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Transcript TitleWright, Winifred (O1997.1)
IntervieweeWinifred Wright (WW)
InterviewerJean Riddell (Purkis) (JR), Eve Sangster (ES)
Transcriber byMark Green


Hertford Oral History Group

Recording no: O1997.1

Interviewee: Winifred Wright (WW)

Date: 3rd Dec 1997

Venue: Edmunds Road, Hertford

Interviewers: Jean Riddell (Purkiss) (JR), Eve Sangster (ES)

Transcriber: Mark Green

Typed by: Mark Green

Annotator: Jean Riddell (Purkiss)

************** unclear recording

[discussion] untranscribed material

italics editor’s notes

Recording starts mid-sentence. Winifred seems to be a bit deaf so in places it gets confusing where she mis-hears or misunderstands.

WW: ..I remember..

ES: Were you born in St John’s Street?

WW: No.

ES: No?

JR: Ah, right, I think we are ready now. This is Jean Riddell on behalf of the Hertford Oral History Group, and today Eve Sangster and I are at the home of Mrs Winifred Wright of 46 Edmunds Road, and Mrs Wright was Miss Winifred Rowland and lived in the Railway Street area, in fact her Aunt was caretaker at the Friends Meeting House when she was a child. Ok.

JR: So you think you might have been born in St John's Street?

WW: I must I must have been I don't know I can never remember that was the first address I remember, the first house I remember in St John's Street.

JR: Yes, so did you, um, move soon after that?

WW: Well…

JR: What happened?

WW: Well, my grandmother was bedridden, so we stayed there till she died, my mum and I, and then we went down to Tamworth Road,

JR: Right.

WW: …and from Tamworth Road we went to Villiers Street, from Villiers Street then we went into the cottage at um Friends Meeting House.

JR: Right.

ES: Where was that, the Cottage?

Annotator’s Note: The cottage was to the right of the entrance

WW: In the grounds of the…

ES: That’s right..

WW: Friends Meeting House

ES: Is it still there?

WW: No no no, and the um Hall at the side…

JR: Yes.

WW: that was larger than that had another gable taken off so that the street was widened.

Annotator’s Note: in 1935 for buses

JR: Right, yes yes was the Cottage quite near the Hall, or..

WW: Oh yes

JR: it was ..

WW: Oh yes, oh yes

JR: Or within the forecourt?

ES: Within the wall?

WW: Yes, yes.

ES: Within the…

WW: Yes, although we looked out we stepped out onto the pavement but the rest of the cottage was in the grounds sort of thing, but the front part was on the path sort of thing.

JR: So more or less next to that Hall was it?

WW: No no there was a little passage just about, about as far as that tree, little um stepping stones sort of thing. Um what do you call them?

JR: Paving stones.

WW: That's right.

JR: Yes, yes. Ok. So they, when did they take that down then, um?

WW: Well they must have taken it down while I wasn't there.

Annotator’s Note: Probably the same date of the hall reduction.

JR: Right.

ES: So in the time after you got married?

WW: Yes, yes.

JR: Yes, I see ok.

WW: Yes, and er I don't remember but there were some pubs in that road you know but where the Angel was I don't know,

JR: No.

WW: But they pulled them down because they built, there used to be um Coleman's shoe shop, Bullard’s um basket making place and Wren’s the er bakers, and then there was a Green Street…

ES: Yes, yes.

WW: …that came right round Bircherley Green sort of thing.

JR: Yes.

ES: Were you an only child?

WW: Pardon?

ES: Were you an only child?

WW: Yes.

ES: Right, what did your mother do for a living?

WW: Um, well she used to go out to work cleaning people's houses and then she um lived rent free at the Cottage, but she looked after the Quaker place. We used to scrub it every year with cold water because I hadn’t anything to heat it up with.

JR: Yes.

WW: We used to scrub it every year. Um, what else did you want?

JR: I think I am slightly confused here it was your mother who was the caretaker?

WW: Yes.

JR: Oh right, I got the impression that it was your aunt.

WW: Well, yes it was.

JR: Oh, I see. So a combination then.

WW: No, huh, she brought me up so I always called her mum.

JR: Yes, I see.

WW: Um um but she was really my she was really my great aunt.

JR?: Yes, I see yes. So, she was quite a bit older than your mother would have been?

WW: um.

