because one of her ancestors, I think it was a great uncle, a very close relative, literally a great uncle, was born in Quincy, Mass., in the United States of America. Now, why his
parents went there, I don't know. They must have decided to leave England and go to the United States and they had a son called Jack Hancock who is a very famous person indeed because he is the principal signatory of the American Declaration of Independence and if you look at a copy of that American Declaration of Independence you'll see in the centre, bigger than anybody else's signature, it says 'John Hancock' and I have here a little grapho reproduction of this which quite clearly says:
'Declaration of Independence in the United states of America …. whereas in the course of human events it becomes necessary etc ...'
and it goes on to about two hundred words and ends up
' …. to each other, our fortunes, our lives and our sacred honour'
and it's dated July 4th 1776 and all these signatories and right in the middle of it all and in bigger letters than anybody else, I don't, quite know why that should be, is John Hancock. So John Hancock was a very famous person and he was a great uncle of Elizabeth Hancock who lived in this house.
DW: And even today when Americans want someone to sign something, they say put your Johnny Hancock on this.
MW: And there is in Boston, we've never been to Boston, but there is a building called. the Hancock Building and the name is very famous. Everybody in Boston has heard of John Hancock.
PR: Even in little Hertford, of course, there has been a Mayor Hancock*. Mayor of the town.
*James Hancock 1850
DW: Has there?
PR: I'm pretty sure. I must look at the list again to be certain. So, I'm very, very, pleased you've given me this time because it’s just given us a framework.
DW: Well you wouldn't think it would be very interesting apart from the Hancock
PR: Well it is, because you see, the civic thing, the Hertford civic thing alone is important and the family link. So, we've taken the house, if we follow that line ….
MW: But let me just interrupt. You may wonder why we live here. It was never left to me in anybody's will or anything. When Gertrude and Ella Ginn, the unmarried spinsters, finally left this house in 1924 they sold it. As far as I know they sold it to the man who owns a very nice grocer's shop in Hertford called Bates. Bates was a lovely shop where there is now ….
PR: A Turkish restaurant. It has an Egyptian ….
MW: It's the building with the Egyptian roof. That was Bates Brothers and Mr. Bates bought this house from Ella and Gertrude Ginn in 1924 and I lived here for some years and then I think it was rented to people and finally my cousin, Christopher Wingate bought the house. That is Freda Garratt, who became Freda Wingate, her son Christopher. He was living in Bengeo at the time. He bought this house and lived in it only for four years and by that time Doreen and I were living abroad. We were living in Japan. I was employed by Shell International Petroleum and we heard that Christopher was living in this house and furthermore he wrote to us and said look I'm leaving it because we are going to change jobs and location, are you interested in buying it? And we were very interested indeed. We were in Japan at the time and it's a bit difficult to visualise it, but we bought it. My mother acted as a go-between and signatory and I can't quite remember the details of signing the contract. She must have signed it for us. I must have given her power of attorney. And when we came back on leave the house was ours, and so really you can say we bought this house from Christopher Wingate who bought the house from Bates, who had bought it from Gertrude Ginn, who inherited it from their father and he was the one who built it, so it was in the family and out of the family. now it's come back into the family.
PR: Very happily, yes.
MW: And now we'll probably stay here indefinitely.
PR: Well, I should think so!
DW: Hope we don't die in the hall!
…. drop dead in the hall!
PR: Well, yes, what better! Now, at school with me at the back here, was Andrew Wingate ….
MW: Yes, Well, Andrew Wingate was the son of Christopher Wingate and he lived obviously in this house.
PR: But only for four years. I hadn't realised it was such a short time.
MW: Yes, only for four years. I think when one thinks of school days it seems an awful long time. Three years is a lifetime when you're at school.
PR: And it was at the end of this garden where he had his horrific experimental accident with the fireworks.
DW: In that shed!
