You are in [Themes] [Reminiscences] [Oral History - Transcripts] [Pat Smalley, Jun 1991]

Interview with Pat Smalley (by Pam Haseltine), 35 Sanden Close, Hungerford, 13th June 1991.

Pat Smalley was born in Hungerford in 1928. Her maiden name was Caswell and she lived at 28 Bridge Street, which is now called Forge Cottage. There were two other cottages on the west side towards the John of Gaunt Inn. Opposite there was her father's forge and another cottage to the east of that where Rose Cottage now stands. Various people lived in these cottages and after the 1939-45 war Pat had an elderly aunt who ran a pub in Bridge St., The Barley Mow, and who lived in the cottage next to theirs. She can remember that her aunt's house regularly flooded from the river but the Caswell' s house never flooded. Mr. and Mrs. Liddiard lived in the end cottage and that also flooded. Pat thinks that they have both died but that Brian and Eric Liddiard are still around. These cottages in what is now called The Forge were demolished probably in the late 1950s.

Her parents' house, which is now Forge Cottage, has been considerably altered. What was originally a garage with a loft above is now all part of the house itself. There were two garages attached to the Caswell's house. One was used by Mr. Fearnly Taylor, who ran a chemist's shop - which is now Jeanne Petit, the dress shop opposite in Bridge Street. After Fearnley Taylor, another chemist, took it over, who has recently died. There was also The Red Stores and a little stationery shop. Razey's print shop was in Bridge Street before it moved up into the High Street. Eric Liddiard worked for Razey's for many years. The end shop in Bridge Street, next to 'The Bear' was a jeweller's shop run by Mrs. ..?.. a very old fashioned shop. Later it was taken over by Earthy's of Newbury.

Pat's father, the blacksmith, died in 1956. The house was still a forge then as it was bought by someone who still used it as a forge. Mr. Caswell was a very fussy and meticulous worker. He also did specialist wrought iron work. He had the chance to go and work for another firm in Hungerford but he couldn't get the men to work to his high standard and it worried him. He eventually committed suicide. After this Mrs Caswell sold the business and all the property for about £2,000.

Pat's grandfather was the blacksmith before her father. Pat's father did a lot of shoeing and would start work on enormous carthorses at 5.00 a.m.. They were all hand shod, with hand made shoes in those days He also looked after the horses for a lot of people who lived in the district and for Miss Saunders, who had a riding school in Hungerford. He was also a -fitting metal bands to wooden wheels of carts.

On the opposite side, where Rose Cottage garden is, there was a fruit shop owned by the Liddiard family. This was just on the edge of Boarden Carriage. Where Boarden Carriage cottage is now there were some little old cottages and a family called Hibberd lived in them. Pat does not know the origin of the name Boarden Carriage but maybe it has a link with the railway as it was a back way to the station. It was possible to walk from the station, through what is now The Forge, into a field by the river where Mr. Caswell kept chicken, pigs and where watercress grew in the river. It was also possible to walk into the back of houses which is now Stirlands, but was Beards.

The Stirlands garage site, which is now up for development, was a coal yard. Lew Beard owned the coal merchants business, approached through the cobbled yard, until 1964, though he also worked in the post office. Mrs. Beard now lives at Renroc in Macklin Close. Macklin Close is on the site of the old dairy.

Bridge Street was a very busy area in the 1950s and very different from the 1990s when it seems to be full of tourists and antique shops. Pat finds that Hungerford. is not different in looks from the war years out is very different in its shops and population. Canal Walk, built in 1973 has changed the look of the canal. Wooldridge's yard used to be beside the Granary. Bennett's yard was where Bearwater has been built. Bennett's was garden and agricultural machinery. Bennett gradually turned over to garden items which he sold from his shop in the High Street. Today this is a pleasant flower shop with a very nice gift shop next door.

The train service was quite good because the children had to use it going to the grammar schools in Newbury. Pat used to catch the 8.15 train to Newbury every morning and during the war when Newbury County Girls School shared with another school, she returned on the 2.00 p.m. train. She thinks the railway has done a turn around, because they got rid of all the station buildings and now they are building them all up again. When Pat was young there were huge goods yards by the station and large coal dumps. Now there are various commercial units. The train going to school was the milk steam train that came up from Devizes, but she came home on a diesel. Tennis racquets add lacrosse sticks used to go regularly up and down the line when they were forgotten and left on the luggage rack.

