Monday, 22 February 2010

"Messin' about in Summervale in the 1950s".

When we weren't playing those endless games of cricket and football, and riding bikes around the green, we did a lot of messing about:


1. Scrumping. This was an activity for autumn evenings in Britten's orchard down Brewery Lane (our prefab backed on to it).
One evening we were pinching some apples when up towards the house someone came out flashing a large torch, heading towards us. With hearts pumping, we leapt over the hedge and sped towards the Rec. and hid. We waited quite a long time before creeping back home. I don't think we did much scrumping after that.

2. Rattling door knockers. This was another favourite, especially in the autumn. We'd go along Silver Street and West Street knocking on doors or stuffing something through a letter box, then would leg it back to Summervale. Once, someone suggested putting a banger (lit) through one old lady's letterbox, but some of us thought this was a bit cruel so it never happened. Once, one woman, came out and chased us along West Street but, fortunately, we were much too fast for her!

image image

3. Banger in the wasps' nest. Once, in late summer, there was a wasps' nest in the bank in Brewery Lane, quite near our house.

My brother, David, decided to have some fun with the wasps. He lit a banger and placed it in the nest and stepped away.
The firework exploded and loads of wasps emerged into the daylight. Some of them, obviously quite agitated, headed for David and he got very badly stung. After that experience, he didn't play around with wasps again. All good experience for the growing child!

4. Nets, catapults and air rifles. Looking back now I think nature must have taken quite a lot of punishment from Summervale boys. Mind you, I think there was a lot more wildlife around in the 1950s, before spraying and pesticides became more widely used. We would take butterfly nets out into the fields and capture butterflies, pop them in jars, then take them home and mount them on a display board. Fortunately, we didn't do this for too long.
Catapults were great fun and we always made our own from hedgerows and a bit of thick rubber. The favourite targets were bottles placed on the bank in Brewery Lane and, I am now ashamed to say, birds in the trees. Mind you, I don't recall us ever seriously hitting our prey.
Once or twice someone brought an air rifle along to one of our outings. (Was it Alan Dixon?) I was allowed to have a go with the rifle, but, like everybody else, was never successful.I think Alan was, on the odd occasion.


5. Railways. Once, I remember some of us caught a train out to Ilton. (Was there an Ilton Halt on the Chard-Ilminster- Taunton line?). We were playing some arranged boys cricket match at Ilton. After the game we realised we couldn't get back to Ilminster (no money? missed the train? Can't remember the reason now). So to get back to Ilminster we decided to walk along the track, which we did all the way to Ilminster. Not advisable, but we did it. This was when I first learned to place an old penny on the line, then see what an oncoming train would do to it when it ran over it. I never found out that evening but we did try a few other times elsewhere (Donyatt, I think), and I can remember finding the odd squashed penny
after a train had passed over a carefully placed one. Of course, many times you couldn't find them. They were probably sent flying!

Just a few of the crazy things we got up to in those wonderful early years in Summervale!
Best Wishes
Peter Westmacott

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Adrian Hooke Remembers -

Mr. Bailey “The  Milk”

I remember Mr. Bailey bringing the milk on a horse-drawn cart. He used to wear a tan canvas-type smock and leather gaiters up to his knees. The mothers would take out tin milk jugs and he would ladle them full, directly from the metal churn. Every now and again he would tell us that he had the "special" and us kids would run back home to get a cup. Then he would give us each a smaller amount of the very top cream from the milk, which we would drink right there. It was cool and simply delicious.

Thinking about the "special" milk, does anyone remember the "Morgan Sweet" apples? Once/year, in the late Autumn if I remember correctly, word would get out in Summervale that the Morgan Sweets were ready. They weren't sold in the store, you had to know-someone-who-knew-someone and usually you got one per person in the family. They were unbelievably sweet and delicious. Morgan Sweets are old West Country cider apples, but I have no idea where they came from in the Ilminster area.

PIG BINS - Hilarious

Oh, and thinking about the pig bins, does anyone remember the Guy Fawkes night when my Dad blew one up? He (Arthur Hooke) was famous in Summervale for home-made fireworks, since we couldn't buy any so soon after WW2. We used to start making them sometime in October, baking wood into charcoal in cans on the coal fire, getting sulphur crystals that were sold for sheep dipping and potassium chlorate from the chemist. We experimented with rockets and "pretty-ones", but the "bangers" were his speciality. One Guy Fawkes night Arthur made an enormous banger, put it in a pig bin near the Circle, lit the fuse and put the lid back on. It went off so fast that the lid jammed on for a moment and finally it blew off and the whole contents of the can exploded. There were bits of rotten vegetables and bacon rind flying everywhere and next morning the trees were festooned with all that stuff.

Thanks for those thoughts Adrian – what a child hood we had eh?

As for your Dad ……… What would he make of Health and Safety??





Friday, 12 February 2010

Be My Valentine

imageimageValentine’s Day. What did it mean when we were kids? Not a lot as far as I remember, certainly nothing like the commercial big business it is today.

I fell in love very young – about 4 I think I was when asked to say who I loved by Shirley Hewitt.

me bike

Clive Williams, I said, I love Clive. That was a sign of things to come – I always went for the older boys.

