Upton Millennium Project Times Remembered - Adolescence

Looking up Dorchester Rd
towards Upton Cross and Darglow
Many of the people who told us their stories made no mention of the years between childhood and maturity: certainly the concept of a "teenager" as neither child nor adult was barely acknowledged before 1950. It may be that many memories of those years are too personal to be shared.

The first impression of Upton for one thirteen year old, moving from Surrey in wartime to live opposite Hibbs Farm was "the smell of cow manure in the air" and that "Upton was noisy, trucks and tanks passed the door chipping the pavement kerb, vibrating the houses; Britain was preparing a German invasion and they were closer to Upton than London."

Seventy or more years ago, children were expected to help at home and also in the garden, as this would have been part of their livelihood.

"I used to spend my time in the garden hoeing. When I was an apprentice boy, I used to ride to Poole and back on my bike and I used to get back before Dad and I would dig a row across the garden every night to get it ready for him. We used to dig a lot by hand except the far corner where we had poultry there and down the bottom was a pig sty. We used to have a big copper and fill it with potatoes because we grew a lot of potatoes in the garden."

"My father had an allotment and I had to help him, we grew potatoes and cabbages. We kept chickens in the garden. I was always down the allotment with my father. Used to see the other boys going off."

One teenager found he could make money by working at home:

    "As a means of making money I used to get wood offcuts from Wyatt's for free and using my desk top as a production line, I made scale model aircraft. I sold them to Thomas Toy Shop in Poole High Street, I got a kick out of seeing them in the shop window at 7 shillings and 6 pence (37p today), 3 times more than I was paid. Toys were scarce during the War. My entrepreneurial venture ended when the Board of Trade sent me a form asking for the size of my factory and number of employees. A desk top and 2 part time schoolboy assistants did not qualify. I have disliked bureaucracy since then."
Even before the war, clothes would have been important to growing boys and girls.
    "You had to be 14 before you could wear long trousers. You had short trousers and when you left school and had a few pound, I remember the first pair I bought. That was a big day, you were getting grown up then. I remember I saved up over a week's wages and I bought a Prince of Wales check."
The Girl Guides found their uniform skirts could be a problem:
    "One of my best memories was Princess Margaret in London. We went to a big parade in London, we slept in the underground shelters, that was an episode. I was about 14 or 15 years old. We went to the Albert Hall first, that was quite wonderful. Then we went to a big parade through Hyde Park, it poured with rain and our skirts were made of crepe de chine that shrunk - silky material - but it pulled into all sorts of angles when damp - it was a combination I think of cotton and something else. When you washed it you ironed it damp, well you had to iron it damp to pull it into the shape you wanted. Well you imagine, in a thunder storm which we had and walking through Hyde Park with a shrinking skirt, trying to pull it back into shape."
Another girl who joined the Guides, learnt a lot and had camping and trips to Upton House, then owned and lived in by the Llewellin family. One personal memory of Miss Llewellin happened one evening whilst I was waiting for a bus to go to church. A large car stopped at the crossroads and she stepped out, came over to me and towering above said "Are you by any chance wearing your Guide beret?" Of course she was right, I had turned it around but she had noticed and gave me a ticking off."

This lady was remembered by other Guides. "Miss Llewellin was the District Commissioner for all the way round - so she was the District Commissioner for Guides, Rangers, not so much Brownies. When I was a Guide - she was a Magistrate as well - she was also Mayor of Poole. As Guides we used her grounds for camping because we couldn't go far because of the war. We used a barn - I remember one episode - I always wanted the top bunk, but they weren't proper bunks they were . ~ , just wooden things fixed to the wall with hessian sacking as the bed Hessian was like sacks. Because I went there I wanted a top bunk didn't I? There were three tiers so what did I do? I clambered up top and I went straight through the whole lot, they were rotten. I went straight through the lot. We ended up doing a palliasse, a sack with straw in - we slept on that all night. We had a sack, hessian, hessian sack stuffed with straw and you punched it whichever shape you wanted it and slept on it. Damned uncomfortable. Do you know the only thing I hated? Digging a trench to spend a penny. We couldn't do a lot because of war years - we weren't allowed to go too far - when we did, the place we went to was Foxlease, Lyndhurst, New Forest, we cycled. Our captain had an electric wheelchair, she'd been crippled with polio so she used to ride beside us and we would cycle, we cycled all the way out to the New Forest with our packs on our backs and everything else - thoroughly enjoyed it mind. Foxlease had a place like Miss Llewellin's barn, or Nissen hut with bunks, still made the same with hessian."

