Posts Tagged ‘1955’

My brother at camp

July 13, 2016

My brother at camp

My brother was born in 1947 and in this photo he is aged 8. He is at ‘camp’, our regular holiday spot on the South Downs in the parish of Beddingham.


Robin, for that was his name, is engrossed in a comic and was snapped by my father who was inside one of the odd collection of tents we had as we can see in the whole photo.

image004Now straight away I can say this was an unusual day in that it must have been just about windless. Robin is surrounded by bits of comic or newspaper which do not seem to have blown away. Camp and breeze normally went together.

The comics almost certainly came from the home of Great Aunt Nellie, about a mile away at Firle. Nellie had become a widow in 1952 and she took over the role of ‘mother’ to her grandchildren, moving in with her widower son. So although in my eyes Nellie was ancient, she had a lively home with a sub teenage grandchild (Dougie) and a couple of older men grandchildren (one would actually have been 17 at this time and the other in his early 20s).

But back to Robin, absorbed in his choice of literature. Sadly, he died as a young man in 1980. By that time we had grown out of our childhood sibling rivalry and he was a good friend. I still miss him, of course, but I am lucky to have photographic and other memories.

Sussex County Magazine

June 6, 2016

My dad started taking the Sussex County Magazine in 1948 and continued until that version ceased publication in 1956. If he got a whole year, he had them bound into one book with one index. I have these and also the ones that never were bound – a few from 1948 and 1955 onwards. These have their front covers on which I think make them more attractive.

And this one would really have excited us when it was delivered through our front door for it depicts our village. It dates from January 1955.


That’s the Plough Inn in Ifield. Ifield Street which runs off to the left leads to the church. On the right, under the spreading tree was an old blacksmith’s smithy. Just outside was the iron disc on which tyres were fitted to wooden wheels. It’s still there and so is The Plough.


Actually, it is remarkably the same considering 60 years and the growth of Crawley in that time.

But back to the magazine and its headline for what was inside – Old barrel organs at Sussex churches. Amongst those depicted is the one at Piddinghoe.

image006My dad must have remembered this article for when opportunity arose we went to see this barrel organ. I recall winding the handle and seeing how it worked – changing the hymn by a small movement of the barrel. Yet I can’t have heard anything for this was a pipe organ and the pipes were missing. Memory plays tricks for I’d have sworn we made music on that organ.

I still get much enjoyment looking at these magazines about my birth and childhood county.

Another January Image

January 20, 2016

I like calendars for they offer a chance to see a different image each month. Indeed, I have made one of my own for close on 20 years now, using my own (or my wife’s) photographs. But ones other folks kindly buy for me, following interests, are always well received gifts. We have already seen I have an Eric Ravilious calendar for 2016. Today we’ll take a first look at another which features British Railways advertising posters.

Now in case any people say, ‘oh no! Not railways again!’ then I’d say, well not really. This is more about art work. I’m quite good at not looking in advance at what the images will be, but as far as the January image is concerned, there is not a train or a railway in sight.


What we see here is some lovely art work by Jack Merriott for British Railways Eastern Region in 1955 with the suggestion that you might visit by train.

This would still be reasonably possible using the line between Newcastle and Carlisle. And what dramatic scenery there is to see. And those Romans were no idiots using the natural cliff to build their wall on.


Skipping Sister

December 8, 2015

I’m looking back 60 years here – to 1955. We have a picture of my sister skipping on Ifield Green.


My sister died last year. She just made it to her three score years and ten.

Back in 1955 Ifield Green was unfenced from surrounding roads which, of course, were almost devoid of motorised traffic. It made a lovely playground for youngsters, offering the space a small cottage garden didn’t have. A young girl could skip across the field to her heart’s content. The green was common land. It belonged to its community.

These days the green is still there but has been suburbanised and organised – like so much of life for children.

People looking at the photo can hardly fail to notice the industrial building with the big chimney behind sister. Yes, it had been involved in rural industry for this was the steam powered corn mill in Ifield. Just behind this view of that mill there stood the remains of a roundhouse which had been at the bottom of a windmill and by this time the steam mill was joining it in a state of dereliction.

I recall feeling really quite sad when the chimney was demolished although it probably was unsafe. The steam engine mechanism was preserved and for many a year was on display in London’s Science Museum although I believe it may be in Germany now.