JR: Yes, yes. Did she um what were her duties at the Meeting House?

WW: Oh to keep it clean,

JR: Just clean?

WW: and light the fire on a Sunday when they had the meetings, and then the Hall was used for, you know, anything sort of meet, they had the Girl Guides meeting there and they also had an adult school. Sunday morning, she used to light the fire there and the men used to come to this adult school.

ES: But it wasn't a church, it wasn't um a religious school. I mean they learnt normal subjects.

WW: um,

ES: Reading, writing and arithmetic?

WW: Oh no, no, no. What are you talking about the school or the?

ES: The adult school.

WW: Oh no.

ES: Was it in, was it were the subjects religious subjects?

WW: Yes.

ES: Oh they were then.

WW: For the men in the class.

ES: Oh I see, like an adult bibles class.

WW: Yes, yes.

JR: Right.

WW: They used to let the Hall for Girl Guides or meetings or anything like that.

JR: Yes.

WW: but er.

JR: Did they use the upstairs part of the Meeting House very much there?

WW: Er no.

JR: Did you …[unclear]?

WW: The answer is no, not then no, but they do now don't they?

JR: Do they?

WW: I think.

JR: I don't think I have actually ever seen it used. I have been up there but oh..

WW: But I thought they used it

JR: Maybe they do.

WW: The last time, how long ago was that?

JR: Well I haven't been to a meeting there for some years but, whenever I go to um the Meeting House it looks, if I have been upstairs, it doesn't look as though it has been used to me but maybe it is used.

WW: It wasn't used when I was a child.

JR: No.

WW: When I was there, no.

JR: It looks as though it might have been a kind of gallery at one stage doesn't it but they boarded it up, and people perhaps look down I don't know whether they did it really has got ******

ES: Were you Quakers you and your aunt?

WW: No.

JR: No, No.

ES: Where did you go to church?

WW: All Saints.

JR: Oh right.

ES: Why did your Aunt bring you up then did, had your mother died?

WW: I lost my Mother.

ES: Yes, how old were you when she died?

WW: About eight months I think.

ES: And did you know your father?

WW: No.

ES: No.

WW: Well I knew who he was but I didn't meet him because he was a draughtsman and went all over England sort of thing, but he always sent money to Mum every week.

JR: Yes.

WW: To, you know, help out.

JR: Yes. So what sort of life was it for you living there? Was it quite a sociable life - did you have many friends?

WW: No, no, no. Only my cousins (Duckworths)

JR: Right. Duckworth?

WW: Well, it was a low sort of place you know, pubs and …

JR: But there were lots of other children about weren’t there?

WW: Well, there must have been but I wasn't allowed to play.

JR: Right.

ES: No, you were rather awkwardly placed weren't you. I mean there were I suppose rough children?

WW: Yes, yes.

ES: Yes.

WW: I wasn't, I wasn't allowed.

ES: Um, where did you go to school?

WW: All Saints. It was an all girls school then.

JR: Yes, yes. ‘Cos on either side of the Friends Meeting House there were two Yards weren't there?

WW: Yes. That’s it.

JR: Hayden’s Court…

WW: Yes, yes.

JR: …and Providence Court.

WW: Yes, yes.

JR: Did you ever go into those Yards, or meet anyone?

WW: No, no.

JR: No, no. Because we had an interview fairly recently with a man called Les Sullivan who lived in Hayden’s court, he he seemed to think it was quite a happy existence there.

WW: Oh it might have been - I don't know.

JR: Yes.

WW: I was never allowed in anything like that .

JR: No, no. So who did your Aunt socialise with then, just your family really?

WW: That's all.

JR: Yes.

WW: Yes.

JR: Yes, I see. What about um the local services round there what about the shops and the, well there was a milk shop somewhere there?

WW: Oh yes, just up the road.

JR: Yes, yes.

WW: There was a milk shop. Then there was um Coleman’s shoe shop, and then there’s Bullards um basket thing, and then there was Wren’s and then there as I say was Green Street down there.


JR: Were you allowed to go down there?

WW: No.

JR?: You were restricted [laughter] existence

WW: No, no.

JR: What about Bircherley Street. Was that off bounds as well?

WW: Yes.

JR: Yes, yes.

ES: Where did you play then, when you were a child?

WW: Oh just in the grounds or…

ES: Yes?

WW: …or I went down to see my cousins, that's all.

