GROWING UP IN KIRKBY MALLORY

THE 1940`S and 50`s by John Perridge   

 

 

Kirkby Mallory Village School 
                          This is the junior school that I attended between 1947 and 1951. The living accommodation was sited to the left in the picture opposite, with the main classroom and entrance to the right . Cooking facilities were available in an annex at the rear of the school, Mrs Gibson was the school cook providing dinners as necessary. Mr`s Davidson was the Teacher in residence, in 1950 an assistant teacher, Mrs Muggleston was assigned to the school. Each desk was equipped with a hinged working surface with storage space under. The pens, provided by the school came with replaceable nibs, inkwells were recessed into the desk top to prevent spillage. Keeping your work clear of ink smudges was always a problem, so blotting paper was essential. The Biro pen had only recently been invented and was not very reliable, in fact we were forbidden to use them for written exam work. We also worked with slate boards and pencils, these were mostly used for art work. The slate slabs were about 9" square, had a smooth surface, and were mounted in wooden frames. The pencils were also made of slate being approximately 1 to 2" long and about 1/4" square.

 

  School group photo taken about 1949, I would be nine years old here, middle row five from the right

 Click here for the names

   

Below is a picture of "Grandads" Manor Farm where we lived for 10 years, and where Dad worked for a short time. And the second is an aerial view of Kirkby Mallory village,

 

  click here

 

 To see enlarged view of picture, plus description of the Manor Farm site.

The farm buildings were demolished in 1968 and the site has since been redeveloped with new housing.

 

   

 Another painting, this time of the village circa 1957 looking North

              It has to be remembered that television was still in its infancy, so played no real part in our entertainment . I do remember the BBC coming to the village, it must have been about 1949, with several large vans, some containing television sets, then erecting a large aerial on the lawn in front of the school and giving a promotional display to" parents only " in the school room, caused quite a stir at the time as these were the first television sets to be seen in the village.
We had mains powered radio sets at home of course , but no transistor portables, ( the transistor was not invented till 1948 ) The Fergerson and Vidor electrical companies did I recall produce portable valve sets but these were very expensive. So as children the greater part of our leisure time was spent outdoors, with the various activities and pursuits being governed by the seasons.

 

The Village Church 

This is the Church where I was Christened. Where I sang in the choir. and attempted bell ringing.

As an apprentice electrician aged 18, I was asked if I could install and wire a series of reading lamps for the choir, which I did, and they are still in use today I see.

This is the Church where I was Married in 1962 and is also where my parents were married.in 1939

 

I can remember the antics of the Spotted Flycatchers that nested every year in the vine  on the school front wall. The games we played there like "Fishes in the Net", "Hop Scotch"and "Snobs". Springtime was particularly special, with the sound of Rooks in the Rectory Spinney staking claim to their new nesting sites and then the carpet of yellow celandines that flowered without fail in the Stack-yard spinney. This was a very different world compared to the suburbs of Leicester from which we had just moved, so much to see and understand, the colours of the finches and Linnets were amazing. I remember collecting twigs of Hazel Catkins and Pussywillows from the hedgerow for display later on a windowsill at home, or taken on to school.  I shall never forget the first time I saw the Blue Bells in Kirkby Wood, in a clearing near the sight of the old Water Mill. Manor Farm meadows bordered up to the wood and I got a lift down on the tractor & trailer. Being about 8 years old at the time it left quite an impression, It was blue as far as the eye could see, and the scent I shall never forget, sadly Kirkby Wood and the Mill brook with its wild primroses no longer exist. Trees felled, hedges torn out and water courses drained or diverted, all to increase productivity they said ??

             Springtime would also signal the start of the birds nesting \ egg collecting season . This was quite a legal activity pre 1954 and resulted in great rivalry in the village to see who could acquire the most comprehensive egg collection . There were strict rules of practice involving the taking of eggs, ie. only one egg per nest for instance, and any abuse would soon result in swift retribution from your elders. Understandably the practice had to cease, but todays modern farming methods, with its intensive use of insecticides and herbicides have done far more to decimate the bird population than we could ever have done. The song of the Skylark and Yellow Hammer now rarely heard .