But one girl was disappointed "because we lived at the far end of the Parish at Organford, my father wouldn't allow me to join the Guides because it was held up at Upton House at the Llewellin's home and he thought it was rather dangerous for young girls to cycle all that way and especially if it got dark in the wintertime."

Later on, about 1950, "Guide Meetings were held in the WI hut on the corner of Ropers Lane on Monday I think. We did all the usual guiding activities but two events stand out in my mind. One was the weekend camp held in the grounds of Upton House fairly near the water in Holes Bay. We were woken during the night by a terrific thunderstorm and the rain poured along the ground through the tents so we had to get up and wring out the bedding and ourselves. We mostly had home made sleeping bags as proper ones I suppose weren't available or were too expensive. My sleeping bag was an old eiderdown folded in half and stitched together down the side and across the bottom end so it wasn't waterproof. I went on another week long camp with the 1st Upton Guides to the Isle of Wight and we had a wonderful time, We camped in a field owned by a relative of Miss Llewellin. We travelled in an army lorry to Lymington to catch the ferry."

The school leaving age rose throughout the twentieth century so that many of today's young people are still at school in their late teens. However when children were only staying until the age of fourteen and fifteen years, schools made an effort to prepare their pupils for real life.

Staff of Lytchett Minster School 1962
Top left to right: Mr Sam Alexander - Mr Jim Jenkins - Mrs Parr (Secretary) - Mrs Hamilton - Mr Don Davey
From left to right: Mrs Ballam - Miss Kellaway - Mrs Hastrop - Mr Rodgers (Head Teacher) - Mrs Leyman - Miss Fennell - Miss Viney
"When I was in my last 2 or 3 years in school, we went once a week by coach to Lytchett Matravers school. There was a little old disused Methodist church there and we went in there for domestic science lessons and the boys went to the school for carpentry and we went one day and they went another. Mr Scutt there was much stricter than our headmaster and we had to be very careful what we said and did. He was very strict but it was very interesting, we learnt to wash and iron and cook, true domestic science. We used to have occasionally a lady come from the County somewhere, a senior domestic science group, and she would come and give us a lecture on hygiene and that sort of thing. For us it was a day out because in the daytime we played with the Lytchett Matravers group or gang as it were, and we took a packed lunch and we really enjoyed it. Miss Stickland used to make us puddings every Christmas, we would each take a little fruit and different ingredients and she would make a big Christmas pudding in a huge bowl and then cook it on a tortoise stove in an iron pot and cut it up and we would all have a slice, we thought it was great. That's all the heat we had in school, the tortoise stove. We used to do horrible sewing. I remember making black stockings for Miss Baker's brother, not socks, he used to wear them up to his knee and he was an undertaker and of course always wore black. These horrible black stockings knitted on very fine metal needles, terribly sore it made your fingers and one summer holiday, I thought I would be very clever and hid mine behind the sewing hamper because I wanted to lose them and I put them behind it, never thinking that in the holidays the school was cleaned. I got into trouble because I had lost my knitting but after the holiday they had been found stuffed down behind the hamper so I had to unpick what I'd done and start again."

"In the school we used to make little things, you know, simple things, and learn the way to use the saw, and use a plane and chisels - they used to teach us how to use these. And then sometimes we used to have glue and glue the stuff together. It was all quite good things for learning, you know."


Lytchett Minster School 1962

"We had gardening lessons, and carpentry in the school, and we had the school gardens just outside the school. I remember I won the top prize for the gardens 2 years following, and I had a pen and pencil for the first prize. That was given to me by Mr Dance - he was the head gardener at Sir John Lees's. Then another year Mr Alloway from Lord Rockley's, he came down and judged the gardens. You had an individual plot; but there was one big plot for some of the boys who never had a plot - they used to do that plot. We'd grow everything - beans (runner beans), carrots, onions, and all things like that, you know, same as you would at home. No flowers, it was mostly vegetables. But in the big plot they used to grow flowers, and they used to grow artichokes, and that's the first time I ever saw artichokes. We had the produce to take home."


Lytchett Minster School 1962

But the arts were not entirely forgotten:

"Mr Burton was very interested in music and we used to go to Bournemouth. Dan Godfrey was in charge of the Symphony Orchestra and he started a scheme with the schools to encourage children to learn to play an instrument. I learnt the violin from Lytchett and we used to go to the Music Festivals in Bournemouth, we did very well because Mr Burton was very keen on music training. We went to the Pavilion several years following and I can't remember if we were actually top but we did very well. We also went to Bovington for the country dancing and we excelled ourselves there So we did well and stood up against some of the other schools."


