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Small Boy Memories.

A Memory of Thornbury.

I lived as a child in Down Road, Alveston (at Barton Cottage - now demolished) from 1959 to 1964 and have great memories of Thornbury. Having no car in those days the family would march down the hill into Thornbury to Mass on Sunday, occasionally hitching a lift with a fellow parishioner, possibly a Mr Sheppard who drove a large Austin Cambridge car. The church in those days was part of a small house in, I think, St Mary's Street behind the High street. I vividly remember a small pink painted cottage on the Thornbury - Alveston Road that had a fine display of red glassware displayed in the windows. Is it still there, anyone? The view depicted in the 1954 photo was little changed from when I remember it. I can remember visiting the toy shop in this picture, I think it may have been called Moggs, and I still have some toy cars from this shop! Shopping trips were punctuated with a trip to the Mayor's Parlour for 'elevenses' and dark chocolate sweets that looked a little like Gollys, def non p.c! these days. The shop with the awning I think was a dress shop/drapers and always had amber coloured shades over the windows that made all the fabrics look the same and the customers and staff distinctly ill. I can remember peeping into the door of the White Lion and seeing shotguns leaning against the bar and dogs tied up outside like something from the wild west. It had (has?) a magnificent lion sculpture standing on the porch. I found this statue a little intimidating as to me it seemed huge particularly when viewed eye to eye from the top deck of the bus. We used to enjoy seeing the Berkeley hounds meet in the lower High Street in those days. Traffic and parking was not a great issue then. I remember being lifted up to look through the doors of the new fire station to view the latest in fire appliances. If I was lucky the conductor on the bus home would give me the end of a spool of tickets to play with. Simple pleasures! For a while I attended the school in Gillingstool and later Rudgeway C of E (now a private house) off the A38. Through an extraordinary meeting with an Australian 3-day-event rider in a Surrey hospital and a bewildering list of coincidences, I was invited to dinner in this house and, some forty years later, once again found myself in the same school room.

Names from the area I remember are Curtis - who I believe owned a building firm, Michael Wood, Paul Stevens and the Ridderford family, and Cottons' shop in Down Road (a penny back on returned lemonade bottles!). This shop also had a freezer - Wow! Therefore it was possible to purchase a block of Wall's Ice Cream just before lunch, insulated in newspaper or better still to be given free wafers to make our own individual ice creams. The Post Office was in the front room of a house in Down Road. I remember the blue and cream Hobbs Quarry trucks thundering past to the Severn Bridge construction site at Aust. When my father had the occasional use of a company car, he would take me across to Wales on business trips for the adventure. One trip turned into a huge adventure when due to bad weather the late evening sailing was cancelled and we had to detour via Ross and Gloucester, arriving home in the middle of the night. The little ferry could only accommodate a few cars and to pack them on board the deck was equipped with a turntable. The access ramps were always slippery with weed and mud and quite challenging. I can also recall the Severn Railway bridge with its centre spans missing after a petrol barge collision. It looked very eerie.

Often the cottage would rattle to the sounds of the Avro Vulcan lumbering out of Filton. At school we would race to the window to see it. I believe it was testing the prototype engines for the Concorde. The sheer size of it together with the crackle from its engines used to put the fear of God into us. The fair used to set up in the field behind Quarry Road.

Luckily I moved away from Barton Cottage before the Dairy cows and the fields opposite were developed for the existing housing estates and so I am able to retain lovely memories of the adventure of just 'growing up' there.

I would love to hear from anyone who also has memories of times in Alveston / Thornbury, and thank you for putting up with mine!

With thanks to Paul Martin for this memory of Thornbury

Added 21 January 2010


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