My First School Alby Hill 1944

A Memory of Aldborough

My mother and her mother were born in my great-grandparents' cottage at Hanworth Common. Richard and Blanche Craske they were. Well dear old Richard was really my step great grandad. The true one was Charles Pitcher but he died in 1894. I've traced the maternal male line back to Abraham Pitcher, born in 1791 at Thurgarton.
I lived with my mother Mary [nee Riches], my younger brother and my father, Bill, who was in hospital after being badly wounded in Normandy. We were living in "Doodlebug Alley" in NW Kent when our house was damaged by a parachute mine.
I was blown out of the top bunk in the Anderson shelter and landed on my bonce on the concrete floor. The doctor said I could turn funny at any time.
Mother decided to take us up to Hanworth for some peace while the house was repaired. We couldn't stay with Granny as there was no room. We first stayed at the farm, now derelict, by the common gate to Sustead. We then went to stay at the Barbers on the corner in Thurgarton. Tony Barber made me a popgun out of elder that fired acorns. Mother arranged for me to go to Alby School as Robert, my brother was just passed 1 year old and it was a good idea to get me out from under her feet. Either Miss Hall or Miss Howard would pick me up in her car to take me to school where they taught. My Mother would collect me and walk back down the lane to Thurgarton. I cried on the first day at school but soon started to enjoy it. The older children would collect rose hips from the hedgerows and bring them to the school for the war effort. Vitamin C and whatever. I remember a great pile of them under the window in the classroom. I went with other children to Aldborough to get jellybabies, I must have had a ration book with me, or maybe Mother was with us. Well I was only 4 1/2 years old. I loved the pond at the corner of the green and the ducks upon it. I was sorry when I first cycled up to Norfolk on my own, staying at youth hostels en route, to see Grandad Craske, and to find the pond had been filled in. I consoled myself with my first pint of bitter at the Blackboys. Naughty me, I was fourteen! I must have been an early developer, eh.
I was only at the school for a couple of months when we returned to Kent. The house had been fixed up and Dad was due out of hospital.
We spent a number of holidays after the war at Cromer, and I used to come with Gran and stay at Hanworth during school holidays too. We used to go out and about on Grandad C's pony and trap. Wonderful times for a small boy! At that time the water came from the well in the garden. A tumbler of water would contain wriggling wildlife and Grandad would say, "Drink that bor, put airs on thar chest!"
They did have a stone jar filter and a bread oven, and a little wooden hut up the garden path decorated with nasturtums and other flowers. Very quaint but Grandad grew some lovely tomatoes!
All my life I have been coming back and these days I stay at Butterfly Cottage with Janet and Peter, and enjoy the pubs, and the whole area twice a year when possible. I live in Gascony, SW France but will continue to visit while able, as long as I can. I will be staying again at the end of next week. My favourite part of England, I only wish they would restore the pond. There again, I could fall in it while returning from The Old Red Lion.

A memory shared by Richard Whitten , on Oct 19th, 2011.

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