||EARLY CHILDHOOD - AT WITHDENE
I'm thinking now of the Watling Street as I knew it, when I was 5 years old and lived on the Watling St. at Withdene, which is the little house opposite the Fountain-and of course long before it (Withdene) was sold to the Fountain. We lived there as a family. I was born there.
The garden ran from the front of the house, across the front garden down to the neighbours, where there is now a road going in between, and there was quite a sharp slope. My brother, who was 5 years older than me, likes to tell the story that he was responsible for me in the pram one day, and he let the pram run down the slope and tipped me out. He says, jokingly, I think, that I fell out of the pram and hit my head and was never the same again!...but that's another story.
Right down at the bottom of this garden, there used to be a big wooden shed. I still have a shed here because I am old fashioned. People don't use sheds today like we used to. They use the garage as a shed and leave the car outside. Most people had sheds because they had to keep so much of their supplies. If you had chickens, you couldn't just go to Benbow Court and buy food. It would be a several hours journey to go and find some. So whatever you had, particularly with regards to livestock, then you kept your food and supplies in a barn, in a shed.
Part of my father's shed was used to put his motorbike and side-car in. Although we moved from there(Withdene) when I was 5, I still have recollections of my father blowing his horn, or making some sort of noise when he came home from work with his motorbike and side-car and because we were a family, he had quite a big side-car, and on the back was a rack, which you could tie your luggage to. I used to stand on this rack as a little boy, and be driven into the shed - that was the thrill of the day. This was before I started school.
Just before we moved, my father bought a little Austin-7. Another strong recollection I have of Withdene is when we were moving, my mother sat me in the back of this little Austin-7 with a huge aspidistra at the side of me, and I was given very strict instructions of whatever else I did, on the way down to Salisbury House-which is in the middle of Loughton, I was not to let the aspidistra fall off the back seat. That is a recollection I have of 1929. When we moved down to Salisbury House, there was no electricity, no running water and no toilets. It was a wonderful experience to be in a big house, with big gardens, but very different to what one would expect today.