- Contributed by
- Braintree Library
- People in story:
- Violet Brazier
- Location of story:
- Harwich, Essex and Uley,Gloucestershire
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 22 April 2005
At my school in Harwich my year had just received the news that some of us had done well enough to be offered a place at the local grammar school for September 1939. We were both excited and nervous but had no idea of what was ahead. When we were due to start school, l war was declared and our term was delayed until air raid shelters were built. We started school later that year ready for the music teacher to prepare us for the carol concert with little idea of what the New Year had in store for us. We still had to have some lessons in the shelters — none of us was too worried as children think such things are amusing but not for long.
In the middle of March 1940 our parents were told we were to be evacuated and they had to give their permission for us to go. Some parents refused perhaps not realizing that the School was to be closed and all the teachers to accompany the evacuees. At least, as we found out later, all those who had not joined up.
The day arrived when we were told which railway station to be at — Harwich, Dovercourt, Parkeston Quay and the rest at a country station outside the town long since closed. A mixture of excitement and fear permeated the carriages — we had no idea where we were going! The train took us to Gloucester where some pupils left the train and others like myself went onto Stroud from where we were taken by bus to various small towns and villages in the area. Several in my class ended up in Uley a small village a few miles from Dursley.
By this time we were all tired, hungry and a bit scared. We were lined up and confronted by some of the local people who if they had room had to take us in. I found myself with 3 other girls from my class in a rather grand house, Lampern Hill, which belonged to one of the county families. The lady herself who was unmarried was very nice but the housekeeper and her husband were not impressed to find they had 4 youngsters to feed and look after. We lived in the main house and ate with the owner but the housekeeper expected us to help with the chores.
We also discovered that school would be in Dursley about 9 miles away which meant walking 2 ½ miles to get to the nearest bus stop to get the bus. This was OK in the morning as it was downhill but not so good on the way back after school. We had some lessons in a chapel in Dursley, meals in another building and other lessons with the pupils of the local grammar school in their school building. The teachers must have had a horrendous time trying to fit all of this into a timetable.
Unfortunately the housekeeper’s husband found 4 young girls quite interesting and life became very embarrassing, so much so that when my parents came down to visit just after Christmas they decided to find me a new billet. This new home was in Dursley itself at the home of the local ironmongers. They were a Welsh family and very nice, and I was given my own room on the top floor and a place to do my homework. It was much more convenient for the School and for Church. I was allowed to help out in the shop on a Saturday and sometimes during the holidays to earn some pocket money.
We were due to move up to senior school which would mean moving again or taking the bus to Wotton-under-Edge. Some of us did this for a while but found it exhausting. My parents chose to bring me home and found me a place at Colchester High School (after I had passed a test to satisfy the Head!)
Later on another move was in the offing — my grandfather died and my mother decided to move back to Canvey Island to look after her mother. I decided to get a job and attend the 6th Form College in Southend on a day release scheme to train as a dispenser at the local pharmacy. It was the nearest I could get to being a doctor which had been my dream. Another dream I had was to stay in the same place as long as I could and stop living the life of a gypsy.
Life is full of experiences and one learns from them all — our teachers left us all with a good basic education, and in particular, to question things. I am still doing so.
© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.