The childhood memories of Enid Wilkins, who grew up in Coleshill, are reproduced below and were taken down by her daughter Ginny Martin in 2017. They are reproduced with her permission. At the time, Enid had been getting a little forgetful and was uncertain about some of her memories, so her daughter has highlighted these passages in the text.
FAMILY HISTORY- ENID MARY HARDING KORZUN [NEE WILKINS]
Enid was born in 5 Council Cottages in Coleshill.
Her father, Frank, was working for the General Post Office in Amersham and her mother, Alice, stayed at home. According to Enid, they had met when they were out cycling.
Alice was in service at the time and regarded herself proudly as a professional lady [either as a cook in Old Amersham or for a doctor in Beaconsfield].
Frank was living with his cousin Albert Bates and his cousin's wife, Ada Bates, in their home -1 Thornbury Cottage, Chalk Hill. Pam Appleby recalls the Bates's and that they had to go to the well on the common to fetch their water. They had married in Amersham Registry Office in 1922 and soon afterwards moved to 24 Pipers Wood Cottages where they had their first child, John. He was 3 years older than Enid.
Many members of the Hording family lived in Coleshill.
Her grandfather, Alfred, had died 2 years before her birth but her 'Granny', Mary Hording was still living at 2 Clivia Villa.
Her Aunt Daisy was living at Bottle Cottages with her family-husband Arthur, children Eric and Mary. Her husband died in 1931 and Enid remembers it as being attributed to lung damage from a gas attack in the First World War.
Her Aunt Violet and her daughter Les also lived in the village. Violet was in service at Rushymead House and they both lived some of the time with 'Granny'. Violet is remembered as being a cook for the Forbes family at the big house and she also associates her with carol singing!
Aunt Elsie and her husband, Jim Ware [Frederick James Ware], lived two doors away at 2 Council Cottages. He was a “farmer” according to the 1939 Coleshill register of residents and according to Enid he did a milk round with a horse and cart. Records show that he was a clerk for the parish council from 1930 to 1960. Elsie was a housewife and Enid remembers her as 'fly by night'! Certainly she had a 'boyfriend' who was a bus driver. Was this Harry Lambert whom she later married?
According to Enid, she was a 'robust child' whereas John was 'sickly'; he had to have olive oil rubbed into his skin. They played together. He enjoyed all the 'normal boyhood activities' and this included his Hornby train set.
Her earliest memory though is of walking back home from Granny's house with her hand being held by her mother; she can also remember on that time or on another when it was windy and rainy. Her 'Granny' is remembered as a 'reserved type' and 'not very warm'. They always had to knock on her door when they called; they could never just walk in. She never remembers Granny visiting their house though. At Christmas perhaps, Granny gave out home-made wine. When Granny died, Enid was 22 years old and she went to see her body being laid out and her hair made an impression upon her.
Aside from all of the usual chores, her mother Alice liked to knit, sew and crochet. She was a good cook and she made jam. She had high standards in many ways; for example, Enid tells of how they had a tablecloth for meals rather than newspaper!
Her father, Frank either walked or cycled to the General Post Office at Amersham-on-the-HHI. He had a handcart for his tools. He would take the footpath down from Coleshill to Whielden Street, opposite the hospital. Sometimes when he came home, Enid would meet him at the beginning of the village and get a ride home on his handlebars. Occasionally, he had to cycle out towards Oxford to work - Wallingford, for instance. When he was at home, he enjoyed his pipe and he worked on his vegetable plot in the back garden. He may have had an allotment too. She remembers that he had a scar on his neck and he used to joke that he had been nipped by a horse but it was actually a scar from a boil! He always had a limp or 'gammy leg' and it was believed to be because of an injury in the war [he served near Ypres which he called 'Wipers']; this may have been another tale.
They always had pets. They had the dogs Big Mick and Little Mick, the cats Big Bill and Tinker as well as Jimmy the Tortoise. Enid remembers playing with them and trying to weigh them in a basket!
Enid remembers how much she enjoyed walking and she would always be going out into the surrounding fields and woods - she would walk with family or friends, taking their dogs with them. She remembers two walks particularly - one was through the gate by the right hand side of the school and down to the fields and woods there. The hedges on the school perimeter were good for blackberrying. Mushrooming was another favourite pastime. The other walk was behind the house and down to the farm below or just through the fields that stretched along behind the houses and then back again along the village road. One of Enid''s chores as a child was to do the black- leading of the fireplace and perhaps the stove. To warm the beds in the colder months, they had stone hot water bottles. Electricity finally came to the village before the family left and one bonus was that they could have a radio. At Christmas, they would make paper chains to decorate the house. One year, a present of a book for Enid was discovered afterwards hidden in the under- stairs cupboard.
Alice had a friend called Bill Honce; he lived in Chesham with his sister and was a bus driver. Quite often, he stayed overnight with the family and his son Brian became their lodger. Brian went to Coleshill School too. Bill possibly organised the charabanc outings from the village. When Alice became ill and went away to hospital, the friendship was curtailed.
Also living in the Council Cottages was Mrs Ellen Jevam [Nell], at number 6, with 'Old Charlie' and her sons David and Cyril. Enid called Mrs Jevam 'Jej Jej' and she looked on her as a 'second mother'. They had a battery radio! The 1939 Coleshill register lists Charles and Ellen as living at number 6 with 4 others who are un-named.
