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 7

Now I must say a little more about the area of Wootton Bridge, Kite Hill and Ash Lake. There was a three cornered piece of ground by the Sloop Inn years ago, with a bakery owned by the Cooper family, there was a low wall round this and railings along to the pointed corner near the mill, the Sloop Inn and other buildings have had a SnowCem covering. New boat-houses instead of cottages on the hill by the bridge make this look very different.

Of course the traffic too is very busy rushing along. Whereas in the early years it was so quiet.

I remember when peace was declared after the First World War, a celebration party was held at Kite Hill House, the home of Mr E. Souter. Who with his brother, who lived at Fernhill Farm, owned the mill. Children were presented with peace-mugs and a tea-party was given also there was dancing on the lawn in the evening. We stayed quite late I remember and mum came to meet us saying dad was not very pleased with us as he was ill, we didn't get into too much trouble.

We children were also invited to decorate the white wooden struts of the railings along the side of the mill pond, this looked very pretty. I did mine with large white daisies, pink rambler-roses, gypsophila, and other flowers, I won a prize, just imagine trying to do this today. The flowers would be all blown away by the traffic swishing by as it does, or if while we were doing the decorating we stepped back to admire our work we would be knocked down and run over wouldn't we?

My flower decoration for Wootten Bridge consisted of a hoop and in the centre placed a basket of flowers.

The August Bank Holiday Show was held every year in the field by the side of the Kite Hill Road that led to Firestone Copse (where wild daffodils grew) and on to Havenstreet. We took our entries along in the morning and arranged them and then went back in the afternoon to see what prizes we had won and to join in the fun and games. Dad would enter flowers and fruit and mum did bottled fruit, jams and cakes, also she did the table decorations and bowls and epergnes of flowers, she always got the prizes, but I don't seem to follow her skill in that.

However, I did get prizes for needle-work and for bunches of wild flowers, which went by how many varieties you had whether you got a prize or not. Of course I was always ahead in this. Halfway up the Arreton Road in the hedge bank I could find some wild yellow antirrhinums and as no one else knew of this I kept quiet about the whereabouts of them, and also as I was interested in the wild flowers, perhaps more than most, I did get more varieties than the others.

Today we rush by in cars and I have never been able to stop and see if the 'granny bonnets' as we called them are still there.

We would come back in the afternoon and 'trip the light fantastic' over the field to the strains of Colonel Bogey or some such marches played by the band from Newport. The conductor and owner of the band being my mother's uncle, so we enjoyed this very much.

There was also sports, and the man who ran this always reminded me of a little cock robin, with his rosy face, perky little nose, and of course he spoke in a loud voice through what was called a megaphone. So greatly interesting to us. In all the years I only remember one wet day when it poured all afternoon and we had to wait till evening to go and pick up our things. It had been a very warm humid morning and all the flowers and other things smelled so lovely with the aroma. The sun came out late in the afternoon, that was August weather! Today though this is all changed and the field which first had houses built all along the Ryde Road hedge, now has rows of houses along the field and the next one to it, on the Firestone Road.

We would have the Autumn Show in the Women's Institute Hall by the side of Bridge House where the Scotts' lived, later on Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Brodie, Dr Brodie's son resided there. I remember when the first house was built for Mr Sindon the newspaper editor just by the little lane to Ash Lake. Now there are houses all along there. Ash Lake is just along from Kite Hill on the left at the bottom of the hill and road to Fishbourne.

We would wander down this path on Sunday afternoons after Sunday School. On holidays if we went to Fishbourne, there was a couple of paths down Ash Lake which led to the Fishbourne Road. We would go downhill to the stream and little bridge and climb up the other side and there would be other favourite places. The copse on each side and lots of wild flowers, bushes of interest, leaves of them too, so pretty, and in autumn such lovely colours. Birds, butterflies and bees and such a nice dell to roam about in and explore.

I went there a year or two ago. Got off the bus with my husband and thought about seeing it as before, but no, there was the path made into a road so far down with houses, fences and cars parked there. Houses and bungalows in the copse too. It was still a bit narrow by the bridge and also the little road marked 'Private'. When I was young that led to Wootton Creek, it was widened for cars and we could go to the beach there so that was something we could do that wasn't allowed years ago.