Both of us totally scared and unaware of why, how and when this had all been planned. We were given a Hot drink and biscuits, bathed and taken to
our bedroom, I cried all the way to the home and all though that first night, begging and pleading to go back to where I belonged with my Foster Mum,
it is something I have never forgotten and never will do, even now I hate leaving or saying long term good byes to anyone Family, Friends and even
work mates it can be quite embarrassing at times.
The Village was just like most villages it had it own School, Hospital, Clothing & Food Stores, Library, Swimming Pool and even it’s own Church.
The only difference it was for Children only, so sorry no Pubs!
Sweet shop was just outside the main gate, you had to be accompanied.
There were three main areas of green lawns with about 20 Cottages sited around each of them.
The Reception Green for all new comers, short term stay or those shortly moving to other homes.
The Nursery Green for babies and very young children.
The Main Green, Permanent, for long term stay.
Each cottage could hold about 12 children, there were two cottages that held 24, cottage had house parent_s either a married couple or a single person
plus an assistant the two bigger cottages had a couple more assistants; all had a daily part time cleaners /cooks. Staff were normally called Uncle &
Auntie on rare occasions Mr, Mrs or Miss.
John and I were put into Lilly Cottage on the reception green which was run by a Miss Thompson and an assistant who were very kind and caring
apart from when they served up Fogs born, Tapioca, and dried Figs for pudding or custard with dry skin on it. We both attended The Mossford School
in the Village and attended our village church on Sundays all children walking in lines of two from their respective cottages. After a short while we
both moved to Furze Court a Barnardo’s home in Hove Nr Brighton. John moved first as I was ill at the time then moved shortly after once I was well
enough to travel.
Two songs I soon learnt and used repeat night after night otherwise I would end up counting sheep to get to sleep.
Mummy Daddy take me home
From this Dr Barnardos Home
I’ve been here a week, month, year or two
Now I want to stay with you.
Furze Court, Brighton:
Furze Court was again quite a nice place, medium size mansion with some grounds and run
by mainly nice staff, but it was built with a central courtyard where there were some old baths
with cold running water. Each morning any boys who had wet their bed had to bring their wet
sheets down and put them in one of the baths to soak most of the time it was bearable, except
for this one lady, probably from Colditz, who use to make us who had wet the beds get in and
out of the other bath which was full of freezing cold water, regardless of the time of year or
weather. It was hell and not very pleasant at all. In all my time in Barnardo’s she was the only
member of staff I can really say I hated I never understood how or why she was the only
one who treated us like it.
Whilst at Furzse Court we had camping holidays in Winchelsea and the Isle of White once we
were watching a show in the main marquee when this chap pulled out a wooden doll which
started talking and rolling its eyes about, that was enough for me I ran out of that marquee
like a bat out of hell, around the back of some other tents and right over a guy rope which cut
my stomach, all because I was scared of a Ventriloquist doll.
Each breakfast time due to being quite a frail child I used to have a spoonful of Malt, Two spoonful of some sort of Brand sprinkled on my cereal, and
a half bottle of that old concentrated orange juice we use to have in those days. I attended the Middle Street School in Brighton which I don’t think I
attended much due to ill health. We use to save our bus money so we could by sweets, and then walk all the way to school which was near Brighton
sea front, via railway station as we use to love watching the old turn table turning the engines around.
While I was at Furze Court I was admitted to The Princess Alexandra Hospital in Hove for Eczema which again I had from top to bottom and used
creamed and bandaged up twice a day, it was quite embarrassing.
As I wasn’t ill I used to go around helping other patients with tea etc. Also a gentleman who used to visit Furze Court Home with his Accordion also
used to come and play in the wards at the hospital and use to g et me to sing a solo whilst he accompanied me The Lords Prayer When I was discharge
from the Hospital I ran away twice from the home straight back to the hospital. I just didn’t want those cold baths or to see that one lady ever again,
other than her everyone else were really nice.
Shortly afterwards I was moved back to The Village Homes, not sure if it was anything to do with me running away, but John stayed at Furze Court
and I’ve only ever seen him twice since, he wanting to live his own life, which Barnardo_s seem to encourage at the time Strange when they did not
want to separate us on the dreadful day when we were taken from our foster Mum where we were happy.
Second time at the Village:
Back at the Village Homes I was placed into one of the two double cottages in the corner of
reception area named Trefoil Cottage with 24 boys. I do not know why but I never settled there
in fact once I actually ran away from Trefoil Cottage without anyone knowing, Out of the main
gates I walked down Horns Road to the end of the village boundary around the bottom corner
and back in the next gate I could find “a bit scary out there on your own” Eventually I was
moved into Larchfield Cottage on the main green, although still very quiet and shy boy I got on
well with the other boys.
As I was too old to go back to Mossford School I was sent to the outside school Grearies
Secondary Modern Newbury Park Near Ilford.
I don’t remember too much about this school as I do not think I was here much more than 18
month. I do remember once in a music class we were practicing for a music concert, one of the
pieces was When he who would valiant be when we got to let fancies flee away, the music
teachers arms went up in the air, his song book shot across the class room and out of the open window, of course there was a lot of giggling, but the
master said he was only trying to get us to sing with a bit more expression and gusto, I think he just got carried away. Another time the school had a
visiting violin orchestra and they played to a packed school, what a lot of noise I much prefer the sound of the accompanying pianist, now that sounded
great and to this day I still enjoy listening to a piano or organ being played plus brass band music.
