Wednesday 27th February and Sunday 3rd March, 1963

There is a gap of ten days in the correspondence at this point due to Frank Baker’s death on 22 February and subsequent funeral on 4 March.

Frank Edward Baker 1892-1963

Frank Baker was June’s father. He married Edith Nellie Louise Mullinger (1895-1987) in 1919 and they had four children – William Edward Frank (‘Teddy’), June Edith, Pauline Mary, and Peter Neville Macord.* Frank was excluded both from working with the GWR and also from active military duty in the First World War as the result of a childhood accident which left him with only one eye. He did, however, go to France as an ambulance driver.

Frank had a glass eye, and is reputed to have entertained guests by taking it out and polishing it at the dinner table – but this story seems to have circulated about everyone who ever had a glass eye, and should probably be taken with a pinch of salt! He was variously in the licensed trade, a cinema manager (in Southend), and the proprietor of a tobacconist and sweet shop. He was also apparently a Freemason.

At the time of writing this I do not have Frank’s birth or death certificates so I can neither confirm nor refute the assertion by his brother Robert that he was born and died in the same house, but it is very likely as it was certainly owned by his family in the 1891 census. I also have no definitive information about Frank’s cause of death but my impression over the years is that he had some kind of smoking-related complaint: in those days smoking was allowed in cinemas and was of course also prevalent in pubs and other establishments and on public transport so he would have had difficulty escaping it in everyday life. When the late Roy Castle died from the effects of passive smoking in 1994 it became clear to everyone that Frank had probably suffered in a similar way, although he was also known to smoke a very occasional cigar in social settings: being a tobacconist, he probably felt it was one of the requirements of his job.

For more information about the Baker family as a whole, follow this link.


Wednesday 13th February, 1963

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol

Once again many thanks for your newsy letter received this morning. First of all we are very sorry to hear Mr Baker is so poorly and hope the better weather which should be just round the corner – as it were – will help him to get back to normal. The present conditions are very oppressive and no encouragement to anyone feeling a little off-colour. We are sorry to hear that Mrs Baker still does not care for the move – perhaps as she gets more settled in she will think better of it. It does seem that all possible has been done at number 17 to improve its former condition and I’m sure it must be a relief to get away from the shop.

Now back to the beginning of your letter. Did you get any snow last Sunday (10th February)? It started here about 9:30 a.m. and kept on until about 4:30 p.m. sometimes and sometimes very heavy. I swept the snow off path between back door and front gate at about 5.0 p.m. but  when we got up on Monday morning there was another lot about an inch deep. This weeks too we have had several flurries necessitating use of broom to clear pathways. It is lovely today though – sun shining strongly and it is quite warm sitting here in living room. We did catch sight of some grass before last weekend’s snow and again now the thaw is making a big difference. May it continue with the good work.

Noted your plumbing now in order and no further alarms alarms. Sorry the girls have been suffering from colds and coughs again – as I said before what else can one expect this weather. Mum and I keep going but it is a job at times and I’m really thankful I have not to make the journey to Bristol anymore. The operating side must be having a very worrying time of it. I see Marples was at Bristol last Monday blowing his top.

Your colleague has something to grouse about – no water since 26th January. The neighbours on either side of Aston are still without water waiting for plumber to attend burst pipes. Glad to hear June managing to keep well – good job somebody in the house can keep going but with your house without the necessary heating it must have been rough on all of you while it lasted. You would be surprised what a good slide the children made of the church pathway with so much snow to make a bed with and believe me it was pretty treacherous to step on last Sunday even with fresh snow on top. Wanted Jim White back again to chase the kiddies off. We had already suggested to Aston he should charge for water service to get back a little of what it cost him to keep going. Now we hear of another ceiling down as a result of snow accumulating under tiles. We have a lot to be thankful for here as had practically no inconvenience throughout.

Glad to hear car going alright. I did not keep ours out more than three nights the weather was so severe I put car back into garage even if it meant stopping there for a few weeks which fortunately was not the case.

Incidentally has Mr Baker had to change his doctor since they have moved over to Ealing? This is always a nuisance as you get used to one individual and he or she gets used to you. Mum’s hearing aid still going well and we heard from Fortiphones this morning that cost of repairing her original set will be £2.10s6d [roughly £57.50 in 2023 money] so I have now send off checque for this to be done. I believe mum has a very old set laying about here somewhere but whether she can spare it will be up to her to say. It has not been used for years and was I think her original set when she first started using aids. The cost of phoning London during the day is 2d [19p] for ten seconds i.e. 3/- [£3.42] for three minutes which is not at all bad. After 6 p.m. there as a reduction of course.

Mum went with the T.G. to Yatton Monday to look over the Avalon furniture factory (Wake and Deans in your time). Incidentally Ray Mogg who has been with the firm as their representative in the Manchester area for a long time now returns to headquarters at Yatton as their Sales Manager. Mum was not impressed with the furniture she saw – most of it was foreign wood veneered over.

Yes I expect the cost of clearing snow from the roads will run the rates up nicely but we are all in the same boat with this. What about the lottery for the proposed Lido in Clevedon? I like the story of the footballer and his ‘bonus’. Must pass this one on in due course. Pity the programme ‘That Was The Week That Was’ is so late on Saturdays but some of it is worth listening to especially Bernard Levin who is one of the regulars and comes on towards the end. Whatever was the matter with the girls on Saturday then – could they not get outdoors at all and felt fed up with themselves.

Noted your wine sinking fast in more ways than one. I have now started to sample the first of this last season’s blackberry – very nice too. Not properly racked off yet, still in the sweet jars.

You will see in ‘Mercury’ enclosed at Mrs Yandell (formerly of Clevedon Lodge) has died and also old man Gulliford. The Yandells have been living near the East Clevedon Triangle for several years since their return to Clevedon after leaving the Burden Estate after Mrs Burden died. Mr Yandell still does a bit of horticultural judging at shows.

A letter from Don this week indicates they have not had it quite so bad as we have but plenty bad enough for getting to and fro the station. He has not been out to his ‘local’ for many weeks. This place is right out in the country away from houses. I wonder how they manage to keep going for profit. The publican happens to be a smallholder as well so I suppose this helps.

Yes June we are both looking forward to being with you at Easter – won’t be long now. It will be eight months since we last saw you and the girls. Alec of course was down in December for a couple of nights. We shall also be pleased to go and see Mr and Mrs Baker and hope by that time things will have improved in many ways including the health of them both. Presumably Peter is living there but we guess Pauline maintains her flat in London and gets home as often as possible. Hope they both are keeping free of colds along now.