Lytchett Minster Secondary Modern 1963 prefects

"We used to do a lot of country dancing down there and I always had Blakeys in my shoes because I was what mother called a moth. Well a Blakey was like a big headed nail of different shapes, they were shaped to fit the toe and the heel so that you didn't wear out your shoes. So I always had some of those and when I used to dance opposite this boy he used to say "I don't want to dance with her anymore, she kicks me in the shins."

But not everyone attended the village school, this Upton girl "went to a girls only private school as a boarder in Swanage. The girls were sent to Harrods in London for their school uniforms - a white Panama hat, a blue felt hat, a blue cotton summer dress, a white dress and a velvet dress. Different dresses were worn in the mornings. Classes in deportment, elocution and etiquette were held in addition to the normal school certificate subjects. Swan age in the 1930s was a busy holiday resort with trains running from Waterloo via Wareham to Swanage Station. The girls were escorted to the beach to swim and then after the swim, wearing school uniform costumes, they changed using the school beach hut and in single file were escorted back to school wearing another uniform dress."

For one boy the transition from school to paid work was effortless:

    "If we played truant we used to go with a man from the Yarrells, in the Yarrells complex there was a big house there and he used to own the watercress beds out at Bere Regis and if we wanted a day's work and skive school we used to have to get in his car and hide down in the back seat. So we would go on past the school to Bere Regis and on to pick his watercress, that's why I wasn't very educated when I became old enough to leave school, I had to learn it all when I left school. ! learnt more in 2 years than in all the time I was at school, not through the teachers fault but through my own fault."
Like many youngsters nowadays who earn their first wage packet in the same way "as a boy, I used to go and do a Sunday paper round. We used the shop doorway of Mrs Ede's, all the papers were stacked on the seats and we used to go there and pick ours up and go off and do our paper round. I used to do Seaview Road. We used to get 2s 6d I think which is 12½p today."

Girls too: " I used to deliver papers; when I came back from the paper round we were given a cup of cocoa, and then you served in the shop."

Before the war, enterprising children worked - for a pittance - in their school holidays:

    "The ponds went down 120 feet, more than that in some places and when filled in with water, we used to go fishing for goldfish - and sell them for tanner a piece (six pence or 2½p)."
"We used to go potato picking every summer a whole month for 2/6d a week. This was in the school holiday. There were no laws then, it would be slave labour now. It stopped you from being bored though. I had no pocket money, my mum was a widow. I didn't particularly like it because I hated any dirt in my fingers, you didn't have rubber gloves in those days. We didn't get any potatoes from the farmer, he was quite a close zipped pocket man. That's giving money away isn't it? That's how he made his money. A whole month I did that of my school holidays. Alright I wanted the money but that was 10 shillings for that month which is now equivalent to 50p."

Later on: "I can remember in our summer holidays we used to work on Arnolds farm haymaking and we used to have the German prisoners of war and the Italians come up and help and collect the hay for the winter months"

"While I was at school I worked on Saturday mornings at Hollands poultry farm which was about three doors away from where we lived. It was a thriving business with a large shed where eggs were packed. The eggs came from farms, smallholdings or just individuals who kept a few hens in their gardens and sold the surplus eggs. People either brought the eggs to the packing station or they were collected by one of Holland vans. A lot of local women worked at Hollands and I helped packing eggs. You had to be pretty quick with the packing or you ended up with a mass of broken eggs. I worked from 7.30 to 11 am every Saturday and earned about 1 shilling an hour. It doesn't sound much but a cinema ticket cost one shilling or one and nine pence."

"I worked for Arnolds. I drove a horse and three wheeled float on a milk round The horse I was driving, when I came past the pumping station at Hamworthy, they had a pump that pumped all the sewage and every now and again the manhole, when a pump got to a certain stage, the manhole would start lifting up a little bit in the main road. I happened to be going past with Nobby and Nobby was one that had a hard mouth so you had a special bit for the horse. We went past just as that ruddy thing lifted and my boss was waiting by the side of the road with extra crates of milk for me to go back to Oakdale to deliver, the horse wouldn't stop, I said sorry! Frightened to death, held on, you could have sat on the reins where I held the horse so tight and he kept on going until he got to Hamworthy, you know which is Harkwood Farm Estate, down by the Red Lion. He never stopped, thank God there wasn't a lot of traffic those days, he went straight on round the first turning and round the next one, straight up and stopped, bang right outside the office doors. He wanted his own way. The thing frightened him, well you get that thing bobbing up and down the road and whoosh - he just took off. 'Course I got a rollicking from Mr Arnold. Mr Arnold came back and said what the **** do you think you were doing - I said you try holding a horse back with reins so stiff you could sit on them, I said you do it then."

