Sunday, August 23, 2015

LFR 23 Aug Number 616

North Berwick, East Lothian, Scotland

Welcome to the Laws Family Register. 

A Child of the Twenties

A suburban childhood of the Twenties 

seen from the Ninteen Nineties

by John Robert Laws 1921-2008

Part 17
There was time to wander while parents were busy, mother shopping and father at work, and every corner of that little town stays clear in my mind. The crumbling cliffs were ideal for climbing and sliding down the dusty gullies if a piece of wood or tin could be found to sit on. Not so good for my white shorts which would acquire ochre coloured seat. Resulting in the admonition “You be careful now”. These cliffs were gradually being eroded by the North Sea and from time to time a part of a garden or even a house would go sliding down. The sea defences were made stronger by extension of the hefty concrete promenade towards the south which is still holding up well. A walk along the beach beyond its end soon brought one to the more exclusive resort of Frinton, with its wide green lawns along the cliff tops which was usually visited once or twice during a holiday. 
                                             Walton on the Naze Essex

The northern part of Walton was lower without cliffs. The end of the High Street came along to the Front and the road and sea wall went on past a sometimes marshy patch of land beyond which the road went into a scattered little residential area and then dying out. Here the cliffs had risen again at the golf course where an old brick tower stands at the highest point. This provided a pleasant evening stroll which my father and I often took as far as the Naze. Felixstowe could be seen across the water as the land on our side ran back to the muddy tidal backwaters behind the coast.

These back waters ran right up behind the town and about twenty five acres of them were cut off from the tides with a dyke and made into a large lake with boats. This was a main attraction of the town to my father and virtually every morning that was fit, he and I would have a sailing dinghy out and sail the seven seas. His father had been a Sea Captain and I am told that only his mother’s insistence had prevented my father going to sea as a young man. As I grew older I was allowed a dinghy to myself and although I was never to become an addict I can understand how others do so. Being regulars and known to the boatman. We were allowed to sail on days when the wind was too strong to risk his dinghies in the hands of strangers and these were the days when it became quite fun.

                                Walton Mere

The attraction of boats also ruled one of our regular outings during the holiday. We always went at least once to Brightlingsea, a slightly scruffy town famous only for boat yards and shrimp teas. It has always been an ocean racing centre but was not particularly prosperous in those days, there were wonderful boats on offer, at giveaway prices. We didn’t buy one. 

We just walked in the sun and looked, ate our shrimp tea and perhaps an ice cream, then trundled back to Walton. At Dedham however, another regular outing we could get a rowing boat on the Stour and glide through Constable’s countryside between the pollarded willows in the soft June sunshine. This was I fear, my father’s holiday, again just he and I went boating but then we were off in the car to Flatford for a strawberry tea amongst the wasps beside the bridge. It is all still there but somehow the rural peace is not the same since everyone spouted wheels.

All the countryside was more rural as a much smaller number of townsfolk invaded it every weekend. All the corn was cut with a binder of course and stood up in stooks in the field. Until it was cut East Anglia was a mass of red poppies, more beloved by the holidaymaker than the farmer. Farming had been depressed for some years and old cottages were being condemned as unfit for human habitation. It is sad to think it is only the war which brought back a sort of prosperity or at least a brief understanding of the need to grow our own food which now seems to be fading away again.

The thought of the corn takes me back to another little holiday I spent in the countryside. In truth mum and dad wanted a holiday on their own and Lottie took Mary and me for a week to her parents’ cottage in Bocking which really was rural. The water came from a long handled pump outside the back door and the loo was by the wash house in the garden. 

It was late summer but any need for light was met by oil lamps and candles. Little did I know that these were the normal facilities for most of rural England, and that for many places they would stay unchanged for another thirty years. It was harvest time  and the horse drawn binder went round and round the field throwing out sheaves and driving the ever present rabbits into the centre until they made a run for it  and someone got rabbit pie for dinner. 

Wages were meagre. Food was important, there was rhubarb under the apple tree and more cabbages than roses in the garden. There were plums in the garden too and home-made wine in the kitchen cupboard set into the wall alongside the black kitchen range.

There were no pavements through the village. There was after all virtually no traffic A few yards along the road on the other side from the cottage a path led down to the lazy river with its carpet of water lilies raising their bright yellow flowers above the dark green leaves, A few cows grazed the meadow beside the river avoiding the buttercups and leaving their squelchy traps for the unwary walker behind them. I didn’t wonder then, what it was like there in the winter time.

Another little holiday that was different turned up when my Uncle Albert and Aunt Louise were home on leave, and was going to spend a little while in a cottage in Cornwall. Their son Frank was a little younger than me, and I was invited to come along so that we could spend some time together. 

It was the only long train journey I had taken as a small boy, about ten years old I think, although the steam trains were always rushing past the bottom of our garden at home, I was unimpressed by the train journey. Once it had chugged out of Paddington the countryside rushed by, very different  from travelling in the car. Leaving our smoke and smuts behind us we dashed on through green fields until we came to the red soil of Devon,  with its sheep  smeared with the colour, then into the less lush Cornwall. 

The cottage was at Crantock on the North coast but not the bleak and barren part. It was tiny and ancient, just a few stone and thatch cottages and a church, but the memory of it is of the peace of the village and the emptiness of the beach where we were able to swipe at a golf ball without fear of hitting someone. My uncle was reputed to be keen on photography and certainly had an enormous quarter plate camera which no doubt was capable of taking excellent photographs must have need a pantechnicon to carry it around. He was the up-market brother , whereas my dad was the up-to-date brother and had a little folding roll film camera just for holiday snaps.         

