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Archive for July, 2016

This lovely old sepia photograph taken in 1903 shows just how tranquil life must have been, little did anyone realize at the time that eleven years later the First World War would make devastating changes to many lives.

Firtree Farm, Far Bletchley

Firtree Farm, Far Bletchley

For one or two of our regular visitors the location will be easy to recognize. To help others it is off the Shenley Road, just behind The Three Trees public house.

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Since I put up the last photograph of Victoria Road it has brought back quite a few memories, finding this one may well stimulate a few more. To get you started you can see Brinklow’s newsagents on the right, next door is Colgrove’s butchers. On the corner opposite is the ‘old’ Foundry Arms.  Many of you will remember the Bletchley Co-operative grocery on the opposite corner to the pub, nowadays this is a convenience store no longer owned by the Co-op.

On the site of the old Co-op grocery there used to be an ironworks owned by Herbert Ackroyd Stuart (there is a plaque on the side of the convenience store commemorating his son Ackroyd’s achievement). For more information on this please see attached link: http://www.granthammatters.co.uk/stuart-akroyd/

Victoria Road, looking down towards St Martin's Hall.

Victoria Road, looking down towards St Martin’s Hall.

 

 

 

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Many of us have been fascinated over the weeks at the exploits of Dave Walmsley, especially his experiences of being a ‘butcher boy’! However, at Bletchley Community Heritage we were unaware that we had our own ex-‘butcher boy’ in our midst. Yes, like Dave our volunteer Alan Kay used to peddle his way around Bletchley and Fenny Stratford also on his bike. See Alan’s comments below.

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Hi Robbie and Dave – It’s funny how other peoples’ memories can trigger our own from many, many years ago!

The way that Dave relates his experiences as a butcher’s boy sparked memories related to butchery that I have. My first encounter was when I was given the part of the butcher in the 1944 Bletchley Road Senior School operetta ‘Merrie England’. 

Tookey’s is another name from the past and was the only time I was ever given the ‘sack’ by my employer. This was because one Saturday morning I did not turn up for work and consequently, when I turned up the following Saturday, I was told by the manager that I would not be required any more, and I missed my ‘half a crown’ per week.

It must have been after the war had ended that I had skipped work that Saturday morning because on the previous evening my father said that the following day he would being going to Tilbury Docks area, which is on opposite bank of the Thames to Gravesend to see a window cleaning business and would I like to accompany him?

Of course, I jumped at the chance to go with him, completely forgetting my butcher’s round, because outings in those days were few and far between.

My father, who was by then a member of Bletchley Fire Brigade, having been transferred from the London Brigade, was faced with finding work after being demobilised. A few months before, he had bought a small window cleaning business from a colleague at Bletchley Fire Station, to give him an income after leaving the Brigade.

Unfortunately Bletchley and Fenny’s population at that time was not sufficient to provide an income to live on, so my father had been scouring newspapers, etc., to see if there were larger window cleaning businesses elsewhere. But this journey was significant to my family by convincing my parents to settle in Bletchley permanently. The reason for this was because when we reached Tilbury the devastation that had been wrought in the area due to the Blitz and Doodlebugs was dreadful and persuaded us to stay where we were!

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Alan mentions his late Father William Kay, who faced danger as a fire fighter during the Second World War. See the post below: ”The Career of a War-time Fireman”.

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William John Kay, pictured shortly after enrolling in the London Auxiliary Fire Service.

 THE CAREER OF A WAR-TIME FIREMAN

The following transcript is reproduced from notes that were discovered by Alan Kay among William’s effects after his death in the year 2000. They are thought to have been written when in his seventies and which seem to have been abandoned before completion. On a number of occasions Alan encouraged his father to record memories of his early life, but although William made several attempts, he eventually confessed that “not all memories are happy ones”; which is probably why they were never finished! Please note: comments in italics and within parentheses are those of APK.

William’s notes, which I believe my father intended to develop further:

1938 to 1945

1st Chapter, 1938-1940

September 1938

Munich Crisis. N. Ch. & P.P.U.

Talk of Evacuation and trench digging.

Fears and upset of employment.

October 1938

Joined A.F.S.

