These reminiscences have been collected over the last thirty odd years and they are written now with the permission of the people whom they concern, some of whom are no longer with us. Obviously these are snippets of conversation and not literary works of art. My contributors all have a connection with our parish of Shedfield. Some of them spoke with a broad Hampshire accent which in the main I have not written, but if you are a native of this parish or know it well you will, I think, hear them in your mind speaking as, in their childhood, they had heard their parents, grandparents and neighbours speak.
Name of Contributor Date Born
Mrs Annie Terry b. 1882
I was born at Bishops Waltham. Dad ran a bakery business there. He sold bread and he also cooked meat joints for people for a penny ha’penny and tarts for a penny.
I started school when I was four. At first I paid tuppence a week but later there was no charge. I went to Sunday School as well. We used to go to Stephen Castle Downs for our Sunday School treat. We played games there and our teachers used to throw dolly mixtures on the grass for us. We used to scrabble for them amongst the sheep droppings.
Dad died from erysipelas when I was a child. Times were hard then and mother had five children to bring up so she struggled to keep the business running. I had to help by delivering a basket of bread every day on my way to school. I didn’t like it very much and finding a place for the basket in the cloakroom was always a problem. Mother would chivvy me up every morning and say, “Come along Nancy. Eat both sides of your face. Don’t forget you’ve got bread to deliver before you go to school.”
When I was twelve I went into domestic service. My first job was at Shedfield House where I was a kitchen maid for Mrs Phillimore. She became Lady Phillimore when her husband became Admiral Sir Augustus. I also used to scrub the dairy and help make the dairy butter and clotted cream.
Later I worked at the Alresford Children’s Home. I loved the children there and I was very happy. I was Miss Askew then and the children thought I was the Prime minister’s daughter. His name was Asquith. One of the first things I had to do for the children was to make a hundred dumplings.
Another of my jobs was at Winchester and one of my regular errands there was to take soup to some poor families. I carried it in cans with handles, like those people might have used to fetch their milk from a farm or dairy at that time.
After Jim and I were married we moved to Lower Chase Road. As a young man Jim built Mayfield Cottages, Winchester Road Waltham Chase himself. He started in 1908 and we lived in one of them when it was finished. The Chase Hut was built next door just after the Great War.
Winters were especially hard for builders in those days as they couldn’t get work at that time of year. Jim tried stone picking once but the pay was meagre and the work back breaking so he gave that up. He said he wasn’t going to be worked to death and starved to death at the same time.
I was born in the old cottage at the top of Clewers Hill, Waltham Chase. There were thirteen children in our family but my little brother died when he was seven months old. Times were hard then. People worked from daylight to dark to scratch a living.
Dad had about an acre of garden. Some of it was orchard and some was arable land. Later on he rented some land from the Phillimore estate and he kept two cows and sometimes one or two heifers.
Dad was a country man. He could turn his hand to most country jobs. Sometimes in winter he worked as a woodman for Captain Myers of Swanmore Park. He was the M.P. for Petersfield – that was our constituency in those days. At other times he went copsing down country, working as he went with other men until he was about twenty miles from Lands End. Sometimes he brought me back a whistle pipe which he had made, and he would play me a tune on it. He was a good storyteller too when he had the time.
In the summer at home he might be foreman of a harvesting gang. When he worked opposite Grange Farm in Sandy Lane, I used to take his dinner to him on my way to school. I was no scholar but I was a good runner in those days. Once, a lady artist was staying at Shedfield House. She wanted to paint a picture of the men as they reaped the harvest. She asked if they would pose for her. Dad said they would for a little while but they couldn’t hang about for long as they all had a living to earn.
Grandfather Hearl used to live at Rose Hill Cottage. There was a farm there then. One day Grandfather took his horse and cart to fetch a load of chalk. I think he went to Ashton Lane but it could have been Dundridge. While he was there, there was a big fall of chalk. He was submerged in it and neither he nor his horse were ever seen again. Grandmother used to tell me about it. I suppose they were afraid of starting another fall if they tried to dig them out.
When I was a child, fox hunting was common. I remember one day huntsmen rode their horses through our garden. Mother was upset. She waved her apron and shouted, “Mind the cabbages! Mind the cabbages!” The men didn’t mind the cabbages. They rode straight through them and their horses’ hooves churned up the garden. Mum was angry. She went indoors, slammed the door and went on with her work. I remember she was peeling apples. When she opened the door to dispose of the peel the fox crept out from under the sofa and ran off across the garden. I was glad that it wasn’t caught.
My brother, Harry, was in the Navy. He was born in 1870 (died 22nd June 1893). He served on the VICTORIA, a ship that patrolled the seas, searching out “slavers”. That was what they called the ships that carried slaves after slave trading became illegal. He said conditions on board such ships were terrible. “We could smell them a mile off,” he used to say. During manoeuvres his ship was rammed by the CAMPERDOWN because of an order mistakenly given. A great many lives were lost and, sad to say, Harry’s was one of them. I missed him a lot. He was good to me. (ED: see this link for more about the sinking in the Mediterranean off the coast of Tripoli, and the HMS Victoria Monument, 358 men were lost.)
