Some Memories Of Wootton In The 1960's & 70's
We moved into our house in Wootton High Street in 1962. 1962/63 was a very cold winter and the Creek froze right over. Some houses and shops had no water. The High Street was then a quiet road with many shops, with a market garden and fields opposite us and all fields behind. It was possible to drive back from Newport at lunchtime and not to meet a single vehicle! There was no Rectory Drive, Brannon Way or St Edmunds Walk. A row of cottages and a small lane were where the entrance to Brannon Way now is. The High Street was lit at night by three gas lamps; one at the Bridge, one on the other side of the road near us and one at Wootton Lodge (then home and surgery for Dr. Kennedy). From Wootton to Newport or Ryde it was pitch black at night.
The fields behind us were used for cattle. There was a cowshed and milking parlour down the hill from us while the field at the bottom of our garden was a cows' "maternity ward". Often we would wake in the morning to see the new calves which had been delivered overnight. When the farmer wanted to move his cattle, he would go down the High Street closing all the garden gates beforehand.
On the Creek, largish steamers regularly used the wharf on its east side by the Bridge.
The old mill by The Sloop was still there but disused and, on the other side of The Sloop, was the St. John Ambulance Hall. There were two banks which opened for two mornings a week; one was Lloyds in the now derelict cottage (now rebuilt). The telephone exchange was a manual one situated in the front room of a cottage further down the High Street on the opposite side of the road. It was fully manned during the day but, at night, was in the hands of a resident caretaker operator. There was a telephone box outside and it was amusing to see that, when you lifted the receiver, the net curtains would be pulled back to see who you were! It was handy to have this central "observation post". Often if you were trying to ring somebody, the operator would tell you they had just seen them going shopping and to try again later. Quite a time and money saver!
Law and order was in the hands of a resident policeman, PC Allinson, who regularly patrolled the village. The police house was in Red Road. There was little major crime although an annoyance was somebody who had a habit of stealing ladies' knickers off their washing lines. The policeman had a good idea who it was but was never able to catch him.
There were two bakeries. Cannings was a few houses up the hill from us which also had a small grocers shop. Another was at the back of Ace Shoe Repairs. This shop was later a newsagent and is now Wisteria Gallery. Wrays, a large Newport Grocers had a branch in Wootton. There was also a fish shop, a wool shop, a hardware store and the Post Office. The chemist was in the hands of Mr. Archer Brading. Mr. Aedy bought a field and opened his garage. This the building is now occupied by Majestic Wine, Minghella' s factory and the Elizabeth Ann Studio.
The Methodist Church and Sunday School were flourishing concerns in the lower High Street and an amusing incident happened there in the very hot summer of (we think) 1976. The varnish on the seats had melted in the heat and, when it was time to stand for the hymn, the entire congregation found that they had stuck to their seats and had great difficulty in getting free. Bumbles Lane was originally a chapel.
The original Lakeside Club was open and we were members. It had a swimming pool with a fountain and a high diving board. On Mondays, when the pool was cleaned and refilled, we were very short of water. There were chalets, tennis courts, a shop, a bar and a teashop. Boats could be hired on the Millpond and we could row almost to Havenstreet. The Church Close Estate is on the site of another holiday camp owned by Mr. and Mrs. Cave. It also had a pool. Its large hall and stage was used for some village events, such as the Annual Show of the Wootton Horticultural Society.
In those days, the Womens' Institute meetings were held in their own wooden hall (now demolished) which was on the far side of the Bridge.
Wootton was the site for two Island Pop Festivals. A most unusual steady drumming noise woke us in the early hours following the end of the first Festival. We looked out of our window to see the High Street packed solid with people walking down to the Bridge. They were not talking; there was just the steady tramp of feet. Apparently buses to Ryde were being turned round at the bridge because the crowds prevented them reaching the Festival site.
The railway from Ryde through Wootton to Newport and Cowes was still running when we came to Wootton although Wootton Station had been closed in 1953. There was a good bus service, similar to the present. No. 1 ran from Ryde to Newport and Cowes via Fairlee while the 1A went via Staplers.
Source: Contributed by Dr. and Mrs. J. Mackett.This page was last edited on: 26th January, 2022 17:50:53