One youngster found the world of work tough and uncompromising:
    "My first job was at Hannaford's, down on Hamworthy Road. Now I earned 7 shillings and sixpence a week - that was for 5 and a half days - which is 35 pence today. Now, the first week I was there, the manager came to me and he said "They want to see you up the office, my son". So I went to the office and the lady in the office said "Oh we want you to take the parcels to the Post Office after work, on a carrier bike". Well they used to make all poultry appliances, didn't they? They used to get incubator parts and all that. And I used to have a big load on Wareham Road (Poole Road) and the Post office - circa 1920 this carrier bike. I was like 'Open All Hours', going up the road on this carrier bike. I used to go up the Post Office (that was when Mrs Harvey was there), I used to have to put all these parcels into the Post Office and see they were registered alright. And so I said to the foreman down there the next day, "Mr Mills", I said, "Can I take my bicycle home? Because you know I live in Upton", I said, "Can 1 take the bicycle on home?" "No you can't my son", he said, "you bring the bike back and ride your own bike back home". Now do you know how much I had for taking those parcels up there? A penny a day."

    "My job was to boil the water up to take down and put into wooden tubs and chuck the slaughtered pig in to get the hair off. I was 14 or 15 years old then. I did that for 3 or 4 years. I had chilblains from standing on the cold floors. Chilblains are those painful lumps on your feet from the cold. When the work was scarce I used to have to go down on the farm haymaking and if my money came to an odd halfpenny I had to bring that halfpenny back to Hibbs."

    "When I left school I was apprentice at a builders firm Burt & Vicks and there I had to knuckle down, no nonsense."

Growing up has always been the time when friends, and fun, were most important..

In the 1920's "We used to go rambling, about 30 or 40 of us and we used to catch a train in Poole and go to Wareham or perhaps further on to Wool, and we used to go round the Purbecks. I bet I have done those Purbecks hundreds of times because we walked from Wareham to Corfe Castle around the hills and Kingston up on the top. Always used to go up there because they made beautiful big cakes in the pub there, it was called the Eldon Arms then. Used to catch the mail train back."

"I played football for the school and the County. Played away sometimes. Played at the back of Lytchett School and at Higher Lytchett near the school. Because of young Keats, we used to get a cup of tea from Keats the Bakers up there at half time. This was after I left school."

In the days before street lighting came to the village "we used to congregate there outside the shop because the lights were on, They used to be open late in the evenings then and the rest was in complete darkness. We were still school kids then and she used to come out and chase us off."

This boy was perhaps a little older: "There were trees all the way to the Upton Hotel, now the Green Ridge. We used to sit under them and watch the traffic go by. We would sit there even if it was pouring down with rain, the hedge was that thick it kept it off us. That was our gathering spot and wenching spot for the week."

"How I met my wife, I was sitting on the crossroads talking to some old friends and we all started talking and my wife was the first girl I've ever known. We talked together and went out together and went on courting over the years and in those days, she had to be indoors by 8.40pm and her mother was waiting for her."

"There was a boys club at the Upton Cross, they called the Coffee Tavern. There was the club room and we played football; went to work, came home and most often saw the crowd on the Upton crossroads and sit down. We had no money so there was nothing else to do but we used to talk about different things."

In the 1930's this was a popular venue: "Then up at the Coffee Tavern, when I was about 14 or 15 a Mr Holland used to keep that, and there was a club on the side of it - a boys' club. And they had snooker tables in there - billiard tables they used to call them in those days. They had a full sized table and a small table. Now, us boys, we weren't allowed to play on the big table - we had to play on the small table. It was only the men played on the big table. But they had dart boards there, used to play cards, and all different games they used to have in there in the evenings you know. That was one of the outlets we had. Men and boys. There were no ladies allowed there. No refreshments. Well, Mr Holland had the shop there, you see. Well we could go in there and buy lemonade or sweets, chocolate bars, cakes, if we wanted to. Which we did do when we had the money."

"I was earning about 18 shillings a week when I left school so we didn't go on holidays. We went to the pictures sometimes. There were dances at the Parish Hall in Lytchett but I didn't go, I've got two left feet. I used to go to the club. We had a bit of a club up at the Coffee Tavern with a billiard table. We used to play billiards and darts. Mr Holland was in charge and then Mr Perkins."

