Fond Memories

A Memory of Ash

At the age of nine, I had to come and live with my mother's parents, Albert and Emily Warner, at 3 Church Path (pair of cottages now pulled down, but their well - (what wonderfully tasting water, drawn up with a bucket) still remains now in the front garden of the house occupying part of the site. The reason for my evacuation from Colgate, near Horsham, was that the flat we all lived in caught fire very early one morning and all we escaped with was one horseshoe shape door stop and our lives! The Warner's were a very green fingered family. I recall big purple plums the size of a light bulb, raspberries, yellowberries, strawberries, very sweet apples, blackcurrants and gooseberries by the bucket load. Uncle Sid was a wizard with his crysanthemums and other flowers, and their two big greenhouses (I can still picture their special aroma) were full of tomatoes and lots of bedding plants. The Cannon pub (now converted to cottages) was the favourite Warner watering hole, and on the opposite side of the road was the King Head (now also converted to private housing) where the 20c used to finish its journey and turn round for the return trip back to Aldershot. With these two ex pubs at each end of the base of a triangle, the building at the apex was a sweet shop and general store (this has also been replaced with private housing) I remember the lady owner who wore a full length black dress. I also remember being given some sweet coupons during the time of rationing, and joined a long queue to get my share. When it was my turn at the counter, I then found out that you needed some money as well to get the sweets! Just up from the Cannon PH (as was) was the real village blacksmith. The site of the forge can still be identified by the fencing arrangement by what is, or was, when I was last there, The Forge Garage. I can remember, with my head just above the bottom half of the stable door (top half open) seeing this man with massive forearms at work, and I can still recall the smell when he placed the hot shoes on the hooves of the horses.
Next door to my grandparents lived a big middle-aged gentleman called Charlie Wheeler. Charlie, I now realize, had serious mental problems, and without any provocation or warning, would suddenly erupt into a loud shouting session, even when walking up Ash High Street. His mother, very rarely seen, was dressed literally as a witch, complete with pointed hat, and all in black. My grandparents cottage did not have mains sewage, but had a cesspit sited outside the house at the end wall of the kitchen. Surprisingly this method did not produce any unpleasant smells, except when the lorry that emptied same arrived! Then you knew it! My Grandad and Uncle Sid also had an allotment (were a very self sufficient family) in the area about 100 yards from their house, as the first corner turns to head up the hill to St Peter's Church (where my parents married in 1940, and where I also married in 1963). I also remember following this path through to Ash Common, where my Uncle Ted and Auntie Lil lived, and on this route was a bridge over the railway line, up near Winchester Road (still a notorious area, even then!), and it was great fun in the days of steam to stand on this bridge when an engine passed underneath. My Uncle Ted was a Signalman at Ash Station, when it was the box at the far end of the platform of the up-line (to Aldershot), and I recall helping him pull those big brass levers, and also having rides on the shunting engines that rearranged the trucks in the Goods sidings. Regular weekend trips were made in gangs of small boys to the nearby common land, passing the Dover Arms and up Ash Hill Road, and once in the ferns and pines, our imaginations ran riot, I remember long even temperature summers, never more than 70F, and cold winters where it never failed to snow at Christmas. Taking down of car numbers was, I remember, a good but not very busy hobby, as was the collecting of a wide range of cigarette packets. One good source of enjoyment was to record the originating depots of the British Road Services lorries that drove through, which were clearly marked along the side of the vehicle flatbed. I remember being give my first bike when I was about ten, and this was my Grandad's old 28" diameter wheel machine. I was always at the back of the racing group from the start, but once I had the bike rolling, I went by the others like a dose of salt!

A memory shared by Ray Attwood , on Jan 6th, 2008.

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