Noted you do not see much of your new neighbours. Like you we close the shutters early in the evening and stoke up the fire. No gardening as you may imagine but I did see a couple of broad beans poking through the snow today and hope the rest are safe. Another wood pigeon on the lawn requires cremation and I shall have to deal with it. Looks as if a cat had this one by the number of feathers scattered all over the place.* I spent a couple of hours in greenhouses this morning, temperature up to 70 degrees, sorting through the runner bean seeds. About 2% had to be discarded because of mildew but there are still hundreds left. Sowed the tomato seed in a box but shall have to bring it indoors or will they will never come up – temperature much too low (30) at night.

Had a letter from income tax people this morning to say my code number will be altered from 12 to 1 starting next 6 April so have written to ask them why seeing the position will be identical then as it is now. So far I’ve not heard from railway regarding increased percentage of pension but even that should not mean such a big difference in coding. They might as well have the lot and we can starve. Now we are waiting to know what the Council are going to do about the rates for this half year. Do you yet know how you have been re-rated? Thanks in anticipation for the E.R. Mag, always interesting.

We still have Joey the horse with us but he has been fed on hay for many weeks now. Today I noticed he has been scratching about in the patches free of snow but not much there – all dried up. 

Mutt and Jeff still at it – they have been very busy brushing up with so much snow about and the handles are quite suitable for leaning on. It looks as if we have saved a number of geraniums and our primulas are still in full flower. How about yours? This means that ours have been in flower continuously since last October and giving quite a nice splash of colour.

The water cart still going its rounds and must continue so long as people are cut off from the main. I’m surprised it has not been necessary for similar arrangements to have been operated at your end. The plumbers must be getting towards this end of the town now as mum saw one lot at Tom Garland’s bungalow this morning. This place is opposite Mrs Marshall’s field. Have ordered from Smiths of Bristol (big wholesale ironmongers) a pair of steps (8 tread), two dozen pea guards, some netting 25 + 2 yd, and some wire for tying things up. This firm advertises quite a lot in gardening and ordinary newspapers and prices fairly reasonable. Our existing pair of steps (5 tread) have had their day. Your grandfather Fewings had them for many years before they came up here and they have given us good service. Now I have to get a dozen angle iron stakes for holding up some more raspberry canes. In this case Smiths’ price was higher than a firm at Wolverhampton latter being actual makers thereby the difference.

We hear the Hewitts I having a cruise for their holiday this year. Hope sea keeps calm and nobody rocks the boat.

Apart from the odds and ends already mentioned there is no local news again this week – everybody keeping in out of trouble. The Salthouse Pavilion is now being dismantled and one of our neighbours has got hold of a lot of the rotten timber and is making the best use of it. It was free to anybody who fetched it. Just as well – nobody would have bought it.

No more this time. All our love to you both and lots of kisses for the girls. Mum and Dad. 

*I suspect it may have been a bird of prey: a cat would not have made its meal in such a public place, but a bird would.

Tuesday 5th February, 1963

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol

Many thanks for another newsy letter received this morning first post and we are glad to know you have had a fairly comfortable week in respect of frozen pipes and blockages. We continue to be free of these troubles but a number of the people in Old Church Road at this end of the town are still short of water until the plumbers have attended the bursts etc. There is still time for more trouble of course as the winter is by no means over. Yesterday for example we had a good fall of snow continuing from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. necessitating the bass broom being used later in the evening to clear the stuff away from the pathway. Sunday was a nice sunny day here too but it was so cold. Today although sunny there is a bitter East wind blowing making things most unpleasant outdoors.

Glad to hear June’s back is a bit better and hope it will continue to improve. What was Susan up to to be late home*? Query kept in at school for some misdemeanour. Not surprised to hear she had another cold and hope well again now. There are a lot of coughs and colds about – what else can one expect with such contrary weather.

Sorry you slipped down again – under car this time. We have to move about very carefully here especially when there is a fresh fall of snow on top of frozen ice. Mum delivered the magazines one day last week and just after she left the house down came the snow quite thick. I expected her home again quick but she went on and completed the job. Last Sunday the road leading from church house to the church was like a skating rink and no wonder – the children had discovered another place for their toboggans right down the roadway.

Yes one may well ask what about next Winter. What with the multitude of electrical gadgets on the market and a severe spell of weather there is bound to be a repetition of this winter’s shortage of power. We shall get in a stock of coal and a good load of wood to try and cover ourselves and of course something else will have to be done about the storage of potatoes and apples etc. even if this means bringing them indoors. It seems we never finish learning. I think you are right in assuming that anything left in your garage must be dead by now. There will be quite a lot of plant life to be replaced this spring.

Noted your plumber has been in and renewed all washers etc. and reported copper tank in order again. You had an amazing experience this time and no doubt will be on the alert in future as soon as bad weather commences. You could of course have had a very serious mess up in more ways than one. Talking about the cost of keeping the electric lighting and firing going to keep pipes working Mr Aston came over last Friday and said the electrical man had called to read meter and found that they had used over 4000 units during the quarter; this works out to about £25. [£570 in 2023 money.] Our meter has also been read and reading was 1975 working out to about £13. [£295 or thereabouts.] I think the Astons must have been having electricity to eat for breakfast. Anyhow they have a nice sum of money to find this time although they have the satisfaction that all their plumbing functioned throughout the bad period.

I like your suggestion about paying surtax. I went down to Roy Hewitt’s this morning and told him he would get no increase in pension as he retired after July 1958. Noted you have not joined B.R.O.G.. Maybe as the years go on some of your fellow workers will rope you in. The Guild is still only in its infancy but as time goes on it is possible they will accomplish more for the higher rated staff than the T.S.S.A..

Your car starts up very well considering you only use it at weekends. I have had no further difficulty with mine and I let her run over daily whether we go out or not. The trickle charger not yet available but I think it will be one that will charge quickly.

Had a letter from Mr Baker this morning to thank Mum for cream which apparently arrived last Saturday in good order. At the time of writing he said they had not yet one room completely finished but were very grateful with the assistance you had given with electrical jobs and curtain making etc. Mentioned that it was their 14th move. When we came to Clevedon it was our third move. Anyhow we hope they are settling in now and able to enjoy some of the leisure they have missed at the shop. Wonder if you saw them over the weekend.

So you are on the round of the Esso Blue Man then. Pity you could not store some but this would be very dangerous at your place.

