Having been asked to write some articles for Chandler’s Ford Today I thought for ages where to start and what to tell.
My Mother and Father had got married in around 1938 and my sister Jennifer was born on the 6th of Feb 1939, followed in 1941 by Janet, then the son that they craved (or so I was informed) dutifully arrived on 6th April 1943. I am told there were air raids while in the nursing home and I was shoved under the bed in a basket a number of times it seems.
Not that I am into the stars but it reports that people who are born on the 6th of April in 1943 have an astrological sign of Aries ♈. Aries’ life pursuit is the thrill of the moment and a secret desire to lead the way for others. People of this zodiac sign like taking on leadership roles, physical challenges, individual sports and dislike inactivity, delays, and work that does not use one’s talents. The strengths of this sign are: courageous, determined, confident, enthusiastic, optimistic, honest, passionate. OK on most of that but not so sure about the physical challenges bit!!
All this was in Wokingham in Berkshire where Father was a Farm Bailiff to a Millionaire called Watson, who had made his money it seems from Margarine. Good business to be in during the war I would say. Father looked after a herd of Pedigree Guernsey cows and was in the local Home Guard and The Local Fire Brigade, so he kept fairly busy!
I was christened on Sunday the 20th June 1943 at All Saints Church Wokingham and Named Andrew Ronald Vining. I was called Ronald as I understand that was the name of a great fried of my Father’s who was MIA in the Mediterranean. I have not done any research as I don’t know his surname but I believe he was a Submarine Hunter and did not come back from a mission early June of that year.
My sponsors (Godparents) as we now call them were my father’s brother Bob Vining and my Mother’s Mother Martha (Grannie) and Grand Father Eugene. as I remember a very quiet and stern man who worked for Sangamo Weston, an engineering company manufacturing electrical instruments and control systems and that’s maybe where I got my love of anything mechanical from, who knows?
A lucky escape
I have no real memories about my very early years and I don’t suppose many people have but I was told by my Mother that we lived in the big house that I understand is now The Cantley House Hotel and there was a large tree lined drive leading up to it. One day on a walk in the pram I was being pushed down the drive when a very large tree decided to fall and very nearly finished me off at the age of not even one year old, but luckily I escaped that accident and lived and just after the war in 1946, the family moved to Chandler’s Ford.
I did go back to Cantley and Wokingham and the beautiful row of trees are still there (with one missing) and the farm where we lived is now a hotel but the Lodge at the end of the drive where I believe I was born is still there, but there was no one in when I called. I was there for a business visit to chair a meeting with the Town Council and before the meeting started, I asked if anyone of the fifteen council members in the meeting had been born in Wokingham, and none had, so I suggested that I was the only one eligible to vote on the motion of the meeting. Very funny!!
Taking over the Tenancy of Hiltonbury Farm
Father was then asked by his guardian George Beattie to come to Chandler’s Ford and take over the Tenancy of Hiltonbury Farm and so it was that the family left Cantley Wokingham and moved South.
Anyway when we arrived in Chandler’s Ford we lived in Beechcroft in Lakewood Road with my Grandmother Martha Miller and Grandfather Herbert Miller and Granny’s friend – Auntie Bella.
I remember while we were living there, we had measles and mumps and chicken pox – all the childhood ailments, I also seem to remember the panic amongst my sisters and the ladies of the household when I was putting on my small wellingtons and a mouse ran out across the kitchen.
The amazing Auntie Bella
Auntie Bella was an amazing lady who was a book keeper and could add up two columns of Pounds, Shillings and Pence at the same time. It was her party trick. She never got the figures wrong, and she certainly would not have wanted to use a calculator.
While we were living in Beechcroft, I seem to remember that although Dad, I presume was going to the Farm everyday the milk was delivered by a milkman who used to pour the milk with a ladle into a jug for us even though we had cows at the farm. Very strange.
At that time Hiltingbury Road was just a gravel track and there was a Polish camp on one side of the road and an American camp on the other.
There was also a large sand and gravel pit towards the Hursley Road end and I can remember going there and watching the machines at work.
The Farmhouse had no running water or electricity. There was a well outside the back door and calor gas was fitted in the house to provide lights before the electric arrived.
We lived at Beechcroft for a while and along with Granny Grandpa and Auntie Bella whilst Hiltonbury Farm got ready to welcome us.
It was some time before the running water was piped in and we drew water from the well when we first moved in late 1946.
In the January of 1947 my Mother was in a nursing home in Shawford for the birth of my sister Heather, but it was a really hard winter and Mother could not come home as all the roads were blocked with deep snow drifts, and my Father’s old Morris would not make it through the snow.
