Rick Boston posted a message on Facebook in December 2021 recalling some of his memories of living in Pett. He and his family moved to Australia about 1970 and he now lives in Adelaide. Fairlight History Group contacted Rick and he and his sister Sheila have sent us many recollections of their past.
Picture of (a young) Harry Boston with his bread van, notice the plain Senior Service in his hand. That was a cigarette brand, most returned soldiers smoked as they were supplied with tins of 50. Spoils of War
I was born at Fernbank Nursing Home on 26/12/49, I was on my way on Christmas Day but Mum refused to let me out until she had her Christmas Dinner! Remember, these guys had just come through WWII and rationing was still in place. Mum, Edna, was living with her parents Les and Edna Banger at “The Hundreds”, just off to the left before the steep drop down Chick Hill. We moved to a cottage opposite the “Royal Oak” called Jasmine Cottage, it was the right-hand one. We moved to “The Chalet” behind “Wandon”, where two old ladies lived. Also, this was behind Pett Primary School where I began my education and not far behind where the Pett Village Hall used to be…can tell you lots of stuff about that! They closed our lovely Primary school and sent us all off to Guestling C of E school, including the kids from Fairlight, that could have been around 1959??
“The Hundreds” was a magnificent property in its day. Grandad used to grow Ailsa Craig tomatoes in green-houses on the land that I believe is now full of houses? Anne Constable had the first house at the very top of the Property, next to Varians, and had a very steep access from the top of Chick Hill. People used to drive down from London and places on the week-end to buy his tomatoes and Dad (Harry) used to sell them from his bread-van. Interestingly, I have managed to source some Ailsa Craig seeds and currently watching them grow….just want to taste one again before I die.
Certainly remember the Dunlops, old Will who married a younger lass named Ann. Andy Dunlop and “Little Buds”, a modern house in our times, could have been my father in different circumstances apparently. Will used to drive his sheep up from the lower lands, just him and a dog, and was instigator of Rye Old Scholars Association which still exists in a modernised form to incorporate Rye Secondary Modern and all the other changes. Tim Rothwell’s father was a headmaster in those days.
I was pretty sure Granny’s name was Edna, same as my mum’s, but I have a “thing” about keeping Facts intact. Yes, her and Les worked in the Theatre, and she had an amazing Grand Piano in the lounge that looked over the English Channel. She did play the organ at Pett Church. She didn’t encourage me to play although I did “tickle those ivories” as a kid.
I remember “Mr Wells” and his fish deliveries, “Henry King and Feist” bread, Brian Austin who delivered milk….my sister and I helped him for a while when we were kids….wouldn’t be allowed now! Joe Goldsmith, I think his wifes’ name may have been Linda, they had a shop on the left side of the road at Pett Level just before the road curves left to follow the coast. Bill Perry, if he is still in Pett, and I delivered papers for Joe on Saturdays and Sundays as he had a paper-round associated with the shop. Joe also ran a youth club at the old village hall which was a great success. We also had ice-cream deliveries, ding, ding, dong, and I remember standing on the low concrete wall at Pett School to get one, I think they were “Walls” and cost3d. We also had a fish and chip van, I guess he only called on Fridays?? It was called “Gay Adventurer” or similar and was the highlight of the week if we could afford them! He parked at the Royal Oak.
The old Village Hall also used to cater for dinners for us kids at Pett School and we had our Christmas Parties there with film shows. We lived behind there later on before I moved on.
I checked out the website. I was trying to work out Vic Glazier when I saw he had a brother Bert. Check it out but I think Bert lived in one of the council houses down Elm Lane known as “The Glebe”. He had a daughter, Mary, who was a thalidomide child who used to thump around on one artificial leg and had all her fingers together on one hand with one nail for the lot. Amazing for a young person like I was then!
Pett Primary School ~ it was probably known as Pett Church of England Primary School in those days, always shortened to C of E. Henry VIII influence? I started out here. M/s Bright was the Head-mistress and M/s Coats was the primary teacher. It had a large room divided by a folding door, the “big kids” on one side and us “newbies” on the other. The only time that door was opened was when, I presume, one of the teachers was ill and one had to watch the rest of us. We had to walk everyday up to the Village Hall for lunch, it wasn’t very far. Meals were brought in in cannisters and dished out, I don’t remember it being particularly bad, however to this day I cannot stomach prunes or frogs eggs! The highlight was when the ice-cream man occasionally called and we would run out and stand on the low concrete wall. I think it was Walls ice-cream and cost a 3d “joey”. This school eventually closed and we and the Fairlight kids had to go to the new Guestling School. The last time I remember this school was when Mr and Mrs Hyde and their son, Richard, lived there. We used to enjoy playing in the above-ground air-raid shelters, but it looks like they no longer exist.