MW: Andrew Wingate was obviously living almost next door to his school, and what he used to do and at lunchtime he would jump over the fence and go into the shed which was there at the bottom of the garden with friends, and unknown to his mother during the day. She was shopping and generally doing her normal housewifely duties and these two boys or three boys during the dinner hour. She thought they were at school having dinner, but they weren't. They climbed over the fence and were mucking about in the shed and they were making home made bombs. All boys seemed to do this, ramming chemicals down copper pipes or steel pipes. And, of course, it blew up and it blew off all the fingers off his right hand. And so to this day ….
DW: … just the top notches.
MW: Just the top bands.
PR: I was invited to be part of that expedition because we were friends.
DW: Oh, were you?
PR: At school!
MW: What, you might have been?
PR: I might well have been. Well I would have been, I expect, though I hadn't come previously. You suggested that it was a fairly regular event. It may have been that this was a particularly important conclusion, as it were.
DW: Well, he was doing the last banging of it ….
PR: Yes, I knew. I can't remember clearly now, how much I knew before the event, but I knew that there was to be this sortie. But I was away. I think I had 'flu or something. I was very rarely at home, but I was in Hertingfordbury Road in bed and I heard, that lunchtime, and heard the bang.
) Did you really?
PR: I didn't, of course, know it's source was here.
DW: No! Was it that loud?
PR: It was a very big bang.
DW: Good heavens! I know the shed hasn't been the same since.
PR: And I went to see him. I remember stupidly. I felt daft at the time. I feel even dafter now, calling round. This doesn't tie up. We'll have to look at the date of it. But I took a potted plant to the hospital. He was in the County Hospital. Now why a chap should take a potted plant to another chap ….
DW: Well, you wanted to say how sorry you were.
PR: It was the wrong sort of gift to bear really and I thought it was a blue hyacinth and if this was a firework in season there wouldn't have been blue hyacinths about.
MW: It wasn't a firework in season, it was just a bomb.
DW: We were living in Aden at the time, weren't we?
MW: Yes, We were living in Aden at the time. I was still with Shell.
DW: But the other boy who was involved was called Rayment, in Hertingfordbury Road.
PR: Yes, Rodney Rayment.
MW: Was he hurt?
)No, no one else was hurt, only Andrew.
PR: There was Johnny Fardell, the County Architect's son was also, if not present, invited. he was one of the ….
DW: Well, boys will be boys, that's what they say.
PR: Oh, yes.
MW: But Andrew was the ringleader of this and there was a pipe and I understand that he gripped the pipe with his left hand. And then he had a hammer and he rammed the explosives into this pipe and they blew up and a splinter of metal just missed his eye by half an inch. But he was scarred up there. But because he was holding the hammer and because his hand was near the blast the tips of his right hand fingers blew off and to this day he's like that. And funnily enough, we stayed with them. They emigrated. He lives in Edmonton, in Canada, And obviously, he's just the same with his fingers, but ....
End of side A
PR: He's developed ….
MW: …. he's developed a system, you'd never know, he can do anything.
DW: …. in repose, his hand's almost like that, so you'd never know.
MW: He can write. In fact he's a very keen DIY person, he makes all sorts of things. He's very keen on cars and motor bikes and building things, so the fact that he's lost all his fingers doesn't seem to have affected him at all.
DW: I think he's particularly lucky because his fingers were very long and long from here to here so he's lost those top ones, but ….
PR: He's still got a perfectly useful hand, yes. Could we just mention the work of the families? We've mentioned the Ginns and. founding the, what became a very reputable, and I'm sure it has from the start, building firm in St. Andrew St.
MW: Yes, Richard Ginn & Sons, Builders! They successfully built the Grammar School. It was their biggest project ever. Unfortunately the thing doesn't exist anymore because of the building of Gascoyne Way. It removed the house in which Leslie Purkiss-Ginn lived, The Nut Walk, and it also removed their business premises, right in the middle, really, of Gascoyne Way and because of that Leslie Purkiss-Ginn was disgusted and fed up with the whole thing and they went and lived in Exmouth. That's the Ginns.
PR: But was that business always on that St. Andrew St. site?
PR: A great uncle of mine was a foreman for Ginns.
MW: Oh, really?
PR: William Childs, photographed wearing a bowler hat.
DW: Actually, you did some woodwork training there.
