Thursday 7th January 2021
I've always wondered what it would feel like to be 82 years old - today I've stopped wondering - I know how it feels.
To celebrate I took a walk down Memory Lane, Oxshott. I started at No 36 Little Heath Lane, it used to be called The Brambles, where my great grandparents and grandparents lived. I tried to imagine what it was like for my great grandfather John and my grandfather Jack who both made bricks in The Brickfield from about 1880. Despite working all hours, they both managed to produce enough fruit, veg and chickens to keep their families going for a whole year.
I then strolled up Little Heath Lane past No 30 where Mr Horitz used to live, past Links Green Way which used to be a cart track into the field. The Barn in the corner of the field had a hayloft which was really out of bounds but Joy, Leila and Flicky didn't seem to care.
Also, out of bounds was the pear trees in the orchard a bit further up but a shirt full of juicy pears was too much to resist, except when a swarm of angry wasps found their way down your trousers!
On up past all the cottages built by John Early Cook for his 'brickies' up to Brown's Corner. Brown's Shop was a hive of activity. Jack was busily slicing bacon while Maud sliced chunks of cheese with her wire cheese cutter and served customers with everything they needed - if they had enough coupons in their Ration Books that is. There were three prams parked outside his grocery shop. Meanwhile Vi in the sweet shop round the corner would be serving Liquorice Allsorts, R White's Lemonade, blocks of Walls Ice Cream and 5 Woodbines if you told her they were for your Dad!
On past a wooden shack under a tree where I used to collect newspapers and deliver them for George Ackerman on cold and frosty mornings around the village before I went to school.
Next to George's shack were two pairs of cottages. Ted, Lester and Freda were just off to school and old Charlie and his wife waved from their front garden. In between the cottages the entrance to the Brickfield beckoned. There was nobody on the gate so I wandered in. The small row of admin offices on the right piled high with dusty ledgers seemed empty. Opposite was the largest of the buildings which was the brick firing kilns with the towering chimney next to it. The coal trucks were being unloaded behind. Then came the conveyor belt to transport the dried bricks into the kiln. They had to be dried for a couple of weeks otherwise they would explode, final drying would take place in the kiln, you could tell when there was no more moisture in the bricks when the chimney stopped 'steaming', the temperature could then be racked up to 1800F (980C). Row upon row of drying bricks were racked alongside the moulding shed. Inside the moulding shed my great grandfather looked at me, handed me a brick mould full of clay and said ‘here you are son take this out to the drying rack and be quick about it’. I did as I was told and ran off past more cottages down to the clay pit. The lumbering hinged arm continuous bucket scrapers were busy gouging out clay, they had already gone down two levels and were starting on a third when suddenly the whole pit filled with water leaving the diggers submerged transforming itself into a tranquil lake complete with benches and picnic tables..
I emerged back onto the road just in time to see a free wheeling coal truck rolling across the road into the brickfield on the third track, the guy hanging on to the back with his other hand on the brake smiled. The large wooden gate across the road pivoted on its hinges which were buried into a concrete post - the post and hinges are still there. I waved at Bill in his signal box furiously winding the crossing gates open, the chunky steel gate stops popping up out of the road just in time.
On to Aylings Corner covered in a liberal coating of cow dung which is now the junction of Blundel Lane and Oxdowne Close. I stopped under the gas lamp, looked in my paper bag and read somebody's Eagle. On along Blundel Lane to No 27 where I lived from 1947 to 1966. The powerful beam from the searchlight a couple of fields away bounced around in the clouds searching for enemy aircraft. I took the dog up to Poly Apes to check if we had a rabbit for lunch, how could I? Back up the new section of Blundel Lane, which I remember used to be a field full of cows, the smell from the smoke stack on the fish and chip van parked opposite No 9 on a Friday night was teasing - if you could find it in the smog. On up to the start of Steels Lane arriving at Little Heath Farm Cottages with an outside toilet where I was born in 1939 - not in the toilet!. I looked into the front garden just as the bomb arrived in the deckchair (see below). It was 4am on April 1st 1944, the blast demolished the cottages trapping my mother and I for hours in the rubble, we were probably given up for dead. My father and the family next door amazingly also survived without a scratch. The cottages are now rebuilt and have the same name.
