Interview with David Brewster


Interview with David Brewster


David Brewster grew up in Alford, and has memories of watching the Luftwaffe bombing convoys at sea, a dog fight and watching bombers take off from RAF Strubby and RAF East Kirkby.








01:31:23 audio recording


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AH: This interview is being conducted for the International Bomber Command Centre. The interviewer is Anna Hoyles. The interviewee is David Brewster. The interview is taking place in Mr Brewster’s home in Horncastle on the 17th of June 2016. Could you tell me a bit about your early life?
DB: I was brought up at Sutton on Sea as a little boy and we moved actually from Sutton on Sea to Alford in December 1939 but before we moved there I was taken up onto the sand hills at Sutton on Sea by my father and saw the Germans bombing a convoy out in the sea. We could see the aeroplanes and the ships and the bombs dropping in the water and some of our fighters were going up and down the coast to make sure none came inshore. That was my first recollection of the war and then we were dished out with gas masks, all of us at school, and we had to test those in the school and then, as I say, we moved to Alford and at Alford there was only ‒ Alford was only bombed on one occasion and the goods shed at the station was bombed one night and the night watchman was killed and, er, but we did see a lot of German aeroplanes over and, like, I remember standing outside my front door in Alford and there was a Heinkel 111 up in the sky and the hillside at Miles Cross Hill was covered in incendiary bombs, little fires all over. And once, I can’t quite remember just when it was, but I know there was two German ‘planes shot down at Bilsby It was one lunch time and my brother, he gobbled his lunch quick and gone out to some of his friends and came running back in saying “The Jerrys are here” and so, what did we do? We all went outside to see (laughs). These three German aeroplanes were flying over, being attacked by some of our fighters, and one of them was on fire and they disappeared into some cloud and then all bits were falling out and parachutes coming down and a lot of people from Alford went to see where they’d landed. Though I didn’t actually go to that [emphasis] crash site but I did learn that two of the aircrew were killed and, with a friend of mine, we were biking around Bilsby on one occasion, just afterwards, and there was a funeral taking place, a military funeral, so we stopped and had a look, and it was these two Germans that had been killed, so we went to the funeral. And, but there was quite a lot of planes that flew over. We saw these thousand bomber raids, the sky was absolutely full of aeroplanes. But near Alford there was Strubby airfield. Well, as boys we used to bike up half way up Miles Hill out of Alford and we could look down over the marshland area there over Alford and out to Strubby and we could watch them take off. And I used to go to an uncle’s farm near Stickney, near East Kirkby airfield, and there we used to bike and watch them take off and watch them come back again there. So, I did see a lot of aircraft around at different times and one thing that always stuck in my memory, and has done, was going out with my father out in Orby Marsh, out Skegness way, and we were walking across the fields to ‒. My father worked for the Drainage Board and we were going out to some drag lines where they were cleaning the drains out and these three Mustangs, these American Mustangs, flew over and they were so low we ducked [slight laugh]. And they were going [emphasis] (where they were going I don’t know) but they were in a hurry. And I also remember being at Sutton on Sea on one occasion, again during the wartime, when a flight of Beaufighters flew past. They’d got torpedoes under them and looking down to Huttoft way there was a pall of smoke going up. So I thought ‘what had happened?’ So next day at school I asked one of my friends from Huttoft I said ‘Did something happen down your way yesterday?’ He said ‘Yes and one of those planes crashed’. He said it had come down in a field just outside of the village and he says ‘You’ve never seen two people get out of a ‘plane and run so quick for their life’ as they’d got torpedoes on board. So they got out in full flying gear. He said ‘They would have beat any Olympic record to the nearest ditch’ [laughs]. But we used to bike out, my friends and myself all over to aeroplane crashes and try and salvage bits of them to see if we could have a souvenir of a plane crash somewhere, and we went out to all sorts, German and English planes, that had come down. One Lancaster – there’s a little monument just near Ulceby Cross. I don’t know if you’ve seen it there. Um, as you come to Ulceby Cross Road from Alford, go straight over towards Spilsby and on the next bend there’s a road goes off to Harrington and that way, and just in the corner of the first field there’s a little monument to a plane that crashed and it’s the Lancaster that got shot down by intruders. And Peter Rowlands from – He’s an ex-headmaster from Ancaster Grammar School (unfortunately he’s dead now) but he wrote a book about – “Lest We Forget” and it mentions that plane crash in there and it says about somebody biking up from Alford to it. Well, I said ‘I wasn’t the person that was written about in the book but I biked up the next morning to that crash and had a look at it’. Because the police sergeant lived next door to us and he came and told us where it was. But I also went to a German plane crash near Spilsby, at Asgarby, and there was a guard on duty on the gate and he wouldn’t let us in so I said ‘Can’t we go down to the wreck’ and he said ‘No, not allowed’ and I said ‘Well, you’ve got a guard down there’. ‘Well’ he said ‘You see that piece of stuff half way down there?’ I said ‘Yes’. He said ‘That’s an unexploded five hundred pound bomb’. So, he says ‘I’m not letting anyone go passed that’. But, well, we got around quite a lot of crashes. I also remember, as a naughty boy, scrumping some pears on one occasion, up a real tall pear tree in Alford, when a Heinkel 111 flew past and we could see the crew in there because they’ve got a big glass front and you could see the crew in there as they flew past. We didn’t pick any pears. We got down as quick and went home. [Slight laugh]. What happened to those, I don’t know. I also remember walking out. My father used to be a big walker and he’d go for a walk every Sunday morning while lunch was being cooked and I used to go out with him quite often, and we walked out on the road towards Strubby on one occasion, and we saw a plane come over, flew over us. It was a German plane. It went back and it dropped some bombs over Mablethorpe. We saw the blow from that. Also, in Alford, we did actually see the glow from that serious bombing they had at Hull. We could see the glow in the sky from that night. We stood outside in the road and we could hear planes about. We couldn’t see any because it was dark but we could see the glow in the sky from Hull burning, which was something you don’t forget. But it was, it was, a hectic time. And then, when I got to be thirteen I joined the ATC and used to go Manby every month and get a flight in some airplanes or other and I actually got a flight in a Lancaster and a Lincoln when I was there so I was very fortunate. But I could probably think of a lot more things later but, er, there was some of my recollections of the wartime.
AH: When you were in the ATC what did you do?
DB: We used to go to Manby once a month, and we used to go on the rifle range, shooting, we used to go and look at them, you know, watch the people repairing aeroplanes. It was a training place Manby, and we used to watch them doing all sorts of repairs and that sort of thing. And we were tested out on Morse code and everything. We had to know all about it and one of the main things was aircraft recognition, to make sure we knew what was ours and what was theirs, and they always used to take us for a ride in something while we were there. We flew in ‒, well I flew, in Ansons, Avro 19s, Harvards, Tiger Moths, Lancasters, Lincolns. I had a good old time really and thoroughly enjoyed it.
AH: Were they nice?