The girls had fun too: "During the long winter evenings and while still young, my sister and I learnt to play the card game of whist. It was not long before we were able to join the adults at the local halls, Mrs Ede's, The Liberal and the British Legion. They attracted about 50 local people and we all had some happy evenings trying to win the many prizes."

"A number of us joined the Lytchett Players. We put on the Country Girl for the very first effort and from then on one every year and many local people from Upton and Lytchett and Hamworthy played parts. We were in the Poole Pageant which also has a photo in Poole by the Park Lake and it was great fun."

"We used to go to Poole weekends - only weekends, mind, and I'd go to the pictures. We never went to Poole in the evenings in the midweek because, there again, the money was short. You had to limit yourself to what money you had."

Cycling was a popular pastime: "When we were teenagers we used to go on our bikes a lot, cycle to Swanage, there was a crowd of us with Leon and his friends, we didn't pair off, we were all together."

"When I was a young chap, I knew Joe Curtis - now Joe was very interested in bicycles. He had a shed in his garden, and a couple of us used to go there in winter evenings as he had an electric light there at that time. We used to go there in the evenings with Joe and make up bicycles. He always had bicycles all pulled to pieces - the wheels out, the handlebars off, and we always used to put them back together again."

"Down Ropers Lane on the left hand side we had a cycle speedway track there. Upton did have a good cycle speedway team, this was bicycles. We built the track. I don't know where the craze started but anyway we got our old bikes and used to strip them down and make them into ones we could ride round on tracks. We tried to make a track on the common and then we asked the Council if we could have a track on the recreation ground, which used to be behind Wyatts building. They said yes but we had to insure ourselves for any injuries so that was no good. Somebody went to see Miss Llewellin, who owned Upton House, she said we could use the land on the left hand side of Ropers Lane. We dug our own cycle speedway track out, put in our own concrete and we had a post up on the side, which worked as a starting gate and the tape used to part. It was 17, 18 and 19 year olds doing this, you know and they did have a good cycle speedway team, in fact the best one round here."

And the girls watched: "As we grew into our teens, we loved to support the local cycle speedway lads, what fun we all had."

It seems there were several clubs for young people in the village.


Girls Club 1940s

"I was really very involved with running a Youth Club in Lytchett Minster, between Lytchett Minster and Upton. We had two army huts, which the Dorset County Council had bought for us, and Lady Madeleine Lees, she decided to help us get started and I was Club Leader. We were affiliated to the National Association of Girls Clubs and Mixed Clubs, and later on the boys joined this organisation as well."

"At St Dunstan's Church Hall, there would be a number of events during the week involving a coffee club on a Sunday with music. Also live music w[th a rock group during the week where local teenagers would meet. All these were supervised by the older generation."

"There was a youth club in Upton, run by the Anglican Church, it was in the church hall which was alongside St Dunstan's."

"Another café with a juke box was at the Oasis garage, which is now the Oasis Mews. Many local young people would meet there for a soft drink and to play their favourite record from the juke box collection."

One young lady had her social life well organised: "When I was about 13 or 14 I used to go along to the boys club on Friday nights at Oakdale, a whole group of us would go. We used to go occasionally to the Lagland Street Boys Club for a dance but only if they had a good group, that was in the bottom end of Poole. There were various halls, village halls, that used to have dances on for youngsters every so often and we used to make a point of going to them, as a big group, and we would get one of the parents to pick us up and take us home."

"Youth groups were held at the Methodist Chapel called "Guild" and at the United Reform Church then the congregational Chapel, Lytchett Minster, all the teenagers and young people used to attend in the 1950's."

"In the 1960's my brother, John, and some of his mates formed a group called "Willie and the Workers". They played at the St Dunstan Hall, which was then an old hut in the church grounds, also other local venues were used for their Rock 'n Roll dances. This hall had been used in the 50's and 60's for dances where all the young people of the area gathered for social occasions."

"The old Upton Liberal Hall had been used for many years for 'Old Tyme' dancing, this was also well supported before beat groups came on the scene."

"The Liberal Hall was used as a youth centre for boys, we had table tennis, snooker and all that in there and that was going for a few years. Used to have local dances in there as well, we did."

"When I left school, we used to go to dances down at the parish hall in Lytchett. When they let us in sometimes they wouldn't let us in because we was a bit rowdy, but normally we were alright. They were just village dances. There was a local band, they used to have a piano, drums and a piano-accordion. Joe Curtis, he used to play a piano-accordion and he also played a piano, but there were 3 of them."