            Then came the Summer holidays that seemed to last forever, making dens in the spinney, fishing in Barwell Brook or the Hall lake. We would often spend time playing / exploring in the Hall parkland , down to the meadows and Kirkby Wood. Some days would be spent helping Dad who was working on the estate as Groundsman for Mr.Moult at that time. Then it was back to school . With August came Blackberries, Mother`s Blackberry & apple pies and Blackberry vinegar, but not before being dispatched with basket and hooked stick in the direction of Kirkby Wood or the nearby Lake Spinney. September was harvest time, corn-cutting with "Binding Machines" that dispensed neatly tied sheaves of corn, the "Combined Harvester" had yet to make its mark. Mushrooms would be collected at this time of the year in the Barwell Lane meadows after school. Another task to be delegated was "sticking", the collecting of kindling wood for the fire, needed to be done regularly as the house-fire not only provided warmth in the winter but more importantly, heat for cooking. Older properties including farm houses etc had Open Range Fireplaces installed, which comprised of an open fire grate positioned either centrally or to either side of an integral oven or ovens, (similar to the modern "Arga"). Heat from the fire would be drawn around the oven by means of dampers built into the fire grate and throat of the chimney, not to be missed here was the essential toasting fork hanging close by ( making one of these was a metalwork exercises at school). A hinged platform was provided above the fire to support saucepans and kettles, and heaven help if one tipped over !
         Sweet Chestnuts could also be found from the trees near Church Walk and conkers from the Horse Chestnut trees in the Church yard, the latter involving more competitions.Then winter would be upon us, the more severe weather conditions and infrequent snowfalls experienced then, meant there was ample opportunity for sledge /toboggan rides, there being several steeply sloped fields off the Bosworth Road ideal for the purpose.

 

 

 Japonica Cottage, Corner of Barwell Road as I remember it in 1949

 Same corner in 2001. Note the telegraph pole, still at the same angle.

             Also remembered was the water hand pump, positioned on the end wall of the stable on Barwell Lane corner, quenched many a thirst. A small hole in the top of the water spout provided a drinking fountain. Some of the older properties, pre 1950 on the South side of the village were still without a piped water supply, and so relied on the pump for drinking water. The installation of the first public telephone box in 1948 was also a memorable occasion, you can just make it out in the above photograph of Japonica Cottage ( its just right of centre). We children all had to do a picture of it at school.
         Not to be forgotten, Mr.Hulbert the Sunday School teacher, the annual Church outings to the pantomime, and the Easter Eggs from Miss Summers who was Church Organist for many years (The access road for the new houses, I notice has been aptly named "Summers Close").
          Then aged fifteen it was time to leave school and start work, quite an experience, but not an unpleasant one. Involved a cycle ride to and from Hinckley a round 10 mile trip, a forty nine hour  working week, which was quite normal at that time, eight till six o,clock weekdays, plus four hours Saturday mornings. At the end of my first year at work I was able to purchase my first "brand new" racing bicycle, red with Hub dynamo and a eight speed gear change, fantastic !! -£22-10 shillings. How times have changed.

         Finally we have the popular songs and radio programs of my era    "Family Favourites" and the Billy Cotton Band Show, broadcast on Sundays, Children's Hour and the "The Archers" were on the "Light Program" midweek. The early 1950`s brought the beginning of  Rock & Roll music era. There was Jive from "Bill Haley and the Comets," Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. This was complimented with ballads from groups like the   "Platters," the "Diamonds "and solo artists such as Tab Hunter and Pat Boon etc. What would we have done without Radio Luxenberg. Worth pointing out here that the BBC at that time did not  play pop music. It was not until the Pirate Radio ships ( Radio Caroline & Radio London etc) took to the airwaves that the corporation was forced to have a rethink.

Also becoming very popular was the truly British sound of  the Skiffle groups, enthusiasts  with basic D. I .Y   instruments consisting of little more than a Guitar,  Wash Board and a "Double Base" tea-chest, but they were able to produce some amazing sounds. It was estimated that there were over 500 Skiffle groups in the London area alone .The most famous that came to prominence was Lonne Donegan,( who started with the Chris Barber jazz band ) then, together with others like "The Vipers", Chass Macdevat and Nancy Whiskey went on to produced many a hit including Cumberland Gap, Don`t You Rock Me Daddy-O , and Freight Train. Happy days! talking of which, the Bell Ringing group of 1957, with Frank Heath,(tutor)  Ronald, Robert, Diane, Lance, Margaret, Rita, and myself, We broke a few Stays but eventually managed Gransire Doubles, 30 changes on 5 bells, now they were happy days.

 John Perridge / 1964

RETURN TO INDEX PAGE