ES: Where did they live?

WW: Tamworth Road.

JR: Right, yes.

WW: So we had a very quiet life.

JR: Yes.

WW: That's why I am quiet now. [laughter] I don't talk a lot and they think, oh sort of thing but I’m not I am not a talker I'm a listener.

JR: Yes, yes.

ES: I bet it was noisy there down there wasn’t it?

WW: Yes, yes, it was with the drunks.

JR: Yes.

WW: Then of course we had Dodsons, Dodsons fish shop right opposite us.

ES: Which fish shop is that? That's not. Um…?

JR: No that’s the other, Wilton.

ES: Ruby Henry’s.

WW: I don't think so.

ES: You don't remember her?

WW: Henry’s?

ES: Ruby Henry.

WW: Ah yes that was on this side wasn't it, on the same side as we were.

ES: Well there were two, there was a father ran a fish shop,

WW: Yes,

ES: Didn’t he?

WW: Yes.

ES: And Ruby his daughter, she ran a fish shop too,

WW: Yes, yes.

ES: On the other side of the road.

WW: Oh I don't…

ES: I thought, or I may have got that wrong, but…

WW: Yes.

ES: I somehow thought they’d they’d got one each.

JR: I thought there were two, one …

ES: Yes.

JR: On one side one on the other, yes but they lived I think at 38 which, 38 Railway Street which would which would have been very near the Meeting House. There were two houses together weren't there?

WW: Yes on, on the…

JR: On the same side?

WW: …same side as we were.

JR: Yes, yes.

WW: There was the gas thing, well it wasn't the gas thing when I was there it belonged to Burgess and Small Burgess.

JR: Yes.

WW: I used to take the children down, I used to look after them, I used to take the children down with their bikes and all that, and then there were two houses. One was a, well she sold pickles and condiments and things like that, then there was Henry's.

JR: Ah, right so there was one.

WW: Then there was another Yard…

JR: Yes?

WW: and the houses are still there I think some of them. If you go down Fore Street.

ES: Right, you can get in from Fore Street yes yes I know where you mean. Yes, but they didn't have their shop there did they, the Henrys, that was just where they lived wasn't it in that house. It wasn't a shop as well was it ?

WW: I think it was.

ES: It was? That may be the one that…

WW: I think it was.

JR: Yes.

ES: Yes, ok.

JR: Yes.

ES: Did you get, when you had to look after the children, you say the Small and Burgess children, did you get paid for that?

WW: Oh yes.

ES: Yes.

WW: Can't remember what but I did, oh yes.

JR: How old were you then when you were looking after them?

WW: About 15,16.

JR?: Oh that’s a bit of a…

WW: I had left school.

JR: Oh, I see right. So who were your school friends then, at All Saints?

WW: I think they are all dead now.

JR: Can you remember them?

WW: Yes, there was Winnie Lambert, Florrie Plum, Ivy Goodwin, Mini Burgess, um Gerty Dye.

ES: You've got a good memory.

JR: The Dye family they were they were sweeps, weren’t they?

WW: Yes.

JR: Yes.

WW: They were on the same side of the road.

JR: Yes.

WW: Yes, yes.

ES: Have you got any photos from the early days?

WW: I have but my other daughter's got them all.

JR: Right.

ES: But have you got for instance any school photos?

WW: No.

ES: No, but they used to take them in those days.

WW: Oh yes, oh yes at school yes, at the school yes. We used to have to have um [dog barks in background] great big curtains dividing the the um classes you know.

JR: Yes, yes.

ES: Did you have them all in a hall?

WW: All-in-one, yes.

ES: Yes.

WW: With this great big curtains divided the lesson, the standards.

ES: Did you do well at school?

WW: Not too well I don't think, I think the highest I came was 3rd.

JR: Right, who were the teachers in the school when you were there?

WW: There was a Miss Pratt.

JR: Pratt?

WW: Yes. A Mrs, oh Mrs Wheatcroft. Um, I can't remember, an old lady named Miss Crew that used to come up to light the fires…

JR: Yes.

WW: … in the mornings.

JR: Were they kind of big stoves or open fires?

WW: Open fires.

JR: Yes…and that was just across the road from All Saints Church really wasn't it?

WW: Oh you went up the…

JR: Oh yes I know it by Churchfields.

WW: Yes, yes.

