Brushing Off Even More Cobwebs.

A Memory of Upper Boddington.

In a previous memory of mine I mentioned that the village of Upper Boddington was without mains water in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s . I lived in the School House with my parents, Pat and George Bishop. My mother became Headmistress in November 1949 and the lack of water on tap was just one of several problems that we had to adjust to. I was 14 years old at the time, fit and strong and the novelty of fetching water from a pump was a challenge that I enjoyed. Yes, even if it was snowy or raining, there must be something of a pioneer in me, well once!

Many houses in the village had a pump in their kitchen or yard, but our pump was 100yds down the road - if you look at photo no.U51003 you can just make it out, about 10ft or so in front of the cow! In our kitchen we had an old gas boiler which held about 40galls and it was my chore to refill it when Mom's cry went out for “Water”. I was able to carry two galvanised buckets in one hand and a large water carrier, that my father had made, in the other. It took two or maybe three trips to fill the boiler and leave the buckets full at the side.

The School House, now demolished, had a large stone built in the top left hand corner of the face of it, which overlooked the school yard. This stone was inscribed with the date 1647, which I believe made it the oldest house in the village, after the Church.

Another change that we had to get used to was the lack of street lighting. This was not installed until the time of the Coronation and even then was sparse.

Photo U51302 shows just part of the end of School House. Just visible is a window at the top of the house, this is the only light for the attic in which outlying farmers children would board during the week. A metal plate in the floor had a hole through which a bell rope passed down to the ground floor, via my parents bedroom, to rouse the children in the morning.

In my previous memory, I mentioned the village hall which was then known as the Badminton Hall. It was named thus because it was originally built for the Viscount Margesson, who originally lived in the village, in order to play when the weather was poor. My mother held the Christmas school concerts here, for school funds, but she was disappointed by the very poor lighting over the stage, a single bulb! Mom co-opted my father to come up with something better, and he responded magnificently. By cutting a metal tube into 12ins lengths and then cutting them down the length of them, he ended up with footlights. Mounted these on two lengths of timber, for ease of carrying, with a photoflood bulb in each, there were about 6 lights to each side.

The children were told not to tell anyone else about the lights because mom had a cunning plan. On the night of the unveiling, the first Act was presented with the usual poor lighting, but when the curtains opened for the second Act, again with poor lighting, the children lined up in the gloom, suddenly the switch was flicked and a blaze of light hit the stage. At first there was the sound of gasps, then an uproar of applause. As you can imagine, it transformed all concerts after that.

I will close now in the hope that this memory will be printed and enjoyed by a lot of people.

Added 28 November 2020


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