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Author Topic: Growing up in the late 40's to the late 60's  (Read 46281 times)

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Offline busyglen

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Re: Growing up in the late 40's to the late 60's
« Reply #118 on: June 23, 2014, 18:42:24 »
I won't say anything but I have a picture of a similar contraption used in the early 40`s I think, but not quite as sophisticated as this one.  It actually shows what happens.  :)
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Offline oobydooby

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Re: Growing up in the late 40's to the late 60's
« Reply #117 on: June 23, 2014, 17:35:34 »
Preparations for the Great Leys Sports Day were begun in earnest on the Thursday prior to the event.  A huge marquee was erected, tannoy horns were fixed to each end of the communal hut and white lines 100yards long were painted on the newly mown grass to mark out eight lanes.  A lorry delivered a great pile of trestle tables and folding wooden chairs which were stacked beside the hut and covered with tarpaulin, a strange wooden contraption was brought down from the roof space in the hut and fixed to the ground by guy ropes and pegs.  This contraption consisted of two upright posts about seven or eight feet long between which was attached a plywood board with a four inch hole at the top and a tin bucket nailed below the hole. Bolts through the upright posts were attached to the board allowing it to swivel freely, there was also a pulley on one post with a rope round it so the board could be turned when required.

If anyone figures out what the contraption was for or can make an educated guess please keep it to yourself so as not to spoil it for others, thanks
©2014 A Hayes

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Offline oobydooby

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Re: Growing up in the late 40's to the late 60's
« Reply #116 on: June 22, 2014, 16:55:54 »
As we were shown our respective dormitories, I was to be in the large one as I was considered a senior and Alan was assigned a smaller one, I asked Uncle Basil where all the other children were.  “They’re all at school,” he replied.  “You’re lucky; you don’t need to go to school until after the summer holidays.”

Happenstance the infants and juniors finished their term three days later and the seniors the following day, so it was hardly lucky, besides the next few days for me were spent learning the ropes and being taken into Ramsgate to be fitted for a school uniform.  This included 2 pairs of new shoes, several pairs of socks, 2 pairs of trousers and a maroon blazer, as well as sporting gear.  Unfortunately included was a pair of football boots, I hated football, did then, still do!

When I say ‘learning the ropes’ I mean learning all about the varied chores we were expected to do.  Each child had a particular task they were required to perform, either before they left for school or after tea when they arrived home.  Washing and drying up dishes after breakfast, laying the tables for the next meal, cleaning out the wash bowls and baths, running a dusting mop over a dormitory floor, vacuuming the playroom carpet and various other simple jobs.  My particular favourite, and one which most children were loath to do was fill the coal scuttle from the coal bunker and top up the boiler.  It was a good excuse for getting really filthy!

You might note from the floor plan of the house there was a double door between the large boy’s dormitory and the girl’s, and you might wonder if anything untoward happened.  In fact, nothing did and this was not because the doors were alarmed.  They did creak exceptionally loudly as Uncle Basil or Mrs. Frere walked their nightly rounds to check all was well and I suspect the boys probably thought that if they were to try and visit the girl’s dorm the creaking doors would be enough to wake the whole house.  There was a reason for the doors, however.  If a fire were to break out and a stairwell was unusable there had to be a way to reach the other stairs, thus the doors in question.  Their effectiveness as an escape route was to be tested successfully one winter, but that’s a story for later.

Uncle Basil and Mrs. Frere had nicknames for each other and it did not take us long to be told under oath by the other kids not to expose this knowledge to our house parents that their nicknames were Bugs and Jif.  It did not take long before I started calling Uncle Basil ‘Uncle Bugs’, and Mrs. Frere simply ‘Jif’.  Their son, about my age, was named Dion, not I hasten to add anything to do with the singer of about that time, and he was simply called Dee by everyone.

Apart from the shopping trip to be kitted out with school uniforms, that first Tuesday and Wednesday, while in Ramsgate Bugs and Jif took us to the harbour, the lido and we had a good look around the town.

On Thursday, with the younger children now on holiday, Bugs and Jif were too busy working, so Alan and I were able to explore our new surroundings.  I was excited because there was an airfield just around the corner and we would often see jets screaming overhead as they clawed their way into the sky.  It did not take us long to discover we could walk round the perimeter and actually walk unhindered through a part of the airbase and past a spitfire sitting forlornly in the corner of a small field.  Our explorations also took us to a pig farm and we chatted to a farmer about his work.  He suggested we join the local young farmers club.  I was keen at the prospect of learning to farm, Alan not quite so.

