Interview with Laurie Richardson


Interview with Laurie Richardson


Laurie lived at 31 Buckingham Street, Hull, before being bombed. Laurie, then nearly three, and his mother went to stay with distant relatives at Talbot Farm, Bassingham Fen. There were a lot of Land Girls working at the farms in the area. Laurie’s father, a twin, was in the fire service and British Oil Cake Mills and joined the family at Talbot Farm later. He got a job driving with the Road Car bus company. Before Laurie’s father left Hull, he was sometimes asked to drive hearses as there was a shortage of drivers due to the amount of war-related deaths. There was a big prisoner of war camp at the Old Rectory at Bassingham. Prisoners, Germans and later Italians, worked on the local farms. Laurie remembered them having a snowball fight with the local children.








00:13:28 audio recording


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CB: This interview is being conducted for the International Bomber Command Centre Digital Archive. The person being interviewed is Lawrence Arthur Richardson, known as Laurie. The interviewer is myself Cathie Brearley and also present is Betty who is Laurie’s wife. The date is Monday the 27th of March 2018 and the interview is taking place at Laurie and Betty’s home in Lincoln. So first of all I’d like to thank you for giving us this interview. And you were born in 1937, in November. Whereabouts were you born?
LR: 31 Buckingham Street in Hull.
CB: Yes. So how many years did you spend in Hull before you moved?
LR: I had my third birthday in, in over here down Bassingham Fen.
CB: Right.
LR: Torgate Farm. Relatives.
CB: So how was it you moved from Hull?
LR: Because we got bombed out.
CB: Right. So you were very young at the time.
LR: Yeah.
CB: Obviously.
LR: It was a newsagent’s shop that my mother and father had.
CB: And you lived above the shop. You don’t know.
LR: I don’t know.
CB: Ok. So was that part of a government relocation?
LR: No. It was private. We went to, to my auntie’s at Hessle. And then from there me and my mother came over to relatives at Torgate Farm at Bassingham, Walkers. And then my father came later because he was in the Fire Service and he was in the BOCM fire in Hull and he got the tar on his lungs. Whether it’s above board or not I don’t know but the doctor he had to see for the Fire Service was our own doctor and he asked where we was and he said, ‘Oh, I’ll get you out,’ and he did do. And my dad came over and he went to work on the Roadcar. Driving.
CB: So the fire in that building. What was that building exactly?
LR: It’s BOCM. Oil and Cake Mills.
CB: Right. Right. And do you know if there were people working in there at the time?
LR: I haven’t a clue.
CB: No.
LR: I don’t even know what time of day it was.
CB: No. And Hull suffered hugely during the war didn’t it?
LR: Yeah.
CB: I read that about ninety percent of the buildings were damaged.
LR: Yeah. Yeah. I saw that on the internet. I looked.
CB: Yeah. Do you remember going back and visiting?
LR: Oh yeah.
CB: And do you remember how it looked when you visited? When you went back?
LR: Oh yeah. Right in the centre of Hull near Paragon Station there was Hammond’s big store. And for years after it was just a massive hole in the ground. All the basements and everything. They was a long while building it up and there were bombed out houses all over.
CB: And do you know how many of your parent’s friends, family stayed in Hull, or family stayed in Hull during the war? Were any of them —
LR: No, because I I think my grandma and grandad I think they went to Withernsea. They left Hull and went to Withernsea and then came back to Hull again. And my auntie did and her husband. But my other auntie, my dad’s brother they, they lived in Hessle all the while because that’s where we went to start with.
CB: So that was before you were at school obviously so it didn’t —
LR: Oh, yeah. Yeah.
CB: It didn’t disrupt your education then.
LR: No.
CB: And about a hundred and fifty thousand people were homeless.
LR: Yeah.
CB: As a result of the bombing.
LR: Yeah.
CB: It must have been a fairly devastating sight to go back.
LR: Oh, it was. You know. I can only vaguely remember it like but you know each time it was getting built up all the while.
CB: And it was one of the most heavily bombed cities after London.
LR: Yeah. Yeah.
CB: But it wasn’t —
LR: And when there was, I read it where there was even now when they’re doing these building sites on the Humber bank they’re still finding unexploded bombs.
CB: Are they?
LR: Yeah. I read it in the, I think it was on the internet or in the paper I saw it. Where when they’d found some more.
CB: Yeah. So what was the industry at Hull and what was happening there?
LR: Well, it was mainly dockyards and some of the biggest railway layby yards there was. And that I think that’s what it was and it was easy to find. Follow the Humber up, didn’t they? So —
CB: Yes.
LR: And people have told from friends of ours who lived out near Market Rasen her father told them that you know at night you could sit and look over to Hull. It was one red glow in the sky all the while.
CB: And did your father talk about his work when he stayed behind after the bombing?
LR: No. The only thing I know he said that very often when they weren’t on duty they was having to drive hearse’s and that because, you know they was that short of drivers and that.
CB: So he didn’t talk about his work.
LR: No.
CB: In fire.
LR: Not really.
CB: Fire Service.
LR: No.
CB: No. So it wasn’t publicised at the time. The bombings in Hull.
LR: No.
CB: It was just described as —
LR: The north east town. The north east city. That was it.
CB: And that was so that morale —
LR: Yeah. I should say so.
