Wednesday 6th September, 1961

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan & Carol

Many thanks for letter and Susan’s drawing to hand as usual yesterday morning.  A very nice drawing again Susan, and we are glad to know that daddy waters the garden. Soon be school time now and I expect you will be pleased to go back. 

Note newspapers duly arrived. Norman Allen got the proof for us from Evening Post people and we may order one each for you and ourselves. Susan would have looked better on a horse or tricycle but it was a case of grabbing hold of the first thing available or not being in picture at all. Hope Grandfy and Grandma Baker liked it. Have not been across Salthouse Fields since taking the tomatoes to Mrs Hillman but I believe the donkeys are still earning their keep. Can hear the train whistle from garden especially Saturday and Sunday afternoons. 

Yes there were several high tides and we went out again on Saturday evening but the sea was like a millpond so no excitement of waves splashing over the promenade. This week it has been a little different, quite a strong wind and several storms, atmosphere very heavy but we have had no thunder. 

Have never heard of dahlias being moved once they were in flower but you seem to have succeeded so hope you continue to get a good show. I did not plant any this year. Last Friday Percy Thrower on TV said that next to the rose the dahlia was the most popular flower in the country and that the more you cut the flowers the better, for it will continue flowering until frosts come. 

Presumably June means runner bean seeds. It is broad beans we plant in October and at the time of coming to you it is doubtful if the runner bean seeds will be sufficiently ripened to gather in – we shall see. In any case can let you have some in due course by some means or other. to date have picked 270lbs of runner beans and 140lbs of tomatoes. Elford called up the other day for runner beans so I reminded him I had tomatoes as well; he took 6lbs of latter and I picked 12lbs runner beans. I managed to pick just sufficient elderberries to make a gallon of wine – the birds have had the rest. Only got about half a pound from Cornish’s garden and three-and-a-half from our own making the 4lbs required; it is now in a violent ferment. Yes may have to consider larger quantities sometime in the future. 

Noted distance to Burnham Beeches and back about 40 miles. More success then with the heather and one of the little beech trees – if you had a bigger garden you could get more in it. (Have heard this before bracket.) We very much liked the idea of the dog or poodle skin rug outside toilet. It was one of those narrow brown long-haired mats, you’ve seen it before. Fancy Susan remembering little things like that. She enjoyed herself here alright and so did we but naturally we both had a little bit of catching up again after her return home. As we have said before she was splendid considering it was her first time away from her own home. 

The twelve results was 100-1 one shot so missed £5. Nowhere near it last Saturday because of so many freak results. 

There is plenty of time to plant snowdrops but once in you can forget them all together they will come up yearly and increase quickly And give a nice little show in early spring. 

Fancy Susan and Carol choosing their own books at the library. We often see children in our library here –  a room is set apart for children’s books adjacent to main library. Mum and I go up on an average once a week. 

We were not aware that your neighbour at 94 had a house at Westgate and that your other side neighbours had used the premises. Let out I expect as Joe and Lydia let their bungalow at Exmouth. By the way we have not yet heard from them re: visit, neither have we any more news of Arthur which seems a bit strange. Things will happen all together in the end probably. 

Glad to hear car satisfactory and that Jackson will touch up the rear wing for you. Ted Caple here had another mishap with his new A40 last week. He was going along Elton Road towards Six Ways when a motorcycle shot out of Seavale Road to get across to Victoria Road and ran into him broadside. Ted Caple told me Sunday it is probable the police will issue a summons against motorcyclist for driving without due care etc. Meanwhile car is in garage for repair. This is about the third time this new A40 has been involved in accidents, none of which were Caple’s fault. 

Geoff and family should be home again by Thursday evening this week. Had a card to saya good time was being had by all. 

Very interested in your work report on Paddington yard, also that you have another application in for promotion. Best wishes for this one. How is McDonald’s possible move progressing? (Having trouble with my Biro so have just fetched the one I keep in garage.) Why should McDonald “not think much of your application”?

So you did not hear anything of previous application then, gone too long now for any news presumably.  Keep us advised. 

Norman Allen had an interview last Friday for position as assistant investigator Work Study (Class 2). His second child was christened in Old Church last Sunday afternoon. 

Not much local news this week but we did hear there has only been one fire on Church Hill this season and that this had been put out before fire brigade arrived. 

