Duration: 111 minutes 50 Seconds
This is an interview with Mrs Beryl Flux on the 10th March 2017 at her home in Niton.
Beryl And I had a brother who didn’t like me at all. He didn’t want a new baby(laughs). He was three or four years old and he was happy, he was the only one. My father was a coachman for his brother-in-law who had, what’s the name of that road, down by the clock? … Holyrood Street
Penny Holyrood Street. He was a coalman first wasn’t he?
Beryl Yes, my mother bought him a horse and cart and a ton of coal for a wedding present (laughs). She’d come down from London. He’d met her when she used to come down here on holiday and they were both in their 30’s. They were getting on and I think she met him when she was having a suit measured in his Brother’s. He was a Tailor in Pyle Street. I don’t know the shops in Pyle Street now but it was down this end near the Square. He had a little Tailors shop … it’s at the back of the Bells. Is it The Bells still now? No it isn’t.
Penny There’s not a Bells now.
Beryl British Home Stores?
Lisa Yes, it was but it’s closed down recently but I know where you mean.
Beryl It was the road behind that. There used to be a Fyffes banana place there that everyone … the shops all bought their bananas there. If you were a kiddy sometimes they would give you a few bananas but they very rare would they hand out anything out the back. The kids would all get in round the back but they wouldn’t give them much. Our best place was the Bugle Hotel. My father had … can you now still walk through The Bugle Hotel into Lugley Street?
Penny Is that where the Post Office was?
Beryl No, no we’re down further. Oh it used to be The British …is it Lipton’s now? It’s opposite the Monument.
Penny It’s opposite the Monument.
Lisa I know where you mean. Is it a book shop now? I think it’s a bookshop.
Penny Oh, where Waterstone’s is?
Beryl And there used to be …
Penny You can’t walk through to Lugley Street there?
Beryl A Pub, another Pub. Salem Brewery on the corner and Timothy White’s was over the other side, just over the other side of the road going up to the Hunny Hill on that side, and we had a Chemist Shop all down there I used to go. I used to take the little boy out there. He was rather posh, he went to a posh school … like a West Mont or something I think it was. But you had to be very careful how you spoke to them ‘cos they had a Chemist Shop just down round. There was Frank Chiverton’s, that was opposite the Pub in Lugley Street. Then we had a second hand shop. That was nice. You could get a lot of stuff in there, second hand.
Penny Tell Lisa how you joined the Land Army.
Lisa Let’s go right back to the beginning.
Beryl When I left school …
Lisa Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
Beryl Elm Grove, 25, Elm Grove, Newport, Isle of Wight (laughs).
Lisa OK. And where did you go to school?
Beryl The Church School at the top of the town.
Beryl No, just at the top of the town on the corner.
Lisa The National?
Beryl Yeah, the Grand National.
Lisa West Street.
Beryl West Street, ‘course it is. I walked down the lane and down West Street into school. And then when I went back to dinner, I just had to go up through West Street and up the lane and there was my house at the top hill in Elm Grove and you could walk on then into the Council houses and then down Nelson Road, the Bus Depot, that way.
Lisa So what age were you when you left school?
Lisa And what did you do for your first job?
Beryl Put my age on a year. I’d just come out of school and in the afternoon and we were finished, we were breaking up then for the holidays and I went through the cuts with my friend, that was my Cousin Lathy, and I went on round on me own then. She went one way and I went the other and I thought to myself, I looked in the window …
5 minutes 10 seconds
Penny Because you were supposed to be doing something else then, weren’t you, for a job.
Beryl Oh, I had a job with a Lady Ruthene at Bembridge, as an under nanny. It would have been a lovely job. I would have been the under nanny. There was still two more nannies and the housekeeper. And Lady Ruthene and whoever they were, never heard the name before and haven’t hear it since, were away a lot so the children were there with the nannies and I would have just been a trainee nanny but I never did go. I wasn’t going to do that, I didn’t want to that … I’d just came up by the Land Army Office as it was just opening and there were those ladies there then? They were out at …
Penny Oh, you told me who they were.
Beryl Fisk. Miss Fisk, and who was the other one? She was the brains of it all. They all done it voluntary. They were all volunteers, they didn’t take no money, they opened the office and I expect I was nearly one of the first ones. I put my age on a year. You had to be 15 and I’d just left school. Then you left at 14 so I went home, I told my mother what I’d done and of course they’d got me this job, or the school had got me the job and I said, “No, I’m not taking that” I said, “I’m going to take this one.”
Penny ‘Cos it wasn’t paid very well was it?
Beryl Seven and six a week, live in and I think it was every other week, you had a Saturday afternoon off. I wasn’t going to do that. My father said, “That girls always got a mind of her own” and so I did have and so I went in and I put my age on a 12 month, 15 …
Penny They didn’t ask for proof.
Beryl They didn’t want no proof and she said, “You meet the bus, you be down in the Market Square” she said, “You get on the bus at half past seven” was it, “to Berry Shute.” The bus stopped at Berry Shute at Chillerton, just past Chillerton and then you have to walk down the lane but we were always lucky because one of the young chaps used to bring the tractor and trailer up and we’d go down on that. Sometimes we walked. It would take you a good quarter of an hour to 20 minutes to walk it down to the farmhouse and from there we just went on working. And we planted potatoes, I suppose … oh we done sugar beet. One year we done sugar beet, it came right into the top of Niton I think. Oh, we went a long way with the sugar beet. I think that was the only year it was grown on the Island. I’m not sure whether they did do it anymore because it had to be taken to the Mainland to be …
Penny That was about 1939 then. The War had just started.
Beryl Yes, I expect so. Oh yeah, I got in at the beginning and I had Martin at the end of the War, wasn’t it? ’45 was he born or is that Tony?
Martin was born ’42 wasn’t he?
Penny I think so.
Beryl I think so, yeah now I think about it (laughs). And he’s a millionaire out in Florida now so (laughs) there’s a [inaudible] in the block (laughs) but the money doesn’t rub off when he’s here. He often spends mine. He said, “That’ll please Carol.” And he bought her a dress and I said, “Oh, that’s nice.” And he said, “I used your card.” I thought to myself well this isn’t really right. I said, “Martin, you shouldn’t do that.” I said, “You’re the ones that got the money, not me” and we sort of laughed but I never did get it back I don’t think.
Penny Let’s go back to the days of Roslyn.
Beryl Roslyn, oh that was lovely.
Lisa What was the farmer called that you worked for?
Beryl Brown and Walmsley and they had their depot in Ludley Street. It was Trimms Limited I think and that came out behind … I don’t know what it is now, it used to be Harveys, or one of them. A lovely … I can’t think of places now, I can see it. Umm, we went in and had your tea and coffee.
Penny I’m not sure where you are.
Beryl Like Weeks’s yes. Weeks’s was up the top of the town wasn’t it? Yes, Harvey’s was further down. We used to go in there and have a nice cup of tea and a cake. Their cakes were lovely.
10 minutes 9 seconds
Penny Was it Bunn’s dad that ran the farm?
Beryl He used to have it, that was before the War. But once the War started, the Government put Brown and Walmsley in there because they wanted it to grow … everything went off every morning to the troops.
Penny So was Bunn’s father a tenant … he was a tenant farmer before the War.
Beryl Yes, a tenant farmer before the War.
Penny But they carried on living there.
Beryl They carried on living there through the War and after.
Penny And farming.
Beryl No, they couldn’t farm it.
Penny He wasn’t even working on the land.
Beryl Yes he worked there as …
Penny That’s Beryl’s husband’s father.
Beryl Father-in –law but he worked there just looking after the horses and carts. Getting them ready for the men in the morning. He’d get up early and feed the horses and get them ready for the men to take the carts out to get the sugar beet in. We did it in the snow, frost, anything to get pulling the sugar beet up. There were I expect about a dozen of us.
Lisa All women?
Beryl All women.
Penny We’ve got photos of them.
Beryl I’ve got photos of them. They were mainly women. Land Girls, most of them were married. I was always the youngest, yes, and I only worked there about nine months I think ‘cos all the girls one day said, “We’ve been offered more money and we’re going to the Forestry out at Brighstone.” They said, “It’s planting trees” and of course I got in with my husband to be then, I was going out with him ‘cos he was the farmer’s son that had farmed it before the War and Oh, they were bombed down there no end and the planes that came over. They used to come over … Roslyn is down in …
Penny Do you know where Roslyn is?
Lisa In Chillerton.
Beryl It’s outside of Chillerton. You do round Laverstone and all round that way …
Penny It’s nearer Billingham really isn’t it?
Beryl No not really. Billingham is just down over the bottom of the hill isn’t it? Billingham Shute. Yes, because we had the cottage at the bottom of the hill for a while and that was nice because we had about half an acre of garden and we grew everything.
Penny You were saying about the planes.
Beryl The planes used to come over when we were potato picking or anything, doing Brussel sprout picking and they would shoot. They’d always have their machine guns going up over … what’s the Pub at the top there?
Penny Where are we?
Beryl Going towards Newport. In to Gods Hill, that way?
Penny The Chequers?
Beryl The Chequer’s yes. They’d come over from France more or less I suppose and they’d go back out over Cowes or they’d come in Cowes way and go out that way, Ventnor way. But they’d machine gun you in the field, yeah, we used to dive down and I said, “One day they just pushed me in the stinging nettles.” Oh, it was awful when I came out of it. It was bad enough I even stayed in it but they just machine gunned anywhere, it didn’t matter. But there, those days are gone and I hope they’re gone forever (laughs).
Lisa So you did brussel sprout picking, planting potatoes, all different sorts of jobs did you?
Beryl Yeah, sugar beet , you cut the tops off. I cut the top off, I cut me thumb and that one too. They’ve got no feeling in and that got no feeling in. Slashing about with the … to get the tops of ‘cos you didn’t put the green part, you only chucked the sugar beet up on to … oh yeah, we grew a lot of sugar beet ‘cos then they turned it into sugar, but that got very expensive I think. It went down I think to the River Medina, put on barges and off to Cowes. And then I suppose it was put onto bigger boats and shipped over to the Mainland. And then it would go on that by rail I think, I don’t know much about that.
Lisa Did you look after any animals on the farm?
Beryl No fear! I hate animals (laughs). I don’t hate them really, not in that respect but not to look after.