The building, though, was resurrected and became the headquarters of the local Nautical Training Corps. I have no idea what function it serves now.

I suspect, and indeed hope, all children think they lived through the golden age for childhood. I am 100% certain that I did. We regarded the world and our community as safe and secure, we were free spirits who could roam at will. We met and chatted with adults we knew. They weren’t a threat to us. Life was a happy and glorious adventure – full of fun and the love of a family.

My skipping sister just seems to catch that happy spirit.

Holmbush Forest – 1955

March 20, 2015

I have a photo today, taken by dad just about 60 years ago for it was at Easter in 1955. The photo was taken in Holmbush Forest. The forest is situated near Crawley, where we lived. Colgate is to the south and Faygate is near the northwest corner. These days the enormously busy A264 road skirts the northern edge. Part of the forest is now the Buchan Country Park.

Did I just say we lived in Crawley? It wasn’t true back then for we lived in the village of Ifield which was subsumed in Crawley as the New Town was built. I left Sussex years ago and have lived in Wiltshire for 44 years now.

But that’s a digression. Let’s look at the photo.


My dad never did stick to the rules. He’s taken this picture into the sun to give what I think is a very pleasing silhouette effect. The three people in the picture are, from the left, my sister, me and my brother with the forked stick.

My dad liked this picture and although it was taken at Easter it found use as a Christmas card.

I’m afraid the photo makes me a little melancholic. I am the only survivor of my childhood home – but at least I have happy memories in my head and a goodly stock of photos to look at from those happy and carefree days.

The Childhood Garden

March 15, 2014

Today I am looking at the backdrop for much of my childhood – the little garden at our house in Ifield.

Ifield had originally been a village to the west of the little town of Crawley but by the time of this photo – 1955 – it was rapidly becoming a part of Crawley New Town. It still remains on the edge of the town/


My dad has taken this photo from the bedroom window. He has placed my mum in the photo, looking over the garden.

Let’s start with the crazy paving – irregular shaped slabs of Yorkshire stone. This had been purchased at a house clearance sale which I have memories of. I dare say it was bought cheaply. The difficulties of transport and the inconvenience of laying it must have kept the price down to something we could afford. I have no idea how dad moved it all. Neither do I remember what covered the yard beforehand. But I know my dad was delighted with his purchase and even took it up and moved it when a garage was built and then moved it to a new house when he moved across the road.

On the left, the open window under a lean-to roof was our bathroom. Originally it had been an outhouse but conversions were made. I remember that window being put in. I’m sure Perce, our next door neighbour, helped. That’s odd, for he was a plumber.

Down the garden there is a structure that looks like a well head. It isn’t and never was. Seemingly there were a lot of bricks scattered about and dad gathered them up and made a garden feature. I think of it as growing nasturtiums. This was something I rather approved of for I liked the flavour. My dad tended to go in for dual purpose plants – both pretty and functional. After our mock well head was made, similar structures popped up in other gardens in the street.

In my memory, beyond the ‘well’ there was a rough area, left available for small boys to enjoy. We dug holes, made dens, played jumping games and took our dinky toys out to drive around roadways in the dirt.

Dad had decided that soft fruit was the thing to grow in the garden – pretty but functional. There were strawberries, gooseberries, red and black currants and raspberries. These could of course be eaten fresh but could also be preserved by jamming or bottling. My mum did both and with luck we had fruit from the garden for much of the year. We also had a peach tree which grew up the house wall. It is those twigs at the extreme left and also a plum tree near the bottom of the garden. My brother and I used to enjoy climbing in that tree.

Near that plum tree, and visible to me in the photo, were dad’s bees. Again, they were multi-purpose. They provided honey and also ensured a good set on the fruit bushes and trees.

Just behind our back hedge there was ‘the factory’. This small works was a part of British Manufactured Bearings. They had a radio and when on it was tuned to the Light Programme. How I loved the sounds of ‘Music while you Work’ which came through each morning and afternoon. But just what work the people did I never really knew.

That back garden was my back garden from 1949 until I left home. That, I could say, was in stages between 1967 and 1970.