In 1917, during the First World War, I remember a German Zeppelin flying overhead. I was home at the time and mother and I were in the garden. Mother was frightened and hid in the shed. As a matter of fact, so did I.
I joined the WRNS in that year as a volunteer in the Over Thirty age group. I travelled by train from Botley to Portsmouth and did a week’s cookery course at a hotel. At the end of that course I qualified as a cook. I’d been a good cook before I joined up, anyway. I was sent to Deal and lived in private digs. I started work early every morning, cooking breakfasts for the men.
After the War I left the WRNS as a Chief Petty Officer and went back into private service until my parents needed caring for. They were then living in THE POPLARS, an old cottage in Clubhouse Lane, Waltham Chase. When my brother, Jim, got older he lived there as well, until he died.
Mr. Jim Terry b. 1884
My father was a builder and when I was fourteen I joined the family firm. It had a good reputation. Everyone knew that Terry’s houses were well built. BROOKLYNN along the main road at the Chase is one of them. At Shirrell Heath in those days there were some houses that builders, among themselves, called forest shacks. They were single storey and single brick buildings but better than the forest hovels. People were poor then, there’s no doubt about that.
When I was growing up, people who were out of work would sometimes walk to Southampton and buy a box of bloaters or mackerel wholesale, and then retail them around the houses and pubs. I remember mackerel selling for at about eight for a shilling and bloaters for a penny each. Times were bad for people who had no regular employment. They couldn’t afford to buy food, however cheap it was, unless they did something like that to earn money.
My parents managed better than some. We had plain food but we didn’t go hungry. I used to have bread and butter for breakfast. There was plenty of dairy butter about then. For dinner at work I used to take a hunk of bread from a cottage loaf and a piece of cheese. Most women made jam from fruit grown in their own gardens or bought ocally. It was a great standby for winter days.
At work, as the youngest member of the firm, one of my jobs was to make the tea for my workmates. I had to make a wood fire outside. I remember one day the wood was damp so the fire was smoking. An old chap who’d been with the firm for a long time called out, “My goodness, Jim, you’ve got some smoke there! It puts me in mind of ole Clewer Pafford. I s’pose you don’t remember ‘im? No, course not. ‘E’s been gawn this forty yer. ‘E ‘ad a shack in Soberton Forest. ‘e used to burn cow dung on ‘is fire and there was a ‘ole in the roof for the smoke to go through. We boys used to go and see ‘im of a winter evening cuzz ‘e played a one string fiddle. Of course the air used to get a bit thick, with his cow dung fire and a crowd of nippers there, and ‘e’d say, ‘Keep low, boys. The smoke rises. ‘Tis better near the floor’.” I still think of the old chap sometimes when I have a smoky fire.
Mrs Kate Allen, nee Perry b. 1893
I was born at Rothesay in Scotland, one of seven children. My father had lived at Soberton and later moved to Shirrell Heath. He went to live in Scotland after he married my mother. As a young man he had been in the Navy and he’d fought in the Boer War. Later he worked as a coastguard.
When I was ten my parents moved back to Shirrell Heath because Dad’s mother was ill. Then Dad worked at Shedfield Vicarage as gardener for Mr. Alexander for seventeen years. After that he organised a garden at Winchester for his widow and daughters. Then he worked for Mr. Bill Warwick of Gravel Hill a horticulturist and poultry farmer. Mr. Warwick was progressive for his times.
My teacher at Shedfield School was Miss Fanny Boggust. At Sunday School my teacher was Mrs. George Churcher. She used to say, “Sit ‘e down,” or “Turn ‘e round,” and things like that.
When I left school my first job was for Mr. and Mrs. James Duke at Peter Street, Bishops Waltham as a maid. I was paid eleven shillings a month. With my first wages I bought a pretty straw hat trimmed with pretty flowers for each of my sisters. Such lovely wreaths of artificial flowers could be had then for a few pence.
I met my husband, Charlie, when he was camping at Battery Field along the Botley Road at Shedfield during the 1914 – 18 War. We were married in Shed field Church after the war.
Mr Horace Crosswell b. 1898
I was born at Elm Tree Farm, Durley, My father was a bricklayer and so was my grandfather. My father worked for Dr. Mayberry at Calcott Farm, Curdridge. He built a big warehouse there, starting work at seven o’clock every day. At home he had some land and two cows and two horses.
After I left school I worked at home for a while. Then I went to work for Mr. Denham of Durley. He was a nice man. I had to get the vegetables ready for market and I helped milk the cows. They were all milked out in the field. We just had a stool and a bucket. I worked from seven o’ clock to five o’ clock from Monday to Saturday and I was paid ten shillings a week.
After a year or so I took a job as under-carter for Dr. Mayberry. He had some big cart horses. He came from Portsmouth and stayed at Curdridge during the summer. He owned three or four hundred acres. His land stretched down to Harfields Lane and Durley Halt and the Paper Mill out to Curdridge School. He also owned land at Gordon Road. We used to cut grass there and make hay. The horses had to be outside by eight o’ clock which gave us an hour to get them ready. We worked with them until twelve. Then we had a break. We worked on then until four o’ clock and then we had to clean and bed the horses. I was paid eighteen shillings a week for my work there and I worked from seven o’clock to five o’clock from Monday to Saturday with what they called “light duties” on Sunday. Dr. Mayberry’s horses were never turned out to graze.
