Interview with Sylvia Fraser


Interview with Sylvia Fraser


Discusses her father's pre-war charabanc business and the pub he ran during the war. Also mentions her work in a factory in Grantham and the occasion when a possible spy took his own life when he was arrested. One day an airman and his friends decided with his friends to celebrate his twenty first birthday in the pub and he met Sylvia and became a regular visitor. Donald and Sylvia married in 1948. There are occasional interjections by her husband Donald Fraser and they also discuss their post war life.




Temporal Coverage




02:10:59 audio recording


IBCC Digital Archive


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AFraserSM180702, PFraserDK1608


CB: My name is Chris Brockbank and today is the 2nd of July 2018 and we’re in Whitchurch in Shropshire speaking with Sylvia Fraser, having spoken already to her husband Donald Fraser. Sylvia, what are you earliest recollections of life?
SF: My earliest recollections are living on the farm in the outskirts of Long Bennington. That’s Nottinghamshire. My father was in farming with my grandfather. He was my mother’s father. And it was a very very long village. That’s why it was called Long Bennington obviously and every British Legion Day which was November the 5th. Was it the 5th? The 11th.
CB: The 11th. Yeah.
SF: Yes. The 11th. There was a very big turn out for people that were in the British Legion and they marched through the village to the church where there was a church service and also the small War Memorial they had. Just a prayer sort of thing there and a salute of course. So that is some of my earliest recollections.
CB: And did you go to school locally?
SF: Yes. I went to school in Long Bennington. I think my school teacher, if I remember right, was a Miss Clark. She was tall. Extremely tall to me of course but I mean she was tall and very slim. Very dark haired. But she was very strict, and so was the head master. The headmaster used to walk with his cane up his sleeve. He never used it that I remember but it was there and you could see it pointing in the top of his shoulder. I think that was enough [laughs] for us small children.
CB: What were your favourite subjects?
SF: I think hand crafts and [pause] Chiefly hand crafts really.
CB: Brothers and sisters?
SF: Yes, I had. There was five of us in the family. My brother was the eldest. Roy. Then Eileen. And there was only, I think something just over a year between them but then I didn’t come along ‘til five years later. And then I had a young sister which was three years younger than me and the baby of the family was Brenda and she was another three years younger than Gert. So that was our family.
CB: And mother was busy running the family but did she have any particular interests?
SF: Well, we had a Mrs Mayfield. She, as mum was confined at home for her children she was a nurse and she stayed, oh probably two to three months at least because previously dad was away from home quite a bit because of his coaches and of course he couldn’t have mum on her own with children. The doctor was in the village, a Dr Wilkie, and he was a very nice fellow.
CB: And when did you leave school?
SF: I left school at the age of fifteen and, but by this time we had moved from Long Bennington to Marston in Lincolnshire.
CB: That’s near Grantham.
SF: Yes. Seven miles from Grantham.
DF: The Thorold Arms.
SF: Pardon?
DF: Thorold Arms.
SF: Yes. We went to the Thorold Arms. My father was a proprieter at the Thorold Arms but he also ran his bus on Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays.
CB: For what reason?
SF: Through the villages to take people to market and to do their shopping because there wasn’t much in the villages.
CB: So, you talked about earlier grandfather’s farm. Was there a link between that and the coach arrangements?
SF: No. No.
CB: Quite separate.
SF: Quite separate.
CB: So, he worked on the farm but he also worked with the coach.
SF: Yes. But at that time it wasn’t called a coach. It was a charabanc.
CB: Oh yes.
SF: Which was, they could take the seats out and they could put milk churns in.
CB: Ah.
SF: So, he collected milk from the farms, took them to, to Newark and then he thought well why should I just give somebody the easy work and me do the harder work? So he employed someone that would deliver milk from door to door in Newark and that went on, I don’t know for a couple of years I suppose. At that time I think we had three buses. My dad was lucky in the sense that he had been out in Canada and he was in the Canadian cavalry.
DF: During World War One.
SF: Pardon?
CB: In the First War.
SF: In the First War. And —
DF: Went back there to be demobbed.
SF: Oh, he said to mum, ‘Well, I’d like to go back to Canada to get my release because I don’t think I’ll be going back there again.’ Because mum did not want to emigrate to Canada. So that was agreed and [pause] I should have said in the first place that my grandfather, dad’s father, he was a lay preacher. Wesleyan, and he was very domineering and the family had to kneel as he sat and they had to say their prayers to him every night and every morning. And I think [pause] John, his eldest son, and dad, and his eldest sister they all went to Canada at the same time.
CB: To get away from him.
SF: Yes. Dad never said that but I think it was pretty obvious. My Uncle John, he married out there. He wanted to come back to the UK but his wife didn’t want to so he came back for some time and then dad said, you know he would give him half the business if he would stay. But being as his wife wouldn’t come he said no he would stay here for, I think it was several years hoping his wife Bertha would decide to come but no. She didn’t. So he went back.
CB: So, how did your father get in to running coaches?
SF: I don’t really know. I think he decided with the cash that he got sort of redundancies as it were. It wasn’t redundancies because, I mean he came out of the Army on his own accord.
CB: Canadian Army.
SF: Yes.
CB: Yes. And then returned to Britain.
SF: Yes. But he had made quite a lot of money because he’d been in the log camps before that.
DF: And they had horses.
SF: Pardon?
DF: They had horses and ploughs during the winter.
SF: Oh yes. The farmer who he was working with he said, ‘George, if you want to take a team of horses,’ he said, ‘You can do that and work on your own in the winter.’ So that’s what he did. And he did acquire quite a lot of money but I think it was stolen.
CB: How did he come to meet your mother?
SF: Well, he met mother long before that.
CB: Because with the teams of horses I gather from what you were saying he was working those on the farms.
SF: Yes, but that was when he went to Canada and he met mum before.
CB: Oh right.
DF: Heckington, she came from.
SF: My mother came from Heckington which is just outside Lincoln. And her father [pause] he was born in, in a pub and that pub was mentioned in the Domesday Book.
CB: Really?
SF: So, it’s strange really.
DF: She was, her name.
SF: Oh, mum’s name was [Southan]
CB: [Southan]
SF: Yes.
CB: Right. We’ll just pause there for a mo because you need a break on some of these things when we, so the point of the questioning here in a way is how dad got in to the distribution bit.
[recording paused]
CB: So just quickly going back we talked about the charabanc. Which is really a French word, of course but what was the vehicle like because it was adaptable? What did it look like? It had open sides and seats that were removeable, was it?
SF: Yes. Could you just stop it?
CB: Yes.
[recording paused]
CB: It sounds as though it was quite an adaptable vehicle.