Traffic and parking space has increased a lot. The car park by the station is new and the car park in Church Street didn't exist because that was the ite of James and Co Great Western Mill which was burnt down in June 1960. The Mill was rebuilt further down the street on a new and larger site, but that has now become a housing area. Parking in Hungerford has increased, Pat thinks, because people are driving in from the country areas, not because the population of Hungerford has increased. Before the war she thinks the population was about 6000. It was a pleasant size because you knew almost everyone and spoke to most people in the street.

Pat went to the Infants and Junior school in Fairview Road before going to the County Girls School in Newbury. The mother of Shirley Huxtable, the present Junior School headmistress, and Pat both worked for Sir William Mount together and Pat thinks that Shirley was born on the Wasing estate.

The canal has changed a great deal, though it was always lovely. Pat's grandfather, Mr. Batt was a barber and lived over the barber's shop in Bridge Street. It is still a barber's shop - very old fashioned. It hasn't changed over the years. Pat's uncle, Fred Batt, took it over from her grandfather and he in turn passed it on to someone called Clifford who was a relation of her grandmother's, so it has remained in the family. Her grandfather also had the "Barley Mow', which is now Stirlands, so her Mother was born in the 'Barley Mow', The barber's shop still has old mahogany chairs and nothing has changed. Pat can remember her uncle Fred Batt (her mother's brother) standing on one leg because he had ulcers on the other. He stood on it so long that he got ulcers on that leg as well. He was a perfectionist and on Saturday nights he would be on his hands and knees polishing until the place gleamed.

There was an organisation called 'Christian Endeavour' - a youth club run by a Miss Gosling and another lady. Miss Gosling had a little sweet shop at the top of the town, where you could buy 4 gob-stoppers for a - ½d or 1d. All the children would call there on their way to or from school. You could buy lots of things for 1d. in those days. These ladies were really straight laced but all the young people of Hungerford of that generation went to the youth club and a lot of marriages resulted from the comradeship and a lot of good work came out of the club. The Regent cinema provided a lot of enjoyment for the young, too. Front row 3d and back row 2d.

Pat was a member of the tennis club. It doesn't look much different now, except that there are new courts. There were only 2 grass courts when Pat was a junior member in the 1940s. She was taught to play by the Pratt twins, whose father was the butcher.

The doctors' surgery was where Gateways is now. There were no supermarkets then. Dr. Kennedy lived in the big house and the surgery was at the back. The yard at the back (Everlands Road) was called Laundry Yard - there was a big laundry there. Miss Saunders had her livery stables there too and there was a short cut to the station. Pat's doctor was Dr. James who lived by the river Dun on the corner of Charnham Street and Bridge Street (Riverside Antiques)

Pat thinks that the biggest change since her youth is the size of the town. No longer could you say you knew everyone who lived in the place. Now a lot of people don't just live and work in Hungerford but commute to Newbury and Reading. Also the antique shops have made Hungerford well known and brought a lot of tourists in, especially on Sundays. Sundays used to be absolutely quiet in Hungerford.

Pat remembers walking from the Forge up to her primary school - up the steep path from the High Street which they used to call School Alley. There were allotments all round. There were two teachers in the school called Miss Higgins who were wonderful teachers - also a Miss Willis.

Mr. Caswell, Pat's father, was a voluntary fireman. The Fire station was in Charnham Street - now the 'Fireplace'. They had the old type fire engine where all the firemen sat on top, outside. Her father was married in fireman's uniform. The vicar, the Rev. Gray, was the fire chief at the time. Mr. Caswell later became fire chief. The fire bell was on the staircase in their home and made a terrible noise. During the war the firemen were sometimes called out to other areas of severe bombing, such as Coventry and Southampton.. Jack Williams and his father were both voluntary firemen. Mr. Wilkins was another. He had a shop at the top end of the town where Fisher's shoe shop is now. Mr. Morley, who was a builder and Mr. Willis, the plumber. In fact, most of the tradesmen were volunteer firemen. After Pat's father died her mother had a small gift from the service each year

Two years ago - 1989 - Pat and her husband went to Washington State, America and met an elderly gentleman called Hidden. It turned out that the American Hiddens originated from Hidden, Berkshire, in the l600s and then emigrated to America. This Mr. Hidden claimed to be a cousin of Norman Hidden of Frinton on Sea and remembered having his hair cut at the barber's shop in Bridge Street - Pat's grandfather's shop'. He has also met Norman and Nadine King who used to farm on the Hidden Estate.

On Tutti Day Pat's father used to heat up pennies in the forge and throw them into the river Dun. Not only did children scramble for oranges in the street - but also for sizzling pennies in the river. Also at carnival time little coloured lanterns lit by night lights used to be strung across the river. Carnival was a big occasion for everyone in the town in those days.

See also:

- Oral History / Audio Archives