Guestling C of E School ~ This was a great school with lots of space and 4 classrooms. The Headmistress was Ethel May Kent and the Senior Master was Mr Fraser, who lived at the top of Chapel Lane and smoked a pipe, the primary teacher was M/s Harmer and my teacher was M/s Moor, not sure of the spelling, they propelled me to Rye Grammar School.
The Scout Hut ~ Opposite the top of Chapel Lane was a large wooded block. I think it belonged to Mr Dicker who was a Business Man from Hastings who ran earth-moving machinery?? He was our Scout Master. There was a large hut in the middle and I first started there as a cub. Our Akela was Mrs Ashby who lived down Rosemary Lane and had a son called Frank. Great memories of that place. Mr Dicker taught us how to sharpen axes and cut down trees and make bivouacs…probably wouldn’t be allowed today!
Pett Church ~ used to listen to the boring single bell every Sunday but never went there until later in Life. Our Vicar, Mr Parkins, was a “fire and brimstone” preacher, my Granny, Edna Banger, played the organ and everything was pre-ordained from a book…I think it was called the Book of Common Prayer. Anyway, I didn’t keep going and became a Baptist many years later. I cannot forget the daffodils out the front. My friend, Glenn Butler was buried there but they didn’t let me go to his funeral. He was killed by lightning around 1962 at Rye Secondary Modern School because he didn’t get out of the swimming pool early enough. That pool was the most awful cold place I could imagine. Since I have Reynauds it affected me greatly, after a couple of times I never went back again. I taught myself to swim after I came to Australia in 1970.
The Vicarage ~ Used to be an annual Fete there every year. Pony rides for the kids and side-shows..throwing hoops over a prize, darts at envelopes, coconut shy and a fellow who had a twisty wire you had to negotiate with a loop on a stick, if you touched the wire a bell would ring and you lost. I think they had a jumble sale there as well.
The Cedars ~ I don’t know what the purpose of this was but they used to have a BBQ every year. As a kid, I loved the smell of the smoke and the cooking but I can’t remember what we had to eat!
The Flower Show ~ Held at the Recreation Field. The blokes would erect a large marquee before the event. When they went home, us kids used to crawl under the side curtains and admire the huge new world inside. There were cakes, flower-arrangements and other stuff and the cakes were put on sale after they were judged. That’s when I found out what a beautiful sponge cake could taste like. At 72 I am still aspiring to create one!
The Royal Oak ~ In my day was a shop that sold everything we needed. It was owned by Mrs. Morris and, although I don’t remember a Mr. Morris, I was told he planted the oak tree out the front. Mrs Jordan, of Brambletye, worked the shop. In those days I could memorise a list of 10 things to buy without writing them down.
Hop Picking ~ A bus used to pick up a lot of ladies from the front of Jasmine Cottage to go hop picking. I didn’t understand what it was all about but it seemed to be an important time as everybody seemed happy. I now understand of course. Hop-pickers, I don’t know where they went but I believe hop-fields were pointed out to me in Icklesham in later years.
Guy Fawkes Night ~ John Foster and I used to go around collecting material for burning with a large cart that should have probably been pulled by a horse. One of the farmers allowed us to build a huge bonfire in his field, adjacent to the Rec Ground, and it was a major event. Can’t remember who was there but it was a few and we all enjoyed the fire-works.
Carol-singing ~ A few of us gave this a go for a year or two, I just remember it being very cold! The Salvos brass band used to give us a “recital” in front of the Royal Oak during this period.
When Google Maps unfolded, I checked out a few things. Chick Hill (1 in 4) fascinated me. A friend of mine died there when somebody gave him a 3-wheeler and, supposedly, he rode it down the hill. He was found dead in the canal and they reckoned he went over the fence, hit a pipeline that was crossing the canal and they found him face-down in the water the next day.
Also, I remember 2 accesses to The Hundreds and a small building that I think Mr. Watson? used to garage his vehicle. I checked it out today and see that the building still exists. Now the lower road went to the farm, and it would have been Dunlops, we could also access The Hundreds from there somehow but I can’t remember how. It looks like the original road must still exist and that should not be a problem. Now, the disputed road would have provided access to the fields.
Just on the Royal Oak at this time. I was always told Mr.Morris planted the oak tree opposite. Mrs Morris ran a shop out of there with the help of Mrs Jordan of Brambletye….thank you to various people who aided my memory. There was a dirt road in front of the shop but seems to have been reclaimed? There was also a seat under the oak tree. I see there are plans a-foot for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. I presume the original seat must have died or been removed?
