Recollections of a Village (Hawk Green) - Part 1
Alan Proctor is a well-known local character - once met never forgotten. He wrote the first draft of his recollections of Hawk Green in 2005 and I wanted to publish them at the time but they were (rightly) featured on the HGRA web site, so I linked to them instead. As the HGRA site has subsequently gone off-line, Alan has agreed to them being reproduced on The Marple Website so that they can be shared with the wider community, as they should be.
Here's Alan's introduction, in his own words: You don’t know what you’ve got till it's gone. I didn't appreciate the place until my later years, I simply took it for granted. Now I realise just how singular it is in many ways. Industrial, farming, golf club, cricket club, its own brass band, a fine hostelry, a post office, two chippies and many other features. And not least our proximity to some great scenery and tourist spots. Well, like many others, Joan and I will not be moving. "except," as she says, "in a box." Alan and Joan Proctor Born and Bred in Hawk Green.
Recollections of a Village
Part 1 by Alan Proctor
(first written circa 2005)
(illustrated with images from the Virtual History Tour of Marple)
with thanks to Ray Noble for many of the images used.
The word, village, is apt to describe Hawk Green as it was in my youth. To a stranger it is now indistinguishable from Marple, though we still have a cricket club, a post office and a village green to maintain the old 'Hawk Greeners' claim to individuality.
A gathering at Hawk Green pre-WW1
Prior to the 1939-45 War, there was very little building, apart from dotted development along Church Lane - Ridge Road, and Hibbert Lane leading to the village. Lyme Grove, Cynthia Drive and Waterside were the nearest streets, and there were open spaces, which are now taken up by ‘new’ developments within the village boundaries.
Before the advent of supermarkets, mail order and two car families, all daily needs could be found in the village. Within a small area were a newsagent and sweet shop, a greengrocer, two home bakers, a butcher with his own slaughter house, a post office, an off-licence, a co-op, a hairdresser, a blacksmith, a public house, at least three farms (providing fresh milk and cream daily) and a golf club! In addition, Rose Hill Football Club and the Cricket Club played on the village green. All we had to leave the village for was to visit a 'chemist' which we could travel to on one of two regular bus services - Marple Station to Hawk Green and Hazel Grove to Mellor, running every half hour, each with a conductor as well as the driver.
Brick Row, Hawk Green, "Home Sweet Home"
The Reading Room
I imagine that the original idea was to help with the education of the working class as that provision was a haphazard affair in the early years of the Century. It was a laudable project, which was run by a committee and trustees who oversaw good order, and it provided a meeting place for various groups. There were two snooker tables and a small back room with a reading desk, a large table and chairs where the 'wrinklies' could play dominoes for pennies (a gambling den!). The title Reading Room referred to the daily evening paper, which was delivered for the more frugal members to read. The magazine, Punch, was also provided monthly, though one suspects that that venerable mouthpiece of the chattering classes was a little too obscure for some of the local worthies! There is a ban on alcohol, as the pious founders probably foresaw the dangers of such self-indulgence. The Women's ‘Bright Hour’ still meet there, though they no longer sing, accompanied by the harmonium.
Until recently the same family had run this, since before the War. It was closed for a period during the War, due to a shortage of cooking fat, but was re-opened after the War by a stepson of the family, Gilbert Schofield, father of Mary Darlington of Hazel View. Gilbert had lost a leg because he contracted frostbite while delivering coal for Sam Bowden, but he managed to do the cooking while his wife served the customers. If we children had any spare pocket money, we would go to Mary's for a penneth of ‘scallops’ - flat chips from small potatoes, and a bottle of ‘Tizer, the Appetizer’- Bliss - we thought it a real treat.
A group of gentlemen in the Hawk Green reading Rooms around 1945.
The Newsagent (on the corner of Shepley Lane.)
In the 30s and 40s the proprietors were Mr. and Mrs. Green for whom I delivered daily newspapers, 52 in the morning and 24 in the evening. The 24 took twice as long because they were much further apart. I was paid 12/3d (61p) and compared with some newsboys in Marple I believed I was well paid. They also sold sweets, which we called toffees because we thought sweets sounded sissy. Mr. Green always served dressed in a suit or shirt with a starched collar and a waistcoat, and he would carefully weigh out the sweets by hand, breaking up the lumps with a toffee hammer. I don't remember the owners before the Greens, but my father (Frank Proctor) tells of buying lemonade and peas in the little back room. The ‘pop’ was sold in re-usable bottles with a marble in the neck. This was pressed in to allow the gas to escape and then to drink. The gas eventually forced the marble back into the neck with a sound, which is probably where the term pop comes from. I saw one of these bottles that had the name of the proprietor and ‘Shepley Lane’ embossed in the glass, so they were bespoke made.
