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Childhood Memories of Mortimer

Having more time to think about things has some interesting results. On Friday 3rd April someone started a thread on the MVP Facebook page with

What are your most significant childhood memories of Mortimer?
For me they were:

The witches hat
Everyone queueing up for the "big" slide when it first appeared
Choir practice at St Johns
Fishing for minnows at Foudry Brook
Going to Jewells for a bag of sweets
Iris Seward's toy and record shop
Walking to the shops through snow that came up to your thighs
Bikes and skateboards from dawn to dusk in the long hot Summer of '76
Seeing Princess Anne ride in the horse show on the Fairground
Silver Jubilee celebrations

I have slightly edited the responses that followed, removing names. It makes fascinating reading. Thankyou to all those who contributed!

Upstairs for toys at Sewards, Gladrags for just about everything else and Jewells for sweets.

Sewards had an upstairs?!

Across the road where the barbers used to be. Downstairs was abutchers, fruit and veg and upstairs was a toy shop. We used to save up our pocket money and spend it up there.

I have lived in the area for 28 years but did not know that. My hometown is Letchworth and there was a furniture shop called Brookers that had a teeny toy shop on the first floor. We did the same there!

Staceys to buy Ladybird or I spy books Toys in the glass cabinet and shoes and wellingtons at the back of the shop. Coop to get meat for dinner, sweets from Bushnells. At Christmas on the Fairground the nativity with real animals. Christmas parties in the car showroom. Going to the red triangle club and ballet lessons in the Garth club

And the Christmas pageant, I remember we were dressed as the kings and rode our horses from the Methodist church hall to the Fairground for a Christmas service

Wow memories!!
Yep witches hat
Falling off the top of the slide onto concrete
Bottle digging in the woods where Windmill Court is.
Sweets from Jewell’s and corona bottles with 10p deposits!!
Stewards toy shop
Chip shop in King Street
Army store in a barn at Mortimer Hill
And of course Peggy Shore’s shop !!

3d deposit in my day!

Wow bottle digging still got a lot now.

My mum left ours when we moved 

We use to spend hours down that old dump great times

Sewards as my dad was the butcher there, the toy and record shop upstairs. Spending my pocket money at King Street Jewell’s on a Friday. The witches’ hat at the park was terrifying. Mortimer horse show was the best. Me and Mrs Thorpe at St Mary’s School and being allowed to take their dog for a walk in the school garden at break times

The Black Lab was she called Sheba?

Not sure- they had a Jack Russell when I was there

I remember the Jack Russell - I was one of her lunch deliverers for a term and she used to give me a penny each time

Yes Sheba the fat black lab!!

Yes nowadays it wouldn’t be allowed !

Also, the off-licence sales from the side door at the Horse & Groom, where we could take empty bottles back and spend the deposit on sweets!

Fruit chewing gum !

The cowboy that lived down The Street, Brick Kiln Lane I think

Can't remember that. Something I must have missed.

Yes, Kiln Lane, Neil you will have to ask your dad if he remembers him

I really can't remember that. I remember John More living right at the end

Does anyone remember when Keith Chegwin came to ride at the horse show?

My husband told Keith Chegwin to sod off . Keith was in the Horse and Groom doing a charity thing but had one too many shandies and we popped in for a drink and left and he was shouting at us 

I remember him doing the clear round jumping when he was pissed with a fag hanging out of his mouth 

I was telling my boys about the toy shop only the other day (wondering if I’d imagined it). Buying penny mixes and rainbow powder from Jewell’s in King Street. My year group’s football team at St Mary’s winning at Wembley. (Only just remember the witches hat and Silver Jubilee).

I was in the year above you Jo, but I remember going to Wembley for the schools’ Smiths crisp final, Justin Plank, David Tuttle, Paul West in Goal. To name a few

Yeah that’s right and the whole village came out to cheer them on when they got home 

Remember the song we sang.... St Mary’s are in their way to Wembley, our knees have gone all trembly

Yes - and on the telly too! - was it ‘Coast to Coast’ or something?

