Memorys of Mareham-le-fen

Memories From the past
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Written by Mrs J H Wilson (Annie Curtis) in 1971

I was born in 1909 and lived at Mareham-le-fen a village with a population of about 600.
My first recollection being my school days,I was fortunate in living near to the school, it meant I could go home for dinner, some children had to walk 2 and 3 miles and bring their dinner in a satchel over their shoulder.
The only means of transport was a bicycle or a horse and cart and a carriers cart to the nearest town once or twice a week.
In those days there were 4 public houses, 2 bakers shops and a small sweet shop where an old lady lived, she was nearly blind and wore a white lace cap, I can see her now feeling the money between her fingers.
The Post Office was at the main Grocers shop where my Father was a van driver and did the daily round to local villages with groceries and paraffin carried in the back of the van in a five gallon drum and measured out at the door.
The only lighting being a single or double burner table lamp and candles.
The mail was brought daily in a horse drawn mail van, I have often watched the bags loaded in and taken to Boston, collecting at other Post Offices on the way, The driver lived in the village and left every night at five oclock sitting up in a seat outside of the cab as it was securely locked.
I didn’t envy him in the dark winter-time in the snow.
He stayed the night at Boston returning next morning about six o’clock, he began his journey at 4am and did it for many years.
I used to go with my father in the holidays, it was a real treat to go jogging along the countryside.
There was a barber’s shop, a blacksmiths smithy which was always kept busy mending carts, farm implements and shoeing horses, It was always fascinating to me to see the furnace blowing up such a fierce red glow,
There were two butchers’ shops and some of the milk was brought into the village by milk float which carried large cans and it was measured out at the door.
One or two farmers sold their milk at the door and I always fetched ours in a pint can before I walked to school.
There was a Church, a Primitive Chapel and Wesleyan, We were Wesleyans and went to Chapel every Sunday morning and night and to Sunday school in the afternoon, every June it was the Anniversary which was a great treat, On the Sunday we had a large platform erected which was full of children and adults, we sang and recited.
On the Monday the village brass band led us round the village followed by leaders of the Sunday school carrying our banner singing as we went and then we came back to a lovely tea of bread and butter, seed and plum bread, I can almost smell it now.
It was a great treat followed by games and races in a nearby field, the pennies we won were spent on sweets, lucky packets and pop in the bottle that had a glass marble in, many were broken afterwards for the marble to play with which was one of our chief games together with skipping, whipping tops and play ball, also hide and seek and running with either a wooden rim or the local blacksmith would make an iron hoop which we could keep rolling by hitting it with a stick.
We didn’t know the name of boredom those days, in the dark evenings we played draughts, dominoes or Happy Families or had a good old sing song, we made our own entertainment.
there was a Band of Hope where we signed The Pledge not to touch strong drink and had a meeting once a week during the wintertime.
I belonged the choir and in the winter time we used to go to the surrounding Chapels and give a concert, taking two or three pony traps complete with brass lamps.
Sometimes there would be a rabbit pie supper to follow which we did enjoy, it makes my mouth water now.
I have travelled many miles in a horse and cart, my father would drop off to sleep, but the horse always knew his way home.
Sometimes a small Circus and Menagerie would come to the village and was always welcomed, in September it was the Annual Feast, There would be roundabouts turned by hand, swing boats, shooting galleries, coconut shies and various stalls with paper balls on elastic and squirts which were like toothpaste tubes filled with water, it was great fun to squirt down someones neck, the whole affair was lit up with naked gas lights.
It was a great treat to have a day at the seaside. I was fortunate as my parents used to hire a caravan in a field near the railway station at Skegness. They were like to Gypsy caravans. It was great fun to paddle and make sand castles and buy sticks of rock, watch Punch and Judy show on the sands.
In those days we did not have taps or water lavatories, each house had a hard water pump in the yard and rainwater was caught either in a tub off the roof or some had a cistern and they had to draw it up with a rope tied to the bucket, our toilet was an earth closet in the yard which was emptied once a year in the middle of an ash pit and finally carted away on the land. Our bathroom was a large galvanised bath in front of the fire on a Saturday night.
I was five years old when the first World War broke out and my father did not have to go, but the three of us lived on twelve shillings a week, we lived in a rent free house my mother had a niece who was a dressmaker who came to stay once a year and made dresses for both of us, mine was made out of mothers frocks, there was enough material in the skirt for a dress for me. A mans suit would cost thirty shillings a pair of boots ten shillings or twelve and six pence, my shoes were five shillings a pair.
The nearest Doctor lived about two and half miles away, it meant walking for my mother and I as I did not have a cycle until I left school, the Doctor was first man I knew who owned a car I had, I remember it was a green two seater with a dicky seat at the back and fitted with two large Brass Lamps.
Most people killed a pig during the cold weather and would cut it up and salt the flitches and hams and a large chine in a flat tub in order to cure them for bacon. The chine was stuffed with parsley at a special occasion such as an anniversary or the annual feast.
During harvest time it was a common sight to see women and children gleaning heads of corn in the fields, they would wear a bag like apron and fill it, then empty it into a larger bag and take it home to feed the chickens kept at the bottom of the garden. The farmer always allowed us to go, there was nothing wasted those days.
As I look back they were happy days but as I grow older I like the comforts we enjoy today, I grew up during wartime so they were not happy days for some just the same as it is today in several parts of the world.

Mrs J H Wilson 1909-1972
Tumby Woodside

The above content is Copyright © to Mr R Wilson