ES: That’s right.

JR: Did you have much to do with the with the er church? Did the vicar come over quite a lot or…?

WW: No I don't think so. I was married there.

JR: Right.

WW: My daughter was married there, one of them anyway.

JR: Yes.

ES: Did you marry a local man?

WW: Well, Ware, Ware man.

JR: Right.

WW: He was a Met policeman, but they lived in Ware.

ES: How did you meet him?

WW When we were at um what was it… Ruddigore or something like that? One of the…

ES: Gilbert and Sullivans?

WW: Yes, yes, yeah.

JR: Met him at?

ES: What… at the Corn Exchange?

WW: Yes, yes.

ES: And so he was just in the audience was he?

WW: Yes, yes.

JR: How old were you then?

WW: 17. I wasn't allowed to go with him until I was 18 but I did!

JR: Oh yes.

WW: I was just seventeen.

JR: Yes.

ES: And when you were courting where, what sort of things did you do. Did you go to the pictures and…?

WW: Yes.

ES: …walks, all that sort of thing?

WW: Yes, we used to have a favourite walk up the Warren if you know Bengeo.

JR: Yes, yes. Oh dear.

WW: Went to Ware to see his mum and dad and the rest of the family of course.

JR: Yes.

ES: Your cottage,

WW: Yes.

ES: um, at the Friends Meeting House, what was it, two bedrooms?

WW: a-hum [agrees]

ES: But you say no run…, no hot water?

WW: Oh no.

ES: But you had a cold water tap?

WW: Yes. Heat your own. I had um an old-fashioned Kitchener I think they used to call it, with an oven one side, the fire one side and the oven the other side.

ES: But a range?

WW: Yes.

JR: Yes.

WW: Yes, to heat the water up we had to put a kettle on.

JR: So how did you go about having a bath, did you have to have it in a big galvanised…?

WW: Yes.

JR: Were there only you and your Aunt there?

WW: That's all.

JR: How tell me how, how is your Aunt related to Evelyn Hayden?

WW: Her aunt, Evelyn's aunt.

JR: Aunt, so she was.

WW: So her …her father, my aunt, are brother and sister.

JR: Right, so, I see. Evelyn's father was the brother of your aunt?

WW: Yes.

JR: Yes, yes, yes and she called her aunt Bill, I think?

WW: Yes, that's right. One was called Bill.

JR: Yes.


JR: What was that short for?

WW: I think the name was Emily actually.


ES: Naturally.

JR: Yes, of course why didn't we think of that? It might have been Wilhelmina.

WW: No.

JR: I was looking at the transcript, no. Was she quite a character your aunt, or was she quiet as well?

WW: Well she could talk a lot, [dog barking again in background] but but she would stick up for, you know, for me.

JR: Yes, yes. Did she did she ever tell you any stories about the old days [dog barking very loudly in the background]

WW: I don’t think I was very interested

JR: Oh I see right,

WW: You knew it was the um Blue Coats school, don't you?

JR: Yes.

WW: In Ware road.

JR: I know.

WW: They are all flats now,

JR: Yes, that's right.

WW: and Tesco’s is [telephone rings in background]

JR?: Is there an extension upstairs?

WW: There is one upstairs.

JR: Ok.

WW: [answers phone] Hello, um, I have got someone interviewing me

JR: Oh dear sounds very grand.

ES: Hello Magazine!

WW: …bye.

JR: Right. Ok.

ES: You say that your aunt stuck up for you?

WW: Yes, well.

ES: Did you need to be defended?

WW: Yes, because I used to get bullied but um.

ES: Who by?

WW: Kids.

ES: Why do you think that was, ‘cos you are an only child?

WW: I expect so. We were a bit above those sort of …

ES: Yes, you didn't play with them.

WW: No, no.

JR: No.

WW: No.

JR: No.

ES: So your aunt would rush out and be fierce, would she?

WW: Uh, uh, oh yes.

JR: Yes.

ES: Where was this likely to happen in the street or just outside, did you have people into play sometimes or not?

WW: No, no.

JR: No.

WW: I didn't, no.

ES: No, but you can imagine that you might get a bit of stick just for living in the/Friends Meeting House.

JR: Yes, yes.

ES: So that would elevate you wouldn't it?

WW: And one of the houses um, was looked over the wall to where we were, a girl used to hang out of the window and [WW makes a number of child-like noises that the girl made at her].

