A few random memories

This is a random list of a few people I have known and who were to me memorable.

Earliest Memory

A pet rabbit chasing a dog around the stable yard at Beaufort Cottage stables. The rabbit was big and grey and the dog was a big springer spaniel, although I didn’t know that at the time!


Houldsworth Valley Primary School

Having glucose powder in orange squash at lunchtime before sports day that afternoon at Houldsworth Valley school to give me energy – complete waste of time.


Putting whitening on my plimsoles right before sports day an having to run in wet shoes with white blotches on my hands.


Being told by Percy Goreham that I amongst others was a grunter and had to stand at the back and mime when the school choir were going to sing for some dignitary. I thought then and still think he was an unkind man and no doubt damaged many a child’s confidence in his reign at Houldsworth Valley.


Having the board rubber and pieces of chalk thrown at me by Mr Beard when in the top class at the Valley, hadn’t done anything wrong, he did it to everybody but was nice with it.


Being taken out of class together with Edgar Goodchild by Goreham to tend his precious dahlias which was a bit of a scive, I suspect the spray we used to mix from concentrate would be considered as toxic and be banned nowadays.


Being amazed at the food at the big school on 11 plus day, the peas were terrible.


Having my head split open by a stone jar thrown by Bill McLean, needed stitches. They lived next to Bill Grimes in Valley Way.


Chocolate crunch and chocolate custard (blancmange I suspect) my favourite pudding at the Valley


The salad cream and spam at the valley.


The third of a pint milk bottles at school, picking the ones which hadn’t been opened by the tits or had not had the cap lifted because the milk was frozen.


Being dragged out to the front for stupid coughing by Miss Bendall during the line up before going in to class.


Winning a Jeremy Goes Fishing book for reading at school.(Still got that book somewhere)


Why Wooditton? My Father’s side of the family were Wooditton based, his grandparents lived at worked on the stud on top of Wooditton hill. His parents lived in one of the block of cottages next to the church in Wooditton, I think that is where my Mum & Dad first lived when they first got married. His parents, my grandmother and grandfather, subsequently moved to a brand new bungalow on the crossroads in the village. I can only ever remember the bungalow and never went to the church cottage.

Wooditton at Christmas

Boxing Day or was it Christmas day 1958??
One of the small Claydon twins take us to Wooditton in one of their taxis, in a taxi what a treat! (They were so small they had blocks of wood tied on the foot pedals in their Morris Oxford cars) Everyone goes to the Three Blackbirds pub up the road leaving me with Nanna cooking the lunch. After eating a few walnuts I use the shells, matchsticks for masts, small bits of newspaper for sails, candle wax to fix the masts, a bowl of water and I have my very own small boating lake. (I reckon I was about 9 years old, would that happen now, I doubt it!)
There was me, Jennifer (I assume she was there but don’t remember), Mum & Dad, Aunt Emm (dad’s sister) & Uncle Sam (Cates), June (Emm’s daughter I think) and Gene here husband and Yvonne (June’s daughter I think)
Nanna (Annie) was a small lady on the chubby side, always had a twinkle in her eye and a smile on her face in my mind anyhow.
Grandad (Albert) was a small thin man who also always seemed to have a twinkle in his eye and a smile for me.
Aunt Emm was a nice lady but seemed frail. I learnt later that she was diabetic and had to be very careful what she ate and drank, her special tipple was gin and tonic but there is something about the tonic that I can’t quite put my finger on, something to do with the quinine in tonic.
Uncle Sam struck me as a big thick set man and had a deep rural voice and great big friendly hands. He was head man or something at the stud on Dullingham road.
After lunch we all had to go for a walk while Nanna washed up. We walked towards Kirtling, it was boring walking on the road until we got to a load of trees which made a change, there was something desolate about the scene here. We seemed to walk for miles and miles, actually it wasn’t because I’ve been back there since, I just didn’t want to be doing it! When we got back it was time for tea and we all sat round the table and had turkey sandwiches and the usual stuff including Nanna’s christmas cake. After tea we played card games and ludo and the like. I played with the dominoes building towers and tunnels and knock downs and built card pyramids and also played with the tin of cigarette cards, I wish I still had those cigarette cards. It was a good time.

Wooditton Other Memories

Helping Grandad do his road/path sweeping job and helping him maintain the snowplough that used to be on the corner.
Watching the chickens in the garden.
Catching the bus there for the first time.
Buying lemonade crystals from the village shop run by Mr Wiseman.
Going down the road to look at the Marquis of Granby pub with the British Legion hut alongside both long since demolished.
Turning on one of the big cast iron roadside village taps and not being able to turn it off!
Watching and being fascinated by the sewage treatment plant rotating sprinkler thing that was next to their bungalow, where was all the solid stuff?
I used to stay with Nanna & Grandad occasionally and can clearly remember my first solo bus trip and waving goodbye to Mum and wondering why she had a tear in her eye. I remember my times at Wooditton with great fondness, I always felt comfortable and cherished. When I drive through Wooditton my memory is always sparked. I used to sleep in this huge soft and comfortable bed that had an iron bedstead with real brass knobs that unscrewed with a horrible screeching noise. In the cupboard in bedroom was a big stack of old comics that I used to delight in reading after going to bed, they were the ‘Topper’, the ‘Beano’, the ‘Dandy’, the ‘Wizard’. I think this reading of comics is what started my book reading, especially at bedtime and for that I say THANKS. Nanna once asked if I would like some milk and biscuits when I went to bed, she brought milk and crackers or water biscuits and from the look on my face she said whats the matter, I think I said I’ve never had that type of biscuit without butter and usually had digestives or lincolns. At that moment I thought what a different life I was living compared to my grandparents, much later in life I realised they were used to living a frugal life scrimping and saving because that was what they had become used to, the reason my Nanna brought me crackers was because that was all they had. This next bit is going to sound so weird but I’ll say anyhow. In my Nanna and Grandad’s bungalow, they had an indoor toilet but it was the type with a chain and a high level cistern that was near the ceiling and the tank was cast iron. I was always fascinated by the blisters that formed under the paint on the outside of the cistern and could not resist popping the blisters, on reflection this must have been very annoying to my Grandad because all the paint falling off.

