Along with my mother Ruby, I was evacuated to Alconbury on my birthday, 23 September 1940. Unknown to me, my paternal grandparents had already moved there and were in residence in Chapel Street. My Mum and I rented Granny Baxter’s cottage off Bell Lane, where we lived until moving to Corner Farm, Buckworth, in 1942. Philip Birch ran the Post Office in his shop at the bottom of Bell Lane.
Returning to Chapel Street, Alconbury in 1946, my Dad opened a small business doing plumbing and general repairs for a while, before concentrating on motor cars and bodywork. We lived behind what was Ganderton’s Butcher Shop, and I was their Saturday delivery boy for some time. One of Dad’s good friends was Walter Earley, father to Pam who has written here. Dad’s Saturday boy was Kelvin Cooper, who has gone on to own his own workshop in Sawtry, and to become a well-known and successful stock car racing driver.
Bell Lane Cottages, as they were known, are long since gone. Two up, one down and a tiny kitchen, the loo on the other side of the footpath to all the cottages, and one tap to provide them all with water. Mod. Cons. Hardly, but a roof over our head at least.
Family research from my home here in Sweden, finally told me why we moved to Alconbury from London. Grandmother Chandler was a Fairey, born in Ellington in 1864! They had moved back to the country, close to her childhood home. So, although born in London in 1932, my ties with Alconbury went back a very long way, yet were only discovered in 2002 ! ! Such is the power of the Internet. Also, in 1925, Dad's brother Thomas, married Florence Stokes, who lived in 'The Sailor's Rest', a small cottage beside the old Great North Road at the top of Vinegar Hill.
I left Alconbury for Sweden in 1960, but visit the village on each trip to England. Now, though, with change, although the old house on Chapel Street is still there, it doesn’t quite feel like home.
If you have access to ‘The Parish Pump’ Summer 2007 on, I had an article as ‘The evacuee who stayed’, with photos included, and some village news from the past.
A memory shared byon Jun 28th, 2011.
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