We called this The Ironmongers and it was run for many years by Laurie Frost, an ex-mill worker, and his wife. It was situated by the ‘gennel’ leading to Bramham Road. As you opened the door the bell would ring and Laurie would appear from between the goods hanging from the ceiling. It was a scene from yesteryear with paraffin, chicken wire, shoe soap, firelighters, pots and pans etc. He also mended shoes and dispensed the local gossip laden with gloom! He was quite a character, complete with withered arm, which he waved about! Mrs. Frost was a lovely and very friendly little old lady. Sadly, neither the Frosts nor the Greens had any children.
Rhode Houses in Hawk Green, built in 1855 to house workers at Rhodes Mill.
There were two of these.
One occupied the corner of Rhode Houses and Upper Hibbert Lane and was run by two sisters (in-law?) called Wilson and Pass. They lived in the bungalow opposite the Ridge Chapel and they were gentle souls who worked very hard baking and making lots of sandwiches for the mill workers. Mrs. Pass had an only child, Mary, who is now Mary Gill and still lives in the district.
The other confectioner's was situated by Eccles Bridge and is still trading. In the post-war years it was run by the Carringtons, with Kenny, who we believed to be ‘slightly handicapped’. He made the pies in the cellar bake house, and we kids often speculated whether the drips on his nose made their way into the pies! However, the pies, and the rest of the fare, tasted very good. The shop was kept very busy by the hungry mill workers, and Eddie, the Proprietor, also ran a delivery service.
The Co-op (on the corner of Barnsfold Road)
It was a substantial building with large dry cellars and a large shop area where they sold everything loose from ham to coffee. The ham was cut for you as you waited - "Thick or thin, Madam?" There was always a smell of coffee and cheese in the air and a pleasant, quiet atmosphere. In the late forties and fifties the manager was Mr. Hubert Fletcher who was brought up in Hawk Green. His demeanor was dignified and quietly humorous and he was thought to be capable of a much more responsible job.
With such an investment the Co-operative Society must have expected quite a profit and this is surprising considering the small number of residents at the time the shop was built. I can still recall our 'divi' number, which was 681, and the ‘divi’ system of repayment according to how much was spent in the shop.
Hawk Green looking towards Barnsfold Road
The Greengrocers and The Butchers (on the comers of the Cricket Club access from Upper Hibbert Lane)
The Greengrocers was where the Newsagents is now and was run in the 30s by the Sharples family, and then in the late 40s by the Jones family. Trevor Jones, one of the sons, still lives locally and is a prominent member of the Carver Theatre. The shop lost out to the advent of the big supermarkets and people's increased mobility. The Sharples Family also ran a Butcher's on the opposite side of the entry. Later it was taken over by Dennis Allsop and his wife. He was a taciturn, rather doleful man, whose conversation seemed to me to be a litany of reasons why there was a shortage of various meats, though there was always an abundance of mutton. I can still taste it, and it begs the question of, why no lamb? To be mutton, surely it has first to be lamb?
Could it be that he, like Cpl Jones in Dad's Army had his favoured customers? Mrs. Allsop delivered the meat in her little shiny car. Dennis made his own sausages while the customers looked on. He also did his own slaughtering, shepherding the beasts across the road from a field which is now the car park of The Crown to pens in the passage to the Cricket Club where they waited for entry to the slaughter house. Mr. Allsop was a trustee of the Reading Room and would come in from his shop next door attired in open rain Mac and homburg hat, presumably to oversee his charge, because to my knowledge he did not use any of its facilities. When the Cricket Club was due to move to its present location in the late 1950s, Dennis had to be involved in the access negotiations, and he was not happy about the arrangements, though he had ceased to do his own slaughtering by this time.
Half Acre Terrace, Upper Hibbert Lane - Looking up towards the Green.