DB: Oh yeah, they were very good to us. And there was quite an interesting one, he’s dead now of course, he was our CO at the ATC from Alford, Geoff Hadfield. In your recollections and all things happening with bomber command I’m sure you’ll find out that name will crop up more than once ‘cause he was, what you’d call them? Looked out for aircraft, not an air raid warden, but they’d got posts, Observer Corp, that’s right. He was in the Observer Corp in Alford and so he had a lot of recollections and he wrote a lot of books and things, about things as well. He was the CO when we went flying in the Avro 19 and I nudged him and said ‘Geoff, the engine’s stopped and we’ve only got two’ and the colour sort of drained from his face. He said ‘It’s alright, it’s started again’. After a minute or two that [emphasis] one stopped because they were engine testing [laughs] but I could always see the funny side of that. I got a peculiar sense of humour. ‘Cause my rule about flying is, ‘the man who takes me up wants to come down for his dinner so he’s going to get down if he can’. So, there’s more chance of getting down than anything happening and I was always lucky, one or two rough landings, but mainly they were alright and afterwards, many years later, I actually flew in a microlight at Manby. I was the only one in the office that dare go up but we had a club running on East Kirkby, Manby ‘cause I worked at East Lindsey at that time on Manby. I persuaded the man to take me up for a ride. [Loud sound of chiming] Excuse me.
AH: And you went to Yorkshire with the ATC?
DB: Yes, with the ATC I went to a week’s camp at Diffield airfield and during that time I did get a ride in a glider which was quite novel, but I was lucky. But unfortunately there wasn’t a lot of breeze and we just did one circuit round but I found it very quiet [laughs] but again very interesting.
AH: Did you enjoy flying in the different ‘planes?
DB: Oh yeah, I’d fly in anything. We actually went on holiday once to Monaco for a week, sorry for a long weekend. Took my son for his eighteenth birthday and we flew from Manchester to Charles de Gaulle, from Charles de Gaulle to Nice and a helicopter from Nice to Monaco and then the reverse journey coming home again. And while we were coming home we took off in the helicopter and there was a big cruise liner just coming into Monaco so we flew round it so we could have a good look at that as well.
AH: How long were you in the ATC?
DB: Er, about three years, I think. Yes, I joined at thirteen and I started work at sixteen, that’s right.
AH: What year were you born?
DB: 1931. I’m getting a bit old in the tooth I’m afraid now. [Slight laugh.] Eighty-five this year.
AH: And so you first lived in ‒?
DB: Sutton on Sea. We were there in Sutton on Sea until the December of 1939. War started in the September and then my father’s job took him ‒ he had to ‒ he was working in Alford but he had to go and live in Alford. So we left Sutton on Sea which, from looking back with hindsight, was a very good thing really because our playground was the sand hills. And the sand hills were all mined in the wartime and whether we could have been kept off them or not is anybody’s guess because I know one or two people were blown up by them. And when they finally moved them all out, got rid of all the mines, they couldn’t find a lot because the sand moves and they’d moved with the sand, and they washed them out with hose pipes and, er, some of the bomb disposal people were at Well, just outside Alford, at the army camp there and Ted Burgin, one of their people, was on this and he was a real footballer and he played for the England B at football afterwards. He used to play for Alford on a Sunday, no, on a Saturday, army on a Sunday and when he came out of the army he played for Sheffield [laughs]. I knew him quite well at that time ‘cause my friends lived up at Well, so I spent a lot of time round there.
AH: What was he like?
DB: He was a very nice bloke actually, a very ordinary person, but dedicated to what he was doing, shifting all these mines and he was laughing about washing them all out and them exploding all over the place.
AH: Who got blown up by them? Was it children?
DB: I can’t remember but I do remember some mines going off at Mablethorpe once, but I can’t remember whether it was children or who it was but it was somebody in Mablethorpe area that got injured by them. But there was defences put all down in the sea, like scaffold poles aiming outwards in the sea on the coast there, in case anything came ashore. Because the shore on the Lincolnshire coast is an easy place to land normally, come in at high tide and you’re right up on the foreshore, right at the top end. So that had these scaffold poles aiming out to sea so if anything came in they got stuck [slight laugh]. They were down at low tide.
AH: Was there a feeling that you could be invaded?
DB: At that time, yes, there was a worry that we could easily be invaded and, yeah, we were very pleased to hear the news at times about when things turned round and of course at Well Camp as well, there was an awful lot of airborne there, before Arnhem. ‘Cause they were at Woodhall Spa as well but there was a lot at Well, and they all went off and I can’t remember how many came back now but a lot of them didn’t of course.
AH: Was there a charge when the war started round here? Did society round here change? Was there a big influx of - ?
DB: We had refugees from – We got them in Alford from Grimsby and at school, my class at school, there was two or three of these people that had come from, boys of my age like, come from Grimsby and were – They were there for the duration of the war so we got to know what it was like up there [loud clock chimes] because they were in touch with their family but, yeah, anyway I can’t remember how many came to Alford, but quite a lot.
AH: What was that like?
DB: Well they just became part of the school and I remember one of them, he was lodging with a farmer who had a milk round and, of course, in a few days he was doing the milk round [laugh].
AH: Was there a big influx of service persons?
DB: Oh, service persons, well a big army camp at Alford just as you come out of Alford going towards Spilsby on the right hand side by the cemetery, where the cemetery is now, then next to the cemetery is a big highways depot and some of them buildings are ones that were put up in the wartime. They’re still the same ones, well that part and the field beyond was a big army camp. And there was a big army camp at Well and a big army camp at Bilsby and Bilsby at one point became mainly Polish people, later on, after they moved the Germans out. I’m not sure where there was an Italian prisoner of war camp but there was an Italian prisoner of war camp in the area and they used to take them out in the lorries, working, ‘cause I remember going with my father down to Anderby Creek ‘cause the creek itself, which is a drain outfall into the sea, it had got sanded up and they got a lorry load of these people to dig it out and I went down to see them there.
AH: What did they look like?
DB: Well, same as anyone else. They were in a uniform but that’s all. And at one point in the wartime I also worked on a farm just outside Alford. My friends had a farm and their father said they wanted some help and I went to help them in harvest time and there was two German prisoners of war worked there and they used to be brought in every day and taken out again at night. But there was a German prisoner of war camp at Moorby just between here and Revesby. I think it’s all gone now but it was there until not long ago. Oh, I know where there were some Italians up at, er, just the other side of of Baumber, Sturton [?] Park, because when I was up at Manby we got some planning applications there and one of the lads went out to visit the site there and, in some of the huts at that point, there was still some paintings on the wall that the Italian prisoners of war had done but they’ve all gone now, all disappeared, which is a shame.
AH: Did you ever talk to any prisoners of war?
DB: Talked to the ones I worked with at ‒, on the farm, yeah, one was very dour ‒, hardly said a word, but there was a young one there. He was only eighteen and he chatted away. He spoke quite a bit of English and he was looking forward to going home after the war and I presume he did. But he was just an ordinary person.
AH: What did you talk about?