Must now tell you of the trouble we have had this week with Mum’s hearing aid. Last  Wednesday the appliance conked out all together and mum was cut off from all sound. Could not get set to work no matter what she did with it. There was nothing for it but to phone Fortiphones direct at their Regent Street office and this I did from Mrs Marshall’s house at 11 a.m.. They had no solution other than the set must be returned to them for repairs etc. but said they would do best possible to get it back in time for you over weekend. When I got back home mum had made some impression on set and was getting some slight measure of sound out of it – sufficient in fact to carry on for a while. I wrote Fortiphones that night and explained circumstances and asked how much a reconditioned set would cost as we had it in mind to have a spare set on hand in case of future trouble and also that present sent could be sent in for attention. Had reply Friday to say they could supply such a set for £25 so we sent off for one immediately and this turned up with your letter this morning. Now we have to turn the TV down instead of up. The new set has made a tremendous difference to Mum. Have now packed up the set she has been using for six years and sent it off today to Fortiphones for overhaul. Who said we could do with a pension rise?

Have not heard of any new law governing the erection of building annexes with glass roofs but it is quite possible and really seems a reasonable requirement. Perspex is the ideal material to have but again this is more expensive than ‘wire impregnated glass’.

Mum and I continue to keep about the premises except when we have to go out for this or that but neither of us likes the cold weather and the sooner the thaw sets in for good the better we shall be pleased. Heard of one house that has had no water at all since Boxing Day. Back to primitive Britain**. The water cart was still going its rounds up to last Saturday but I have not heard about this week so far.

Yes Cornish and Heel still do plenty of talking over their front gates and I suggested to them the other day they might find their feet frozen to the ground if they stopped there much longer. Heel also said he saw two rabbits on our garden other day but I’m afraid they will not find much now after the pigeons have had their share. Three foxes were seen recently on Durdham Down (Clifton, Bristol)*** and I am rather surprised they have not visited Cornish’s and Heel’s poultry.

*I think that may have been the memorable day I joined in a snowball fight on my way home. I was SIX, for crying out loud. You’d have thought I was selling myself on street corners, the way they carry on.

**Maybe, but ‘primitive Britain’ didn’t think it was primitive – it thought it was doing better than the generation before because the Black Death was over and the cow was still alive and there was porridge for tea…

***Urban foxes are a much more recognised phenomenon these days. When we lived in Bristol we knew precisely when and where we could see them, and once had the honour of seeing a vixen and about four or five kits.

[Continued Wednesday 6th February, 1963]

Tuesday 29th January, 1963

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol,

What a terrible week you have had at number 84. We had to read your letter – to hand first post this morning dash two or 3 times to get hold of all the details. We have had nothing like this here at Clevedon and I expect you are all glad the thaw has set in. We do hope things are alright now after visit of the plumber. Looks as if you had one or two narrow squeaks from serious trouble with frozen pipes and caved-in copper tank. The question arises what can be done to prevent repetition if weather conditions such as those obtaining during the past few weeks return either this or future winters. So far you have the fibreglass packing but is that going to be enough? Seems to me some emergency heating is required for switching on at a moment’s notice to keep plumbing arrangements working. No doubt you have given that considerable thought already.

Sorry to hear about your back, June. Query have you strained it by going up ladder etc. or have you slipped on ice without actually falling down? It is so easily done. Mrs Cummings here fell down twice this week and on one occasion broke (I think) bone in wrist and we hear that Mrs Pearson (opposite) fell full length and had to have some time in bed. Several houses in this area still without water and the council have water carts going about the place with water for those without. Have never seen this before in Clevedon or elsewhere. It became so cold this week that we kept the electric fire on all night in bathroom to avoid further trouble and in this we have succeeded. Cannot quite understand though why you feel cold in bed. With us this is the warmest place in house.

What a greeting to receive from the two girls when you got home to be told through letterbox that there was a burst in water pipe. That must have cheered you up a lot. June seems to have been busy in your absence in freeing some of the pipes. Yes it is all very well to have the various electronic gadgets, clocks, TV, radio, cookers and lighting but when there is a power cut the whole lot is off. This time gas was in trouble to especially in the South West area where it was cut off altogether for many hours per day. But what is the answer to all this? Next winter we could have the same difficulties. Years ago when severe weather was an annual occurrence there was practically no electricity and very little gas, people relying on coal for heating and cooking and oil for lighting. Wonder how they got on – must have been pretty bad sometimes.

Our TV was very poor. Like you we had sound but little or no picture for several nights until about news time. Our milk has been frozen when delivered many times and about an inch of solid cream has been sticking up through the paper top. I liked the story in Sunday paper about the man who went to pick up the milk from the front doorstep and found no bottle round it. The bottle was lying in pieces beside the frozen milk.

Bad luck about the inspection cover – no doubt your hands were cold and the iron slipped. Suppose these can be replaced though – have never had to buy one myself. What a lot of fatalities now happening because of gas leakages. I see one case where three people died – they themselves were “all-electric” but the leakage was in adjoining house and gas escaped into the house occupied by the three people concerned. You were fortunate to get plumber into your house so quickly – here there is a long waiting list for attention. Our stop tap in hot water system dribbled after I forced it and I got Stan James to look at it but all that was necessary was the tightening of the nut.

Now over to number 17 Eccleston Road. What a fright for Mrs Baker when she tried to light gas stove. Glad to know it was no worse than stated but it could have been. Sorry to hear Mr Baker has a touch of bronchitis and hope this will soon clear up. The very cold weather played me up a bit but I kept indoors out of the worst of it. Mr Baker will now be able to take things more easy without the worry of the shop. no doubt they both felt a bit strange without the comings and goings of the customers. Glad to hear Peter fixed up again. Sounds quite an interesting job and query an indoor one. What about the dog? Did he come back to number 17? Nothing like getting on top of fire for a warm-up.

Did you have any lessening of gas in your heater in front room? As I mentioned above it was cut off altogether here for several hours per day. Our neighbour (Bushell) is still unable to get any coal but has some on order.

Pleased to hear Susan has got used to her glasses and takes to them automatically – as it were – now. Does she keep her head away from the writing or reading matter now i.e. getting a better focus? Noted Christopher finding it difficult to settle down in school.

Yes the re-rating of property has caused some heartache everywhere but I’m afraid in has to be faced. Had a letter from the B.R.O.G. last Saturday with a circular giving particulars of increases in railway pensions. I get a 4% increase but had the date of retirement been March 31st 1957 instead of the 27th of April 1957 I should have got 8%. Just my luck again. Anyhow the National Health pension will go up from May 27th to 10/- a week for myself and 6/6d a week for Mum. [Equivalent of £11.40 and £7.40 in 2023 currency.] Anything to come glad of it.