The Off Licence (comer of Upper Hibbert Lane and East Drive)
This is a large premises with outbuildings that used to be the workshops of Mr. Eastwood, a local builder, who may have given his name to East Drive. His daughter, Edith Wood, was known as Edie and lived at the end house on the left. She was an attractive lady who was much admired by the local yeomen and she died in 1992 when she was about 80. Her husband, Jack had a wry sense of humour: if someone had been hurt, for instance at cricket, he would say, “Ne’er mind, it won’t ‘urt when’t pain’s gone”. The proprietor of the off licence during the 1950s was Jack Rogers who was not known for his generosity. One Christmas, 1 bought four pints of Mackeson Milk Stout as my mother drank a bottle each night to relieve her chronic arthritis. As I made to leave, Jack called me back and presented me with a half-bottle: "Give that to your Mother and wish her a happy Christmas". Half a pint after 365! Good ole Jack!
Much has been recorded about the ‘pub’, and the most accessible record is Jack Turnbull's 'Last Orders Please'. It was used as an occasional Magistrates Court, and I can recall stories of one landlord named Jabez Shaw who ruled the inn with great discipline, keeping good order and requiring no swearing and no games on Sundays, a rule which stood until well into the 1950s. I used to join in with the hymns, which were sung once the 'hops' began to take effect. This ‘pious’ behaviour was thought very worthy by some, and the resultant harmonies -Take oil in your vessel and let your lamp burn bright', and 'Glory to your Father, your father'.... etc. sounded quite wonderful; to their inebriated senses, until a certain Jack McKay brought in a new-fangled tape recorder. That caused a rethink, at least among those with an ear for music. It sounded absolutely awful, The Tap Room or Vault could be a very inviting place on a cold winter's night, with its heaped up coal fire, wooden benches and tables where cards and dominoes were played. There was waiter service, and here the local men exchanged gossip and ribaldries away from the women folk. With no TV, and no radio, even, for many and with wartime restrictions there was little else to do.
The large man at the centre of this shot outside the Crown is thought to be landlord Jabez Shaw
The First Cricket Club
Around the turn of the Century, cricket was played adjacent to Number 3 Tee on Marple Golf Course, a few yards from the local Council tip. The track to this tip is the public footpath leading from the canal bridge at the rear of the Shepley Lane Trading estate. Little is known about this cricket pitch, but a move was made to The Green during the 1926 General Strike. Mr. Roland Eastwood, the local builder, oversaw the work using spoil and flue dirt from the Goyt Mill to level the ground, and local volunteer labour. The pavilion was on the grass verge at the corner of Windlehurst Road and Barnsfold Road. It was a black and white striped building with an upper storey for the scorers. There was, of course, little likelihood of being knocked down by a speeding car in those days.
Cricket on the Green at Hawk Green
The next pavilion, a green striped shed, was on The Green proper, and cricket moved to the present site in 1960. The ground, original buildings and sightscreens were commissioned by a small band of dedicated players. Materials, new and second hand were begged and purloined locally for the project, and the land was purchased from the Goyt Mill for £500. It might have helped that Mr. Cyril Pott, one of the Directors of Goyt Mill, had been a keen cricketer.
We were very proud of the (un)-finished result of our labours when our President, Miss Barlow of Woodville, tossed the coin before the opening match in June 1960. Miss Barlow's brother was killed during the 1914-18 War. In the Reading Room hung a large picture of this moustachioed army officer, given in his memory. Lt. Barlow was a navigator/Gunner in WW1 and died when shot down by Baron von Richtofen, "The Red Baron". His story is recorded in the excellent book "Remembered" where all "the fallen" from Marple district are described in detail. The book, written by Peter Clarke, Andrew Cook and John Bintliff, is a worthy endeavour indeed and is possibly unique.
Hawk Green Cricket Team between 1930 - 1940
Many personalities are connected with the resurgence of Hawk Green Cricket Club in the 1960s and its steady progress since. One prominent player was Roy Ridings who played every year from the age of 14 until ill health forced him to step down at the age of 46. His main function was as opening bowler, though he once scored 65 runs in 30 minutes when batting. He played regularly in the Derbyshire and Cheshire League and in the late 70s was the premier bowler in the First Division where he never conceded an average of more than 10 runs and regularly took more wickets than bowlers given many more overs. All this was achieved by ‘training on beer and cigarettes’. Then there was Mr. Brelsford who always claimed that “Air ‘Orrice’ were t’ fastest boughler (bowler) as ‘Awk Green ever ‘ad.” Well, he was due for a trial at Lancashire County Cricket Club when war broke out, so “you never know.” (Sadly, Roy Ridings died in December 2007. About 200 mourners attended the funeral service).