JR: Oh, really?

WW: Yes.

JR: She lived in that house?

WW: Well, yes, they lived in that house, oh yes that was up in Hayden’s Court, Providence

JR: One of the Courts, one…

WW: One of the Courts.

JR: Which was, which is Providence Court, was it the that the first one?

ES: The butchers er?

JR: There was O'Donnell's, there that was Providence.

ES: Yes, that’s right and er right, and then there was the Friends Meeting House and then Haydens Court

JR: Yes.

ES: Where did Cliff North live?

JR: I was just going to ask if you knew him. Cliff North or Cliff Meade (known by both birth names) he might have been.

WW: Oh Cliff Meade, yes.

JR: Yes.

WW: Yes, well there was a row of houses, this, there was this Court, and then there was a row of houses.

JR: Yes

WW: next to it. 123, something like that, for the old shop unused, and then there were two houses that stood right back, and then there was the pub, but it wasn't, was it there, what have you got there?

ES: It's the Earl Haig now, isn’t it?

WW: No it wasn't that.

JR: But it wasn’t that?

WW: No it wasn't.

JR: No, but we are getting towards South Street here.

WW: Yes, yes, right yes.

ES: And Cliff North lived in a house on the pavement.

WW: Yes, yes.

ES: And you remember him?

WW: Yes, I remember him.

ES: What do you remember particularly?

WW: I think that he was a boy that's all.

JR: Right, yes.

WW: Yes.

JR: And he remembers a quite colourful life going on in the street, chucking out time in the pubs.

WW: Oh yes, yes, that was horrible.

JR: Yes, yes, I suppose you didn't go out very much in the evenings did you, no?

WW: No, no. [whispered]

JR: So what did you find to do inside?

WW: You played cards.

JR: Right. Reading perhaps?

WW: Well, yes.

JR: Yes.

WW: Yes.

JR: Yes.

WW: Yes.

JR: Yes, did you ever have your cousins round then from Tamworth Road?

WW: Oh yes.

JR: Yes.

WW: Oh yes, come.

JR: Yes.

WW: And we used to go down there too.

JR: Yes.

WW: That was one of them.

JR: Yes, that was the lady that was just leaving.

WW: Who?

JR: Ivy, wasn’t it Ivy?

WW: Eileen, Eileen.

JR: Eileen Duckworth. Sorry, right.

WW: And her sister Marjorie but she died.

JR: Yes, right. Where do they live, do they still live in that area?

WW: No, no. Eileen lives in Bengeo.

JR: Right.

ES: So what is your earliest memory. St Johns Street?

WW: St John’s Street, yes, and going over the road to the Catholic School.

JR: Yes.

WW: That was just over the road.

JR: Yes.

WW: Although we are not Catholics of course. I was there until I was 9, I think, and then my grandma died, my great grandma died. We went down to Tamworth Road, and then they sent me to the All Saints’ School.

JR: Oh, so All Saints’ wasn't your first school then?

WW: No, no I went to the Catholic...

JR: Right.

WW: first because it was just over the road

JR: Yes.

WW: for convenience.

ES: So, it was your great grandmothers house?

WW: Yes, yes.

ES: So she was a, was she a Mrs Rowland, was she your mother's mother?

WW: Um, no, her name was Walls.

ES: Walls.

JR: Right. So that's where the Evelyne link, is it?

WW: Yes, yes?

JR: Right.

ES: Why is that?

JR: Well you remember Eve, Eve er Evelyn Hayden?

ES: Um.

JR: Yes, she was Evelyn Walls when she was unmarried, and she said that her Aunt Bill on one of the tapes um, was caretaker at the Friends Meeting House, and I suddenly wondered if well it must have been the same person sure enough it was, so…

WW: Yes.

JR: Grandmother, right. Did you go to, so you went to All Saints’ Church. What was it like going to church then? Was it quite strict? Could you, did you have to sit very quietly?

WW: Yes, yes.

ES: And long services, I suppose?

WW: Long sermons, yes.

JR: Yes.

WW: Yes.

JR: Who was the vicar then?

WW: Landolph Smith.

JR: Ah right ok. Yes, I had trouble spelling that, I think I have it right now.

WW: Oh he married us, yes.

JR: Yes.

WW: Yes.

ES: Where did you live when you first got married?