At number 1 were Edwin and IvyAppleby with 3 others who are un-named on the 1939 register but one of them would have been Irene with whom Enid remembers playing.
At number 4 Council Cottages lived the Payne family - Mr and Mrs Payne with their children - Eric [b.1929], Leslie [b. 1933, Sylvia [b.1936] and one other. Enid used to play with the Payne girls and she loved taking the baby out.
At number 7 were Emma and Edwin Appleby with JackAppleby who was 16 years older than Enid.
Coleshill Village School was directly opposite the Council Cottages and so it was so easy for Enid to go to school. Her mother used to bring hot drinks such as cocoa over the road to her and John. She has very fond memories of her school days. Her school mates called her 'Anna May Wong' because of her haircut - in a bob with a straight fringe! In the 'Infants', they played with a doll's house and her teacher was Miss Hill. [Pam Appleby remembers a Miss Raine who took the infants' class.] Mr Young was the headmaster and Enid thought he was 'nice'.
In the 'Juniors', Enid enjoyed learning to knit and sew. They were also taken to Beaconsfield Secondary School for cookery lessons. Miss Archer who married and became Mrs Carter was called 'fearsome' by Pat Appleby and Enid mainly remembers her shouting and her ruler!
The children from Winchmore Hill came to Coleshill School by bus and one of them became Enid's best friend. She was also good friends with Olive Slade, the blacksmith's daughter who lived 'down near Granny's somewhere. In 1939, the blacksmith Frank W. Slade and Grace L Slade were living in 'Spinney', Magpie Lane.
Enid really enjoyed going to Girl Guides which was held in the Windmill.
Enid had a gap of 9 months when she had to leave Coleshill, her home, her school and her friends to go and live with Aunt Jinny and her family in Tilehurst, Reading. This was because her mother Alice was in hospital firstly in Old Amersham and then in Aylesbury as she had severe arthritis in her knees; later she went to the seaside to convalesce. This happened around 1936-1937. Enid was too young to be left at home on her own, her father would have been at work all day and John, who was only about 14-15 himself, was working as a delivery boy for the chemist's shop [not Haddon's/on the corner?] in Old Amersham. Her Granny was about 73 years old and presumably too old to be able to take of her. Violet was in service and Daisy's home was too small. Elsie had never had children and Alice probably did not want to leave Enid in her care.
It was an unhappy time in many ways for Enid although her relatives were kind. Other people that Enid recalls are:
Pam Appleby who lived in 'the cottages opposite the church and near the pub' according to Enid -probably 4 Red Lion Cottages?
And Enid Stubbings, daughter of Fred Stubbings, who was head master from 1897-1931. The family lived in Laburnum Villas.
Enid went to Sunday School at Coleshill Baptist Chapel, a Methodist church, which was on Barracks Hill rather than to All Saints Church. She remembers going to some services in the chapel when she was virtually the only child there and some of the adults 'pointed at her' because she was on her own; she had gone out of curiosity and because it was 'something to do' as the village was 'so quiet'. Mrs Bates, a relative, used to play the organ and seemed to organise the activities there. In 'A History of Coleshill', it says - Mrs A. Bates secretary, as her father had been forty years before'. Apparently the Carter family [Daisy, Eric and Mary] also went there. Apparently the chapel did much better outings and Enid remembers going to Burnham Beeches on one.
In terms of village life, Enid has several memories. There was the village store and post office opposite the pond, the common, the clay pits, the village hall, the farms and the blacksmith's. She recalls horses going into the pond. The pond froze over during some winters and although she did not have any skates, Enid would go on the ice to play and slide. She refers to one of the farms as 'Nell's farm' as Ellen Jevam was related to the farmers who had the farm near Barracks Hill. The other farm that she remembers most is the one by the windmill. John would go and help out at haymaking time. The two farms delivered milk in churns and they would use a 'dipper' to transfer it to a jug which was then put in the safe in the larder. David Pusey/Pursey did one milk round. A baker's van also came to the village and Enid remembers the hot cross buns that she had.
For most of her childhood, Enid's life was spent in and around the village and she only occasionally went elsewhere; she does remember going to the shops in Chesham on the bus - perhaps to Paterson's for clothes. She also recalls shops in Amersham such as Snell's bakery in Whielden Street and Renshaws in Station Road which sold underwear and you could buy things on the 'never never'. Pam Appleby recounts how the traders came to the village - the Puseys, Renshaws and Haddon's, the coal merchant. Also, the doctors' surgery was in Old Amersham and their family doctors were Dr Henderson and Dr Green.
During the war, things changed although not as much as elsewhere. They had doodlebugs, with their distinctive noise, that went over the village. There were evacuees who joined the school and the school routines had to change to accommodate the newcomers. For example, they had nature lessons outside of the classrooms to free up some space.
The Wilkins family, however, decided to leave the village around 1938/1939 as Frank wanted to move to a home nearer his work at the GPO in Amersham-on-the Hill; in the winter, her was tired of slipping and sliding down the fields and roads to reach the depot. John was working in Amersham by then but Enid was still at school and it was decided that she would continue going to Coleshill to complete her education so she would cycle from Weller Road to Coleshill each day. However, she eventually suffered from problems with her feet and had to leave Coleshill School and go to St George's School at Black Horse Bridge, Amersham Common.