memories

Growing up in Pednor in the 1940s

Pauline Bates

Pauline was born in 1936 to Eric Stanley Bates and Jessica Catherine Griffin. Her mother was the daughter of S H Griffin, wholesale brush manufacturer at the Chapel Works in Townfield Yard in Chesham.

Her father owned three plots of land in Pednor. He sold two of them and on the third had a bungalow built for the family. There was a farm opposite, where the farmer took his wheat to Lord’s Mill. Pauline remembers as a child going with other children on the farmer’s trailer, drawn by Shire horses, and waiting whilst the wheat was ground.

She started school at Newtown, where her father took her on his bicycle, which had a seat. She was nearly six when she first went there, so was a little older than the other children. She was quite nervous of lunch-times as she was unused to mixing with other children. There were few others in Pednor when she was growing up. She recalls the air-raids of WWII when children had to go into the corridors when the sirens sounded. They had to kneel on the floor with their heads bowed and their hands over their heads.

In 1943 there was a scarlet fever epidemic in Chesham. Pauline had left Newtown school but contracted the disease in the summer holidays and was sent to Stoke Mandeville Hospital by ambulance to be kept in isolation there for three weeks. In September she spent her birthday in there but was not allowed to bring her presents with her when she eventually returned home. Her parents had to travel by train to visit her, changing at Chalfont and walking a mile from Stoke Mandeville Hospital. They couldn’t go into her room but had to talk to her through the glass.

She started at Townsend Road School for girls after her recuperation but by then everyone had made friends so she felt a little isolated. To travel to school she walked through the garden out into Chartridge Lane to catch a bus from Stocking Stile down into the Broadway. From here she would walk with other girls who would have caught the bus from Chartridge.

They picked up any litter they saw on their way to school. This was encouraged by teachers, although there wasn’t much litter around in those days. On wet days she would wear her Wellington boots for the walk through the garden. She would leave them in a wooden box at the top of the garden & change into shoes for the journey to school.

The garden was about an acre, two-thirds of which was orchard. She remembers seeing wild bee orchids there. The grass was cut by hand with a ‘bagging hook’ (small scythe). Her father kept racing pigeons in a very large shed with a pigeon loft and also chickens.

All the family had bicycles and would ride them down into Chesham to do their shopping. When Pauline and her sister were small children they would be carried in the seats on their parents’ bikes. From the age of five Pauline had a tricycle.

Pauline is a grand-daughter of Parmenas Bates, who was a woodware manufacturer in the town. She lived in Strawberry Cottage in Park Road, one of a row of four former Lowndes estate cottages. It was probably used by a groom or gardener. It is now a listed building.

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