On up past Banjo Hussey's junk yard where I bought a few bits of bike and put them together to make a whole bike, I called it an ASP (all spare parts), my mates had AJS's, BSA's and BMW's. On past the entrance to The Oxshott Sports Club remembering all the characters in the Cricket, Bowls and Tennis Clubs, not forgetting the yearly mesmerising Oxshott Fete. I popped in to watch Percy with his pipe bowling his ball, Cyril taking out the opposition with his slow left arm round the wicket spin, the girls cracking hockey sticks and the archers on the far side trying to hit the bulls eye.
A glance into The Withies next door where we used to live for a short while in 1945/6. On up to the Village Hall, now disappeared into the church car park, where we used to borrow books from the Library Room round the back. We also danced around the hall to the strains of Tommy's windup gramophone at The Old Tyme Dance Club on a Monday night. On past the Church where I used to be in the choir. A long pause at The Oxshott (Mens) Club opposite the church where I spent many a happy year round the snooker table with the curtains tightly closed on a lovely summer evening.
Carrying on up Oakshade Road past Potters Croft, The Pottery Studio hiding in the orchard run by the Wren family - it was The News Chronicle for them. A glance over to Trenchard and Arlidge at the top of Oakshade Road which morphed into Geoff Osman's electrical shop where I took my grandparents glass lead/acid accumulator to be charged up so they could listen to Tommy Handley on the radio (no electricity in The Brambles). I collected the accumulator, hooked the handle over the handlebars of my ASP and cycled back to The Brambles. On to the High Street, trying to avoid memories of The Vic. Ginger the horse emerged from the bakery dragging his wagon with Bert and Pete aboard delivering bread around the village.
I arrived at The Royal Kent School where I learnt to read and write despite many visits to the bomb shelter on the green opposite. Opposite the bomb shelter was the Air Raid Siren on top of a tall post and next to that was the telephone box, I opened the heavy door, inserted tuppence, dialled Akela and pressed button A to earn my communications badge to sew onto my cubs uniform. On down Steels Lane to the junction of Holtwood Road where there was another bomb shelter.
Today, standing proud opposite where the bomb shelter used to be, is The Oxshott Village Sign.
Thanks for the memories.
This Traditional Village Sign
was commissioned by
The Oxshott Village Sign Society
And was unveiled by:-
The Worshipful the Mayor of
The Borough of Elmbridge
Councillor Mrs Shweta Kapadia
On 10th May 2019.
Principal supporters of the project were:-
Centre for Sight
John and Christine Clarke
Clay Hair Salon
Danes Hill School
Stuart and Judith Mellstrom
Munch and Wiggles
The Oxshott Club
The Oxshott Village Trust
The Shannon Family
Oscar and Leigh Strugstad
Bill and Lesley Wells
Mike and Lindy Wheeler
Elmbridge Borough Council
Surrey County Council
A list of 165 donors to the project
printed on to archive quality paper
and inserted into a tube is buried
near the sign for posterity.
Custodians of The Sign are
The Oxshott Village Trust.
Difficult to Read?
Laser Etched. Black Anodised Aluminium. Durable. Maintenance Free. Used on all Hazardous Marine, Aviation and Offshore Facilities.
Compliments the Sign in Style and Colour.
6 Near Invisible Vandal Proof Fixings.
Easy to Read?
Available if Required.
THE HISTORY OF OXSHOTT
REPRESENTED ON THIS SIGN
The Royal Kent School Shield. Founded 1820.
A rare Reinforced Concrete Footbridge
built in 1910. Believed to be the first, the last
and only one spanning a three track railway.
Known locally as 'The Stone Bridge'.
Scots Pine Trees on Oxshott Heath.
The smoking Brickworks Chimney.
