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Evacuation to Bedford

by Bedfordshire Libraries

Contributed by 
Bedfordshire Libraries
People in story: 
Lilian May Fry
Location of story: 
Bedford, Bedfordshire
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
14 September 2004

I was evacuated to Bedford 1944 with my mother, brothers and sisters. At that time we were living in Islington London. Fortunately for us we were evacuated just in time, as the weekend we moved, our house was Blitzed by the Doodle Bugs!

Arriving at Bedford Railway Station along with several other families we were taken to St. Cuthberts Church Hall, where we stayed for a few weeks. We slept on the floor on mattereses, were given two meals a day where we went to the British Restaurant to eat in near by Mill Street. We had breakfast at 8.30 another meal at noon and that was it til the next day.

We left all our possessions behind, hoping to return back home soon, but that wasn't to be, as we were homeless after being Blitzed by the Doodle Bugs.

After staying in St. Cuthberts Church Hall for several weeks the Government requisitioned lovely big houses for evacuees. These were in a very good areas, like Goldington Avenue, Richmond Road, Cornwall Road and there about. Some of the houses were so big they were made in to flats, we had a house to ourselves as we were a large family.

Nearby us lived the Mayor of Bedford. His daughter Janet was very nice and often invited us into the garden to play. However, not all the locals were friendly, the local children went to Bedford High School, and the Boys Bedford School.

A few doors from us lived two boys Thomas and Anthony. They were forbidden to speak to the evacuees, their mother said she didn't want them using any of our London slang. They both had posh accents so I suppose this was understandable, but not for us kids. Anthony never did speack to us, but Thomas always wanted to play with us, which he did on the quiet when his mother was not around. In later years Thomas became Mayor of Bedford, still with his posh accent. I see him from time to time, he is always willing to have a chat.

When all the families vacated the Church Hall it was used as a School for the evacuees, along with another hall nearby which be longed to the Bunyan Meeting Church in Mill Street. I can always remember the Headmaster Mr Mansfield saying our claim to fame would be we went to the first John Bunyan School. This did not have much meaning to us at the time as we had never heard of Bunyan. Since living in Bedford a number of years I now know what the Headmaster was trying to tell us. So yes it is my fist claim to fame.

Having left all our posessions behind we did not have any clothes. The Red Cross provided these which were given out by the W.V.S. All the jersey's were dark red, so half the school was dressed in dark red jumpers which every one knew were given to you by the W.V.S. But we were greatful as that's all we had. Of course there were always the spiteful kids who would shout out your clothes are from the W.V.S.

The government provided us with the basic furniture like tables, chairs, beds, also china and cutlery. At the end of the war the School broke up and most of the evacuees returned to London.

We were one of the families that stayed behind. Because the evacuee School closed we had to attend the local School in Goldington Road. The Headmistress was a spiteful old spinster who hated the Londoners and didn't want them in her School. As this was the Law she had to endure the few evacuees, but she did not do this kindly.

However, that is another story.

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