My sister just reminded me about the Rag ‘n’ Bone man with his horse and cart, apparently his horse stood on her foot!
There used to be the Pig-Swill truck going past down Elm Lane. I presume it was going to Lunsford Farm and they had pigs??
We had a travelling barber, Reg Potter, who always got around on a bike with a little brown case on the back. When he started he used scissors and hand clippers but I remember when he got electric clippers which he plugged in to our light socket. My parents told me he was shell-shocked from the War and always needed to be outside and free, PTSD these days.
Doctors used to come to your house. How we contacted them I don’t know but there were always people with phones who would help, plus the phone-box at the Post Office, near the Church was a long walk away by our modern standards.
Rick Boston. Richard Henry Boston, son of Henry Joseph Boston and Edna Frances Boston,nee Banger, (pronounced bainger)’
Now memories from Sheila Boston
Didn’t Mum and Dad live for a while with Lucy Cox, just over the road from The Hundreds?
So, don’t forget to tell them about the coal cellar and about our outside bucket loo, no running hot water and mum boiling water in the copper so they could have a bath, while we got to stand in the sink!
Local deliveries? Brian Austin, the milkman. Joe Goldsmith
Then there was Mrs Jordan at the shop (where the pub now is), Mrs Thomas at the Post Office and Mr & Mrs Digby at the shop next door.
Mr Parkinson, our horrible vicar!
My favourites would be Fred Vahey, who used to do the thatching, and Mrs Head, who brought her horses along to the village fete.
Another slip-up was me saying the Sacred Heart School was at Mt Pleasant – it was actually on Old London Road, just down from Fernbank Nursing Home (where we were all born in those days). It was run by nuns, but I believe that is no longer the case. I was one of only four non-Catholics at the time and was given a great education that got me through to Rye Grammar.
If Tim Rothwell wants any more reminiscences of Rye Grammar 1965-71 I’ll be happy to oblige.
I believe you’re right that Alan Shearer was Lorna’s father.
Sinden and Emary are names I remember, but more than likely from school or just from parents’ general conversations. Dad’s bread-rounds encompassed Pett and Fairlight, but Fairlight wasn’t somewhere us kids would normally go. Once I got to my teens, I used to hive off to Rye on my bike to catch up with school-friends. I went to Rye Grammar with Lorna Shearer and Gail Nesbitt who were from Fairlight, also Zofia Sleziak (primary school – Sacred Heart at Mt Pleasant). Mum was really keen to buy a house in Fairlight called “Rosemary Corner,” but it was quite close to the cliff. Rick and I have wondered if it’s still standing.
Brian Austin was the milkman back in around the late ’60’s. I helped him at the weekends/holidays over the course of a year or so, then went on to help Joe Goldsmith deliver the Sunday papers for a while around 1970.
As for the Royal Oak. When we were kids (1950’s) it was a small shop run by Mrs Jordan, which is where I always spent my threepenny-joey pocket money on flying saucers, Trebor chews, bananas etc. There was also Mrs Broad’s shop, just along the Canal Bank at the bottom of Chick Hill. Dad used to drop the orders off and then pick them up later.
For sure we remember Whiteman’s butchers. That was either my or Rick’s job on a Saturday morning – 10 bob wrapped up in the shopping list, half a leg of New Zealand lamb, Danish short-back bacon and sausages. I can see his face quite clearly and I remember he always wore a hat.
Yes, Elm Lane led to the Lovejoy’s farm. The children were David, Robert and Sally.
There was another door-to-door salesman who sold vacuum cleaners and various things, but for the life of me I can’t remember his name.
I also mentioned to Rick about the local taxi driver, whose name has just come to me, Mr Morris. Anne (Constable) corrected me on the taxi-driver – his name was Ken Maitland. Think he lived close to Mrs Gillian Rootes’ beautiful big house, just down the road from the Dunlops.
Rick and I also used to do little gardening jobs for Mrs Wheeler (lived next door to Mrs McGowan – adjoining cottages just up the road from Jasmine Cottage). She’d give us 2/6d, a glass of orange and a piece of cake!
Another thing I remember is going somewhere over the fields beyond the cricket pitch to a real little hide-away we called Floating Island. In hindsight, I guess it was just a place where the water level fluctuated but we were quite intrigued by it at the time. Another great stomping ground was Toot Rock, down at Pett Level (where I learned some awful graffiti which got me into trouble!) Talking of cricket, we often used to do the scoreboard for the cricketers. I played in the stoolball team (pretty badly!) and spent years as a Girl Guide in the local troop run by Mrs Davies from Guestling. Another great part of summer was the annual Flower Show.