– – – – – – –

September 1st 1939 to August 1st, 1940

The Evacuation. Farewell tears to wife and family.

Last day at work as a messenger.

Report to Station 67 in evening with food, blankets, etc.; prepare for a long stay.

Sand bagging.

Improvising Fire Stations from schools, warehouses, etc.

Brass polishing. Inspections. Drills. A.R.W. (air raid warning) in and out of shelters, and Gas drill (lecture on Spain).

Battle of Britain.

Dunkirk.

Pump Relay drill at Docks (rude youths). (Possibly a reference to the abuse suffered by fire brigades during the ‘Phoney War’!)

– – –

Socials. (William was an accomplished entertainer and was often called upon to ‘give a turn’. One of his favourite ditties was a song about a current craze called Pelmanism and his notes include this topical verse which he probably composed and performed himself:

He has us up and out at dawn to drill; he stands no tricks,

He’s got so hot it put me in a most unpleasant fix;

So I put in for a transfer to Station Seventy-six . . .

Ever since he Pel – man – ised!”

At another social one of the boys dressed up as a comic fire chief – Silver helmet, lots of ribbon etc. – and with a comic ‘crew’.

– – –

August 15th

I am on leave. I hired a car and took my family to London. Towards evening with an air-raid quite near we took shelter and when the All Clear sounded returned to Bletchley at top speed and very thankful. Never again!

August 24th

Raiders penetrated City of London defences and dropped incendiaries.

Monday after, called to a fire in the City.

Was at a school converted to a fire station, near King’s Cross Station.

In the evening in an air-raid over the City 500 lb. oil bombs were dropped.

At this point and one or two others, William has added the words ‘Our Reaction’, but does not follow it up.

Monday 26th

Ordered to City for cooling down.

Tuesday 27th

Went to pictures with Sister. Sheltered in Red Lion Street.

– – – – – – –

2nd Chapter, September 7th, 1940 to May 19th, 1941

Saturday 7th

Ordered to Station 67 to stand by. Off to Dundee Wharf, West India Docks.

Night in Mile End Road.

Returned to station at 9 am. exhausted, wet and weary!

Sunday 8th

9 pm. Gas main at Rotherfield Street; glance at Morton Road (where his nearby London home was).

10 pm. to Bunhill.

5 am. Golden Lane, City – Collapsing building (here, as in other places, is the word illustrate (1)’; (2) etc. indicating the intended use of pictures).

Returned 10.30 am. Monday.

Monday night – slept under billiard table fully dressed.

Tuesday 10th

To Cheapside in vicinity of D.A. (delayed action) 500 lb. bomb – cooling down.

Thursday 12th

Leave to Bletchley – slept in bed – first time for a week.

Next morning on duty; out with pump.

September 21st

Cycled to Bletchley (45 miles) – train unavailable.

Lovely time at Bow Brickhill.

September 23rd

Bow – no water! Picking up incendiaries (had ’em pinched); (maybe this is a reference to souvenir hunters?).

October

Few nights in bed or at the Station!

December 8th

Southgate – Lambeth – Walworth.

Ruin on corner equal to three or four buildings, a public house and three similar houses.

Anderson shelter – Tunnelling while debris burning – Rescue of an old lady and a boy – 14½ hours.

Sunday, December 29th

GREAT FIRE RAID

Monday, December 30th

City in mourning; Ave Maria Lane in afternoon.

From there (at night) to Docks c/o Bowler at Docks, Oil Tanker, Timber Yard, Coal and Tea Barges; Duke of Devonshire’s house, Pall Mall.

All Clear at 3 am.

– – – – – – –

1941

Heavy fire raids in January, February and March. Citizens’ army of fire-fighters, trained with stirrup pump and buckets, had learnt to master most of the smaller outbreaks leaving the firemen to concentrate on the bigger jobs.

Sunday night, May 10th – Climax of the bombing.

It was my good fortune to be on leave in Bletchley that night but when I returned to Station on Monday morning I found all but the W.R. Att. Evacuated as an UX (unexploded) bomb was buried deep in the school yard.

That was a never-to-be-forgotten week! I spent most of my time at Cannon Street Station (cold storage) and by the riverside where many factories had been laid to waste and debris was burning over acres of rubble.