My first memory of cars – Old Morris Registration CG 9770
That is my first memory of cars, that old Morris Registration CG 9770.
How come I can remember that, but I can’t even remember the reg of my present car!! The Morris was a rust bucket with holes in the floor when it was driven down the Farm drive through the puddles. Mother who always sat in the front had to lift her feet up or she would get really wet from the splashing from the potholes and puddles in the drive.
Once Mother and Baby were home, work started in the spring on getting water and I earned my first wages from the Irish Guys hand digging the trench from the Hursley Road to the farm house and buildings. I cleaned the clay off the workers’ shovels. They each had two shovels as I remember and the clay stuck to them so I cleaned one off while the guy used the other one.
I can’t remember how much I was paid, a few pennies I believe, but I had to walk down to Willow Thatch in Ramalley where the foreman/manager was living while all the work was going on. They were getting water to a number of dwellings in the area I believe but I remember being really chuffed earning a wage for doing some honest toil.
Remember “The Jug of Punch”?
I was introduced at a very young age to getting up really early to help with the milking and we also had some pigs and chickens but the milking was the mainstay of the farm and I loved it all.
There was a thirty six standing cowshed and a dairy that my Father had put together as the milking was, up until then and had been for many years, all hand done, in buckets in the old barn that later became “The Jug of Punch” that some of the older residents of Chandler’s Ford will know and remember. There was many a great parties held in there.
Father also had fitted a really modern system with a vacuum suction line pumped all round the cowshed so that we could milk the cows with machines. We had five hand carried milking machines that you moved from one cow to the other and the milk was then tipped into buckets and carried up to the Dairy and tipped into the top receiver and the milk fell down over a cooler and into the churn. You had to remember to change the churns or there was a spillage of milk all over the floor and if that happened Dad was always a bit upset.
Then every day the milk churns would be rolled out of the dairy to await the arrival at about 8.00 am of the Milk Lorry. The empty churns would be unloaded then the full ones loaded onto the lorry. This was always a two-handed job and I was far too small to help with that but I always used to be there when the lorry arrived as I would get up into the cab and be driven down the drive, up Hursley Road and down Baddesley Road and dropped off opposite where I now live, and would walk back to the farm across what is now known as The Flexford Reserve. We just used to call it the Moors. I used to love riding up in the cab of that milk lorry. His next port of call was always Knightwood Farm owned by The Gradige Family and Andy and Julia are still friends of them to this day.
The herd we had then consisted of Shorthorns and Guernseys and mixed breed cattle and unfortunately around early 1947 the herd had an outbreak of TB and a number had to be slaughtered.
Hiltonbury Herd of Pedigree Jersey
It was then that my Father with the help of his cousin Norman Cooper started the Hiltonbury Herd of Pedigree Jersey. Dad acquired our first bull in 1947 and the Hiltonbury herd of Pedigree Jerseys was to be the backbone of the Farm, and I grew up loving cattle and especially Jersey cattle. There will be more about me on the farm in later episodes.
An unforgettable advernture with old Morris saloon CG 9770
Other memories of the old Morris saloon CG 9770 was that the day after Boxing day, the 27th of Dec, was Dad’s Birthday and it was an adventure when we were all taken for a really long journey down to Bournemouth to see the pantomime at The Bournemouth Pavilion.
This was a yearly adventure but one particular year on the way. It was pouring with rain and there were my three sisters, Jennifer, Janet and heather, Mother and Father and me all peering ahead trying to see the way through the rain.
Suddenly Father said a rude word and stopped the car as the windscreen wiper had gone and there was no vision whatsoever.
So everybody got out of the car and in the rain we walked back along the road in the dark trying to find the missing wiper.
Nowhere to be seen, then, I don’t remember who found it but there was the missing wiper, still on the car but waving up in the air.
Luckily Father was tall enough to reach and pull the itinerant wipe back into place and we continued to Bournemouth.
Another thing about that car was the pop out “Diggers” we used to call them orange indicators. It’s amazing really that I can remember event that but have no recollection of the pantomimes we went to, although it engendered a love for life of pantomimes because me and both Jennifer, Janet and Heather, all were at sometimes later on in life either producing pantomimes, acting in them and me playing the part of Dame in a number of pantos. But that’s stories for later in my life.
I will end for now and start putting together the next short story my early school years in Chandler’s Ford as I remember them and life on the Farm in the late 1940’s and off the Boarding school in 1950.