Post War Brownsover

A Memory of Brownsover

From the late 1940's to 1969 I remember this area as part housing, part prefabricated homes because of the war. Many old features were still around like barges carrying coal on the Oxford canal, the old disused mill, the huge BTH complex with air raid shelters still intact, and the Avon Water Works off Mill Road.
There was only one way in and out of the estate at that time - through the tunnel under the main railway station. Mill Road led into Boughton Road which terminated at the old posted bridge over the Oxford Canal. On the other side of the canal it was totally green fields all the way from Clifton-upon-Dunsmore to Newbold running parallel to the canal. In the summer most local children would cross the 'humpty dumpty fields' as they were known, and spend hours sun-bathing and swimming in 'the butts', a widened corner of the stream running between Clifton and Brownsover. The only interuption to this solitude would be an occassional train passing along the LNER embankment. Brownsover was a quietly isolated little community in those days and after about 10 p.m. the place would quite literally shut down. A large proportion of the residents were employed at the BTH and every morning all Brownsover residents were awakened by the sound of the hooter in the factory complex at 7.15 and 7.30 a.m. There were plenty of areas of exploration for the younger element, either the canal embankments which were extensively 'wooded', or the River Avon for small-time fishing. Also there were the remnants of wartime pill-boxes and gun emplacements (well hidden) which gave us young ones the chance to act out our heroics. There was an Allotment Association in those days, and many functions were arranged by the same for the benefit of the locals, Whist Drives, day trips by coach, etc., and there was a hut on the allotment land adjoining the BTH factory which could accommodate a fair number of people for these functions. There was only one area of land allocated by the local council for amenities for children such as swings, slides, etc., and this was on the corner of Mill Road opposite the Avon Water Works entrance. There were football and cricket pitches situated in this field also, and in the adjoining field St. Andrew's Rugger Club had their own ground for matches. A lot of residents in those days still maintained the culture of self-sufficiency acquired during the war, and plenty of chicken runs were still visible, and lots of allotment ground extending from the BTH area as far as the LNER embankment, and alongside the huge waggon works and engine sheds off Mill Road. Only two main corner shops served the community, both on opposite corners of Seymour Road/Boughton Road. There was also a Fish and Chip shop, but it mainly served the dinner-time workers from the BTH, and was rarely, if ever, open at night. Two local residents had a small-holding at the end of Boughton Road by the canal, and this proved to be a fascinating place for local children. There were chickens, pigs and probably other things in the general mayhem as it stood then, but it served as an adventure ground for the kids. These same local residents also were called upon by anyone who required an odd job doing like a fence repaired, brick wall replaced, car towed to a garage, or just about anything within the bounds of possibility. All in all it was quite a proficient little community then, and in general a happy atmosphere abounded. Saddly, urban sprawl has now drowned out the once isolated little community, and the area today looks very closed in by buildings all round - there seems to be very little open space left.

A memory shared by John Thompson , on Mar 12th, 2010.

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