I also learned that the communal hut also had a Cubs and Scout meeting on Fridays and I was keen to learn what I could, thus on Friday I met the Scout Master, learning that he was the only one in England who at the time was allowed to wear long trousers instead of the regulation uniform shorts.  It was a lot later that I learned he had artificial metal legs and was allowed to keep them covered.

All the while we were familiarising ourselves with the kids, not only those from our own house but the other houses as well, and soon we began forming friendships with our peers.  Whilst Alan was happy to play with boys of his own age, I mixed in with older kids who were more interested in the pop music which was in its infancy and was just beginning to gain air time on the light programme.

During the first week of the summer holidays, apart from our regular countryside walks, we were allowed to visit Ramsgate in small groups as our pocket money was enough to bus in and back and go swimming in the lido at least once a week.  We also learned how to make and throw ‘French arrows’, something that would be considered quite dangerous today and would probably be banned.  Hands up if you have ever made a French arrow!  I’ll explain.

Take a straight stick between two and three feet long or a half to one metre long for our younger readers.  Split the stick at the thinnest end for about 2 to 3 inches and slot cardboard flights in.  To prevent the split from spreading tie twine or wind sticky backed plastic (as per Blue Peter) just in front of the flights and just behind them too.  This also secures the flight.  Take a length of string slightly longer than the arrow, tie a knot at one end and loop it round the stick just in front of the flight so that the knot is held in place.  Grip the string tightly in your throwing hand while holding the arrow and throw keeping hold of the string, rather like a sling.

A good illustration can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3WjS3hzXY4 , although if anyone tries to make one I suggest you make sure no one is in the firing line.  We, of course did not worry about any such dangers; one child would throw an arrow from one corner of the football pitch to a waiting player at the diagonally opposite corner who would retrieve said arrow and promptly send it winging back.  There would sometimes be up to twenty children tossing arrows across the field at the same time, oddly no one was ever harmed in the entire three years I was there.

The second Saturday of the holiday was to be a sports day when parents would be visiting en masse and was to be a rather spectacular all day event culminating in a huge picnic with hot and cold food prepared by professional caterers brought in especially for the event.  Alan volunteered to represent our house, or as I pointed out earlier, more correctly our cottage in the under 10 hoop race while I grudgingly agreed to try the egg and spoon race.  As the great event grew ever nearer I was coerced into taking part in the slow bicycle race and the wheelbarrow joust.

Had I known of the pain involved in the egg and spoon race I would surely have never agreed!
©2014 A Hayes

Astronomers always look into the past.

Offline oobydooby

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Re: Growing up in the late 40's to the late 60's
« Reply #115 on: June 21, 2014, 16:04:10 »
It seems strange:   I have no idea how we were taken to The Leys but my first impressions of the home are still so vivid!

We arrived at Manston on 14th July 1958, a Monday, and were taken to a cottage with allotment style gardens along the left side of a narrow path which continued round the left of the cottage to the back.  To the right of the pathway were flower beds set in neatly mown lawns.  It was smaller than I had imagined for a children’s home and wondered where the children were.

We were introduced to Mr Johnson, the superintendent.  “Ah, Mr. Hayes and Mr. Hayes.” He grinned.  Looking at me he continued, “You must be Anthony and you,” turning to my brother, “must be Alan.  You’ll both be in five and six; I’ll just take you along to Mr Frere.”

He led us back along the narrow garden path towards some larger houses chatting as we followed. 

“Mr Frere was in the RAF during the war”  he said, which immediately caught my imagination.  We were about to meet one of my heroes, a fighter ace who probably had at least 100 kills and was feared by all the Huns he fought over the hills of Kent, no doubt a Spitfire flying squadron leader at the very least.  “His wife is called Joyce and they have a son of about your age, Tony, so you should get along fine”.

After entering the third in a row of five identical houses we were taken along a corridor into a comfortable looking lounge where stood a broad shouldered, slightly stout man.  My disappointment that this was not the square chinned hero I expected must surely have been evident as he snapped to attention.

“Frere, BJ, Corporal, 1337014!”, he snapped, as a beaming grin spread over his entire face.

“Oh, well!”  I thought, “At least he’s a corporal and not just an erk”.

“Come on then,” said Frere, BJ, Corporal, 1337014,  “let’s get a nice cup of char”. Back we went along the corridor and into a kitchen where two ladies were busy preparing a meal; one was Mrs. Frere and the other an assistant who’s name a don’t recall.  Mrs. Frere, unlike her husband, was slim and rather tiny, not much taller than me and I immediately took to her.