In 1914, after war had been declared, I went to Winchester Barracks, put my age forward, and joined the army. I wanted to join the Royal Artillery but I was put in the Labour Corps. Afterwards I was transferred to the Warwickshire Regiment and then to the King’s Liverpool Regiment. I finished my training in Dover and was sent over to Europe pretty soon afterwards.
We were in the trenches with mud up to our knees. It was terrible. Eventually, we moved to some woods near Germany. One day there was a bloomin’ great blast and I got shrapnel behind one eye. I haven’t seen anything with that eye from that day to this. They took me underground and back to England, up near Manchester. There was a flu epidemic while I was there and when I was getting over my eye injury I had to help dig graves for those who had died.
I worked with the Labour Corps to do that. There was a line of coffins stretching as far as it is from the Sandy Lane End of Bull Lane to the Winchester Road. We used to dig down fourteen feet, put a coffin in, cover it with soil and then put another on top so that we put as many as we could in one grave. We weren’t allowed to leave the parish until the epidemic was over. By that time I was due to go back to the fighting. I remember the MO telling another officer that I was blind in one eye and the officer replying that I was A1. They argued but the MO was over-ruled and I was told I would be sent back to the fighting. Thank God the war ended then.
That same year I married Grace Aburrow, a Chase girl, and after I was demobbed we lived at Mount Pleasant, Sandy Lane. First I worked for ole Bert Ford – not a very happy man – then of Ash House Farm, Sandy Lane. He grew strawberries on Grange Farm, near the Botley Road end of Sandy Lane, and he had six women pickers during the season. He grew vegetables at Ash House Farm.
One of my jobs was to take the strawberries to Botley Station by horse and van. I used to give the list to the Station Master who was ole Harry Carpenter from Curdridge. We had to queue for our turn to unload. After six o’clock in the evening they wouldn’t be accepted.
Later on I bought two horses and worked as a carter. I cut grass and corn and did ploughing for people. Sometimes I used to cart chalk from the pit in Dundridge Lane. I carted some for Mr. Griffin of Church House Farm, Clewers Hill, when a yard was being laid. We cut a hedge and laid the sticks from it side by side and end to end. Then we laid the chalk over them and it drained wonderful well. The chalk cost nine pence a load and I had a commission of one penny on each load.
I bought Northcroft Farm just before the 1939 – 45 War. I kept a couple of cows and a pig or two as well as my horses, and I grew vegetables, but I got rid of my cows and pigs when the Milk Marketing Board and the Pig Marketing Board came pokin’ about. In the end tractors finished me off as a carter. They were faster you see.
During the War I had a German prisoner of war working for me. I asked him if he could drive a pair of horses and he said he could. He lodged with my wife and me. He worked hard. Nice chap he was. He stayed around these parts after the war instead of going back to Germany.
Mr Jim Privett b. 1898
I was born in the end bungalow of the Black Houses at the Chase Chapel end of Chase Grove. The Black Houses had earth floors at first but people made their own arrangements about that later on. They were called Black Houses because they were coated with tar.
When I was a young man there were gypsies galore camping in this area. The Beaney family camped under a bender over a ditch opposite Nations Farm in Curdridge Lane. The men made clothes pegs from hazel sticks and bound the two wooden pieces together with a strip from a corned beef tin, fastened with small tacks. The women went from door to door trying to sell the pegs.
When I was a small nipper of about seven I used to go with my dad and grandfather to Curdridge Common when they cut the gorse there. They kept the Common tidy, you see, and my father sold the gorse. Potter Aburrow paid thirty shillings for a thousand bavins and used them in his pottery kiln. Cutting that number of bavins could take the best part of a week. It depended how many men were working with Dad. My job was to make the “whiffs” used for tying up the bavins. They were made by twisting suitable stems of gorse until they split into strands, like rope. After I left school I worked for Dad for six shillings a week – when I could get it. Times were hard then.
In 1928 I married Margaret Daniels. She had been a nursemaid to Major Rose’s children. He lived in a big house below the cross roads at the Chase. Margaret came from Sandy in Bedfordshire. I walked to Fareham for my wedding. We had a little girl, Rhodanthe, but she died when she was ten.
Mrs Dorothy Gladys Vear b. 1902
I was born at the BLACK DOG, Waltham Chase. My parents were Noah and Amelia Titheridge and my father was landlord there for twenty years. I had eight sisters and five brothers and another brother died when he was only seven months old.
I started school when I was three and left when I was fourteen. That was Shedfield School, of course. Mr. Whatley, the Headmaster, was a real gentleman but school discipline was very strict. When we left the BLACK DOG we went to FOREST VIEW, where Mr. Challis later ran the Chase Post Office and a shop. There was a meadow opposite us in those days but, since the 1939 – 45 War, Forest Close has been built there.
When we left that house we moved to one next to the BLACK DOG behind the present ARCADIA. I was nineteen then. Dad planted an orchard there. He had arable land and he grew vegetables. He was a good ploughman. Before he started ploughing he used to spit on his hands and say, “God speed the plough.” Dad also kept a pig or two and a few cows. He delivered milk around the Chase, Shedfield and Turkey Island for threepence a pint. Mum made butter in a butter churn and sold it for half a crown a pound. There was no profit in that but it was better than wasting the milk, and the pigs had the butter milk.