SF: Yes, it was. Very much so. And I think at times he would bring various sizes of wood from the woodyard in Newark which was just on the outskirts of Newark for people. So, he was a very busy man.
CB: Yeah. And then socially how did it, how was it used?
DF: For the wedding.
CB: So, the lady who worked for him when she married.
DF: When she went to the wedding in it.
CB: Did you say she went to the, to her wedding in the charabanc?
SF: Yes. She did. And that was in Long Bennington.
CB: Right.
SF: There was an unfortunate incident which occurred when the Lincolnshire Roadcar Company started a bus service. They took dad’s colours and of course it was very difficult in the winter to see what bus was coming so he had a little blue light put on the roof. But it’s all a little bit hazy, I’m afraid.
CB: So he was quite enterprising, wasn’t he?
SF: He was. He was very enterprising but he, he was taken off the road.
DF: And he went to court about it.
SF: He went to court about it and his solicitor said to him, ‘Oh George, you’re very able to defend yourself.’ And dad thought about it and, ‘Well, I can speak for myself.’ And when he got to court who did he meet was his solicitor working for the other side.
CB: Good lord.
SF: And dad said to him in the court, ‘When you can do this to a man with family you will never prosper.’ And he didn’t. He lost both of his children. They died. I don’t know how. You know. It was just a normal sort of death. It wasn’t accidents or anything but he didn’t. And the people in Long Bennington and all around signed petitions to get him back on the road. I don’t know how many.
CB: Did that work?
SF: It did. So he got back on the road and he did excursions then with the buses to the seaside which was all around Lincolnshire. Mablethorpe. Cleethorpes.
CB: Skegness.
SF: Skegness. Chiefly Skegness because that was, well it was the biggest beach wasn’t it? But, and also school trips when we were living in Marston. He was asked to arrange coaches to take the school children. So at this time I think just, we had just two coaches and dad organised with a Mr Searson who used to run through the village at a different time for him to take his vehicle and also a Mr Palfrey from Gonerby which was just outside Grantham to take his small bus and that was the three that took the school children on their summer outing.
DF: And he used to, at the weekend take the air, Air Force people to their stations.
SF: Oh, at [pause] on a Friday he used to pick up airmen from Cranwell and take them to Grantham Station for their weekend leave and he picked them up on Monday morning and took them back to the station. Oh, sometimes it was just on a Sunday night though.
DF: Ok.
CB: So how did he come to get hold of a pub?
SF: Because his route was through Marston he would occasionally call at this pub and I suppose have a glass of beer I would think and [pause] and the, the owner of the pub at that time was a Mr Bristow. His, he had the farm and the pub and he was keen to get rid of the pub and so dad decided to buy it because he could still run his bus in the normal way from there.
CB: And he employed people to run it.
SF: Yes. Only in, only in the evening, on a Saturday. He wanted Roy to become a driver when he was old enough but Roy didn’t want to do anything about it.
CB: Your brother, Roy.
SF: Yes.
DF: Your mum ran the pub during the day.
SF: So mum ran the pub during the day because I mean, it wasn’t terribly busy.
CB: Did the family live in the pub then?
SF: Yes. It was one, two, three [pause] I think there was five bedrooms plus a sitting room upstairs which was quite a large room. And the furniture —
CB: So, he bought this before the war then, did he?
SF: Yes.
DF: 1934 or ’35.
SF: Pardon?
DF: Around about 1934/35.
CB: We’ll just pause there again.
[recording paused]
CB: So, we’ve established you moved. The pub was bought in 1934. You moved school then to Marston where the pub was. What was that like?
SF: I was very happy there but the idea was when I was twelve I would be going to Grantham so I would have to [pause] there was no buses as such that would be suitable for going to school so I’d have to cycle. Which was no trouble to me because I loved cycling. But the war had broken out as I’ve said and Grantham had quite a few factories in it. One was Ruston and Hornsby’s where my brother worked and —
DF: Marcos.
SF: Marcos was the ammunition people. And Eileen, my sister, she worked there on crack detection. And —
DF: Cracked shells.
SF: She finally became —
DF: An inspector.
SF: Pardon?
DF: An inspector.
SF: An inspector.
CB: This is cracks on shell cases.
SF: Yes. She used to have very very sore fingers until she became the one that was the overseer to see that the girls were doing a good job.
CB: So they were feeling for the cracks were they?
SF: I think [pause] they had some liquid or something that they put the shells in and of course with turning them around and around.
CB: Oh, I see. Right.
SF: They would be very sore. Well, when I should have been going to Grantham, to the Secondary School there of course the bombing had started hadn’t it and dad said he didn’t want me to be in Grantham at that time. So —
CB: We’re talking about 1940.
SF: Yes. So that was really the end of my education. But I’d always wanted to be in fashion.
DF: A buyer.
SF: A buyer for a large store.
DF: That was your first job.
SF: And that was my first job in Grantham which was a drapers by the name of Sharpley. And he was a JP, one of the brothers. There was two brothers. Harold and Henry and there was a sister and they owned that and ran it.
CB: In Grantham.
SF: In Grantham.
CB: So your father’s concern, can I just recap there was that if you were working in the munitions or the engineering factories then you might get bombed but in fashion that wasn’t a concern. Was that it?
SF: Yes. The thing is that the, those factories was at the top end of Grantham and the marketing place was a bit, quite a bit lower down. Mind you I don’t suppose that would make a great lot of difference [laughs] because the bombing wasn’t as good as that, was it? But —
DF: You didn’t stay there long anyway and [you went home] [unclear]
SF: No. My wages were seven and six pence a week. And you can imagine what my father thought of that. He wanted me to come home and to help at home and to just go on the bus to take tickets and such like. But I didn’t want that and I said no. And I saw an advert for a sales assistant in a very nice little shop on the High Street in Grantham. It was hosiery and lingerie and the name of it was B&M which was owned, I think by [Blindle and Mead]. Now, [Blindle’s] was known for shoe shops weren’t they? And when I told Harold that I would be leaving he said, ‘You can’t.’ And I said, ‘And why not?’ He said, ‘Because you are apprenticed here.’ And I said, ‘I’m not an apprentice here. Show me where I signed to say I was an apprenticed here.’ And of course, he couldn’t. I was a bit belligerent [laughs] those days, I think. At least I could stand up for myself. And I got the job at this lovely little shop. It was very small. It had two Lloyd Loom wicker chairs and a beautiful walnut table. You know, a small round one. And that’s all there was. The sides was where all the stock was in boxes and the lingerie was in larger cases. The, there was three chandeliers. I don’t mean the glass type. I mean just the bowls and the — [pause]
DF: [unclear]
CB: Pardon?