Raids slackened off after that for which I was very thankful and I went into a London hospital for an operation in November, to cure a trouble brought on by my many hardships and exertions.

(I will leave the reader to work out what that might have been. Obviously, for my father it was rather a delicate matter; one that wasn’t mentioned in polite circles!)

– – – – – – –

3rd Chapter

July 1943

Transfer to Chesham granted.

Last day in London. T.T.L. (is he saying Ta-ta London, I wonder?)

William had been attempting to get a transfer out of London to be nearer to Bletchley when he saw a post advertised in Chesham and knowing that it was in Bucks, he applied for it.

Unfortunately, public transport was almost non-existent at that time and on one occasion mother cycled home with him from Chesham to Bletchley – which are approximately 35 miles apart!

September

Bad raid on Chesham; 17 UX bombs buried!

His next move was to Wolverton which is on the main LMS railway line about seven miles north of Bletchley.

December 1943

Finally, William was transferred to Bletchley despite:A slight expectation of flying bombs’ (it was ‘plenty’ not slight!).

Other work involved aeroplane crashes and railway trains.

After which William says: “And so to 1946 when I resigned.

My fireman’s career was over!


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P363 Spurgeon Memorial Church

Today (July 1st, 2016) at Bletchley Community Heritage, I quite unexpectedly had to scan some literature written by Peter Denchfield, the title being, The Great War ‘Fallen Heroes’ of Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church. This seemed very appropriate because on July 1st, 1916, 100 years previously, the dreadful Battle of the Somme commenced, the four-month offensive resulting in more than one million casualties.

Like countless other places of worship throughout Britain, the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church was to see some of its members go off to fight in the Great War. Some of these were not to return, giving their lives in the service of their country. Just after the end of the war, the church held a service to commemorate those who had died.

Here is a list of the congregation who sadly lost their lives:

Bertie Baldwin, died June 29th, 1916, buried at Viamertinghe Cemetery

Fred Baldwin, died May 11th, 1918, buried at Esquelbecq Military Cemetery

Frank Barden, died July 19th, 1916, buried at Rue-Petillon Cemetery, Fleurbaix

Wilfred Barden, died March 31st, 1918, remembered on the Pozieres Memorial

Archibald Betts, died September 30th, 1916, buried at Grove Town Cemetery, Meaulte

Thomas Bridge, died October 4th, 1917, remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial

Harold Brookes, died September 20th, 1917, remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial

Harold Cutler, died September 25th, 1915, remembered at the Ploegteert Memorial

Fred Daniel, died March 30th, 1918, buried at Damascus Commonwealth War Cemetery

Arthur French, died April 19th, 1917, remembered on the Thiepval Memorial

Victor Lord, died May 9th, 1917, remembered on the Doiran Memorial in Greece

William Marriott, died December 31st, 1917, buried at Towcester Road Cemetery, Northampton

Victor Page, died December 6th, 1918, buried at Sofia War Cemetery

Harry Perry, died June 16th, 1915, remembered on the Le Touret Memorial

William Souster, died August 22nd 1917, remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial

Albert Thurlow, died September 20th, 1917, remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial

Sidney White, died April 24th, 1917, remembered on the Doiran Memorial in Greece

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We’ve been posting a number of old photos of Bletchley shops but we were given permission recently to photograph the interior of Fabric world, on Queensway. This shop has been the ‘go to’ place for home-makers and dressmakers from all around the area for many years.

Originally based near the Working Men’s Club, at the entrance to the old market, they were then one of the first retailers to move into the Brunel Centre, situated just beside the entrance to the underpass. A further move to their present site has provided Bletchley with its own ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ for material, curtains, cushions and an amazing array of accessories. It seems like a small shop from the front but when you enter, it just goes on and on and on!

It’s the type of old fashioned, service-based shop that has unfortunately been disappearing from our High Streets for some years and we were delighted to have the opportunity to record the details of a shop like this, in all its glory.

Do you have memories of shopping at Fabric World? We’d love to hear about your experiences.

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Buttons and bows as far as the eye can see

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It’s a material world

A photo of the original shop hangs behind the counter

A photo of the original shop hangs behind the counter

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