Penny You did once you had your own though didn’t …
Beryl No, only clean them out.
Penny Well, that’s looking after them.
Beryl I’d go and clean the pigs out and clean the cattle out but I wouldn’t look after … I did feed them sometimes but then the pigs were easy.
Penny But we’ve moved on in time for that. You told me once that you grew the only tomatoes.
Beryl We grew a field of tomatoes. Ken Mew said, “We’ll try them.” And they were beautiful. I think it was only about half an acre or an acre of tomatoes down at Roslyn and it was just pitched just right for the sun and everything. And they were beautiful, we done well but he never grew then again. He said, “It’s the first and the last that we’ll grow ‘em down there.” I think Mrs Mew has died now but the boy Mews are still alive, the young kids that always played with my kids.
15 minutes 32 seconds
Lisa In those days Beryl, were there many machines that were used on the farm or was the work mainly done by hand?
Beryl No we had a few tractors. There weren’t no sort of Fordsons or anything I don’t think. Little Fergies came in when I was … we were faring ourselves because we had a little Ferguson. Yeah, we had a … what was the blue? That’s Fordson … we had a red International …
Penny Don’t know anything about tractors (laughs)
Beryl And when we had Southford Farm, we had a dairy of cows there didn’t we? I have got books on it somewhere but where I don’t know. There I expect.
Lisa Did you learn to drive the tractor?
Beryl Never! I have no interest in machinery one bit (laughs). Not cars, nor … there was always somebody there. If I wanted to go to Newport, my son would either take me or Helen would take me. There was always somebody there that would take me. Or even one of the boys from over the … they were all in their 16’s then, and they could drive. They all learnt to drive on the farm. They all drove the tractors, they all learnt to drive and we had a big hill …
Penny This is Southford we’re talking about.
Beryl Yes, Southford. We had a sand pit …
Lisa Is this the farm that you and your husband then had when you were a bit older?
Penny But before that you had a …
Beryl We had the little dairy on Chale Green. What was that called? Chambers Dairy.
Penny So that was still during the War you was on Chale Green.
Beryl Yes, we were on Chale Green all through the War.
Penny So Beryl got married quite young. You were 16 when you got married weren’t you?
Beryl 16 and a quarter (laughs).
Lisa And your husband came from a farming family.
Beryl Yes. I think they mightn’t have been Islanders. I think they came from up North somewhere, not too far up.
Penny Flux is an Island name though.
Beryl Yes, Jimmy Flux and he were all related and Morris. Do you know Morris? Runs all the Nursing Homes on the Island doesn’t he?
Penny Yeah, a lot of the Care Homes.
Beryl Lot of the Care Homes.
Penny And isn’t the … where the cauliflower tractors go at Godshill. Isn’t that Flux?
Beryl That Flux’s.
Penny That’s Morris Flux.
Beryl Oh, Morris built a new house up on the other side.
Penny You know as you go into Godshill from … you’ve got the bend in the road, where the thatched cottages …
Beryl Up in the road, he can go in the other way. That was Jimmy’s but I think Morris built his further up when he took the farm over. I think he came away from Godshill. He comes out onto the Rookley Road more I think and goes out that way. I don’t know much about them now. They used to come in the farm, but other than that, once we left the farm I never saw them.
Penny So what farming were you doing at Chale Green? ‘Cos you had livestock there didn’t you?
Beryl Oh yes, we had about 20, 30 pigs I expect, yes.
Lisa And your husband ran the dairy did he?
Beryl He worked in the shop daytime and I used to feed the pigs at dinnertime and anything else that had to be fed. What else did we keep round there?
Penny You were telling me about how you did the food for the pigs.
Beryl Oh yes, in the buckets. I couldn’t lift the buckets. Once I’d put the meal in and filled the buckets up with water, there they stayed, wherever I’d filled them up. Already for Bun to feed when he came in. He used to feed them twice a day.
Penny He used to cook up the food for them.
Beryl Oh yes, I used to have to keep boiling … he’d collect all the swill from all the neighbours and anywhere and buy bags of all the little potatoes in from the farm. Anything they were chucking out we could have often, and who else? South Grounds, who used to be up at South Grounds? A Major. He retired, he had the farm up there I think and …
Penny It was North Grounds you worked in wasn’t it?
Beryl I worked in North Grounds as well as South Grounds when we were in the Land Army. We did work down at North Grounds a bit … Bun used to go down and get things but who had North Grounds?
20 minutes 11 seconds
Penny You cleaned for them didn’t you?
Beryl Oh Vance, the Hunts, they got …
Lisa And where is North Grounds and South Grounds?
Beryl All at Chale.
Lisa At Chale.
Beryl Yes. Not far from where we lived on The Green, and we lived just next door to the shop and there was a big elm tree in the garden so the place was called Elm Cottage (laughs). I think the elm tree is still there. I think so.
Penny You grazed your cattle on the Green didn’t you?
Beryl We grazed every morning. When he’d finished milking them, there was only about … perhaps we got up to half a dozen, until we took over the Dairy and then we had more, but he used to turn ‘em out on The Green every morning and the kids … oh they hated it. Had to keep their eye on it. Martin did. Martin wouldn’t do it in the end. He got bigger so poor old Tony used to get out there and watch ‘em. Then there wasn’t much traffic so it didn’t matter much and the lady over at the Pub, there used to be a Pub there. I reckon I lived there long enough I’ve forgot what it was called. Wasn’t The New Inn. That was up … yes it could have been The New Inn.
Penny What actually on The Green? The opposite side of The Green to the shop?
Beryl Yes, you know you’ve got the lane up to the council houses, it was on that side. There was a shed there and people in those sheds made caravans and they used to come across and have a cup of tea often (laughs). There was always somebody about. We had ‘em penned up in the end. Built some big pens for them and we had some goats. The lady that … she had two little summerhouses on The Green and they used to just come there summertime and stay there and we could keep the grass down so we had some goats, and she put in an orchard up above it and one got out one day ate all the trees (laughs). She chose not to bother to …
Penny Did you milk the goats?
Beryl No. I don’t know whether it was just for fun or for the kids.
Lisa The pigs that you kept. Did they go off to be … ?
Beryl Off to be killed.
Lisa How did that happen?
Beryl Bennet and Hamilton came out and got those. Are they still going now, Hamiltons?
Lisa Yeah, the Butcher.
Beryl So that would be from that side, but Bennet of course had died. He was a Slaughter man and all, he could do everything. He had places up … what’s that little lane called in Newport?
Lisa Scarrots Lane?
Beryl Scarrots Lane, yeah. He had places up there.
Penny They’re still there aren’t they?
Beryl A Slaughter House. Are the Slaughter Houses still there?
Penny No, no Slaughter Houses
Lisa The Butcher’s still there.
Beryl Is it? Whose is that? Is that Hamilton’s?
Beryl That’s Hamilton’s still, oh there.
Lisa So did you get the meat back then once … did they butcher it for you or …?
Beryl No, we had some back for ourselves and all the other people who wanted it (laughs).
Penny You traded it didn’t you, during the War?
Beryl We traded it during the War for anything, you know. A piece of meat for something else. I think it was illegal but there, I don’t know (laughs).
Lisa Do you know Hawthorn Cottage on The Green at Chale?
Beryl I should do. Who lives in there now?
Lisa Well my Great Aunt used to live there.
Beryl What was her name?
Lisa Bertha Cheek.
Beryl Yes, of course we do, we knew all the … The Cheeks were related to the Flux’s I believe and the … one of them married a Flux , Roy. I think Roy married a Cheek ‘cos I didn’t take a lot of notice ‘cos there were 11 brothers and sisters. There had been 13, but she died, the last one I believe died. Mother had 13 children. Two years in between each one. Muriel … did Muriel die?
Penny No I don’t think so. She’s in a Home isn’t she?
Beryl Oh, she’s in a Home isn’t she? I’m not sure whether she died or not. ‘Cos I don’t hear from her daughters now, so Muriel perhaps could have died. I’m not sure, but she was the baby.
Lisa So you went from Chale did you then to Southford Farm?
Penny You went to Billingham next didn’t you?
Lisa Oh there’s …
Penny Oh you went to Newport next.
Beryl Oh yeah, we done a shop … no …
Penny When did you have a shop in Newport?
Lisa It doesn’t matter about dates.
Beryl Mum and dad then were alive ‘cos I used to … I was stationed, Bun would have gone down to the Wholesalers and I’d say, “He’s gone a long time again” and he was down mum and dad’s having a cup of tea. My mum says, “He can’t …” I said, “He can have a cup of tea up here” I said, “there’s people coming in and out” I said. I said, “The girls gone home” I said, “She went at 2.” I said, “I’m here on my own.” I said, “at the Post Office.” We had a Post Office up there. The main Joy Stores. What’s it called now, at the end of Whitepit Lane?
Penny It’s just changed. It was the Saddlery and now it’s changed again isn’t it. It’s something else now. Whitepit Lane.
Beryl At the top of the hill.
Lisa I think it’s just a … yeah I know where you mean. It was a Saddlers wasn’t it?
Beryl Oh it turned over from …
Lisa I think it’s just a general shop now.
Beryl It used to be a general …
Penny I think it might be a general shop again.
Beryl We had a lovely Super Market there and we done quite well with it but we had the help of the …that Wood and Rich that were at the time. They were Wholesalers and they … I think it was Mr DeBell from Blackgang that put the money up for us I think. He helped up because he was a friend of the Flux’s and we had some help.
Penny But Bun didn’t have cows when he was there did he?
Beryl No. No we never had nothing. We’d given that all up and just gone into the … but I didn’t like that neither.
Penny And then you went to Cassie Cottage didn’t you?
Beryl Oh I said to Bun one day, “Let’s go back out into the country” I said, “I don’t like the Town.” I said. I think mum and dad had died. I said, “We might as well go back out into the country” and so we went from there to Cassie, was it?
Penny Cassie Cottage, Billingham.
Beryl Yes, ‘cos Alan was born wasn’t he and he was about two or three when we went there I think. ‘Cos he was playing about in the garden, I remember that.
Penny And that’s when you had a smallholding and Bun was selling all the vegetables, he had a vegetable round.
Beryl And Priestley lived in Billingham Manor with his children.
Penny J B Priestley.
