After listening to a talk on the 50’s era, my mind travelled back to the 30’s and 1940’s, when great changes took place.
I was born in March 1930 and what I remember from early childhood was halcyon days revolving around family gatherings, visiting grandma’s and aunties, mum staying at home to look after the family i.e. my four sisters, three brothers and my father.
Although it was for me a very cosy life, to others it was so different. There was a great deal of unemployment, poverty and people living in properties hardly fit for human habitation. Some families were even living in caravans along Thrapston Road, then known at ‘The Poplars’. Depression ran high with people struggling to make ends meet, living in dread of diseases due to poor sanitation etc.
There were no such things as antibiotics then and, I daresay, that on many occasions medical help was not always possible to afford – no NHS being available, not even envisaged.
Life had its compensations though which we had in abundance. We could wander through the meadows and enjoyed living in the countryside.
Most people had allotments, a good many also keeping their own livestock such as hens, chickens, ducks and often pigs. If you kept a pig, it was quite usual after having completed the weekly laundry, to use the remaining water to give the pig a good scrub down. Children of the family joined in with the task – what child wouldn’t like to take part and to enjoy the escapade sloshing around in wellies.
A common sight also was a farmer moving cattle and sheep along the main roads from one field to another. That also was an attraction for children skipping along and being very delighted to behold if one of the animals went off course, perhaps strayed up some resident’s garden path, that caused hilarity but not to the harassed farmer.
Around 1935-1936 new council houses were built and Eastfield Crescent and Allen Road took on a new look. People moved in and suddenly had a new life. Brand new homes with modern facilities. What a luxury it was for them to have bright and light kitchens, bathrooms and indoor toilets. The residents had a better way of living and they took pride in themselves and their homes.
More changes were to come.
On the 3rd September 1939 the Second World War was declared; this was the biggest change of all. Finedon went from a sleepy old village to a hive of unfamiliar activity.
The evacuees arrived. How bewildering it must have been for them. I still wonder if it was a good idea or not.
Some children came with their mothers so they probably fared alright. Some others went to really good caring families but there were others that may not have been as welcomed. I guess it was a matter of ‘the toss of the coin’.
I still feel very sad when I recall the first evacuees arriving, How daunting it must have been for them to leave their families and familiar surroundings. Some soon settled in, others did not and they in turn returned to London.
At school we were encouraged to be kind to the ‘vacs’ and mostly we were. They taught us about city life and that came as another form of education. Of course, we had to sit three at a desk, so if one had a cold we all caught it. We also caught other things i.e. itchy heads but, even if it was unpleasant, we just carried on regardless, there was a war on.
To be continued…