DB: We talked about the war and we talked about ‒, at that time it was going our [emphasis] way, and he said ‘Yeah, let’s hope it soon finishes and I can go home’. But he was talking about the farming and life in the prisoner of war camp. They were fairly well looked after. He’d had no complaints but I think, if I remember rightly, he was on the Russian side and it looked like he’d be captured there and he’d got right back across to the American side and give himself up [laughs] ‘cause he didn’t fancy being captured by the Russians. He got back and presumably ‒ I never saw him afterwards, like. I presume he went back to Germany. I did meet one German after the war. I got some relations and that they’d met some Germans before the war and after the war the German had contacted them again and he actually came over to stay over here, across in Lancashire, in actual fact it was Mary’s first husband who was friendly with him, and he came and stayed with them in Darwen in Lancashire and they brought him over to Lincolnshire, to Partney, which was Mary’s home and he was a very nice bloke. No problems.
AH: And he’d been a prisoner of war?
DB: No, he hadn’t been a prisoner of war. He’d been in Germany all the war. But as I say, he’d made contact as a boy before the war and afterwards he wrote to see if they were still about, and found out they were, so he came over and there was no enmity or anything like that. He was just a good friend. But Mary’s first husband, he finished up in Colditz.
AH: What happened?
DB: I don’t know what happened altogether. Somewhere up in the attic upstairs I think, or somewhere in my records, I’ve got a newspaper cutting about him when he died. He weren’t all that old when he died. But he, er, he was captured, like, on the continent somewhere, I’m not sure where, maybe Dunkirk, I don’t know, but I’ve got all the details somewhere but I just can’t find them at the minute, but he finished up at Colditz and he was released from there at the end of the war.
AH: What was his name?
DB: Jim, Jim Walsh. He worked for ICI and, originally, I think he must have met Mary in the wartime because he was over at one time or just after the war. Because he worked at Grimsby for the Wallpener [?] shop. Wallpener was a type of emulsion paint of yesteryear. They used to sell it in a shop in Manby. ICI, he worked for them in Grimsby and he met Mary somewhere there. They got married and lived in Grimsby and then he got transferred to their headquarters at Darwen and he moved back there and Mary went with him, of course ,obviously, and they made a life over there and, unfortunately, he died and she married again, Eric, and he was the one was out in Italy during the wartime. He was at the, er, Montecassino there, and he was out there one day, him and Mary, after the war, they were out there after Montecassino had been rebuilt, and they were out there looking around it on one occasion, they went on holiday, and they met an army – I think he was a major. And they were looking round and he said ‘Do you know this area?’ Eric said ‘Yes, I know it very well,’ he said ‘I was here in the wartime’. ‘Were you?’ he said ‘Yes’ he said ‘I was here in the wartime behind that hill over there’. [Another person enters the room.] Eric and Mary were out there. He said ‘Where were you?’ He said ‘I was behind that hill over there’. ‘Oh’ he said ‘We’ve got a special service on Sunday. Would you like to come?’ So they went and they were special guests at this memorial service at Montecassino. So it was ‒ they enjoyed it very much. Eric often talks about it now.
AH: What’s Eric’s surname?
DB: Johnson.
AH: And Mary was your cousin?
DB: She was my father’s cousin.
AH: What was her surname?
DB: She was a Holdiness before she was married, from Partney. They farmed at Partney. She was one of ten and my mother she died, unfortunately, when she was only forty-eight and my father married again and he married his cousin, which was Mary’s sister. So it was a bit of a complicated family [laughs]. But I had one brother and he was a year and nine months older than me. Unfortunately, he died about twenty years ago now. He was only fifty-nine when he died. He was Just due to retire the following year. He was in the Met Office. He had a heart attack, unfortunately. But these things happen. [Long pause.]
AH: And when you saw the ships being bombed from Sutton on Sea, were they‒? How far away was it?
DB: Four or five miles out I suppose, something like that. You could see they was ships and we could see splashes in the water. Obviously bombs were being dropped. We did hear on the grapevine somewhere, I don’t know where my father got the information from, some of the planes were shot down. I don’t know whether they were or not but they were Heinkel 115s, I do know that. The float planes. They were sea planes.
AH: How did it feel to watch them?
DB: Well, it was so far away. You could hear the bumps but they were too far away really to realise what was happening, I suppose, as a young lad of eight years old [laughs]
AH: And you saw a Zeppelin?
DB: Yes, I saw a Zeppelin pre-war. Again, I was at the sea front with my father and this Zeppelin flew back, obviously going back to Germany, it was going out across the North Sea, and it was either the Graf Zeppelin or the Hindenburg. I don’t know which, I believe the Graf Zeppelin ‘cause it flew over here quite a lot, I believe, and I remember this great cigar-shaped thing in the sky. It was enormous.
AH: And how did you feel about that?
DB: Well, as a little lad, excited, and of course there wasn’t a war on, of course, at that time, before the war, and as a little lad I thought it was marvellous to see this thing fly over. Little realising what it was really doing. I’ve actually flown in an airship since then. The Goodyear airship. I got a ride in that on one occasion at Doncaster race course. And they call them airships and you can understand why when you’re flying in them because it feels like a ship at sea. That’s what it feels like. That was through Goodyear Tyres ‘cause my wife was company director, company secretary sorry, for B A Bush Tyres at that time and we got an invitation to go [slight laugh].
AH: How exciting.
DB: I don’t know what else I can tell you. I’m sure an awful lot more will come back as time goes on.
AH: Has Sutton on Sea changed a lot?
DB: Oh, changed enormously [emphasis]. The biggest change was after the flooding in 1953 because I remember them building the sea front, basically, there, the original sea front with all the chalets on the top, the colonnade as we’d call it with the chalets on top and half of that was washed away in the flood. But before that there was the old promenade on the front and it had railings along the front and just steps down. And I can remember being stood on there as a little lad, I can’t remember what ‘plane they were flying, but Alex Henshaw and his father flew past as we were stood there on the promenade, and we looked into the aeroplane it was so low and we could see pop Henshaw and Alex in the aeroplane as it flew past. ‘Cause Alex Henshaw was a test pilot during the war, for Supermarines. He was a test pilot, in Spitfires mainly, and during that time, in the wartime, his home was at Sutton on Sea but he was actually stationed at Brooklands, I think it was, where they flew from mainly, and he had a good system. He used to, on a Friday late afternoon, he’d take his Spitfire up for a test flight, he’d fly up to Strubby, land at Strubby. He had a bike there, he’d bike down home for the weekend and on Sunday night he’d bike back, jump in the Spitfire and fly back. I actually got to know him quite well after the wartime. He was a very nice person, a very ordinary person, and I knew his son very well, young Alex (he was an Alex as well). But Alex, he only died not many, just a few years back now. He was in his nineties when he died. But one of the stories that went around at Strubby, ‘cause he did also test Lancasters out as well, they got him to test one at Strubby on one occasion, and the story that went around was that he flew along the runway so low that if he’d put his wheels down it would’ve jacked him up [laughs]. Now that was the story. Whether it was true, right or wrong, I have no idea but knowing the way he used to fly I can well imagine it was true. But he still holds the record for a single-engined light aircraft from England to Cape Town and back again, which he did in 1938, I think it was, and that record still holds for that type of plane and somewhere in my records I’ve got a photo of that plane. And as a little lad at school at Sutton on Sea at that time there was a reception at Sutton on Sea for him when he came back and all the school went.