Beryl J B Priestley, yeah. He lived just …
Penny Did you know him?
Beryl I never knew him that well. Bun knew him well. He’d go in there but I didn’t. I never bothered I suppose. It wasn’t that interesting. That was when he was more at the height of his fame, wasn’t it? For writing books and that. Where did he go from there, out to Freshwater didn’t he?
Penny He lived, I don’t know at what stage, he lived at The Mill didn’t he? In Freshwater.
Beryl No, I don’t think so. Never heard that one.
Penny The big Mill, big old Mill. I don’t mean Freshwater, I mean Yarmouth.
Penny No I mean Yarmouth, but he went to Brook as well.
Beryl I’m not sure where he went. He had quite a lot of children. What happened with them I don’t know. He went out to Compton, wasn’t it that way?
Penny I don’t know. Possibly at Brook.
Beryl Yeah, I think it’s sort of out that way.
Penny So when you were at Cassie and Bun was growing all these vegetables to sell, was that just in the garden?
Beryl Oh yes, he sold them up the shop. No, he took ‘em up to the shop to sell.
Penny No, was he growing then in the garden? Did you have land?
Beryl Yeah, we grew them in the garden. We had about … I’d have said it was a good half an acre. It was a lovely bit of land. I used to keep it hoed and done. I was a lovely hoer. I could hoe and hoe and hoe all day long. All up over the hills in Roslyn when I worked for Ken Walmsley, it was Brown and Walmsley and they had Trimms in Newport in Ludley Street. That’s where all of it went. I don’t know whether it went down the river or whether they went straight to the boats at Cowes. I think it must have gone down the river on some of the barges ‘cos the coal did.
‘Cos my father used to go down there and … oh no, he went up to the Station. I think the call came in the trains and he’d bag it up up there, in half hundredweights.
Penny It was your father that you think was with Seely and Warrior during the First World War wasn’t it?
Beryl Well, he was in it with the horses. He looked after all the horses, my father, and I wondered if he could have ever looked after Warhorse, yeah. He was with the Seelys, that was his Captain, Captain Seely, he was in that Regiment, but I let my Grandson have my father’s medals and all the little bits about it. I wish I’d never let it go so quick really ‘cos Martin was queer. My son would have liked it but they’ve got it up there. “No”, I said, “I’m pleased it’s in England but I don’t think they appreciate it ‘cos they didn’t know him.” Martin would have known him. He grew up with his Grandad but one way or another …
30 minutes 34 seconds
Penny So after Cassie came Southford Farm.
Beryl Yes, while we were at Cassie, where was I that day? I was out ‘cos when I got home, Bun says, “What do you…” or did he ring me? Where was I? I had Alan I think, taking him out and he said, “What do you think …” Oh, he’d gone to the funeral. I was home with a filthy cold. I was in Cassies and Alan had whooping cough.
Penny Alan is Beryl’s Grandson.
Beryl He’s my Grandson and he had whooping cough so I had to stay home with him and … ‘cos I had the cough as well but it wasn’t so bad as Alan’s, and I couldn’t go and he rung me after the Will was read. He said they’d kept him back …
Penny This is Beryl’s …
Beryl God Mother. She was my mother’s best friend for life. They’d know each other since they both grew up together in Whitwell and they stayed friends even when my mother went to London and she … oh, it was an awful surprise for the family. My goodness. Nephews and nieces were all there. Bun said … we’d heard from the Solicitors that I was to go to the funeral and hear the Will read after. I couldn’t go ‘cos I had whooping cough and I wasn’t too bad but I was bad and Alan had whooping cough so we couldn’t go to the funeral. And Bun rung me up after the Will was read and he said, “What do you think? Aunt Cissy said (we always called her Aunt Cis) has left you the farm.” Nothing on it. Nothing in the house and nothing on the farm. And so we sold our cottage and what money we sold the cottage for, bought some cows. We didn’t land up … the Bank was behind us anyway, the National Westminster. They’ve been good to me all my life. I’ve been with them, I told them, all my life. Yes, since I was 14.
Penny 14, pretending to be 15.
Lisa So you were given the farm?
Beryl We were given the farm, yeah. Even the Solicitor didn’t realise it at the time. He hadn’t seen the Will I don’t suppose, I don’t know. Wouldn’t have been the same Solicitors when she made it.
Penny She left it to Bun though didn’t she, not you?
Beryl She left it to Bun ‘cos she knew I would have sold it. Bun said, “She wasn’t going to leave it to you” he said, “You would have sold it wouldn’t you?” I said, “Yes I would have done.” I said, “I didn’t want to come in this big house and live.” I said, “I’d seen enough of it when I was a kid.” It wasn’t so bad then but it … they were so tight with everything, they never had no money her and her sister, but her sister died young and she run it for the rest of her time and my mother was always out there doing things for her and cleaning. She’s always take me out there about twice a week. There’s a big sand pit up near the railway lines …
Penny Do you know where Southwood Farm is?
Lisa No, that was my next question (laughs).
Beryl It’s in Whitwell.
Penny You know as you leave Whitwell, heading to Godshill, you go …
Beryl There’s council houses on the corner.
Penny Corner of Southford Lane. The opposite corner is the farm.
Lisa I think there’s a sign, isn’t there? There’s a sign that says Southford Farm on the fence.
Penny They’re spending a lot of money on it. They’ve been doing it up.
Lisa I know where you mean.
Beryl Oh they’re posh there now.
Penny It’s not a farm now.
Beryl They got money. No they’ve got horses.
Penny It’s just a house now though really, essentially, with a few fields.
Lisa So you had cows and what else?
Beryl Pigs, yeah and chicken. Ducks.
Lisa How many acres was it?
Beryl About six …no I should say more like 40 to 50. I wouldn’t like to say ‘cos I think she’d sold some … oh, we sold some to Jimmy I think.
Penny You sold quite a bit didn’t you?
Beryl We sold … Jimmy wanted what was on the other side of the road next to his farm, so we sold him that so then we could buy everything what we wanted and not be in debt. But the Bank was behind us all the way. That was National Westminster. They were good … and they were good to me the other day. I went overdrawn and he charged me, so I rung ‘em up and I said, “You charged me” I said. “Did I go overdrawn then?” “Yes” he said. I said, “It was only one night.” I said, “The cheque hadn’t gone through” and so they crossed it out and I got me money back. They treated me well so I said we’ve been with them all me life. That was the only time I’ve ever done anything like that even when we had the farm we didn’t do it. Well we had a thing then if you were overdrawn, you had it done proper but we didn’t, we made it pay.
35 minutes 56 seconds
Penny And did you grow crops or anything?
Beryl Yeah, wheat, barley, not very much, perhaps about 10 or 12 acres of wheat and barley, right by the side of the road where the big bank is, as you just come up from Southford and go along that stretch before you go down into Whitwell. That field up above there, but now the bank is … we used to keep that bank all cut. Bun had a hedge trimmer and he’d cut it and make it look nice. Now it’s all grown in and often falling down isn’t it along that way.
Lisa Did you have anyone to help you with work on the farm or was it just you and your husband?
Beryl My son, but he was a bit of an invalid …
Penny Not the one in America.
Beryl No not that one, no. He’s already gone hadn’t he? He’s already gone making his fortune and he said, “We’re going out there” he said, “To make our fortune and be millionaires.” It’s taken them a long time. Is it 30 years or more? They are millionaires and they have a Park that is worth £3 million, so they’re well away. He comes over once a year. He’ll be over soon.
Penny Twice a year he normally comes. But the other, Tone, the other son, he was involved in the farm and everything.
Beryl At the age of 12, the boys on the bus one day come in and they said, “What’s the matter with Tony, his legs are bad.” “He fell off the bus this morning again” he said, and he said, “He’s often doing it. He’ll slip on the bus and fall off.” And he was about 12 then I think. That was the new boys and he said, “You ought to go and see a Doctor.” And then they said he had muscular dystrophy and he could have been born with it and it was in the family. Nobody in their family had ever had it and nobody ever since. I don’t think is was muscular dystrophy, it was a muscle weakness. “Oh” they said, “He wouldn’t live the year out hardly.” They didn’t think he’d live but he lived until he was 60 wasn’t it? Yes, he lived until he was 60. But he worked ‘til he was about 50 I expect with Ken Muir and the boys on the farm still, yeah.
Penny And his turf business.
Beryl He had his own turfing business, yeah.
Lisa And had much changed in farming then Beryl from the days when you were in the Land Army to when you were at Southford?
Beryl No I don’t think so. ‘Cos we had electric milking machine. We put that in. She had somebody that milked the cows then, but Bun started doing it by hand but he didn’t like that. We had a little milking machine. It just done the few cows we had then. It wasn’t anything big and you had to move it from place to place. Later on we had a big one fitted through, but … that’s what Tone … Tone didn’t mind milking the cows then. That was easy.
Penny What did you do with the calves?
Beryl It’s all according … beef calves went to be killed and the others we reared, the females, we reared for our own … we had our own cattle then after two years but we were only there seven years. I couldn’t stay. I couldn’t keep the place clean. I couldn’t do it. What was it? Eight bedrooms, six … one, two, three, four, five, six, seven bedrooms and a big bathroom. Only one bathroom. If all the bedrooms had been filled. I did fill them up one year. I was fed up with being poor so one of the ladies at the farmer’s meeting one night said, “Do you want some guests? Why don’t you open it for guests?” I said, “Oh, I don’t know” I said, “I could do it I suppose, I’ve got all those bedrooms” and I said, “I’ve got beds in them, I’ve done them all” ‘cos I said, “Helen and Tone were there for a little while” and Alan had his own room. I think I said, “There’s four rooms there besides the two we’re in but there was only one big bathroom.” We didn’t put in no more bathrooms so they had to take their turn. And they couldn’t bath every day and there wasn’t always hot water (laughs) ‘cos you had … it was the boiler from down below, keep the fire going and also I had a beautiful … I had an Aga. Oh she had a double Aga, my Aunt did and I had a cooker either side of the Aga and it was lovely all on top, you’d get plenty of water. And then there was the big Dairy. It wasn’t … about as wide as the window I expect up through. It was long, a big Dairy that you could put like it would be your cupboard, your ‘fridge and that was always cold. And in there they done the milk too in there, we had …
41 minutes 17 seconds
Penny Who cleaned when you did all the milking machines? Who cleaned all of that? Did you do that?
