Thursday 2nd June, 1960


Dear Alec June Susan & Carol

Many thanks for letter to hand on Tuesday – Mum has already replied to the one she received at Tiverton. Very sorry to hear about Stanley Baker*. I only met him at the wedding but had quite a lot to do with him in the Control days about Rolling Stock matters especially at holiday times.

Saw on TV last night you had had some excitement at South Ruislip with a Northolt plane down on Express Dairy roof – could have been another Southall tragedy.**

Yes we had a very nice weekend at Tiverton and Exmouth and weather was ideal. As Mum has told you we went out to John’s place at Chettiscombe on the Friday evening and over to Pat’s on the Saturday morning before going to Exmouth. The bungalow is quite nice and well furnished. Two double bedrooms – lounge in which is a ‘put-u-up’ which could be used as another double bed – living room, kitchen (electric & gas) and bathroom etc. Situated on what is known as the Docks but in fact is on the estuary of the river Exe and as tide was out on Sunday afternoon we went gathering cockles which Aunt Lydia cooked in the evening and they were much enjoyed for supper.

We arranged for a half pound cream to be sent each to June’s mother & Father and to you, remembering that last time we sent you some from Exmouth you said it was ‘off’ by the time you get home hence the posting on Friday this week assuming you will be home Saturday morning.

Uncle Joe & Aunt Lydia will be coming up here for a weekend 22nd July, that is as far as can be stated at the moment.

Glad you have now all got back to normal health again and hope you will keep fit for your holiday also that all the nice weather will not have left us by then. We do badly need rain now and crops already are being affected by the prolonged dry spell. We picked broad beans yesterday – very nice and lettuces are still holding out.

Mum and I are going down to Lyng on Sunday leave here about 10.0 a.m. and depart Lyng I expect after early cup of tea in afternoon. Although it will be Whitsunday the route over the Mendips will not be so heavily occupied as the main road.

When you have finally settled the route you will take from Ruislip to Clevedon please let me know and also approximate time of starting. I quite agree there will be very little about at Bourne End if you pass that way early in morning. Our next door neighbours (Heel) went to Dittisham (on River Dart) yesterday – started about 7.0 a.m. and stopping for one night only so sometime later this evening they will be back. Expect you remember Dittisham from a river trip on the Dart – it is a very pretty place.

Note position re: Work Study Dept. – not very satisfactory – but can only wait and see what happens. Expect your knowledge of work on Paddington terminal committee will have a bearing on matter. You had a nice trip last Sunday to Chessington – this is where you were doing Work Study with a private firm for a few weeks.

So Peter likes the sloe wine then – pity I did not make a larger quantity. Perhaps can have another try this season. None on hand here not but plenty of other varieties.

Have nearly finished cutting the hedges around the garden and today got the scythe out for the first effort on the rough grass – my word it was hot. A little of that goes a long way. Water carrying too is a problem. Last evening I took down 24 gallons to runner beans alone and then had quite a lot of other plants to water. Could do with a good pump to get water up from river.

The people who bought Cummings house continue to be very busy both inside and outside – somebody is there for a short while most days.

John’s place at Chettiscombe has a walled-in flower garden – shrubs and lawn – with a stream of spring water running right through the middle of it. The stream is about 4 to 5 feet across and depth of water about 1 [and a half] feet. Water is crystal clear and you can see bed of stream easily. This is the actual stream which runs through some of the streets in Tiverton. We did not see any of the folk in the shop at Bampton St***. but as Mum as mentioned ran into Aunt Bessie in Exmouth before we had been there a couple of hours – amazing isn’t it? I had just ordered the cream to be sent off and was then looking for a stationer’s shop to get the views [postcards] of Exmouth to send out before returning to bungalow.

So Susan & Carol both busy with bucket & spade. Don tells me that the people who share their house at Lyng have made a sandpit for their two young children and it keeps them busy for hours – but the tide never comes in. Anyhow we shall see this ‘contraption’ Sunday & will report further.

Well I think this is all – three weeks today and you will be with us – we are looking forward to your visit and perhaps I shall be in better condition this time.

All our love to you both and our darling little girls with lots of kisses.

Mum & Dad

*June’s Uncle Stan had died on 23 May aged 72.

**An Avro Anson made a ‘deliberate emergency landing’ on the roof of the Express Dairy building on 1 June 1960 with the pilot and co-pilot being seriously injured but the two passengers walking away unscathed. Apparently one of the passengers, a BBC cameraman, hitched a ride back to work and acquired a camera before coming back to film the aftermath of the incident for that evening’s news! ( Fascinatingly, this was not the first forced landing on top of a building in South Ruislip; it had also happened in 1946. There was also another incident with a much less successful outcome near South Ruislip station in 1942. The nearby ‘Southall tragedy‘ occurred in 1958.

***I don’t know the significance of Bampton St unless perhaps it was a monumental mason’s. A large portion of the family was in the stone quarrying business in that area; further investigation is warranted.

N.B. a previous (?) letter from Alec to his parents, presumably breaking the news of Stan Baker’s death, has only survived in part. The only way to identify it as belonging to this period is that it mentions Peter and his girlfriend arriving and drinking sloe wine. The rest of the contents are about parsnips, tomatoes, slugs, beetroot and Doug Matthews – not in order of priority – and it does not seem very sensible to include it here.


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