GROWING UP IN FARNBOROUGH - BY BOB TURNER



 
This website has provided me with wonderful memories of my childhood in Farnborough from 1940 to 1947. I am now 81 and live on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. 

My maternal family came to Farnborough from Peckham in 1940 to rental housing in Bassetts Way. My grandfather was a bus driver and in his late life he was in charge of cleaning buses, particularly the No 47 Shoreditch outside the George and Dragon. In 1940 my father was sent to India in the RAF and didn't come home until after the war. He had learned to be an engine fitter during his service and once he returned got a job at Farnborough Engineering. Whilst he was overseas my mother, my sister Sonia and I moved to Bassets Way to live with my widowed grandfather, Henry Wright. Many of my mother's family also moved to Farnborough. Nellie  (my mother’s sister) and Sonny Leach lived in Starts Hill Road and Jane (another of my mother’s sisters) and Bert Porter lived in Locksbottom. My mum and Jane for a time ran the small cafe attached to the Black Horse Inn in Locksbottom, whilst Bert and Sonny served in the Army in France and Germany.

I enjoyed my whole primary school education at Farnborough Primary on Starts Hill. I remember Mr and Mrs Moat and Miss Dyke, my school mates Jimmy Clayton (whose dad was a foreman at Farnborough Engineering), Freddy Burchill, Janet Bath, Patsy Charles, Bobby Sutton (who had often "gorn opping"), Marshall Mitchell, Keith Grant, Tony Thornhill, John Palmer to name just a few. What a pity none of us had a camera to capture some of the amazing memories we shared.

In 1948 I passed the scholarship exam and started at the Bromley Boys Grammar School in Ravensbourme Road where I stayed until we migrated to Australia.

When I look on Google maps I can see the many changes that have taken place over the years. Plumridge Orchards are gone and so have Farnborough Engineering and the allotments in Bassets way. New housing estates have appeared.  The George and Dragon has gone as have Farnborough Primary School and Bromley Grammar. My cousin Michael Wright (and his wife Donna) still live in Bassetts Way.

I well remember my first job at 7 years old. I worked as a runner for the bakers delivery man. No motorized delivery van in those days, he had a cart with two shafts and he was the motive power. I would run into the houses with the bread in hand and return the money to him. I graduated from that job at the age of 10 years old. Through her cafe in Locksbottom my mother secured a job for me me on the horse drawn United Dairy milk cart as delivery boy. Some of the following valued memories at the time give an insight to the fact that times were tough but spirits were high: ·        

*  Sunday matinees at the Bromley Gaumont Theatre singing along to the bouncing ball on the screen.

*  Playing with the McMenamie boys at their Fantail restaurant in Locksbottom (their father was a violinist in the LSO).

*  Queuing at Kennedy's shop in Bromley for the only meat available without coupons - a limited supply of sausages.

*  Sliding over the ice and playing hockey at the Seven Lakes -before I could swim - luckily I was a skinny kid. Winter sport also included tobogganing down Chalky Luggate? ·         Playing' knock down ginger' in Bassetts Way particularly annoying Mr Larby the school maintenance man and his wife.

*  Learning to swim at Darrick Woods Baths under the watchful eye of Mr Jarrett (I went to school with his son Nibby). ·        

*  Running down to Mauds sweetshop to buy two Craven A's for my mother. Yes they would break open the packet of ten and sell them in singles.

*  After a night of watching the war, through blackened windows - seeing several searchlights, ack ack fire, gun fire, bombs, etc the kids would wake in delight in the morning to collect shrapnel. We knew about butterfly bombs, but we also knew about how to make homemade fireworks out of sulphur and magnesium filings, which came from unexploded incendiary bombs. Sadly a doctor died from shrapnel wounds when he looked out of the window during an air raid.

*  I remember a scrumping expedition in the orchard next to the big Nurses Home in Starts Hill Road. As I emerged from the hedge with a shirt swollen with stolen apples, I ran straight into the local copper on his bike. After the peremptory 'Allo, Allo' and a brief questioning. He asked what I was up to - 'scrumping' - I replied too late for diplomacy. “Well give an apple and scarper" was the only penalty I acquired. Policing at its best.                       ·          

*  I think it must have been close to D day when a group of us kids stood at the junction of Starts Hill Rd and the by-pass as the troops jam packed into huge trucks went by. We knew to shout out “got any gum chum ". We thought the troops inside were Americans, perhaps they were Canadians. Whatever their nationality they were generous as we went home laden with chewing gum, sweets and sundry army ration packs.

*  After VE day I recall well a group of uniformed American soldiers visiting Farnborough Primary to hold an assembly where small gifts were handed out. Distribution was based on bereavement. First recipients were to kids who had a parent killed in battle or during bombing. Second recipients to those who had lost aunts or uncles. Third to any losing cousins. To my lasting regret I can remember being upset that our family had not suffered a single death for the whole of the war!
 
Robert (Bob) Turner  October 2018

CHILDHOOD MEMORIES

 

I left Farnborough in 1950 to go to Australia. I am now living in retirement with my daughter Stacey and granddaughters Murphy and Harriet.

My place of abode is Southport, our house is on the Nerang River at 4a Yacht Street.   During my working life I have been a teacher in Papua New Guinea, CEO of The Smith Family, one of Aussies leading charities (30+ years) and CEO (Hon) of Spinal Cure Australia, an organisation devoted to finding a cure for spinal cord injury (for which I received an A.M. which is the new version of an OBE).

Nowadays I am a proud grandfather, large handicap golfer and dedicated wine drinker. Times are tough!!  

Bob Turner

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