Probably- sad that I remember most of that song but not what I did last week 

The Funeral Directors at the front of Spratley’s Coach Yard opposite The Victoria Arms. It was the scariest looking place in Mortimer. Its window display looked like Halloween decorations

O God yes !! great memories

We used to have to go on there as mum did the coach trips, always terrified we would find old man Spratley dead 

Oh yes, I used to cross the road so I wouldn't have to pass it! 

There was older stuff in that window, than what Peggy use to have

Don’t forget that they used to deliver milk out of the back of the hearse as well

Doug Lomas the village Policeman

Being taken to Scout camps in the back on Jim Fisher’s gravel lorries, driven every year by Jesse Armstrong, who made a steel canopy to put on the back and covered it with a tarpaulin. We all sat in the back on long bench seats surrounded by our tents etc

Blimey Dave, was that stone age Mortimer

Mid to late 50's actually

Can't remember a fish and chip shop in King Street only a wet fish shop, I can remember a fish and chip shop next to the SEB showroom in the West End Road it was pulled down when they built Jewell's .

The Dippers.
Harrods down Windmill Rd.

Who remembers Oakshots?

Yes, I used to live in St. Mary’s road and Oak shotts was at the top on the main road

I remember Oakshots

I worked there in 1970/1

Butchers where the Chinese is

Always remember the red and white fly ribbons hanging down in the door way

Was it where Loon Tin is or Triangle Travel?

The butchers always smelt horrid

Triangle Travel was the original Dad's shop wasn't it before it moved to where the hardware shop was. Before Dad's Shop wasn't it Salts

You could be right, there was a hardware shop there at one stage, now you come to mention it, always looked like open all hours

Yes it was Salts and the SEB electric shop was there as well.

It was dark and dingy with old dark floorboards on the floor

Next to it on the left was a fish and chip shop and next to that was the SEB showroom.

Barclays bank

The infamous bed frame which I think Bunny Souter put up the fir tree down the dippers, always wanted to climb up there but was too small. Looking back at it now wasn't a bad shout, as if you would have fallen out of it, definite death on landing

The bent telegraph pole stabilising wire opposite Stephen Hill's place I hit in my car, still bent to this day. Circa 1989

Harry Steele kicking me outside from the Carpenters Arms, then serving me once dad came in...!

Climbing up the Holly trees where the path is now going down the left side of Windmill Court, with pocket full of fir cones, keeping quiet and throwing them at people walking by. Photocopying pound notes and putting them on the road

Clashing heads with Conrad Wire and spending the horseshow looking like a panda with 2 black eyes..!

 I remember that !!

And eating dry Marvel powder, looking like you hadn't cleaned your teeth for a year

I was just thinking about that..

OMG I was literally just thinking about that-I remember my mum having a right moan about the Marvel milk in our hair

Pegasus petrol station and Lada car dealership

Palmers by Gladrags was the best sweet shop in the village

The video shop and the bakery....

My dad started the bakery - that’s why we moved to the village - 1974 I think 

Oh wow, we moved here in 76. How long did he have it for? I remember the Cussells owning the bakery about 83/84.

That’s right - John Cussell worked for my dad then took over Mortimer when dad moved his business into town - about 1980 (or thereabouts) - and we moved to The Crescent (our first house)

My mum Doris, worked for your Dad then John for quite a few years.

Oh wow - I think I remember her (although I was only very small). And I remember a lady called Joan who had different coloured eyes.

She used to give baby donuts to the children

Yes! - they were the centre bits from the ring doughnuts - dad used to fry them up too

That’s right, the children loved them

My children used to love going in there too see Auntie Doris and get there little doughnuts xx

Bonfire nights at your parents’ house !!

Oh yes we always had a huge bonfire in the field.

