I was born in Charles Street In 15th of June 1931, the youngest son of William and Florence Carter, Brother to Olive and Ivor. We moved to a house in Rodbourne Road, The community spirit was very good, every body knew each other, and you could leave your front door open all day at that time.
The next door neighbour in Rodbourne Road was a man called Happy, because of his red face and he was always smiling, It was nothing to see him coming home from rabbiting with all the rabbits tied together with string slung around his neck. A few doors away there would be Mrs. Jones, a lovely lady who always seems to be standing outside her front door, and Iris Jones pushing a pram up and down Rodbourne Road. At the top of Charles Street there was a yard called the Loco Board’s which belonged I think, to the Council, we used to play in there. We moved to Summers Street, which still had gas mantles, which was better than the paraffin lamps and candles we were use to, later we had electricity installed, If you had seen our faces then, it was like magic, amazing.
During the war years coal was in short supply and wood was hard to come by, but as Dad worked in the Railway he was issued with a docket, to fetch wood from the wood wharf, just past St. Mark’s Church, so we borrowed a wheel barrow and mostly us kids would go under the bridge, along the back of the park to the Wharf, to queue for the wood, which was mostly an assortment of long planks, which Dad had to saw up when we got back home. Sometimes the gas oven was lit and the door was opened, that was the only heat we had.
In the evenings we listen to the Radio Relay, our favourite programmes were, The Man in Black, Dick Barton Special Agent, with Snowy and Jock, In Town Tonight, Vera Lynn, (Dad’s favourite), Boxing, Tommy Farr and Bruce Woodcock, Itma, Workers playtime and many more.
Shops in Rodbourne Road that I can remember, one that sticks in my mind is Nash’s sweet shop, I would buy sweets in there with the money that I had earnt from running errands, and then jump on a bus and have a ride to Gorse Hill and back.
Once a week, I was sent down Rodbourne Road with a large basin to fetch faggots and peas for dinner. Then every Friday there were Fish and Chips from Higgs, always a queue. Sunday queuing at Pullens for Dad’s cigarettes And chocolate. Going to “don’t you knows “for a hair cut.
My sister had a bicycle which was too big for me at that time, but that was not going to stop me having a ride on it, so, when she was out, I took it in the street and with one foot on the pedal and just about reaching the handle bars I scooted along, grazing myself a few times doing it, and she would go mad when I came back.
May Day was a time I can remember, when I am sure the girls wore daises around their necks or pinned them to their dresses, and if the boys saw that they did not have any, they would get some stinging nettles and run after the girls to sting their legs. I believe it was an old custom.
I think I was about nine or ten when the Americans came to Swindon. They may have been stationed at Ogbourne or further out, anyway
Dad would bring two or three home from the pub after drinking time. One of them would come back and visit us now and again I was talking to dad about how I would like a bicycle when the American said he would get me one from the camp and take me to see the planes as well, Dakotas they where called. The Americans had to come to Swindon to collect the bread for the camp, from the East Street Co-op Bakery with the lorries, so he picked me up, got the bread and drove back to the camp, this was a real treat for me. When we arrived at the camp, I had to wait at the guard house while he went to check in, then he came back to me and said sorry I cannot leave the camp because of security reasons, but you will be taken back home. A big disappointment
AND I NEVER GOT MY BICYCLE
You will see Radio Relay referred to in John Carters memories and I’ve included a passage below from an account by Donald Edward Lea of Gorse Hill from Mandy & Duncan’s website to help describe this cable radio system.
” I well remember sitting on a leather settee or wooden chair (father’s) that was by the window to listen to the ‘radio relay’. This was a wooden box fixed to the wall that had two switches, one for the volume and the other gave a choice of two programmes, “the home service,” or the “light programme.” Two broadcasts that were eagerly looked forward to each week were ‘Dick Barton’ a hero who could do no wrong and the ‘Billy Cotton Band Show.’ This service came via a wire that would run from the Radio Relay Company in Swindon to any house that wished to have it as a rental. I believe this was a shilling a week. It seems we were easily pleased in those days.” The cable system was eventually used by the community cable television company Swindon Viewpoint
Just click on Mandy & Duncan’s website and Swindon Viewpoint for further information.