The following article was sent in by Mrs. Barbara Katherine Hope (nee Astley), born in 1899 and brought up in Hungerford. Her grandfather Henry Edward Astley was Seneschal, or Steward, of Hungerford from 1847 – 1885. Her father, Henry d'Oyley Wolvey Astley occupied the same position (now called Clerk to the Town) from 1889 - 1936.
The Pig Man:
I don't suppose anyone now living would remember 'The Pig Man'. He lived in a loft at either 'the Lamb' or the 'Red Lion' and spent his life pushing a large round tank on wheels, (rather like, only larger, a garden watering tank on wheels). Whether it was ever greased, I don't know, but it made a terrific noise, and the smell from it and the pig man was ghastly! He called at houses for pig swill and food and refuse. We had at one time, about 1908-1910, a Welsh pony called Taffy and I remember after crossing the canal bridge on an outing, Taffy either smelt or heard the 'Pig man's trolley before he rounded the comer by the river Dun Bridge, he turned suddenly round and bolted back over the Canal Bridge and up the High Street full tilt, much to we children's delight. There seemed nothing in the street to impede our flight, but mother or whoever was driving took care afterwards to avoid meeting the 'pig man' in Bridge Street.
The Circus Bell:
Whether many circuses came to the town in this era (1905-1913) I can't remember, but the parade before the first performance was a high delight. We, of course, had a grandstand view at the end of our trellis bridge on the Canal Bridge. There, above people on the pavement, we saw everything. The parade was led by the circus band, then all the different attractions followed. The circus Master with his whip, the clowns and acrobats and the beautiful spangle clad ladies riding their steeds. And sometimes at the rear, a lion or wild animal in his cage. The procession came down Park Street from the common and turned round at the Bear Hotel and returned, I suppose any traffic waited until it passed.
The Fire Bell:
In that period a warning of a fire was a bell in a glass case outside the Corn Exchange, with a warning 'A fine of £5 for improper use'. When we heard it, the aim was again to get our grandstand position, because although the Fire engine was in Charnham Street, the fire horses were stabled at Macklin's high up on the east side of the High Street. We had to rush to our view and it seemed within seconds two horses were being galloped down to the fire station with a man barebacked on one horse with a leading rein to the halter on the other - A grand site.
Other occasions that took us on to our Bridge was to give the Barrel organ man, of which there seemed many, and some with monkeys, a few pence for the entertainment. And another time to give money to 'The German Bands' that toured the country at that time, but all disappeared in 1914 (Spies of course everyone said!)