A Very Happy Childhood At Westbury

A Memory of Westbury on Trym.

My name is Andy Pike, getting on a bit now but lovely to read other folks memories of Westbury.
Here are a few reminiscences of my childhood in Westbury on Trym in the 50's and 60's. Maybe this will ring a few bells for ex, or present, residents of Westbury that are of my generation.
I was born at the end of December 1947. My father, Douglas, was born at 8 Stoke Lane and my mother, Gwen (nee May) was from Henbury. Mum is still alive at 97 and lives near me in North Leeds.
When I was about two we were given the keys to a council prefab at 50 Priory Avenue. One of a cluster of prefabs on the corner of Priory Ave and Grange Park. These prefabs have now been replaced by conventional bungalows. The detached house next door was occupied by a Miss Maidmonte but I don't remember ever seeing her. The prefab behind our back garden was occupied by the Pullens and Alaister 'Ali' Pullen was the same age as me and my best friend. I had several other friends nearby, Paul Humpfries, Michael Barlow and Peter Bendall who lived opposite our house.
Prior to going to Henleaze infant school I remember going into the village every day with my mum to get the days shopping. Our first call was always Mill's grocers which was amongst the row of shops at the bottom of Westbury Hill. I recall long mahogany counters either side of the shop behind which there were numerous sales assistants wearing long white starched aprons. On the left were large blocks of butter, lard and cheeses and the walls were lined with shelves displaying packets and canned food. Towards the front on the right hand counter was the bacon slicer and sliced bacon was on display in the window. However my most abiding memory, as a small child, was the biscuit tins with glass lids on display in front of the counters. The biscuits were sold by weight in brown paper bags! Depending on what we were having for tea we might call at MacFisheries and the greengrocers nearby. If we needed meat my father would get it from Banisters, his cousins butchers shop, near Blackboy Hill which he passed on his way to work. In those days beef was affordable but a chicken was a real luxury that we only had at Christmas, exactly the reverse of meat prices today!
Dad worked for Esso Petroleum at their offices near the city centre and would ride to work on his James motorbike. I think that he actually came home for lunch every day until luncheon vouchers were introduced! Peter Bendall's family owned a number of grocery shops around Bristol called Bendalls Stores and his father Dennis ran Westbury boys club which I enjoyed going to each week. We met at Westbury village hall at the top of Waters Lane. I remember that we ran about playing games such as ' British Bulldog' and other rough and tumble stuff. Every summer Dennis would borrow a Spears Pie Company van, a Morris J type if you're interested, and drive us down to his brothers farm near Brent Knoll for a weeks summer camp. We slept upstairs in the barn hayloft and Mrs Bendall set up a kitchen and dining room downstairs. We were well fed and had lots of fun playing around and about the farm and surrounding countryside. I'm not sure if my mum and dad had to pay anything but I'm pretty sure that the Bendalls did it all with their own generosity. I never really got to thank them properly but I have very fond memories of their kindness.
At the boys club I met Stan Davis who became a very good friend. We had a mutual interest in motorbikes, at 14 we were old enough to ride mopeds! We were often to be found gazing through the windows of Westbury Motorcycles which was the first shop on the left going down Westbury Hill, it's now a kitchen shop. I still play with restoring motorbikes as I can now afford to buy the bikes that were only a dream then.
We also used to gather with other youths in a lane between Canford Park and the cemetery and look at the bikes that older brothers could afford to to buy and show off!
Every Sunday morning Stan's dad would take us in his car to Clevedon pier where he would leave us fishing from the end of the pier all day. Usually we would call into the Red Star parcel office at Temple Meads station to pick up a parcel of live rag worm bait that we had ordered from a chap in Southend. We often caught some good fish including Dover Sole and skate, on one very special day Stan caught a large Bass, very unusual for the Bristol Channel!
On our return I would hang around at Stans house hoping to be invited for tea which always seemed very lavish compared to our house! Most evenings we would congregate by the chip shop in Church Road for three pence worth of chips. It looks as if it's still there according to Google Earth street view!
When I was in my early teens we spent a lot of time in the woods around Westbury golf club leading to Blaise Castle. At the bottom of the village, opposite the White Lion, there was a tiny saddlery shop called Fisher's where we would buy our airgun pellets. If we had any money the old boy would sell us single 12 bore shotgun cartridges which we would dismantle in Stan's shed and use the gunpowder to make explosions. We would melt the lead shot with a blow lamp and cast fishing weights. There were very few restrictions in those days and we had a lot of unsupervised freedom.

Added 02 March 2021


Comments & Feedback

Hello Andy
I have just read your account of childhood in Westbury on Trym. I find myself very lucky to now be living there having moved from London 8 years ago. I live diagonally across from the White Lion pub in one of the cottages. I wonder if you have any recollection of the cottages apart from Fishers which you mentioned. I was told a while back that my cottage was once a Dr's surgery but I have not been able to find anything to confirm this. It sounds like WOT was a wonderful place to grow up. once again thank you for your memories. Beverley

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