"During the War, when the soldiers took over various houses like The Manor, The Yarrells and Sandford House, they used to give dances and I was allowed to cycle up to Upton to attend dances at The Yarrells."

"Well then on that corner of Ropers Lane, they built houses on the left hand side but before that was a big wooden hall called the WI Hut, that was the Women's Institute. That was used for dances, in fact that was where I met my wife at a dance there. She came up with her cousin from Hamworthy to a dance when she was about 15."

"I went to the Wartime Dances, the WI hut, Liberal Hall and the Lytchett Minster Village Hall but only joined in the Hokey Cokey and Conga. I sat with the other lads on the far side of the floor, rooted to the spot, afraid to ask for fear of rejection."

"At the old Parish Hall, we used to drive out the chickens before a dance because they used to make a mess on the floor and we used to have to put powdered soap or chalk on the floor to make it suitable for dancing on."

"Its a funny story how I met my husband. He used to belong to the ATC - Air Training Corps - they used to hold their dances in what was then the big Parkstone Girls' Grammar School - Ashley Cross. Well they had a big dance there and I wasn't going to go but I went with the Dixons and a few other lads, first time I'd ever gone. Well we did what they called a Paul Jones - where the boys are on the outside and the girls on the inside and you rotate opposite ways inside and guess who I stopped opposite? Clive! And we don't know how he got home that night. He had a bike. I went with a load of the others and came home by taxi, sat on some other boy's knee coming home."

"Later on, when I was about 16, I went to the Perman school of dancing in Fernside Road in Poole to learn ballroom dancing as did many other youngsters at the time. Ballroom dancing was the main social activity for young adults so you had to dance."

"The other main social activity was the cinema. There was a cinema in Hamworthy, the Empire, and they held Saturday morning sessions for children at a cost of 3d or 6d if you sat in the better seats at the back. I didn't like going there very much as it was so noisy you couldn't hear the sound. When we were in our teens we went to Poole to the Regent or Amity cinemas on Saturday afternoons or if we were really splashing out we went to one of the Bournemouth cinemas."

Earlier than that, just post war "For entertainment there was the Empire Cinema at Hamworthy, now the Liberal Hall, the Amity with its double 'courting seats' in Poole High Street where Woolworths now is, and the Regent with its organ and community singing where Falklands Square is today."

One young couple belonged to the Lytchett Players. "I would help backstage with the scenery, we had some lovely times going round the village halls playing different shows."

"We used to have lots of clubs you could join and I belonged to the Young Farmers branch in Lytchett Minster, all tile clubs used to take place there after school. It was difficult because there was only a Wareham bus which did not run very often so you used to have to walk home and in the winter you needed to be with friends to walk home because it was very dark, there was no lighting. We had lighting put in at Upton when I was 17 or 18, street lighting, there was none before then. So we had to walk home or get a parent to give us a lift. We had a thing that we had to have a club for every night of the week so I also did amateur dramatics there. The clubs were all run at the school by the teachers mostly. At the Young Farmers, for example, we went to Dorchester Young Farmers Show and one of the older girls went into the cake decorating competition. We also put a netball team together and played which probably wasn't very fair because it was basically the school netball team playing everybody else."

Interestingly, as long ago as the 1920's swimming was encouraged: "One of the teachers used to take us to the river swimming. The river runs into Lytchett Bay and it was tidal, you see. They used to take us dinner times."

"There still are two lakes there, which I remember when we were teenagers we used to be allowed by Sir John Lees to go up and swim in these lakes and they were quite clear but they were old clay pits and were extremely deep, cold but clear. But since it was made into a Caravan Site I think a lot of drainage of the land around it was passed into the lakes and now they have perpetually got a sort of muddy hue to them. We used to love it up there when we had the Youth Club. We used to go up with a tractor and trailer supplied by Tom Waterman and collect winter fuel for our big stove down in the Youth Club and occasionally we used to go up there and have picnics and it has been known we went up and camped one weekend."

"We used to go swimming in the Sherford River, that was down what we called Sandy Bottom at Huntingbridge, before any bypass and we used to walk from Slough Lane across the fields. It was quite cold swimming in the river but lovely fun."

"We used to play tennis at Upton House and used to go and roll the gravel tennis court with a roller. I can remember Lord Llewellin putting the tennis net out for us to go and play. It was a different world then."

Upton was very much a rural community in the early part of the century.

