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


Sunday, 17 October 2010


I have received a letter from Gloria telling me that she recently attended the funeral of Eddy Vane who died. aged 96 in Brixham. Eddy and Ron Dixon were great pals and Gloria wanted to pay her respects.

Barry Vane was there with his wife and daughter and they now live in Kent. Gloria says that he had loads of photos so I hope he gets in touch.

Here is a photo of Eddy Vane and Harry Everson taken in a boat

eddy vane & Harry Everson

Eversons, Vane &

I remember Eddy as one of the men who entertained us at the STC parties.

Just in case Barry looks in here – this is a photo of him with his Mum at the Coronation Day celebration

barry vane & mum

R.I.P. Eddy and join all those who have gone before you.

Friday, 15 October 2010

More from David - Girls, Girls, Girls

Hi Jean, Special correspondent David calling. This next little story is about other girls I remember
apart from yourself. Mary Williams (Clive's sister) Valerie Jolly ( Mick's sister) . Mary Williams
made contact on the internet in 2002, but not having a computer then, a friend took the various
messages I had meant to reply but hadn't a clue really how to do it I'm still stuck in the 70's good years, like many summervalians of our age they may also not have this technology this is possibly why some of the contact we are hoping to get is coming in slow.

Both Mary and Valerie seemed If I can remember back that far, were close friends and spent quite a
lot of time together, I saw them quite a lot with Michael and Clive and the gang when out roaming
as young boys, girls then were around but playing out with them was more of a sissy thing to us urchins
ie: Mick Jolly and myself, we always seemed to have more mischievous pursuits in mind (more about
that later) we knew most of the girls on the estate but the main girls round our age group were slightly
older were the ones I can remember more of, we would go in gangs up to Herne Hill or some country walks
rambling and messing about or watching Fox Hunting below Herne Hill, this pursuit seemed to be a normal
part of country life in those days but looked upon differently now.
When not going on walks, the Summervale green always had something to offer, like cart rides down the main road sloping down to the green, if you could get to the bottom without coming off or hitting the curb, you were lucky!! it seemed to be very steep but was a most exciting ride. I never had a bike at that young age, but managed building one at a later date after getting fed up with borrowing Mike Smith's mums high/stepper. Mary Williams was the first girl to introduce me to bike rides I would be sat on the back and
Mary doing all the hard work, by peddling me round the green it was great fun for me maybe not so for Mary. I can remember most of the other girls joining in on games etc, Valerie and Christine Jolly and the
Richard sisters had tents in the garden below us like ourselves and much fun was had in them. Gloria
Dixon was always round and about like yourself Jean, the Wakeham girls and family we knew but got to
know more about them in Paignton.

June Wakeham became Beauty Queen in Paignton, in the late 50's or early 60's ? Seeing some of the
Summervale Coronation photographs, Jean, brought all the names back and memories of such a lot of good fun that we had. At that point in my life I was still a very shy, quiet young lad when it came to girls, can't
say I had many girlfriends in Summervale, only thoughts about them.

Jean, you must work hard on the jeanjeannie blog, we are always amazed when we see how you plan it and finish it.
Best Wishes DW.
I'm afraid my hard drive packed up the day before I went on holiday and although I have salvaged most of my photos the computer is playing up an d I cannot upload them at the moment.
When it's fixed I will include photos of those mentioned above
Well. not many photos of the girls mwentioned above but here is one entitled " dressing up" a favourite pastime fro us girlies.
June and Mary are on the right with me next to Mary and Susan Newlyn sitting in the middle. There are also two of the Ralph girls and either Christine or Val Jolly on the left. I wonder who the Golly Wog is ? very un P C now.