Life On Kingwood Common - a Memory of Kingwood Common.

I think it must have been 1952 or 3 when I went to live on Kingwood Common with my parents in the old nissen huts left by the German POWs, and afterwards by Polish refugees. We knew the place as Kingdom Camp, or just 'The Camp'. There were a good few families living there that I remember and they formed a friendly community of people that were waiting for council houses in some of the nearby villages. My memories are vague but I will try and recall.

The huts were partitioned and each housed 2 families, a low fence surrounded the garden and the only door in was approached via a concrete path which ran past the outside toilet (a joy to use in the dead of winter although children could get away with just the chamber pot). You entered into a room that was the full width of the hut and was the kitchen, dining room, bathroom (tin baths on the floor for parents, smaller one on the table for kids) and living room and had the obligatory tortoise stove. Then a door at each end of the facing wall led to the 2 bedrooms.

Life was good for pre-school children - there was plenty of open space to play and to explore. The vegetation on the common was mainly gorse and bracken and, during hot summers, became very dry resulting in more than one common fire, which was OK because you got to see and hear the fire brigade arrive. Shopping was done mainly in Sonning Common which was just a 10 min. bus ride. I remember once being put on the bus with a friend of the same age (4) to go back home whilst the mothers stayed and had their hair done - an annual treat. On the way, the bus had to make an unscheduled stop because of an incident with a cyclist, I feared the worst had happened as the breastfeeding mother passengers would not allow us to look out of the windows.

My father worked in Peppard Chest Hospital where he had been a T.B. patient for 12 months. He had a motorcycle - I remember once being on the back of it and being chased by a dog as we negotiated, what I think was the concrete perimeter road. Another memory is of a winter wood gathering expedition around the common where we came across the sewage disposal pits, there were 3 of them, made of concrete, level with the ground, completely open and not fenced off. My curiosity got the better of me and I couldn't resist looking in to each one. At the 3rd, I slipped on the snowy edge and fell in. Luckily my head did not go under as it was raw sewage in its loveliest thickest liquid form. I was looking up forlornly at my laughing father and pleading with him to get me out. When he eventually found a stick long enough to reach, I was hauled out, but to add insult to injury, I was stripped of my brand new, proudly worn, blue siren suit, which was then thrown in to the bushes along with any other soiled clothing. I was then put in to the emptied wheelbarrow and wheeled home. I can't remember my mother's reaction but I felt very embarrassed when a friend came to play and I was still in the tin bath on the table.

Sometimes we would visit the ' Bricklayers Arms' public house (now 'The Unicorn' again), where we would sit outside beneath the cherry tree and eat crisps with salt packets in them. We left the camp in 1955 and moved in to a brand new council house in Sonning Common along with some of the other families that we knew from the camp. My mother has just moved in to a care home at the age of 99 after living in that same house for 65 years.

A memory shared by richardhayes516 on Jul 6th, 2020. Send richardhayes516 a message

 Comments & Feedback

Sun Nov 22nd 2020, at 1:34 am
Robert Amram commented:
I just typed a memory but I do not know whether it registered or not!!!!
Ps. 'Loved the memoir of Sonning Common!

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