DF: Not’s much. That’s when all the rationing things came out.
CB: So, materials were rationed in those days as part of the rationing programme, weren’t they?
SF: Yes. They were.
CB: How did that affect the shop and people’s purchases?
SF: Well, we did quite well and the airmen used to come in and the WAAFs. And they had clothing coupons. And sometimes you’d say, ‘Oh, how lovely to see all these coupons.’ You know. And they’d probably give you two, three. So that was great. We had to bank the coupons at the bank. We got little plastic, well cellophane bags and we were allowed to put ninety eight in each which was counted at the bank as a hundred.
DF: Of course, you had all that in the shop. You could then barter with your neighbours.
SF: Oh yes. That was very good. We were never short of food or anything because one side of us was Lipton’s and we knew the manageress very well there and the other side was a gent’s [pause] but they weren’t hairdressers but there was, they sold all the things that men would require. You know, shaving things and [pause] and I used to get Brylcreem. It was a way of bartering in a way.
CB: So, who did you sell the Brylcreem to? The Air Force people, was it?
SF: No. I didn’t sell. I just gave it. There wasn’t all that much about to get anyway so you used to have it, didn’t you?
DF: That’s why I’ve still got hair.
CB: So, the key I think, the thing about rationing is that it covered food and more or less everything you bought.
SF: Yes.
CB: And so for us to understand the importance of it I wonder if you could describe why, first of all why would the Air Force people be coming in to buy clothing. What sort of things did they buy and why did they have ration cards because they were always in uniform weren’t they when they were out and about?
SF: Yes, but the WAAFs used to buy stockings.
CB: What were the stockings made of?
SF: Rayon.
CB: Man-made fibre.
SF: Yes.
CB: Not silk in other words.
SF: Not silk.
CB: Did you sell silk stockings?
SF: No. They weren’t available. The pure silk ones, oh when did they come in? [pause]
CB: You didn’t have the Americans nearby so they weren’t supplying the girls with silk stockings.
SF: Well, there were quite a few Americans about but [pause] well, they were somewhat [pause] paratroopers, weren’t they?
CB: Were they? Right.
SF: And they were, they were horrible in every way.
CB: Oh.
SF: The airmen themselves was fine but well somebody said that if you could suck as hard as you can blow then there would soon be no water in the sea.
CB: Do you want to enlarge on that a bit?
SF: Well, everything in America was great. In England it was very little use. But there was quite a number of girls who would go out with them for the pure silk stockings when they were available. But there was one incident. We used to go across to the Red Lion. This was the manageress and I, on a Saturday for our lunch. We closed for an hour and we could get our lunch in that time because the Red Lion was just across the road. And there was a a man there that was very inquisitive. Wanting to know all about things really we thought a spy would want to know. You know, where was the airfields and such like, and we weren’t prepared to tell him. The, the outcome of that we didn’t know really how it happened but he was a spy and he was picked up but before they could interrogate him he bit on a lethal thing. Now, that was very hush hush. It wasn’t known by a great many people around.
CB: What had he been doing then? Had he been in the shop a lot? Or how did you come to meet him and get this interrogation?
SF: We only met him when we went over to the Red Lion for our lunch.
CB: Right.
SF: And we thought he was too inquisitive and wanting to know too much. And it wasn’t until, it was only about a week or two after we’d met him though that this happened. He was picked up.
CB: Had you reported the incident? Or —
SF: No. We had nothing to do with it.
CB: How do you think he was rumbled?
SF: We never found out and I really couldn’t say. Not unless it was the police in Grantham.
CB: Where did he bite on the pill? In the town somewhere or, what happened there?
SF: Yes. When the police took him.
DF: Arrested.
SF: Pardon?
DF: Arrested.
SF: When they arrested him. He did it immediately.
CB: Oh. Now, in the background you’ve got all these Air Force people around. How did you come to meet Donald Fraser, who became your husband?
SF: Well, he came to the pub. The Thorold Arms. I I just remember him coming in. I thought actually there was a group of you but you said there was only two, didn’t you? Or four. There was four of them came in then and [pause] I served them. I don’t know how many times I served them because there was just dad and myself. I wouldn’t have been able to have done this if my father hadn’t have owned a pub because you weren’t allowed I think until you were seventeen.
DF: Christmas 1944 you are talking about now.
SF: Yes.
CB: This is 1944.
DF: Yeah.
SF: Ahum.
DF: I could butt in here but if you were stopping I could give you —
CB: We’ll just stop for a mo.
[recording paused]
CB: So clearly there are two sides of this story because we’ve got Donald in the room and you wouldn’t have known what he was doing there but he was at Bottesford and they’d been doing various tasks there and came to Grantham which is how you met. So, Donald what was the background of this?
DF: The background to that was we had just finished operations and been posted to [Lindholme] first of all. Then I went on an instructor’s course and then we were moved to Bottesford. And Bottesford was such a mess we had to clean it up. And this was our first time the 24th of August 1944. My 21st birthday so I remember it. So, we went down to the main road and as I say Newark was to the left. Grantham was to the right. So most people used to go on to Newark. We decided we would go on the Grantham Road. About three or four miles down the road was the A1 at that time. Still is. But we turned off down a small road for about a mile and here was a crossroads and on the side of it was the Thorold Arms, Marston. The Thorold Arms. We didn’t know what it was at that time so we decided we’d stay there and have my first beer. The rest of them had a bit more than me I think, even that night. We were cycling so we stayed there for two or three hours and then we went back to, to base.
CB: Oh, you cycled did you?
DF: Yes.
CB: Oh right.
DF: And from then on we decided that was our pub and we went there and somehow I got caught up with Sylvia.
CB: Right. We’ll stop there for a mo.
[recording paused]
CB: So, let me just restart. So here you’ve got some lads who are energetic and needing a bit of a change. And how much beer can you allow them to have because there’s rationing going on?
SF: Well [pause] dad used to just open. We got our beer in on a Wednesday so we had beer Wednesday night. He would sell so much and then it was just minerals.
CB: Oh.
SF: And we used to have some beautiful real grapefruit mineral and it would only keep for something like I think a fortnight. So if we hadn’t sold a great lot of that because there was no refrigeration in those days but of course your cellar was very cool. As children you used to drink it up, you see. And our pals.
CB: Of course. So in 1944 here you are aged seventeen. These chaps come in. What can they do? What are the activities in the pub?
SF: Oh, play darts. And I was quite a good dart player at that time and we used to have dart matches with a pub at Barkston. They’d play one week in Barkston, one in Marston. But dad used to transport these people free of charge in the bus.
CB: For the matches.
