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Mary King's memories


Here you will find Mary King's vivid memories of growing up in Little Shelford in the 1930s, 40s and 50s.  Sadly Mary passed away in 2020. But her memories live on. Thanks to Avril Pedley for transcribing the words.

My time in Little Shelford

I was born in the High Street,Little Shelford in a small cottage behind H.D. Butler’s old bakery. To get to it and its adjoining cottage my parents & next door neighbours, Mr and Mrs Bob Bignell, had to go through the garden of Fred & Malcolm Elbourne (later to become Nellie Elbourne’s house – later years she used to say that I was born in her back garden. The High Street had fewer houses then – 2 council houses to the right – Vic Dickerson & Mr Darlow (at cross roads to Church Street), then a tennis court & then fields until Whites Farm. (Reuben Litchfield lived with his mother & sister Nellie). Next door was Mr & Mrs Flitton, then Kirby Lodge with Miss Hudson, the next house was Low Brooms with Miss Powell & during the War, Mrs Jerwood. Their housekeeper was Audrey Clark (later to live in Lee grove Cottages). There were fields until you came to Fordham’s Farm, fields again to what is now the White House – then Mrs Creek’s house. (We used to go gleaning for corn for her chickens.) Jack Godfrey lived in the other half cottage. There were three small terrace cottages – my uncle lived in the middle one (I think two were made into one later to become Daglen Cottage.) Westfields was the last house in the High St. There was a cottage in the grounds I think Mr & Mrs Boast lived there as housekeepers. Coming back to the village on the other side is Pooleys, which years ago used to be a pub, fields until Mrs Lister’s house & Sally Bradmans. Near the pump was Eddie Ackers, at the bottom right of the Terrace – the rest of the right side was all allotments for the people of the terrace. The left hand side were four terrace cottages, then two semi-detached cottages, the village laundry & then Swiss cottages (the Walkers lived there). After that was another terrace of cottages, Mrs Ryde, Charles Seaman, Charles Day & Miss Day. Coming back to the High Street Mr Goodwin’s house is sideways to the road, then the coal yard & Carriers (Frank Litchfield), Miss Jennings & then the Plough. Mr & Mrs Human, Mr &U Mrs Nunn, Mr & Mrs Hodkinson. Three terrace cottages Jack Hurst (fishmonger) French, Jim Dickerson… The next row of cottages are Bowtell Row. I remember some of the names being Mrs King, Davey (late Landlord of Chequers) Mrs Neaves, Mrs Norman, Rivett – another two or three terrace cottages, Mr Buller & Mrs Saunders, then Kings farm with the Bayons. Then came the Elbourne house & ours in the backyard, then the shop & bakery & the roadway to the Chapel & two small cottages. Mr & Mrs Nunn [?]. The Stearns lived in the cottage on the road, next came the camping close – the Village field where all events were held. Next was Mr Wisbey & his sister & last was another small cottage. Miss Cracknell, her brother & niece lived there. Mr Wisbey was quite a character. When my Mum first heard him she thought he was rowing with someone – he always shouted & always used the word “bleeding”. Once he was sweeping leaves outside his house across the road when the neighbours said “don’t do that”

He replied “your ‘bleeding’ tree, your ‘bleeding’ leaves” & kept on sweeping. He had a big allotment at the top of Garden Fields & although he never seemed to dig (he did hoe) no weeds dared to grow.