Demolished in 1966.
St. Andrews Church Bell Tower.
Consecrated in 1912.
The War Memorial built in 1918 by local resident
Sir Robert McAlpine (Concrete Bob).
The Coming of the Railway in 1885.
A Coal Train serving the brick kilns.
Oxshott Brick Company brick.
Opened by John Early Cook
c1866 closed 1958.
The Wren ‘Mark’ from the Oxshott Pottery
started by the Wren family in 1920.
The 'Oxshott Jug' from the pottery.
First recorded in 1179 as Occa’s Sceat.
The Oxshott Club. Snooker / Billiards.
The Oxshott Sports Club.
Tennis, Cricket and Bowls.
All with over 100 years of history.
For an in depth history of Oxshott please refer to
'Oxshott A Surrey Village’ by Dr B.S Gidvani.
Original Design by
Oxshott resident Robert Jones.
Adapted and made by
Black Forge Art of Wittersham, Kent.
Me, Dad (Reg) and the deckchair!
The 'Brickies'. Probably c1910 not 1915.
Friday 12th February 2021
And just in case you need a fluffy friend to keep you company during lockdown I could recommend Sean (pronounced Shorn) the sheep who will keep you company, doesn't need feeding, doesn't need to be taken for a walk, will not run up any vets bills and has amazing healing powers. You can buy him for £35 at Dunelm.
Sunday 14th February
Be my Valentine Lady Mary? Love from Anonymous.
Wednesday 17th February 2021
In case you hadn't noticed after 26 years THIS page has finally turned into something useful - I hope.
Saturday 20th February 2021
I've just been diagnosed with a hyperkeratotic actinic keratosis on my right helical rim which in plain English means that the Ambre Solaire I used on my right ear in 1962 on the beach at St Tropez was c**p. It's been treated with a few squirts of Cryogenic Liquid Nitrogen made in pipes by Air Products PLC. The pipes are supported by brackets designed by yours truly so just thought I'd mention it! Don and I went on The Blue Train to St Tropez for 10 days in 1962 which cost £25 including travel, meals and accomodation - just thought I'd mention it! And I stood next to Brigitte Bardot in the queue for la crème glacée - just thought I'd mention it!
Sunday 21st February
My last effort with charcoal you may remember was My Favourite Bird - Except One. My effort today isn't!
Wednesday 24th February 2021
Bearing in mind the stunning, dramatic, 'out of this world' pictures of Perseverance landing on Mars yesterday I would like to congratulate all those involved with the project at NASA. It reminds me of when Chic and I finalised our design for our Anti Gravity Machine, the prototype punched a hole in my garage roof and disappeared into the cosmos back in 1970. Perhaps Perseverance might find it!
Page 25 < Bob's Blog Page 26
Today's invention is a cheap as chips picture frame made from 2 sheets of clear perspex sheet from www.theplasticman.co.uk (they cut it to your dimensions) and 4 (or even 2 will do) black plastic slide binders from Amazon or Ebay. And Bob's your Uncle! Total cost for one A4 frame £3.44. Not only that you can have a picture front and back so that you can flip it at a moment's notice Lady Mary! This one is roughly A3 size and has only two binders, one sheet of perspex and a hardboard back but still effective don't you think? If you are really clever you could mitre the corners as well.
Saturday 27th February 2021
If, like me, you have an interest in drawing and painting I expect you are fascinated, intrigued, impressed, blown away and at the same time bored to tears with Bob's paintings. I don't mean me, I mean Bob Ross who paints happy clouds, happy skies, happy trees, happy hills and happy shacks on BBC4 most evenings. And yet, like beans on toast, I have to have more! I don't wish to tarnish the memory of lovely Bob but much as I admire his happy programmes I have found that the best way to get more joy from 'The Joy of Painting' is to record them and watch them at fast, forward pace - deep joy. Sorry Bob but your trees are not always happy trees because regularly beating the hell out of your 2-inch brush surely must mean a very unhappy brush – hence unhappy trees?