SF: Yes. For the matches and Mr, Mr Dodd was our captain and once or twice he would make a team up within the people that was in the, in the bar at the time and once or twice he would say, ‘Oh, Sylvia, I need an extra. You can be on this side or that side.’ You know. So I got to be quite good at darts. And then when it came to this dart match at Barkston we’d already played them in Marston, in the Thorold Arms so we had to go to Barkston. Well, when my mum heard that they wanted me to go to Barkston to play darts, ‘No daughter of mine was going to do that.’ I said, ‘What’s the difference mum?’ I wanted to go. I said, ‘My dad will be there. Mr Dodd will be there.’ No. So, anyway, Mr Dodd had to really talk and say, ‘We really need her.’ So I was allowed to go. So it seemed that mum was so strict in one sense but not all the way through, you know.
CB: Had she met Donald by at time? Because he’d been in the pub.
SF: Oh yes.
CB: So she thought he was a likely lad for you?
SF: Oh yes. She knew you very well, didn’t she? And your friend, Jack Boulton.
DF: Yeah, we met him also at Bottesford. He was one of the ones at Bottesford. There was also another chap from Glasgow. A bit older than us. He was, that was the three of us kept going to the pub afterwards. But on a Saturday night there used to be a good singsong going in the, in the pub.
CB: So, what entertainments did the pub run?
SF: Well, there was a piano and there was a singsong could break out anytime really.
DF: Her dad used to keep so much beer for the weekend so that locals also had a share of it.
SF: Yes. Well, there was that paratrooper. He was in the Signals, wasn’t he? He was, he could play anything by ear.
CB: American?
SF: You know.
CB: American paratrooper?
SF: No.
CB: No. British. Right.
SF: British. He was in the Signals, wasn’t he?
CB: So how did you, your father control the beer because you said that deliveries were on Wednesdays? Were there other deliveries or only the Wednesday one?
SF: No. There was only the Wednesday delivery.
CB: So how did he spread it out? Or did you run dry fairly quickly?
SF: No. He used to keep some for the weekend, didn’t he?
DF: He probably had to close down Thursday and Friday.
SF: Thursdays and Fridays we were closed.
CB: Because you didn’t have beer.
SF: Well, we were closed only in as much as we didn’t sell beer. Lemonade and the grapefruit as I said was sold.
DF: But also, at one time when you wanted more, some of the Army people in the area wanted to have a night out before they were going abroad.
SF: Oh, no.
DF: You went to the —
SF: Oh, that’s a different story. The [pause] we had airmen from, oh gosh [pause]
DF: It doesn’t matter. Nearby.
SF: Nearby then, and airmen as you know from the Bottesford end but these were ground staff.
CB: You had Spitalgate on the doorstep.
SF: No [laughs] it wasn’t on the doorstep really [laughs] It was —
CB: Barkston Heath.
SF: Yes. There was Barkston Heath which was where the paratroopers came from. The Signals Division. They came from Barkston Heath and they used to cycle down so it must have been a pretty good pub for them to all congregate there. But they wanted to, to have a final get together and so they said to dad could they do it. He said, ‘Well, no. I’m sorry but I’ve got to think of my locals.’ So, I worked in a small —
DF: You’ve said that.
SF: Ah, but that’s not the same one. Shop, at the top of the town and that was lady’s fashions and all the things that goes with that and across the road was the brewery.
CB: Oh.
SF: Marston’s.
CB: From the shop.
SF: Yes.
CB: Nice.
SF: Marstons Brewery. And I said to dad, ‘Look, I could pop across and see if I could get a little extra.’ And he said, ‘You’ve no hope of that.’ And I said, ‘Well, let me try.’ So, he said, ‘Oh well. You can. But don’t be surprised if the manager won’t even speak to you knowing what you would want.’ So I went across and in to reception, said, ‘Could I see the manager?’ ‘For what reason?’ So I said, ‘Well, I would like to see if I could get more beer for a special occasion.’ And she said, ‘You can try but I don’t think you’ll succeed.’ So, there was this great big, it was an extra wide door about like that I would think but it was covered in green baize and you know, the brass studs and actually my heart did sink into my boots for a minute or two [laughs] But anyway, I went in and I said the reason I was there. So as these airmen could have a last drink together and he said, ‘Well, supposing I could find a small amount. How would I get it to you?’ I said, ‘Well that would be no problem at all.’ I said, ‘Mowbray’s beer lorry comes past our pub, the Thorold Arms in Marston,’ I said, ‘Every Wednesday and every Thursday delivering to other villages around abouts.’ ‘Oh.’ So, in the end I got my small barrel of beer. I think it was something like, was it nine gallons?
DF: Or fifteen gallons.
SF: Oh, that was a big ones. No. I didn’t get a big one.
CB: Well, a firkin is seventy two pints.
DF: That would be it.
SF: That would be what I would get I would think. Anyway, I came out really very happy that I was able to tell my dad I’d got some beer after all [laughs]
CB: So, how did your relationship with Donald progress because you were busy in the bar and he was busy in the RAF?
SF: Well, we just —
CB: Were there parties around that you could go to? Dances in Grantham because there were lots of people about?
SF: Yes, but I wouldn’t go to the dances in in in Grantham. They were a bit wild. In fact, you said if I’d ever gone with my manageress he wouldn’t have gone out with me. But I didn’t know that at the time. It was only later that you said that wasn’t it?
CB: You said that the pub had to think about its own regulars. Did you get, did the pub get many, a lot of local people there and who were they?
SF: Well, there was the farm workers, there was the farm owners and we had a very big corporation farm and the manager was a Mr Kerr.
CB: They were farm people but did you get people from the manufacturing activities in Grantham or did they not come out your way?
SF: No. They wouldn’t come that distance because you see the only way they could come out really was on cycles. Well, they weren’t going to do that when it was on their doorstep.
CB: Yeah.
DF: We became regulars.
CB: Yes.
DF: Just as if we were one of the, there for a long time you know.
CB: I’m wondering what the balance between local people and RAF people was in the pub as clientele.
DF: There wasn’t many more RAF than what we were. Occasionally there would be an extra one but we were about the only RAF that came at certain times, weren’t we?
SF: Yes. We also had a lot of paratroopers, didn’t we?
DF: Yes, but they weren’t regulars. They were just passing through, weren’t they?
SF: Well, I don’t know. There was [pause] there was the two dispatch riders. One from the artillery and one from the signals and they were pretty regular, weren’t they? One of them came from Spalding.
CB: Right.
SF: His name was Johnny [Pick]. Do you remember him? And another one came from London and he was Pete [Augustine] I think his name was. So, they were fairly regular.
CB: Yes. Just changing the subject now. All these airfields dotted around created a lot of flying activity. Coming with that is noise. So, what was the effect of that?