We moved to the Garden Fields when the council built two pairs of houses. Mr & Mrs Frost, John Dockerill, Ben Dockerill, us. Mr Larkin had a house built on the same side. The other side was called Mount View & when we lived there were Mr & Mrs Bailey, H. Marsh, T. White, J. Andrews, The Marshalls, Rayments [Marshall] & Fred Game. At the bottom of the Garden Fields the Elbournes had a big shed & fruit trees behind (we used to go scrumping at the back). At the front (behind the phone box) was a place in the ground where the Elbournes used to put the iron rims on art wheels having made them across the road in the Smithy. We spent lots of childhood times watching the Elbourne brothers in the Smithy. During the day the old men used to sit in the sun alongside the Smithy. Mr’s Freeman, Wisbey, “Cubby” Stearn & his dad, & Mr Cracknell. I just remember the gate across the bottom of the garden fields. Next to the Smithy was Ken Smith in “The Studio”. Mr & Mrs Warren lived next door. Going into Hauxton Road on the left was a little cottage where Win Allen lived, nothing but Win’s garden until ‘Claybat’ cottages where Mr Marsh & the Birds lived next to the Whitfields, Mr Carrel in “The Nutshell”. Into Newton Road were Mr and Mrs Manning, Mr & Mrs Fuller, Mr & Mrs Chatters & Mr & Mrs Tyrell. At Whitegates were


Brightsmiths, & Mary & Phyllis Pryor at the Red house, then an orchard & the Misses & Mr Bagnell at the Old Enclosure. Coming back the other side was the Macsalls, Mr & Mrs Long, Mr & Mrs V. Larkin, Mr & Mrs Hurst, Mr & Mrs Sid Dockerill, Mr & Mrs Hockliffe, Rosie Gall & Mrs Oakshott at West End on to Hauxton  road toward the railway were the Cottages where Reg Easy, Mrs King Mrs Taylor & Mr & Mrs Amey lived. Then in the Council Houses Mr & Mrs Bob Pearl (Undertaker) Mr Bailey Mr Freeman Mr Mrs Brown Mr Mrs Want, Bob Bignell (moved from High St), Mrs Acker (Eddie’s mum – she & daughter Mrs Hitt used to sell sweets). Mr and Mrs Nunn [Pearl] Tyrell, Joe Allen Poulterer & Acker were some who lived there. The next was the gate house. The council houses at the other side of the gates with the J Livermore’s Mr and Mrs Day Joe & Mrs Amey, Mrs Lilly & Mrs Collis & the bungalow with the Oakmans. Nothing on the other side of the road coming back to the Village until the Wakefords then the Stearns (and the council houses) Rupert Rogers, Jim Bird, Molly  Marsh & Stan Ellis. In the council houses there was a field next where Vic Dickerson used to make sheep hurdles. We spent quite a lot of time watching. The Prince Regent, George Townsend landlord, on the corner next door [Church Street] Cajuga Cottage in Church St. Miss Daw lived – the next house was the Rope Walk where the Gall brothers lived & worked. We used to go & get our skipping ropes from there. What is now the Long House was home to “Tilly” Easy & the Pearls. The Village Hall, where weddings receptions were held – you had to go next door to the Chequers for any drinks. Mr Davey was Landlord followed by Mr Sam Beebee – Mr & Mrs Duke lived the other side of the Chequers & the Rogers with Miss Marfleet (our school teacher) lived in Cornerbeech house. Mr Miller was in the cottage next door. Behind a wall from there to Church House was an orchard belonging to Mr Mowlam who lived in Church House. During the war the soldiers occupied Church House and afterwards it was made into flats for Mrs Kennedy, Mrs King & Mrs Cooper.

The Church & house (now Priest House) was for Rev. and Mrs E.B.H. Berwick. During apple season Rev. Berwick would sit at his gate when we came home from school with a box of apples for us.

Opposite the church gate on the other side lived Bert Moore – church organist & choir master, the George Buckles parents (we used to take any caterpillar or other creepy crawley to Dr Buckle to identify. Col. Harris lived in Cintra Lodge & Psyche Altham lived in Camping Close Cottage. The Austins ran the Post Office – later Mr & Mrs Hudson - & shop & Mrs Martin lived in Square House.

In the Back Lane (Whittlesford Road) was Miss (Totsie) Austin & Mr & Mrs Andrews in Lime Cottage. The Magorris sisters (the Studio) & Mrs Orris in the cottage at the back. Milestone Cottage the Rainbows & Ivy Cottage Mr Altham, then a field until the house near the terrace for Mrs Daisy Walker & the other side of the road was the woods up to South Lodge & Col. “Barty” Willis. We went to his house during the war to sort posters for the war effort. The Lodge on the corner of Bridge Lane was Mrs Eden, & where we had our first Sunday school. Later at “Square House” later still at Low brooms. Only the old Hall in Bridge Lane where the Thorogoods lived.

