Interview Dates: 11th Aug 2009 and 15th September 2009

War Years.

Home Guard – Mrs T said that her father Alfred Higgs was the Sgt in charge. She was not sure of the numbers of men, but most likely about twenty. As far as she knew, the men operated out of the Windmill.

There were German POW’s at Brentford Grange and a lorry would take them out to the farms to work each morning.

Evacuees – there were some in the village but they did not stay very long. There were two little girls at the Red Lion Cottages for a while.

Mrs T was in service to Mr Forbes at Rushymead during the war. At one time the staff had to double-up in their accommodation because a number of army officers were coming down from London. Out-house space was also needed and tools etc were shifted to make space for a cook house and canteen.

Air raids. Mrs T thinks that the air raid siren must have been up at the cricket ground where the searchlight was. She remembers hearing it. There was one unexploded bomb fell at Rushymead and incendiaries fell elsewhere in the village. She remembers seeing doodlebugs going over but not falling near Coleshill.

War Work. Mrs T worked for a while at the balloon factory in Old Amersham. She was ‘on fins’. There were people cutting out the pieces of material and others assembling. Her job was to clean off the silver from the edges using naphtha so that the adhesive could stick. The stuck seam was then dusted with aluminium powder to prevent it adhering to anything else. She travelled to work by bike or on foot. In bad snow several of them from the village would walk down through the snow together.

Sgt Smith – Mrs T said that he was the nephew of Mrs Bunce (the vicar’s wife). Mrs T lost a cousin during the war, though not on active service.


Village Life.

Animals. Cows were often driven along Village Road (Mrs T thinks they were Mr Pusey’s), and would walk into the pond at one end and out again at the other. Someone had a couple of goats that they staked on the Common. Cows also came to the pond from Lands Farm.

Blacksmith. She remembers the blacksmith working. As children they used to go and watch the work. On a cold winter’s day it was warm near the forge. She remembers the hot iron tyres being put onto the wooden wheels.

As a child she lived at the Red Lion Cottages – No 1 – where she was also born. There was a well out the front – at No 4 she thinks – and there were long gardens in front of the cottages. Her family had a pig in a sty out the back. She lived there until 1937 when the Council decided that they were overcrowded, and moved them into one of the newly-built houses on The Bit.

Water. Both Mr and Mrs Bates used to take their yokes and collect two pails of water each from Jacob’s Well and carry it back to Thornbury Cottage. Mrs T is not certain if this was drinking water or whether it was used on the garden. The Bateses had a productive garden.

Blind Betty. The clay pit opposite Jubilee Cottage was called Betty, not Batty! The water from the back of the Bit houses ran down into this pit and then out again down the Common.

Jubilee Cottage. Mrs T remembered when this was a shop and that it still has the bow fronted window.

Shoemaker. Mrs T remembered the shoemaker near Windmill Farm. Next door lived the lady who was the organist at the Chapel. She kept a small shop selling sweets and ice cream and fancy cakes on a Friday. Her name was Miss Kitty Turner.

Post Office. Next door to Wheatsheaf Cottage. As you went in the door the counter was straight opposite you and Mrs Lythgo would serve you.
Milk. Mrs T was not certain how milk was bought before Doug Pusey started his milk round but some people would have collected it from the Palmers’ farm – Lands Farm – and possibly from other farms too.

Harvest. Mrs T had an aunt living in No 1 Amber Cottages and at harvest time when she got home from school she would call on the aunt. Her uncle would be down in the harvest fields and she took some food and a bottle of cold tea down to him.

Mrs T’s granny lived at Ongar Hill, and Mrs T’s mother was granny’s youngest child. Mrs T’s grand-father died when Mrs T was 8 yrs old, and they had to walk all the way from Hertfordshire Lodge (where they were then living) right down to St Mary’s for the funeral. Times were hard and a relative would sometimes drop in with a swede to help feed the children.
Mr and Mrs Darvill (as she then was) lived at Brentford Grange where Mr Darvill was working for a while. There is a photo of her two boys taken under a cherry tree.

Rubbish. Rubbish was thrown into the old clay pits because there was no where else for it. The households on The Bit used the pits on the Common behind the houses; at the Red Lion Cottages they had used the pits in Moorey. Mrs T did not use the additional word ‘Grove’

The interviewee was :
Violet Higgs 1923-1943.
Violet Darvill 1943-1993 (when Norman Darvill died)
Violet Taylor 1998-2005 (when Albert Taylor died)

Chris Wege



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