I wrote the AA for route to Ruislip – Barrow Gurney – Chew Magna – Farrington Gurney – Radstock – Frome – Warminster – Amesbury – Andover – Bagshot – Staines – Datchet – edge of Slough – Iver Heath – total mileage 142¾. Is this the route you had in mind? 

I see railway accidents continue, the latest at Wootton Bassett yesterday morning. They are are much too frequent nowadays. 

Saw Bill Aston over the weekend and understand that despite the diet he is on he still gets severe stomach trouble at times which makes him feel miserable. I don’t know what he can do about it if anything. Cornish came over yesterday morning and helped me clear  guttering out around house; you will remember during heavy rain the water came out of guttering just on a level with window in front bedroom and rattled down on to zinc covering the window of front sitting room. It was surprising the amount of silt which had collected. Had this done around his house so we ought to be alright for a month or two. 

How about your kitchen chimney since you had it attended to – is it watertight now? 

No more this time, hope you are all keeping well. All our love to you both and lots of kisses for our two little girls. Mum and Dad 

Eva to the family on  the remaining half-sheet of Leonard’s writing paper:

Dear Alec June Susan & Carol

Many thanks for drawing and letter. We laughed at Susan’s description of the bedroom rug. We have had them for years and they were Grandma Fewings’s before that, but I have always taken them up before you came thinking the children would fall over them, but forgot it when you came the second time. We have been on the garden again and there are plenty of jobs to do. In the middle of it this afternoon Stanley James came to see if Dad could ring as there are some visitors from Colchester, but not enough for the bells. It has been quite cold this last two days, almost needs a fire. I suppose Susan is really ready for school again. I’m looking forward to October. Love from Mum and Dad. 

Underneath drawings of fruit and veg headed ‘guess these’:  pumpkin grapes turnip carrot banana potatoes cherries and something that might be beetroot.


Tuesday 4th July, 1961

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol

Many thanks for another long and newsy letter. Glad to hear birthday letters arrived safely and that you will find a good use for cash. 

Mum and I have just been up to Hill Road for a few odds and ends and recalled in at the new cafe on the front for an ice cream – hope your mouths won’t water. 

It is so hot here again today but Saturday night we had thunder and lightning and rain from about midnight until 3 a.m. – the rain continuing until about 11:30 a.m. since when until today it has been much cooler. It was a lovely drop of rain though and has done a lot of good. You apparently had the rain Sunday morning. Incidentally I expect you guessed it was Mum who got hold of birthday card for you but we both thought it was good.

Note your efforts with concrete posts for fence etc and Susan’s valiant struggle with the ‘oil can’ – she was only helping. Yes it is a messy and tedious job putting creosote on strips of wood – I suppose you got more on your hands and clothes than on the wood. Assume you eventually got posts upright with the 4×2 and cross pieces.

Have been having more trouble with pond. I noticed one morning last week the water level had gone down about 2 inches in shallow portion since the night before and the weed in places was high and dry. I put hose on and raised level so that all weed was floating again but next morning it was well down again. Then decided to take weed out and see how far water level would drop. The shallow part is now dry but deep portion full and holding. Looks as if the pressure of water has forced out loose filling somewhere and we have to start all over again to find leak. Noticed one live eel only and he has got much bigger assume he is now in deep portion. When weather properly settled again may have another try at sealing shallow apart. I imagine that when we feel cash when you were here dash and accumulation of dust dirt and leaves had got into the crevices and temporarily sealed same.

Have had one or two trips down to river but have never seen any more fish other than eels. nor more logs requiring rescuing.

Just been looking at Susan’s painting thank you very much Susan but don’t start using daddy’s creosote as paint or you will soon be in hot water.

The Drewett episode was given us practically verbatim by Roy and Mrs Hewitt who of course live about three doors from Iris.

Surprised you have not since heard from Geoff – query not even for the 28th ulto? Note you had a card from Lyng. Don is 60 on the 27th inst and we have asked them to come up to lunch either the Sunday before or the one after to celebrate – can always have a glass of cold water.

Yes it was bad luck to find coal dumped in yard but everything is in order now and we should – with what we had left over from last  winter – have enough coal to see us through the coming winter.