Beryl Sometimes I done some but I got out of that, no. He had to have somebody working for … he had a young lad. I think we had a young lad in the end. I forget who he was. He lived over the road anyway in the council houses I think. He used to come over. Oh, and as long as they could drive the tractor, the boys were alright. We had a Fordson and an International and a little grey Ford. I can remember that. There was a big Fordson tractor, and International Red and this little Fergie. Little Ferguson. I think they were Ford, I’m not sure. No, they would be Ferguson wouldn’t they?
Penny I guess so. That was the make isn’t it?
Lisa Would you have bought them from new or were they second hand?
Beryl The little Fergie was new. She didn’t have none, she had all horses when we went there I think. She had one tractor.
Lisa Where would you buy tractors in those days on the Island?
Beryl I can’t … where would you have bought tractors? Frank Chiverton’s.
Penny There’s a sales at Chiverton’s.
Beryl Yeah, Frank Chiverton’s always done tractors. I think he was Ford. International wasn’t. I don’t know who done the Internationals. We bought those.
Penny How much would a tractor have been?
Beryl No idea. I don’t know. Thought I had a book on it but I didn’t.
Penny What you’ve got it all on the table… the books are on the table?
Penny I don’t know what I’m looking for.
Beryl Bring her down Penny.
Penny What am I looking for? The diaries.
Beryl What is there there?
Penny There’s lots of diaries.
Beryl Is there any books on it?
Penny These are all diaries. Oh there’s something from Chiverton there.
Beryl What’s that?
Penny I don’t know. Oh, this is about the squirrels. Being a squirrel.
Beryl Oh yes, that’s our family tree. My mother said her mother …
Penny There a pack here with lots of handwritten …
Beryl Oh, let’s have a look at that lot.
Penny Would you like a cup of tea? Would you like a tea Beryl?
Beryl Yeah, use that …
Penny How do you like it?
Lisa Just with milk please.
Beryl Now this, I took out of a book one day. It was the Golden Link, it was called. Somebody gave it to me. The Good Old Days and I’ve got up the top, ‘just like my life, couldn’t have written it better.
‘We met and we married a long time ago,
We worked for long hours, wages were low
No TV, no wireless, no bath, times were hard,
Just a cold water and a walk in the yard.’
And that was just how my start was.
‘No holidays abroad, no rugs on the floor,
We had a coal fire, no locks on the door,
Our children arrived, no pill in those days,
And we brought them up without State Aid.
They were safe going out to play in the Park,
And old folk could go for a walk in the dark,
No Valium, no drugs, no LSD,
We cured our ills with a good cup of tea.
No vandals, no mugging, there was nothing to rob,
We felt we were rich with a couple of bob,
People were happier in those far off days,
Kinder and caring in so many ways.
Milkmen and paper boys would whistle and sing,
That night at the pictures was one of our mad flings
We had the Medina, the Odeon and the Grand in Newport
We all got our share of struggle and strife
We all had to face that in the pattern of life,
Now I’m alone I look back through the years,
I don’t think of the bad times, troubles and tears,
I remember the blessings, our home and our love,
And that we shared them together I thank God above.’
45 minutes 41 seconds
I thought that was just me and very good. Just a poem or something on the back. I thought that was very good. My friend had the book and she sent it up to me. She said, “Look at that”.
Beryl [reads from book]
‘I was born in October 1925 to a loving family home but I have a Brother three years old who didn’t really want me, he was spoilt and in all our lives, we were never a loving Brother and Sister. My father was born in Newport on the Island. His father was a Policeman but died before I was born. And now my Grandson is a Policeman. I only ever saw one Grandma. My father was one of 12 children. They were all married and mainly business people in Newport. My Uncle Fred had a Tailor’s shop in Pyle Street. My Aunt and Uncle Jack Colehobby had Reed’s taxis in Holyrood Street and lived there. They did funerals and kept their cars in a beautiful yard. When I was a little girl, it was horses and traps. My father drove one. He loved horses. He had been with horses through the 1914-18 War and was a driver’s mate on a pull lorry tanker around the Island in the Second World War and used to refuel the pipeline under the sea from Sandown. Through the First World War, my mother was born in London.’
Beryl No she wasn’t, I think she was born in Whitwell.
Beryl [continues reading]
‘They lived on the Island until she was about 12.’
Beryl That’s wrong, she wasn’t born in London, she was born in Whitwell.
Beryl [continues reading]
‘Her father helped build the Ventor railway line and tunnel. He had a lot of Irish workers with him but he was offered a good job in a London hospital where he caught smallpox from a sailor. Quite a few died at the time. My Grandma was left with two children, my mother and her Brother, but she had a Brother who died in the East End of London who owned two Newsagent shops, one in the Mile End Road and one in Birdout Road. This was before the First World War. My mother and her mother run the shops. During the First World War, her Brother went to War and my mother said all the young men in the East End went to War, very few came back. My mother had been engaged when the War started. Her young man was a newspaper reporter but he went to America on a newspaper.’
Beryl I think it was The New York Times.
Beryl [continues reading]
‘He wasn’t going to War. She never followed him. Her Brother came back from the War, wanted to run the shops as he would be getting married. Quite a wealthy lady from Scotland who was a friend of my mother’s so mother and her mother came back to the Island. She met my father when she went to have a suit fitted at his Brother’s Tailor shop. She must have been nearly 30 then. They were married. She bought him a horse and cart and a ton of coal for a wedding present to start him up in his own business. He kept his horse in The Bugle yard at his Brother-in law’s. He used to get his coal off the freight trains at Newport Station. They had to bag them themselves. I think coal then was about one and six a hundredweight. One and eleven pence h’apenny best coal. He made about six pence a hundredweight. Mother had a small private income from her Brother out of the shops so in the early ‘30’s we were not poor. My Uncle was very good to me and my Brother. His wife died when their child was born so my mother used to take me to London often and down to their country home at [inaudible] Essex.’
49 minutes 38 seconds
My Cousin always says to me, “You knew my dad and you knew my mum.” She said, “I never knew my mum” she said. I said, “Yes, I knew your mum, but I was only a little girl remember and I can remember her ‘cos mother” I said, “We always used to go down to Cowes” and she brought Dunc and the older one but Doris says to me now, “I never had a mother, did I?” She said, “She died when I was born.” She rings me every day or I ring her and I’m going to stop it really. It makes my telephone bill very high. She’s got the money more that I’ve got.
Penny [whispers] It doesn’t cost her anything.
Beryl Oh it does get cold quick, I like plenty of milk in mine. Don’t like to see the tea (laughs). One of the girls that worked in the shops has been my best friend of a lifetime.
‘I kept in touch with the London shops ‘cos I knew all the girls that worked in them but she’s died now. I’m nearly 83 now, she’s 93. Lives in Gravesend, Kent.’
I wrote this when I was 83, how old am I now?
Penny How old are you now?
Penny 91. ‘Cos when you lived at Southford, you had a very posh neighbour, didn’t you?
Penny No. Miss Russell.
Beryl Oh Miss Russell. Yes she was nice.
Penny Stenbury Manor? Do you know Stenbury Manor?
Beryl Up on top of the hill. What’s on top of the hill up here now? The Obelisk. In front of me. I used to walk there nearly every blinkin’ day up from Chale Green up to the Obelisk. Either I took the dog meself, she was a lovely dog, June’s dog, or I June and I would walk the dog. I used to be always walking up somewhere to take that dog for a long walk. Was it an Alsatian or something like that? A cross with an Alsatian I think, and I used to … June was working, cutting hair and doing things and going round and she’d say, “Would you take her for a walk?” The dog was big and wanted a long walk. I used to always walk that lane from … where do I live? Whitwell, and walk through here. Walk through the Main Road with the flippin’ dog, Anywhere to get a nice long walk and tire it out and her husband worked in the Docks. He kept in contact by ‘phone now but now they’ve all died out.
Penny That’s some of Beryl’s gang and Beryl. She’ll tell you which one is her.
Beryl [continues to read]
‘The children that grew up and lived near me we still are friends now and we have been good friends. We grew up in a lovely road. Our parents were all good friends. Spring times we went with a few friends taking our lunch out to Outsdown Woods to pick bluebells and primroses. It was a lovely day out. My father used to take us out in … my Uncle’s traps off into Cowes. We started school at four at the Church School at Carisbrooke Mall. My Brother was there as well in Boy’s School. We had lovely teachers and had to behave ourselves. They were in charge and we were taught well. The cane was given if you misbehaved and a School Inspector came to your home if you did not attend school. We made our own entertainment, could go anywhere on our own, walking round Newport you knew nearly every shop in the Town and they knew all the little individual shops. Everything had lovely taste. Now even apples are so bland. I expect the local apples are best. Now you can go into Newport which not many like to and rarely meet anyone you know. On Tuesdays, the Market was in St James’s Square. Mostly cattle as it was very busy. Later it moved to Church Litten and the buses took over the Square and it was always busy. We had lovely carnivals which my Brother and I always entered and most children along Elm Grove did. My father always hired his horse and cart for shops to do a float. They were lovely carnivals. The Army Bands from the Barracks, The Fair and fireworks were held at the football field at Church Litten. Now Morrisons and Marks and Spencers. The Agricultural Shows taking place yearly were held in Nine Acres field opposite our house so had a good view. It’s now held at North Wood right opposite our house was Mories Field which they kept all the trees that had been chopped up for timber were used. I used to play on them. Now it’s a small estate. We used to have lovely views from our windows down the River there to Cowes. Right across Newport, the people in Elm Grove do not know what lovely views must have gone.’
55 minutes 30 seconds
Beryl What’s that?
Penny These are Bun’s diaries. That one’s from Southford and he talks about all his animals and what he does each day. Whether he’s been ploughing and this one’s listing 1981, 15 beefs, 2 beefs, 12 beefs, 10 beef and 1 Guernsey cow …
Lisa 28 beef was that year. 1984.
Penny Oh, yes. Drop more milk?
Beryl If you have please.
Lisa Oh, Bun’s name was Bernard then?
Beryl Bernard, yeah (laughs).
Lisa I’ve just figured that out from these diaries.