Mr Stirling-Lee lived at Sainsfoins & Mr T Sherman lived in his cottage at the back. Mr Parker lived [in] Sainsfoins gate house. The last houses in Little Shelford were Leagrove Cottages, at one time my grandad lived in one.

A woman we called Granny Clark lived in one, she used to wear men’s boots & a man’s cap. Although we were never hungry, many’s the time we would walk to Granny Clark’s on a Sunday afternoon for a piece of cold Yorkshire pudding with jam on it. If mum had offered this we wouldn’t have touched it.

Dad used to work for the Litchfields; his day was getting up, milking the cows, then taking the milk in churns, on his bike, & deliver door to door, with a measure, right up to the Cambridge Road, Great Shelford, come back – weigh coal and take it on horse & cart on his rounds, he also helped in the fields. Then there were only Mr Flitton, Dad, Mr Godfrey & later Neville Teversham working on the farm. During the war there were P.O.Ws working as well, they were housed in a small cottage at the back of “Carriers”. Litchfields also had a farm at White Hill, Granhams Road, & also one at the other side of Royston heath on the Baldock Road & it was nothing to bring a flock of sheep from Royston to White Hill – walking along the road. One day Mr Litchfield had taken dad to work at Royston & when he turned up next day at “Carriers”, Mr Litchfield asked Dad how he’d got home the night before. Dad said “I walked”. Litchfield had forgotten to fetch him. (It was about 12-14 miles).

Dad mended al our shoes using the belt from the driving belt of a threshing machine – he used to split it in half – take all the rivets out & this left a good ½ to ¾ inch leather to sole our shoes, this done he also put hobnails in, so our shoes were very heavy but also hardwearing 9they also made good sparks on the road). Our house was always noisy with the eleven of us: mum used to play the comb and paper & we would play musical chairs. We never had a T.V. nor a radio until I was about 12, then we had to go to Gt Shelford to Mr Flacks for an accumulator each week it was charged up. Then with the radio, us & Dad mending shoes, my eldest brother studied – that he passed his eleven plus to the County Boys school was a miracle.

The boys of the village used to congregate at the pump or go to the boys club at the top of the Village Hall – Girls were soon seen off if we dared to put foot on stairs. The Village Hall was used for weekly dances & the troops from around the village & Duxford came. We stood watching the dancing from the porch door. My eldest sister loved to dance & many times dad said she couldn’t go, she threw her shoes out of the bedroom window & sneaked out (a good excuse to go outside was that the toilet was round the back of the house.

The woods were “opened” for a fortnight each year & we were allowed to collect firewood. Usually the women of the village used to go with prams & carts all day to collect wood. We would hurry home from school & run through the woods to find them only by the sound of breaking wood, it was great fun though. During the war there were tanks lining the streets of the Back lane (Whittlesford Road) & sandbag walls half way across the street in Bridge lane. This was to slow or deter any enemy vehicles and we were supposed to go round them. We were often late for school or home because we always had to climb the walls. Another reason for being late was playing marbles in the gutter all the way to school. We had to carry our gas masks at all times, so the boxes made good carrying cases for the marbles. Another way to get to school was to wait for Mr Amey’s old fashioned milk float & horse & beg a lift. We came home for dinner each day so it was quite a rush each way. Mr Amey worked for Howard’s farm in Manor Road. There was also the Manor where Mr Pares-Wilson lived. This and all the other big houses in the village used to hold garden parties, so we all have had access to all the lovely houses and gardens.

Each Saturday we had to go to Mr Butler’s to collect the bread, then he made double loaves & we had about five of them to carry home. We also were able to go into the old bakery & watch the bread being made & put into the ovens in the walls. It was lovely - warm in the bakery & often noisy with the sound of crickets. Also we had to walk to the game-keeper’s cottage at the far end of Newton Road to fetch rabbits 6d each for dinner & keep the skins for Mr Jack Payne of Newton. I don’t know what he did with them. Mr Payne was also the local chimney sweep. Mr Cracknell was the gamekeeper & was strict about where we went up “the mount” which was another walk & play for us to see who could climb the monument.