The Goyt Mill
It was completed about 1905 and replaced Shepley Mill next door. The mill gave much-needed employment to the local populace, although no one ever got rich quick by working there. It served this purpose until the decline of the cotton industry in the early 1950s. Since then it has been used as industrial manufacturing and leisure units, so still provides some employment.
The Goyt Mill under construction in 1904
When Shepley Mill was demolished, in the 1930s, a firm from New Mills carried stone along Shepley Lane in a truck bearing the name of S. B. Marshall. When we kids were playing hop scotch or whip and top in the road and we saw this, we used to shout, “Eh up, ‘ere comes Sugar Butter Marshall. I know little of life in the mill, but I delivered an evening paper to the stokers and steam crane man, and a morning paper to the engine room. Here, the massive Belgian-made engine, with its two reciprocating pistons, drove the shaft drives on every floor via the rope race, which had fifty-two grooves (I counted them) around its huge drum for the ropes. It was an awesome sight for a small boy. (If only Fred Dibnah could have saved this magnificent machine with its elegant surrounding wall tiles. It would have been a national treasure).
The steam crane was mounted on a short track leading from the arched bays, which can still be seen by the canal. We would watch the driver drop the grab into the coal barge and hoist away with a steamy clatter into either the boiler hopper or the storage area for later use. One Sunday afternoon there was a fight between a father and son who tumbled about among the coal while mother screamed at them from the tiny cabin of the narrow boat where they lived.
A sad event was the suicide of a man who lived in Rhode Houses and worked in the mill. To hide the evidence, cinders were spread around, but we ghoulish kids examined this carefully and told the gruesome story at school.
The Goyt Mill at Hawk Green
Shepley Mill was a spinning and weaving mill, as was Hollins Mill. Goyt Mill was purely a spinning mill. The ground between Goyt Mill and Sunwell Terrace was left uneven with spoil from the building, and unfenced, and made a great playground. We would hide and scramble and build dens with large drums around holes in the ground. From there we would raid other dens around the area, which caused reprisals to our headquarters at the Goyt Hills! We also made forays to the quarry on The Ridge, and we had a perfect adventure playground.
Hawk Green’s War
The War affected everybody in one way or another, but the most frightening, and the most exciting time for children was the two years or so after the initial invasion scare, following the retreat from France, when the Country suffered bombing raids to many towns, airfields and factories, and the Manchester blitz came around Christmas 1940.
It was exciting coming home from choir practice during an air raid to shelter with my Mum under the stairs. Prior to these air raids, many child evacuees were housed with local families, and a boy called Fred Bradley lived with us at 11 Shepley Lane. These children were soon homesick and went home once the bombing scare was over. There was a shortage of everything and everyone had a ration book from birth to death when it had to be surrendered - to stop fiddling! Sometimes they were used for bartering.
In 1939 the LDV (Local Defense Volunteers) was formed and they would parade at the back of Rhode House using a large shed as a base. There was an Austin Gipsy-type trailer parked on Shepley Lane as a mobile HQ and it was almost laughable, though it did a great deal for morale. LDV was often corrupted to “Look, Duck and Vanish”. All this helped us to forget the impending conflict and hardship.
Before the air raids in 1940 each street was issued with a stirrup pump, which was kept by the ‘Section Leader’. In Shepley Lane was my Father, Frank, who showed others how to fight a blazing house; a forlorn hope, on reflection, though it fascinated me as a 9 year old.
Upper Hibbert Lane, Hawk Green
At least three unexploded anti-aircraft shells landed in the area. One came to ground at Rathbone’s Farm near the Romper (at Ridge Fold) causing the death of a horse, while another caused great excitement when it exploded on the Goyt Mill parapet.
Another great event for us children was the shooting down of a German bomber during the Manchester air raids, when we, amongst many adults, crowded round the site near Wilkson’s Farm on Torkington Lane to forage for souvenirs, mine being a piece of fuselage with a lingering smell which continued for years. The prize find was the propeller blade, dug out by Peter Hamman (whose brother was shot down over Germany and killed) and Eric Booth. Sadly, it was given to a Rag and Bone Man. Another piece greatly envied was a strip of tail with a swastika on it. Wow! What a prize! The local doughty Home Guard turned out in a failed attempt to capture the four-man crew who parachuted to safety around the Stockport / Bramhall area. Shades of Captain Mainwaring of TVs Dad's Army and his brave men!