Beryl He was Bun from the day … my mother always called him Bernard. My mother wouldn’t hear … she thought it was awful, shortening it like that. Always called him Bernard, she would never call him Bun. The kids …“You coming out Bun?” All the kids from over the council houses …
Penny Is your’s too strong?
Lisa No, mine’s fine thank you.
Beryl … always come over from the council houses. “Is Bun there?” “No” I said, “He’s not coming out to play tonight.” I’d say to Bun, “Look at all those kids on that tractor.” It used to drive me mad. I thought to myself if there was an accident one day, even out little Grandson wasn’t very old then and he was up on the tractors and I said, “Well they’re not grow in [inaudible]”.
Beryl [continues to read]
‘My mum’s best friend was Amy Chambers. Lived down the road, she had three boys and ours have been my friend for life. The Ash boys who live round the corner and his are as his Brothers are were good musicians. Piano and accordions. They kept us entertained and we were a lovely family. Always gave lovely fireworks displays. I can’t remember anyone being hurt. My Brother left school three years before me working at Frank Chiverton’s, a Ford Dealer. Petrol repairs in Lugley Street. A lot of young men went to work at Cowes for White’s, Samuel White who built ships at Saunders Roe and built our crafts.
Penny Here’s some of the tractors at Southford ‘cos you must have had other equipment if you were growing barley and things. You must have had …
Beryl We had a Fordson didn’t we? Oh no, we borrowed John Morrisey’s from up … just opposite me up on the hill.
Beryl We borrowed John’s big tractor.
Lisa And this is harvest time is it?
Beryl This is harvest time, yeah. That was a sow and I think she had 12. 2,4,5,6,7, that’s eight. She may have only had 10. I don’t know whether she had 10 or 12. She had quite a lot. That’s an International isn’t it? I believe that’s an International …
Lisa I think so, yes.
Beryl I think that’s our International. Does it say it?
Beryl This was John’s and he’s up on top of the … he was but he died. Josie, does she run the farm? No, she let the farm out I think. Josie does entertainment up there. What is it she does?
Lisa At Nettlecombe Farm?
Lisa They rent a lot of their cottages out, don’t they?
Beryl They do don’t they?
Penny Oh Nettlecombe. That’s where I go to Pilates.
Beryl Yes, that’s Josie, isn’t it? And that was John. He died quite young and that was my husband. He’s still alive I think and this was John’s tractor. He brought he baler down ‘cos Bun’s baler had broke down and is over there. That wasn’t our land … that was John’s hedge and yet he had the big farm up there. I’ve always look at that. Perhaps it is our hedge, I don’t know, but that was John’s tractor. Our little baler, but John had brought his own baler down and we could have had.
Lisa It looks very old this barn.
Beryl Yes, it would be. Old James Low built it to start with, but she was always down there. She’d always get through the gate. Break through somewhere so we used to leave her there.
Penny Who was that?
Beryl The pig.
Penny The pig
Beryl The sow with all the …
Penny I didn’t see the pig.
Beryl I think she had 12. There’s seven there.
Penny Where’s the pig? Oh yes.
Beryl Yes, she had a lot. I think she had about 10 or 12. That was our International.
Penny Who’s that by the tractor?
Penny Yes, who’s that?
Beryl Don’t know. It’s not Bun, it’s not Tone is it? Could have been someone just about there but it’s our tractor, that’s our International. That is John’s. That’s our baler. John’s … our baler broke down … no, John’s baler broke down. He brought his tractor and baler down and when he got down there his baler broke down so he put … and that was Alan. He was home on leave, my Grandson from the Police and he was home for a week. He was up there, he was mending it, repairing it. There’s John at the back. He’s still alive. He lives along the road here nearly into Whitwell. And that was the back of my husband.
Penny Who’s that with the ..? Is that a calf?
Beryl Oh yes, a little calf. Tone, that was our son …
Penny That’s Tone is it? So that’s Tone and Alan.
Beryl Alan now is just retiring from the Police. He retires the end of this month I think. It’s gone the end of the month hasn’t it?
Penny We’re in March now.
Beryl We’re in March now. Yes, he’s retired. He done I think … he was going to do another five years but he’s not doing it for … that’s a big house. Yes, that was Southford House. That, I’ve got a photo of it somewhere was hit by lightning. The stacks were taken off, they went down through the roof and we were asleep in that front bedroom. It all came down through the roof. My husband pushed me out of bed. It was lucky, we had a mantelpiece above us. The bed had been put back in under the … and that took a lot of the little bits of brick that came through. That was my son that died quite young and this is Alan, the Policeman. That’s Tone isn’t it?
Lisa Is that you?
Beryl No that’s friends from London come down and stayed with us. That’s Alan when he was little. And that was … I couldn’t stand them in the house because they both smoked and drunk, his mum and dad so we bought them that but that was down now but we kept it. And that was the kids from over the road. They used to come over and play. That was snowdrops up in our garden down there but they were just doing the hay there.
Penny Did you keep all the hay for yourselves?
Beryl Oh yes, we had to for the cash. And that was an old Fyffes lorry we bought. It had been in a farm sale and we bought that so we had that running around and that was a digger driver that used to go up …he used to come down and do any work for Bun. He was up in the sand pit and he had the sand pit and he used to take off the lorries of sand.
Penny So was having the sand pit profitable for the farm, to be able to sell sand?
Beryl It was in a way. Wasn’t too bad. What did I do with it, oh it’s down there I’ve got me cup of tea. That was Alan up on the hills one day. His paddling pool. Look at the size of these diggers and they look nearly as big as the … I couldn’t stand them being in the house. I bought ‘em a caravan. It was a nice one. I think she had …she had 10 or 12, not sure quite how many there was … [counts] …I think there could have been 12.
Those never stayed up in the field. They’d open a gate. They’d do anything. Those blinking calves were always in the yard. They got on my nerves. Look …every time I went down there … I didn’t like ‘em a lot … that was her little breed of pigs. I think they’re all there aren’t they? [counts] Yes, she has 12 by the look of it. And that was a mother and calf. That’s the digger isn’t it?
Lisa No, it looks like the mobile home being craned in.
Beryl Oh the mobile home going in, yeah. When I got fed up with all the smoke in the house I … we went to a farm sale I think or a caravan sale or something and came back with that.
Penny As you do.
Beryl This was a birthday I gave him. We had what do you call ‘em?
Penny A marquee.
Beryl They came out and put the marquee up and we had it all inside and his class from school. We lived in those days a little bit. Oh, we went to Holland. That’s Bun and Alan I think. That was the gardens. There’s … is that Bun and Alan or not? I don’t know. They we all are there, that’s me, waiting to get on the coach and this was one of the … oh we stayed at the Holiday Inn. That was lovely. That was a good trip. I thoroughly enjoyed that. Oh yes, and we went to Morocco, Oh, he was on top of the… oh we hired the taxi for the afternoon and he took us all around up on top of the hill, up here we were. Then he had a go … we went right out … it was in Morocco I think … and he wanted a ride on the donkey and the camel. We were there some time.
Penny There’s you on Chale Green with the cows. Beryl who doesn’t like cows.
Beryl That’s our friend. This was at Cassie Cottage. It was lovely. Look what we grew there. My husband then done a vegetable. He grew all his own and used to sell them all round Chale and Niton. Whitwell. He done that for a while, then we gave up. That’s friends.
Penny That’s Bun isn’t it?
Beryl No, don’t think so.
Penny Is it Bun on the left?
Beryl No. That’s Iris’s husband.
Penny All the cows on the next one.
Beryl There’s the front of the house. There’s the front of Southford, when you come by it.
Penny You can’t see it like that from the road though can you?
Beryl Oh it took me hours to …
Penny No. It doesn’t look like that.
Beryl I used to get out there washing all the …
Penny I can imagine. Beryl likes housework.
Beryl And doing all the windows. I kept it all … pull them down halfway and do ‘em and then push the bottom one up.
Lisa They were sash windows were they?
Beryl Yes. But we did have a window cleaner. That was friends of my mothers. Well, friends of mine as well. We would … Her brother in the shops in London. But there was Ann and that was some of our little ones. Now that’s my husband’s family. That was Gordon, Ralph, Bun and Muriel. Only four of the thirteen. That’s me and Bun.
Lisa So how did you meet?
Beryl ‘Cos I was in the Land Army down there.
Lisa Oh yes. It was his father wasn’t it?
Beryl Yes. Through them. This is my grandson there. That’s him. That’s Alan again when we were at Southford. That was the road up with the sand pit. I came down here one day, I come down from the sand pit, walked in round here and walked to go down round there. I thought to myself ‘who’s been down there and left all that … who’s been down there and left all that galvanised down there, so I went to move it and when I moved it, blow me down, I put it back quick. There was an adder underneath it. Never seen one before in me life.
Penny Oh I’d die if that happened to me.
Beryl With a bit of luck the sand lorry was just coming up through. It was empty. The driver jumped out. He heard me scream and he came up and we had a bonfire. I had a bonfire going. That’s what I was doing, collecting all the litter. I had a bonfire going in the yard, and he’d thrown the snake up in the air. I screamed, and it went on the bonfire, on the bonfire. “Oh my God”, he said, “What’s the matter missus?” he said. I said, “My God” I said, “I thought it was gonna land on me.” The long and the snake came out and their dog was called Muttley. It was a Muttley like … but Tone got him back to the car, but he was up in the middle of the Forest up at Parkhurst, so it took him some time, but he got him straight to the Vet in Carisbrooke Road and they gave him a shot and he saved … he went on to live quite some time.
70 minutes 7 seconds
Penny So Bun was doing hay for other people, ‘cos he’s carting it …
Beryl Oh yes, he done it for Dooley up at the Hermitage. And Dooley’s in the news still isn’t he? Is it Dooley? Which one is it? Who’s the Doctor there?
Beryl Who was the Doctor?
Penny What, the Hermitage?
Penny I don’t know.
Beryl In the end he sold the blood to the Arabs.
Penny That was the one at … no …
Penny Yes. No. Wolverton.
Beryl Wolverton Manor.
Penny Wolverton Manor.
Penny And he went to … Oh no, he went to …
Beryl He used to be …
Penny … Harry Herbie’s farm. That’s here isn’t it? Herbie’s farm is in Niton, and brought old muck spreader back. Do you remember him buying an old muck spreader? That was …
Beryl He never went to a farm sale and he was always going and he always brought something home.
