A boy’s WW2 summer and autumn

November 23, 2020

Following on from the previous post, we will round up evacuee Maurice’s year and learn what boys found to occupy their late summer and autumn days.

They obviously followed the seasonal farming activities and Maurice spoke of his pride if he was allowed to take the reins of the horse and cart at haymaking time.

In the autumn he went scrumping for apples. Rabbiting was another way of getting some food for free and off ration. Maurice remembered this being done by sending a ferret down a rabbit hole, which frightened the rabbit out of its burrow and into one of the nets which had been pegged over the other exits.

Before the days of combine harvesters, corn was reaped and then tied into sheaves. Several sheaves would be stood up together to form a stook and the stooks would be left to dry in rows until they were gathered up and taken away for threshing. This photo is of a binder at work on Salisbury Plain in the 1930s.

Maurice explained how the rabbits living in the cornfield would run away from the binder into the uncut corn. As the binder neared the centre of the field, the rabbits would attempt to escape from danger. The boys, armed with hazel sticks, would cosh the rabbits and made a notch on their sticks for each one killed.

At the museum, we are very fortunate to have this written memoir of Maurice Came’s time as an evacuee in Market Lavington. Much of it records what life was like for a boy living in the countryside in the late 1930s and 40s but, from time to time, we catch a glimpse of how the war impinged upon the locality. He mentioned that film shows and concerts were held in the barn and that there was a searchlight battery at the top of Barn Hill. He also wrote about there being an army unit in a range of old buildings in the Market Place. Thank you, Maurice.

Summer fun for an evacuee

November 23, 2020

We have already seen how evacuee, Maurice Came, spent his boyhood leisure time during the winter and spring. (See Winter and spring fun.) Now we will look at his summertime pleasures, as recorded in the notes of his talk to Lavington School pupils.

In the warmer weather, he found opportunities for swimming. He mentioned using the swimming pool at Dauntsey Manor House (by then part of Dauntsey’s School). He also spoke of swimming in the mill stream. The brickyard along the Broadway in Market Lavington was still in operation. The claypits had filled with water and Maurice swam there.

This photo of Tom George boating at the clay pits dates from 1931, eight years before Maurice arrived in Market Lavington. This water is near the railway line and Maurice collected the names of the engines as the trains passed by.

Children also played in the trucks on the rail tracks at the brickyard. This photo dates from 1948. Maurice can remember that the boys pushed the trucks into the water!

We will look at his late summer and autumn pastimes on another occasion.

Refuge from nuclear fallout

November 22, 2020

Our recent blog post Surviving a nuclear attack looked at one of the WVS Civil Defence Corps leaflets produced during a time of anxiety during the 1950s and 1960s. We will now look at another leaflet from the same donation to Market Lavington Museum. Once training had been given, the leaflets could be kept in this envelope for future reference, in case the nuclear threat worsened.

It was envisaged that, if the worst came to pass, the likelihood of survival would be enhanced if people retreated to a refuge room and stayed there for two weeks. This would be a room as far away from external walls as possible and tinned food, bottled water and other provisions would have been needed there. One page lists the items that might be needed for a medical kit.

If the threat was becoming imminent, it was suggested that windows should be whitewashed and materials and surfaces should be flameproofed with borax and boric acid, or waterglass and kaolin on painted woodwork.

The inside of the leaflet lists all the things that would be needed during this lockdown situation, including tinned foods, water for drinking and washing, buckets for makeshift toilets, camp beds and an oil stove.

Fortunately, none of this was needed and the Civil Defence Corps was wound up in 1968.

Winter and spring fun

November 21, 2020

We have featured Maurice Came, and his memories of being a World War Two evacuee in Market Lavington, in several blog posts. His talk to Lavington School pupils mentioned lots of the fun and games had by the youngsters in the neighbourhood. Unfortunately, we do not have any photographs of his activities.

Although Maurice was living in Market Lavington, he went to an evacuee school with his own teachers over the boundary in the next village – West Lavington. This school was held in the old sports club there.

Out of school, Maurice remembered the fun he had in snowy weather, sliding down the hill by Canada Woods on home made sledges and having snowball fights. He also went sliding on Periwinkle Pond, below Ramscliffe, when the water had iced over.

He talked about the sheep up on Salisbury Plain. (They spent the warmer months up there and were driven back down Lavington Hill for the winter.)

Our photo is of the sheep being driven over the crossroads in the early 1950s, Maurice remembered the shepherds setting up hurdles to corall the sheep when they were up on Salisbury Plain. The enclosure was lined with straw bales, inside the hurdles.

The youngsters went bird nesting in the Spring. The hobby of collecting birds’ eggs was commonplace then, but much less acceptable nowadays. Maurice spoke of eating peewit and moorhen eggs. No doubt that was deemed to be a welcome supplement to wartime food rations.

We will look at Maurice’s Summer and Autumn pastimes on another occasion.

Writing before computers

November 20, 2020

At Market Lavington Museum, we change some of our displays each year. A new display for 2019 was about writing before the days of computers and printers.