To be continued tomorrow

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Family Events from our database for today August 23rd

If you are interested in anyone listed here, email us with the name, date and reference number, and we will happily do a look up, you might get a whole tree! 

Family Events
1748 - Will Proved: Anne LAWS (Widow) -29803, East Greenwich KEN UK
1784 - Marriage: William BALLS-1982 and Ellen LAWES-1983, Holme Hale NFK UK
1824 - Marriage: James Walter LAWS (Carter) -45262 and Elizabeth LITTLE-45263, Newington                SRY UK
1840 - Death: William (2nd) LAWS-3113, Chatteris CAM UK

                                                                 Chatteris CAM UK

1845 - Marriage: Thomas Cook RICHARDSON-117317 and Amelia LAWS-117316, Bow MDX                UK
1846 - Baptism: Annabella LAWS-27485, Heddon on the Wall NBL UK
1848 - Birth: Joseph Burnett Eldon Francis LAWS (Farmer) -40141, Tynemouth NBL UK

                                                             Tynemouth NBL UK

1864 - Birth: Richard George Hamilton LAWES-54106, Holbeck WRY UK
1871 - Burial: Algernon Blofield LAWES-51843,
1884 - Death: Thomas LAWES (Gentleman Independant)-1415, St Pancras MDX UK
1885 - Birth: George William Henry LAWS (RN 343558 Crewman) -36113, Camberwell SRY UK
1886 - Death: James LAWS (Hotel Contractor) -3556, Acton MDX UK
1889 - Birth: Albert Reginald Howell LAWES (General Labourer) -2958, Shaftesbury DOR or                      Donhead St Mary WIL UK
1892 - Marriage: Jonas R LAWS (Bank Clerk) -124468 and Anastasia SUTHERLAND-117762,                  Boston MA USA
1899 - Marriage: Charles Issac LAWS-52869 and Martha Jane TIBBS-124804, Wayne Co IL USA
1899 - Birth: Walter Leslie LAWES (Baker) -47875, Waverley Bondi NSW AUSTRALIA
1899 - Death: Edmund Thomas LAWS (Hotel Chef) -5487, Broseley SAL UK
1902 - Death: Charles LAWS (Engine & Crane Driver) -5058, Barking ESS UK
1907 - Birth: Constance Eaves LAWS (Spinster) -119455, Derby DBY UK
1908 - Birth: Alice Louise LAWES-121841,
1909 - Death: Walter Saul LAWS (Cabinet Maker)-8449, Peacock Street, Norwich NFK

                                                      The Cathedral, Norwich NFK UK

1911 - Miscellaneous: Charles LAWS-41458,
1911 - Miscellaneous: Florrie M  LAWS (2 mths old)-36187,
1911 - Miscellaneous: George E LAWS-36186,
1911 - Miscellaneous: Maud Emily LAWS-36185,
1911 - Miscellaneous: George LAWS (Salvation Army Officer) -4938,
1912 - Marriage: Edmund Powell GALBRAITH-34183 and Wilma Hills LAWS-34182,
1913 - Birth: William George F LAWES-118600,
1914 - Death: Stephen LAWES (ARMY Private L/8222)-45020,
1915 - Enlistment: Herbert Henry LAWS (ARMY Privafe 1444) -5334, Potchestroom South Africa
1916 - Death: Susan LAWS-54880, West Ham ESS UK
1918 - Death: Richard William LAWS (Australian Army - Private 4829)-30080, killed in Action
1923 - Birth: Arthur John LAWS-120643,
1946 - Death: Frank Burgess LAWES (Ironmongers Assistant) -858, Northampton NTH UK
1949 - Birth: Archie Lee LAWS-40287, Wharton Co TX USA
1969 - Birth: Darren George LAWES (Company Director) -46369,
1979 - Birth: Jessica LAWS-125288,
1980 - Death: Ronald D LAWS (MSgt US Air Force) -38073,
1981 - Death: Herbert William LAWS (Bricklayer retired) -49567, NZ
1983 - Death: Amy Louise LAWES-2955, Manchester, Hillsborough NH United States
2003 - Death: Robert Eland LAWS (Australian Army) -32366, Wavell Heights NSW AUSTRALIA
2011 - Cremation: Donald LAWS-9307, Tunbridge Wells KEN UK

1863 - Birth: Anastasia SUTHERLAND-117762, Boston MA USA
1875 - Birth: Ada Louisa BENNETT-96276, Cardiff GLA UK
1876 - Birth: William H PAYNE (Farmer/Caretaker)-3965, Ellerston NSW AUSTRALIA
1888 - Birth: Flora Ann GREEN-55313, 
1905 - Birth: Astrid Geraldine DELBON-33711, Omaha NE USA
1911 - Residence: Martha SANCTURY-4936, Wood Green MDX UK
1941 - Marriage: Walter WEBBER-JENNINGS-34597 and Olive CHARTERS-34596, Wingate                 WRY UK
1950 - Burial: Lavinia CHEESEBOROUGH-2829, Rock Springs, Swetwater WY USA
1957 - Birth: Marianne Martin BRANT-43794, Richmond  NRY UK

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