Note Woodward packing up on March 1st. He has stopped to the bitter end then for he is now 65. That is one job you must let go. No good to anyone. Freight train working is in for some drastic overhaul and those connected with it going to have a very worrying time. Crane too giving up. I do not think he is 65 yet.

A letter from Geoff this morning says Hallett of Bristol was given a post under the reorganisation but told the G.M. he did not agree with the reorganisation and offered his retirement notice which was probably accepted. And so it goes on.

Not a lot to report from this end again. Found a dead pigeon on lawn one morning. It had apparently dropped there from one of the fir trees during the night. Plenty of live wild ones descend on garden everyday for anything they can get. Cornish says they have the rabbits over his side again and one morning I even saw a moorhen running down our garden.

Have now been through our potatoes/apples. All the latter are frosted and all except about a quarter cwt. of potatoes. We are using the frosted apples and potatoes as far as possible but it has been necessary to throw away any amount. A really disastrous winter. Onions came through all right but we do not have many of these. No further trouble with car – I start her up every day whether we go out or not. Our new neighbour (Hoile) in bungalow at bottom of our field is getting me a trickle-charger at trade price so should not have any more trouble with battery when can put that one on in garage. There have been a lot of collisions on the roads around here, buses with buses, cars with cars, and cars with lorries. Parking more difficult to because of the piles of snow stacked alongside the road has narrowed the width of the latter. Yesterday I saw one of our neighbours running about with his drainage rods and ascertained there was a block somewhere above us in the Avenue. Fortunately we were clear and not affected but I think normal working was resumed later in day. If it is not one thing it is another. In fact during the past few weeks I would say we have had the lot.

I saw Aston this morning and he is still supplying water to five houses around him and also for a pony grazing in a field near the church. One neighbour could not get gas last Sunday and found all her neighbours were. She called up the Gas Board who told her to apply some heat to the gas pipe which rises from the ground up the wall all outside of her house for about 8 feet as it was anticipated the pipe had frozen. This was done and within a few minutes gas supply was normal again.

What a lucky thing it is that the plumbing at number 17 stood up to the weather for stop. Had it failed it would have been the limit for Mr and Mrs Baker after all they have been through lately.

[Continued Wednesday 30th January, 1963.]

Tuesday 22nd January, 1963

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol

Once again many thanks for all your letters received first post this morning but we are very sorry to hear of your troubles with frozen pipes etc. Until you can remedy matters it will be difficult to keep the house sufficiently warm to prevent recurrence but heating throughout is the answer to the problem – or so we find it. It is going to cost us a lot of fuel and lighting this quarter but in the end it will be cheaper than plumbers bills. You are certainly having a rough time and unfortunately your plumbing arrangements are mostly on the east side of the house catching the worst of the weather. Hope you will soon be able to put things right.

So far we have had no further difficulty and as you know our plumbing is on the southwest side of house and escapes the keen easterly winds. We keep fire in all night still and put a sixty watt lamp under sink in kitchen. Naturally we do not venture further than is necessary by day but a visit to Elfords must be made occasionally otherwise no food. I went down to Roy Hewitt’s house yesterday morning as it is impossible for him to get about just to see how they were getting on.

Glad to hear the move from 155 to 17 was successfully made last Wednesday but you did not say how Mr and Mrs Baker liked the decorations etc. Perhaps it was a bit early for them to comment. Sorry Peter overdid things but expect he worked like a navvy when on the job and ran himself down. Noted he is alright again now. You have all been busy at number 17 and every little helps nowadays. How about the plumbing there?

If you can eventually get the fibreglass into position under your roof it is bound to make a difference in the long run but you still have to sort out your tank and pipes to start with and until there’s a break in the weather I’m afraid you have a job on. It is good to hear you are keeping very well – the colds will start with the thaw. (Jobs Comforter did you say?) Actually mum and I are warmer in bed than sitting in front of fire but it is a job to break away from fire at bedtime.

Our neighbour Bushell is now push cycling to Portishead to arrive there at 6 a.m. this week facing due east and on a very bad road. Reminds me of the winter of 1915 when I cycled 5½ miles each way daily between Long Sutton and Martock station arriving 6:30 a.m. one week and leaving there 10 p.m. the other in all winds and weathers including snow. Could not do it today.

Last Saturday Bushel and I went down to sawmills in car and picked up two bags each of firewood logs (at 2/6d per bag) [roughly £2.85 in 2023 money]. These were very useful for making up fire in evening. Last Friday morning the coal man arrived with ten hundred weight of coal – really good stuff – that so we are right for the rest of the winter. Plenty of power cuts here and in some parts of Clevedon they have actual blackouts – the top part of town have had several. Our T.V. picture has been almost nil at times but that is the worst we have suffered. Gas has come into its own once again and you are fortunate to have your gas fire and cooker. We have not had to go without a cooked meal or the power down in cooker around dinner times.

Heard that Mrs Bush (number 11 in the Avenue) was frozen up last Saturday but put stopper in wash basin upstairs and turned tap on then went to Bristol at 11 a.m. and return very late at night only to find water cascading down the stairs and upstairs flooded out. The pipes had thawed out in her absence with disastrous result. Had to call out next door neighbour (already gone to bed) for help. What a life. Late last week with car stabled outside back door I could not start her up again one morning and had to call Bushell who soon found that when I put battery back in I had not tightly screwed on the connection. This in spite of the fact I had on two or three previous occasions started car up since I restored battery. One lives and learns. They (Bushells) have been frozen up once or twice but managed to get things going during the day.

Very serious troubles have occurred at various places in Clevedon and plumbers are worked putting things right. We had another fall of snow last Saturday night – the same as you but it did not last long. Just enough to be a further nuisance but on Sunday it was most treacherous for getting about – soft snow on top of frozen ice and previous snow. I nearly slipped up myself coming home from church in the morning on the slope just outside the Lych Gate*. Managed to recover in time and the next trip saw me wearing Wellingtons. All cars have to get up to the church by the direct route near the Church Cottage – it is impossible to go via the road near the cemetery.

The wood pigeons are now a menace, they descend on the gardens in batches and pick off all the green stuff they can see. Yesterday morning a flight of about forty wild geese went over inland from the sea. It is possible they come from Peter Scott’s place at Slimbridge which is situated between Avonmouth and Gloucester. Have never seen so many geese on the wing before.

Yes we thought you would be interested in the picture of Holly Lane in the Mercury – just shows the depth of the snow.

Noted Susan has had another visit to Mount Vernon. Does she use her glasses regularly now? Funny remark that she should be able to see better than she does. Wonder what is behind this. The next visit will be about Easter then.