WW: Oh, up in a place called Kingsbury, it was next to Wembley. It was like a little village, continuation of Bengeo sort of thing, next to Wembley.

JR: Yes, did you visit here in between times? Did you come back here much, to visit?

WW: We came down weekends sometimes.

JR: Oh.

WW: But I couldn't do it all the time because he was a policeman you see, they, they used to have, let me think, 3 days in 11, and then 1 day in 8, so it didn't, yes, it didn't always tally with the weekends.

JR: No, no, no.

WW: So, um.

JR: What decided you to come back then?

WW: Well he was invalided it out during the war.

JR: Yes.

WW: Well soon after the war, he was…

JR: Out of the police force?

WW: … out of the police force.

JR: Oh.

WW: With his eyes, he couldn’t see. The last thing we had was a land mine and it just shot him indoors and, it affected his eyes, and of course that time of day no policeman wore glasses.

JR: No.

WW: 1948.

JR: Yes, weren't allowed to were they?

WW: No.

JR: No.

WW: No.

JR: No.

WW: Then we moved back here, well we moved back to Datchworth actually, in 1952.

ES: Speaking of landmines, do you remember anything about the Zeppelin raid on?

WW: I remember the Zeppelin, but where do you think it, where did it come down?

ES: Potters Bar

[Annotator’s Note: Actually Cuffley – but a year or two later than the Zeppelin raid on Hertford.]

JR: Well it came down…

WW: Yes, yes.

JR: Dropped bombs over.

WW: That’s right, they lived in Bull Plain, yes.

JR: Yes.

WW: Down the back, what was it, the Conservative Club or something wasn’t?

JR: Lombard House it’s called, isn’t it? Do you remember anything about that or?

WW: No.

JR: No, not really.

WW: No.

ES: But you don't remember, like where you at the time. Where you were when you heard this huge bang?

WW: What, the Zeppelin?

ES: Yes, when the bomb…

WW: Oh, we were in the house.

ES: Yes. And you heard it presumably?

WW: Yes, yes.

ES: And you rushed out?

WW: I don't think so.


ES: Got under the bed?

JR?: Yes, oh well.

WW: I can't tell…

JR: Yes?

WW: …you a lie, I can't tell you much.

JR: It was quite a big area that was damaged wasn't it down there?

WW: Yes, um.

JR: People were actually killed as well.

WW: Yes.

JR: Yes.

WW: I don't remember much about it.

JR: We can't ask you about the um, the V1 on Millbridge, because you were away at that time?

WW: Yes.

JR: 1944.

WW: Yes.

JR: Yes.

ES: Do you remember anything about the first World War I? I mean do you remember the soldiers marching off or anything like that?

WW: I think we had some soldiers, lodging in the house. Yes we did.

JR: Yes.

WW: I think we had two soldiers in the house. Yes, I remember march, them marching along Fore Street.

JR: Wasn’t there some kind of, not barracks, but some kind of army place in Fore, in Railway Street just on the corner, where, owned by Barber’s? A big, very tall house with some kind of military?

ES: Which corner of what?

JR: It would be the corner of Bircherley Street and Railway Street.

ES: I haven't heard that.

JR: I think, when James Barber gave a talk, gave an interview rather, I think mentioned that.

WW: No.

JR: Having some kind of military use at the back there.

WW: The barracks were up London Road.

JR: Yes, the barracks were, this was more like a, goods yard or something, or where they kept stores I think, but I'm not sure I would have to look that up. You don't remember anything like that?

WW: No.

JR: What about the lodging house then in, um?

WW: Oh the lodging house.

JR: Railway Street.

WW: Yes, yes, was that between the two fish shops, but it wasn't a fish shop with Donaghue’s that wasn't a fish shop then, it wasn't opened late after hours. There was this long lane sort of thing, and there was this big house, which was the lodging house for all the old, you know, old people sort of thing.

JR: Could anyone go there, or is was it just…?

WW: Yes, I think so yes.

ES: Where is that exactly Jean, do you…?

JR: Well, now, somewhere around the Warren Place area, I think.

ES: Oh, right.

WW: Not quite so far down.

JR: No, on that side.

ES: No, I mean if you are in, from the Friends Meeting House, if you are sort of looking out in to Railway Street where was it, left or right?

WW: The, the?