You are quite right about the Exeter to Clevedon trip in the first car they ever had dash query OD2280 – a hot dinner here waiting for four of them and they were stranded at Wellington. Well we had a lot to eat as a result for a couple of days but should like to have seen their faces when they realised Wellington was as far as they were going to get that day. The Dawlish episode though I think was scandalous. An engine will fail but to turn out another dud at Westbury which could only get to Patney & C* is terrible and I expect someone heard all about it.

Note your back garden now looking up and that at least one of the rose cuttings still survives. it has been a most difficult time for all garden plants. I’ve had to use hose nightly for about two hours to keep things going. the runner beans are beginning to form and it won’t be long now before can pick. Mum has been busy morning and again late afternoon picking raspberries – these two have had daily attention with hose. The cherries are turning quickly now and this morning I picked 6lbs for a brew. According to Bravery this quantity requires 4lbs of sugar which I’ve just covered with hot water into which I also put a bunch of lemon balm. The other mixture, blackcurrant and rhubarb, still working quietly and next week will go under fermentation lock. Note you have not yet tried the Elder Flower – awaiting your report on this before dishing it out here to my friends or enemies.

So your films generally speaking are pretty good – bound to have one or two not quite up to expectations. I like the sound of the one you took of group in front of greenhouse truly rural.

Mr Aston gone to a Bristol hospital today for X-ray and has to go in again next week to hear result, seems to be getting a lot of pain after meals. I still think it is only an ulcer but he will soon know for himself.

Not much local news this week – the place is fairly full of visitors and charabancs bring in the daily ones regularly. Too wet to go for our usual jaunt round the Hill on Sunday so had a rest instead.

I’m selling lettuces to Elford now at 4d each to sell again at 6d and have plenty in garden for him if he wants them – something like 130 and more seed in.

Heels visitors went home last Thursday having had a wonderful fortnight for weather. Our neighbours and next again (Mrs Drewetts) are still busy painting outside of houses and we hear Spencers are moving out shortly and Mrs Rees Barrett comes in on the 12th. New people have taken over the Triangle Post Office.**

No more now – all our love to you both and lots of kisses for Susan and Carol.  Hope you are all keeping well.  Mum and Dad

*After some head-scratching and consulting the invaluable British Railways Pre-Grouping Atlas and Gazeteer Fourth Edition, published by Ian Allan, price 25/-, we were able to read this place name as Patney and Chirton. This suggests that the first engine on the train – which was presumably heading to Paddington – managed roughly 90 miles before being removed and replaced at Westbury, whereas the replacement keeled over after only 12. That being the case, it’s almost a miracle that the replacement engine had the strength to be shunted onto the consist in the first place!

**Clearly Mrs Rees Barrett was held personally responsible for (if not actually guilty of) the theft from the Triangle Post Office earlier in the year. See . Whether the door was left open accidentally or deliberately, and whether the money was stolen then or on another occasion, must be a matter for conjecture.

Eva to the family on the remaining three quarters of a sheet of Leonard’s writing paper

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol

Many thanks for letter and drawing of red girl, quite coming on with portrait painting. 

Well here we are nearly roasted again. I went into Bristol yesterday (Wednesday) with Mrs Marshall who had to see a brother-in-law in St. Mary’s. You could hardly breathe In the city there was not a breath of air going.

Had a letter from Joe and Lydia yesterday as well.  They are going on a 6 day coach tour beginning August 5th to Blackpool (2 days) Buxton (2 days) the Peak District and back to Weston on the 10th when they would like to come here for weekend; they never make up their minds until the last minute.

John starts his holiday on Sat. they are going to Looe; I believe they did last year.  They go with his friend wife and baby. I believe Spensers are moving on Saturday.  I see Ian is home running about.

Mrs Clarke has gone to Weston again for a few days – doesn’t seem to be able to settle for long.

Have been busy washing curtains and blankets, ought to have done it before, and to make a bit more work last night I tipped over a cup of coffee in my lap so dress etc. had to be done.

Well I think this is all news just now so will close with best love from us all. 

Mum and Dad 

The letter from Eva is adorned with pen drawings of the sun, some gibbous moons, and a couple of smiling crescent moons (or possibly bananas?).

Tuesday 20th June, 1961

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol

Many thanks for your letter to hand this morning with sketches each from Susan and Carol – back to normal again. Thank you Susan and Carol for your nice drawings.

