The place where I grew up (3)

Last time, we finished Part Two standing in the middle of Moira Road with our backs to the traffic, hoping that Woodville, my natal village, did not yet have anybody with a silent electric car. First on the right is the Junior School that I went to, now closed down and fenced off, and used by Derbyshire  County Council as a Youth & Community Centre:

My Dad went to the Junior School in the late 1920s and early 1930s, and I went there in the late 1950s and early 1960s. My Dad then worked there, and, in fact, taught me in what would one day be Year 4. I was also taught by Miss Cartwright, Mrs Burman and Mrs Simpkin. All four of them were excellent teachers and tried as hard as they could, even though their classes had around forty five to fifty pupils.

Next to the school is the church of St Stephen:Nowadays it’s a lot more dramatic as St Stephen the Martyr, but we all knew it as St Stephen’s. After going to the school next door and standing in the playground  as a little boy and watching the swifts nest under the eaves of the church, Fred had his funeral there in  2003.

The next building was the Church Hall where our School Choir, District Champions, gave a concert for the Old Age Pensioners in 1962:

I think it’s just being repaired rather than being derelict. Next comes the only shop in the road, namely Hopper’s, which always seemed to sell the coldest fizzy drinks and ice cream, when we returned from playing sport at the Recreation Ground. Hopper’s had a door which clanged with a mechanical ringing effect and this unique sound was emphasised by a grey, metal grille on which customers were supposed to wipe their feet as they entered the shop.

Here is the shop today, alas:

Between the Church Hall and Hopper’s is the house where Fred, my Dad, was born on November 30th 1922. No blue plaque as yet. It’s the house with the three windows in the roof:

Right at the very far end of Moira Road was another shop which was close enough to the Recreation Ground to provide cold fizzy drinks and ice cream for young children playing sport up there. I have forgotten the name of the shop owners, but they were much more like a convenience store with tinned vegetables and canned fruit for sale. Here is the shop today. It’s as good as derelict if you’re thirsty from a good game of football:

Next time a trip up High Street, or, as my Grandad would say, a trip “up Box”, using the old expression for Woodville, taken from the man who took the toll money in the eighteenth century. We’ll see Albert Taylor, Reg Ashmore, Renée and her chip shop and Graham Fowell, who left his Dad’s business to become a minister of the church.







Filed under History, Humour, My House, Personal, Politics

28 responses to “The place where I grew up (3)

  1. More great stories John. I remember shops such as the ones you describe, sadly now all gone!

    • Yes. They’ve been replaced by a “one-stop we stock everything from newspapers to toilet paper” supermarket employing a very small number of the locals at presumably minimum wage. Ironically, it was built on the site of an old factory which used to make underground ceramic pipes and employed scores of locals.

      • In the village of Hillmorton near Rugby where I grew up there was a village store run by Mr Verdigan, when he retired he sold it to Mr Winter. You could get all sorts in there but mostly I wanted Lucky Bags and bubble gum. It has gone now of course and replaced by a Council sheltered housing scheme.

        Later they built a parade of shops nearby which had a newsagent, a hardware store, a chemist and a food store run by Mrs Grindle. Rather like a prototype Spar or local Co-op that we have today.

        Once Winter’s had gone I preferred to buy my sweets from Doris Watson who lived in a cottage on Lower Street and whose front room was an off-licence and tiny shop. I bought my first bottle of cider in that shop because Doris didn’t mind turning a blind eye. The shop has gone of course but it is still a house.

      • This is a post that I wrote a long time ago about my childhood village playground…

  2. Chris Waller

    This brings back more memories. The school looks so much smaller than I remember it. Your dad’s classroom always seemed enormous – very long from front to back and with a seemingly very high ceiling. I had completely forgotten Hopper’s shop. The other shop (on the corner with Vicarage Road?) was Dickens’s – if I have the right one in mind.

    • I’ve never known the name of the other shop, on the corner of Moira Road and Vicarage Road. My Dad’s class was rather strange for me, but I cannot have been the only pupil ever to have been taught by a parent. My most vivid memory is of the appalling behaviour of the Dytham twins, particularly Stephen.

  3. Another splendid nostalgic trip, John. Our corner shop was Merediths where Mrs Defarge sat in a corner knotting.

    • That sounds very “Tale of Two Cities” Derrick! I suppose as children we had only our wanderings around the village to give us memories, and details such as the peculiar sound of a shop door closing become very vivid.
      My one day with a time machine will be a walk around that village and the neighbouring area on February 25th 1961, the day Victor comic came out and one of the few dates so far back where I know exactly what I was doing…walking up to the newsagents after breakfast.