The Village Hall hired a T.V. for the Queen’s coronation & we sat all day watching, never having seen a T.V. before. We never left all day. The Bagnells, Miss Powell, Mrs Jerwood & some of the village children put on shows of sketches & songs & also a team called The Foxton Yokels put on an entertainment during the war. Friday nights a screen was put up & popular films were shown. There were also whist drives which were well attended.

The village children dressed up for V.J. & V.E. days & we celebrated with parties in the tennis court. I was ill in bed for V.E. day & only heard the music & noise from the party. I remember Mr Arnold Parker dressed his bike to look like an aeroplane for one of the celebrations.

We also played in the hedgerows up the Garden Fields making “houses” & dressing up in ‘cowparsley’. My sister tells me she used to climb the trees near a seat where the old men sat & drop small stones & twigs on their hats.

There were allotments at the end of the Garden Fields & I spent hours weeding my dad’s allotments. There were apple trees on the end of some allotments & I remember throwing my shoe up the tree to try to get some, but my shoe got stuck up the tree. I daren’t go home without it & was still trying when I saw “Cubby” Stearn (owner) coming up the Garden Fields so I had to go further along the allotments until he went home again about an hour or more later. At the end of the allotments was a ditch, also a great play place – from the other side of the ditch we could walk past where Mr Larkin kept chickens right through to “Bradmere” * also further along to Cinderdirt Road & come home via Whittlesford Road.

The Saturday before “Mothering Sunday” as it was, we used to go to the railway side of Newton bridge & down the side was carpeted with violets, we would take them to the Miss Cracknells (Irene was Sunday School teacher) & bunch them up for the Mums. The school children used to go (crocodile fashion) all along Granhams Road to collect rose hips during the war. We also collected conkers at the water bridges but I don’t know what they were used for ** see later on.


Summertime holidays were spent in the water bridges. We had great times splashing about from the bridge nearly to where the two rivers meet, I don’t think anyone could swim. Winter when the rivers flooded & the field between the two waters flooded & froze we had great times sliding on the ice. Another sliding & skating place was Bradmere pond, & sometimes you could hear the ice creak and crack & we’d run off it as again no one could swim, but I don’t remember any mishaps. The only one I remember falling through ice was my brother John when he stood on the ice on Mum’s waterbutt & it broke. I think he was in more trouble through climbing on the butt than falling in – that was punishment enough.

Another “swim” place was the weir, we could get to it over a ditch, past the bowling green and along side a field & we had tyre inner tubes (begged from Mr Pumfrey at the garage in Great Shelford). We could also go a bit further along & (especially if the water had been lowered from the weir) cross the river at Great Shelford & come across the recreation ground & home through the village.

We had many “walks” – one was across the field along the side from Whittlesford road (opposite Sainsfoins) to Dernford & come home through Stapleford – another was Newton road over the bridge & through Donkey Lane to Hauxton & home & if we were really energetic we went to Gt. Shelford, Trumpington – along the  ‘high mile’ past the Pest Control & through Hauxton. This we called walking round the A.A. box because there would be an A.A. box at Trumpington. During the war there was a prisoner-of-war camp along the Hauxton-Trumpington road & some of the P.O.Ws used to work on the farms. I still have a letter from one Italian P.O.W. sent to my mother-in-law after the war. She used to live on a farm near Royston & often cooked rabbits & birds for their meals.

Our first look at “army” life for the village was “the broomstick army” of village men who practised & met at ‘Whitegates’ in Newton Road – they had only broomsticks for guns, later they had hats & armbands with LDV (Local Defence Volunteers).

Later the real army came to the village & occupied the Lodge, all along Back Lane (now Whittlesford Rd) and Church House. We had some famous people billeted here including Richard Green the film star.