Penny Yes, and I’m just looking at that in here.
Lisa It mentions here on this photo an agricultural show. Can you tell me a bit about the agricultural shows back then?
Beryl Would have been … oh that was … we put … Tony put it in in Newport didn’t he? Yeah. I think that’s our son, would have been ten. Yes, that’s Tony with one of our calves. It was down in …Church Litten I think then. They don’t have them now do they?
Lisa Where the market was?
Beryl That’s right, yes.
Lisa So you could show … you could take your prize cow …
Beryl Yes, we had a prize …
Lisa … and put it in …
Beryl We had a prize … he had, he had third I think, with one of our little heifers. It’s just a little calf. There he was when he was young. That’s what I said. They said he’d been ill since he was born. I said, “No, never”. I said, “Look”. It was after that even. I said, “He was perfect.” I said, “It’s something he’s picked up or he’s been in …” He had his injections when he was at school, for all the measles and one thing and another, and after that he seemed to … well he was a fine boy. There he is again, yes. There he is on that one. Oh, that was my cousin. They went … Where was that gun? It was up on the hill wasn’t it, in Niton somewhere? Going towards Ventnor, in the undercliff that way.
Lisa I don’t know. It doesn’t say on the photo.
Beryl I’m not quite sure where that was. Yes, there he is there. Growing up and going to school.
Lisa Well he looks a really happy little chap doesn’t he?
Beryl Yes. I don’t think Tone was ever really miserable. Not even when he was very ill.
Penny What was little Bat ? Was that on Southford?
Beryl Oh, we had a little Bat on Southford, yes.
Penny What was little bat? What was that?
Beryl Just a little field and there would have been big field next to it. Big Bat. I think that’s my identity card. I think that’s mine, is it?
Penny Every International …
Beryl Oh that’s Tony’s is it?
Penny … having it’s exhaust repaired on it.
Beryl I must give that his son one day.
Lisa Who’s this on the elephant and where did the elephant …
Beryl Oh, in London. London Zoo. That was Tony and Martin. That’s both my boys when they were little. We took them up to the Zoo (laughs) as you would.
Lisa There’s some very old photos in this one that I’d like you to tell me a bit about ‘cos these in here …
Beryl They’re all the War years nearly aren’t they?
Lisa Yes, there’s some of the old hay ricks and that kind of thing.
Beryl That was in the County Press one day. Well … ah that was I was going to show Tom. That is Beryl Gilbert and she … the farms going to be open to the … ‘cos she’s the same age as me now … oh they were going there for their wedding, where … not Shorwell … out that way somewhere I think, Brighstone way I think. She married a farmer as she grew up and I did know the farmer at the time before he married her I think, but … they do wedding receptions at their farm, and my friend, he was just getting married and they were going to her farm for the wedding reception. “Oh God” I said, “I shall see Beryl again perhaps.” But that was taken down at … oh planting small conifers at Westridge Downs so all on Westridge Downs is a forest at Brighston, at Westridge, not Ryde way and that was what we planted there. All thousands of little conifers and beech. Every third one I think was a beech. Either that or it was three conifers and a beech and a chestnut and we picked the chestnuts up at Parkers Forest.
75 minutes 36 seconds
Lisa And this was when you were working for the Forestry Service.
Beryl That was when I was working for the Forestry, yeah. It was a lonely life (laughs).
Lisa You had to be on your own.
Beryl But we were a long way apart. There were about 12 of us I think, right across the Downs. That was down at Roslyn.
Lisa There’s some sacks here aren’t they so they’re …
Beryl Yes, they’re picking up potatoes.
Beryl What we picked bagged up. That was Bun’s dad and that was his brother.
Lisa With the heavy horses.
Beryl With Gordon there, he … what do you think he done later in life? Just the opposite to that. He was a racing driver. Now what one do you think he drove?
Lisa Motor cars?
Beryl Yeah. But what car?
Penny More than a racing car.
Beryl More than a racing car.
Lisa A Formula 1 car?
Penny More than that.
Beryl More than that.
Lisa I don’t know.
Beryl The Thrust
Lisa Oh, the fastest car ever.
Beryl Yeah (laughs).
Lisa So he went from horses to very fast cars.
Beryl That car … he did tell me the history of it. I daresay the history is known anyway but they built in an old chicken shed or something down in Haven Street I think. Him and his brother-in-law and somebody else. They done it down in an old cow shed or something they built it down there and he was the driver. That’s Gordon, he died. He was alright but he was cocky. He knew he was brainy when he was that age. I think he knew he was going to get on. I used to take the mickey out of him, I regretted it later. Doug … you know that is that big hill out of Brighston. Never been ploughed since and wasn’t ploughed … it was only that once in the War. You know when you go through Compton is it? Where’s there’s the food. The little chalets and that. Going up into the hill to go down into … you go down the dip into Freshwater, isn’t it, that way.
Penny Oh, further along.
Penny Oh, OK.
Beryl It was the only time it was ploughed and then they put potatoes in it and they only done it the once. I think they were more frightened of … even Dud didn’t like doing it.
Penny Oh, on the cliff edge
Penny Oh grief.
Beryl Yeah, he didn’t even like doing it.
Lisa And that machine, it likes it’s got sort of caterpillar tracks.
Beryl It’s a tractor. They called them tractor tracks then. There weren’t many but Doug could drive that one anyway and …what they have? They’ve only got three furrows showing haven’t they? I think there’s six on there. I think they must have done ‘cos they were more powerful than the little Fordsons.
Penny Did you have a combine harvester ‘cos Bun was writing about combine …
Beryl Yeah, we had a combine harvester. It was when we bought … he come home one day and I told him I said, “You keep going to these farm sales” I said, “Don’t keep buying things” I said. I said, “We haven’t got a lot of money” I said, “Time you borrow it from the Bank and pay everything” I said, “It’s hardly worth it.” I said, “Have people in to do it, it’s far cheaper.” He did in the end, he came round to it more. But he always wanted to have his own machinery. Oh God, some of the old things we had. Penny and I went back down to Roslyn one day and that’s outside the door wasn’t it?
Penny Yes. There’s a picture, the other picture is Bun …
Beryl And there’s Bun outside of it …
Penny … during the War.
Beryl … when I first met him. Nice young man wasn’t he? I was a Land Girl there then.
Beryl Yes, he was then wasn’t he?
Penny Always has a sparkle in his eye, for mum, right to the end, he always had a sparkle.
Beryl It’s a lovely house now, it still is. They’ve got it better than what … ‘cos there were a lot of children in it. The people that got it now are rich and they own it. No, they don’t own it do they?
Penny Yes they do but he’s just died.
Beryl He’s died, yeah.
Penny But she’s still there.
Lisa Is that where Bun grew up then?
Beryl Yes, that’s where he grew up. Yeah, they were there a long time I think, but what was her name?
Penny Lynn. She’s Lear but I don’t think he was.
Beryl Lynn. Yeah there was just above there the German they fired at us that day and there’s the bushes and all that there behind the house and here is the yard. Yes, that was the yard coming up through and over this side were the tall elm trees. That’s not them there.
Lisa And was it a big farm Beryl? Did they have a lot of land?
Beryl Oh yes and they had all through into Niton. Into Kingates, where did they come into? They come into Niton I think.
Penny Yes, because it came up over the top did it?
Beryl Yes, could have done. That’s me on the end there. This is the Forestry. We were putting in little trees, bedding them out. We got the boxes with them all in and we had to bed them out.
Penny And you had your two foreign ladies.
Beryl The two Irish girls.
Penny Are they in the picture? They’re in one of those pictures aren’t they?
Beryl Yes, well those two there I would think. And we always used to on with them. If they’d say anything, we’d start on at them. We said, “What are you doing over here. You don’t come into the War and yet …” “Oh”, they said, “They come for money and the work.” And we weren’t very happy with them but I suppose we had to keep our cool or the Foreman would have sacked us.
Lisa And what were your wages then?
Beryl Oh a lot more than I was getting. When I was working somewhere else before I joined the Land Army, 25 shillings a week I think, but, we done piece work and I could earn … I was young, I could get up over those hills and I could plant the potatoes, pull me box up with all the potatoes what we’d put in and they’d all have their spurs on them ready … you kept the spurs up and then the tractors would come along afterwards and bury them all in. It was interesting but this was the Forestry. And that was the Forestry, that’s over Brighstone Downs. I’m not in that one but my friend is but I’m not. I and my friend were sat there, I think that’s the same. That one would have been the Forestry ‘cos these are little fir trees in front of us. And that’s me on the end.
Lisa Did you have a uniform or could you just wear your own clothes?
Beryl No, we had green jumpers, hats, dungarees. I’m the only one with a jumper on I think. Haven’t got a hat on but I’ve got a jumper on. There’s Iris there, my friend. I’m not in that one. And there we are … where are we here? Sat here somewhere. I think that’s me. I’m not sure, I was sat up there.
Penny There’s Beryl’s Land Army badge, um medal, which they awarded a few years ago, very late, if you remember there was lots of … there’s Beryl and Bun.
Beryl My friend Sylvie comes in. “Where did you get your medal?” I said, “You weren’t in the Land Army Sylvia” I said, “You might have worked on the land but” I said, “You weren’t in the Land Army.” I said, “If you’d been in the Land Army you’d have got a badge.” I don’t think she was in the Land Army. Pretty sure she wasn’t.
Penny How long have you had that medal, about five or six years?
Beryl Yes we’ve had that a little while now.
Lisa So it was a form of National Service wasn’t it, joining the Land Army?
Beryl You worked for the Government. I’m sure that’s a time ‘cos e that’s where they want to go and have their wedding. I shall say, “There’s little Beryl, that you’re going to have your wedding with and see … she must be, she maybe just a bit younger than me.
Penny Oh it’s 2008, there’s the certificate that came with it.
Beryl Oh yeah. The only thing I don’t like about it is Gordon Brown’s signature.
Penny Yes, we didn’t like that did we?
Beryl ‘Cos he’s not … he wasn’t a proper Prime Minister. I think …
Penny It should have been the Queen.
Beryl It should have been the Queen. She was there in the War and she worked at the end … she didn’t do much. She done a bit of driving at the end of the War but I think it should have been the Queen.
Lisa It’s nice to have your work acknowledged isn’t it?