SF: We didn’t notice the noise so much but it was the planes. They were circling around and around and around. I couldn’t understand this until I spoke to Donald about it but you see there was twenty eight, was it airfields?
DF: In Lincolnshire.
SF: In Lincolnshire. So they were all needing to gain height before going over the coast.
CB: Bomber Command airfields. Yes.
SF: Yes. And [pause] and that’s why they were circling.
DF: There must have been a bit of noise because if they were putting up twenty planes, they were all spiralling up. Four engines in each plane.
CB: Well, up to thirty on airfield wasn’t there? Well, more sometimes.
SF: I don’t remember the noise somehow.
CB: Don’t you?
SF: No. There must have been noise right enough.
CB: Then Donald was posted away so how did you keep in touch?
SF: Well, I had also moved before you moved away. I took up a position in Stamford.
CB: So that’s twenty miles south.
SF: Yes. So I would only be home at weekends but —
CB: What did you do in Stamford?
SF: I [pause] I was at Parish’s which was —
CB: Ah yes. In the High Street.
SF: That’s right. You knew them, did you?
CB: I know them well. Yes.
SF: Well, I stayed with a Mrs Franklin who, her husband had died some, I think about two years or three years before I went there and [pause] what was the secretary’s name in Sharpleys? Oh, she was a Plymouth Brethren.
CB: Oh, was she? Right.
SF: Yes. But she was awfully nice and she said, ‘I know someone who would look after you, Sylvia.’ So she took me to see Mrs Franklin and that’s where I left. It was just a small terraced house. Two bedrooms.
CB: She was a war widow, was she?
SF: No.
CB: Just getting on a bit.
SF: Yes. She was.
CB: And what, you were getting more money there. Is that why you went?
SF: Yes.
CB: So how much more did you earn when you went there?
SF: I think it was one twenty five or one seventy five. One seventy five I think to begin with and then you got commission on selling various things.
CB: How was it —
So, I used to see Donald then.
DF: At weekends.
SF: Hmmn?
DF: Just at weekends.
SF: Just at the weekends.
DF: Until we moved from Bottesford to Cottesmore. And that was the same. It was just weekends because I could travel.
CB: That was closer.
DF: Yes.
CB: Really.
DF: I used to get lifts on on the main roads across.
CB: Down the A1.
DF: Yeah. Just down —
CB: Straight down to Stamford.
DF: Stamford.
CB: Yeah.
DF: That’s right.
CB: What did it cost you to have digs with Mrs Franklin if you weren’t [pause] you ended up with more money in the end did you?
SF: Yes, I did. But not very much [pause] because by the time you’d paid for your train fare.
CB: Oh yeah.
SF: To get back to Grantham where your father picked you up. Well, as he said I’d be better if I’d stayed at home but I didn’t want to stay at home.
CB: You’d had enough of the pub life had you?
SF: No. I quite enjoyed that really and meeting people but I really, my aim was to be a fashion buyer. Even if it meant moving further south.
CB: And you wanted independence.
SF: Yes. I wanted independence too.
CB: We’ll just pause there for a mo.
[recording paused]
SF: You used to bring some and give to dad from time to time. Or mum. Whoever was at the bar at the time, you know.
CB: Yes.
SF: Oh, I —
CB: And the Americans had the resources, the money and the food.
SF: They did. They did.
Other: I can remember orange juice. Can you? Chris.
CB: Hmmn?
Other: I can remember that orange juice.
CB: Can you?
Other: Yeah.
CB: I can’t remember. Just going back to Donald a mo. At Bottesford they were Airborne Division. 81st Airborne Division were they? Rather than gliders. Troop carrying aircraft in other words.
DF: The Americans used it as a holding base.
CB: Oh, it was a holding base was it?
DF: Just, just for D-Day.
CB: Yes.
DF: All came in probably a fortnight before and were held there.
CB: Oh, I see.
DF: And then went over to the south coast before they went over.
CB: But they got a bit over exuberant about their —
DF: Yeah.
CB: Method of leaving.
DF: That’s true. Before that it was a Bomber Command station flying Lancs.
CB: And then it reverted to that when you went there.
DF: Yes. It came back in to a unit coming from the light aircraft to heavy aircraft training unit. Yeah. And we came and opened it up again.
CB: Yeah.
DF: But it was still not a very good accommodation. It was, it wasn’t as bad as Ludford but it was still huts.
CB: Yeah, because it had been, just been knocked up in the war.
DF: Yeah. It was a wartime base the same as Ludford but it was made of wood instead of Nissen huts.
CB: Oh, they were wooden huts were they?
DF: Yeah.
CB: Yeah.
DF: And Ludford was Nissen huts and we used to get, in the winter drops from the condensation dropping on the bed.
SF: Yeah. Horrid [laughs]
DF: Around the summer it was so hot we used to have the field mice coming in and the earwigs coming in. It wasn’t very nice. And in the winter one, one fire for the whole unit.
CB: Yeah. A coke fire in the middle.
DF: In the middle.
CB: With a chimney straight up.
SF: That was it.
DF: That was all the —
DF: Yeah. All the heating. And if you think of coming back there at night.
SF: Freezing cold.
DF: Freezing cold. I joined, one of the reasons I joined the Force, the Air Force was because I thought well I’ll always have —
SF: A fry up.
DF: A good unit to come back. Clean sheets and that. Well, we always had clean sheets but that was about it [laughs] because on Ludford there wasn’t any paths or anything made.
CB: Right.
DF: The unit was built in six weeks by Wimpey.
CB: Was it really?
DF: And then that was the flying side of it.
CB: Yes.
DF: But they forgot about the personnel needed to get from A to B and it was called Mudford. Not Ludford.
CB: Yes. Yes.
DF: Because of the mud. Rubber boots was—
SF: Horrible.
DF: The only thing you could —
CB: What you had to have.
DF: If you were going, say in to Louth in the evening you had your rubber boots on and you hid them in the hedge side before you put on your shoes to, to go on the bus to Louth.
CB: How often were you allowed out?
DF: Well, there was two sides of it. You were flying usually when it was dark.
CB: Yeah.
DF: So you had a fortnight on and a fortnight off, you know. The dark side of it. The moonlight side you weren’t very often flying when it was a full moon or anything like that.
CB: No.
DF: So you had more or less then a month. Two weeks on, two weeks off of flying. I think that’s what it was but you never never knew when something was just going to come. I mean, like going to, across the Alps. We went in full moonlight and everybody was taken by surprise because doing a moonlight flight against the normal dark was a surprise. So a lot of the crews weren’t fit to because they were having a good time in the pubs thinking there was no flying tonight.