Typewriters provided the means to produce print, though there were no options to adjust the font or its size. With no printer to run off multiple copies, the typist had two options. For a small number of copies, sheets of carbon paper (see the red pack on the left of the display) were sandwiched between white paper and the pressure of the keys hitting the top sheet would transfer the letter shapes to the pages below. Often thin bank paper was used for the carbon copies, whilst the top copy on thicker paper was the one that would be sent to the addressee.

When more than a few copies were required, the typist would remove the inky ribbon from the machine and cut a stencil. (See the far right of the display.) The stencil would then be fitted onto the office Gestetner machine. Turning a handle allowed ink to pass through the letter shapes cut into the stencil skin and onto multiple sheets of paper, one at a time.

We have several typewriters in the museum. The one on display here is unusual as its keys are arranged in two areas to the left and right, rather than in a semicircle.

The keys will seem familiar to computer users. They are arranged in the same order and give the options of capital or lower case letters and some numbers and symbols.

The typewriter here dates from 1931 and was used by James Welch, who lived at Spring Villa on The Spring in Market Lavington and who was the father of the founder of our museum. Typewriter ribbons were often in red and black so that deficits could be clearly seen in typewritten accounts.

When this display is replaced by a new one, the typewriter will be returned to its large metal carrying case.

Surviving a nuclear attack

November 19, 2020

The Civil Defence Corps was set up in 1949 and disbanded in 1968. These blogs have previously considered items to do with this movement in Civil Defence and A Civil Defence Corps Badge. At Market Lavington Museum, we also have a leaflet designed to help train people on how to prepare for and stand the best chance of surviving a nuclear attack.

It is a tri-fold leaflet giving information on how to avoid danger from heat, blast and fall out and the advice to stay in a refuge room.

The leaflet had belonged to a local lady who was a member of the WVS, later Women’s Royal Volunteer Service (WRVS). We will look her leaflet about setting up a refuge room another time.

An etui

November 18, 2020

At Market Lavington Museum, we have this delightful little etui, given by a former resident of the village and dating from the early twentieth century.

The small, patterned metal case has an eye hook at one end. It could have been attached to a chain and worn round the neck or hung from a belt, so that its contents would be to hand when needed. For the etui can be pulled open to expose a little sewing kit.

The wooden spool has three lengths of coloured threads wrapped around it and a little metal lid at the top. This can be opened to access a sewing needle and safety pin.

Pretty and practical, it’s another of the little treasures in our museum collection.

Cottage life during WWII

November 17, 2020

We have already covered some of Maurice Came’s talk about his memories of life as an evacuee in Market Lavington in An evacuee in Lavington and More evacuee memories. The write up we have of this talk gives us a wonderful snapshot of a time with fewer ‘mod cons’. Whilst mains services were quite common in towns before the war, this was often not the case in villages. (World War II – 1939 -1945)

Market Lavington had been connected to a mains water supply in the 1930s, but Maurice remembers that many still did not have this in their homes. They collected water from Broadwell, some using yokes to carry their buckets. One of these yokes can be seen on the wall in Market Lavington Museum, just above the cobblers display.

Sewers weren’t laid in Market Lavington until the late 1950s. (See Market Lavington Sewerage Scheme.) Maurice remembered homes having earth closets. These privies were housed in little huts in the garden. A toilet seat was placed on top of a removable container. Earth or ashes were shoveled over the contents, which were later buried in the garden. Alternatively, the buckets were collected by Dawnie Cooper, who took them to the allotments along The Clays.

The Clays, Market Lavington

Although the village had had electricity since 1927, Maurice recalled that many cottages were not connected to the supply and people used paraffin lamps and cooked on Primus stoves.

We will consider some more of the experiences of this evacuee lad another time.

Pins and needles

November 16, 2020

At Market Lavington Museum we have all sorts of artefacts related to home sewing, from hand sewing machines and a dressmaker’s dummy to much smaller items, such as those in this photograph.

These came into the museum collection in 1988, but date back much earlier than that. We can only guess at the vintage of brands labelled the Queen’s and Victoria Royal. The jet black pins cost 1d (240 old pennies made a pound) and obviously precede decimalisation in 1971. However, by that date, a box of pins would have cost more than 1d due to inflation over the years.

The reels of thread remind us of a time when sewing cotton was just that and not made of polyester. The reels were wooden and not plastic.

These items of haberdashery have local provenance, having belonged to a lady who lived on The Spring in Market Lavington.

Drummer Boy postcards

November 15, 2020

The Drummer Boy, formerly called the New Inn, was a public house in Market Lavington, which closed in 2015. Previous blog posts about this pub include A memory of the Drummer Boy, The Drummer Boy Pub Sign, Drummer Boy memories and The Drummer Boy Pub.

At Market Lavington Museum, we have a picture frame containing six local postcards, which used to hang in The Drummer Boy.

There are two images of Pond Farm camp on Salisbury Plain in 1909 and one of haymaking on the plain in about 1915. The three pictures of the village show The Spring, Church Street (with The New Inn, later called the Drummer Boy) and the High Street before the right hand building adjoined to what is now the Co-op was demolished.

Unseen by most of the visitors to the museum are the backs of the cards.

The label on the back of the frame informs us that the views had been appreciated by David Harper, who bought them, and the framed set was presented to the museum by his parents, Mary and Malcolm, in memory of their son.