Growing Up In Blissford

A Memory of Blissford

I was born here in 1939, three weeks before the outbreak of war. We lived at Hilltop a bungalow built for my parents in 1937. There was no electricity until 1952 although we had mains water. The road outside was only partially sealed. I remember seeing shot up aircraft being taken down through the village and up on to the bombing range. I attended Godshill C of C school from 1944 - 1949 when I passed the 11+ and went to Bishop Wordsworths grammar school in Salisbury. This involved a forty minute bus journey, changing at Breamore. My father was a market gardener, we had about 9 acres of land. He bought one of the first Ferguson tractors in 1947 and paid cash as I recall seeing the money being counted out on the kitchen table.
We grew rhubard and made quite a lot of money out of it during the war years as fresh fruit was very scarce. We also kept chickens and one of my most hated jobs was cleaning the eggs before they were sent away, once a week. They were collected by a Mr Forder who came with a lorry. Our next door neighbours were a Joe Lockyer and his wife who kept cows. Their son had the same name and I think there were two daughters but they were a lot older than me. Mr Lockyer senior died of tuberculosis and I had to go and have a chest X-ray to make sure I hadn't caught it. Mrs Lockyer committed suicide in about 1952 or 3 I think and my father cut her down as she had hung herself. The Chamberlain family lived up the road and they had four daughters and a son. Joe Chamberlain was an artist and also in charge of the local branch of the Home Guard which operated during the war. Others in the village I remember were the Sheen family who lived in a converted railway carriage. I went to school with Billy Sheen and also with Peter Skinner and George Coombes. The Horsburgh's lived on a small farm down by the brook and they had a son Johnny who married and had six children, some of whom still live in the area. I remember seeing two American aircraft collide over the forest and one fell on to a house which went up in flames. It also dropped a 1000 pound bomb which did not explode and which was later dug out by a bomb disposal squad.
In the winter the brook would flood and I often got into trouble because I would fill my gum boots with water playing in the flood. A bus ran three times a day to Southampton and Wilts and Dorset buses ran to Fordingbridge and Salisbury. The village of Godshill where I went to school along with about thirty other kids was run by two teachers. Mrs Mellor was headmistress and Miss Baxter looked after the first three years in a smaller room. I can still see the two charts on the wall labeled with the letters of the alphabet. Mrs Mellor lived in Fordingbridge and came up to Godshill in an Austin 7. Her husband was the baker at Mellors bread and cake shop. I tasted my first ice-cream there in about 1946. The village pub at Godshill was called the Fighting Cocks and was run by the Grigg family. They had two children, Colin and Penny. The village shop and bakery was owned by a My Church who baked the worst bread I have ever eaten (well in the UK anyway). The Redicliffe family came to the school. There were three daughter, Doreen, Bobby and one other. There was very small private school run by a Miss Paske. Also at the school were Michael Cutler who I think is still in the village, Peter Targett and Roy Vincent
Stan Lawrence who went to Miss Paske's school also lived in the lane at Blissford with his parents. His father worked for the Post Office in Fordingbridge. During the war I recall seeing a .303 rifle and bayonet standing in the corner of the living room as dad was in the Home Guard. The New Forest had about ten thousand acres fenced off during the war and these were used as a practice bombing range. The five and ten ton bombs were tested there and I remember the village policeman, a Mr Dove(?) calling on houses in the village telling them to open windows on a particular day. He never said why but we knew it was because a large bomb was going to be dropped then. After the war a bomb disposal squad lived in the village for several years and would go out to the forest and explode the odd bomb. Rationing during the war mean I rarely had any chocolate or sweets as they were not easily obtained. Rationing meant little to me as I had never known any difference but I do recall my mother meeting me on the way home from school with the first banana I had ever seen. She made me share it with Peter and Billy. We were pretty well off for food with the chickens and the rabbits and pheasants and partridges my father shot. When I was fourteen our bungalow was extended and a separate kitchen, bathroom and indoor toilet added. My father made rough cider each year with apples from our orchard. I didn't like it but recall getting tight at the age of four after drinking a cup of it apparently. Mum thought it was a sovereign remedy for a cold and would heat up a small cup with brown sugar and ginger. It never cured her cold but it made mum feel a lot better.

A memory shared by Nevile Chalke , on Jul 4th, 2010.

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