Mum cured her own hams as well. They were dried at Singleton’s in Lower Chase Road where there was an open fire and a wide chimney. In those days Woodman’s Cottage, next to us at the top of the hill, had a similar fire and chimney. It was a similar house.
There were many large families in those days and everybody worked hard to survive. Children had to help too. My mother wore leather boots when she was working. Lots of women did. Women were on their feet all day and the boots gave them good support.
Washing day every Monday was one of the hardest. Water was drawn from the well and the copper was filled, a bucketful at a time. Then a wood fire was lit under the copper to boil the water. When the water had boiled it would be removed from the copper, poured into a zinc bath and cooled so the washing and scrubbing could be done. Then it would be rinsed in another zinc bath. Some things – sheets and pillow slips, for example – were boiled. Mother boiled everything boilable and scrubbed everything scrubbable. After being rinsed and wrung out, everything suitable was put through the wooden rollers of a mangle to remove some of the excess water. That was my job if I was available. I turned a handle to make the mangle rollers go round and there was a big screw above the rollers which regulated the pressure on them. A bucket underneath caught the excess water. Then the clothes were pegged on an outside line to dry. Bad drying days were a real problem especially in winter as rooms were small and only one room in a house was heated.
At weekends, when we were growing up, Mother didn’t go to bed until the small hours on Sunday morning. The girls’ dresses would already have been washed and starched and the boys’ shirts washed, the fronts and cuffs dipped in a solution of starch, sugar and borax to make them stiff. Mother ironed them all and gophered the frills on the dresses with her gophering iron. Then she ironed a pastel coloured sash for each dress. We all dressed in our finery on Sunday morning and walked to Church in a crocodile.
Sad to tell, Dad fell off a loaded hay cart in 1931 and was killed. After that Mother moved to Poplar Cottage near the bottom of Solomons Lane. Poplar Cottage was very old. The garden was large and my brother, Freddie, worked it. He kept a horse and some pigs.
The house where I’m living now is one of the Sloane Cottages built by Mr. Sloane Stanley of Shirral House, Church Road, for his servants. Mr. George Phillimore later bought Shirral House and the cottages. When Cecil and I came here he was our landlord and he and Mrs. Phillimore were always good and kind.
Mr Arthur Richards b. 1902
I was born in Shirrell Heath in Clarence House, next to the garage that is now Sheriff Motors. My parents were James and Harriet Richards. I went to Shedfield School and because my mother was a Primitive Methodist, I went to school at a quarter to ten each day so that I missed the Church Teaching.
On Sundays I went to Shirrell Heath chapel which was then a corrugated iron building. I was in the chapel band.
Because of the war, I left school when I was twelve to help on the land. My father kept pigs for breeding and he kept six cows. My mother made butter and when I was a boy I often had the job of churning the cream for her. Sarah Smith, the wife of Bago – he had lumbago – bought the butter to sell in her shop that was on the end of Rose Hill Cottage at first and, later, on the corner of Smiths Lane.
My father grew strawberries and I used to help pick them after school. Two buyers from Covent Garden came to the Wickham area every year. They were Mr. Baker and Mr. Kenyon. They bought whole crops on the field and the growers picked them. They put a card covering over each basket and fixed it with an elastic band. Then they took the strawberries to Wickham Station for delivery to London.
Miss Mary Boggust b. 1906
I was born at 3, Rozel Cottages, Church Road, Shedfield. My grandfather and my father were both called Henry Boggust.
My great grandfather, Benjamin Boggust, bought the bakehouse behind the present Shedfield Post Office in 1870. Then he built the shop. He ran the shop and sold bread and he also ran the Post Office for a while. Then it was transferred to a shop at the corner of Shedfield Cross-roads, later called Ford’s Corner, but after a year or so it returned to my grandfather’s premises. In the early days my uncle walked from Botley to Shedfield with the mail and then delivered it. Later it was fetched by bicycle and delivered by Steve Churcher, In the 1930s it came by motor bike and since the 1939- 45 War it has been delivered by van.
The oven used faggots. He judged the temperature of the oven by the colour of the bricks. We burnt six bundles of faggots to heat the oven and then the bread had to be put in and left there until cooked. There were two two-wheeled horse drawn carts and a handcart for delivering bread.
My grandfather, Henry Boggust, died in 1921. Then my father, also Henry Boggust, who had been apprenticed to a baker in Southampton, took over the business.
I first remember Church Road as a gravel road. Flint was laid in 1910 or thereabouts and eventually it was tarred, but the Botley Road was tarred before that.
The first buses were run in the 1920s and they had a single deck. Later there were open topped “double deckers”. I remember how the white dust used to fly when we went through Hedge End on the way to Southampton.
When I was growing up there were two builders in Shedfield. Mr. Dan Fry lived three doors up from our house. He built the Infants School – before my time. Mr. George Churcher owned the yard at the top of this road, on the corner of the cross-roads. Each of these men had a hand cart on which he carried his tools. Mr.Churcher was an undertaker as well as a builder. He was kind and taught carpentry to some of the local boys in the evening once a week They paid sixpence for an evening’s tuition.
