Monday, 25 October 2010

A Tour of modern Ilminster by Peter Westmacott

Hello Jean
My wife (Glenys) and I recently spent a few days in Ilminster exploring the town and surroundings. I showed her where Summervale was, we walked down Brewery Lane by the side of our prefab and we strolled through Abbotts Close and Ladymead ,that now stand on the field where the willows were at the back of the gardens at the bottom of Summervale.  Yes, that's where we played cowboys and indians, kiss chase and hiding in the stooks of hay that the farmer laid out. Passing beyond where this field was we met Canal Way, a modern development running alongside the Rec, and which now passes for a major through route in Ilminster. Of course, back in the 1950s, this was Wharf Lane, much of which was a cinder track then. Now, I note ,the top end of Wharf Lane, that used to come out by Mr Giles' newsagent's shop in Silver Street, is now closed off completely to traffic.

Still, we did find the footpath that ran parallel to the bottom hedge of Summervale, the one we used to take when walking to the fair in the autumn. Some of the footpath has been metalled but at least it is still there. The fair field is covered in houses now, but it was pleasing to see that its name lives on in Fairfield, the name of one of the new roads. There was also a Carnival Close nearby.  'Summervale' has disappeared and it has been renamed Summerlands Park. the willows

A photo of John Satchell by the kissing gate down by the willows

We managed a walk up to Herne Hill and noted there had been a lot of recent tree planting - probably replacing those that some of the Summervale men, my grandfather included, chopped down for firewood in the 1950s.

I can remember my grandfather dragging home big branches with a rope slung over his shoulder.My grandmother was not too keen on seeing this and she used to reprimand him!


Here is a photo from Lily & Dennis Crockett’s wedding reception.Mrs Durham ( Known as Dunnell to me!) third from the right at the back – between my Dad and Bob Irwin.Reg Durham, Second from left in the front between my Mum and my brother.


We walked out of Herne Hill and on to Donyatt. Here we were impressed by  the conversion of the old Chard-Ilminster-Taunton railway line to a cycle/walk track. We followed this back to Ilminster. What struck me on Herne Hill were the very fine views over the town from  here. I don't think I ever appreciated this as a boy in the 1950s!

summervale view
On another day we walked up the Old Road (at the side where Hurlestone's cycle shop used to be) and at the top were rewarded with good views of the town again. Then on to Dillington House and through the park and on to the Long Ponds and out to the road at Knott Oak House. Then a bit further on we passed Bay Hill, at the entrance to Ilminster. As we passed one of the houses, I was sorely reminded of the day a car crushed the wheel of my bike whilst I was doing my paper round. Not a very pleasant memory!!
Looking back on these walks around Ilminster made me realise how limited our horizons were as children in the 1950s. Yes, we went up Herne Hill many times and on to Donyatt, but I could not recall ever going through Dillington Park or past the Long Ponds as a boy. And I'm not sure I ever went up the Old Road, an enclosed track near Blackdown View where I did go many times because I had friends there.
I'm very pleased to see that my brother, David, has been making several contributions to the blog. I have been amazed by his memory and some of the things he has recalled for us all. Very impressive, David! One thing though.You  thought that the first record you had for playing on our old gramophone was a Lonnie Donegan song. Actually I'm pretty certain it was a Gracie Fields number called Sally.  We used to try and sing at the top of our voices!  Do you remember that?
All for now Jean.  Keep up the excellent work; we really do enjoy reading it, I promise you!

Wow, thanks Peter for that – reawakened so many more memories -

The Day I went to the fair and had my arm broken by someone falling on me on the Noah's Ark. When I got home I received a smacking for going to the fair!

Falling in the Canal after Alan Dixon said there was a snake. Losing a shoe in the mud and getting another smack when I got home!

Watching your grandad and my father dragging tree trunks up the garden in their wellies.

Watching a pageant at Dillington House when people were dressed in medieval costume. What was that all about?

More memories please


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