There was Plummer’s shop in Germain Street, who in the 1940s still made carbonated drinks with a machine on the counter. You bought and consumed them on the premises before handing back the bottle. Hygiene considerations were of no great concern to a young generation whose immune systems were robustly developed on a diet of communal gob-stoppers!

Also in Germain Street was George Harley’s. His was a small general store, opposite Gooding Brothers blacksmith’s shop by the old Embassy Cinema. George was a somewhat dour fellow who always wore a rather grubby dustcoat, fingerless woollen mittens and half-moon glasses.

Ranged along the front of his counter were those old-fashioned square biscuit tins, among which would always be one containing broken biscuits which were sold cheaply to us boys. I remember being in there on one occasion to buy some aniseed balls (one of his specialities). Waiting my turn among several adults, I was idly spinning my penny on the top of one of those biscuit tins, fascinated by the sound it made, although in retrospect it must have been rather annoying for the rest of the customers. Suddenly, George’s voice rose above the cacophony ….. ”Alright, sonny – we know you’re there!” I was mortified!

On the corner of Germain Street and Red Lion Street was Wright’s Seed Merchant’s where, somewhat curiously I suppose, we could buy catapult elastic. In those days, most young men were equipped with a catapult and a mighty Government-surplus jacknife, with one of those ‘things-to-remove-stones-from-horses’-hooves’. It would never do in these days! But I don’t recall any serious mayhem.

At the time of the Festival of Britain (1951), the town held an exhibition of its own industries and commerce (Howard Bros had a stand).  Part of this exhibition was in a large marquee alongside the Park boating lake (‘Skottowe’s Pond’ as it was known), where now St Mary’s Way runs.  One evening a bunch of local lads (of course we didn’t have vandals in those days, did we!!!) let down some of the marquee guy ropes.

Unfortunately for them they were collared by the security personnel and thrown, fully clothed, into the pond.   A fitting punishment for the miscreants but one which today would, I fear, attract a fine for the security staff and handsome compensation for the vandals.

My mother would not allow me to use the old Chesham swimming pool, as there were great concerns about contracting polio when I was a child. Little did she realise that my friends and I were frequently given to visiting a murky and highly insalubrious pond at Hollybush Orchard in Bellingdon in order to catch newts and tadpoles!

I wondered about a feature that used to exist up Hivings Hill.  Set into the left hand bank (heading downhill) between Ridgeway Road and the lower corner of Captain’s Wood, were some curved wooden bollards.  The outer faces of these were fitted with a thick iron band, much like an iron tyre on an old cartwheel.  As boys, we were told they were to act as an emergency stopping device for heavy carts which might run out of control.

However, I imagine they were more likely to have been put there to discourage damage to the banks and adjacent property boundaries by carts and other vehicles cutting in too close.  They too have now probably long gone, victims of road development, but it would be nice to think that the odd one has survived – they were about three feet high as I recall, and pretty substantial.

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