Apart from the first year or so, Pa and Ma lived here all their married life. Lives. Hmm. Anyway – June was born in 1932 and Russell, otherwise known as Sprig, was born in 1936. June remembers the time before there was electricity, and the excitement of turning the lights on and off, which generally blew the fuses so was discouraged, to no avail at all. My mother (to digress completely, but you know what I’m like) also remembered electricity being laid on at her grandparents’ house in Melksham, in the late 1920s. Her abiding memory was how everyone was shocked at the cold that winter, once they didn’t have oil lamps any more.
Russell remembered the well, from which all the family’s water was obtained. It’s still there but I can hardly imagine it supplying a family’s needs now. Maybe the water table was higher in those days. At one time, it was necessary to hand-pump a tankful of water, but eventually a mechanical pump (petrol or electric, I don’t know) was installed and the task was easier.
A few years ago, four or five, I suggested to Russell that I wrote down all his childhood reminiscences and he thought it a good idea, but he never got around to dealing with it – I wanted to make a blog of it for him, in his name, because he had so much to tell. I think that may be a series in itself at some time, but it digresses too much from the story of this house for now. What is relevant is the Anderson shelter in the front garden, where the small Sprig used to sleep, dressed in his siren suit, with a long piece of string attached to the front door knocker so that, if he were afraid in the night, he could pull the string and wake his parents. Of course, if there were an air raid, they would come and join him. I’ve no idea why he was required to sleep there alone. At this time, his brother and sister were evacuated to Derbyshire and later the whole family, apart from Pa, went to Wales during the period of the worst of the air raids.
I’m not sure when the bathroom was installed, but it was in the present day downstairs cloakroom. After June got married in 1960, her bedroom was turned into the present bathroom. The suite was green and washbasins of various hues were installed into all the bedrooms, to the height of fashion. At about the same time, the kitchen was remodelled in fashionable orange and stainless steel. In addition, a room was built on, to give a much-needed guest bedroom, on brick pillars. Later, the pillars were filled in with brickwork and Crittal windows to make the present porch – which is actually a fairly sizeable room which my in-laws variously referred to as the sun lounge and the loggia.
All this was pretty much the house I knew when I first visited here in 1970. I was 16 at the time and it wasn’t for another three years that Sprig and I saw each other with new eyes and got married.