Growing Up In The War Years In Prees & Whitchurch - a Memory of Whitchurch.

Although I was born in Whitchurch [Bark Hill], we moved to Prees soon after. However, I was sent to stay with my grandmother most weekends and for a period I was sent to the Wesleyan school. My grandmother lived in Mill Street, and I used to walk along the canal regularly, it was opposite her house. During, and after, the war she ran a welcome little business of storing cycles for people from out of town. Fridays and Saturdays were always very busy and, I suppose, for me great fun....collecting the money and being a 'bossy boots', telling them where to put their bicycles. That part of my time with my grandmother was good! But shopping for her was a different matter altogether...she was a terror! Until the shopkeeper's recognised me, they'd serve me any old rubbish, bear in mind I was only seven or eight at this time and there was a war on! Many a time I had to take meat, vegetables and fruit back to the shop. My most memorable 'return' concerned 'maids of honour' tarts. I think the shop was called Elizabeth's...I know it was off High Street on the opposite side from Woolworth's. Always a queue on a Saturday morning, so I queued and finally asked for my maids of honour. ''Haven't got any", I was told, "You'll have to take these'' - giving me some buns. I was terrified of going back, but had to face it, knowing I'd be back up the High Street quicker than lightning, sure enough it was ''Take them back and get my money back''. Still queues, but all too quickly I was facing the woman who had served me. ''My gran doesn't want these'', I mumbled,''She wants her money back''. Now I can't remember whether she said ''Who does your gran think she is?'' or just asked who she was, but my reply ''Mrs. Minshall'' brought swift results, three maids of honour were found and I was sent out of the shop with ''Why didn't you say they were for Mrs. Minshall''. I should have said ''You didn't ask me'', but, of course, in those days children were seen and not heard. So that was my maternal grandmother, very strict, only tiny, but she ruled with a rod of iron. One thing I can thank her for is the fact that I became an excellent shopper!

Much bartering went on in those days, many people who stored their cycles at Mill Street were farmers and farm labourers, eggs, fruit and vegetables and, sometimes, even chickens were exchanged for favours....everyone did it. I can't recall ever being hungry during the war or knowing anyone who was.

My best times in Whitchurch were Saturday afternoons when my other grandmother would come over from Prees and take me out for tea to R.D Edwards [I think that is what it was called] or Fulgoni's. I always had beans on toast, always...because I liked beans on toast! Then we'd go to the pictures, if suitable, followed by chip supper at Welsh's, also in Mill Street, before my Copnall gran caught the last 'bus to Prees, yes those were lovely times. To this day my favourite comfort meal is beans on toast.


A memory shared by Jean Mary Copnall on Jun 7th, 2011.
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