Sorry to hear Mr Gray has broken a bone in his wrist that it is so easily done. Hope you have felt nothing more of your fall a week or two ago.

Yes it was sad news of Gaitskell – only 56. According to some papers this week he was suffering from some disease that would have killed him in two or three years’ time but the virus infection accelerated death. There will be a bit of squabbling in the party now before things settle down again.

I have just heard that the bungalow at the far end of St Andrews Drive on the right hand side has been re-rated from £35 to £90 per annum. This is the place a man named Pope lives in – just retired from accountancy section at Temple Meads. Noted primulas still alright hours are too but the Christmas cactus are now dying off. They have been a very nice sight.

Gave engine of car a run in garage this morning – no difficulty. I’m glad I had antifreeze put in last month. Should have been in a mess now without it.

How does Christopher like school? Noted you saw them at Eccleston road last Saturday. If I remember rightly Roy and family live not so very far from there. In spite of the cold you are experiencing we had to laugh about putting the butter, milk etc. on dining room table and then running for it. Obviously you are living in front room as we are living in our dining room – these being the warmer places in each house.

The horse still with us. Plenty of hay for him now and he seems to be in very good condition. Norman said if he rolls in the snow there is not much the matter with him and he certainly does this at times. Flattens it out into ice. No more snow has been moved from the roads here and the position in Tennyson Avenue is as mentioned last week. At last grit has been put down Old Church Road from the corner by Wilcocks Garage. Formerly this section had been left out. Generally speaking the main roads in Clevedon are now in good order but the exception is over that part referred to above.

We have forgotten the incident about the front garden in 1926 or thereabouts – you must remind us please.

Have now read Mag and passed it onto Roy Hewitt for perusal. The articles on the various stretches of line I find very interesting and of course it is all fresh reading. The Parkeston Quay Harwich and cross Channel service boats to the continent must be a big job. Query more so than the Channel Islands services from Southampton and Weymouth. 

*Not surprising as there are slopes at each entrance to the churchyard and IIRC nothing much to hold onto.

[continues on Wednesday 23rd January, 1963]

Wednesday 16th January, 1963 

[Continued from Tuesday 15th January, 1963]

Well I suppose it is a sort of D-Day at West Drayton today and we are thinking of you all in the removal to Eccleston Road. We do hope things are proceeding satisfactorily and that the job will be completed before dark. Not quite so cold perhaps but still cold enough for such a job just now (before lunch) we had a few flakes of snow and forecasts for this area give us some more later on.

Went downtown this morning re: coal ordered last week and find orders are taking a month to deliver. Can possibly hang out till then but hope we get a delivery earlier than anticipated.

Thanks for the magazine to hand this morning Alec – must browse tonight. It is the night of the parish church party at Sunhill but mum and I long since decided we should stop home and keep the fire company. There is no sign of the snow disappearing and it is still as hard as ever on the ground in spite of the slight thaw yesterday.

Saw Hankey (local stationmaster) who lives on Strawberry Hill* and he said several of the places there had had frozen pipes and one or two bursts. They are in the right place for any trouble of this kind.

Just heard on TV news 1:25 p.m. that the West Country has had more snow and that more is coming up. Hope it misses Clevedon.

Two of the four flagons of cider I brought back from Lyng at Christmas have burst in the garage and of course are now written off as a total loss. None of the wine has been affected for which many thanks. I’m still enjoying a glass or two lunch times. The cherry with orange is now almost non-existent.

I see Heel has put up some sort of scarecrow arrangement to keep the birds off the greenstuff but it looks as if they take it as a sign to come along in their hundreds. It is a good job the birds do not eat hay or the horse would lose his rations very quickly.

Not much to tell you of gardening exploits here – ground completely covered – wonder how the broad beans and spring cabbage plants are getting on underneath the snow? Should be alright eventually. Time now to get in the shallots. Have not yet ordered the seeds for 1963 – cannot bring one’s mind to gardening these days.

It’s 2-0p.m. now and started to snow in earnest and sky looks full of it. And keeping car near house so shall be almost sure of being able to use it as required. Hope you get everything in at number 17 before snow reaches you and that you all get back to number 84 safely. No more now – all our love to you both and lots of kisses for the girls.

Mum and Dad.

P.S. Thursday – snow soon ceased but we have a bitterly cold East wind now and still freezing at 10 a.m.. Dad.

*Many years later Alec, June and Leonard would also end up living on Strawberry Hill.

Tuesday 15th January, 1963

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec, June Susan and Carol once again many thanks for letters received this morning – second post. Most of our long-distance letters seem to be arriving second post lately including that from Lyng yesterday*. Yes we could see last week’s letter was posted on the Tuesday and guessed weather conditions had delayed dispatch.

The position re snow etc. at your end noted and I cannot report much if any improvement this end. It is a fact the Council men have been clearing the snow from the main roads and dumping it in the sea but the side roads are ghastly. With the help of Bushell I got our car out of garage on Monday (yesterday) and down the drive to the asphalt section but it was a real effort and the spade had to be used continuously. He (Bushell) was anxious to get some coal and I drove him down to his coal dealer only to find the place under lock and key. We then went on to Yeates in Meadow Street who let us have three bags which we brought back in boot of car. They were right out of coal and we have already let them have a few bucketfuls from our decreasing stock. Later Mum and I went to library and I left car in drive with nose up against shed outside back door. Last Friday I got Bushell to take my battery down to garage for charging and Mr Heel fetched it on Saturday so will soon able to get car underway again. We have had some exceptionally sharp frosts and any thaw is restricted to about an hour daily whilst sun is out so very little improvement is being made.

As mentioned in last letter in P.S. Bushell’s guttering came down one night last week and fell through his glass veranda. It also came down on the house next to him and between them they have a pretty good mess. So far we have escaped that trouble but there is still a lot of iced snow on our roof to come down so I’m watching this closely. Indoors our water system has not been too bad. Last Sunday the downstairs cold water tap over sink was frozen until 3:30 p.m. and we eventually thawed it out by placing a 150 watt lamp under sink for two or three hours. No trouble since but we keep fire in living room burning day and night and we find it helps considerably. In garage both the fermentation locks were frozen solid this morning but I put them in greenhouse and noticed they were all right again just now. Potatoes unfortunately have taken the frost and Mum has to be careful when preparing them for dinner – a lot of waste.