I also remember the sweet shop up by the side of the school, 2 black jacks for a Farthing and 4 for a Half penny, Sherbet tubes 2 pennies old coins
Whilst in Larchfield Cottage they tried to sort out my bed wetting again, we use to have beds made with rubber covered mattress with a chicken wire
laid across the bed, a bottom half sheet, another piece of chicken wire followed by another sheet “luckily I only experienced this in this Cottage” The
wire was rigged up to a bell, and the idea was, that i f you so much as dribbled in your sleep the wire would activate the bell. I had been known to wet
the bed four or five times in a night and still I would not wake up of my own accord. I even used to have other boys throwing shoes across the room at
me, couldn’t blame them they just wanted a good nights kip. I have recently found out we were the first few boy to try this out as it was a trial
I also had to go and see a shrink weekly for a while to see if he could get to the bottom of it all, we would have long chat, ask lots of questions like,
was I happy? How did I get on with the other children or staff? Then do some sorts of tests like what shape fits into what hole, what would I do if this
or that happened, all of it to no avail. I didn’t really like going to see him; I think subconsciously I just wanted to be part of a normal family.
At the time I was about eleven years of age and used to pray every night that I would stop wetting the bed, get rid of my eczema and that one day I
would belong to a family. Six month before I actually left Barnardos I stopped wetting the bed for good. My Eczema has mainly cleared up although I
have to keep it in check and my Asthma is reasonable and controllable. Self determination, contentment and lots of prayers.
We all had different task to do in the homes, on a daily rota, two boys might peel the
potatoes, two clean all the shoes, clean the fire half out, two to help with the washing up,
two sweep the yard and tidy around the house also on a Tuesday we had to collect the weekly
supply of eggs, Thursday collect the Ice Cream for tea that day, both came from the main
stores, as you can imagine you had to get back to the cottage pretty quick otherwise no ice
cream for tea.
We did have playtime where we could go to the village open air Swimming pool, play cricket,
rounders or football on the main green, or just play amongst ourselves and other friends in the
village. In the winter time you were only allowed to play in the playroom, so out came the
board or card games. Any school day home work always had to be done before playtime. On
the whole all the boys got on very well with one and other just like a family unit.
One of our house parents at Larchfield was Mr & Mrs Dennis Vine with their three children;
they were my last house parent at the Village.
Mr & Mrs Vine were a very popular couple, very well respected in the Village by both other
staff and all us kids liked them very much, “except when we were being told off” but really
anything they could do to help anyone of us boys they would do and we were all treated the same. One of our favourite treats was when we were taken
to Epping Forest for picnics in his old Austin A40? with a back luggage bar where the picnic basket went on “a big old laundry basket” it used to have
every thing in it. How some of us got to Epping or Hainault Forest when the car was full I do not remember there must have been other vehicles. We
also had holidays Eastbourne and West Runton between Sheringham and Cromer.
One evening when we were at West Runton in Norfolk I ran away and was brought back by the police after they had found me walking alone on the
beach, once they had gone this one master punched me hard in the stomach and said now get to bed and don’ t cause any more bother, the next days I
had to stay in bed supposedly ill, he got away with it. But on the whole we had some brilliant holidays and Christmas outings to Shows, Parties on
Navel Boats, Circus trips you name it we either did.
Saturday night each house would be on rota to go to either the Library to watch a TV or see a Film show in an old hall near the library, this would
normally be every couple of weeks. I don’t think any cottages had a TV at that time, so other than the TV or Films it was left to you to make up your
We attended the Village Church every Sunday Morning I used to be fascinated by the bell ringers
but we were not allowed to touch the bell ropes.
During the service I would stare at those gorgeous stained glass windows they really were lovely
and are still there to this day. What a church and what memories it must hold. I even tried to join
the choir but was told by the choirmaster that I was tone deaf and I may as well go out and play,
I told him that I use to sing solos in the hospital, to which he said you may have, but you’re not
singing in my choir. I was gutted.
Sunday school used to be held in a large hall between the Reception Green and The Main Green
“ think it was called the school room” t used to have a very large picture of Jesus with loads of
children from all different countries standing and sitting around him, with the title
“suffer little Children to come unto Me”
I do not know why but some time later boys from our cottage were taken to the Ashurst Drive
Baptist Church. It was here where I first met Mr & Mrs Bird in Sunday School. After awhile the four or five of us that attended were given permission
to go to their house for Tea once a month, it wasn’t long after Mr & Mrs Bird befriended me because they said I was so timid and shy, eventually as
king Mr Vine if they could become my Auntie and Uncle, after some debating at Barnardos HQ it was agreed that they could. Even though they only
lived in Craven Gardens five minute walk from the homes, I used to go there for holidays and later when I was at Goldings I was allowed to go for
week-end and holidays and they became like a real family to me. Their daughter Margaret and her boyfriend use to take me out on day outings all over
the place London Zoo, Seaside, Shows, Circus etc: I was a lucky boy. One of the hardest job poor Margaret had to do was take me back from my
weekend stays at Barkingside to Liverpool Street Station in London and wave good bye to me on my onward journey to Goldings, I use to go all
solemn from teatime with tears in my eyes until I was on that train and away, then praying for the next break to come.
Later on in life when I was courting my wife “Val” she used to come and stay with Aunty and Uncle Bird and also they retired to Clacton.
Once when we were visiting in Clacton they told Val that they were going to adopt me when I was at Barkingside but changed their minds right at the
last moment when there was talk of me moving to “The William Baker Technical School” also known as Goldings in Hertford. as they didn’t want to
stop any chance of me getting on in the world and thought that this would be a good opportunity for me. I am only glad I didn’t known at the time and
that the decision wasn’t mine to make as I had always wanted to be part of a real family and probably would not have gone to Goldings. Own Home
or Goldings? Thank you Mr & Mrs Vine it must have been a hard decision for you as well to have made and the best kept secret. Mind you there was
a time I thought I was going to be shipped off to Australia but luckily for me I did not enjoy good health so it was not an option, I am so glad my life
has been spent in England.