"They had a lot of broken ponies down on the Moors, behind the Bakers Arms. We used to go down there and catch them. Used to take my cap off and put something in there and hold it out and although they were only half broken, as soon as they got near enough I would grab hold of one and jump on his back and away you would go. I would spend hours down there riding those horses, I loved it, I could catch them and we didn't have harness or reins but just tugged at their ears. I remember one boy at school, he lived at Holton Heath and I think his father was a policeman or marine, he wanted to come down and get on a horse. He had his best suit on at the time and there are a lot of ditches down there besides the river that goes through that moor. I always remember, this pony took off and he was hanging on for grim death and the horse stopped suddenly and shot him in this ditch. He came out with all this black mud all over him and all down his clothes. I think he was forbidden to come over to me anymore!"

"He said "You told me you had a two headed calf, can you remember that, you said you had a two headed calf and there's no such thing." I said "Well you can come up the farm and see if', so I showed it to him at my grandpa's house. It was born 1921 and only lived a few hours or a couple of days and he was born on April Fool's Day. So he came up, a big tall man who knew everything, and we took him down to look at the calf and he had a look and said "I'm sorry about that, you were right."

"We met first of all at a Pony Club Gymkhana, and that was held at Lower Park, Lytchett Minster. One of the little fields near the lower park, we used to have a lot of gymkhanas there."

"When I was about 17, I was very keen to buy a pony and my dad said, "well it will be very expensive to keep him. If I buy it, you have to keep it yourself. That's all I'll do, buy it." So we went to Beaulieu Road sale of wild horses in the New Forest and we bought a jet black mare in the farm and we brought her home. She was 17"Y2 guineas and we called her Black Magic, the name of our favourite chocolate. With the help of some local farmers, we broke her in, she taught us a lot. Initially we kept her in the grounds of Heatherdell Kennels, which also spilled out into what was to become Moorland Way."

"They kept their ponies in the stable behind their house at Sandy Lane .and we all belonged to the Pony Club. We used to spend a lot of time building fences to keep the ponies in the fields at different places. The ponies used to get out and eat people's flowers and people would ring up and complain about the ponies. I think my wife got the record for being the last person to have a pony in the Lytchett Minster Village Pound because her pony was caught and put in the Pound where she had to pay a fee to get the animal back again. The Pound is still there next to St Peters Finger pub."

"Also when we came down from the north we brought a boat that dad had made out of empty packing cases and a wardrobe, it was a little flat bottomed dinghy and we used to take it down to Hamworthy. All the kids in the area used to converge on us, because there weren't many boats about at that time. There was a little beach down past where Greenslades is now, which I think has now been taken over by the ferries. It was a gravelly beach but we thought it was wonderful and we used to row this boat about. It was heavy but we all piled into it and rowed, there were so many youngsters interested in the boat and the things we did, we used to light fires on the beach and go camping and those sort of things. Dad thought, "lets start a little club", and he called us the Jolly Rovers. We had a flag, which was the skull and cross bones, which was the Jolly Roger and we crossed out the "G" and put in "V", and were the Jolly Rovers. Everybody used to meet from time to time. We had a caravan in the garden at Sandy Lane, and all the kids used to come around as we used to camp in the garden, and the house was just open to all the children."

Another member of the club remembers" Later on he had a lovely sloop which he moored off Hamworthy and we used to have a lot of fun in that."

So much for legal activities. While the land provided abundant meat, it would have been a shame not to take a little now and then, and youngsters probably enjoyed the risk factor!

"I used to keep ferrets and nets and I used to go rabbiting, up in the commons here. You weren't allowed to, but we used to go. I've been chased over there by PC Parsons."

"We had the ferrets and the nets down, and who should come in but Sir John Lees on a big charger, right down the other end of the field. We didn't think he saw us, so we got down in the gorse bushes, you know, and crouched there and he came straight across to where we were, and shouted out to us in no uncertain language. And he said "Come on, get up out of it", I don't want you in here",. So we had to leave the ferret down there in the hole and all the nets there."

Another boy "used to go down the fields there and through the woods, rabbiting, birds nesting which would be frowned on now. We would take the eggs home and put them in a little box to keep them. We blew them out and Kept the shells, just make a little hole at each end and put it to your mouth and blow through and just keep the shell. The eggs were different colours for different birds, some were green with specks on, some all green and some white, there were all different ones. I had a collection but as I got older I was more interested in playing football and other things. I suppose I had 20-25 eggs altogether when I finished."