Noted your difficulty in negotiating road with car. It is the same here especially on the side roads. The main roads are more flattened out by the traffic but when frosty are very treacherous to those walking. Have just taken Mum down to hairdressers and now parked car in position for the night. This week’s Mercury enclosed gives a lovely picture of Holly Lane taken from the Portishead Road and it is typical of what we have had round about. Your comment last week Re: the rent is ideally depicted in cartoon in Sunday paper which I have cut out and enclosed herewith. Must get a laugh out of it somehow.

We too have felt the power cuts in electricity supply and the people who have all electric fires are suffering most. To us there is nothing like a coal fire but I think you were very fortunate to get your gas fire fitted in October and it is obvious you have not suffered from the cuts insofar as heating of room is concerned.

We are sorry to hear you are all still under the weather in respect of cold etc. but I’m afraid only the warmer weather will help matters now. It is surprising you can all keep going. I’m very thankful I have not to go to Bristol nowadays. Shall be thinking of you tomorrow moving into number 17 Eccleston road but what good news June that there has been such an improvement in the decor of the house. Let us hope both your mum and dad will like what they see and enjoy the comfort of retirement together.

Incidentally how did the new rating affect the premises at number 155? We have gone up from £33 to £79 rateable value. What about number 84? Must wait and see now how much in the pound to the actual rate will be.

Some mini car at Hoddesdon than. Shows how snow can drift. Back in the 1880s your great grandfather Beacham who was a Goods Guard at Exeter worked a double home train from Exeter to Rogerstone and was snowed up for a week. The winter of 1927 you were in hospital at Trowbridge over the Christmas and Mum there too. I was on my own and worked 16 hours per day in Westbury Control to enable others to have the time off. I went back to my old lodge and when later I opened up house for you and mum to come back to found I had a burst pipe and was there a mess. It was a very severe winter and we sent snow ploughs up the M. & S.W. line to clear a path right through from Chiseldon to Andover Junction. I remember a winter at Tiverton something like this but cannot say the year.**

You had a nasty job with your boiler – could have caused a lot of trouble if you had not dealt with it promptly. Expect you have read of one or two explosions of boilers fitted at back of fireplaces. I never liked these and would never have one fitted in any house I occupied.

Yes it is amazing how the public drift back to rail when they cannot use road services when at other times they have not a good word for them. I see the powers that be are going to try and arrange through train loads from one point to another. I hope someone tells them this is not a new idea by any means but in my opinion they will not get very far with it. Some places like Bristol shed and Paddington shed yes, but where do they think they will get other through loads? Bristol shed used to be set up so that no shunting was necessary when the wagons were drawn out. The shed portion was backed on to the non-vacuum rear portion on the higher level and the train was away. Cannot see them improving on the freight train service the Great Western railway had in operation at the outbreak of the Second World War.

Back to your letter again. Yes the toboggan run at the back of Hack’s house is still the number one attraction for the boys and girls of today but the very bad spell of weather has enabled other runs to be made. Glad to hear Susan and Carol both enjoyed the party on Saturday. We do like the one about the sausages on cocktail sticks. – the young idea. I’m sure Dad could have done with a few.

Noted the arrangements for the girls tomorrow. Carol will wonder where Christopher is. Susan manages to get to and from school alright then.

The wood pigeons are being a nuisance now visiting the gardens to pick off what bit of greenstuff is showing above the snow. The horse is still with us and he is being fed on hay now. These last two mornings he has been covered with the hoar frost. Glad your primulas are alright – they are in a nice warm room. Ours recovered after their treatment with the warm water and are still in flower. I’m afraid a lot of things have gone west again this time because of such sharp frost.

*’long distance’ in this case being 35 miles from Lyng to Clevedon.

**Alec had a story about a heavy winter closing the lines to regular railway traffic and also blocking the roads. When a railwayman died at a remote location a platelayer’s trolley had to be sent out to retrieve his body for burial. This would have been in the Templecombe area of Somerset.

[Continued on Wednesday 16th January, 1963]

Sunday 13th January, 1963

Alec to his parents:

Dear Mum and Dad,

Thank you for letters received and thawed out. My golly you must be having it bad at your end. The effect of our lot is diminished (fortunately) by the numbers of pedestrians and vehicles passing over it, coupled with the efforts of various official bodies in clearing it. More of that later, but first to the points raised in your letters. 

Sorry about the late arrival of the letter this last week’s. It was due to late posting, that was all. June did not go out on the Monday and I had intended to take letter to Liverpool Street and post, but forgot it. It got posted on Tuesday afternoon when June went down to the shops. Not bad to arrive first post Wednesday, after all. 

Difficulty in getting about this end is mainly confined to the side streets. Our hill is still bad, but most of us have cleared our front paths so that there is a fairly continuous walkway for pedestrians. The road is very bad – apart from the width of a single track in the middle, which is flattened to the consistency of glass and looks like it – the edges on either side are still piled high with hard snow. If you get the car straddled across one of these it is extremely difficult to extricate yourself. The only way is to get the car moving forward and backwards like a pendulum with longer strokes each time until the front wheels climb back out over the heap. I have had to do this a couple of times, and believe me you have to be very slippy with clutch and gear changes when the initial moves in either direction are only about 6 inches. I have been caught like this when trying to turn in the road. The real answer is to carry on to a side road that has been flattened and turn there. 

I do not recall the Avenue being covered to the depth of snow you mentioned. I should imagine the countryside looks very pretty with all the snow despite its unwelcome arrival. I do not think we have had any weather that could rightfully be called blizzards. High winds without snow, and snow without wind, but fortunately we have not had both together. 

Some time for the mechanical shovel to arrive – at 4 a.m.. Still better late than never. 

I have been able to start the car – eventually – each time I go out. We went out on Saturday 5th and again I took car out this Friday. It started both times after a struggle. Again yesterday the same performance, but we made it. 

Have not heard of any guttering breaking this end. Some game for poor old Bushell. On top of all this he of course has the worry of not having a licence. 

I heard of a case of the Hoddesdon Town Council (Essex I think) who hired a mechanical shovel to clear the snow. This thing was progressing along a road digging into the drifts and chucking the snow over the hedge. At one point it dug into the drift and before anyone knew what was happening picked up an Austin Mini and threw it over the hedge. Latter a write-off.

Good picture of the dumping of the snow onto the beach. Thanks for all the cuttings and the paper. You talk about the frost freezing the ridged up snow. The words ‘deep and crisp and even’ begin to make sense now. I could never understand where the ‘crisp’ bit came in before. 

I think I remember the winter of 1927, if I recollect aright we went to Tiverton for the Christmas and I do remember walking out in the snow from the house in Barton Rd over the fields towards Norwood Rd. That is straight out of the end of the garden. This has all been built in and on now. 1947 of course was mainly spent at number 17 Eccleston Road so I know all about that one.