There were also two boot menders in the village, Mr. Thomas, who lived at the bottom of the village, and Mr. Carpenter, whose workshop was at one end of Briar Cottage. Mr. Carpenter was deaf and dumb and he had been trained to make boots as well as mend them, but I don’t know how much demand there was for hand made boots in Shedfield at that time.
Mr. Lewry had a butcher’s shop along the Botley Road, near the Wheatsheaf. Mr. Chidwick later bought it and ran a bike shop there.
I saw my first aeroplane when I was four or five. I was with my father, delivering bread at the time. I also remember seeing Beta and Gamma airships before the First World War, and my parents saw a Zeppelin. I remember hearing them talking about it.
After the Coronation of King George V in 1911 we had a party in Phillimore’s park. The Peace Celebrations after the 1914 – 18 War were held at Shedfield Lodge, Mrs. Franklyn’s home. I went to those. My father made bread, cake and buns for the tea and Pyle’s firm at Fareham supplied the rest of the food.
I went to Shedfield School. Every year on Empire Day we used to sing patriotic songs around the flag pole. “We raise our Empire’s banner” was always one of the songs.
A Church Army Sister from the Cottage Hospital took Sunday School in the Infant School. Another Sister took Band of Hope meetings and King’s Messengers.
Mr Herbert Lutman b. 1907
I was born in the big white house near the Prince of Wales, Shirrell Heath. There were five children in our family.
I went to Shedfield School. The Headmaster then was Mr. Whatley. He knew I hadn’t much of a head for poetry so he used to let me dig and plant his garden when we had poetry lessons.
I left school when I was eleven and he offered to get me a job but I went to work for my father. I’d been doing jobs for him since I was nine. In fact, I’ve worked on the same piece of land all my life.
We had two dozen cherry trees in our garden. There were whitehearts, blackhearts and merries. We took a few to Wickham to be sent to London, but we took most to Portsmouth Market where we sold our vegetables.
“Tilda Emery and her son, Frank, drove to market with a horse and trolley with side racks. When Frank went in the Navy during the First War, his brother, George, went to market with his mother. He was about fourteen at the time.
Emerys and Lutmans had two of the fastest horses in Shirrell Heath. We, the Lutmans, bought a mare and colt from Warnford. The first time our mare crossed the wooden, hollow sounding Ports bridge she was very nervous but she did not hesitate the next time.
At the end of our barn was a room with a loft. There were bins of barley meal, oats, “blues” and bran all round the walls, early in the century, and people came to buy. Charlie Watson’s mill, opposite the Cottage Hospital, came later. Arthur Albon worked for him and later on he had his own mill. I don’t remember the Shirrell Heath Windmill but I think it was probably behind Tuckers’ shop.
Sarah Smith kept a General Store, first at Rose Hill Cottage and then at the corner of Smith’s Lane. ‘Bago, her husband, sold coal and animal feeding stuffs. Pigs were killed there every Thursday, so they sold pork and bacon as well. That shop was taken over by Arthur Tucker. He built another opposite the PRINCE OF WALES in the thirties.
Miss Aggie Watson and her sister, Mrs. Powell, also kept a General Store. That was later bought by the Simpsons.
Mrs. Franklyn of Shedfield Lodge was very generous to working people in the parish. When I was a boy at school I was given a message saying that I was to go and see her. She gave me reins with bells on for my brother, Fred, and she gave me a cup of tea and a piece of cake before I came home. Sometimes, especially at Christmas, mothers were given tokens so that they could buy clothes for their children at Clark’s, in Wickham.
Mr Sid Privett b. 1907
I’ve lived here in THE OAKS, Turkey Island, since I was three. ‘Kiah Frankham’s father, Jack, had the house built. He bought some of the bricks from the old Church when it was pulled down. They cost seven shillings and sixpence for a thousand. My father bought the house later.
In those days when people grazed animals there, Pink and Arnold of Wickham used to oversee Shedfield Common. There were regular inspections and anyone with any animal or property there unlawfully would be made to move it.
Mr Arthur Burton b. 1908
I was born in London. My mother had been Lily Daysh of Waltham Chase, and her mother and some of her younger sisters still lived at Waltham Chase when I was growing up, although some were in service and some were married. The family home which had been Woodman’s Cottage was then Brooklynn, both houses being on the Winchester Road. We used to visit the Chase in the summer and when I grew old enough I used to cycle there and stay for a few weeks in the summer holidays. My grandmother had a large family but controlled them all with a glance, which always impressed me. She made me very welcome, but I had to make myself useful, just as everybody else did.
Often I used to go with my uncle to the field in Curdridge Lane where he grew his vegetables. He used to go to Portsmouth Market every week, and before market days I used to help load the van. There were hedges round all the fields in those days and when the blackberries were ripe I was allowed to go round and pick them for market. They were very good berries.
I found it exciting to be going to market with a load of vegetables pulled by Prince, the cart horse. At Hoads Hill I used to jump down and put the drag shoes on so that we didn’t slip back down the hill. When we got near Fareham we would sometimes see marrows and cabbages in the ditches. They would have been dumped by growers who had loaded more produce on their vans than their horses could pull.
