Wootton Bridge and Whippingham on the Isle of Wight

The wind of change passing through as seen and commented on by VICTORIA M SNOW. (1911 - 1998)

Chapter 2

We had a lot of relatives in all the different roads. My father's and mother's (both), dad's aunt lived in New Road, her son lived in Red Road. He was a builder and also a local preacher. The daughter married my mother's brother and they started courting when they were fifteen. Her parents walked behind them on their walks out together. Presumably they did not go out at night. Those were the days!

On my way home from school in Red Road, I liked to wander down through my aunt's garden which was on a slope to the house in New Road. You went down winding paths, the flowers there were lovely, I always remember this.

There was an old couple living in Red Road opposite the school. They sold apples and the old lady had not got any teeth. She would stand at the gate when we came out of school, and make funny faces for us to laugh at. She could make her nose touch her chin and she would put her tongue out in different ways, so we had a jolly good laugh. Sometimes we got bold and ran up to her door, if she wasn't at the gate, and then her husband would come to the door and say, "Be off with you!"

When I was young a cobbler also lived there. He was a cripple, but he was a good mender of shoes etc., when I was older I would stand and watch him. That way I got to be able to mend my own shoes sometimes.

The builders also had a business in Red Road. As you approached the High Street from New Road, there was a little lane opposite my aunt's and uncle's house which went downhill beside the Unity Hall, where concerts, dances, whist drives and various events took place.

We children enjoyed running up and sliding down this path. Once two young girls and their parents came to live in Wootton. They came to the dances and they wore dresses that only came down to their knees. Oh, how we looked at them and how shocking we thought it was! No one had dared to wear such dresses before, well of course, this was a 'nine-days wonder' as they called it and before long all the local girls had followed suit. If you can't beat them join them, but they did cause a stir.

When I was 15, I went to dancing classes at Unity Hall. It cost 6d a time in the old money. A lady dance instructress taught us the LANCERS, FOXTROT, ONE-STEP, TWO-STEP, WALTZ, and the CHARLESTON, also the PAUL JONES and a lovely TANGO like dance called the FLORENTINE WALTZ with intricate steps which was my favourite dance.

My cousin had a dance-band in those days, we did not have a lot of trouble like today. I only remember one dance when one or two men came from the Sloop Inn a little worse for drink, we called the dance, "The six penny hop."

The Sloop Inn is on Wootton Bridge, there was also a cobbler's shop and a house or two. Then at the end of the row was the mill with one side on the bridge.

One of my uncles worked at the mill so we youngsters very often roamed around there. The floury smell was nice and the millers would trundle the bags of flour along on a little trolley in an upstairs room and let the bags down through a trap-door in the floor. We liked to hear this going on. The flour would be taken by boat or by cart and horse to the bakery. The mill has now been pulled down and flats for sailing people have been built in its place. The mill was owned by the brothers E. and L. Souter. One lived at Kite Hill the other ran the farm inside the Fern Hill gates at the end of the bridge. This now opens to Lakeside and the road goes past the farm to Little Town near Arreton Road. We used to walk that way when I was young.

In the days of the coaches, they always stopped at the Sloop Inn. There was a clock in a shop window there which had stopped at 7.45. This was called Wootton Bridge time. Time stood still in Wootton then, some friends would ask what's the time? and we would answer, "It's a quarter-toeight Wootton Bridge time."

There was an old saying too, a friend would come to the door and you would say, "Come on in wi me and ha a cup of taa on I'll goo as fvur as Wootton Bridge a long wi ya."