They were good

I remember playing in Your house- always felt like I was in a movie set

It was a lovely house, I always preferred going to my friends’ houses as they felt more normal

Clifford's dairy, along the Vic road

Can't remember his name, but lived round Stephens Firs, took nuts and bolts out of the pylons down by Gibbit corner to make his space ship, little do people know Branson's idea is so last year might remember his name

Mr Searle, nutty professor

That must of been mid to late 70s

Very interesting if you google him Leigh not so much nutty lol

John Searle

Went to Nasa to work with Werner von Braun

Mollys sweet shop next to the Victoria Arms. Sold butterscotch lollies. 

Tuppence! Now he was a character, riding around on his beloved Raleigh Banana racing bike, with his metre lead pipe, social distancing was in place then

Mad John,(RIP), gentleman of the village, always knew which day your birthday was, you knew you were a someone if you got a Xmas card with your correct name on it...!

Yes, he was an hmmm odd one

Mine were always addressed to Miss Sean, God love him!

John Fithian wasn't Tuppence

Tuppence use to live down the bottom of Spring Lane

Tuppence looked a bit like Larry Grayson with the same attitude shall we say!!

Challis Garage down King Street

Coop Butchers in King Street

Used to take my Mini there

Hazell’s dress shop which is now Rachel’s salon

And Joys before it became Gladrags

Just Janet before it was Joys

I think it was Joys then just Janet then Gladrags - always a really good little shop though

Launderette, Baylis and not forgetting the pair of bellows in Peggy Shaws Window. The wailing siren to call the fireman to the fire station which was down the Street. The post office at the bottom of the Street

Yes, I remember all of those

Oh got that the wrong way round then, yes it was a good little shop

The man who made flying saucers in his garage on the corner of Stevens Close & was visited by the Russians.

Yes, as above, Mr Searle

John Searle I think

Cows on the Fairground

Peggy Shaw’s, Bushnells for sweets, collecting newspapers from Jewells in King Street to deliver on my paper round, buying toys and records from upstairs at Sewards, going out with my Gran in the Sewards delivery van, playing in the pickling yards, Mortimer horse show, long hot summers and the 10-21 youth club in the village hall

I have a picture of you holding on to me by the stream in the New Forest 1960 I was 4 !! So adding a few years on to make me Cub age

The fruit and veg man who used to come to your street and sold Mars bars and sneakers

Collin was his name I think


The two coppers Bob Hale and can't remember the 2nd one, his mum use to live along Hammonds Heath road in the old cottage where the gate is into the horse field on the fairground

Sergeant Howard Reeves

 That's him, couldn't think of his name, he pulled me over driving my car once, not guilty, mis-identification. Was some other bloke in a different shade of red than my car, phew!! I'm Phil’s son, On your way boy

Also the bed frame in the fir tree had been up there many years. Don’t know who put it up there but remember my dad telling us about it & did eventually climb up to it brilliant view.

Apparently you could hear Small Mead speedway track from up there

Hans Hoffman, his pony bit me on the back when I was about 5 or 6, Hans gave me a bar of Cadbury's chocolate for being brave. Either that or to shut me up so his pony wasn't made into glue

All of above will stay with me, great memories

Riggs the butcher next H&G and me delivering meat around village Saturday morning on a Tradebike.

Not a grass track bike then Gilbert?

Leigh that came later 1964 - 1968

When we first moved above the bakery (1974ish) there was a record shop next door - and then James White swimming pools (they used to let me and my brother swim in their shop window when it was hot)

Swimming in the shop window  - brilliant!

The shoe, the metal airplane and the wooden pyramid in the playground at St Johns. And the freezing outdoor swimming pool and monkey bars at St Mary’s

I'm surprised none of us got hypothermia from that pool! It's my worst childhood memory being forced to get in it!

Thought it was just me! 

The old video shop down Windmill Rd, the weekly CB meeting at St. John’s church car park where used to do tug of war with the cars.