AH: And where was the reception?
DB: In the front of what was The Beach Hotel. Well, the Beach Hotel is no longer there. It was badly flooded in the flood in ’53. It was used afterwards for a time but since then it’s been demolished. And as you go down Sutton High Street the pull over is in front, and the war memorial, and just to the left of that was The Beach Hotel and the car park, and it was in the car park of The Beach Hotel. I shouldn’t think there’s many people now as remembers that.
AH: And what happened at the reception?
DH: Well, all I can remember is being there as a school and him on the platform in front, basically. And he was introduced to us and congratulated on what he’d done. That’s all my recollection is, as I say. I think it was ’38 when he did that so I wasn’t very old.
AH: Have the amount of holiday makers changed going to Sutton on Sea?
DB: Yes, yes. Well, Sutton on Sea has grown enormously [emphasis] since the flood, in fact, because where we lived in Church Lane at Sutton on Sea if we didn’t get the sea in our front garden in winter time we’d had a bad winter. We thought it was marvellous if the sea came over the top but of course there was a big dyke opposite and most of it would run into the dyke and disappear. And there was fields opposite as well. Well the fields are now all developed, all housing and everything like that, and there’s an awful lot of housing gone on there in Sutton on Sea and in Mablethorpe, of course, as well. I don’t know how many times it’s doubled or trebled in size but quite a lot. But the shops down there now are nearly all seaside type shops. They’re not the shops they used to be. There used to be one shop in Sutton on Sea, Miss Johnsons’, which was a ladies outfitters shop, and people from Nottingham used to come there shopping. It was a real high class shop and if you bought something from Miss Johnson’s you’d got something [emphasis]. It was the fashions of the day but it’s gone now, it’s no longer that. It’s a hardware shop or something like that now. And next to it is The Bacchus Hotel and the car park at the left of The Bacchus Hotel used to be The Bacchus Hotel garage and one of my uncle’s worked in that.
AH: So your family, were they around?
DB: My father came from Sutton on Sea. The name Brewster maybe rings a bell. The Brewsters of the Mayflower days. One of my father’s uncles, my father’s brothers [emphasis], he was an elderly uncle of mine, he did some research into the family history. He was a Detective Sergeant in the Police so he was a good man to do that. He sorted out, he went down to Somerset House to sort out and he sorted out that the Brewster family that went over to America on the Mayflower, some generations later some of them came back to this country, and we are descended from that lot and they came back to Orby and they were all blacksmiths in Orby, and so we are descended from them. The original ones came from just outside Gainsborough ‘cause there’s a Brewster Cottage next to the church at Gainsborough and, of course, at one point they sailed from Immingham originally and there’s a monument at Immingham to them sailing there. Well, it was in the middle of the docks on the point where they sailed but now it’s been moved to the village, just opposite the church, because it was all surrounded by big oil tankers in the docks and of course people weren’t allowed in there. Although, I must admit I went in a few times. I was able to from my work. But the, er, my grandfather, he was the son of the blacksmith at Orby. He thought being blacksmithing was too hard work and he moved to Sutton on Sea and he was the first person to have horses on the beach for people to ride on, on the beach at Sutton on Sea, but unfortunately he died when my father was only three so my father never remembered him.
AH: And did they carry on with the horses?
DB: No, no way. My grandmother then sold the house they were in and built a pair of smaller houses in the park at Sutton, in Park Road East, and she moved into one of those and let the other one.
AH: Is that how she survived?
DB: Yeah, and my father was brought up there in that house. He can’t remember being in the other house at all or didn’t remember. He doesn’t now of course. Unfortunately he’s gone. But he didn’t remember the original house, Sidney House, as it was known as. It’s an estate agents now and where the arch was at the side of it to go through to where he’d keep the horses is now a fish ‘n chip café belonging to the fish and ship shop next door. They’ve got that bit of it. So things have changed a lot.
AH: And what did your father do?
DB: He worked for the Alford Drainage Board. He was the Finance and Rating Officer for the Alford Drainage Board and they had an office at Mablethorpe originally, a sub office, and that’s where he worked originally. Then they moved him to the Alford office and he had to move to Alford and he moved up there in 1939.
AH: What did you think of that?
DB: Oh, it was exciting really. We’d only just recently moved in Sutton on Sea from the original house, which didn’t have a bathroom, to a house that had got a bathroom. We moved in, I think it was in the October, and in December we left that house and went to one in Alford without a bathroom again, one that had only got gas lights and a pump outside for water. So we lived a little bit of a spartan life until after the war and then the landlord there put electricity into the house and a water supply and then put a bathroom in later. But it was rather spartan to start with [laughs].
AH: And where did your mother come from?
DB: She came from Stickford and I think she went to Sutton on Sea. She worked for Crawfords, who were bakers down there. She went down ‒ Her elder brother was running a garage there and I think that’s why she went there, I think he found her a job down there working for Crawfords and she worked for them, not Crawfords, Copelands sorry in those days, became Crawfords later. But they, that’s where they met and they married in 1924 at Stickford and that was where my grandfather at that time ‒ he had The Globe Inn at Stickford, the pub there, and that’s where we used to go for our holidays, to the pub.
AH: And how was that?
DB: Oh, we used to love going there. Because my grandfather had got a field as well, where he used to keep chickens and grow potatoes and things like that, and just across the road from the ‒, from his field, was the local cobbler and he had a barrel organ in his place and we used to go along and play it (laughs).
AH: During the floods in Sutton on Sea did you have family still living there?
DB: I had an auntie and cousin living there at that time and they were flooded out. They lived in what had been my grandmother’s house and they were flooded out and my father ‒. They were brought to Alford from there and my father at that time had married again and he was living at Partney, at the farm, and he fetched them to the farm and they lived there for a while.
AH: Did they say anything about the flood?
