Derrick Grainger’s memories of life in Bredon
Derrick Grainger has lived in, or near to, Bredon nearly all of his 80 years. A schoolteacher, he was the first head of Bredon Hancocks Junior School where he spent 25 years, and a parish councillor for 30 years. Here he recalls some of his memories of life in a Bredon very different to today, when the railway was so important to the village and the children enjoyed the freedom to roam the hill.
“For the first four years of my life we lived at Fiddington down towards Tredington. My father was a Bredon parish resident and when I was four we moved to Kinsham and we lived in a one room up one room down cottage.
“We moved to Westmancote when I was eight, so I’ve only lived in Bredon itself since 1957 and, apart from five years when I was teaching in Birmingham, from the time I was four until now I’ve lived in the parish.
“I went to the village school, which in those days was opposite the village hall in Bredon and went on to Tewkesbury Grammar School where I was lucky enough to get a scholarship.
“After I had done my national service I did a couple of years teacher training and spent five years teaching in Birmingham because there were virtually no jobs this end. We lived in a caravan all the time in Birmingham. We came back here and for a time had a council house.
“I had been teaching at Ashchurch for seven years and in 1964, Bredon school moved to where it is now. The school had been a secondary school before. The seniors went to it from right round the hill.
“In 1964 they moved the school to Ashton-under-Hill, which they built as a secondary modern. And the other school was rather small. I was the first head of the Hancock’s Junior School as it was on those days, taking children five to 11. In 1974 it went from five to 10. I did 25 years there and retired in 1989.
“When I was growing up it was a time recovering from the Great Depression and heading for the war and it was very different. Everybody who worked basically was working on the land. There was a tremendous amount of market gardening down in Kinsham, Westmancote and Bredon. Very few people worked in occupations, Almost all the old ploughmen looked absolutely clapped out, bent double.
“We used to keep hens and used to go down to Aston Mill, which was a working mill in those days. That’s a ruin now.
“It was a very , very different life. A lot of life in this village revolved around the station. Every day in the productive part of the season a train came down the line and left a wagon in the station and all the market gardeners had to be there before 4 o’ clock in the afternoon with the produce to go up to Chesterfield. Some people sent their produce to Pershore Central Market and other places but the majority went to Chesterfield.
“Father went to work at Smiths in Bishop’s Cleeve during the war, which I remember being built.
“By today’s standards we were deprived. There was one boy in my class whose father had a car and we thought he was very rich! One remembers the big houses like Wellington Lodge.
“There was no houses to speak of in Bredon, only scatterings around Waterloo. There was nothing after you reached the railway bridge, only the village hall and one or two houses. All the rest of the village was down that side of the railway bridge. It really was a very different place.
“From when I was eight until 18 I used to spend an awful lot of time on Bredon Hill because you could go anywhere in those days and very few people would drive you off. You had the complete freedom in the summer and the holidays. We used to go up to the quarries on the hill and play in them. Of course, they were all disused in those days. The hill was more of a focus.
“When I got a bit older in the holidays I worked on a market garden all the holiday and weekends to get some pocket money.
“There was a swimming club down along the dock but it was closed when there was a polio scare in 1943.
“I was the parish council chairman for eight years and on the parish council for 30 years from 1974 to 2004. I was very much occupied with planning and things like that.”