CB: No. Quite. No. But taking the other side of the question to Sylvia about the rationing of beer to what extent did you need to move between pubs simply because the pubs were short of beer?
DF: I suppose they did. I was never in a pub during my flying time.
CB: No.
DF: On the station I was never in a pub. There was two pubs in Ludford. There’s one now. There’s one closed. But I was never inside either but listening to the, well two or three of the crew didn’t drink either but the wireless operator liked his drink and so did the mid-upper gunner and they used to say many times there was no, no beer in the one and they had to go to the other, you know. But I think they did very well. The ground crew used to complain about them having to pay the same amount of money as the flying ones for their beer. I think it was put up by a penny in those days for the flying crews and they decided they weren’t going to have that and they took all the, all the chairs and tables outside and put them in the canal next door until the landlord said, ‘Oh, well we’ll take the penny off again.’ [laughs]
SF: [laughs] Oh dear.
CB: Would you call it sort of destructive inc — [laughs]
DF: As I say I wasn’t involved with these things.
[recording paused]
CB: Well, Sylvia we’ve been talking about a wide variety of things. We’ve talked about you being at in Stamford and at Parish’s.
SF: Yes.
CB: So at that stage we’re talking about the end of the war you’re seventeen coming up eighteen. What did you do next? Because technically at eighteen you could be called up.
SF: Well, I wasn’t called up.
DF: The war would be over by then.
SF: It would be over, wouldn’t it?
DF: It was over in May 1945. Yes. Oh, you were still at home because we went to Buckingham Palace on VE Day. I did.
CB: Did you? You both went.
SF: No. Just Donald.
CB: So, VE Day was the 8th of May 1945.
DF: That’s right.
CB: What did you both do then?
DF: Well, I was still at Bottesford at that time.
CB: Yeah.
SF: But your mum and your auntie, that was his mum’s sister, they were travelling down.
DF: This was to collect the DFM.
CB: Ah.
DF: Of course, we didn’t know it was VE Day at the time.
CB: No.
DF: When it was all arranged.
CB: Of course.
DF: But VE, that was the day we went to London and my mother and her sister travelled down from Edinburgh and I caught the train in Grantham about 5 o’clock in the morning. So we got in to London about the time, I think it was 11 o’clock, eleven fifteen we had to be there. It was the King at that time, of course.
CB: Yes. Of course.
DF: And then spent a couple of hours there or so and then [unclear] at the hotel because they were staying in London overnight and I made my way back to Bottesford. Well, to Sylvia and she —
SF: To Grantham.
DF: To Grantham.
CB: What were, what were you doing on VE day? Or what did you do? Were you still in Stamford?
SF: No. No. I was back home and I was, I don’t actually know what I was doing on VE Day.
CB: Some people had huge celebrations. Other people didn’t do anything.
Other: Huge in London, weren’t they?
SF: Well, I had said that I would meet Donald with a bicycle somewhere outside Grantham because I was quite comfortable riding a bike and pushing the other one. And someone that lived at the petrol station on the M1 —
CB: A1.
SF: A1 that was. His name was Ronald [Ebert] and he used to go to the Kings School in Grantham and I saw him on his way home. He was on his bike and I said, ‘Have you passed an airmen walking?’ And he said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘But you’ve just come back from school haven’t you?’ ‘Yes, that’s right.’ Well, there had been a lorry full of airmen that had passed me going towards Bottesford. Well, you know what they were all like. Whistling and all the rest of it. I stopped and turned around and there was one lad in particular was waving like this and I thought that must be Donald. So as Ronald said there was no airmen that he had seen I decided I’d go back to the end of the road and see if he had got off there. Well, no. There was nobody there. And I waited around a little while and I thought well, its stupid waiting here. You know. He’s not walking all the way from Grantham.
DF: Grantham Station.
SF: And he’s not got off the lorry here. So, I don’t know what he’s decided to do and in the end I cycled home. My next sister Gertrude she was an awful tease. Always a tease. And she was looking out the window and she said, ‘Oh, Sylv, Jock’s walking down the road now.’ I thought that was another tease. However, she turned. She said, ‘It is. Come and have a look for yourself.’ And I did. I felt about that big because he’d walked all the way from Grantham station.
DF: Seven miles.
SF: All the way home.
CB: Good thing he was a fit man.
SF: Yes, he was a fit man. There’s no doubt about that. And [pause] anyway, the cycle was still there the next morning. Did dad take you back?
DF: No. I don’t think so. I stayed there anyway. But you had a good evening. It was one of those jolly nights where there was plenty to drink wasn’t there?
SF: Oh yes.
DF: One of the things they were doing was cutting the ends off people’s ties.
SF: Yes. You know the short end, the narrow end. They were cutting anything from about two inches to five inches.
DF: Until they came to one couple and she had just bought him this new tie for his birthday that day and that caused a bit of an uproar.
CB: Could have been injured by the scissors for doing that.
SF: He could really. I don’t know how you got hold of the scissors either.
CB: So, after VE Day then what because you’re working in Grantham again now.
SF: Yes [pause] Oh, yes. We got married.
DF: Yeah. That was ’48.
CB: 1948.
DF: You must have stayed in Stamford. You didn’t come back to —
SF: No. I did stay in Stamford.
DF: You stayed in Stamford.
SF: For quite a time.
DF: At the time. You were still in Stamford when I went north in ’47.
CB: Right.
DF: And then 1948 I travelled down to Marston to get married there and you were still in Stamford at that time. In fact, you were still in Stamford the year after. In 1947 was when it was a very bad winter.
CB: Yes. Extremely.
SF: Oh, it was.
DF: All the roads were closed.
CB: Yeah.
DF: And I had decided to come from Scotland for a few days to Stamford and then we would come back to Marston but all the traffic on the roads were blocked up and I got off and I got transport down and got off in Stamford and I was going to see Sylvia where she stayed with Mrs Franklin. But this was 1 o’clock in the morning and of course I couldn’t make them hear. I went in a cell.
SF: Well actually Mrs Franklin did hear you and she said to me, ‘Sylvia, I think there’s somebody at the door. Would you get up and see if you can see anyone?’ Because I was at the front of the house. And I looked and couldn’t see anyone and the knocking had stopped.
DF: I had thrown, thrown a few snowballs at the window.
SF: But he had been throwing snowballs at the window.
CB: Disgraceful [laughs]
SF: Yes, it was, wasn’t it? [laughs]
DF: As you know I ended up in the police station.
CB: Yes, I can imagine. Yes.
DF: I got in a cell for the night.
CB: It was warm, wasn’t it?
DF: It was warm.
SF: I bet you were frozen, weren’t you?