Before that it was a coal shop, who was the lady that ran it...she scared the life out of me on day one when we moved to Mortimer in 1979... I think her name was Mrs Brans....something

Can’t remember, I do remember getting my coal from there though

Thanks Tom, maybe someone else will remember...??

My Gran used to take me there and she scared me too! She used to collect a lady who lived in the cottages at the back there for the weekly Silver Link club on a Weds afternoon in St Johns Hall where they’d all play cards for 1/2 penny pieces!!

Haha Sian, glad it wasn’t only me...just heard she was Mrs Brant

The cafe in the green shack on Victoria Road where current cafe and estate agents is now. It had a jukebox, also fish & chip shop next door I think that owned by Finnimore family they also operated telephone exchange on corner of King Street with the Fire siren in garden..

Bell ringing at St John's early sixties, sister Sally in choir, wasn't drinking then. knew the guy
as in flying saucers can't remember name and no street lights and St Mary's road at night in winter was wet feet but great sort of

Cycling to the video shop was like a Saturday afternoon institution!!

The Coal Yard down Windmill Road opposite what was the Carpenters Arms where my father was born when my Nan and Grandad ran it.

Who ran it after that? ...scary lady Mrs Bran....something

Mrs Brant

Thanks Julian , nearly got there...

Losing a goddam penny on the Fairground in 1968

 Does anyone remember Mrs. Loves sweet shop by Spratleys Blue Star Coaches garage? It was tucked up right in the corner before the car showroom was built. He husband did gents hairdressing behind her sweet shop. This was back in the late fifties.

Yes I remember that where I got my hair cut.

Mrs Bryson was the lady that took the money at the coal office. I remember Mrs Loves sweet shop, we bought our Saturday sweets there.

I remember when it was Cotterals the coal merchant and also Ernie Morgan coal yard in Victoria Road.

That’s a blast from the past, we got our coal from Ernie Morgan when I was a child, and I remember the Cotterells too

The Jim Cana Mortimer horse show organized by the fire service

There was a shop that sold fabric and haberdashery, same side as St Johns, but don’t know where

It was Stacey’s and it was where Barclays Bank was

Finding the landlord of the Carpenter's Arms on the floor behind the bar after trying to get our first drink at our 'local' to celebrate the birth of our first born ;-)

Spar I remember which is now flats next to Adam and Eve and Glad Rags. Also a newsagents there

But I do remember the toy shop above Sewards, always got joke stuff out of it, still remember my grandads face when nan and myself brought fake sugar cubes to put in his tea 

I remember quiz night at the carpenters Arms

Delivering paper for Miss Halfacre from her shop at bottom of King Street, my round was every house from Mortimer Hill to Blinkinsops cottage at the west entrance to Great Park farm, also old Mr S Jewell delivering Paraffin from back of his wagon to people in the surrounding villages

Watching Massive Fire Engines from Greenham Common Air Base help out when there were huge fires on the common

and the American fire fighters stood around smoking while watching for anymore outbreaks whilst they were parked up on Longmoor lane

What a brilliant Friday afternoon read!
There was a fountain in the gap between the Vic. and Bushnell’s sweet shop.
Stood opposite outside Spratley’s funeral parlour, waiting for the School Bus to warm up. Watching the milk delivery go out in a hearse, in competition with Clifford’s Dairy.

When I speak about John Searle and the Spaceship launch planned from the Fairground, people doubt me!

Google him you will be surprised

Apple picking in the orchard where Orchard Road is now, the yearly Horseshow and Fete, I vaguely remember a piano smashing contest? think there was a team call the Mortimer Mashers. Eating hot apple pie from my Nan who was the cook at Mortimer Hill when the Lambton's owned it. Frank Stansfield losing a penny on the fairground, we spent ages helping him look for it, don't tell him but I found it and spent it on Blackjacks at Jewells in King Street. Great days.