ES: This, er, lane with the lodging house at the end, was it on your left or your right?

WW: It was over the other side of our road.

ES: Yes, but to the left or to the right?

WW: Which way, which way?

ES: Well, if you are standing in …

WW: Which way?

ES: the door of the, um, Friends Meeting House, looking out into Railway Street, I just mean, was it sort of to the left this lane, or to the right?

WW: Well, it’s practically opposite.

ES: Opposite, oh I see right.

JR: Yes, so it was probably the street side of Warren Place.

ES: Yes.

JR: That area I think, I think what we can’t, we find it difficult to imagine now, seeing it as it is, but all these properties were squeezed in to quite a small place, quite a small space, and that you'll get something like the road that now goes in to the bus station, it is quite a wide road now but before it was very narrow wasn't it?

WW: Yes, yes.

JR: And so you got half a dozen more properties across the width of it yes,

WW: Yes, well the old pubs used to be along there.

JR: Yes.

WW: And then they had a tall house, and then they had the, what do you call it, where they used to heat the stuff up for the for the malt?

Annotator’s Note: This is the army depot referred to earlier

JR: Malting?

WW: Oh, the malt, yes.

JR: Yes, yes, that’s right, yes because if you went…

ES: You mean an Oast House, or or…?

WW: Um, no, no.

JR: No.

WW: No, just a building where you used to, you could smell them.

JR: Yes

WW: With the roast smell.

JR: If you went down towards the river, where you ever allowed to go down there?

WW: That was Bircherley Green, no.

JR: No, no, some people went there didn’t they? The children? Yes, did you go swimming anywhere?

WW: Oh yes, it was just a piece of the river boarded off,

JR: Yes.

WW: That's all,

JR: You did go up to the pool then? In Hartham?

WW: Yes, yes.

JR: Right, right is there anything else that you can remember that might be nice for us to hear about? I think money or?

WW: Do you remember, do you remember the Blue Coat School with the boys with their long…

JR: Oh.

WW: … long blue coats, and yellow stockings?

JR: Do you remember those?

WW: Yes, yes, then they changed it into a girls’ school,

Annotator’s Note: It seems unlikely she would have remembered them as she was born c1910 so a few years after the boys left in 1902. She probably remembered stories of them.

JR: Yes, yes.

WW: and then they changed it into a flat, and where Tesco's was, that was their Chapel,

JR: Yes, erm.

ES: Yes, we remember that.

WW: Wicked.

JR: Did, did the boys stay in the building most of the time, or did they walk around the town?

WW: I don't think so. I think they were allowed together sort of thing.

JR: Right, what, came out in parties?

WW: Yes, yes.

JR: What, with the teachers?

ES: ‘cos it's strange because you never see, in old photos of the time, you'll never see a Blue Coat boy, do you?

ES: No. No, they probably just came out…

WW: When they were taken out for a walk you know.

JR: Yes. So that’s…

WW: Crocodile sort of thing

JR: That's when you would have seen them going out?

WW: Yes.

JR: Yes.

WW: Yes, yes.

JR: Did you ever go to any functions in the school, were the public ever allowed in for any concerts, or?

WW: They used to do plays.

JR: Oh did they?

WW: Yes.

JR: Did you go to those sometimes?

WW: Oh, we seen some of them so...

JR: Oh.

WW: Don't ask me what!


JR: How did you get, manage to do that then? Were you a member of, was it still a School?

Transcriber’s Note: There is some confusion here, JR thinks she is still referring to the Blue Coat School when she is now referring to All Saints – probably Abel Smith.

WW: No, no it was just a school I used to pick out you’d come, you’d come, you be so and so and so and so. Can't remember what we did, the plays we did.

JR: Right, when did the plays take place then?

WW: In the school.

JR: In, All Saints, or in, right I see yes. Yes. Oh.

WW: Yes, I used, I used to do the um rehearsals and all that, in the dark and we used to come down this alley in the dark I mean nobody feared anything then

JR: No.

WW: but you wouldn't dare to let any child go down there now, although they are much bigger now than what they were, because they were only narrow,

JR: Um.

WW: just narrow,

JR: What, was that Rookes Alley?

WW: Yes, Rookes Alley.

ES: But of course children are bigger too, aren’t they?

JR: Yes, yes.

WW: So well nourished on chips and things.

JR: Right, yes.

Recording finishes.