You say you have a chill each which I am sorry to hear. As a matter of fact I had one on Friday 4th. Was alright when I got home from work, but as the evening wore on it began to take effect and it kept me awake all night with the usual trimmings. Oddly enough although I had no breakfast I felt quite O.K. next day with not even a headache. This however was followed by a slight cold which I have just shaken off. June and the girls continued with their catarrh etc. and all went to the doctor yesterday morning. He said they were all getting better now but gave them all penicillin syrup (tablets for June) to the tune of ten shillings worth of prescriptions. [Roughly £11.40 in 2023 money.] The children are bearing their coughs and colds much better now. Being a bit older makes a difference. Sorry to hear about your colds. We have little worries on that score as you know. 

We have got a clean glow for the boiler, but supplies are satisfactory as we do not run the boiler every day. Hope you can get your extra coal through all right. Our gas fire – wonderful. Even in the coldest weather we have no need to have the fire on full except for a few minutes. Occasionally the room temperature seems to drop a bit, and turning up the fire and soon put that right and we turn it down again. It is a much more reliable and satisfactory instrument than the electric one although it may work out a little expensive. We have had one heavy gas bill in, but we have to remember that it contains costs which would formerly have been set against electricity and coal. No turning out in the cold for coal now. Of course this winter’s working results and costs are truly not representative. 

Good joke about the standing passengers on the trains from Clevedon. I would not be surprised if they have not the cheek to claim that they are entitled to seats and that the railways should put on more coaches etc etc.[sic] 

I have not worn the Wellingtons for some time now, preferring to wear the overshoes. The latter can be slipped off at the office leaving the feet and shoes still fairly warm. Sorry you had to turn out in a blizzard to post the letter. If those circs. arise again, stay indoors, we can wait for the letter. We do look forward to it, but not at the cost of health. 

Re: move from West Drayton, we went over to number 17 yesterday while the girls were at their party. We took over Hoover and sewing machine and my box of bits and pieces for any odd jobs. We found the builders still there (all five of them) and what with Peter and Pauline and ourselves we had a house full. All we were able to achieve was to get some temporary lace curtains up. We left the other things there as June will go over there on Wednesday to assist with the move. Ethel is having Susan for meals and Carol is going with Auntie Delph. I am having a half day to pick them all up. 

Thought you would like the comment about the rent man. Latest funny this end is the parting greeting “cheerio, mind how you trip”. 

Despite Susan’s preference for flats etc for parties, she enjoyed yesterday’s all right. Carol said she enjoyed herself, she said Mrs Pearse said we could help ourselves, and Susan joined in by saying “Yes we were allowed to start with the fancies”. She also said “What I liked best was the small sausages on cocktail sticks”. None for dad though. 

We used to have a very good toboggan run down Church Hill immediately behind Hack’s house. Do they still use that one? 

No snow in our attic, we have had the outlets from our bath and hand basin freeze up all the week. The early part of the week they un-freeze during the day but latterly they have not. Yesterday we found no water coming down from the cold water tank (although boiler on) so I went up smartly to see what had happened and found that the inlet and outlet to the cold water tank had frozen solid. There was also a quarter inch of ice on tank. The remedy (before the boiler blew up) was to open trap in loft and station two convector heaters underneath, one electric and one paraffin. I put the former on a chair to get it nearer the trap door. We turned the fire right down and went out shopping. After about an hour or so we got back and I was then able to work the ball valve up and down a little which released a trickle of water. A few minutes later and all was right again. Last night we left the trap door open, and as we always have a paraffin heater on the landing, some of the heat went up into loft and kept the tank from again freezing. 

Our primulas still going strong. Not a lot of flower, but plenty of growth. Sorry to hear yours and the other plants suffered in the frost. What is condition of greenhouse or do you not go down there? 

Glad Mrs Cornish like the Apricot, but it must be past its best by now. 

Have not heard from the Benns for some time. I expect they know all about this type of weather having lived in Yorkshire. 

Well hope you are both better now, and no more chills or ills. Love from us all.

Teddy’s War

After some years of waiting, and having become aware that I was now Teddy Baker’s next-of-kin, I was recently able to apply to have his R.A.F. service record released to me. To be honest, having heard family gossip about him over the years (‘he was a tyrant’ and ‘he broke his mother’s heart’), I was expecting him to have been involved in something discreditable (such as the mutiny of 1946), or perhaps drunkenness on duty, but his record shows his conduct as either ‘satisfactory’ or ‘moderate’ throughout. He rose from AC2 to AC1 to LAC – that is, Aircraftman Second Class to Aircraftman First Class to Leading Aircraftman – and although he finished the war as an AC1 that doesn’t necessarily mean he was demoted for poor conduct; it could simply be that he was moved to a unit that already had its quota of LACs and didn’t need another one.

What’s more interesting than this, though, is his specialisation. After joining the service on 10 December 1941 and at first being part of various reserve squadrons based in the U.K., he seems to have developed an interest in – or an aptitude for – signals, and was transferred to Hendon presumably for initial training. In May 1943 he was sent to Newbold Revel, which had the previous year become a training centre specialising in secret intelligence communications, where he stayed until the end of October, and from there he had a week or so at a transit camp before being shipped off to India in November of that year. A friend of mine who is familiar with the history of Newbold Revel suggests that he may have been learning Japanese Morse Code.

The following part of the record is a bit difficult to interpret, but he was clearly sent to at least two different locations in Bombay and – to judge from the fact that he received the Burma Star at the end of the war – probably Burma as well. (More digging is necessary here!) He was discharged in October 1946 after – as far as can be seen – five years of blameless service, a good deal of it on foreign stations without much likelihood of home leave.

Now, what happened when he got home in late 1946 is anybody’s guess. He seems to have been officially ‘stood down’ from reserve duties in January 1947, received his medals in June 1948, and at some stage took up employment with British Rail and remained with them until he retired in approximately 1987 – this information is on his death certificate. British Rail staff records are held at the National Archives and that involves a trip in person – as well as applying for a new reader’s ticket as the one I previously had lapsed a long time ago – so this is not an immediate possibility.

The next obvious avenue to investigate would logically be Alec and June’s wedding photos, taken in late 1954, but unfortunately the only group photo showing everyone present is so badly arranged that, of the groom’s mother (a tiny little person), all that can be seen is the top of her hat as she tries to peek over her son’s shoulder. If Teddy is one of the individuals in the back row – and that can’t totally be ruled out – he’s not identifiable with the information currently to hand.