“You can call me Uncle Basil,” said Uncle Basil over a cup of tea and a cream scone.  “Or Uncle Bas or even just Basil if you like, and Mrs. Frere is Aunt Joyce”.

And so, on the 14th July 1958 began the happiest three years of my life in Kent.

Next time:  I get to know Bugs, Jif and Dee, we discover why the entire home is deserted and get to show our physical prowess on the field of sport.

*************************************************************************


Just a quick footnote:

I must thank Matthew Walker, Branch Manager of Your Move Estate agency of Queen Street Ramsgate for permission to use pictures from the web of the Leys.

Just in case you are wondering if I forgot how to count, I mentioned the middle house in a row of five when I described the home as having six houses.  This is because at the time there were five identical houses, the sixth at the southern end of the row was of a different brick colour, turned 90 degrees, half hidden by trees and just looked out of place, so I assumed it was not part of the group.
©2014 A Hayes

Astronomers always look into the past.

Offline oobydooby

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Re: Growing up in the late 40's to the late 60's
« Reply #114 on: June 15, 2014, 16:43:15 »
Yes, each house, or more correctly cottage historically speaking, has now been converted into four self contained apartments, two up and two down.  Google Street View shows some having for sale boards at the front.

And I've just realised where I found the photo's.  Now I will have to contact the estae agents to see if I can still use them!  Oh dear!
©2014 A Hayes

Astronomers always look into the past.

Offline peterchall

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Re: Growing up in the late 40's to the late 60's
« Reply #113 on: June 15, 2014, 16:34:55 »
Very interesting. :)
Each house seems to have two front doors in the photos.
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Offline oobydooby

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Re: Growing up in the late 40's to the late 60's
« Reply #112 on: June 15, 2014, 16:30:34 »
Ariel view, picture from Google Earth.
©2014 A Hayes

Astronomers always look into the past.

Offline oobydooby

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Re: Growing up in the late 40's to the late 60's
« Reply #111 on: June 15, 2014, 16:14:13 »
I seem to have hit a writers block:  I started to write about arriving at Manston and after a few lines could not think of what to write.  I decided to look online to see what I could find about 'The Leys' and came up woefully short so to fill my time productively I determined to draw a plan of the cottages and add some pictures.

The aerial picture is from Google earth, the photographs seem to be from old web pages and the plans are my own, I hope posting these satisfy the forum rules.

Manston

The transition from Southborough to Manston remains a complete blank in my memory, whether we were taken by train, plane, car or submarine I may probably never know.  We were whisked away quietly or did we have time to say goodbye to our new found friends?  Was it a happy move or not?  I still wonder if the system of allowing the older children help the younger ones remained, I hope it did; it was an excellent idea and beneficial to everyone involved.

So, as the summer holidays loomed we found ourselves at The Leys, Manston, six buildings, the first being numbered 1/2, the second 3/4 and so on until the final one 11/12.  Each building was originally two semi detached houses, hence the numbers. 

Copyright may exist on these pictures and I apologise unreservedly if such copyright is breached.
©2014 A Hayes

Astronomers always look into the past.

Offline oobydooby

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Re: Growing up in the late 40's to the late 60's
« Reply #110 on: June 03, 2014, 12:50:23 »
It's because we are engrossed in the story, rather than the technicalities.  :)  Well I am anyway.  :)

Must be doing something right then.  Thanks busyglen. :)
©2014 A Hayes

Astronomers always look into the past.

Offline busyglen

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Re: Growing up in the late 40's to the late 60's
« Reply #109 on: June 03, 2014, 12:22:05 »
Oops!  Did anyone notice the deliberate mistake?  In the part where I describe the journey from the remand home to Southborough I relate that part of the trip included a short ride on the motorway.  south of Bluebell Hill.  The first section of the motorway was not opened until 1963, five years after my story takes place.  I must say I am surprised no one picked me up on this.
It's because we are engrossed in the story, rather than the technicalities.  :)  Well I am anyway.  :)
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Offline oobydooby

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Re: Growing up in the late 40's to the late 60's
« Reply #108 on: June 03, 2014, 12:06:36 »
Oops!  Did anyone notice the deliberate mistake?  In the part where I describe the journey from the remand home to Southborough I relate that part of the trip included a short ride on the motorway, south of Bluebell Hill.  The first section of the motorway was not opened until 1963, five years after my story takes place.  I must say I am surprised no one picked me up on this.
©2014 A Hayes

Astronomers always look into the past.