The children’s war effort, didn’t amount to much, as far as we were aware, but we were asked to ‘volunteer’ to help the local farmers in the fields. To this end we were given a card with 20 spaces for the farmer to fill in when we attended. He might or might not give us 2 Shillings (l0p), and some boys would ask the man not to sign their card, thereby giving them a further afternoon off school!
An air raid shelter was dug at the bottom right hand comer of the Green. I doubt it was ever used, but it made a great playground, especially once the locks were broken. An attraction for the young boys in the area was the chance to join the Air Training Corps, the Army Cadets and the Sea Scouts. This was encouraged, because it was considered patriotic, though to the kids the fascination was probably the uniform, the fun and the camps.
The birth of a black girl to a local maiden caused a stir at this time, mainly because the locals had never seen a coloured person, so it got the tongues wagging. However, she was well brought up as a Methodist and became a very pleasant young woman.
A facet of children's lives in the 30s and 40s was the amount of time spent playing outdoors. The boys built dens, ‘explored’ and ‘climbed’ in one of the two quarries, played scratch games of cricket and football on the Green, hopscotch, bowl and hoop, whip and top (all of which had a season), and were simply together in the street.
Despite rationing we must have been fitter than children in the 90s, with their preoccupation for the computer and the television. For instance, Jack Oliver, Roy Griffiths and myself, Alan Proctor, aged fourteen, cycled to Chester and back in one day (about 94 miles) using ‘sit up and beg’ bikes without gears. Can one imagine that nowadays?
Arthur Nadin was a bowler for Hawk Green cricket club before and after WWII, 1939 to 1944.
Local Characters 40s and 50s
To the great amusement, or consternation, depending on those within earshot, a certain Mr. Cartledge, who had lost his reason, would tell the same ribald joke, concerning the comparative bravery of the Home Guard and Soldiers - an old chestnut, to anyone he encountered. His favourite spot was at the bus stop where he had a captive audience. He certainly made us kids giggle.
I remember an old farmer from Windlehurst being asked in the Crown what on earth he was smoking in his pipe, and he replied, “Green end of a goose turd, dun’t it smell good?”
Since the booklet I penned for the exhibition some years ago, one or two locals have pointed out a few omissions! Well, it was put together in rather a hurry, plus there was insufficient time. So to make amends here are a few addendums!
Herbert and George Nuttall were two brothers (big men) who both served in the forces during the war, as did many Hawk Green lads. Herbert, the eldest, fought in France with a guards regiment and had fond memories of his return to the villagers he met during his service there. He later became a policeman for a time, becoming a professional wrestler and briefly a boxer. He married a Marple girl, Dorothy Whatmough, who used to serve in the ‘chippie’ in Market Street, Marple. They lived on The Green with their four children.
George, the younger, named after his father, served in the Navy and we can only imagine how cramped it must have been when they returned from the war! The house was a small 2 up 2 down with an outside loo!
They all weighed around 16 stone though Mrs Nuttall, a doughty lady, was quite small. George who married a lovely lady called Jean Selby from Mellor (a love match - both very good looking!) also settled in The Green and they had five children.
George Nuttall sparing with British Heavyweight Champion Bruce Woodcock in 1949.
However, George (Junior) became the more ‘famous’ one when he rose through the heavyweight boxing ranks to become an area champion. Locally he was a hero although he would have laughed at that phrase - he was too nice and good-looking (my wife, Joan, as a young teenager used to offer to shop for her mother at the shop where George helped out). Interest gathered apace when he became a sparring partner for Bruce Woodcock, the then British and Commonwealth Champion and coaches were hired to watch him fight at the Kings Hall, Belle Vue (the old zoo, amusement and leisure park in Manchester). However, when he retired, still young, his dad still had ambitions for him, as witnessed one night when my pal and I took him home after picking him up ‘in his cups’ outside a pub! We stopped the car at the entry leading to his home and he leaned over from the back seat and pronounced “Air gud is thardest ‘ittin’ ‘eavyweight int wurgled”. Just then his wife appeared at the car door. George staggered out, stumbled on the uneven ground with Mrs Nuttall helping him on his way with “get inside – you’re drunk. Where've you bin ‘til this time?” and she became the hardest hitting housewife in Hawk Green! Obviously that’s where her two big boys got it from!