  4. I grew up in Delhi, my father was posted there. This was from 1971 to 1979. We were there in June 2017 after more than 20 years. It was terrible. The pollution and it seemed like a dead place. We were glad to get away from there.

    • It must be very sad to grow up in a place you don’t like. In England in the late 1950s and early 1960s, I don’t think pollution was a problem we ever noticed except for the coal fires and the coal powered factories and the steam from the trains. Somehow though, we didn’t see it as pollution, although I know now that it killed a lot of people because of asthma.

  5. Wonderful that these buildings exist. You’ve made me curious as to the town I was born in – but sadly I think much has changed since Hurricane Sandy.

    • Yes, that’s one factor that we don’t have to contend with over here, the fact that the weather may simply demolish a village completely. The closest we come is perhaps the Black Death from 1348, which in some cases killed all the inhabitants of a village, Such a village exists near to Nottingham. It is Isley Walton, not far from the East Midlands Airport, and the bumps in a field represent the village’s only street and the houses along it.

  6. 1922 to 2003 is a good innings but I bet you still miss him. I liked your comment about a blue plaque. Why so many places derelict now?

    • Yes, I do miss him, for all his faults. For the first few years I felt like a dog that had lost its master. The loss of a father is a huge blow to a young(ish) man, even if he doesn’t think it will be,
      The places are all derelict because the village is now inhabited by commuters who tend to get their newspapers etc on the internet and who shop at hypermarkets where the variety of product is astonishing and the prices cheaper. They have very little real contact with the village.
      At the same time, industry has gone with plastic pipes used underground today instead of the ceramic ones produced In the area for a century. So too, coal mining is no more with all of the many pits closed by 1990.

  7. What great memories you have John. I remember our sweet shop. Most days we’d stop off on our way home from school, go in and be amazed by the collection of sweets available. Eight black jacks for 1p, sherbet dib dans, fruit salads, and Kali the coloured sugar you dipped your finger in. We’d buy a mixed bag between us from the smiley, round faced gentleman Mr. Vernon, whose brother ran the butchers opposite. I don’t know what happened to it as I left the village when I was younger, but I imagine, like many of yours it’s closed and is either standing empty or has been converted to a house. I’m looking forward to the next part.

    • I had forgotten Kali although I do remember that I had never had the faintest clue how to spell it. Collins Dictionary suggests “Kayli” but after all those years, there is clearly a lot of doubt.
      Black jacks, I remember them, and those cardboard cylinders full of sherbet that you sucked out through a liquorice tube that you ate when you’d finished. Lucky bags and strands of liquorice a penny each. Jubblies. Not the pathetic creatures you see now, but huge lumps of frozen orange juice.
      Kids today missed all that.

      • I must admit I had to ‘Google’ the spelling, it’s quite a tricky one! There are many old favourites there, sweets today are rubbish in comparison, good old sugar rich, teeth breakers are a thing of the past, Kids today just don’t know they’re born!

  8. Jan

    It was a rite of passage at the NHS to be able to buy your sweets and iced buns from Dicko’s rather than having to traipse to the Tuck Shop at the top of the Founder Hall. And ONs of a certain vintage will probably remember the drinks vending machine in the playground, next to the bogs, that served up up flat cola with a hint of hot soup for 3 New Pence a cup. Today’s pupils would not believe quite how primitive it was back in the 1970s.

    • I’,m not too sure what they would think about 1900-1914 when we know that:
      “There was a tuck shop, near the south eastern corner of the present day West Quadrangle. It was run by Robert, the School Caretaker and sold many items at a halfpenny, including large oval gingerbread biscuits called ” doorstoppers,” and square white thick ones speckled with currants, asked for as ” squashed flies.” The small shop which boys at the end of the twentieth century called “Dicko’s” was at this time called “Baldry’s”, and it was a sweet shop. A female member of staff, a Mrs Digblair, lived above it. She was one of the school’s first ever mistresses, and members of the Sixth Form loved to go and have tea with her.”

  9. What a totally different world from what I live in, John. The history those buildings represent we just don’t have here. Thank you for sharing a part of you with us!

    • My pleasure, Amy. A lot of those now long gone shop keepers would be very flattered to hear themselves described as “part of our history”, but they certainly were. History is ordinary people not kings and queens.

  10. Steve Boyes

    My wife Carole (Finch) recently discovered a photo of the class of 62/63 (Mrs Simpkin’s class?) and remembered you John pictured in the centre sat next to Joe? Joy Leese is sat behind you with Carole on the back row with Clare Leese next to her. I don’t know if you have a copy but if not email me and I will send it.

  11. Thank you so much for contacting me. I will email you in a minute to request a copy of the photograph.

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