We usually got to Commercial Road at four o’clock in the morning and then we unloaded our produce and displayed it and the shopkeepers came to look at it. It seemed to me there were growers from all over Hampshire and their names and addresses were painted on their vans. “Where’s that?” I would say to Uncle John as I read the place names.
I remember one occasion when a buyer asked the price of my blackberries. They were in a big basket holding about four pounds. My uncle said, “They belong to the young man. You must negotiate with him.” I asked for two shillings as they were very good berries. Perhaps I was lucky – I probably was – but he bought them. I felt like a millionaire and I’d earned the money myself.
Before we returned home we always had breakfast, a lovely steak and chips for sixpence. That was the highlight of the whole operation because – make no mistake about it – market days and the preparation for them were hard work for the grower, although they were fun for me. Vegetables didn’t always sell well either.
Sometimes Uncle John let me take the reins on the way home for part of the journey. It made me feel important but Prince knew the way anyway. When we got home my uncle unharnessed Prince and made him comfortable and soon went back to work. I used to go to bed and sleep like a log.
I was not more than nine or ten when I first went to market. After I had been a few times my father, who had been born in the country himself, bought me a pair of brown leather leggings so that I would be dressed as all the growers were. I was very proud of them.
Mr Frank Smith b. 1910
I was born in Shirrell Heath in one of the Prince of Wales Cottages. My parents rented our home from Winchester Brewery for four shillings a week. We had two rooms upstairs and two downstairs. There was also a cellar, which we reached by climbing down a ladder, and there was a brick shed at the bottom of the garden. My father was in the Royal Marines. He was a compositor by trade and served on H.M.S. Iron Duke and H.M.S. Barham.
Most people hadn’t much money when I was growing up but many were almost self sufficient as far as food was concerned. They kept a few hens and a pig or two, and grew their own fruit and vegetables.
After the First World War quite a lot of Shirrell Heath people sold sand from their gardens. Fred Dyke of Fareham and Harry Watson conveyed most of it. They had Foden steam engines. The sand was bought by builders, loaded by men with shovels and delivered to them.
There were a good many cherry trees in Shirrell Heath and the village was very pretty in blossom time. When the merries (the black ones) were ripe, Mum used to buy a bagful of them to make a merry tart.
“Go and ask Mrs Eggin if you can have two pennyworth of merries,” she would say. Mrs Eggin lived in on old thatched cottage with an earth floor, about fifty yards from us. It was demolished in the 1930’s and some bungalows were built there.
When I was a boy there were lots of goldfinches, linnets and yellow hammers on Shedfield Common. There was a nine-hole golf course there. I remember caddying for Mrs Ross of Curd ridge, the wife of Colonel Ross. That was on Tournament Day. I walked twice round the Common for one shilling and sixpence (seven and a half new pence).
Until the end of the First World War, people used horses and vans for taking vegetables to market. After the War, Henry Watson of Daysh’s Farm, Hospital Road, bought a Thornycroft lorry.
Grandmother Emery bought a ‘T’ type Ford soon after. The body was built at Portchester by a firm called Hayter. These lorries were used for journeys to market and at week ends seats could be put along the sides and a canvas covering over the top supported by ash hoops, and people went to football at Portsmouth or to the King’s Theatre at Southsea and had a good afternoon or evening out.
Years ago the BLACK HORSE used to have a band. Gran Emery’s father, Grandfather Lipscombe, of Forest Farm, Forest Road, Swanmore played the euphonium in it. I’ve been told that the band played at the wedding reception when my grandparents were married. I believe it was then that the drummer played his drum so enthusiastically that he burst the vellum.
My father used to take me to the United Services Field in Portsmouth to watch the Hampshire team play cricket, when I was eleven or twelve. Before the match, when they were practising at the nets, the bowlers would often bowl half a dozen balls to interested lads and give us a few tips. I liked cricket and learnt a lot about it in that way. When I was older I joined Shedfield Cricket Club. Mr Richard Phillimore, Mr Charles Mott Radcliffe – later an MP – and Mr John Franklyn were three of our leading players.
When I was a schoolboy at Shedfield School, Captain Wilberforce, who was in the RAF and a brother of Mrs Arden Franklyn of New Place, sometimes used to land in the meadow behind New Place in his bi-plane. Any kind of plane was a novelty in those days and we nippers were always excited when we saw it. I remember one school dinner hour when Captain Wilberforce landed at Ford Lands on Culverlands Corner. Somebody brought the news to school, “Captain Wilberforce has landed at Ford Lands. His passenger’s up in a tree.” A lot of us went to see what was happening. In fact, so many of us went that a teacher was sent to march us back to school. We weren’t very popular! hen I left school I became an Apprentice at International Stores, Wickham. In order to become an Improver, I had to go to London to pass an exam. I was given a pound for expenses and I travelled by train from Wickham. One of my tests was to wrap some marbles, making a square parcel. I remember thinking it would be more sensible to put them in a paper bag. When the 1939 – 45 War came I had to go to Maidstone to join the army in the Thirties age group. Eventually I became a sergeant. I fought in North Africa and saw the surrender of the German army in 1942. Then I fought at Salerno.