DF: It wasn’t so bad inside the police station. It was warm in there.
CB: So you got married in ’48. Just pass backwards to that or forwards to that. Then what? Because where did you actually settle down in your married life.
DF: About a year after that.
SF: Oh.
CB: Were you still, did you stay with your parents, Sylvia?
SF: Yes.
CB: When you were married.
SF: Yes. I stayed with my parents for a time.
CB: After you were married. Yeah.
SF: Because you went to the Botanics, didn’t you?
DF: Yes. I went to the Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh. Did a course there and then I joined the Forestry Research Branch and was travelling the country for two years looking at plantations and taking records of the trees and all that for making the tables for the cubic feet and the, each tree after that, you know. So I was travelling a fortnight here a, month there visiting many places. And then after we got married we decided that we should try and get a place to have a base. So we got married in the autumn and I think by the next spring they said, ‘Well, if you want a base to be at there’s a base at Tulliallan, which was one of the large nurseries and what I was interested in was research on small trees anyway so that sounded right unbeknowning that where I was born was on Tulliallan Estate in one of the cottages just next to this large nursery. And the manager of the nursery who had been in the First World War and came through it and then took a a course on nurseries to do that. He was still there. That was twenty five years later. He was still there at the nursery as in charge of it. And I don’t know. It’s going to be funny coming there. Anyway, when we, when we got there Mr Simpson was his name. He didn’t like the people in —
SF: Research.
DF: Researchers coming in to research because they were all usually people who hadn’t been through the war. They’d been on, obviously forestry was a restricted —
CB: Yeah. A Reserved Occupation.
DF: A Reserved Occupation.
CB: Yes.
DF: So, he didn’t like them and we found out later the reason why. His son was a conscientious objector so that caused problems.
CB: Yes.
DF: So, when I got there and met the research people there right enough none of them had been in the war you, know and we had a discussion and said, ‘Well, what are you going to do?’ And I said what I wanted to do and they said, ‘Well, you’ll have to get permission from Mr Simpson, and he won’t give us anything.’ I said, ‘Well, I’ve never found that in anybody yet.’ So the next morning I went down to his office to see him. I went in there and he said, ‘Who are you?’ I said, ‘Oh, I’m a new research person coming in the top there.’ ‘I suppose you’re another one of these that’s never been in the war.’ I said, ‘No, I’m not.’ I said, ‘I’ve been in the war.’ You know. ‘What were you doing?’ I said, ‘I was flying on Lancasters.’ He said, ‘When?’ I said, ‘From ’43.’ And he was up off his chair. He had lost an arm in [unclear] got off his chair, shook our hand and that, you know and he said, ‘What was your name?’ I said, ‘Fraser.’ He said, ‘Oh, about twenty years ago,’ he said, ‘I bought, there used to be a Fraser staying in the lodge down there. I bought his chickens when he left.’ I said, ‘Yeah. That was my dad.’
SF: Strange, isn’t it?
DF: So, after that he hadn’t been on a holiday for a long time but a month or two months after that he came and said, ‘Are you doing anything the next week or two?’ I said, ‘Not a lot. I’m just doing the work here.’ He said, ‘Would you look, and Sylvia, would you look after our house for three weeks. We want to go and see our son.’ I said, ‘We’ll do that alright for you.’ So we stayed there three weeks and the people in the nursery were entirely, didn’t know what to say because none of the staff got on with him because, I think mainly it was because his son was a conscientious objector.
CB: Yeah.
DF: And we had broken that down for him and we became very good friends.
CB: Amazing.
SF: Yes, and in the end he wouldn’t have anything to do with his son.
CB: Wouldn’t he?
SF: It was just his mother.
CB: Yeah. Terrible embarrassment.
Other: Yeah.
SF: Yes, and in the end we did get them together.
DF: In the end I told him —
SF: We said, ‘It’s silly you know. You losing your son just because of your principals and your son losing his mum and dad.’ I mean she used to speak to him on the phone but not very often because well, there weren’t that many phones about was there?
CB: No.
DF: We used to go up and our, my family stayed in [Aberdour] and used to go across to see them at the weekend and if there was a high gales and that because at that time there was no road bridge it was just a ferry. So coming across on the ferry you had to around by Kincardine and back again we used to call and see him. And this weekend when we called in we didn’t know we were going but the weather was such that we had to go round that way. He’d just had a heart attack a few hours before that.
CB: Oh, my goodness.
DF: And he wouldn’t let his wife phone the doctor. And she said, ‘I knew you were coming tonight. So, I wasn’t very worried about Arthur.’ That was his name. ‘I knew you would come tonight so’ —
SF: Oh, but it was a shock though to see him lying on the settee.
CB: Unattended.
SF: Yes. And you could see he was very ill.
DF: But he wouldn’t get further, the office was where the phone was. It wasn’t in his house it was just ten yards away from there but he wouldn’t give us the key or tell her where the key was for the office so she could go and phone. We got there and we we got the key from him and —
CB: Sylvia, when you after you got married how soon did you give up work?
SF: I didn’t give it up until I went to Scotland. So —
DF: About two, two years after.
SF: Two years I suppose. And then we went in to a friend’s house. We had rooms there. We had the run of the kitchen. We could do what we liked. They had a parlour and we could use that for our breakfast or whatever. Then we had another small room which was really the library. It was covered in books.
DF: It was —
SF: And —
DF: It was two sisters who had it. [they were leasing it] they stayed there. They were two schoolteachers weren’t they?
SF: Yes. And their brother stayed there.
DF: Yes. Their brother. He was in the headquarters of Scotland during the war or something like that you know. Government.
CB: We’ve covered lots of things. Can we go fast backwards to your earliest days when you were in the farm and the pub as well? We have a lot of links in the countryside with farms. So you controlled, your diet is controlled by a number of things. One is the rationing but actually the farmers were able to supplement that. How did they do it?
SF: Well, my mother always bought her butter pre-war and during the war from a farmer. Mrs Wright wasn’t it? She used to make the butter and sell it and mum always bought that from her. So she continued to do that. She had to give her butter coupons up but that didn’t matter and we got more than what we should have done. The, there was a small shop in the village which was run by two sisters, Miss [unclear] I can’t remember the names.
DF: [unclear]
SF: It doesn’t matter really. And they knew that we used to buy a lot of cheese from them. Well, we couldn’t buy a lot of cheese from them because it was rationed but anybody that didn’t take their full amount of cheese they sold it to mum.
DF: They used to have it in the pub then.
SF: So on a darts match we used to hand round the bread and cheese and that was it but there was bread and cheese and they were all you know got a piece of two or four. Whatever was there because it went round once and then what else was left. In fact, I’ve still got the plate because well it’s worth a little bit of money. Not a lot. But its, its one about that size. And well —
DF: And you had the pigs.
