Posts Tagged ‘1950’

Troublesome Engines

June 10, 2015

I have recently had grandchildren staying and it makes me well aware that children move on. Not so long ago I could keep grandson and me happy by finding my old Reverend Awdry books and reading a story. His interest in such things has now gone but I can still remember back to my childhood and to repeatedly asking my mum to read the story of Henry and the elephant. It came from the book called Troublesome Engines which (I think) was the fifth in what people now call Thomas the Tank engine books.


And there we have my battered copy, with no dust jacket for in the hands of two and three year olds they are unlikely to last. This is a first edition of the book, published in 1950.


The story I particularly liked concerned a tunnel with a blockage. The engine, Henry, is sent out to discover what the problem is. The blockage slowly pushes the engine out of the tunnel and proves to be a circus elephant.


Henry then suffers the indignity of having the elephant shower water over him.


Oh how I laughed atthis picture and the words that accompany it.

And oh how times really have changed. Sixty five years ago nobody batted an eyelid about elephants and other animals being used in circuses. The awful caged conditions they were kept in – well, they were only wild beasts so it didn’t matter.

And then it would seem utterly amazing now to move circuses by train or that a railway company might keep special wagons for the transport of elephants. So, I suppose, the whole storyline would seem like total fantasy to 5 year old grandson. But in truth there was much fact behind the story although I do not know if an elephant ever escaped from a circus train.

The Move to Ifield

April 29, 2015

We had lived in an utterly remote area near Wadhurst. Then, in 1949, the owner wanted his house empty and we had to move. The new home was in a village called Ifield.

I suspect my dad hated it. The house at Ifield may not have been much above 40 years old when we moved there, but it was run down and inconvenient in most respects. Worse, it had but a limited garden and the views from the house were restricted. From this house, which was called Crosshill, we looked across the road to other similar houses. Out the back we looked down our garden and behind it there was a wooden factory building. However, the chances are my mum was happier. From Beals Oak to Wadhurst had been a three mile walk so shopping was a major expedition. Here, the local shop was just across the road and it was only two miles to the local small town of Crawley. Had we needed them we could have visited the local pub – less than 100 yards away – and the petrol station which was even closer. But our family were not pub users and the idea of ordinary people owning cars was something that was well into the future.

The house had three bedrooms, inconveniently arranged with one room leading off another. There was no bathroom and the toilet was in an outhouse. I was but ten months old when we moved to this house which was to be my home for the rest of my childhood.

Ifield had a community association and in January 1950 they held a children’s party in Saint Margaret’s Hall, a couple of hundred yards up the road. I was too young to go to this – barely more than a year old – but Paula and Robin went and are captured in a press photo. I love this photo for it shows that in the bleak and austere days – there was still rationing – children could enjoy fun.


Sister, Paula is the girl in the centre of this photo. Robin, my brother is half hidden on this side of her.


A Railway Rule Book

April 6, 2014

Here we have another small booklet which I rediscovered when I had to clear bookshelves. Lest anybody thinks I might be ‘decluttering’ let me hasten to assure them that the emptying of shelves is in connection with new floor coverings. And this little book is a railway rule book from 1950.


These are the rules which railway workers had to learn and abide by. It rather looks as though the employer (British Railways) thought they had rights to the whole life of their work force. Here is rule 1a.


Or, in other words, railways workers will live where they are told to and work all the hours there are if we, the management decree it. No wonder there were bad industrial relations.

Of course, many of the rules make basic good sense. Warning of danger is something everyone should know.


That is rule 51. Presumably the previous rules were deemed more important.


And here we have a rule for ladies travelling alone. Presumably, back in 1950, that was deemed unusual. Of course, closed compartments were sources of potential risk or trouble, depending on who else was in the compartment.

This little booklet is a fascinating glimpse into the way people thought 64 years ago.


Family history in an Airmail from Australia.

March 10, 2013

A couple of my dad’s aunts emigrated to Australia. One went with husband and young son in the early 1920s. The other followed, as a spinster, in the 1930s.

