December 09, 2016

Plus ça change

Last weekend we went away to the seaside and passed through the village I grew up in. There have been several changes: the shop my mother worked in is now a house; the entire village is bypassed rather than carrying holiday-bound traffic through its centre; the petrol station has gone and replaced by houses.  And there were other significant developments.

This was my junior school. The door you can see on the left was the headmaster's house, and the long range to the right was our hall. The gable end at the right was the reception classroom. It was an old Victorian pile with high walls and windows that were so far up the walls we needed a long pole to open and close them. No staring outside and daydreaming!  These days it would be considered bad for education and children wouldn't be expected to progress under such conditions. But we loved it - and our teachers. We had small classes (there were only 96 pupils altogether) and our teachers cared about us and our learning.  These days its the area youth centre.

This was Wilson's farm. That field used to be full of cows, and twice a day they were guided off to the left and into a pasture on the opposite side of the road. Traffic stopped to let them wander across. Often it coincided with our walk to or from school. These days it's the site of a sheltered housing estate. They seem to have demolished the farmhouse, which is a shame. But it'll be a great place for people to live out their days.

Here's a close up of the wall in the last photo. I remember it as being higher. I an also remember Farmer Wilson shouting at us because a small gang of us were slowly dismantling it while we stood around chatting about nothing in particular. It wasn't vandalism, as such - we didn't mean any harm - it was just idle lack of thought. It's close to being a dry stone wall. There's actually nothing holding the wall together except careful positioning of the stones. The capstones are cemented, but nothing else is. Repairing it is a time-consuming, skilled job. Sorry Farmer Wilson!

This smart-looking B&B used to be a pig farm!  The pigs were free-range, in the field behind the wall on the right, and they were very friendly. You could scratch their backs and they would snort and wag their  curly little tails. Nobody was squeamish about bacon. It was just how life was.

Of course, we went for fish and chips from the chippy where I used to buy "six penn'orth of chips and scraps, please" whenever I could afford it.
I don't go back as far as 1946, but I do remember that range. It must have been second hand when it was installed, because it was an Art Deco sunray design in green and yellow, probably made of bakelite or something similar. It was definitely plastic. It was good to see the clock still there. The fish and chips were still as good as ever too!

This post has been for Five on Friday, hosted by Amy at Love Made My Home.


  1. Lovely to revisit the places you remember from childhood. Sometimes it is a shock to see the changes. I too went to a small school with few pupils and high windows around the classrooms. The chip shop sounds good, I remember asking for 'scraps' too:)

  2. It's always interesting visiting places from childhood and seeing how our perceptions have changed. I remember a late and uncle having a HUGE hill in their backyard and yet when I drive by their old home now, the hill is hardly that large at all. Your old school building has so much character. Loved seeing all your photos.

  3. It is lovely to go back and see places that we used to know well isn't it. I enjoyed coming along with you for a virtual visit!

  4. Wonderful post. Sometimes it's a little sad to go back and see what's change - especially what has gotten rid of. I understand completely what you mean about that wall being smaller than you remember. When I was in primary school there was a HUGE hill that we weren't ever allowed on except May Day. I went back there when I was older and so disappointed that it wasn't as big as I thought it was.

    Thanks for the lovely visit for Five on Friday

  5. We have our roots in our childhood towns and places... A lovely post - have a nice weekend!

  6. Sweet memories and a great stonewall. Old school buildings are mostly red, here in Germany too.
    I think simple life with animals very close, was reasonable life (I also stroked pigs as a child) and quite natural to eat meat (I'm not a militant vegan, although I cook many vegetable)
    Enjoy your weekend

  7. You certainly took us on a lovely tour. The school building was beautiful, reminded me of my childhood school. Nice to see the building was still there albeit for another purpose.

  8. Sweet memories! And the old school buildings are mostly red, herein Germany too...
    Great stone wall, I like such things.
    Enjoy the weekend

    (Wrote a comment in the early morning, but it disappears somehow)

  9. Thanks for taking me on your tour, The buildings and stone walls are so lovely. Several years ago I visited the little Midwest town where I lived during my school years. So much had changed...but since I am 65 now I guess I should not be surprised at that!


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