SF: Pardon?
DF: And you had the pigs.
SF: Oh. We had. Dad had a sow and he used to breed from her. And the last time I suppose we’d had two or three sows during that time but the last time he decided he was going to finish and he would have her killed for our own purposes. Well, she’d had what they call a sort of, they called it the purples but I think it was like a pig flu.
CB: Oh.
SF: And she wouldn’t eat. And I started washing an apple and feeding her that. And she came and she was ok. But there was a butcher that used to kill pigs because in in those days the cottages often had a small pig pen at the end of the gardens.
CB: For slaughtering.
SF: Yes. and Mr [Rodding] used to come down and do the necessary for them but —
DF: You used to chop it up and then pass round the neighbours and when they had —
SF: Oh yes.
DF: A month later. Whatever it was they were using.
SF: You know, the liver and the small piece of the pork and that. Whenever anyone had a pig killed they would just hand it to one or two friends and they would reciprocate. So that was fine.
CB: What about the wild animals in the countryside? What did you do about those?
SF: Oh gosh.
CB: There was a bit of shooting going on.
SF: There was.
CB: Rabbits and hares.
SF: Not so much hares. I don’t think there were so many hares about but rabbits, dad used to go up to a friend’s farm. There was two brothers by the name of Tindall. They he used to go up there shooting what once a month or so.
DF: He needed cartridges.
SF: Oh yes. He needed cartridges and of course they were in short supply but there again I was able to get a few cartridges for him because I could get fashion stockings. And if I got fashion stockings for the man that had the gun shop, for his wife then I would get a box of cartridges. Paid for them obviously but that’s what happened. Well, somewhere along the line there was a searchlight station not far from us. In the next village actually and rather strange because it was on the[pause] no. The searchlight station was in our village at the end of the village and —
DF: You used to take them there on your bike.
SF: No. Then —
CB: Did you deliver them yourself?
SF: I I took rabbits because the cook came in and was talking to dad and saying they were very short of meat and it was difficult to know what to feed the lads on. So, dad once, when he’d had been shooting he decided he would send some rabbits up to them. Well, he would gut them and slit the flesh there and, you know put one in to another so as they hung together. And I was dispatched this day to go to this camp and there was nobody on sentry duty and I didn’t know how to attract their attention because I was up here which was the railway bridge and they were down below. So, I was quite a good whistler at that time and my grandma used to say, ‘Stop whistling. A whistling woman and a crowing hen was never fit for man or beast.’ [laughs] Well [pause] I whistled and I attracted someone’s attention. But in the meantime, cycling with [pause] I don’t know.
DF: Six or eight rabbits.
SF: Pardon?
DF: Six or eight rabbits.
SF: Yeah. Yeah. There would be six on one side and six on the other I suppose but I came off my bike didn’t I because one rabbit, one lot of rabbits slipped slightly and of course it caught in the wheel and it got in between the forks of the bike that held the wheel so I came off. Didn’t hurt myself. Picked myself up and got there. But that’s how I attracted their attention and they were very very pleased with their rabbits.
CB: I think we’ll just stop there for a mo.
[recording paused]
CB: I think we’ve done extremely well.
SF: Yes.
CB: So when the family settled down and your son was born when was that?
SF: That was —
DF: 1955 ‘56.
SF: It was [pause] Oh come on Sylvia. It was in Edinburgh.
CB: And you moved there in 1950 did you? Roughly.
DF: We moved from Tulliallan to Bush Estate which is seven miles south of Edinburgh.
CB: Yes.
SF: In 1953.
CB: Right.
DF: The spring of 1953. So it was after that. So it was ’65 then because —
CB: 1955.
Df: ’65.
SF: ’65 when Brian was born.
CB: Oh, ’65, yeah.
DF: ’65 he was born.
CB: Right.
SF: Oh yes, because —
DF: I was about forty or forty two. Something like that.
SF: Because I was in the Scottish Women’s Institute and I was on the committee. I was treasurer for it and it was such a small group that we had to do various things to get money to spend. So we thought we would put on a concert and [pause] and that was just at the time I became I pregnant. And I was the person that was to open it, you know be on the stage in my dressing gown and I said to the doctor that we had known, he was a Yorkshireman actually because he used to say, ‘There’s not many Yorkshire doctors in Scotland but you found one.’ And I said to him, ‘Oh, when the district nurse comes will you tell her not to come to visit me until —’ Because I didn’t want other people to know I was pregnant at the time I was going to do the sketch to get money for the Institute. So he thought that was funny. So we had a laugh about that. He was lovely. And he decided I should go in to the Nursing Home previously. I think I’d just gone over my time and he said, ‘Because you are an elderly person we need to take good care of you and your baby.’ So I went in and they started things moving. In fact, you came to seem me didn’t you?
DF: The night before I went away?
SF: Yes.
DF: When Brian was born I was in Lanarkshire or something.
SF: Yes. He went and left me you see [laughs] terrible. He —
DF: That was the 23rd of September.
SF: Yes. It was the 23rd of September. It would be the 22nd that I went in and I, well I’d had pains and then after you left that evening you went home and you said you wouldn’t come in the next morning because you were going to Lanark and the pain stopped. I don’t know. Never felt any more for ages. In fact, they decided that they would break the waters themselves and they did a Caesarean section. And Brian came in to the world, I think it was about 3 o’clock. And you couldn’t come in that night, could you?
DF: No.
SF: So it was the next day before he saw his son.
CB: And time went on and he decided to follow his father into the same sort of business.
DF: That’s right. Yes.
SF: Yes. Yes, he did.
CB: Well, we’ve covered so many things. Thank you, Sylvia. Absolutely fascinating.
DF: When he was at school he was a very good, he was captain of the rugby team
CB: Oh was he?
DF: Captain of the cricket.
CB: Yeah.
DF: Captain of the riverboat team.
CB: Right.
DF: And he used to run.
CB: Talented man.
DF: Yes. He was on county running.
SF: Yes, because for Paul’s wedding —
DF: He’d rather run than go to it.
SF: He rang his cousin did he mind if he didn’t come to his wedding because he wanted to run for the county.
CB: Right.
SF: And he never finished that run because he pulled —
CB: Oh.
SF: A tendon. Oh, he was so disappointed. He said, ‘I missed my cousin’s wedding. I missed what I wanted to finish and do, you know.’
CB: Yes. Yeah.
SF: But however, that’s, that’s life, isn’t it?
CB: Yes. All spoiled. Yes. Thank you very much indeed.


Chris Brockbank, “Interview with Sylvia Fraser,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed March 26, 2023,

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