Going to the doctors in Dr Hills house at Glennap Grange. Dr Newlands, Dr Watts.

Dr Horgan always did house calls when we were kids.

I remember all of your memories and a few more besides like the fetes at Lamptons and the Miss British Legion contests

I remember them and having ride on Penny Farthing bike. Wendy said she remembers the man from the Archers programme Phil !! arriving by helicopter in the Park at Mortimer Hill.

yes I remember now, thanks Wendy

Do you remember the tree house in Kiln Lane with Yourself, Mary, Pete and me

lol yes I do we built it in a holly tree didn't we

Yes you’re right. Good old days had some good times. Pete died at early age not long after he married.

I didn't know so many of my generation still lived in the village.

What about Peggy Shaw’s shop down windmill road.

Charlie Simpson dared us to go in and ask for a wasp...
‘Can we buy a wasp?’
Peggy:’I don’t sell wasps?’
Me: ‘well you have one in the window!’
We always bought fishing/butterfly nets from Peggy.
Amazing shop.
I think she cut hair too?!

 she did cut hair your right, like you we used to get nets from her and my older brother and his mates used to get air gun pellets there too. Happy days.

John says she used to sell ‘something for the weekend’ 

Who remembers Jonathan ! Told him the date of your birthday ,he knew the day you were born !

Yes, used to see him daily he lived in King Street

He knew who everyone was. An autistic "savant"

Christmas cards for the whole village

Yes I remember him. Was his surname Hillary!

I thought he lived in College Piece?

That was John Hillary, relation to Sir Edmond Hillary. Jonathon was probably autistic as said above

Always the first Christmas card to arrive !!

He lived about half way down King Street opposite where the Chalice’s garage was and near where the alley went through to the Bevers

Yes, that was a John Hillary

I think you’re getting mixed up John Hillary lived down King Street it was John Fithian (not sure if that's spelt correct) that was good with dates , he lived up near Stephen's Firs and watched the football on a Sunday by the Turners.

Thank you Neil wasn’t sure of the surname just knew him as Johnathan.

There really was, is, some very interesting characters in Mortimer. Love reading people's memories of Mortimer I have many of my own.

l also remember about the guy with the flying saucer.

Methodist youth club

I asked if I could go to that one but my mum wouldn't let me, so ended up going to St John's church youth club, with Mr Hicks, with his arms folded pushing out his biceps

Didn’t we used to tell our parents we were going to youth club!

We did!

Hmm what were we up to?

Not what we were meant to be possibly

Met my 1st husband there Grahame Johnson 41 years ago

Catching the bus to St Mary's. I think it was 2p down and 3p up !! I used to walk up and spend my pennies on sweets at the Post Office

Sam, I use to walk down their and run back up between the telegraph poles, without any cars passing, use to get home to King St, in about 10mins, unless it was autumn, then I would be conkering at the girls school entrance

I can believe that !

Just for conkers

Used to let the 1st years out early, maybe 10 mins, and I was a dawdler and used to get so embarrassed when the 2nd years overtook me

Standing on the railway bridge when we lived down Station Road waiting for a steam train to go under it. When our neighbour fell down the deep well we shared when we lived down Pitfeild Lane he survived. Being told off for keep switching the light on  and off in our new house on the common never had electricity before never had running water or a flushing loo either. When I was twelve driving a tractor around the fields down at Little Park Farm while the men put the bails on the trailer then taking them back to the farm. when we made a very big shed behind the H&G into a club (The Chains) because the landlord got fed-up with all of us standing in front of the pub chatting to his daughters. Going up the disused water tower with the girls in the evenings.

My uncle telling me had downed 40 German planes in ww2 he still holds the record for being the worst mechanic in the luftwaffe

My Gran lived over the station bridge, my brother and I would run up to the bridge when a steam train came through, they had a well and a pump in the kitchen that brought water up from the well, the loo was down the bottom of the garden, not good in the winter