The Big Freeze in 1963 was followed by the ‘Chandler’s Ford Floods’!
As the snow melted, the resulting melt water had to go somewhere – and the river systems were unsuited for the rush!
Monks Brook and its tributaries were much narrower then and the bridges formed obstructions to the passing waters which rushed through.
The area by Mac’s newsagents shop, where Park Road joins Hursley Road, being by the bridge soon became inundated, with the waters flooding the lower end of Mead Road, Park Road and the area where the Co-op and other shops now are. The floods could reach to a depth of maybe two feet at times, right across Hursley Road.
One needed wellington boots still, we had worn them ceaselessly during the snow, and now needed them in the floods!
Opposite our home, between Pine Road and Cuckoo Bushes Lane was, at that time a marsh (now built on!). The bridge under Cuckoo Bushes Lane soon jammed with debris and the whole field/marsh filled with water, right up to the hedges at the side of Hursley Road.
In the period following the subsiding of the floods, work was carried out to widen the Monks Brook channel. This was straightened out, widened and walls etc. installed to try to ensure that floods did not return.
I think that there had been floods in previous years, but I do not remember them again after 1963.
Changing job: earning £1 per week
At about the time the snows departed, I changed jobs, from MacMahon’s newsagents to the shop now called Andersons in Hiltingbury Road.
MacMahon (Mac) paid I think 15/- fifteen shillings = 75p a week, but I found a job at the shop which is now Andersons on Hiltingbury road, for £1 a week!
I earned 5/- more per week (25p) in my new job, with a very large morning round, but a small and easy evening round to compensate.
Just can’t do maths
This new job was not to last very long though, as in the spring of 1963 I sat my UEI (Union of Educational Institute) exams in English Language, English Literature, History, Geography, Maths, and Physics.
I loved the English, History and especially Geography subjects, but was useless at Maths, and consequently, poor at physics too.
Before we all received our results, I decided that, unlike most of my classmates, I had had enough of school, and, being 16 years old at the end of March, I could leave when I had completed my exams.
Another prank to play before we leave school
However, we lads had one final prank to play!
After taking the exams we were left with little to do, so we asked if we could return to gardening. Yes, we could we were told, but it was a short lived (very short!) return.
How do you grow your potatoes?
We (about a dozen of us maybe) went to the school gardens, where we found that a class of younger lads (second or third years) were there.
We were asked to impart our greater knowledge to them! What a mistake by Mr Goodwin!
There were potatoes growing under black plastic in the large vegetable plot, to keep the light from them. (Potatoes go green if exposed to the light, and black plastic was a way of avoiding repeatedly heaping up soil around the rows.)
The chance to make mischief was too great! We told the younger pupils that the potatoes needed light, and the best way was to run up and down the rows of potatoes with a garden rake, shredding the plastic!
Well, we were older, so we must know – and they did as we told them!
A horrified Mr Goodwin got really angry. We were banished from the garden forever, and received a stern lecture on responsibility from the headmaster.
I think that was the result of boredom and high spirits after finishing our exams, but it seemed to be, for me, the high watermark of mischief making.
I started looking for job opportunities.
My first interview was at the GPO Telephones in Shirley, Southampton.
I remember having to sit a test in a noisy busy room, knowing I could not answer the largely mathematical questions posed.
It was hardly a surprise when I, in due course, was informed that my application for work there was unsuccessful.
However, my next application met with better results!
You’re hired: Junior Shipping Clerk
I applied for a post of Junior Clerk with a firm of shipping agents in Southampton.
The interview was with the regional director, a very old (to me) gentleman, who wanted to know that I could read and write properly, and undertake simple calculations. Yes I could I said!
Was I able to ride a bicycle to the various shipping company offices and around the docks? Yes, right up my street!
I duly received confirmation that my application was successful, and I could start work as a Junior Shipping Clerk.
It was now mid June 1963, and I visited the Headmaster (still Mr J.Judd), on the Monday, and told him I had a job offer and would like to leave school that Friday.
He could not stop me, he said, and asked me to visit him on the Friday I left.
Friday could not come soon enough!
I got wind that some of my classmates were preparing a send-off ceremony for me! I knew what that might involve and was determined to thwart their wicked plans!
Hence, a visit to the woodwork room was on the plan for first lesson (or time waste by then) after school assembly on Friday.
Countdown to freedom
After attending assembly, I stole off to Mr Judd’s office.
I wanted, I told him, to leave NOW, as I needed to go to Winchester and buy clothes for my new job on Monday.
He duly wished me well, and we shook hands.
I stole out, and headed for the gate. I can still visualise walking towards the gate and ultimate freedom! Six paces, five, four, three, … I was free!
Unlocking my bike from its cycle rack, I rode onto Leigh Road (a single carriageway then) and started to ride homewards, waving at my erstwhile classmates in the woodwork room, some of whom shook their fists at me realising their plans for a send-off had been thwarted !
I did actually go to Winchester that day, and buy clothes for work, but this really brings my story of growing up in Chandler’s Ford to its end.
Out in the real world at 16
I thought I was a grown up, but was soon to learn that was far from the case!
Most of my classmates stayed on, and entered the sixth form. I heard of their continued adventures, but I was now out in the real world, and earning for myself.
I had given notice to the newsagent that I was starting work, and would not be continuing as a paper boy.
My starting wage in full time work?
£3 per week, out of which I had to start paying my mum some contribution to housekeeping, find bus fares unless I cycled to work, and pay for my own entertainments.
Here therefore, ends my saga of “growing up” in Chandler’s Ford !
I hope I haven’t bored you too much.
Note from Editor
Thank you Martin for sharing your truly fascinating childhood memories of Chandler’s Ford. Thanks to Mike Sedgwick and Allison Symes for co-editing some of the posts. Dear reader, I hope you have enjoyed the series as much as I do. What’s your childhood memories of Chandler’s Ford? Leave a comment and share with us. Janet Williams
- Hazel Bateman: An Interactive Local History Talk by Martin Napier
Article Series by Martin Napier
- Part 1: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s
- Part 2: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: Paper Boy; North End School
- Part 3: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s Bonfire Night
- Part 4: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: North End School
- Part 5: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: Bicycle, Bicycle!
- Part 6: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: A Summer of Hope and Sorrow
- Part 7: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: The Big Freeze in 1963
- Part 8: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: Breaking Free from North End School
- Part 9: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: My Passions with Bikes and Boats
- Part 10: Martin Napier: Growing up in Chandler’s Ford: 1950s – 1960s: Bikes, Boats, and Adventures
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