Beryl It took a long time.
Lisa Your contribution.
Penny There’s more old photos.
Beryl I gave my mother …
Penny It’s not the subject you’re looking at I don’t think.
Beryl … I did earn 25 shillings a week when I first went. I gave my mother a pound a week, kept five shillings. But I could do piece work and earn more. I never told them (laughs). Especially in potato picking.
Our Foreman was Ken Mew who was a friend of ours as long as he lived. I learnt so much doing horticultural . Old timers taught us that had been doing it all their lives. They were good friends for the Land Girls. I’ve been a good gardener all my life. I stayed at Roslyn for nearly nine months. During that time we grew onions, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes and sugar beet which was taken by horse and cart to Godshill Station where they were put into trucks to finish their journey by train. Into the refineries for our sugar which was rationed all through the War. Bun lived at Roslyn farmhouse with his mother, father, brothers and sisters. We started going out together. They all thought I was over 15. If they’d had known I was only 14 …
Penny Or more to the point 16.
Beryl If they’d had known I was only 14 I wouldn’t … and I don’t suppose his mother would have allowed him to have gone out with me (laughs). Oh dear, oh dear, it’s interesting. Oh that’s … we had a horse and trap. My father used to do taxi work, taking people … he’d meet the boats at Cowes in the mornings and take people out for the day round The Island but he’d take us to Cowes and then drop us off on the seafront and we’d go somewhere perhaps … we’d take our breakfast and our dinner and our tea and he’d pick us up late at night and we could paddle and walk along Cowes seafront into Gurnard and that and we used to spend our days there. That’s where I was born up in the bedroom up there.
Lisa That’s Elm Grove.
Beryl That’s Elm Grove in Newport and it’s still there … it’s 25. My mother and her mother.
Lisa That looks like it was in the 1920’s.
Beryl Yeah, I was 1925.
Penny The same number as the house.
Beryl They’d already had a lot of bombs drop. What number was that, nine, ten.
Beryl [continues reading]
‘They’d already had a lot of bombs drop near them. Their windows had been shattered. They were on a line from Bleak Down to the pylons of Ventnor which the bombs always tried for. We watched a plane come down on Bleak Down one day. The pilot got out. We were always being machine gunned. The planes flew low. No one was ever hurt. We often a long way away from the farm. No taps or toilets, ate your sandwiches with dirty hands. Pulled up carrots, shook the dirt off, ate them. We would take a few veggies home at night which always helped. I don’t think eating them that way has done me any harm. Bun is 86 now, I’m nearly 83. I spent a lot of time at Roslyn Farm when Bun and I started going out. Ken Mew married Barbara whilst I was there. A quiet wedding, surprised us all. Barbara I said was a Supervisor in Woolworth’s then. He used to spend a lot of time with Bun’s family. After Bun and I got married, we lived near them. Our children all grew up together. We all lived on Chale Green and they just lived down the road. Going back to the Land Army at Roslyn, a bunch of Land Girls worked with, going to join the Forestry Corps. It was better hours, more money so I went with them. Worked at Brighston Downs and Westridge Downs. We planted thousands of trees which are still standing to this day. I was still going out with Bun, it was 1942. I won’t read the next … We got married very quietly and purchased (laughs) …’
Penny (Laughs). I think you should read the next. You can’t take the juicy bits out!
Beryl [continues reading]
‘The War had been on over two years. Everything was expensive and in short supply. My mother was pleased. She was looking forWard to the baby which, when he was born, she practically looked after. After we were married, we went to Roslyn Farm to live. An old cottage half way down Roslyn Lane. Ramsdown Cottage. It’s bleak. We looked across … I watched the pylons being bombed every night.’
Beryl We were up on the top of the hill, going down Roslyn Lane and I could see the pylons in Ventnor and I watched them being bombed. The Germans come over, dropped their bombs and off they went out to sea. But they never hit them, did they? All those times, and they used to try and bomb the radio station down here in Niton didn’t they? But they never got back.
Penny Just can’t imagine a sort of 16 year old girl with a baby, living in a house with no running water or electricity …
Beryl We had running water, there was a tap there.
Penny Oh you had a tap.
Beryl But no sink. A table.
Penny Yes, but just watching the bomb … I just can’t get my head round it. You were so young.
Beryl We were the only house … the farm was … “Oh” my mother said, “You’re not staying there.” We’d been there six months but she never let me have Martin ‘cos I still … I had to work anyway. She either had to go to work in Newport in a shop or do something ‘cos she was under 60, or if she had the baby, I went to work, so it was better for her to have him in Newport and she practically brought him up. And I used to come home every Friday. She used to bring him out and then I’d have the weekend and Bun would either take him in Sunday night and she’d have him the rest of the week or she’d come out and look after him. She’d stay out there.
Penny What, at the cottage?
Beryl Yes, our own cottage.
Penny At Rams…
Beryl At Ramsdown … No, Martin was born on … Wasn’t he born on … No, he was born at Ramsdown wasn’t he?
Penny At Ramsdown, yes.
Beryl I’m thinking of Tone a bit there. Yes, and she took him more into Newport in the end, but he’s a lovely boy isn’t he?
Beryl Martin’s a gentleman. He always wanted to be one so he’s got to be one. He’s a millionaire three, three times over now. The park is worth 3 million, and they’ve got an allowance. He’s just given the boys what did I say, 80,000. Each?
Beryl 80,000 dollars. 8,000 dollars isn’t it, I think. I said “Well what about me?” I said “You could have given me some.” “Well” he said, “you don’t want it do you?” I said “Well when you come over, bring plenty with you.” When he comes over, he … I pay for the car sometimes, and I said “This time you can pay for the lot.” That was my mum and dad. That’s me, my brother that went to Australia. He only died a few years back didn’t he?
Beryl He was in the War. He fought in the War. He was out in France, Italy, Germany. He was everywhere. That’s my father and mother, and that was Tony and that was Martin. And that was my best friend Iris, and her little boy, and those two were friends, near enough. All the youngs alive anyway, the two boys.
Lisa What beach is this on?
Beryl Sandown I should think. My mother always wore a hat.
Lisa That’s a beautiful photograph isn’t it?
Beryl Oh she had money then. She was rich then when she first got married, and that was my brother, and that was my father. That’s … that isn’t Alfie is it? I suppose it must have been.
Lisa Yes. It says dad with Alfie.
Beryl Oh it must have been Alfie, yes. That was a beautiful ruby necklace. She pawned it once when we wanted some clothes. Yeah, well sold it I think. Yes, she got rid of all of her jewellery, ‘cos father didn’t have anything much.
Penny Whose that?
Beryl Mother and Alfie, then down at Elm Grove … that’s my Aunt Cis that really all of this lot comes from.
Penny Oh, that left you the Farm.
Beryl She wasn’t my Aunt, she was only my Godmother. My mother’s best friend. That was at the farm.
Lisa This is her.
Beryl Yes, that’s her, yes.
Lisa She’s got like an overall on.
Beryl Yes. Oh yes. She was a farmer. It was her farm, and she farmed it. Yes, she had lovely Dairy, and that barn’s still there to this day. I think it still is. I don’t think they’ve ever taken it down.
Lisa And she had horses then, she was using horses for work on the farm?
Beryl Yes. They came into tractors. She had a tractor when we went there. That’s my old Grandmother.
Penny Miss Russel must have farmed with horses didn’t she?
Beryl Yes she did. She farmed with horses. That’s my old Grandmother and that’s my cousin Duncan but he died a few years back. That’s my uncle’s … that’s Duncan, and Alfie … my mum and Alfie, and her brother’s wife, uncle Charley’s wife, yes. But Duncan … Duncan’s died hasn’t he, Duncan died, but Doris I talk to every day.
Penny That’s Anny Doris.
Beryl Anny Doris, yes. She either … It’s her turn to ring. She doesn’t mind ringing and she’s a millionairess. They got pots of money, her and her bloody sons.
Penny As long as she doesn’t stay on for more than 59 minutes, it doesn’t cost you.
Beryl Don’t cost too much. Well I hope not.
Penny t doesn’t cost anything. 59 minutes.
Beryl What, over to her?
Penny Yes, to phone her.
Beryl Does it?
Penny As long as you don’t talk for longer than 59 minutes, then you have to hang up and redial. It doesn’t cost you anything.
Beryl Oh I don’t go that long. I often and put it down before. I thought it … how much have I spent now.
Penny It doesn’t cost you anything at all.
Beryl Oh doesn’t it? Oh that’s good.
Penny That’s part of your contract.
Beryl Well I won’t tell her that. She’s so mean.
Penny That’s why she’s rich.
Penny Rich people are mean, that’s how they get rich.
Beryl But she’s had a fall like I had, you see, now, so she’s not much. But she takes taxies out. She has the taxi come to the door and take her, and she goes into the British Home Stores and all of ‘em in … Where does she live?
Beryl York, yeah. It’s a good thing I’ve got people that remember. I have to …
Penny It’s good that you wrote all that down though isn’t it? You should always do that really.
Lisa It’s good to have, yes, as a record, and with the recording that I’ve made today, I’ll give you a copy of that as well, because it’s nice to have it with spoken memories as well.
Penny Those diaries of mum’s are amazing. I’ve never really looked at them before.
Beryl No, I’ve never … I’ve never seen ‘em much.
Penny And it details everything he did on the farm, every day, and what the weather was.
Lisa Would you mind if I took a copy for the museum archive, of one of the pages in the diary, and some of the photographs?
Beryl Well you can take ‘em. Either send ‘em back or bring ‘em back, whatever.
Lisa I don’t need to take them anywhere because I’ve got a scanner …
Beryl Oh have you?
Lisa … and I can do it now. Is that okay?
Beryl Yeah. This one, at Elm Cottage cottage on The Green.
Beryl [reads from book]
‘Went for a job. We paid six shillings a week rent. Barbara and Ken, we were just down the road at Northgrounds. Bun worked for Mr and Mrs Brown on Chale Green. The shop then was a Butchers, Telephone Exchange, serving petrol. They had their own Dairy, milk and groceries and Post Office.
Penny Is that Chale stores?
Beryl Chale stores. Mrs Brown had all that. It was a lovely place.