Offline Sentinel S4

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Re: Growing up in the late 40's to the late 60's
« Reply #107 on: May 30, 2014, 18:52:17 »
You're far too modest for these pages oobydooby........... :)

S4.
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Offline oobydooby

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Re: Growing up in the late 40's to the late 60's
« Reply #106 on: May 30, 2014, 18:26:07 »
Thank you john 38 for your kind words.  If I had not written it I would have to agree that this is a fantastic, well written and evocative tale
as well as unusually descriptive, however as I am naturally humble and I did write it I cannot say how fantastic, well written and evocative as well as unusually descriptive this tale is.

Oh, what the heck. what a fantastic, well written and evocative as well as unusually descriptive tale this is!  HE HE.
©2014 A Hayes

Astronomers always look into the past.

John38

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Re: Growing up in the late 40's to the late 60's
« Reply #105 on: May 30, 2014, 15:59:08 »
I somehow missed this one ... or maybe failed to reply, whatever!

A well-written, interesting and unusual story, oobydooby

Offline oobydooby

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Re: Growing up in the late 40's to the late 60's
« Reply #104 on: May 26, 2014, 20:24:19 »
Following a closer look at all the documents supplied by KCC Social Services I am able to piece together a little of my time in care so, with this in mind I am adding a few pieces of information concerning my conviction and time in remand followed by my placement in Southborough, including brief extracts and locations.  I have also been in conversation with the Southborough Society and in particular Ian Kinghorn who has provided invaluable help including a photograph of the home.

Please bear in mind that these reports contain information that conflict with my memory of events; it may be simply that they were not particularly happy experiences and I have subconsciously buried them or, as I prefer to believe, I was smart enough to fool the psychologists and social workers to suit my own ends.  The second option in unlikely, but I will have to leave you to make up your own minds.

Charges and subsequent sentence

Me, my brother and another, un-named boy, whom I believe was a certain Peter B, were initially jointly charged with:
Storebreaking and larceny, value £39.18.0d.
Larceny of two full jars of sticks of rock, value £1.2.0d.
Larceny of three sticks of rock, value 9d.
Larceny of pedal cycle.

On April 1st 1958 I appeared in juvenile court charged with the larceny two full jars of rock, Alan with the lesser charge of larceny three sticks of rock and the other boy who was older than both of us with the other charges.

Alan and I were remanded to Stamford House Remand Home, Goldhawk Road, Shepherds Bush for two weeks pending reports.  All I can be certain of during these two weeks was that we were promoted to assistant prefects at the conclusion of the first week and again to prefects on the day we left so I am currently trying to obtain any records from the London archives which will involve another FOI request.

The reports contained information on the circumstances of the event prior to the offence and among other things were that I had taken my 11 plus examinations the previous year and passed to technical school level which ties in with my recollections of my interview which I deliberately failed, it was noted that such failure was unexpected and believed to be due to presumed deniability.  I also showed resentment to Ron Holbrook believing he was an unwelcome intrusion in the family environment.  Not the way I remember it!

On 14th April the Aylesford Juvenile Court committed us to the care of the child guidance council at Tunbridge Wells and on the 15th we arrived at Park House, Park Road, Southborough where we remained for three months, during which time I passed my 12th birthday.

We were subjected to psychological tests, unfortunately I was not given, quite rightly, access to Alan’s results but mine were quite revealing.

The Revised Stanford Binet Scale (look it up!) at my age of 11 years and 10 months gave me a mental age of 15 years and 2 months:  The progressive matrices (look it up!) gave me a score of 53 out of a total of 60 grade A with a percentile rate of 98:  Kohs Block Design (be a devil and look that one up too!) gave me a mental age of 15 years and 7 months.  It was noted that I was such a perfectionist that I took so long making sure I was correct that I timed out and failed the tests four times before I was told to just do what I was asked and not worry about the results.

Finally a report from Southborough to the KCC Children’s Committee states that I “works well within himself, but he goes out of his way to help some of the weaker children, he will sit with Robert Willis for about half an hour before school starts and go through his work with him’.  This ties in well with my story although I called him Peter, not Robert in my story.  As soon as I read the report and saw the name it was a bit like a light illuminating another dark corner of my memory; this was my friend who went with Alan and me just about everywhere in Tunbridge Wells.

Grateful thanks to Ian Kinghorn and the Southborough Society for the picture of Park House, taken between the wars when it was an orphanage owned and run by the RAOB (Buffaloes). Following WW2 it was taken over by KCC as a reception Centre. (The horns above the door having been removed)
©2014 A Hayes

Astronomers always look into the past.

 

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