|This story was compiled and written by Neville Sumpter and is reproduced here with his kind permission.
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I spent at least two Christmases in BL and I remember snow being on the ground for one of them. The district nurse Agnes Brooks was a kind soul but very much feared by young children. She always had black
Once my grandma was ill and besides a visit from Dr Bell she also had a visit from an Irish nurse. I guess she was temporarily in BL helping out Nurse Brooks? My grandma had a picture of “The Last Supper” and she gave it to this Irish nurse because of course she was a Roman Catholic whilst we were all staunch “C of E”.
Our immediate neighbour at number 68 was a Mrs Ella Munday, we had nobody on the other side because we were the end house and next to that side was the drive leading to the Ideal Clothing Factory. For some reason unknown to me was that my grandparents did not like Mrs Munday and shunned her if they saw her out. My granddad also erected a high fence and trellis work so that she would not have been able to look into our garden!
Other nearby neighbours were Jack and Winnie Evans who lived opposite but a bit further down. Jack was from Burton Latimer but his wife Winnie came from Kendal in the
I used to be fond of “Children's' Hour” on the radio, of course there was no TV then and I remember hearing John Masefield's Box of Delights with Victor Healy-Hutchinson's Carol Symphony as the background music. My grandparents used to listen to the news and my grandma liked some of the newsreaders such as Frank Phillips but didn't like Stewart Hibbert as she thought he was very brusque. We also used to listen to “Workers'Playtime” coming from “A factory somewhere in the
My granddad told me that in World War One he was continually getting call up papers but he did not want to go into the army and face the hell of the trenches. I think that the Military were coming to forcibly take him away to join but he went off on his own accord and joined the Royal Naval Air Service and spent most of his time in
Next to my grandparents' house was the Ideal Clothing factory and I used to chat to the girls when they came out and went to lunch. For a brief time my granddad took a job there as a cleaner and I remember he took me in with him one day to one of the workrooms and the floor was literally covered in cloth, cottons and old buttons.
My granddad's eldest brother Jack (really John) lived in Burton Latimer in a bungalow with his step (I think) daughter Alice and her husband Jack Grainger. We visited him from time to time and apart from my Aunt Avis (Senior) they were the only two relatives of my granddad I met. I think all the others had died off by then or else moved away and he had lost contact with them. My mother also had a cousin Len Loak who we saw on a few occasions but he may have been in the army during the war?
I had a three-wheeler bike and used to accompany my Granddad on his adult bike to his allotment in
I always enjoyed going to
Talking of films I fondly remember going to “Burton Bughouse” as the
Burton Feast was something to be looked forward to and I loved all the rides on the fairground. There was also a small fair held in the Park near to where Nurse Brooks lived but I was disappointed in that there were no rides, just hoopla stalls, coconut shy etc.
From that Park I used to go on walks with my granddad and visit a derelict watermill on the river Ise which I always thought was haunted, we would then go to Isham and make our way back via the main road and railway station to home. Near that watermill was a wood locally know as “Ugs Ole” (Hogs Hole) and we really believed it was inhabited by wild boars and no way would we have ventured into it. Just on the road towards Isham on the right hand side was an encampment which we kids thought were gypsies. I think today they would be called travellers and we were scared to go past there without an adult accompanying us as we believed they would kidnap us and take us away with them!
Another walk we used to do was from
I also recall some sort of parade with a fancy dress competition, it may have been in conjunction with Burton Feast? I went in my Red Indian Costume complete with feathered headdress and Angela went as a squaw along with a specially painted totem pole that her father had made. I felt sure I would win a prize and was very disappointed it went to one of my school companions, a girl who dressed as a parrot and she carried the cage in her hand.
Around the streets
My grandma used to shop at the Co-op - a magnificent building which is now demolished. The Co-op Butchers was on the opposite site of the road on the corner of
The milkman Joe Farby used to call daily with his churns which were carried on a horse drawn vehicle. He used to come around the back door and fill up my grandma's jugs with fresh milk, no bottles in those days. Of course during WWII we were on summer time for most of the year except in the summer period we were on double summer time. Hence it was light until very late and dark in the mornings. I often recall going to school in the dark. Joe told us one day that when the clocks went forward, his poor horse had to get up an hour earlier and was very reluctant to do so.
My grandma used to give me six pence for a haircut at Cyril Swann's, I hated going and sometimes went alone and sometimes with my granddad. Either next door or near to the barber was a shop which I think could best be described as a stationer or bookshop. I know they sold children's books and I often begged six pence from my grandma to go and purchase one there.
Sometimes I would go over to my auntie Avis in
We used to see a “Lady of the Road”. She was really a tramp and had a bright red nose, hence she was christened “Cherry Nose” by all the kids and they used to taunt her with the name and she used to threaten us, so we all ran off in fear.
In Station Road lived a lady and I think she was a “Miss Fox”. She was very smart for that time and wore furs, lipstick, nail varnish and make up. To my grandparents she was a reincarnation of Jezebel as they did not believe that women should wear lipstick and other make up. I think they considered her a “Scarlet Woman”!
Wellingborough and Rushden were also places we used to visit. To a child these seemed as remote as
I recall various military personal coming to the village, some Czech solders and some Americans but of course the Americans were much later and may have been after I returned to
I think it must have been some time late in 1942 when it was considered safe to move back to
In conclusion I can honestly say that my stay in Burton Latimer was perhaps the happiest time of my life. My grandparents spoiled me terribly as I was their only grandson. My grandma never once physically punished me but if I had been naughty she would make me go to bed for a time and somehow it worked and I nearly always behaved myself. My granddad was once doing some gardening and bending down to pick up a plant. I kicked his bottom and he ran after me and gave me such a whack across mine with a strap he was carrying, I never did it again!
I hope these reminiscences are interesting and if anybody mentioned in them is still around I would greatly appreciate their contacting me.
Neville Sumpter, 26th May 2007