MW: After I left school I did go there for a few months to do a little bit of training. And then the other family, the Garratts. The Garratts and the Ginns were so interwoven, they operated Sele Flour Mill opposite the County Hospital. The building is still there but it's closed down. And this went on for three or four generations. It started in Walkern and moved to Hertford. It operated right up until about two years ago when it actually, the business moved and all the capital and the whole moved to Holbeach in Lincs. becau88 the site in North Rd. opposite the County Hospital was too small.
(Then followed an account of Michael and Doreen's son, who started his career in Shell at sea in oil tankers, then to Garratt's, then left to mill in MaIden.)
PR: Did Simon Garratt keep the final interest as it were, on this site?
MW: Yes, Simon was a major shareholder. My son had a few shares, but I think he sold those back to Simon. He was instrumental in moving it to Holbeach. Recently it wasn't financially viable there and it was sold to Northern Foods Ltd., and Simon and all the other directors stayed with Northern Foods for a year, or they had the opportunity of working for Northern Foods for a year. That's now elapsed and they've all retired. That's Simon and his finance man and his accountant.
PR: We'd better give the pedigree of Simon, as it were. He was the son of ….
MW: Simon Garratt was the son of Jack Garratt and his wife Betty and Jack Garratt was a first cousin of my mother because (Jack's) father was Douglas Garratt and my mother's father was Walter Garratt. Douglas and Walter were brothers.
PR: You did that very slickly!
DW: Getting nearer to home!
PR: Now, that's business. There's one person, when I worked at Farnham's the Newagents for a long happy time as a newspaper boy from about the age of eleven and until long after I'd started teaching at Broxbourne and I was churchwarden at St. Andrew's, behind the counter on Saturday mornings. The best thing in my life. I loved it so much, that's a slight exaggeration.
PR: Where was this?
PR: Farnham's on Old Cross and opposite Mary the Less fountain.
MW: Oh,yes, it's still there.
PR: A regular daily visitor to pick up a Telegraph that was kept in the shop was Miss Slade.
MW: Miss Slade?
PR: And she always fascinated me because of her quiet, gentle, almost genteel manner. But she would come in and pick up the Telegraph. I think, and you must correct me, she worked for Pauline Garratt.
DW: Because they lived together.
MW: Yes, because Miss Slade is a strange person when you come to think of it today. She was born in Ware. She got her first job at the age of fifteen. She went into service and became the cook of my mother' mother, Maud Garratt, and they lived in Castle Street. So in this household in Castle Street there was Walter Garratt and his wife, Maud and my mother and Betty and Freda and Pauline. This was the same Betty and Freda that Jack and George Wingate got involved with, but Emily Slade was the cook and stayed on being cook for her whole life. Maud Garratt died,. Walter Garratt died and the family all split up until eventually just Pauline was left as a spinster sister. She couldn't carry on in Castle Street keeping the house - this incidentally was the house the Culls bought. The three Cull brothers bought that house and Pauline left there and went to live in Bengeo, in Farquhar Street, and Pauline took with her Emily Slade still as the cook. At this time Pauline was getting old and Emily was getting old and Pauline was an avid reader of the Telegraph and I can only assume that part of Emily Slade's duties was to go and get it. Don't know why they didn't have it delivered.
PR: No! There was a perfectly good delivery service to Farquhar Street, number 5, I think it was.
DW: I think she probably liked having the walk.
MW: The extraordinary thing about Emily Slade was that in her whole life with one exception she only ever went to Ware and Hertford. She was born in Ware and she worked in Hertford at Castle Street and I suppose every week she was given the day off and could catch the train and went back to Ware to visit her parents and they probably died but she still went back to Ware every weekend by train.
PR: Doreen's just ....
DW: We've found her railway ticket!
MW: I've got in front of me one of the tickets she used. Great Eastern Railway, Ware to Hertford. 2d. is the fare. Third class. Valid on day of issue only - July 17th, 1918. She would then have been about twenty. She would have been working in Hertford for about four or five years and this is obviously one of her tickets home.
