Interview with Thomas Peter Payne. One


Interview with Thomas Peter Payne. One


Thomas was born in Hemel Hempstead in 1925, one of four children and lived in a row of terraced houses with very basic sanitation. The end property was a public house with no gas or electricity, with only paraffin lamps and candles. His first recollection was the construction of a new public house to replace the old one, with improved drainage for the adjacent houses.
He recalls that he had a wonderful mother who kept them well fed with fresh food as there were no refrigeration systems in those days, His mother died at the age of 101.
Thomas started school at the age of five and in 1936, aged eleven, passed the required exams to attend a higher education school but, with the introduction of secondary modern education, moved to another school. At the commencement of the war he remembers mesh being fitted to the windows, air raid shelters being dug and land being requisitioned for a school vegetable garden.
Thomas planned to join the RAF as a Halton apprentice but the war changed his plans.




Temporal Coverage




00:05:16 audio recording


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CB: My name is Chris Brockbank and I’m in Hemel Hempstead and it’s the 4th of February 2016 and I’ve come to talk to Thomas Payne about his experiences in the family and his time in the air force and afterwards. So Tom start us with the earliest days you could remember please.
TP: Well I was born in the centre, almost centre of Hemel Hempstead, Marlowes, in December 1925. I had two older brothers and a sister. My oldest brother was a bus driver by that time. He was born before the First World War. First earliest recollection is the Wagon and Horses Public House which was at the end of our row of cottages. I vaguely remember it being built in the — behind the cottages, part behind the row of cottages with a drive in and drive out section. They had some swing chains across the front and I was skipping over those one day when I fell on them and had one dig in my knee. So I can recall that. But apparently The Wagon before that was the end cottage of the row and how it became, how it was a pub with no electricity or gas inside. We only had paraffin lamps and candles. One cold water tap in the scullery and a toilet up the garden which you shared with a neighbour. I believe in those early days that the bucket was emptied every night but we were, when The Wagon was built that was put on sewerage so we were put on sewerage. No refrigerators so food had to be bought fresh every day. How mum managed to feed us all I’ll never know. She was a wonderful lady. She lived to be nearly a hundred and one anyway so, but my schooldays were at Bury Mill End School which I started before I was five and I stayed there until I was eleven. And that year in 1936 I passed the examination for Two Waters Central School as did two of my mates who went to the school as well. The transfer was quite smooth. It was a lovely school — the Central School. We had a grand time. There was only four classes. Forty each. Twenty boys. Twenty girls. Made some good friends then but sadly after two years or whether it was the third year secondary modern education started and they’d built a new school in Crabtree Lane which was the top floor was boys, the bottom floor was girls and our headmaster was appointed headmaster of the new school. So of course they closed the Central School and us pupils from the Central School formed the A streams of the hundreds of students that were at the new school. The war started and life changed completely. The windows were all covered with glued on mesh safety netting. Air raid shelters were built in the back of the playgrounds. The land opposite was commandeered and used for gardening by the school. I didn’t get involved in that. That was hard work. It was planned that I was going to join the air force. I’d thought of going to Halton and the school was getting papers ready and then of course with the advent of war everything was altered. We went to evening classes to help but some of the teachers got called up and we were reliant on part timers which I don’t think was very successful. Excuse me.
CB: We’re stopping just for a mo.
TP: Yeah.



Chris Brockbank, “Interview with Thomas Peter Payne. One,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 17, 2024,

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