I used to live in that old house. Not in 1870 I hasten to add. It was our family home for sixty years. It has changed a lot since 1870 as has the church which you see here covered in stucco (and no clock).
The house back then lacked its gabled front. It was also joined to the next houses going along Church Road. It was also part of the house in Mill Lane. My bedroom had a blocked up doorway leading into the next house. Just a panel of wood. My mother moved here with her mother and brother during the war from Rose Cottage at Staplehay. Then the cottage was at 3 Church Road but when father came along he called it ‘Merravay’. He bought the cottage for £250 as Grandma was a tenant.
We had only one coal fire to heat the cottage. There was a stone privy at the bottom of the garden. A chemical loo whose contents mother buried in the garden. Next door only had a wooden privy. Consequently we all had a potty under the bed for nocturnal use. Our tin bath was kept in the shed. We did have a gas stove so weekly the bath was dragged into the kitchen.
Father one end and me the other. At other times I sat on the draining board, feet in the sink for a ‘strip wash’. Grandma had a mangle in the garden to wring out the washing. It was usual to have a Grandparent living in back in those days. Generally she brought up the children whilst both parents worked. I was not an easy child to cope with. Grandma died aged 71 in the bedroom next to me. I can still hear her calling out. Dad died aged 55 when my little brother was aged 2. Mother carried on at the cottage until she died in her eighties.
Certain dates I can recall. Getting my Coronation mug at the old village hall in 1953. The great ‘flu epidedemic of 1957’. We were all so ill. The Trull floods of July 1968. I got back from a caving trip narrowly missing drowning and found the water up to our front gate.
A tractor had gone into the river at Mill Lane with the driver but he survived. The bridge lost its stone walls. Oh, you will find my initials and the date 62 (1962) in the cement under the Mill lane sign.
All the village children went to Trull school. Prior to the ‘Eleven Plus’ you left there to go to work. I deliberately failed that exam as I did not want to go to grammar school. I cyled the round trip of six miles to Askwith school in South Street each day.
It was all rather lax there and I did not learn much but never lost a fight. We kids had mud fights over the ‘Banks’, climbed trees, cycled miles, jumped the river. Hardly ever at home and no TV to watch but I did like ‘Listen With Mother’ on the radio. Are young people any happier or healthier today? I do sometimes wonder.
By Nick Chipchase