We seemed to have a season for games, there was marbles, hoop & top, hop-scotch, skipping & what we called Lekio – I don’t know where the name came from & haven’t ever heard of it since – but we used to throw a stick & one went to fetch it while others hid & when anyone was seen the finder had to run back to the stick & say ‘Lekio Lekio 123 I can see whoever’. I suppose it amused & kept us occupied but anyway we were never bored, even if it was only sitting in the camping close making daisy chains, we only went home at mealtimes. Mum never used to worry where we were – she’d say they’ll come home when they are hungry, even if one of the younger ones was missing all morning & had gone to school with the older ones. I might have started school at 3 years – the same way as the two boy Ragnalls used to take me & my feet didn’t touch the floor when they held my hands. I was about 3.

The first two classes at school had to rest in the afternoons. We had beds brought in either in the classrooms or in the summer outside. We had red blankets or if very lucky gold blankets. Also in the summer the older boys had to bucket water to a round paddling pool & we were allowed to sit round & put our feet in the pool. This was in the garden where the top classrooms are now. The school had some old buildings along the school path – in early wartime we sorted posters in there.

We went to the farm to fetch the milk in a jug. Old Mrs Litchfield ladled it out of a churn. My house in Garden Fields overlooked the farm yard & fields & if we saw a sheep on its back we used to run to the farm & tell Nellie Litchfield & she would push it back on to its feet. My brother was up the apple trees at the back of Elbourne’s workshop when Nellie came & told him off for picking her apples. Tony said I’m not picking them. He had eaten right around the apple and left the core hanging.

It must have been towards the end of the war, the Americans came to the village & collected us in lorries & took us to Duxford Airfield. We were shown all the planes (the first time I’d ever been in a bomber). We walked across the bomb doors & someone had a camera so somewhere in America I may be on film.

Once when Dad was delivering coal he came back all past the church (all black) the day Pysche Altham was married. There was a red

Carpet from the Lodge to the Church but they insisted Dad drove over it for luck. Unfortunately it wasn’t much luck for Psyche – she was ill for a long time & died young. I think she had village girls for bridesmaids.

Some of the village boys went up to the Mount (the Obelisk) & found some detonators & brought them home in their pockets. I think a coup0le were injured. We had evacuees in the village.

There was a meadow in between & at the back of the council houses in Hauxton Road (now Moore’s Meadow). We had bonfires there for Nov. 5 & then put potatoes in the ashes next day. The organised fireworks carnival was held on the Recreation Ground 1950 & 1957 organised by the Walker brothers & Mr Roff a caterer who lived in “The Old Thatch” at the bottom of the school. We had a parade around Gr & Lt. Shelford with different floats. The Firework Queen & her princesses led the parade. We had Mr Roff’s velvet curtains as robes – they were trimmed with cotton wool. Our tiaras were wire & cotton wool.

Sainsbury’s sent a man round on Tuesdays for the weekly order & delivered it on Friday. On Sat. we used to go to Cambridge if we wanted anything from Sainsbury’s (Centre of Town). You had to queue up at each individual counter for whatever you wanted & then go to the end of the shop to pay.

We had different places to go to Sunday School over the years. I remember going to Mrs Eden at the Lodge, the Square House with Miss Cracknell – Miss Powell when she lived at Low Brooms.

Miss Powell had a very old piano which she used to let us play. Sometimes there was a Caravan Mission to Village Children come to the village & a Mr Varney organised services in a marquee in Mrs Bacon’s field (Westfield). Later there was a Church Army parson came in a caravan & parked near the tree (near the church). Captain Cousins was his name & in later years, his brother became Minister at the Gt. Shelford Baptist Church – Rex Cousins.

Mr Bagnall who lived in The Old Enclosure had an orchard and garden opposite. We used to weed his garden and pick the apples. If it was too wet spent time in his shed. Cully Samuels & Mr Bagnall used to plait my hair with straw – like they used to do horses manes.

There was what we thought was a tramp we used to talk to, then discovered he was an escaped German Prisoner from the P.O.W camp at Hauxton.

