Chrishall Born and Bred
Life-long resident Spencer (Spenny) Loveday shares some reminiscences about his life in the village in the years during and after the war, interviewed by Stephen Foote and first published in The Village Web.
Born in Royston in 1942, Spenny grew up in a house in Builden End called The Wells with his parents, Ron and Queenie. They shared the house with Spenny’s grandparents. Water supplies were drawn from a well in the garden and there was no electricity. However, the family was almost self-sufficient; they had a large vegetable garden and enough space to keep chickens.
It was nevertheless a pretty hard life. When the water from the well was condemned as unfit for drinking, supplies had to be collected from a tanker that would come to the bottom of the lane. Later on, in the mid-1950s the water company did lay a water main – but the pipe didn’t reach the houses so water still had to be collected in buckets, from a single tap at the bottom of the road.
Finally, electricity reached Builden End but because The Wells was some way off the main road, the electricity board wouldn’t run a cable to it.
Mains drainage came to the village eventually – but not to Builden End. Until proper septic tanks were installed, an earth closet (known as the ‘bucket and chuck it’) in the garden was the standard toilet facility for the local houses.
Spenny’s father Ron drove a truck for the firm of Drage and Kent (one of his regular runs in the early years was to pick up prisoners-of-war from the camp at Chrishall Grange and take them to local farms where they were put to work on the land!). Ron was also very active in village activities and for some time was Secretary of both the cricket and football clubs. When Spenny was 7, his father contracted polio. He was very ill in hospital for many months and though he survived the illness, it left him unable to walk. He kept up his secretarial duties for the cricket club but the football had to go. Ron passed away in 1961.
Spenny attended the village school, and travelled to and from Builden End on his bike. He left the primary school when he was 11 and started at the Saffron Walden Technical and Modern School.
As Builden End wasn’t on any bus route, he would bike into the village each day to get the bus into town. During the school holidays he worked in the workshops of Drage and Kent. For several years he captained the school cricket team. We shall hear more about Spenny’s cricketing prowess later on.
He left school in 1958 and went to work in the body repair shop of Premier Travel Ltd., and whilst there he qualified in woodworking, technical drawing, maths and English.
But changes were to come and he left Premier Travel after 5 years, joining the coach-building form of R.W. Osborne.