CB: Wasn’t affected as badly as it might have been. So you came to live on a farm which is very different obviously to —
LR: Yeah. Down, down in the fens at Bassingham.
CB: Was that somebody, people that your family knew anyway?
LR: Yeah. In fact, they was very distant relatives. Unfortunately, all them are gone now.
CB: Yeah. So you can’t —
LR: From then on, then we got a two bedroom. A two bedroom little cottage. No lighting upstairs. No water. We moved in on, my mother wanted her own house and we moved in on the Christmas Eve because she wanted her own house.
CB: What sort of work did your dad do then?
LR: He was bus driving for Roadcar, and he was there a right while because they had, they had what they called the outstation. He used to, he was on the Lincoln to Newark run through the village, the A7 all the while. And then they suddenly called him into the office because he used to, a bus used to come out from Lincoln, I don’t know what time it was to meet him at Carlton le Moorland at 8 o’clock and they used to change buses and he used to finish. And he was, to start with he used to keep the bus under just under a wagon shed in Bassingham because he would set off first thing the next morning with that single decker to come in to work.
CB: So there must have been a lot of Land Girls in that area.
LR: There was a big, there was a lot. There was a big one at Bassingham and there was a small one at Haddington and most of the ones at Bassingham, how many they had at Haddington I don’t know. A lot of them at the Bassingham ones came from Hull. So at a weekend when they wanted it my dad used to get, use a single decker that he used to keep at home. It was one of them utility ones with wooden seats and I think they got it cheap because he did it without pay and me and my mother used to go. And we used to go to New Holland and then over on the, on the ferry on the Friday night or Saturday morning and then come back Sunday night.
CB: So they were by and large local girls then who were the Land Girls.
LR: No. There was all, well from Hull. Most of them was from Hull, yeah. And a lot of them have married farmer’s son and that and local people here. There’s one at, quite a few that, I think there’s one couple still alive. Molly and Albert Law.
CB: So —
LR: The only thing I can really remember about it was when we was living with my Auntie Ivy at Hull because me Uncle Jack and my dad was twins and the, and he worked on the East Yorkshire Buses. Well, when we was there, obviously the sirens went and I can remember my auntie saying to me, ‘Let’s go and hide in the shelter from your Uncle Jack.’ And when we was in there I can remember hearing all this banging going on which was obviously bombs dropping. But that basically is the only thing I can remember about it.
CB: You said a moment ago that was in Hull but was that Hessle?
LR: Hessle.
CB: Hessle
LR: That was at Hessle. Where my aunt and uncle lived.
CB: So do you remember being in the shelter?
LR: Yeah.
CB: Was it an Anderson shelter?
LR: Yeah. It was an Anderson because it was in the middle of the garden. And when the, in the end when it was took down they made it into a rose garden.
CB: And you mentioned when I spoke with you earlier about the prisoner of war camp. Can you tell me more about that?
LR: Yeah. There was a big one at Bassingham. In the old rectory. How many was there I don’t know but they was all out working on the local farms. And the, it must have been there quite a long while because it was when I was at school because next door to it was our school and I always remember one morning it had been snowing and we was throwing snowballs at one. They had a Nissen hut straight in front of the gateway and we was throwing snowballs at the door and they come out and started snowballing us. The prisoners did. But, and then after that there were some Italian prisoners of war came. Now, I can’t remember for sure whether they went in there or whether they went in the old Land Army hostel. I can’t be sure on that. But they was definitely Italians came then after that.
CB: And where was that hostel?
LR: What? The Land Army hostel. Its where the Village Hall stands now. The Hammond Hall.
CB: Was it the same building or is the hall now a new building on the site?
LR: The hall, now it was gradually shortened and shortened and shortened because it was a big L shape, and now it’s completely demolished and built there now is the Hammond Hall. And the Hammond Hall when we went to Torgate, when we got evacuated Elsie, one of the daughters married Les Hammond. And then they lived there at the farm and then later when the, when Elsie’s mother and father and her brother retired they bought this small, little small holding in Bassingham and they always said, ‘When everything happens to us nobody will get everything but everybody will get something.’ And the land and everything was sold up and it was split between the village hall the church and the chapel. And that’s why it’s the Hammond Hall. They built the hall with it.
CB: That’s a nice story.
LR: I think — oh go on. Switch it off.
CB: So did you have any contact with any of the people at the prisoner of war camps?
LR: Well, we used to go and have, one of them that worked for Taylor’s down in the fen we used to go there and have our hair cut. Whether he was a hairdresser I don’t know.
CB: Was that an Italian?
LR: No. I think, no that was a German.
CB: That must have been quite a strange experience.
LR: Well, you used to see him about so —
CB: Well, thank you Laurie. That’s been really interesting. Thank you for your time.
LR: Yeah.



Cathy Brearley, “Interview with Laurie Richardson,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 19, 2024,

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