Beryl [continues reading]
‘They had … also had the old Slaughterhouse on The Green. Bun had to work in the dairies some mornings, and helping at weekends, to deliver the milk. The War was well into its third year. You could not go to the beaches. They had the barbed wire, were defences, over them. Bun was in the Home Guard all through the War. He tried for the Air Force at the start of the War but because of his deafness he was turned down and wasn’t called up again. He was in the hut that night the shooting happened and Mr Bullock was killed.
Penny What was that?
Beryl [continues reading]
‘Stella and Mary’s dad. Another man was also shot. Live bullets had been used by mistake.’
Beryl Oh yeah, he came home one night and he was devastated, and oh, he’d seen it.
Penny What had they been practising or something?
Beryl They’d been practising and some live bullets had been put in, and Stella and Mary Bullock, their father was killed. He’d gone … it was a boy Ball. I think his Ball. He lived at Upper Chale.
Penny This was the Home Guard?
Beryl Yeah that was the Home Guard and live bullets had been used instead of the dud ones like they used.
Penny Oh, good grief.
Beryl He come home that night and he was terrible.
Penny Only one man died?
Beryl Two I think. I thought it was one at the time but somebody said it was two. Now Derek Sprake, I …
Penny I saw Derek Sprake on Wednesday.
Beryl I’ve got to talk to Derek. My boys grew up with Derek. I grew up with Derek and I’ve known him since he was born, I was going to say.
Penny Do you know Derek Sprake Lisa?
Lisa I know of him.
Beryl And he’s got everything. He would know all that what went on that night.
Penny saw him on Wednesday.
Beryl I said to Wendy, I said, “Ask Derek to come and see me.” I said, “I’d love to talk to Derek again.” I said, “Because he’s everything of what happened on The Green when I was there.”
Penny Is she going to do that then?
Beryl I hope so.
Beryl [continues to read]
‘We bottled all our fruit, made chutney, pickled onions. Made our own jams,when we could save the sugar up. I had a paraffin oven to start with and an oil lamps, but after a while we got Calor Gas. Still had open fires. Had a bucket toilet round the back and baths in front of the fire. Had a copper to heat the water.’
Penny That was in Elm Cottage?
Beryl Yeah, when we went there as well, yeah.
Penny Didn’t have a toilet?
Beryl No, and we had the old copper up in the corner ‘till we got a bit of money up together and I went to work over for Ken and I sort of got more in and electric came through the village. That didn’t come through ‘till the boys were about 10.
Penny Not being funny, what do you do with a bucket toilet? Where did you empty it?
Beryl We had an acre of garden near, no, that’s exaggerating; about a quarter of an acre of garden so he didn’t dig the same lot up … he dug …
Penny Oh, that’s disgusting.
Beryl Oh we had a cess pit put in afterwards. We didn’t keep that too long. We had a cess pit put in and they emptied that every so often. The big lorries would come in…
Penny Yes, a cess pit I can cope with …
Beryl Yes they came in and emptied that every so often.
Penny … but the idea of a bucket.
Beryl Yes. Oh God! What I lived with (laughs). What else we got there?
Beryl [continues reading]
‘Mr and Mrs Ben Downer lived opposite at The Green. Had a son Roger.’
Beryl Now Martin and Roger are still friends. Roger comes every time Martin is over here…
Penny He’s the one whose wife has just died.
Beryl And Christine is his sister, so I’ve been friends with Christine for life really. I remember when she was born.
Penny That was the ice cream van at Blackgang viewpoint.
Beryl Lifetime friends …
Penny Do you know the ice cream van there? That’s Chale Farm.
Beryl [continues reading]
‘Always meet them now when Martin comes over from Florida. At the end of The Green, Mr Bob Cotton had the Bakery. Made lovely bread and always made little rolls for the children when they were growing up. It was a lovely place to live, lovely little Church at the top of The Green. Martin and Tony were christened there. They went to Sunday School and evening Guilds. The vicar at Chale Church used to ride about on a three wheeler. Bun used to deliver a lot of groceries so I did get a few rides out and could take Martin when …’
Penny What tyres do you want, the ones from Southford?
Beryl [continues reading]
‘ …where I didn’t go for walks. My father had been on the petrol lorries …Mrs Brown had her petrol tanks filled. The bus drivers always came in for eggs. We always kept chicken.’
Beryl If you had eggs over really they were supposed to go into Newport. They’d collect them but we didn’t have enough so … the were called the Pool Lorries then, … Esso … all of it was all mixed together. It was all pooled. They used to come in and pick their eggs up and they’d
drop off a little bit of paraffin. If it was paraffin, I could use that but we didn’t have a car then but he’d always leave a little drop of paraffin and he’d pick up the eggs and anything else. Apples, they’d go out and pick the apples up in the orchard.
Beryl [continues reading]
‘Tony was born 1945. Christine Downer was born the same year.’
Beryl Well, Christine’s as old as Tone would have been.
Beryl [continues reading]
‘And John Mew, all three grew up together. Stayed friends all their lives.’
Beryl Christine was as bad as them. She’d play down in the ditches on Chale Green with the two boys. She wasn’t going to be left out, she’d run behind them and be with ‘em. They didn’t take much notice of her sometimes.
Penny Where did Fred come into it? He talks about Fred in these diaries.
Beryl No ‘till later. Oh, that was later after the shop that turned over to somebody else and …
Beryl [continues reading]
‘Martin at 11, joined the Air Training Corps, based in Ventnor opposite the School. Went to the Air Force later which he was in for six years.’
Penny Was Primrose a cow?
Beryl Yeah. They all had good names.
Penny Primrose served, 2nd August ’76.
Beryl [continues reading]
‘We bought a nice bungalow in Victoria Road, Newport, just round the corner from Bun’s brother Ernie and his wife Norma. Tony, when he married Ellen, we helped them get a house round the corner in Victoria Road. My father died whilst we had the shop. Mother was coming to live with us, but died three months after dad. It broke my heart. I wasn’t well. The big supermarkets were in Newport, so we sold out and later went to Cassies Cottage at Billingham. It was a lovely little Warm cottage with a lovely large garden, and we made it lovely. Bun done the mobile green grocery, mostly around Sandown hotels. We grew a lot of vegetables bit bought a lot from Ralph Mew at Chale. It was lovely part of our life. Tony had Ellen and Alan when we were at Victoria Road. He was alovely baby. I went in most days to take him out. Vera’s husband, Bob, was putting a new roof for us on Cassies so I went up to London for a while and to stay with my Cousin Doris and her husband in Chelmsford and to see my mother’s brother. When we arrived back at Cassies, the roof was on. Bun had been busy in the garden that evening. Tony and Ellen brought Alan out. He was 18 months old. He’s been out with Helen’s sister at Blackwater but she had other children and wanted to work so he came to live with us. He was so good, I often took him for walks to Chale Green and often took the bus to Blackgang. Alan was about three and a half years old when we inherited the farm from my Godmother. My mother’s lifetime friend. Helen and Tony came to live with as at Southford Farm. It was hard work. Modernising the house, Aunt Cis had the kitchen modernised. Lovely Aga and cupboards. We had very little money to spend on it. Bought a lot of good second-hand furnishing, most from the County Press advertising. Tony helped out on the farm and then started doing logs. There was plenty of wood around the farm, he done well, but spent most of his lunchtimes at the Yarborough Arms pub. Alan loved it. Went to Godshill School when he was five. All the children used to come over from the council houses opposite. Some could drive the tractors. They wouldn’t be allowed to do it now. Also had the cars, they could drive up and down on the railway line. It was hard work looking after everyone. Interest rates were high and we were always borrowing money to keep the farm going, but Jimmy Flux in Scotland Farm was always there to buy some land and we kept going. Had a nice cruise with Alan and a trip to the Dutch bulb fields while we were on the farm.’
Beryl Where did we go then?
Penny Maybe not so much hedge now.
Beryl If you can just imagine an aeroplane coming in low and the big fir trees down the end. It that’s the other end of it, those trees aren’t the same though. They were different, they were big trees over this side but they keep ‘em cut now. Straight through there and then we shut our eyes nearly. We thought they were going to hit the trees and they must have just gone up in time. They didn’t expect to see it. They came in low over us, over the hills and come in ever so low, over the Bleak Down from Cowes, they’d been bombing Cowes, and they were coming out to go to Ventnor and drop their bombs there. What they’d got left, before they went back to France or Germany wherever they’d come from.
Lisa I’d like to copy that one please, of Roslyn as we’ve talked about it so much, it would be good have a photo of the house.
Penny Roslyn, yes.
Beryl That is Roslyn. I always think … Wuthering Heights, I always say, “It’s Roslyn” (laughs), “we’re not Wuthering Heights.” But the lady that lives there now, she’s let us go in haven’t she? We went in. It’s a big place.
Penny This place we went there was when we went to see Miss Russell at Stenbury.
Beryl At Stenbury.
Penny That was amazing. That was just astounding. I mean think Miss Haversham and ‘Great Expectations’.
Lisa Yes, the Museum actually received some of the belongings from the house.
Beryl That’s right. The little track … have you got the track or is it still up there?
Lisa That’s gone … I think that’s gone to Osborne House.
Beryl Has it?
Lisa She bequeathed a lot of the estate to English Heritage.
Beryl They told us that didn’t they?
Penny She was talking about it.
Lisa Or is it going to the Bus and Coach Museum in Ryde?
Beryl I don’t know.
Lisa I think, I read that it’s going to the Bus and Coach Museum in Ryde because it needs to be restored and then they’re going to put in on display.
Beryl Are they?
Beryl It’s a pity she let it all go wasn’t it? It was shut up there so long …
Penny The place was in a terrible state. This dining room which was like a dining hall almost and it was just full of stuff.
Beryl They had the potties didn’t they, up in the wall (laughs).
Penny It would be just so wonderful to be let loose in here and be able to really look at things.
Beryl And I used to go up there quite a bit. Walk up there of a day with the dog and never took any notice of any of it. Half the time we …
Penny Has it been sold now?
Beryl … we only stayed in that ruddy kitchen. She never let us go too far.
Penny Has it been sold? I know it was for sale.
Lisa I’m not sure. I don’t know whether she actuall bequeathed the whole estate to English Heritage.
Beryl I think she did.
Penny She was talking about leaving it all to charity. They were selling the Estate but …
111 minutes 50 seconds
Transcribed September 2017 by Chris Litton