I never met either of them. In my childhood the idea of going to Oz was just out of the question. But both aunts, from time to time sent back letters. The one I am looking at today came from Ruth who went out in the 30s.

The letter was sent to my dad and arrived in 1950. In 1949 we had left the remote cottage where I was born and had settled in a village called Ifield. Great Aunt Ruth comments on Ifield in her letter. She is also writing about her sister, Mercy, who actually lived quite near us in my childhood at a place called County Oak.


This extract reads:

…Mercy so glad you are able to see her some times. The last time I was at Ifield was when her baby Mary was buried in the old church yard there.

I lived in Ifield for most of my childhood and never knew my dad had a baby cousin buried in the churchyard. But I presume my dad did. For he had received and presumably read this letter.

Now Aunt Mercy was Mercy Edwards. I knew when she married and when other children were born so it didn’t take long to find that Edith Mary Edwards was born in the last quarter of 1909 and died in the first quarter of 1910. There are no others that fit so I can salute the little baby who was a relative for a short while. I am pleased that I can tell the tale and I wonder if other members of the family got to the burial in Ifield. I still have relatives in Ifield so sometime I’d better look in the church yard, but I doubt there’ll be a stone.

Fun in the fifties

February 19, 2013

It has to be said that this is captioned as ‘fun in the fifties but most people in this photo are now (2013) well into their 60s for this photo dates from 1950.


I’m not in this photo. I suspect I was thought to be too young and I’m sure that was right. My brother and sister are there though. My sister is right in the middle with a hand up to her happy, smiling mouth. My wide eyed brother sits next to her.


Most of the youngsters are entranced, captivated, amazed or perhaps a little apprehensive. There’s a group on the right, though who do not seem to be taking much notice of the entertainment.

I have no idea what the entertainment was. My dad has captioned this photo ‘Ifield Association Childrens’ Party’.  The venue is clear. It is St Margaret’s Hall which was the village hall in Ifield. Back then Ifield was a village community a couple of miles from Crawley. The Ifield Association laid on all sorts of entertainment within the village.

In those (more or less) pre-television days it was clear that this was very much a highspot for the youngsters. Here were children being children and having a whale of a time.

I suspect this must have been a press photograph. Certainly a powerful flash was used – you can tell by the brightness of the near people and gradual fading to darker tones on the people further away.

Things that matter to me

January 14, 2013

Today I am looking back to 1950 and we are looking at a photo that is fully redolent of the era.


It’s a family group – and my posts about genealogy will make it clear that family matters to me. On the left we have my brother and next to him by sister. They were both older than me. My cousin, Chris, was clearly visiting for he is sitting on the wooden engine and holding my sister’s hand. On the right and in the pushchair – well, that’s me.

Let’s consider some of the ‘stuff’ in the photo, starting with the tin bath. That was a smaller one, for we also had one big enough for adults. I don’t remember that we used them for baths for we had a big old cast iron bath plumbed in. I remember that bath for it had lion feet. It was replaced in the 1960s and it proved almost impossible for my brother and me to break it up into smaller, manageable sections.

The pushchair was probably a veritable antique too, but then most things we had were. I’ll say again that I had the happiest of childhoods, quite unaware of the deep poverty we were in whilst my dad, with wife and three kids, was a student. He was trying to complete an education which had been disrupted by lack of opportunity and then World War II. But the lack of cash meant that everything we had was second hand or in some way botched together. Amongst money saving schemes I recall are lampshades made out of old syrup tins and walls have painted by a process of dipping a cloth in ‘distemper’ and throwing it at the walls to put blotches of colour here and there.

But back to the picture and another thing that mattered to me – the toy engine. I have no memory of this engine, but apparently it was mine. Indeed, I seem to be seeking out to grab it as my cousin sits on it. I’m told that moments later I was distraught because this young upstart had my engine. It seems the roots of nerdism runs deep!

The photo was taken in our back garden, but the buildings you see were next door – complete with outside lean-to loo. Were these really ‘the good old days’?