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15 October 2014
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The Rescue of the Tea Cosy

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Ron Preston
Location of story: 
Folkestone, Kent; Merthyr Tydfil, Wales
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
29 September 2005

I lived in Folkestone for the whole of the war, apart from one week when we were evacuated to Merthyr Tydfil in Wales. I was nine when the war started and I don’t remember being frightened or worried for any of it, it was just fun mainly and really exciting, except for the week we were evacuated which was just plain horrible.

There were only a few of us that got evacuated to Wales from my street — just me and my mother and a neighbouring family of three round the corner from us that we knew. We were herded here and there on the way to Wales on the train.

The conditions were terrible in the place that we were billeted. There were bed bugs crawling up the wall, all night and all day, and fleas that you had to pop with a candle, we were better off being back in Folkestone with the bombs I think. The old lady that we were staying with hated us being there, just as we hated being there. I supposed we were thrust onto these people and they resented our presence, eating all the food (of which there wasn’t very much) and invading their homes.

The family we’d travelled up with didn’t have much of a better time of it either and the conditions at their place were just as bad. After about a week we all got together and decided enough was enough and we wanted to go back to Folkestone. We had a hell of a job trying to get back home, in the end our neighbour, a tall gaunt woman, who could out-shout the town crier put our case to the authorities rather forcibly, and they relented and we were allowed to go back to Folkestone.

I’ll never forget that the old Welsh lady who we stayed with, had a prized possession, which was looked after like a pet animal, a hand knitted tea cosy! We were forbidden from touching it, which we thought was hilarious and the more she tried to keep us away from this thing the more we wanted to touch it! This included me and my mother and our neighbours from Folkestone.

When we found out we were allowed to go home, I decided that I’d take the tea cosy to a better home and I slipped it into my pocket as we left. At some point on the train journey home, when I was far enough away from Merthyr Tydfil to feel safe, I took the tea cosy out of my pocket and put it on my head. When my mother noticed my new ‘hat’ she gave a shriek and burst out laughing, along with our neighbours. I fully expected the old lady to come chasing after me to Folkestone to get her beloved tea cosy back, but to this day she never has!

This story has been added to the website by Eleanor Fell, on behalf of Ron Preston, who has given his permission for his wartime memory to be added to the site and he understands the terms and conditions of the website.

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