I Spy – On a Train Journey

December 12, 2013

Now here is a blast from the past which has nothing whatever to do with me. This I Spy book belonged to my wife when she was a little girl although I have to say, it seems to be unused apart from having her name (I think in her dad’s handwriting) on it.


Oddly, for I was, like many kids, an avid I spy person, this was one book I never had. I suspect my dad had sussed it out and reckoned that it was too based on lines we’d never travel. My travelling for the first dozen years of my life was very much confined to Kent, Surrey (including London) and Sussex with one odd trip to Southend in Essex. We were never going to see water troughs, the standard train description lamps nor, I think, post bag catching equipment. So my Dad, I reckon, steered us away from a book that would be disappointing.

He may also have reckoned that he knew enough about railways to point things out to us. I certainly knew about mile posts on the railway.


I suspect I’d only have seen number 40 but from an early age I’d have known what it meant.


I knew, too, about turntables though I suspect the ones I saw were hand operated ones.

Nowadays, I suspect I’d be able to identify any of the items in the book – but many no longer exist.

It’s a nice bit of the past – it carries a 1955 date and steam was still ruling the roost in most parts of the country but the lines I knew best had been electrified in the 1930s.


November 28, 2013


OK, I know that correctly the piece of agricultural kit that both cut corn and tied it up into bundles was called a reaper-binder. In my experience, though, the fact that they reaped or cut the crop was taken as read. They were always called binders.

I associate them, very much, with ‘camp’.

Back in the early and mid-50s the sight of a binder working the fields with men following and stoking up the sheaves was commonplace. To me, as a child, it was timeless. As a child you imagine that things are as they always have been so to me a tractor hauling a binder with a crew of two must always have been what happened. I did know that historically, horses had provided the motive power but that was before my time and I probably guessed that it might have been alongside the Stone Age, rather than having been the norm for my dad.

However, the future was with us, and I remember my brother and me dashing up to the top of the downs to see a new-fangled combine harvester at work. My dad, sensible as ever, recorded the binder scene and here we have one of his charming photos.


So, a classic scene from 1955. Driving the tractor was a young man called Julian Freeman.


The farm we camped on was managed by his uncle Dick and he normally managed the controls of the binder, but on this occasion, I don’t think it is him.


In fact I really don’t know who that is. Julian’s father, George would have been helping at the harvest and his other uncle, Harry would have been around as well. But this isn’t either of them.

As the fifties drew to a close, the binders began to get swept into oblivion. My dad, realising this had another go at recording the scene at ‘camp’ using a colour slide film.


This was actually in 1964. Julian is still on the tractor but this time it definitely is Dick Freeman on the binder.

But the binder never quite died. In Wiltshire, where I have lived all my adult life, a few farmers grow long straw wheat and cut it with a binder. This keeps the straw in good order, and after the grain has been threshed out, the straw can be sold for thatching

So here we have a 21st century binder resting after harvesting a local field.


A magnificent toy

September 21, 2013

One day and I can’t remember quite when – probably about 1955 – my dad came home from work with the most magnificent toy for me. It was a Lesney prime mover with trailer and caterpillar bulldozer. If you put them all together it is about 12 inches long.


This toy of mine was much loved and much played with. It worked out in the garden, moving earth – really where it belonged. Mind you, I have just been looking it up on the web and I find near mint examples with box now market for well over £1000. Value is not my concern, but mine must be way below that with all its faults and missing pieces and a complete absence of box.

The power unit, or prime mover, should have green engine covers on each side. Sadly they are gone. The back wheels no longer stay attached to the body – a minor problem which could be rectified easily. But other than that it’s wonderful.


Look, it had a driver (painted all over orange like the rest of the bodywork. And it purported to be in the fleet of British Road Services. I read that it was loosely based on a Scammell.

The ramps at the back of the trailer could be put in place for loading and unloading the bulldozer. My trailer’s tow bar vanished many a year ago and was replaced by twisted wire. Bits of ‘hydraulic’ equipment on the caterpillar vehicle have broken off.


The prime mover gives no indication as to maker, but the bulldozer and trailer both do.


There’s the maker’s name on the back of the ‘pusher’. This shot reveals that a bit of this pusher has broken off.


The trailer – which clearly has a bent axle – also carries the maker’s name.

So, in fact, what I have here is a well-loved wreck.