DB: I’ve got some photographs of it and there’s a heap of sand about as high as this room in front of their house, which came out of their house and out their garden. Oh, I actually saw the flood that night, at Hannah, about what? A couple of mile in land. I was ‒, I got some friends with me staying the night, not staying the night, they come over and were playing cards, my brother was at the Met Office and he was at Manby at work and my ‒, I lived with my sister in law at that time and my brother, and as I say my brother was at work, my sister in law had a friend staying the night and I got two friends down from Well and we were all playing cards. And the baker used to come round late at night, about half past nine at night, the baker would come. And I went to the door. I said ‘It’s a bit rough tonight Mr Heath’. He said ‘Yes, it is. This time the sea is this side of the railway at Sutton on Sea’. I said ‘Come off it, I lived down there. If was splashing over nicely it would be worth going to look at’. I went back in and said to the rest of them ‘The sea is splashing over nicely at Sutton and Mr Heath says he’s heard it’s this side of the railway line’. And one of my friends, he’d got his father’s car, he said ‘Let’s go and look’ and we went off down and we go to Hannah and the house on the corner and all the houses round about had got all the lights on, and by this time it was about ten o’clock at night. Well, by that time, out in the country like that, most people had gone to bed. And we were going up a little rise going up to the church from a farm at Hannah and my friend who was driving pulled up and said ‘Let’s go and look out’ so we pulled up and his brother and myself got out and had a look over the hedge. All you could see was water. That was the sea coming in and we looked down behind and it was coming across the road behind us so Ray went and put his finger in it and tasted it ‘It is the sea, it’s salty’ . So I shouted ‘For Pete’s sake turn the car round, we’re going back’ and by the time we went back, where it had come across was about six inches of water had come across the road, and we went back up. But I didn’t think then, in our own mind, that Sutton would be as badly flooded as it was because, just near where we used to live in Sutton on sea, I’d got some friends down there. There was the estate agent in Sutton and he lived about three doors from where we used to live and I went to help, well we all went down to help him clear his house out. He wasn’t at home the night of the flood so everything was just as he left it, and as I stood in his front room it was my eye level, the water level, and one of these metal buoys, about that big, that they have on fishing nets and such like, had come through his bay window, for one thing, and we found that in the front room. But we took everything out. He salvaged what he could out of his sideboards and that sort of thing, what he thought he could deal with, and the rest of it was just put the hose pipe on. And we put the hose pipe right throughout the house. I know my brother and myself, we dragged the carpet out and we hung it on his clothes line, and the clothes line really sagged but he couldn’t do anything with it. It was way past it. It was covered in sludge and everything. So we did a good move in moving away from there [laughs].
AH: And when you – Did people have time to get out?
DB: There were quite a few casualties all the way down the Lincolnshire coast. I don’t know of any in actual Sutton on Sea but there was some down at Sandilands. One house in Sandilands, it was about ninety per cent washed away. There was two walls standing and one room upstairs and the people were in that room, there was two ladies in that room, and they got out. But the whole of the area was under water. It was dreadful. And after the flood I was working in the planning office at that time at Louth and I was seconded to the River Board, Lincolnshire River Board it was, which is now the Water Authority. They were the authority, you know, sorting everything out and my wife worked for them and her office in Sutton on Sea was flooded out and my father arranged for her and the other girl out of the office to stay with my brother and his wife and me in Alford and we had various people up there as well. Other friends and relations come and stayed. Some of them stayed only one or two nights and went but Olive and Gretta, they stopped for quite a while, and Gretta married one of the other lads that was there. And she lives at, what do you call it? Scremby now, out there, and I married Olive and we were married fifty four years before she died. So it did a good thing in some respects [slight laugh].
AH: Absolutely.
DB: But we had ‒, although it was a very hectic time, I worked in the offices there on the radio to the engineers down there, for the engineers and such like, in the offices at Alford. They took over a whole big two or three storey building in Alford Market Place, which now is no longer here. It’s been demolished since. But I worked the day shift and a friend of mine, a colleague of mine, from the planning office at Lincoln, he did the night shift. We did a twelve hour shift each, eight ‘til eight. People wouldn’t do that now but we did and I know on one occasion I was ‒, Henry [?] had just come on at eight o’clock to take over from me, and one of the engineers came through ‘Can any of you drive?’ I said ‘Yeah’. ‘Take my Landrover down to Mablethorpe to the office down there. They won’t mind. It’s got the radio in it and bring me one back’. So, I jumped in his Landrover with, I think, one of the army blokes. We’d got some army people with us as well. Well, he jumped in with me and we drove down to Mablethorpe. We got in the Landrover there to drive back and it was chug, chug, chug, chug, going at no speed at all. So I said ‘There’s something wrong here somewhere’. And of course it was in four wheel drive, wasn’t it? [laughs] I’d never driven a Landrover until that night. Anyhow, I managed to find out how to get it out of it into ordinary drive and we came back and I think I got my tea that night about 10 O’clock.
AH: And what did your aunt do on the night of the flood?
DB: She went upstairs. She went upstairs out of it. I had a cousin in Mablethorpe who was flooded out. Her husband wasn’t at home. I don’t know where he was that night. And she was sat in the room and she suddenly found her feet were getting wet. That was the first thing she knew that anything was happening. And she went and the children went upstairs but one of the friends that came to stay with us, well two of them, one was this estate agent that I knew in Sutton very well and they’d got a new baby and his sister, no his brother in law that’s right, his wife’s brother, had also got a new baby and it was going to be the christening the following day. Of course, that was all cancelled. Had to be. But they lived in a bungalow in the park in Sutton and they were keeping everything they could out of the water as much as they could, putting up on top of tables and everything, like, trying to keep everything out of the water and I think Frank made a way through into the false roof so he could go up there out the way. But it was very frightening. In one estate at Ingoldwells there was seven people drowned on one estate, the Lovedays Estate as they call it down there. As I say, an estate of bungalows, supposedly built as holiday bungalows, on the seaward side of Roman Bank. Well, of course all of that area up to Roman Bank filled up with water and it came over, over the top, and they’d nowhere to go but they were in a state of, er, ‒. Two or three dozen bungalows in there that had been built at that time (they were still building them at that time) and, er, they, now it’s ‒. Some of the bungalows were left, some were twisted on their foundations and did all sorts. And they were all taken down and now the rest of it is caravans.
AH: Before we started you were talking about a man, a neighbour, was killed during the war, one of the oldest who were killed.
DB: Yeah, Mr Scrimshaw.
AH: Just tell me about him again.
DB: Well, he was in the RAF and he volunteered for aircrew and he was an older gentleman. Well, he was thirty-nine when he was killed. And his daughter worked for my father and after she left my wife actually worked for my father (before we were not going out or anything) and then she ‒. He used to come home on leave and lived just round the corner from us. And he used to come past our house on his way to, up to the town to the pubs for a pint at dinner time, and, er, he used to stop and talk to us on the way past. Like we knew him well, we knew the family well and he, unfortunately, didn’t come back from one raid. And when I was at the memorial centre at Riseholme they looked him up and they found out that he actually flew from Skellingthorpe but they found out the details of it and where he went down and everything.
AH: And what was his role?
DB: I thought he was a navigator but they got him down in some of their records, they showed him as a rear gunner. And they got in some of the records as a flight sergeant and some as a pilot officer so he obviously got promoted during his time in the RAF or in flying crew presumably. But he was in, as I say, just about the end of his tour ‘cause they used to do thirty raids. That was their tour. But I know one person down in Old Leake area, Sid Marshall, down there. I’ve met him a few times and he did two tours. He did over sixty tours of flying. And when the Canadian Lancaster was over here, I can’t remember where he flew from, he flew in the English Lancaster [unclear] from Coningsby, and they flew him in that that day, and they flew back to Coningsby somewhere, and they flew Sid in it and he hadn’t been in a Lancaster for I don’t know how long. But it’s amazing the people who you meet over a period of time and where you’ve been. When I was in the ATC at Manby once I actually sat in the cockpit of a Messerschmitt 163, which was the rocket propelled German fighter. They had one parked up there and that is now part of East Lindsey offices where it was parked in [laughs].