Mr Reg Titheridge b. 1910
I was born in one of the two Red Leaves Cottages in Bull Lane, Waltham Chase. They aren’t there now but the bungalows which are built where they used to be are named after them. The original two had larger gardens, of course, and they faced Bull Lane instead of being sideways on to it.
Both my parents were good walkers. People had to be in those days. Not everybody could afford a bike and certainly not a motor car, but I made up my mind when I was still at school that I’d save up until I could buy a bike. Times were hard then for working people and, even at my age, I knew it wouldn’t be easy.
I spent every Saturday working or running errands for a penny or tuppence. A regular job was to walk to Waltham to buy a joint of meat for my mother from the butcher, Walter West. I still clearly remember walking to Waltham one day with instructions to buy a false bottom for the kitchen grate. I had to go to Solomon Richards who had a shop on the bottom corner of Houchin Street. I bought the false bottom. It was an iron grating and when it was fitted into the fire basket it made it smaller so that less fuel was needed, I went home again as pleased as Punch but found to my annoyance that it didn’t fit. Back I had to go to change it. I made sure I got it right the second time.
As well as running errands and doing small jobs I fattened a pig in a sty in the garden. I had to feed it and keep its sty clean. When I sold it I think it made four pounds, but that wasn’t all profit of course. I thought then that I could buy my bike, but I was disappointed.
“No,” said Mum. “You can’t spend every penny you’ve got and leave yourself with nothing. Save up until you can afford two bikes. Then we’ll see about buying one.” I bought my bike when I was nearly fourteen. It cost me four pounds, seventeen shillings and sixpence and it was very precious to me. I don’t know how I would have managed without it when I left school. “What are you going to do now?” somebody asked me then. “I haven’t really decided,” I said. “Well I have,” said my father. “You can be ready at half past five on Monday morning and come to Whitchurch and work with me.”
Dad was a thatcher then. Off I went with him on the Monday morning. It seemed a very long day.
Mrs Gladys Matthews b. 1913
My father came from a Dorset family but moved to Portsmouth when he married a Portsmouth girl. I grew up at Hill House, Shirrell Heath, at the top of Solomons Lane. My father was a Parish Councillor and eventually became Chairman of the Council.
I started school at Shedfield and later went to a little private school run by Miss Westcott at Wickham. I stayed there until I was sixteen and then it was decided that I should go into business selling sweets and groceries. My father built a wooden shop with a slightly sloping galvanised iron roof, on our corner of Solomons Lane. He gave me ten pounds and I was expected to double that within three months. I worked from half-past seven in the morning to eight o’clock each evening. I biked around Shirrell Heath and Waltham Chase collecting grocery orders once a week, and every Saturday I was on my bike again delivering orders. My mother worked in the shop while I was out on these errands, and at other times as well. After a while my father bought me a ‘T’ type Ford. I was given three driving lessons and was then told, “Right, now you can drive.” The lorry was a great help, I must say.
My customers were honest, hard-working women. There were many large families and women worked like slaves cooking, washing and cleaning for them. Some also made dresses for the girls and shirts and trousers for the boys, and then worked in the field when needed. I soon learnt how poor people were.
When I had doubled my money Father said, “Now we’ll sell meat as well. I’ll make the shop bigger.” So he enlarged the shop. We sold flank of beef at tuppence a pound, brisket for sixpence and ribs for ninepence a pound. We bred our own pigs and legs of pork were ninepence a pound. On Saturday nights we charged tuppence for a faggot and peas. People brought their own basins. Dad managed the butchery; he had been a butcher’s boy and then a butcher before he came here. I had to help him sometimes. Business was good. We kept going until the Second World War came and food had to be rationed. Consequently sales dropped drastically and, for the amount of business, it wasn’t worth all the fuss of dealing with people’s ration books. It wasn’t until 1958 that I started Hill House Rest Home. I began by looking after five old ladies and gradually more old people came. It was good for them in their old age to be with people they had known at school.
Mr Alan Emery b. 1917
I was born at Rosehill Cottage, Shirrell Heath and I had a younger brother, Eric. My parents were Frank and Doris Emery. Our cottage had three small rooms and the largest of these was the end one which had, at one time, been used as a shop by Mrs Sarah Smith, before she moved to the corner of Smith’s Lane. At the back we had a lean-to larder. Like everyone else we had a privy at the bottom of the garden. Our cottage was thatched.
Next door lived Colson Knight. He dealt in animals: pigs, horses and sheep. He made a good profit from selling sheep skins. Beat Privett used to collect rabbit skins and she paid from a penny to threepence each. My dad sold animal skins, too. He used to catch moles. The skins were tacked to a board and dried in the sun. They were packed up in dozens and sent to London. The price varied between a shilling and three shillings a dozen. It depended on the time of year and the condition of the skins. They were used for gentlemen’s waistcoats and were also in demand in the plumbing trade, being the best means of wiping a joint on a soldered lead pipe.
Jays’ wings were another source of income and they sold for between a shilling to half a crown each and were used for decorating ladies’ hats. Frank Brown, who was head gamekeeper for Captain Franklyn, used to give them to dad. The birds were shot then raiding pheasants’ nests.