PR: That's managed to survive the ….
MW: 2d! In those days a cook would probably have been earning about £25 to £30 a year which doesn't sound very much but on the other hand this ticket's only 2d and it's a return and it's been clipped. So her life, for many, many years involved just Hertford and Ware and she never went anywhere else but there was one exception. The Hertford Convalescent Home Trust did have a holiday home at St. Leonards on Sea, and people with not too much money were invited to go there at a very reasonable price.
DW: To recuperate. She hadn't been well.
MW: I don't know when this would have been, 20 years ago, 25 years ago. She did have a chance to go there at very reasonable cost and probably my mother and Freda paid for it, but she actually went, all the way from Hertford to St. Leonards on Sea and came back again and this was to her, more than going to Australia It was like going to the moon, going to an entirely different planet almost, St. Leonards on Sea, and she loved that and talked about it for years and years afterwards! And apart from that she'd never been anywhere but Ware and Hertford..
DW: But I must say that another lovely thing she used to do. In all her days she was living with Pauline am we lived abroad for about twenty-eight years and on Michael's birthday we often only had one card and it was always from Emily, she never forgot.
MW: Poor old Emily! Finally she got some illness and she ended up in Gallows Hill Hospital which is there today and she died there and we went to the funeral and she is buried in Ware, in the cemetery.
PR: Back home to Ware. I can picture her, quite a little woman, and very, very quiet and the story as you told it so clearly is a picture, a moving picture
DW: She knew more about the family than we did. She told us a lot of these stories.
MW: One very sad thing. She did have a boyfriend during WWI. She would have been eighteen or nineteen and he was the same sort of age, and he was killed. And being of that generation, she didn't think it was right to get another boyfriend and marry somebody else. She was loyal to this
chap and probably only knew him for a few months, and she was loyal to him for the whole of her life.
DW: He worked at Richard Ginn's.
MW: Yes, that's right. He was one of the carpenters at Richard Ginn. So it's rather sad. She lived the life of a spinster. In fact she was quite old when she died. she was seventy-five or eighty.
PR: Yes, I would think she was quite that. She looked that age when she was regularly coming into the shop.
MW: She never looked any different to me, for the whole of my life. She looked very small, rather pointed face and glasses, ageless, colourless hair drawn back with a comb and wearing rather ordinary simple modest clothes.
DW: A modest person!
PR: Before I go, I really will run.
PR: Thanks for …. the other areas where your family names come up regularly, of course, is St. Andrew's Church history and you've lived in All Saints' parish, but your mother, and Freda and various others were very staunch St. Andrew's.
MW: And particularly Pauline.
PR: I'd forgotten about Pauline .
MW: Pauline used to go to church, every, single Sunday and once during the week as far as I know. Always sat in the back pew. I don't quite know why, but she always did. In a fawn, usually wearing fawn things, low heeled shoes and thick stockings and she was always the last one to go up for communion. Didn't want to queue with everybody else. She waited for everybod.y else to finish then she would go up.
PR: Was it the churchmanship that attracted the family?
DW: I think your mother used to say it was more of a high church.
MW: My mother was very pro St. Andrew's Church and so was Freda. And Freda when she got married to Jack they left and went and lived in Thorpe Bay near Southend-on-Sea. My mother spent all her life in Hertford and had been to St. Andrew's the whole of her life, but finally, age took over, and she was living at 3, Queens Rd. Hertford which is within a stone's throw of All Saints' Church and so purely out of convenience she decided she'd go to All Saints'.
PR: Yes, she did, but she didn't sever certain contacts with St. Andrew's. She remained on the electoral roll at St. Andrew's and received magazines.
MW: She was I think rather upset at having to leave and there and again, when she died her funeral was at All Saints' and I think she would not have liked it if she'd known.
PR: Well, yes! All Saints' had ministered to her in those important years as it were and Reggie, and they would have been good friends too.
MW: Am I right in thinking Raymond, my brother, he's unfortunately dead now, but Raymond and ?? arranged to give to St. Andrew's Church a copy of the ASB prayer book and we had a little ceremony there where Raymond and I came to this service and we presented this, ….
