My maiden name was Pauline Offer, and I grew up in Drew Street. Reading all the memories posted on your site made me think back to my early days in Rodbourne, so here goes with a few of my own.
I was born in 1940, wartime, and. as Drew Street then faced out on to allotments, the smallholding, and across the rec to fields we had a pretty unimpeded view. In the daytime we could see the barrage balloons against the sky, and at night searchlights raked across the darkness. We all had blackout curtains, and I think there was no street lighting so as to give no help to the German pilots. There was a water tank up outside “the shirty” (Cellular Clothing Co),in case of fire caused by bombing I suppose. Oh, and the grass in the rec was allowed to grow long so that it could be cut for hay, so haymaking was quite a highlight for us kids – with hay-fights etc to be enjoyed.
Some people had Anderson shelters, but we had a big metal table in the dining room, and were supposed to take refuge under it when the sirens sounded. However, after one morning when my Mum found squashed cockroaches, she decided she was more frightened of the roaches than the Luftwaffe, and we stayed in our beds thereafter.
Rationing was very much in evidence. At the butchers, Pullens, I think sometimes the choice was between something like one sausage or a slice of corned beef per person. And when sweets came in at Notleys or the other sweetshop in Rodbourne Road (Heaths?) the word went round like wildfire and we quickly formed a queue clutching our coupons and pennies! We were fortunate, as we had an allotment on the other side of Drew Street (very handy) and grew our own vegetables. We also kept chickens, so there were eggs when the pullets were laying – and when they stopped they were destined for the pot. We always had cockerels fattening for Christmas – one for us and one for each of my aunts and their families. Any waste food went into the pig bins, one in every street, and was used to help fatten up the nation’s porkers. I had an uncle in the merchant navy, who sometimes brought back treats like boxes of sugared almonds, Turkish Delight, and once a big bunch of bananas ( which we wartime babies had never seen) and my Mum divided them out among the local children. There were plenty of power cuts, but as we had coal fires there was sufficient light, and we toasted bread on a toasting fork. The biggest inconvenience was when our radio (one of the brown boxes from Radio Rental) suddenly went silent during a favorite programme like ITMA
My Dad had been laid off by the GWR in the late 1930s and had to travel to Gloucester to find work at Shorts. As he was employed on aircraft manufacture, a reserved occupation, he was fortunate not to be called up for the army but joined the Home Guard instead. My Grandma and Granddad who lived in Ferndale Road weren’t so lucky – a random bomb was dropped there, reducing many houses to rubble and killing some of their neighbours. Their house had some damage but they did survive.
My final war memory is of a VE Day party where the end of Hughes Street joined Drew Street, with a huge Bonfire and much singing and dancing. I think I must have been taken home to bed, as have no other recollection of that night.