Yes, the housewives in the past had to cope with many hardships. She was one of many I knew (on reflection) whose capabilities in those restricted, male-dominated times were admirable. My own mother, Annie Proctor, was another.
The brothers were both keen British Legion members and when they died within two weeks of each other, one Christmas in the early nineties (George walking one of his long time pets, a whippet), they had written in their wills for a roll of honour board to be placed in the Legion lounge. Their two names head a (now lengthening) list of deceased members. Thank you boys!
George and Herbert Nuttall were true Brits, a vanishing breed I fear!
House on the corner of Shepley Lane (Marple Civic Society 1993)
One old spinster lived at the 1666 stone house at the comer of Shepley Lane, Alice Barber by name, whose father would put tar on the walls of his half acre plot to deter us kids from sapping (stealing apples). When she sold up to Jack Oldfield, a local journeyman, she moved into No 13 Shepley Lane paying rent of about 10 shillings (50p) per week. Her electric bill was once 17 shillings (80p) for a quarter! Since my wife and I lived at No 11 we gleaned many stories from her, all said in an accent the like of which is never heard in these very different days to when she grew up. (We did have a tape of her telling a story although I am afraid it is lost - at one point she said “turn that theer gadget off - ir isna me!” meaning “it isn't me”.) She once told of her brother who lost a leg in the 1914-1918 war in France, who came home drunk from The Crown after regaling the locals with his experiences and was locked out by his father. He apparently fell asleep “inthorchard”!
Now then - an odd tale and a funny one!
At the right hand gable comer of The Crown you will see a quarter conical metal hood. I always wondered what it was for. Is it for milk bottles, groceries, and parcels? At the first bonfire meeting in March 2001, Alan Moors and I talked briefly to the landlord’s wife, who wasn’t even aware of it! So Alan took us outside and revealed the answer to the mystery (he was brought up a few doors away). Apparently, after drinking up at closing time, the men were too lazy to go round the back to the urinal so they relieved themselves at the corner of the building and gatepost, which obviously resulted in a permanent stench. So this ‘device’ was fitted to deflect the said liquid on to their person! Alan said, “That stopped ‘em!” It will never be on Tomorrow's World but it must have been a scientific advance at the time! History doesn't record who devised or made the ingenious gadget although it would be interesting to know.
A large group of people outside the Crown at Hawk Green during WW1
Such little stories are what makes a community unique, but like so many others that could have been told they are lost forever, as are the photos, artifacts etc, which are dissipated with time or upon bereavement. For this reason we now have a Residents' Association so it prevails upon us all to record or save anything that might be of interest to our descendants and local historians!
Childhood Memories - The 30s and 40s
We oldies often reflect on the differences in the lives we led as Children & Young Adults. These differences amount to changes in just above everything from the accepted rules of social behaviour through the advent of Television (and the coarsening of media communication) traffic and world travel too and this is my point - the way children occupied themselves either at play or at school. Incidentally during the 40s and early 50s children at most schools ended their studies at the age of 14, so as in my case leaving at the end of the first term after their 14th birthday with the result that even though I was in the “A” Stream I only received 7 or 8 weeks “Education” in my final year and this was with semi-retired old fashioned teachers probably brought out of retirement!
A 1930s Hawk Green Football team
Yes, the prevailing attitudes and mores were very different. However one aspect of the way things were is that children played out far more, wandering all around the local area, the fields, quarries, neighbouring streets, building dens and occasionally a trip to the ‘Roman Lakes’. (Come in No. 7) Where we could use the 'What the Butler Saw' type amusements for a penny (one and a half new pence) After paying 3d (why d. I always wondered as in £.s.d.) to pass through the clicking, multi-barred 7ft high turnstile which I once passed through after being paid two shillings (a florin) for singing in the choir for a wedding at All Saints Church - simple, innocent pastimes indeed and what a contrast to the manner in which people of all ages seek their pleasure in these enlightened times. Yes, the Roman Lakes was the place to be during term holidays and weekends with the un-adopted road to the ‘Mecca’ thronging with people of all ages strolling to and from the attraction. Indeed that splendid Victorian Railway Station on Brabyns (What a loss amongst many!) was always busy with Day Trippers from points up and down the line. The carriages harnessed to a noisy clanking steam engine, probably a tanker, which would top up with water while at the platform which was another point of interest for passengers and train enthusiasts (No anoraks in those days).
