Move to Ashwell 1951

Photo:Harrow County School for Girls

Harrow County School for Girls

School website

Photo:John Lyon's School, Harrow

John Lyon's School, Harrow

School website

By Hazel Easterbrook (Sackett)

After the war years there was a time of shortages of food, clothes, money and general opportunities to “better one’s self”.  My father was not very happy with his job as an Insurance agent I feel.  I can remember him having to go out in the evening canvassing and always being under pressure to sell more insurance. 

He had moved from the Prudential (The Pru’) to Liverpool Victoria thinking they were less “hard -cased” and pushy but I think the job was equally high pressured and he did not seem a very happy person at times.  His health was never that robust and he always had flu or bronchitis each winter. 

Fortunately Mum never seemed to get ill or at least never made a fuss about it.  Uncle Harry had suggested that Mum and Dad emigrated to South Africa and they had made enquiries about British Columbia too but neither came to anything.  I do not know if it was the thought of such an upheaval moving house and four children to the other side of the world that put them off or not wanting to leave elderly parents, friends and relatives.

I can remember Mum and Dad speaking about buying a shop and going to see one at Watford.  However the accommodation was rather small and above the shop, with a small or no garden so it was turned down. 

When we heard about the shop at Ashwell it all sounded lovely with a large old house and walled garden, plenty of room for four growing children.  Peter was at John Lyon’s School at Harrow (Dad’s old school) and I think they were rather sorry for him to move.  He was in the 3rd year and doing well.  Peter’s opinion on the subject is as follows: “I went from being a big fish in a small pond to being a small fish in a big pond”.

I was at Harrow County School for Girls in the first term of my second year and was rather sad to leave my new friends: Anne Wilkinson, Janet Desmond, Sylvia Coggins, Jennifer Cooper and Pamela Warren.  They gave me an address book as a leaving present and I still use it as it holds a lifelong collection of information. 

I do not remember too much about my time at Harrow County in Lowlands Road Harrow but can recall riding my bike to school and the traffic not being too bad other than at the railway bridge into Lowlands Road.  We had school dinners but there was not enough space for everyone to stay every day so we either had to bring a packed lunch or walk over to the Boys’ School. 

I did not care for this very much as we ate after the boys and there was a lot of food scraps left on the tables, chairs and floor.  We felt however that the dinners were, on the whole better than those we usually had and definitely larger portions.   Sometimes I came home to lunch but if it was Tuesday it was invariably the remains of the joint reheated with vegetables including cabbage, which I hated!  I used to have a tomato, when in season to help the cabbage down.

I think I was above average in most subjects other than Maths and was pleased to receive a French pen friend, Paule Prouteau, who I wrote to for 50 years.  We played lacrosse, which I found quite difficult, though sport in general has never been my “thing”.  We did Cookery/ Domestic Science and I can recall our first lesson when we had to cook cabbage and leeks and then eat them.  It put me off these vegetables for many years to come! 

There was a Parents Teachers Association and Mum and dad joined and went to several socials at the school.  They had never gone out in the evenings before and I can recall their pleasure at making new friends and the enjoyable times they had.

 We travelled to Ashwell on the moving day by taxi and I have no recollection of the journey but can remember the excitement at arriving at our new home and all the kids dashing about exploring all the rooms and storehouses.

Peter recalls sitting beside the taxi driver, having been appointed ‘navigator’ complete with directions prepared by the taxi firm.  There was great anticipation for us children as we drove up the hill and then saw the village below including the church. 

It was early December and it was decided that we would start at our new schools in the New Year. 

When the removal men had unloaded our furniture and boxes I remember our having tea, all sitting around in the dining room.  I was asked to put the kettle on to make the tea and being used to a gas stove and completely ignorant of electric cookers I put the electric kettle on the electric plate of the cooker! 

Fortunately Mum spotted my mistake but my brothers teased me unmercifully.  Derek recalled having a nasty burn on that same occasion as he put his hand on the plate, which was switched on to see if it was getting hot. 

We were very pleased and excited when we were allowed to go into the shop and help ourselves to some cake and biscuits.  The biscuits in those days were loose in large tins and we chose a good selection especially of the cream and chocolate variety and also picked a Scribona Swiss roll from the glass cabinet.

This page was added on 30/05/2012.

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.