On Sunday mornings (before 7) we used to go to Hauxton (where the Pest control is now) to the fields which had clumps of bushes all around & pick blackberries. I[t] was often very foggy, & hard to see anything. We had to be cake in time to get the kitchen range cleaner & polished for mum to do the cooking. I shall never understand why we had to whitewash the hearth. Friday evening a van came round selling paraffin & pots-pans pegs & other hardware, and stop at the pump. The pump was the water source for most of the village – it must have been quite a haul for some people in Newton Road or Hauxton Road.

Harvest time was spent in the fields. We used to help stoking up the sheaves. We had to take Dad his dinner of ½ loaf of bread, a lump of cheese and onion & bottle of cold tea. If the men disturbed any rabbits we would chase them but the only ones we got were some baby ones we took home to keep with our own.

We had a lot of tame rabbits & one day they got out. We caught a lot but not all. The next year in the harvest were some light sandy coloured rabbits caught.

Once my friend Olive & I (only about 5) were in her garden eating what we thought were blackberries. During the night we were both very ill. It took the grownups all the time to hold us & I had to have matchsticks propping my eyes up & made to walk about to stop me going to sleep because what we had eaten was deadly nightshade - right up to the time they left Garden Fields my dad was always seen pulling every bit of nightshade up.

In 1947 there was heavy snow for about 6 weeks. We had to be evacuated round friends’ houses to sleep because the snow got in the roof & seeped on to our beds. My dad got 20 buckets of snow out of the attic one day. All the time I lived there there was nothing done about the roof so I don’t know if anything was ever done since.

Rueben [sic] Litchfield used to go all round the village with his tractor pulling a snow plough to keep the roads clear. Friday nights we had to go across the road to Mrs Rayment to pay 4d week for Hospital, this was before the N.H.S.

Great excitement – a biplane had landed in Newton Road in the field next to the Gamekeepers Cottage. It was amazing how quick a crowd gathered – we had never seen a plane so close up before.

We watched the planes return from air raids, they had to pass over our house to get back to Duxford. We could see some were shot up & also saw some in searchlights.

When my uncle died (he lived in Gt Holland Green near Frinton-on-Sea) my dad biked to his funeral (not on a racing bike but on the same bike he delivered the milk). I don’t remember what time he left home but he got home about mid-night. He had to mend a puncture on the way home.

I never remember my dad being ill at any time, but just before he died the doctor asked when he had broken his elbow. It turned out that about 40 years before, he was restraining a horse & hit his elbow, but never had any time off work. I don’t suppose he could have afforded too[sic]

My uncle George was in the 14th army in Burma & he sent me & my sister a dress, it was a great occasion. We went with my Gran to Eden Lilley’s in Cambridge to have our photos taken in those dresses. I still have my dress & photo.

Dad grew nearly all our vegetables & when the potatoes were ready we had to pick them up & bag them, ready for dad to put them in a champ for the winter. The potatoes needed for dinner was ½ a bucket in water & swished around with the copper stick to get the skins off. We had to keep the copper stoked up for hot water for mum to do the washing in the sink. She used to put extra clothes in to soak while washing – one day she thought my brother had left a Handkerchief in is trousers pocket but when she took the trousers from the water to empty the pocket it was full of worms.

When we all started going out in the evening with our boy or girl friends we had a list drawn up & as we came in signed in so no one was locked out. This had to be before ten pm as dad used to start winding the clock at about 10 to 10 & it was a sign that any boyfriends had to go.

When my husband-to-be came to work on Litchfield’s farm he lived at White Hill Farm Gt Shelford & played cricket for them – in those days we used to bike to surrounding villages each with a wicket, bat or pads. Later on one or two got cars so they were ensured a place in the team & they took two or three players, we went a bit further afield. At one time we had Hector Naylor – a rat catcher from Stapleford – playing for us and he used to take us to matches in his van. When I got in he said don’t sit on that sack it’s got rats in. Later I went to London with the team to play cricket & ended up in the hut scoring for Shelford. I also ended up doing “teas” for them for about seventeen years.