PR: I think it's the book that's still used now.
MW: It's rather of a big ….
DW: It's got an inscription in the front.
MW: Yes, beautifully prepared and beautifully written ASB prayer book.
PR: Betty and Nora Turnbull, who was the head of St. Andrew's School for many years, I think died at about the same time, and Nora's memorial is another book of the same, sort .
PR: Yes, I can't quite remember, certainly a link between those two important people at St. Andrew's was perpetuated. Then of course, Guide Dogs for the Blind!
MW: My mother was very, very keen. In fact her charity work for the whole of her life was dealing with the blind. She founded a thing called the Hertford Blind Club and was chairman of the Hertfordshire County Society for the Blind and was very prominent in that organisation.
And then she did Guide dogs for the Blind. She was a local organiser for Guide Dogs for the Blind.
DW: Collecting milk tops!
MW: She used to collect milk tops which were evidently ….
DW: And the smell in her front porch as you went in ....
.... sacks on either side absolutely full of um ....
PR: And one tiddy little memory in one picture. I think the Mercury took a black and white picture from the top of All Saints' tower. I think it was taken to show the line of the relief road that they were building at the time, or were about to build. Actually has a view down Betty Wingate's chimney pots and the smoke coming up and I think of her, presumably in front of a fire below, unbeknown to the photographer, and I'll show you sometime, it's of no real consequence!
MW: She loved having a coal fire though towards the end she didn't, too much.
DW: She was presented with one of the very few bronze dogs.
PR: Oh, yes!
MW: Yes, this is a little statue of a bronze guide dog on a little wooden plinth and it was presented to Mrs. R. Wingate in gratitude from Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.
PR: Now, if in 60 years’ time someone wants to look Mrs. Wingate up, B. isn't her first initial, is it?
MW: No, her initials when born were C. M. Wingate, Cecil Margaret Wingate. I suppose during her childhood she was called Betty. I don't know why, I never did discover, so she added it on to her initials. Instead of being C. M. Wingate, she made it B.C.M. Wingate. Whether it's legal or not I don't know.
DW: She didn't like being called anything else but Betty in the end.
MW: She didn't like Cecil and she didn't like Margaret.
DW: I can understand that she didn't like Cecil.
MW: But it's interesting that Doreen has carried on the good work because the Hertford Blind Club that my mother founded is still in existence and it's thriving and Doreen is on the committee of that. The Dora Taylor Club! It's called that because she did all the donkey work. My mother started it.
DW: She was a County Hall person. She was an official person from the County.
MW: Oh, was she? In this very garden we have a party for all the blind people in Hertford Blind Club. They come here about two o'clock in the afternoon, about fifteen to twenty blind people and perhaps their husbands and wives or their guides. Though most of them are very old and they're widows, and they come into this garden and sit out there and under the trees, because we always seem to be lucky in having lovely weather. And we have tea. Very important, the tea, and also someone might come along and make a little, sing, or tell a story or do something. So they come at about half past two and they leave at about five o'clock quite early, and they're all taken home again, and it happens every year in this very garden. But once a month there is some sort of a gathering for those people and Doreen is always involved in this.
DW: But once when they were here in the garden having a lovely tea, I saw this black cloud coming and a tremendous thunderstorm was approaching so had to bring them all into the house. Took about half an hour because they could hardly walk, some of them. And we got into the house
and put them into all the different rooms as we could find, all of them and as long as they'd got someone sitting next to them, they're happy.
PR: Now there are three more things to say. Then I will go. One is my ambition for you, that, perhaps with Mary Ollis, we could have another meeting sometime and talk about things- the town, shops and one or two other bits. And we really ought to say about the Ginn family particularly the civic thing and because we've referred to them and linked them in but haven't really dwelt on that. That's my ambition for you! My immediate ambition is to take your photograph.
DW: Oh, Lord!
MW: Have you got a camera? Yes!
PR: And also give you a form to fill in which you can either do now or later, which goes into the museum with the tape. There are two forms in fact, one is personal details and one is permission to use the tape in one way or another.