It really isn’t so very long ago, the days of my childhood and yet in even this comparatively
short space of time how many things have changed in our village.
I grew up in Winteringham during the 1950’s and 1960’s and it was a wonderful time to be
young and carefree. The second world war was fading into history and rationing would soon be over. I think that chocolate must still have been on coupons because I remember
going with my dad to get bars from an old lady who kept a shop which I think was in Ulceby and I seem to think that she kept some especially for us.
One of my earliest memories is of sitting on the pavement (near the school) and watching the fire-engines outside Howarth bungalow, where the Howlettes lived. (I little dreamt that
one day I would live in that bungalow and that there would still be evidence of the fire on the floorboards in one bedroom.) I think I must have been going to meet my big brother,
Peter, from school as I was still too young to attend. It seemed to be such an exciting thing to do: to venture up the hill and to be allowed to walk back with the big girls and boys.
It was not so very exciting though the day that Penny bit me! Penny was Miss Brown’s dog, a spaniel if I remember correctly and Miss Brown, as every villager knows, was
headmistress of the school. I bet I should not have even been inside the school but I had probably just gone in to have a peek into this mysterious world and I only tried to stroke
the dog to say Hello but she did not seem very pleased to see me!
Miss Brown, Miss Malone and Miss Coggan. I am sure that all of us who passed through
the village school have our own particular memories of them. They really were very kind
and cared for each one of us but we thought them very strict and hard. It was not until we passed on to our allotted ‘big schools’ that we realised how sympathetic they had been.
The school building does not appear to have altered much from the front view but there have been alterations and extensions.
Instead of the present central heating we had huge coal fires in each classroom with a large fireguard in front. In the winter, if we wished, our bottles of milk were put in front of these to warm.
But wait! All this talk of school - surely we hardly ever went! Weren’t most of our childhood days spent out in the fields, lanes
and that most wonderful place - Smith’s stack yard.
Smith’s stack yard - what a place for adventures! We seemed to be free to do almost exactly what we wanted, as long as Tom did
not catch you. We built dens in the stacks, played houses and hospitals on the bales, dared each other to sit with our feet over
into the crew yard where the bull was kept and peeped into the stalls to see the new born calves. I do remember though that I
hated thrashing time, thanks probably to my brother, Malcolm who insisted on introducing me to every family of mice whose nest
was disturbed. I still hate mice but for some unknown reason I love my brother dearly!
Southside Estate was not built until later in my childhood. In those early days that
area was a field where we built dens in the autumn when the corns was put into ‘stooks’ and were left to dry out. I must have been about eight when building began
and ’proper little nuisances’ we must have been. I often wonder how those original windows stayed in the houses as we would wait to see which house had its glass
fitted each day and then in the evenings we would sneak around and ’borrow’ some of the putty which we would then harden off and use to make bricks for our model houses
. One afternoon we even decided to explore the sewers and my very kind brother decided to replace the manhole cover whilst I was still underground. (I can’t think why
I say that I still love him!)
In those days the village had two Grocery Stores, a Butchers, two Fish and Chip shops, the Post Office/General Store and a Cobblers. I remember Potts’ shop best as
my mother worked in there prior to the birth of my youngest brother.
This shop had belonged to my paternal grandparents but had been sold to Mr Potts a
number of years before I was born. It was a typical village store and sold everything a
villager might desire. However, if Mr Potts had not got it in stock then he would promise to fetch it from Barton (where he had another store).
There were shelves full of pots and pans, kettles, torches, calor gas fittings, etc; drawers full of ribbons, cottons, handkerchiefs,
pins, lace, etc; warehouses brimming with crates and boxes. However, best of all were the Polar Bear soaps. These were only
made of a plain white unscented soap but in those days the fancy ‘Soap on a rope’ type of bath room finery had not been thought of and these bears were highly desirable items.
If we had been especially well behaved we were allowed to help with the weighing up and the packing of the orders ready for
delivery. Sugar had to be weighed out and packed into thick blue paper bags, butter was cut off the slab and patted, biscuits were
not pre-packed but had to be weighed out from large tins and, of course, some nearly always got broken. (Infact we had many a picnic with a bottle of Tizer and a bag of broken biscuits.)
Then there was the paraffin shed! Sometimes Grandpa Potts would allow us to help when he went to the out building to fill a
paraffin can. We always had a giggle when the funnel made a rude noise as the last of the liquid drained through.
I am sure that we had so much more to do in those days and certainly much more freedom to get out and about in our lovely
village. There were many more grass fields to play in, The Croft with its horse chestnut trees to climb (and in my case to get stuck
up) and the river banks where we could roam and play. The old railway lines with the bushes where we could hide or make dens.
(My brother’s gang were great den builders and made some wonderful structures).
The roads were much quieter and we even played ‘whip and top’ down High Burgage, now quite a busy through road. We were
considered perfectly safe if we went off on a bike ride, with the inevitable picnic (which we always ate well before teatime and then returned home for another tea).
One of our favourite places during those long hot summers was New Clue.(I have no idea if that is spelt correctly as I have never
seen it written down nor have I any idea where the name came from.) We would set off after lunch (with our picnic of course)
across Seeds Field, down Cow Gang, over the old railway lines, across another grass field and there we were. Our own private swimming place.
It was never deep enough to actually swim in but to us it was wonderful. The bottom of the ‘river’ was sandy at this point and we would take spades and hollow out the bottom to make a deeper pool. The water seemed to flow much cleaner than it does today
and there we would wallow until we turned chilly and then in the privacy of our ‘bushes changing room’ we would hastily pull on a
few clothes ready for a game of chasing in the grass field and over the wooden plank which served as a bridge.
School holidays would draw to a close and that was a sign for us to go brambling. One of the best places was the old railway
lines which had not yet been reclaimed by the farmers and ploughed up. Off we would go with our empty jam jars, old milk cans
and a walking stick to pull down the high briars. (Now being me I usually managed to fall into a bush!)
It was not always summer of course, it just seemed to last much longer then. Winter did arrive and with it snow and frost. I can
remember several times when the roads into the village were blocked and once walking up the hill to school between banks of
snow that seemed higher than my head. I can remember ‘Little Haven’ being frozen over and we would go ‘skating’ on the ‘lakes’ which had formed in the hollows in the fields.
What fun we had when it snowed, sledging down the slope of Seeds Field.
We had to prepare our sledging runs very carefully and each one was given a name. If you were very daring then you went down
The Train and through the gap in the hedge at the bottom. I had to have a go, of course, and true to form I missed the gap and ended up in the hedge. A very painful experience!
Well that is how I remember my childhood in Winteringham. As I read back over what I have written I wonder if I ought to submit it
for the eyes of other people (especially my own children and now my grandchildren). We really did get up to some antics but nothing destructive or very naughty.
Today’s young people so often seem bored and that is one thing I can never remember being but then we were allowed to be
children without all the pressures put upon today’s children to grow up quickly. We had the freedom of the countryside without the many necessary restrictions of today’s world.