During rationing my friends came & marvelled at the big piece of cheese we had, not realising it had to feed 13 of us. At the end of the month mum used to give our friends sweet coupons she had over as she couldn’t afford to use them all. Everything was on coupons & we used to get extra sugar for jam making. Mum used to make about 150 lbs each year & it was our job to sort & stack them under the pantry shelf, bringing the older ones to the front. It was mainly plum jam & we had to go to Kirby Lodge to Miss Hudson or Mr Godfrey to buy the plums.    


During my time at Sawston V.C. we had to walk from Little Shelford to Freestones Corner to catch the school bus. This was often late & one day I was fed up waiting & started to cross the road to go home when a car pulled up & the driver shouted “where do you think you are going?” It was the school attendance officer & he said he wanted to see us at school, whether or not he did but we dare not do any different than wait for the bus. Once it was so bad during the 1947 winter that the bus couldn’t make it up Huckeridge Hill & we all had to walk to school from there in thick snow.

My eldest brother scored for cricket for Little Shelford and in 1946 the team dugout & set the bowls green [&] but in 1947 it was flooded during the bad winter. The team also went armed with spades & dug a trench through the “woods” path from the bowls green to the cricket pavilion & laid on water. He also used to be “ball boy” for the tennis club. Once when he just left school - he was an apprentice electrician & not yet passed any exams – Arnold Parker the baker came to find him late evening because his bread mixer had broken down. Between the two of them they managed to get it working so we had bread in the morning. His early memory was a big trestle table in the camping close, laden with food & all the village children round it for the 25th Jubilee of King George V.

At sheep shearing tome Dad & Grandad used to shear the sheep & then they were put through a sheep dip. We used to help push the sheep under the dip – this was to kill off all parasites. Because Dad used to shear the sheep – in those days you had to have a policeman present & if one came to our door to get reports of time etc it sent my poor mum in to near panic – I don’t know why she was so afraid to see a policeman at the door because she never did a wrong thing. I think it was drummed in to her at childhood that if you did a policeman would come after you.

I was in the church choir & have sung in Cambridge Guildhall – kings College Chapel and also Ely Cathedral – I also omit to say it was in a Choir Festival with 700 voices – there was also a record of the occasion although I never heard it. Once we had to [go to] the church on a Saturday & Mr Dockerill was seeing to the boiler which was under the church floor, the grating just near the door with steps down. I opened the door and went straight down the steps – luckily I was still hanging on to the big ring handle of the door. The church was heated by a coke boiler & some Sundays the fumes were so bad the church was filled with ‘fog’ and we had to leave the service.

I met my husband when he was working at the bottom of our garden, on the farm, when I was 13, from then I’ve joined him with his cricket, darts, bar billiards, going to London with the cricket team.  We got married in Lt Shelford Church (Rev. Sibson) & had our

Reception in Great Shelford Old Village Hall. We combined the two villages, we were lucky as the hall was decorated for the Over 60s Christmas party. The first night of married life we stayed in a “Gypsy Caravan” belonging to Mr & Mrs Wright.

My eldest brother & I were reminiscing & we remembered all of under the table during an air-raid & there was a tremendous bang – a land mine had landed at Newton, another time we stood at the window & mum said if it keeps going its ok. It was a doodlebug. I don’t know where it landed. Since my eldest sister started [at] the primary school in 1930 there has been a representative of our family – right up to when my eldest grandson left Shelford school. It added up to 65 years.

During the war we had a teacher named Mr Hinson, he told my dad that my brother would pass the eleven plus before he was sat for it. He also said I could but I didn’t want to as I had a cousin at the Girls County & didn’t want to go with her – the things we thought then – still I’m quite happy with S.V.C. & my time there.

We also had a teacher Mr Bellchamber who would throw a half cane across the room to anyone misbehaving – (no health & safety then) – if we saw the cane coming we would open the windows behind us & let it fly through.

*[2009] Just seen a TV programme about villages collecting conkers during the WWI. They used to make acetone [sic] from them to put in explosives – I wonder if that was what we collected them for – even then no-one was told the reason, buttons of conkers were collected.

Mary King


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