AH: Where had they got that from?
DB: I don’t know. When we went there it was there one day and they took us to show us it and we could sit in the pilot seat. It’s only a one man band like. They also flew a Messerschmitt 188 there for quite a while. Well, they flew it after the war until they couldn’t get any more parts to keep it going and it was scrapped then. I saw it there a few times.
AH: What did you like flying in best?
DB: Well, I think I just liked flying. I don’t think – I enjoyed the flight in the Lancaster ‘cause we flew over the Humber and over Hull and in that area, and one of the interesting things on that particular flight, I was just at the back of the cockpit, stood up in the back of the cockpit, so I could see everything happen. The pilot was there and the flight engineer and there was another lad up there with me in there. He sat down and began to look a bit pale and the flight engineer said ‘Are you alright lad?’ He said ‘I don’t feel very well. He said ‘I’ll cure you’. Stood him up, opened the window and stuffed his head out [laughs]. He wasn’t sick and he wasn’t sick any time in the flight. It cured him [laughs]. We were flying somewhere over the Humber at that time. But drastic treatment. But it worked. It cured him [laughs].
AH: Did your mother work?
DB: No, she was in the Red Cross right through the war. In fact, I’ve got her medals upstairs from that and she was in the Red Cross right through. As far as I remember the only work she did after, when I was a little lad at Sutton on Sea, we used to take in visitors in the summer time and we would all move to the back of the house and the front house was let out, it was let out to visitors, and she would cook and look after them. But my father was seriously ill in ’36 ’37 winter. He didn’t work for about six months and she had saved up to that point a hundred pound. Well a hundred pound at that time was a lot of money but that kept us going right through until he could work again. And for the last fortnight before he actually went back to work he went to Bournemouth for a fortnight’s convalescence down there, him and me mother, and they went down there. And that was the last of money she’d got so it did a good job because he lived ‘til he was eighty three [slight laugh]. Lived for nineteen years on one lung.
AH: What was wrong with your father?
DB: Well, he lost his lung just after we were married. He, er, he worked for the Drainage Board and they’d been sorting out some old records and they were down in the cellar. They were all damp and fusty and he breathed some of that fust in and it stuck in his lung and grew and he had to go down to Bromfield, yeah, Bromfield Hospital in London and they took one lung out. I spoke to the surgeon afterwards. He said when they opened the lung out ‘You know what a fusty loaf of bread looks like?’ He said ‘that was what his lung was like inside’. The other one was OK and he lived another nineteen years on that and he got, I don’t know, pneumonia or something like that in the end and unfortunately he died from that. He got a chest infection anyway.
AH: And what did your mother do in the Red Cross?
DB: I used to be a patient and she used to practice bandaging on me [laughs]. But she worked at a Red Cross group in Alford and she went to that every week, I think it was, and they used to be available to look after all the army and navy personnel or anybody who wanted looking after in the wartime. And they did anything, any accidents and that had happened they were called out and they looked after these people until they could go somewhere different. As I say, I got three or four of her medals upstairs what she had for her services in the Red Cross and I still support the Red Cross.
AH: You said you saw the good sheds burning? Or did you see it?
DB: No, I didn’t see the goods shed burning but it was blown up while we were there and I didn’t know until a long time after we were married, and we lived in New Bolingbrook, that the person who was killed in there was – I know he was a bloke called Bush ‘cause I didn’t know any Bushes at that time but, of course, when I went to New Bolingbrook my wife went to work for B A Bush and Son, the tyre people (and she had twenty-two years working for them) and it was one of their family, Ivor Bush, who ran the depot at, er, well, built the business up basically, it was his uncle who was killed. But I do remember on one occasion there was a raid on during the war and I remember my brother – we all dived into our mother and dad’s bedroom and we could hear planes about and my brother was looking out the window and he said ‘Oh, that’s one of ours just gone past’. With that it opened up with its cannons on the army camp [laughs]. It was a German night fighter and it, the guard at the camp, he dived under the road bridge (there’s a drain went underneath) and he dived right under that and there were shells all round him where he’d been. And also I’ve mentioned Geoff Hadfield, in the Observer Corp. There was an Observer Corp post down Willoughby road, that was the post where he was at, and he was in the place that night, and in the grass field across to it there was cannon fire up to about a hundred yards before it and it started again one hundred yards past. For some reason he’d taken his finger off the trigger, the German pilot had, and the Observer Corp post wasn’t hit but if it had, well, they wouldn’t have a chance because it was a directly in line of fire. I don’t know if that was the night the plane was shot down at Ulceby, near Ulceby Cross, or not, but that was by an intruder. It was shot down by an intruder. There’s a little monument there in the hedge bottom, two of them, and every year there’s a little poppy wreath goes on it. I don’t know who does that. And I actually worked for the Air Ministry at one point rebuilding East Kirkby and Steeping airfields for the Americans so I worked on there and at East Kirkby behind the hangars there. There’s twenty-three acres of concrete and I did the surveys for that. They built a mass parking apron, as they called it then, because by that time when the airfields were built in the war there was these dispersal points all-round the airfields, so they parked all the aircraft round about, so if there was any bombing took place it only took out one or two but, of course, with the modern bombs , if they dropped one on the airfiled it would flatten the lot, so they put all the planes together ‘cause it was easier to look after them and built this mass parking apron, twenty-three acres of concrete. I did the surveys before it was built and then it was designed and built and I supervised it being built.
AH: And when was that?
DB: Er, ’55 ’57 when that was built and it was only used for about a month. I actually joined the Air Ministry as an Assistant Engineer and my post really was as build draughtsman because I had to do a survey of all the buildings on East Kirkby and Spilsby airfields or Steeping as we knew it as. Because they’d all been altered by the Americans over the wartime and there were no records of them. So my first job I was employed at Grantham and then I was posted to East Kirkby because I could live at home and work from there at Alford at that time (there was my brother and sister-in-law over at Alford) and so that’s what I did and so I started off on that, doing this survey of all the buildings there so they got a record of them all. They’d got records of what they should be like but they weren’t [laughs] and I started doing that and then they came on with the part one contract, as they called it, to do the runways and everything and build this mass parking apron and I was transferred over to that group. So I did surveys of the runways at East Kirkby and at Steeping. ‘Cause we did some roller tests on them for safety to see if they were strong enough and they weren’t. We’d put a fifty ton roller over East Kirkby and a two hundred ton roller over Steeping and when they’d finished rebuilding Steeping and they did a test on it, the test should have come out at forty LCN, as it was called in those days, Lowest Common Number (they got a special testing rig that gave these figures). It came out at nine so it wasn’t fit to use and it never has been used apart from the odd light aircraft landing on it now and again but East Kirkby was better. The asphalt, the hot rolled asphalt put in went wrong for some reason, I don’t know why, but it went wrong and it was rotten underneath. The surface was good, if you dug the surface up you could just pick it up with your hands there was no strength in it, so what caused that –? When I left them they were testing, still testing, to find out what caused, what the problem was. But the Americans actually did use East Kirkby for one month for a big NATO exercise and they had big strata tankers in there flying for this month and then it was closed down. But they were testing when I was there and the junior engineer above me, he was posted to South Uist in the Outer Hebrides and I didn’t want to go out there ‘cause I wanted to get married. So I began looking round for another job and I went to work for Holland County Council at Boston. I got a job there. And then from there moved to the Lindsey County Council at Lincoln and then to East Lindsey from there. So I had a few trips round Lincolnshire but never moved out.
