You are in [Themes] [Reminiscences] [Oral History - Transcripts] [Marjorie Eatwell, c1991]

Mrs Marjorie Eatwell's reminiscences:

"Eddington prior to the Second World War was an almost self-contained community. Most commodities were available from Jessetts, which was an off-license, bakers, grocers and Post Office - the Misses Winkworth also having a general stores. The younger member being also a teacher at the Fairview Road School -we children led her a merry dance! Frequently being called 'diabolical little fiends' for our cheek.

The Mill was in full production too, first using horse-drawn wagons to transport the flour, later, Ford lorries took their place.

Many happy hours were spent watching Billy Wiggens and his helpers at the Smithy across the road from my home, shoeing horses and making the iron hands which went on the wheels of the farmer's wagons. And the smell! Nothing else on earth like it.

Dick Middleton and his brother ran a carpenter and undertakers business on the corner opposite the now modern garage. He was rather an irascible person and frequently gave vent to his temper on us kids.

Shoe repairs were dealt with by Mr. Hunt (Fred) in his spare time from being a postman - always ready within either a few hours or at the most a couple of days.

Hare treats came in the shape of the Muffin Man who carried his trays of goodies on his head and rang a bell to announce his presence.

The Hokey-Pokey Man (ice cream to the modern generation) came on his bicycle pedalling his large box of iced containers, 1 penny for a cornet, 2 pence a wafer.

Milk was delivered each morning by Mr. Kimber, who arrived in a pony-drawn float with 2 large churns, various sized 'dippers' hung round the outside, gill, half-pint, pint and quart. Milk was dipped straight from the churn into the housewife's jug, which was frequently left out on the doorstep.

There were in those days, close on 20 children who regularly walked the 1½ miles to school, back again at mid-day and home in the evening. No school meals available and we didn't need P.E. either! Though we bowled our iron hoops and wooden tops merrily up and down the pavements, sometimes braving carts on the dirt roads.

A water-cart laid the dust during the dry days of summer.

Dear Miss Gosling had a small general store opposite the now Cameo Hairdressers -where we spent out halfpenny pocket money, debating the merits of sherbert dabs, gob stoppers (2 for ½p) hundreds and thousands or liquorish laces.

Clothes, of course, were vastly different from today's many and varied choices. I had 2 dresses, both thick and serviceable. One for school, which was protected by white calico pinafores (3 of which I still possess) and one for Sunday Best, with it were worn black lace up boots and long socks.

Sunday was spent at Church or Sunday School. No outings in cars or coaches. The highlight of summer for the Sunday School was a trip to Savernake Forest either in a horse-drawn wagon or later a lorry belonging to Harry Giles (the local carrier). We went to the column where we swung in the trees, played games and ate great quantities of cakes and sandwiches.

My first 'exercise book' when I started school was a slate and a squeaky slate pencil. Mercifully that was soon replaced by proper paper and pencil. We girls were taught to knit before we were six years old. After many difficult and tedious hours pink pull on hats were borne home in triumph.

Concerts at the school were put on every Christmas, with every class doing a turn. The school hall being the venue - till productions became a bit more ambitious when the Church House or Corn Exchange were used. The older children performed a potted pantomime while the younger ones learned action songs or recitations. Betty Winkworth gave me a poem with 37 verses to learn called 'When Grandma Went Up To London'. At the time I was 9, the first verse is all I can now remember.

My dad must have been one of the first people in Hungerford to own a car. It was a De Dion two-seater with a canvas hood, which folded down like a giant pram, and a 'dicky'. This was a small seat with a back which closed down like a lid when not in use. When we ventured to Newbury another man always occupied that seat, because the car would only go up Denford, Marsh Benham and Speen Hills in reverse with a great deal of pushing from the passengers. Those hills have since been levelled and are nothing like as steep nowadays.

Something else, not permitted today, a couple of pigs were kept at the end of the garden. This was a mini-co-op effort between two or four families, left over garden produce and meal being supplied to feed the porkers until such time came for their demise. The animals were killed by the local butcher in situ and the carcasses shared out between the families who had fed them. Hours were spent in our small kitchen cleaning the chitterlings and rendering lard, while we children played football in the road with a blown-up bladder!!!

During school holidays a bicycle was hired from Charlie May (Senior) for 6 pence an hour and many happy hours spent cycling through the lanes. At Easter time, mum and I went out to Radley Bottom or Lambourne Woodlands equipped with several small baskets which we filled with primroses. The bulk of these decorated the window sills of St. Saviour's Church, which was always filled and bursting at the seams with people celebrating the great festival. Rev. Denning was our parson and a very popular and well liked person. I believe he was some relation to the now famous Hampshire Judge of the same name.

Alas! Tempus Fugit - Times Change!"

Marjorie Eatwell

See also:

- Oral History / Audio Archives