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1920s memories of Chrishall Sarah Flack

by | Sep 16, 2017 | Village Folk | 1 comment

chrishall broad green

I like the old fashioned fruit, we had everything in our garden at B Green [Broad Green], even a Quince tree over the pond. I often wonder if it is still there.

The following article is taken from a letter written to Irene Cranwell in 1986 from Sarah Lucy Flack who lived at Broad Green as a child.  Sarah has just jotted down her memories which don’t always fall into complete sentences but still make great reading.

Sister Gladys and I worked for Miss Patty Pigg, an invalid [who] lived in a Hut at ‘Gents’ Farm and [at] Mrs Langfords, Broad Green – for that I was paid 8d per week.  I started when I was eight years old, [I] had to put it in my money box.

sharps toffee

Sharps advert from the 1950s.

We had no pocket money in those days.  1d bar Sharps toffee if you were lucky from Chambers shop, or 1d worth of sweets from Cranwells, once I found 2/6 piece that Pearl Cranwell had lost and her mother was very annoyed with her.  I took it to her and Mrs Cranwell gave me a large bag of sweets[1. Possibly the sweet shop at Cherry Tree cottage in the High Street].  Peace day 1918 we scrambled for sweets in the school meadow and we received a peace mug each (child) mine is in Royston Museum.  No half term, Empire Day we would march around and salute the Union Jack and go to Church yearly, but not without a Hat on, and go home early.

I also won a prize of a book on History of the Church, but I gave it away last year to Joan’s daughter.

[We] kept a pig at the bottom of the garden, we used to sell half to Mr Beadle at the Red Cow and have half ourselves.

My Dad received £5 for Harvest overtime and My Mum and I would walk to Mr Brand’s (senior) to pay the rent which was £3 yearly, and the £2 went on a ton of coal for the Winter.  Dad used to go to work at 5am for work at 6am and was the first there.  [He worked] for Len Smith at Pond Street.  He used to get sent home if it was very wet and he would knock 5/- [5 shillings] off, so only received 25/- then.

I used to collect the Widows Gift money from the Farmers at Christmas time, had a day off school.  Mr Brand, B End [Building End] used to count them up and give me 6d for each one, the rest used to give me 2/6.  It was divided up and I delivered it to them, used to get an orange or a sweet for my trouble.

Grandma Lucy Flack was a Jefferies from Elmdon [she] may have married there.  My mother [Ann Flack] was caretaker of the school from about 1918 to 1926, scrubbing the wooden floors kneeling on sacks, and cleaning the windows inside and out, during the holidays, lighting the fires early every morning in Winter.  We children used to clap our hands and mark time to keep warm and put our hands up our sleeves and no nice cardigans only a jumper on over a dress.  My elder brother Len hated school and was pleased when he could leave when he was about twelve to help with the farm work during the war.  Myself I liked school but was eager to earn a few shillings. My mother used to go flint picking also and us three younger ones, also worked in the fields, walked to Rogers Hill, Dock pulling, Stone Picking, Bean cutting and singling out Plants.

I also remember the Camp Meetings in Days field, service taken from the wagons in the summer.

We had our groceries from Jackson and Sons, Fowlmere.  Man would call for orders once a fortnight, sold clothes etc. also which you had after paying in a Club. No HP [No Hire Purchase!]

One had to pay the Dr. before Lloyd George started the Health Service about 1920s, but Dr Attwood didn’t charge the poor.  We used to run to Mrs Cane down our road for help.

The senior girls used to walk to Elmdon to cookery classes, through the woods if fine, and Miss Lee taught us, also the Elmdon and Duddenhoe End girls.  Just after I left Rushes used to take and fetch them by taxi.

Miss Hile taught everything, Music, Country Dancing, Singing, Drill, three Rs, RI, Sport etc. and a good concert at Christmas.

In 1921 we had to walk to Heydon for our drinking water as our pump was dry, Dad with 2 large buckets and yoke, my Mum and brother Walter a bucket each and I had a large milk can, that was after a day’s work.  Otherwise the men had to queue up at Drage’s well after work as it was very dangerous.

On Christmas Day 1927, a Sunday, it started snowing great flakes as we were going up Barkway road in Draytons Bus, 1/4 [one shilling and 4 pence] return fare. It drifted so all roads were blocked, until the roadmen cut a path way by the Friday, we walked back then my sister Gladys, myself and Walter were all working at Offord’s at the time, it was the last Christmas my Dad was with us and he was feeling poorly but went to work as long as possible.

In 1935 we were lucky enough to get a cottage on the Market Hill [Royston], as my mother had a bad arm, as she was 65 and had to fetch her water from the pump.  Also at Royston she had Electric Light, sink with a Tap, Flush Toilet and Gas Cooker.  Rent was 6/9 per week, so with only 10/- pension four of us paid the rent, Electric and Gas and was given clothes for presents.  Why [When?] I had to go and get Dr Burnford to get Aunt Edie in Hospital, as she was her niece and Marie was Uncle Franks niece, Uncle Frank gave Harold the house if he would look after Edie and Dessie and he did for years, but it was only worth a few hundred then, he used to take me to S/Walden to visit Auntie Edie and charge me anything after I retired.  When I was working Mrs Green from Barley used to take me to see Auntie Dessie by car several times yearly, to take her usual jelly sweets, biscuits, grapes etc.

When the Infants Teacher was away because of snow (she used to cycle from Great Chesterford) Pheobe Miller and I used to teach the children.  I enjoyed that.  Miss Hile wanted me to go to be a Pupil Teacher at S/Walden but no transport and no cash.

My Auntie Dessie sent me a 1/2d sugar watch for Christmas when I was young.

We used to have a Christmas Party at school and each had a present.  A huge tree [was] supplied by Squire Wilkes, also a Sunday school party.  We also went to the Regents Park Zoo by char-a-bang and to the Empire Exhibition at Wembley in about 1925.

Sarah Lucy Flack
November 1986

1 Comment

  1. Kevin Swann

    Some wonderful memories of those time’s. Life appeared simple,though so very hard but happy


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