AH: And was that doing planning all the time?
DB: Yes, apart from rebuilding the airfields I was in planning. I went back to planning from there and started qualifying again and managed to qualify as a planner when I was at Lincoln and that stood me in good stead for a job at East Lindsey and I became the Assistant Director of Planning there. And I had that for nineteen years before I retired and then I worked for the best part of three years, just two days a week, at Chattertons the solicitors in town here, as a consultant for them. They wanted me, they’d been after me for a long time, ‘cause I knew them very well. So I had two days a week working for them and then I decided it was time I did retire.
AH: And when did you move to Horncastle?
DB: 1969. Had this house built and the builder was next door at another house. He lived in there and I built next door to him. And my son was five. He was five on the one day and we moved here the next day and he started school the next week in Horncastle. We’d arranged that, like, and the school at that time was a private school at the bottom of the hill and it was er ‒, my wife at that time, worked for Bushes. And her offices were across the road, of course, so she could see him in school and out of school he used to come across the road to her and be in the office with her until she came home.
AH: Did you have any other children?
DB: No, just the one boy. No others arrived. Just the one. That’s him and his wife at the bottom there.
AH: That’s nice.
DB: They were going to some function there.
AH: Well, is there anything else you’d like to say?
DB: No, I don’t think there is at the moment. But if you can think of any other questions you want to ask, yeah, I’m quite happy to answer them or I’ll try to give some indication of what happened.
AH: Did you have air raid shelters?
DB: We didn’t have an air raid shelter, no, but people did have them. But we used to go under the stairs, in a cupboard under the stairs, go into that when there was an air road on, if it was bad. Other times we’d get under the bed. But a lot of people had Anderson shelters in their gardens or Morrison shelters, which they’d have in the house ‘cause they were a steel frame shelter that you could have in your ‒ and you could sleep in them or on them. A lot of people slept on them, put mattresses on them. If there was a raid you went underneath.
AH: And what about rationing? Do you remember rationing?
DB: Oh yeah, things were rationed. Like, we never saw oranges or bananas or that sort of thing throughout the war. They were just disappeared. I worked from being thirteen to going to work at sixteen. I worked in the local butchers and I used to deliver rationed meat, it was all rationing at the time, and I used to bike round the area with a proper butcher’s basket on the front and a tray and I used to take the meat to the houses but it was cut up and rationed, cut up into sizes, certain sizes. Some things weren’t rationed. Sausages weren’t rationed but, of course, they hadn’t got a lot of pork and they used to put any scrap of meat they got anywhere went into sausages. And corned beef came to the butcher’s shops in very large tins in those days. I think they were ten shillings a tin, or something like that, and some of that used to go in sausages. It wasn’t rationed either but I’ve cut those up, cut big tins of corned beef up, to make sausages but you made do and it was amazing what you could do. And my mother was an excellent cook, fortunately, and she could make a meal out of nothing, basically. She could make a meat pie, or fish pie out of a tin of salmon you know, if you could get salmon. I know the only salmon you could usually get was grade three, which was the poorest of the salmon, and I remember on one occasion my grandfather was staying with us and he was taken ill with food poisoning afterwards. It didn’t affect anybody else but just he got it and unfortunately that was my mother’s father. Unfortunately his wife died, my grandmother died during the war. They kept the pub at Stickford and then he kept the pub for a year and had a housekeeper to look after things for him but then he packed it up and retired and he lived amongst the family and he used to come to us for so long and one of my aunties and uncles for so long, stop at all of them.
AH: What was he like?
DB: A little tubby fella [laughs], a real publican, and he worked originally for Salby, Sons and Winch, which was a brewery in Alford and then he got the pub at Stickford. It was one of their pubs and he did that. And he had a pony and trap at one time and he used to do a bit of carrying around the area but his horse would never pass a pub, it stopped at every one [laughs]. He was quite a character. He used to weigh, oh, fifteen or sixteen stone and he was only about five foot six at the most. He was a little barrel.
AH: And what was his pub called?
DB: The Globe at Stickford. It’s not a pub any longer. It was taken over as a pub after he’d retired out of it. Other people had it and somebody called Burton took it first, and then one of the Catchpoles took it I think after that, but it packed up being a pub many years back now. It’s just a house. But one of my uncle’s, my mother’s brothers, he had a garage across the road and there’s still a garage there but it’s not the garage that my uncle had. It’s totally changed and the original house that they lived in, which was a little shop and post office as well, it’s all gone and different houses there now. But I did meet one of my cousins from there last week. He lives at Woodhall. But my grandfather used to come and he’d bring his bike with him and he used to bike round the area. But we kept pigs in the war time. My father rented a sty just at the end of the road. And there was about five or six sties in there and he rented one of them and we kept pigs, so we’d always got some bacon or ham or something uncut during the year, and most people did that who could do. It was a way of life. I used to like it when they used to kill the pig ‘cause I was very fortunate that I could taste sausage meat before it was cooked and tell you if it needed more salt or pepper or sage or whatever was wanted in it. I could taste it and I used to go round all our friends that kept pigs as well when they were killing them and putting them all away and be tasting their sausage meat [laughs]. Before that, oh, they always used to test it as well. They used to put some in the oven and cook it a bit and they would taste it cooked but I could taste it raw.
AH: How would you realise that?
DB: Just by tasting it I think and I liked it. But as a teenager I was a good hand.
AH: And did you grow vegetables?
DB: Yes, we had a vegetable garden there and a little lawn and just a vegetable plot and we had fruit trees at the bottom of it and next door to us there was a house. It was a semi-detached house in Alford we had. A police sergeant lived in that side and we lived in this one and on the other side was a new house that had just been built, was pre-war, and they were builders in Alford. Two brothers had a building business there. One of his grandsons or one of his brother’s grandsons still runs it. Woods the Builders in Alford. It’s still there and behind them there’s a big orchard and everything and the man who lived beyond that side, in the next house, his garden come right round and took all that in. He had about half an acre of garden and chickens and everything, and he had one, a James Grieves apple tree in there, which they are one of the earliest eating apple trees. And all the fallen ones he used to push through the hedge for my brother and myself. These were the gifts we used to take [slight laugh].
AH: What was your address in Alford?