Shirrell Heath looked beautiful in the spring in blossom time. Almost every garden had cherry trees. There were Whitehearts, Blackhearts and Merries. Along Winters Road there was at least one in every garden and in some places there were more. Frank Lilllywhite must have had between fifteen and twenty. The ground underneath was covered by masses of crocuses and snowdrops.
The Cottage Hospital was full, mainly of boys and girls, many from underprivileged homes in London, Southampton and Portsmouth. There were also adults, some in wheel chairs. Some had tuberculosis. Two boys that I knew and went to school with were orphans from London. They were sent to New Zealand in about 1924 to work on a sheep farm. This was arranged through an Empire Building scheme. I thought it was heartless.
In 1927 we had a very cold winter. Snow covered the ground for weeks. The men spent the first week digging through drifts that were head high so that the daily milk could be collected from Watson’s farm. We boys had a good sledge run down Gravel Hill.
All houses had well water until about 1929 when piped water was laid, coming up from Frith Lane. This was all pick and shovel work. Shear legs were used to lower the pipes into the trench. The men were working along our end of Winter’s Road when there was an accident in Watson’s field in hospital road. A horse had got into an enclosure where there was an old well and had trodden on the rotten lid which had collapsed. His back legs slipped down the well and, had he not been supported by his front legs, he would have drowned. His position, anyway, was precarious. Someone went to fetch the carter, Alf Bachelor. He was in the PRINCE OF WALES. Alf hurried up to the well at once. When he was fifty yards away the horse whinnied. He had recognised Alf’s footsteps. Alf suggested some men fetched some shear legs from the pipe track. This was done and a band was slipped under the horse’s legs and he was lifted out. Not many people had their own transport at that time so tradesmen called from door to door. There were six bakers, at least, three from Wickham, one from Shedfield and two from Swanmore. Then Warwick’s and Hemming’s called from Wickham selling hardware and paraffin. Freddie Clark called from Wickham too. He brought clothes which he would leave on approval. People sent their requests to him on a postcard which just needed a ha’penny stamp. Some tradesmen delivered by bike. There were lots of them. Alf Lipscombe, from Curdridge, wasn’t a business man but he used to cycle to HilIhead and collect winkles. Then he’d come home, cook them and bring them to people’s doors to sell them. He had a bucket on each handlebar.
Hubert Watson came round with a milk float and milk churn in the mornings. He carried a pint measure and a half pint measure. Cecil Swales also made milk deliveries and so did Jack Fletcher and his father, Harry, until their cows caught foot and mouth disease. They had to be humanely killed and then they were all burnt. Ten tons of coal were brought up from Wickham station for the fire to burn them and there were a good many bunts of hazel sticks.
I worked for two or three years at Gravel Hill for Mr. W.A.G. Warwick, known locally as “Wag”. He was a horticulturist and poultry keeper. The work was varied and interesting. Everything was done on a scientific basis. The poultry side of the business was the largest part. Day old chicks were sent all over the country, despatched by train from Wickham station. Mrs Stubbs looked after the incubator. All the hens were vaccinated. If one was seen with a cold, it was isolated from the rest. Broody hens were collected and put in separate pens so that they didn’t break eggs. Eggs were sent to Fareham Market. Mushroom growing was interesting. It entailed a lot of work but gave good returns. Our mushrooms were sent to London from Wickham station. We also grew violets and tomatoes in two lean-to greenhouses. Apples were grown in large quantities: Laxton Superbs, Cox’s and Newton Wonders.
Joe Wylie, his brother, Les, and Arthur Fletcher worked in the workshop where portable chicken houses were made in sizes 6’x 6′, 8’x 8′ and 10’x 12′. These were sold and erected all over the district. At one time portable pig sties were being assembled as far away as Cirencester. Other items cut and taken to Wickham and loaded on the trains were pit props, with a minimum diameter of six inches. These were larch and cut from the copse down Gravel Hill. In that copse we planted two hundredweights of daffodils. They bloomed early in the protection of the wood.
Turkeys were bred and ran free down there. The whole wood was surrounded by high Flextella fencing.
We were the highest paid of those working on the land in Shirrell Heath at that time. Farm labourers wages were thirty shillings a week. I was paid two pounds and fifteen shillings. We had the same pay all year round. No overtime rates were paid in the summer. At Christmas all the workers were given a cockerel weighing eight or nine pounds.
I tell you, I think I could write a book of memories of Shirrell Heath, and there are many more about Warwick’s firm, too.
Mr Harold Burford b. 1924
I was born in India. My parents were living there because my father was in the army. We all came back to England just before I was due to start school. While a bungalow was being built for us in Lower Chase Road we all lived with Grandfather Smith at Poplar Cottage near the bottom of Solomon’s Lane, Waltham Chase.
That meant that my first school days were spent at the Infants’ School in Lower Church Road, Shedfield. I hated it, so one day I said to my teacher, Miss Seymour, “I’ve swallowed a stone. I want to go home.” This wasn’t true but Miss Seymour did not know that. She gave Eric Titheridge a ha’penny to walk home to Chase with me. It was a pity I couldn’t try that more than once!