Clive had red hair and freckles and if he ever reads this I guess he will be a bit embarrassed. Can’t help that – he was so cute.


I had to search hard to find a photo of him. Here we are at a birthday party with Mrs Williams in the background and Mary behind me.

Sadly, he never fancied me – Carol Richards was so much prettier.


Saturday, 6 February 2010

The Delivery Men

In the 1950s when most mothers stayed at home in Summervale, many tradesmen would call on a regular basis. Mr.Bailey used to bring the milk round in churns on the back of his car (was it a Ford or Morris?).   image

I think I remember a horse and cart! Probably before you moved in.

I remember my grandmother taking jugs out to collect the milk in. I seem to recall your Mum doing that too Jean! One summer I remember collecting the milk for my grandmother (Ethel Durham) and when I brought it back inside  she told me to place the jugs in a bowl of cold water. It was a hot day and the milk could soon go off - no fridges in Summervale then, I think! However, all the prefabs had cool shelves in the pantries and these helped to keep some things cool.  I have no idea when this round ended and whether or not Mr Bailey switched to bottles. Any idea anybody?

The  first milk bottles had cardboard lids with a hole in the middle -

Us girls used to put two together, wind wool around and around until the hole was filled. Then cut through all the wool around the edges , wind some more wool between the two pieces of cardboard, tie a knot to make


And they said childhood in those days were boring!!

Although there were at least two bakers in the town I remember we had our bread delivered to the house. The delivery man was a wide-smiling Italian called Tony.  He used to say: "You wanta  de hovees (Hovis)". Not being used to Italians then, we thought he was rather funny. When he had gone my brothers and I used to imitate him. I wonder if he had been a POW who had stayed on in England after the war. Does  anyone else remember him?


I remember that a special lorry came round to collect the pig swill but I don't know what happened to it. I recall that there were special bins for the swill.

All food scraps were put into the pig bins to feed local farm animals. We had one opposite our house on the edge of the green and the smell was dreadful in the summer as was the sea of maggots surrounding it Yuck. It was a large metal bin placed inside a concrete collar to prevent it falling over I assume. I still have a scar from when I tried to lift it!

Here is a photo of Janice & Peter Symons who must have been standing next to it -


I can clearly remember gypsies calling at our house selling their wares. Sometimes we would buy wooden clothes pegs from them and I remember buying some wild flowers once. My mother was a bit annoyed about this when  she got home, and we never bought any flowers again. I don't think we ever had our fortunes told!
Can anyone remember any other traders calling?  I have a vague idea that a knife sharpener used to call on his bike to sharpen scissors,knives,shears and so on.
More happy days!
Best Wishes
Peter Westmacott

Tuesday, 2 February 2010


Hello Jean
Yes, you were right about Bradburn's newsagents in Market Square. It is the one with the awning in your excellent photo of a deserted square. I wonder when Ron Dixon managed to take that one!

(Not one of Ron’s! Afraid I found it on the net!)

It would be very difficult to achieve that today. And thanks for naming the bakers (Tolleys) for me.
In our recent phone call, Mike Smith and I recalled Summervale days. Mike would come round to ours (No.10) for tea, especially on a Sunday afternoon after the traditional Sunday roast. Outside the summer months we would play endless games of monopoly, snakes and ladders (yes, still playing at 12-13 years old!), pontoon (thank Clive Williams for that one), lotto and, occasionally,
Chinese chequers. On the radio the Billy Cotton band show would be booming out, then "The Huggetts", "Educating Archie", "The Navy Lark" or "The Clitheroe Kid". I think we enjoyed most of these.

Then round about teatime we would be listening to the very thrilling, and sometimes scary , "Journey into Space", with David Jacobs, David Kossoff, etc. When this was on we always seemed to be eating celery for tea and, invariably, one of us would be crunching at a vital moment in the story! Shush, we'd shout! My Mum liked "Palm Court", a music programme on the radio, but Mike was never very impressed with this. Time to go home!
We would also go to Mike's house for tea with Uncle Reg and Auntie Dot. I was never quite sure why we called Mike's parents this, but we always did. They were very kind to our family and would help us in all sorts of ways, on at least one occasion providing us with some furniture. I especially liked it when they invited me round to watch floodlit football on TV. These were the early days of floodlit matches and I remember seeing Wolves v Moscow Dynamoes and Arsenal v Moscow Spartak. Very exciting!
Happy days!
Peter Westmacott

I remember roast lamb with minted peas from the garden and cricket on the wireless with that lovely sound of leather on willow. Very evocative of hot sunny summers. Tony used to play a lot of sport and I remember him playing one afternoon in Chard. I was always sick as a kid if it was hot and sunny and that day was no exception. We all walked into the pavilion for a tea of sandwiches and cakes and I threw up in the corner. Don’t recall any other cricket matches!

Two way Family favourites on the Light programme:

The time in Britain is twelve noon, in Germany it's one o'clock, but home and away it's time for "Two-Way Family Favourites" with Jean Metcalfe and Cliff Mitchelmore-

twff .

Most Exciting programme during the week?


Monday, 1 February 2010

Some Doodles



The picture above is of many of our Mum’s who were waiting for the coach to take them on a shopping trip.

Below, I have named those I can  - if you can add any others then let me know.



I hope you can read the names! image