DB: 16 Chauntry Road. The house we lived in at Sutton on Sea just before we, not the one just before we left, the one before that was St Clements Lodge and it’s still St Clement’s Lodge ‘cause I passed it not all that long ago, and it’s been painted white outside. But when I was at the planning office at East Lindsey we had a planning application to do some alterations in that house so I said’ I’m doing a survey at that one’ and I went down and knocked on the front door and this lady came and I explained who I was from the planning office and I said ‘Can I have a look and see what you want to do but’ I said ‘actually I’m here just being blooming nosy’. She said ‘Why?’ ’Because’ I said ‘I used to live in here until I was about eight years old and wondered what it was like now’. I went in. The staircase was exactly the same with the same cubby-hole, mahogany coloured. I went in the front room. The fireplace was the same fire place. It was a Victorian fireplace with tiles down the side. It was just as I remembered it and I went through into the back room. It was ‒ I think it had got new windows and that in it. But the others hadn’t and then the kitchen, that’s right, they were rebuilding the kitchen area ‘cause it was built on the back. And then I said ‘can I have a look upstairs as well?’ and she said ‘Yes, of course, yeah’ and I went upstairs and the front bedrooms were the same, three front bedrooms it had got, that’s right, and a back bedroom. And on the way through to the corridor to the back bedroom was a little alcove. Well, my father had a bed made for that for my brother to sleep in. It was smaller than a full size single bed but it was big enough for a ten year old boy and he had a bed made to fit in that alcove. I said ‘Here then now’ ‘cause it was a door. She said ‘That’s the toilet in there’. I said ‘Our toilet was across the yard’ [laughs]. We did have a flush toilet but it was across the yard in the house next door basically. Well, next door was a shop. It was in one of their outbuildings but that was our toilet and I think the reason for that was, like, our house belonged to part of the family that was next door, it belonged to the wife’s parents I think, down there. They were a well-respected local family at Sutton on Sea, the Wileymans, and Cass[?], she lived next door. She was married to Mr Johnson and they had the shop next door to us. I used to go round as a little boy and sit in there, helping making orders up and that, and I used to help them make ice cream in the outbuilding at the back. They had an ice cream maker that you wound. Nowadays you have the electric to go round but you had to wind it, put ice in it, pour the liquid in, wind it round until it made the ice cream and take it out again, put it in the shop and sell it. And you could buy an ice cream for a ha’penny , the old ha’penny.
AH: Did they flavour it or was it vanilla?
DB: It was all vanilla. All vanilla ice cream. You didn’t have any flavoured in those days, not like they do now with about twenty-five different flavours.
AH: And in what road is St Clements Lodge? Where’s St Clement’s Lodge?
DB: St Clement’ Lodge? In Church Lane, Sutton on Sea. It was, if you go to Sutton on Sea, turn right, you come down the high street, turn right at the end of it virtually, there’s a car park there, you turn right down York road and then follow it through, past the playing fields. The road actually now goes round and you go off there and you go round there to the end, it turns right very sharply, and we were about the third house. There was a house on the corner, then there was a shop, and we were next door to that. But as you turn off down that road past the playing fields the first house there is made partly of railway carriages, two downstairs and two up. In the middle, downstairs, that was their lounge. Upstairs, each bedroom was a compartment from the railway carriage. Some of my friends used to live there as a boy and he had a model railway set, big enough to go right round the house, but in those days, of course, you had no electricity, no electric railways, they were all mechanic. You had to wind them up so you had to have someone at the far end to wind it up again to send it back. And then he got very modern. He got one that worked with steam and methylated spirit and it would go right round on one filling. But that’s been sold now. I don’t know who lives there now. But Frank, he kept it for a long time and I saw only a few years ago Frank Unwin died and it was sold. But just past there, there’s two more bungalows that had just two railway carriages downstairs, one’s got a pointed roof and one had a tin roof going over. But they were there, they were built, I think, in the 1920s or something like that. But quite unique.
AH: And that’s near Church Lane?
DB: Yeah, I think, is it Furling Lane, they call that bit of it? It goes from – you go down the high street, turn into York Road and go straight on down behind the sand hills, and there’s a playing field out on your right hand side, and then the first lot of bungalows, there’s a little group, you see a group of bungalows. I think it’s called Surfside, or something like that, and that one’s built on what used to be a pond. I remember sliding on that as a boy. Now it’s a group of bungalows. I hope they’re built on rafts or something or something to make them safe. But as I say, you keep on behind the sand hills, right at the back. There’s some interesting little places in Sutton on Sea when you go round. In the centre of Sutton on Sea there’s a car park in the middle there. Well, on that used to be, when we were boys, was some big wooden sheds and they belonged to a Mr Sheardown the local second hand furniture dealer. And they were full of furniture (hello, Tracey wants me ‒). But when we actually flitted in Sutton on Sea pre-war days (oh sorry, beginning of war time ‘cause it was October we flitted) we actually flitted in a horse and dray and the person who flitted us was the man who run the donkeys on Sutton on Sea, Harry Bucknall, and I earned my first money ever leading donkeys on the beach at Sutton on sea when I was seven years old. I got about sixpence for the week I think, something like that, which I thought was marvellous. I used to go down in the morning and fetch the donkeys up from the field to his house where he had the stables for them, get them saddled up and all that, take them to the beach, and have them out on the beach, and they’d be there three or four hours, and take them back, and take all the gear off, and take the donkeys down the field again [laughs].
AH: That’s very young.
DB: Yeah. And when I took my son, when he was, what would he be? About three, no more than that, I took him down to the beach for a ride on the donkeys and it was the still the same man running the donkeys, Harry Bucknall, and he looked at me and said ‘I took you to be born!’ He actually took my mother to Louth Hospital. He had a taxi business as well as his donkeys and he took my mother to hospital in his taxi when I was born. And he said ‘You’d better give him a free ride’, that’s my lad, he got a free ride on the donkeys (laughs). So it’s, it’s a small world you know when you go round. Like, I came to work in Louth in 1948 and lived down River Head in the little council houses down there. I lodged in number two, I think it was. I can’t remember the numbers now but it was the second one along, I know that, and the people I lodged with, the man was the ‒ he looked after all the warehouses down there, down River Head. They were all in the one family, one big ownership of the Jacksons, and he worked for the Jacksons and looked after all those, ‘cause in those days they were all full of corn and all that sort of thing. They’re all changed into something different now, those that are left. One of them used to be a restaurant. I don’t know if it still is. It was down Thames Street that was. I have an idea they might have had a fire there at one time but I can’t remember. And further along there, originally, there was the gas works. They became Ludermeaties [?]. ‘Cause Ludermeaties[?] were in Eve Street at one time, off James Street, and they outgrew that business and moved into the gas works down Thames Street. I know a lot of history of these places. I’ve been around too long.
Ah: Well, I think that’s all. Thank you very much.
DB: No problem. Do you want me to sign that, do you?



Anna Hoyles, “Interview with David Brewster,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 17, 2024,

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