I have read that ‘nostalgia kills the spirit’ (or it ain't what it used to be!) However in common with other local wrinklies I reminisce with and on occasion, younger people from whom there is a mixed reaction (a little of which may be scornful and out of earshot) it seems we look back with fondness to those less distracting more carefree times!
An anecdote I'm fond of relating is the occasion when a boy named Roy Cameron (of Sycamore Terrace) whose mother quite openly breastfed a baby in our company).
We explored, as we were wont to call our travels, around Barnsfold (Ben Woods Farm) where in the middle of the field we dug up and ate a tuber, which we called a Pignut. What has ever since puzzled me is how did we know what to look for, and was it edible? Well I have mentioned this to many people since and only recently did I meet one person who knew what I was talking about. I cannot remember ever being shown though I have since read an information board by a footpath at Leyburn in Yorkshire which quite matter-of-factly stated that the grazing and wild animals would dig up and eat these nuts. Stating that they displayed a low whitish bloom in late summer, it was not quite late summer and the only white flower I found was clover. All this begs the question since we never hear talk about them and of course the use of pesticides etc. have they, along with much of ancient flora and fauna, disappeared forever? The Pignut of course is what is otherwise known as a truffle and since our French friends look for them with the help of a ham on legs ‘Porker’ though apparently dogs too can be trained, though they are not the preferred choice. However, I wish I knew now where to look! Though I doubt if anyone would tell - could the reader pass on any interesting tit-bits to me, (I'm in the book) about this - or in fact any other stories or artifacts we could include in our Residents Association Historical Records - Remember, if we do not record these things they are gone forever and later generations will be unaware of the way this interesting locality of ours went through the changes.
3 maids a milking outside the Manor House, Hawk Green
One pastime for children was Whip and Top with some quite expert displays to be seen from some with a so-called window breaker, which was like a spindle with a flattish top that would fly for yards off the ground - hence the name. This toy, as with Bowl and Hoop needed expertise - hand and eye co-ordination and of course this in turn along with other games would help to train children for other pursuits, unlike the Gameboy! Another game, Hopscotch, was more competitive unlike the previous two, practiced as they were by individuals. This game would be played one to one or by a team but it could result in arguments “You trod on the Line” “No, I did not” etc. Still, that's where we learnt our ‘social skills’, certainly not on a computer sat down in comfort!
Yet another game was Marbles. Played with different rules depending, I think, on which street it was played. The multicoloured glass balls being gathered in numbers by beating an opponent in competition. Again smart practice was sometimes employed! The larger marbles were called ‘Dobbers’ as I recall.
Then again there was Skipping - for the girls - (I never saw a boy with a rope). Showing great dexterity - often reciting chants or rhymes - Salt, Mustard, Vinegar, Pepper was one - you may remember more?
Conkers was another competitive pursuit with the kernels of the horse chestnut tree being threaded onto a string and used to break another that was suspended in turn by your opponent (remember 'stringies' chaps?) The honesty of this game depended on the players since the victor added on the number the loser claimed - all grist for the mill as they say! Latest News (Oct. 2002) a Scout Group in Windsor has been instructed to Ban Conkers for fear of Litigation - What next?
Another trick (game) played by the more mischievous was to tie the door knockers together, retire and watch the fun or if you could afford it regularly phone the same number saying “is Fred there?” When hours or days later ring again saying, “Hello Fred here - any calls for me?”
A football team posing with Barnsfold Road, Hawk Green in the background.
Girls would also perform handstands against the walls (encouraged by the boys) and of course cartwheels - in fact from memory I cannot recall the male gender doing any of this type of exercise. One game they would play of course was Tarlio’ or Tick’ where the Player ‘on’ would stand by an object, count say a hundred while everyone else became hidden - the object being to reach the ‘centre’ before the ‘Searcher’ could get back while looking for the others. Tick of course was simply a chase to touch the others - they then would become the ‘chaser’.
Who can remember ‘Hopper’ when with arms folded children would hop into each other? The winner being the one to stay on one leg. Nowadays the Powers that be and probably protective parents would not allow such physical games, ‘Hopscotch’ goodness no – The poor darlings might fall over! Etc.
These and other such games occupied the younger children but nowadays the increasingly streetwise pre-teens would scoff at such pursuits while some perhaps secretly wishing they could engage in less Adult behaviour. Having however piously said all that - we did play ‘Kiss’ and ‘Dare’ behind the cricket pavilion - well, we were a mature 10 - 11 years old!
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