A tale about my paternal great grandfather.

He used to live and work at **Derisley Wood Stud on the road between Newmarket and Wooditton and I think my father lived there as well. Sounds like great grandad was a bit of a character and liked his drink and betting on the horses. He would travel down to Newmarket by horse and cart on market days to get the shopping and do other chores. Whilst there more often than not he would frequent several of the many hostelries dotted about town and on the High Street many of which have long since gone and place the odd bet or two with one of the many illegal bookies in the town. In those days betting was only allowed on racecourses at the racing meetings, off course betting was illegal, but nevertheless was a big industry in Newmarket especially, as time went on the government realised the potential for grabbing more tax and legalised betting. Often the morning after market day my Dad would go out to the barn and there would be the horse and cart with his grandfather sound asleep in the back. The horse and cart would be ‘parked’ outside the back of the Black Horse, a particular favourite of great grandad’s, at the end of the night he would clamber into the back of the cart and the horse would make its own way home. This worked for several years apparently until the horse was retired and replaced by another from Stetchworth another nearby village about 8 miles from **Derisley Wood Stud. The first time it was used to go to market great grandfather woke up in a strange barn in Stetchworth and of course had no idea where he was. From that day on he was not allowed to go to market on his own and his socialising was severely curtailed!
** Derisley Wood Stud used to be at the top of Wooditton Road hill, it is now part of Dalham Hall Stud

Decimalisation Day

The Palomino Pub, Newmarket, Sunday February 15th 1971 was the day I was involved with the big change when the pound was decimalised (some may say decimated) from Pounds, Shillings & Pence to Pounds & New Pence
On Saturday 14th February 1971 there was 3d (pennies) to the Threepenny Bit, 2 Threepenny Bits to the Sixpenny Piece (tanner), 2 Sixpenny Pieces to the Shilling (Bob), 2 Shillings to the Florin (2 bob-bit), 2 Shillings & 1 Sixpence to the Halfcrown, 4 Halfcrowns to the Tenshilling (Tenbob) Note, 2 Tenbob Notes to the Pound Note (Quid)
All perfectly straight forward and easy to understand?
All following so far? That’s 240d = £1

The next day all this changed to 100p = £1, with the following coins, 1/2p, 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 50p, the £1, £5 etc notes were the same.
This meant the marked pricing for every item on sale had to be revised overnight ready for the next morning.

The day started as normal but not for long. We tried to start the self-stock check as requested by the brewery in readiness, for this was soon abandoned. It was a race day at Newmarket and usually it was quiet in the mornings but often manic in the evening, but this day 2 seperate coachloads pulled up and disgorged about 80 thirsty and in the mood for a party punters on their way to the races, so it was all hands to the pump (literally). That all went well and they all went off happy, then we had to prepare for the wedding reception we were hosting later that afternoon which had another 80 or so guests arriving an hour or two later. We just managed to get everything set up and ready just before the first guests started to arrive, talk about being all serene on the surface and paddling like crazy below. After the wedding party was over there was the usual crazily busy ‘normal’ Saturday night disco. We were glad when last orders was called and we chucked everybody out. Then all the repricing had to be done, a very long day and night. Such Fun!

Barber shop next to the Doric Cinema

Remember the barbers next to the Doric cinema?
The Doric is now apartments before that it was many things, Cabaret Club, Deniros Night Club with Pacino’s wine bar the Millionaires Bar and many other forms, the barbers shop is now occupied by a kebab shop.
Two brothers ran the barbers and it has been said that they never spoke to each other for over 30 years as a result of an argument over a girl. It is also said that they were rather fast and a customer could ask for any style they wanted, what they got was a very short back and sides. There is a tale that tells of a chap who went for a haircut there and propped his bike by the pedal against the kerb (this would be a foolhardy thing to do nowadays, if the amount of traffic didn’t get it over then someone would steal it) and as he walked through the door the bike fell over causing the back wheel to spin, it hadn’t finished spinning as he came out of the shop after his haircut. A true story!

Real Tennis Club

The Real Tennis Club returned to this site a few years ago after being Criswells garage for many many years. Originally it was one of the first courts to be built in the UK.

Please can someone tell me if I dreamt this?
Was there ever a very small sweet shop at the back left hand corner of the building, when it was Criswells, on Fitzroy Street?
The shop was tiny not much bigger than a cupboard but I have this recollection of going in there with mates and buying refreshers.