Rabbits were a useful source of income too: "I used to have my own ferrets and that's how I used to use my pocket money, I used to go out on the farm to catch rabbits and my father used to sell them on the milk round for 9d each which gave me a bit of extra pocket money. I used the ferrets and the nets; poke the ferrets down the hole and put the nets over all the other holes and the ferrets used to drive the rabbits out in the net and we used to catch them. We would bang them on the back of the head, give them what they called the rabbit punch, and that would kill them. Sometimes we would be ferreting along the river bank and one would come out and hit the nets, it would fall in the river and we had to jump down the bank in the river and get wet through just for catching rabbits!"

"We also kept rabbits, about 40, and on our bicycles toured all the lanes with big sacks to fill with the different plants that they liked and that grew in the banks. We never bought any of their needs then. For their bedding we gathered the dry curly grass that grew on big mounds in a damp area near to Upton Heath. This would last us all winter. The young rabbits were taken on our bicycles to Wimborne Market to be sold as pets."

"When I was 14, I used to go rabbiting with him for a little while, I didn't like it, I didn't like killing rabbits. I used to go with him and we used to put the nets down over the hole and put the ferret in and then you'd have to kill the rabbits but I used to let him do that. Also he used to take a shotgun sometimes to shoot the rabbits."

Not only rabbits.. "There were quite a few deer up there, in fact I caught one deer, it was a young one and I picked it up and took it home but he died overnight because we didn't look after him properly. There were deer killed on Lees' estate down the road, people used to poach them and the same with rabbits. The poachers used to come out from Poole to catch rabbits and I've seen them go back early in the morning on their pushbikes with their handlebars loaded up with rabbits where they'd been poaching. We had a policeman, in the middle of Upton there, we used to evade him as much as we could but he used to catch us occasionally. I remember we were going to poach rabbits and it was on the November Firework Night. I had a firework and we would light them and as soon as they started fizzing, we used to throw them. I was going to throw it in the post office but when I put my hand back to throw it, the policeman caught my arm and I dropped the firework, bang!"

Sometimes boys' behaviour was outrageous.

"Blind Burden was a proper character. He used to compose songs - hymns and that. He had a big white beard and he always wore a Salvation Army cap and a blue jumper. He was in the Salvation Army. He sang for them. He always sang. Now, he used to walk out from Framptons Terrace out onto the main road with a walking stick. He would come up through there touching the wall with his stick to the main road. Now there were several chaps there, they used to put a rope across and try and trip him up. But he knew it. He'd walk along as if nothing had happened, and just before he got to where the rope was (how he knew, I don't know), he used to lash out with his stick and catch them!"

Another view of the more recent past was "we weren't angels as teenagers, mischief but not theft or violence."

Very few people owned cars in the post war years but one teenager tells of the driving lessons he had with his father.

" I learnt to drive in 1952 in a 1923 Tallbot 10 Tourer, which was a 2 seater with a dicky seat at the back; the dicky seat was like a very big boot with the boot door opening backwards and they had a seat in the back for 2 people which made it a 4 seater. It was also rather strange because it only had one door, which was on the near side so the driver had to get in on the near side and it had the brake on the driver's right hand side. I drove that car for several years, it was a lovely little vehicle."

In wartime, adult responsibilities beckoned:

"I joined Upton Air Cadets in 1941. We met at the Liberal Hall and paraded with broom handles and learnt RAF procedure and navigation, which I found easy compared to school. We only had a lapel badge then which I wore with pride as the first boy in my school year to join a Cadet Service. On 11 th November 1942, I paraded outside the Upton Hotel with the other cadets and the Legion Member Veterans for the Remembrance Day Service."


Right: Bob Wyatt. Left: David Wyatt (twin of Gwen) killed 1941. Holding a cup for sailing in Poole harbour.
"Boys left school during the War at age 17 from the fifth or sixth forms, straight into the Services if they volunteered, as many did. On leave, resplendent in their uniforms, they waited at the school gates to see their friends and teachers. The sad thing was when Mr Greenfield, the headmaster, read the 'Roll of Honour' at morning Assembly telling of boys killed in action in their teens. The saddest one was Ken Ewins, former Headboy and Captain of Cricket and Football, only son of Mr Sid Ewins the Junior Physics Master. I was standing close to him when his son's death in the RAF was announced, 300 pairs of eyes swivelled towards him. His eyes were wide open, unseeing and dead. We behaved in his class later that day."

"He (David Wyatt) had celebrated their nineteenth birthday by flying his Wellington bomber from Mildenhall to Upton and flew over the house revving his engines with all the family waving from the garden. 3 months later he was killed over the Kiel Canal, Germany."

We may think that teenagers today are vastly more sophisticated than in previous generations, but the same range of hopes and fears, and the turbulent emotions that we all remember, will colour their experiences too.

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