So, no further progress is possible at this stage – but watch this space! (Or one very much like it, anyway.) The investigation will no doubt be continuing…

Tuesday 27th November, 1962

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol

Many thanks for letter received this morning together with magazine and letter from Susan and drawing from Carol. What a budget!

Very sorry to hear you have had a couple of days off but we were not surprised following June’s note that you had gone to work on the Monday with a cold coming on. Hope you are all much better now. There is a lot of sickness around here at the moment – flu, gastric and otherwise and no wonder with the weather prevailing. The conditions must be worse in the London area especially the fog. Unfortunately it is the time of year when we must expect a continuation of bad weather.

We were pleased to hear the girls saw the Johnny Morris programme with the elephants at Bristol Zoo – believe it or not we also looked into it and thought it quite good. We said at the time that we hope Susan and Carol were looking at it. Some of the children’s programmes between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. are very good.

Well we had our second visit to Weston last Thursday and before calling on the Richings had another look round the shops and I managed to get a haircut while mum toured Woolworths. Picked up the wallpaper ordered the previous but would you believe it one roll was damaged for about 12 feet of its length so I refused it and told firm to get another. At 14 shillings per roll* I did not want to waste paper. This means another trip to Weston later but this can be at our convenience as it is not proposed to start work until the New Year.

Had lunch with the Richings and afterwards he had an appointment at police station where he is taking an Advanced Driving course. The police at Weston apparently instituted this course which is free. There is no test afterwards but it is to give members of the public the benefit of the training given to the mobile police. We left them about 3:45 p.m. and were home again by 4:30 p.m. It was then just getting misty.

Yes it was a Work Study chap visiting Weston who told Richings of your move. He told me about Burt going to Euston.

We did not call at Hillmans’ this time as they told us it will take at least 10 to 14 days to get the fitting for the fire grate and in any case they would advise us when it arrived. No news to date.

I take it Baynton-Hughes is fancied for Burt’s job because he is being displaced at Birmingham?

Hope June managed to get in a bit of driving on Sunday even if only as far as the Sunday school. It was inclined to be foggy here but turned to a misty rain in the late afternoon and evening. We went to church and what do you think mum had to come out just after the sermon started because she could not stop a cough. Incidentally the Curate (who took service) called Monday afternoon when we told him mum had gone out to avoid the collection. He (the Curate) is moving into Miss Emly’s old bungalow in St Andrews Drive on the 13th of December – moving his mother and sister together with furniture etc. from Paisley Scotland by road. At the moment he is lodging at the Girls‘ Friendly Society hostel in Madeira Road off Sunnyside. What next.

Noted you had a bit of a scare at Ruislip Manor on Saturday but only from the spectators point of view. These occurrences can be very disturbing though and it makes one think. I’m sure speed is the root of most of the trouble – going too fast to pull up quickly enough. Bushell is still going out in his car without an experienced driver with him. Have not seen him lately to talk to.

Sounds as if the demolition squad is in number 17 Eccleston Road. Who is going to pay for that mishap? Cannot say I remember very clearly the layout of the premises. Hope the matter in connection with the disposal of number 155 proceeds satisfactorily to Mr and Mrs Baker. They surely must be looking forward to getting out as soon as possible.

So there is a possibility of getting some wines and spirits from E.R. Vaults at this time of year. Just as well to know. Have ordered a few bottles from Geoff.

Your visitors duly turned up then on Sunday at it worked out fairly well. Wonder Susan and Carol did not rebel at going to bed with the others still in the house. Perhaps they were tired. June would have been disappointed if they had not arrived with all the eats available. Your picture gallery will never get stale Alec and I expect you all enjoyed seeing it again. I noticed Geoff was very interested in the projector when they came over.

Yes June you must check on the Blenheim Orange apples now and see if any are gone or going bad. I think they should be alright but have a look in case.

Can see I shall soon have to go over to the red section of the typewriter ribbon or you will be complaining of poor type. Have not used the red at all so far so it should give good service for a while.

Had a letter from Griffiths (chief controller) this morning and he said that Albert Bray (Basher) died suddenly last Sunday and funeral is at Stapleton church next Friday. You remember him of course as being the Rolling Stock Inspector at Bristol for many years before going to London as Travelling Cleaning Inspector with home remaining at Bristol. I knew him when he first joined the service at Westbury Wilts as messenger boy in the D.B.O. that must have been in 1919 or 1920. I should say he was about 56/57 years of age.

What are you trying to do in the loft? Put another floor down for storage purposes? Surprised to know the joists are uneven though. Ours are level right across and will take flooring without any trouble. Not necessary here as we have such a lot of storage space in shed and garage. You will have to have a light ladder with just the right number of rungs to get you to the opening of loft. Unless of course you can afford one of those disappearing jobs advertised in magazines etc i.e. where the ladder itself can be pulled down from roof and returned to there too after use. Godfrey had one in his house at Maidenhead. Bit expensive and I expect you can do with lots of other things first.

The various queries you have raised about the geranium and succulents I will leave Mum to comment upon in her letter.

Have not read mag yet but will have a go this evening. All who have seen previous copy say it is more presentable than the W.R. mag. There are certainly some nice articles in it. The ones about the various stations I find most interesting.

I take it you would rather have your present job than be an applicant for one of the three you say Mann is after. Personally I think a change of venue will work out much better in the long run.

Not much doing in the garden etc. since I last wrote. Have picked up two or three hampers of ‘fall-downs’ in the field – mostly Bramleys – and stored them in the garage. Broccoli and cabbages seem to be very very small this season and it takes two to make a meal. Cannot quite account for this unless it was due to the ‘soppy’ weather in the autumn.

You are still in touch with Notley then although you do not come in contact at work. Expect he had a chat with old colleagues at Bristol.

The horse has not arrived yet. Norman Baker must put fence right first. I do not want the animal in the garden again although at this time of year I only have broad beans and onions planted apart from the fruit trees – currants etc. It will do the field good for the grass to be eaten off.

You will be interested in the Mercury this week with the scheme for making another lake at Clevedon. Somebody will have to pay for it unfortunately. Cannot see it being made for many years.

Now I see the Press are crying out about the railways being closed down on Christmas day. About time too they were closed. There was never much doing at Temple Meads that day and it was always a job to get people to work. Even those who were booked on duty did not all turn up – some of them suffering from a hangover from the previous night.

[Continued on Wednesday 28th November, 1962]

*This equates to about £16.65 in 2022 currency and the damaged portion would be maybe 40% of a roll or the equivalent of about £6.65 so I really don”t blame him for not accepting the roll.