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 3

Now I must say a little about the High Street from Wootton Lodge. This corner was very narrow when I was young. The Lodge side had a bank with elm trees on it so far down and a hedge behind that of about six feet, today there is a wall and fence.

We children ran along the bank and played hide-and-seek on our way to and from school. The right side of the road was fields and hedges, and trees. Where now there is a shop; there was a field-gate and football was played in the field on Saturdays. It was a hay-field where we had fun and games in the summer when the hay was cut as we did in the fields opposite our house all filled with 'horse daisies' and 'wiggle waggel' and other grasses. Some barley grasses you popped up your sleeve and it crept up your arm or you put down a couples' neck.

A large house was in the second field on the right. The Whitbread family lived there. Mr Whitbread was a clerk on the council in Newport. Then a field, and a fenced in house, and lodge. A house on its own and three pairs of houses, one of the middle ones was Warners' Bakery. Where the bakery was at the back of the house, I spent some time watching the bread being made and put into large ovens and when the loaves came out what a lovely smell they made. I watched the making of cakes too, all very intriguing. Then the Wickendons' house on its own, and two pairs of houses below that brought us down as far as Aedys' Garage. On the other side was all fields and trees.

The houses on the left included the Conservative Hall that was built in 1912. My father's two brothers lived on each side of this. One worked on the railway the other was a bricklayer.

Then on the right side, a row of houses and shops. The first shop was a sweet-shop owned by a little old lady named Mrs. Johnson. She wore steel-rimmed glasses and did her hair in a bun, and she would sell you a half pence of raspberry-drops or a farthing strip of liquorice, or a packet of sherbet with a pipe of liquorice to suck it through, or a half pence of bulls eyes. You could get chocolate of course, 2d a bar, or a large bar for 6d in old money.

One day when we were there, young Denison Mitchison, who was keen on catching fish, came in and tipped out a bag of eels on the floor where they wriggled out. Mrs Johnson said she would buy them, she said they would be nice cooked in milk, but we didn't think we should like them. The shop now is a chemist's. Next to her was Abells' grocery store and then there was a clothing and haberdashery shop, run by a mother and daughter. The daughter had a very particular way of talking to you when you came into the shop. She would say in a slurring voice, "Hello Joan, how are you today Joan, what can I get for you Joan, yes Joan, that will be all Joan, anything else Joan, alright Joan, thank you very much Joan, goodbye Joan." Well this was a source of merriment to us young people. Next to that was a butcher's shop which is now a fish and chip shop, then came a house now used by Lloyds Bank today. Next was the post office and there the shops ended. A row of houses comes after these. One a little bigger and three terraces, very old ones.

My grandfather and grandmother on my father's side came to live in the house that is now Lloyds Bank when they retired from the New Inn at Shalfleet. They had a cow or two, some turkeys and fowls etc. at the back in the large garden. Grandfather died when I was born so I never saw him, but granny stayed on a number of years.

When I was nine, my father's youngest sister got married to our head master's son at St Mark's, a new church in Station Road, of course it was horse and carriage event in those days. We grandchildren ran or walked behind the carriage to the church and back also when they went to Wootton Station to go on their honeymoon. My father couldn't go as he was ill so it was disappointing for him. I wore a broderie anglaise dress and a lovely crimson-red silk sash with a fringe my father had brought me home from China. (He had been on a commission there for five years during the Boxer Uprising.)

I wore these feeling very smart and of course the big cream sailor hat and white shoes. We had a lovely time and stayed the night with our cousins from over the mainland and other parts of the Island. Uncle played the melodian for dancing and a good time was had by all.