By Steve Poole
Memories of growing up in Bridport in the 50s & 60s – an era of innocence
Steve age 11 second from left front row – Bridport General School Football Team
- I was born in my grandmother’s house in St Andrew’s Road in March 1946 but lived in a two-up, two-down terraced house in South Street, sharing a bedroom with my sister!
- Earliest memory – seeing snow falling off the house roof into the back yard, which must have been the winter of 1947, but was I too young to have remembered that? When else did we have bad snow in my former years? Travelling by Royal Blue coach from Bridport to Exeter, in the 1950s, to have my scalp zapped with low doses of X-rays, after catching ringworm.
- I remember seeing the bomb damage in Exeter.
Steve aged 10 years third from left back row – Bridport General School Football Team
- Having ‘sugar soldiers’ as a reward for not crying whist sticky plaster was used to remove new growth of hair, before treatment was finished.
- Visiting the Chancery, South Street, and being told, and if my memory serves me right, also shown the entry to the ‘tunnel’ to St Mary’s Church – the existence of a tunnel has been debunked over the years, but I still wonder.
- Sore legs in the winter – no long trousers!! Walking to the General School in King Street.
- Mid-morning sleep, at the Primary School, on wartime camp beds with rough grey army blankets, overseen by a ‘large’ lady in a white coat.
- Learning the Sword Dance and the Morris Dance at the General School.
- Walking the back lane from South Street to the doctors’ surgery in East Street, with my mother, after scalding myself by pulling a boiling saucepan of water over me, luckily there was no scarring! Moving to St Andrews Rd, and having my own bedroom when I was eight! Train journeys to Cattistock from Bridport station to pick cowslips.
Steve aged 6 and sister Julia at Bournemouth Gardens
- Magnet ‘fishing’ from the bridge at Happy Island – it’s not something invented in the 21st century! Ad hoc football matches at St Mary’s playing field on a Saturday morning, with my mates.
- Making dens in the hedges around the school fields in St Andrews Road.
- Exploring Watton Hill but known to us as ‘Coneygar Hill’ The smell of the fish railway vans in the siding at Bridport Station and the petrol smells from the oil depot nearby, with its black corrugated steel sheet fence.
- In the choir at St Andrews – hiding notes under the loose tiles, tolling the bell for the 11 o’clock service, pumping the air for the organ, singing a solo at a Christmas service – also being a server at St Mary’s Church, playing cricket on the ‘green’ in front of our house, in the Crescent, even mowing a wicket.
Steve aged about three with his dad at West Bay
- Working at Samson’s fishmongers, West Street at the weekends: cleaning the fish/chicken guts from the troughs and drains, with my bare hands! Plucking chicken and turkeys at Christmas, sampling rough cider… not drunk it since! Delivering customer orders, all around Bridport, on a tradesman’s bike (no gears) Working at Hangers Dairy delivering milk and helping to ‘pat’ butter in the dairy.
- Cycling to West Bay to go swimming: Jumping off the West pier and between the piers! Helping to retrieve fishing lines and prawn nets that were snagged on rocks off the west pier.
- Playing water polo in the river for the Swimming Club boys’ team.
Steve aged 10 – Member of St Andrews Choir – photo taken by Herbert Pinn, Bridport
- Changing in the black and white striped changing hut (which was near the toilets at the west pier) Freezing when coming back from the river after playing, with only a towel to keep warm! Attempting the ‘Black Buoy’ race once, but failing to finish! Swimming in the harbour from the small beach, gone now.
- Rock pooling near ‘Table Rock’, wher e have the rock pools gone? Joining 1st West Bay Sea Scouts, with the club house in Rax Lane.
- Camping at Seatown every year, no camp beds or foam mattress just a mallet to level out the lumps! No sleeping bags – a blanket with safety pins.
- Fossil hunting on Seatown Beach.
- I can’t remember ever going out in a boat.
- Sitting my eleven plus – found myself in the ‘C’ stream. I hated exams all through my schooling! Attending youth club at St Mary’s church hall and in Rax Lane.
Steve aged about five
- Attending Colfox School – having to wear a cap, whilst riding my bike to school, or else get a detention.
- The day someone leaving Colfox turned the swimming pool red, “he” spent a long time cleaning up the mess! I am sure a group of other leavers put the Headmaster’s car on the roof of the school, but this maybe a memory failure – comments please! It was an Austin 7 I believe.
- Visiting the Concord Club at the Lyric Cinema in Barrack Street.
- Underage drinking closed it, rumour was a policemen attended the club and reported it.
- Getting an engineering apprenticeship at Westland Aircraft in 1962.
- Trying to get to Yeovil for work in the winter of 1962, but unable to get up Beaminster tunnel hill by car, so caught the train! Well working memories are another story!
Steve aged 10 – West Bay