Yes it will be interesting to see what kind of a journey the AA plot out via Radstock etc. will write them later on. Note you are already making a few journeys out of Paddington i.e. Maidenhead Reading etc. Better remember me to John Snow if you yet have to visit his station. The Kensington job presumably is in connection with the parcels traffic.

The pond still leaks a little but I’ve been putting hose into it nightly after watering garden to keep level of water to a reasonable height. No wonder the fish would not bite they must have known date coarse fishing started. Although I’ve been down to river once or twice recently have not seen anything moving except eels and these continue to move upstream. no sign of anything living in the pond but the weed is thickening at bottom of the deep portion and giving good coverage for any livestock there.

Note cacti doing well on landing window very good place for them. June has been busy then with the paint pot and a good fence between garage and house will make another fine improvement to the property. Glad the films were success – something to look at perhaps when winter evenings are with us again. Shall be interested in your ‘projector’ when we next visit Ruislip. 

How did Susan get on at school after her holiday did she settle down all right? I expect she told a lot of her pals and perhaps teacher of the most outstanding events of her fortnight away. 

The old gentleman who lived in bungalow at bottom of field died suddenly after dinner last Friday and was cremated at Arnos Vale today. We took the widow (Mrs Clarke) to Bristol picking up vicar at the Vicarage. Left here 11 a.m. and were home again at 12:50 p.m. He had two daughters by his first marriage (both married) one living at Taunton and the other in London. They attended at the crematorium but did not travel with Mrs Clarke – some feelings there we think.

Yesterday afternoon Mr and Mrs Hewitt called round so plenty of chinwagging. They had recently returned from a holiday at Bangor in Northern Ireland. Then about 7:30 p.m. who should turn up but Mr and Mrs Richings the former driving a brand new Anglia out for a drive after passing his driving test (second attempt) last Friday. They got away again about 9:30 p.m.

There is a rumour around that Mrs Rees Barrett of The Triangle Post Office has bought Spencers’ house in The Avenue. Apparently since the robbery at The Triangle Post Office some months ago she has not been allowed at the counter. Incidentally no one has been charged with the theft.

Sheila Garland (Les Garland’s second daughter) is being married on Saturday. We are ringing for that one at 11 a.m. and again at 2 p.m. 

Since you went back to Ruislip I’ve been busy putting out plants for the winter and so far have got in approx 40 early broccoli and the same number each of middle and late broccoli also 50 purple sprouting and 50 January Kings (cabbage). No further casualties with tomatoes and growth is pretty fast these days. Have lost a few of the cinerarias already  Actually some of them were very weak when potted up and the strong sun has finished them off. Strawberries practically finished and we picked the first raspberries today. Last Sunday the birds started to play havoc with the currents so we picked the black ones and used netting on the reds. The whites I’m afraid were left unprotected and we lost the lot.  The first lot of strawberries having been dug up released some netting which is now covering the early fruiting raspberries.

I took 20 pounds broad beans to Elford last Saturday for which he paid 6d per pound. Also 6 of those lettuces which were growing alongside the frames for which he paid 5d each to sell again at 6d.  Have at least 80 more lettuces nearly ready and another sowing just coming through soil so I hope he wants some more. The runner beans are nearly up to top of sticks and in flower.

Mrs Clarke told us today she had heard the house at bottom of our field has been sold – it had been in the market for many months. Perhaps the newcomers will clear up the corner around that derelict caravan.

I’m still using the hose nightly but since Mother’s effort have not had occasion to use sprinkler. If weather continues shall want it on lawn to keep grass alive.

Astons returned from Eastbourne on Saturday having had an enjoyable time in spite of the many transistor radio sets being carried about by visitors all of them blaring out one program or another.  I think on one occasion they had one on either side of them with different musical programs going.

Note you saw Norman Allen at Bristol – where did you have meeting? Query Transom House. Have never been in this building but understand it is fairly palatial. Any move in regard to your proposed new offices?

Our neighbours (Heel) have their visitors with them this week & so far it has been unbearably hot. Don’t feel like much work in garden this weather but since the rain last Monday week there have been a lot of arrears to overtake. Hope it is a nice day when June’s friends come over at the weekend. I’m sure the girls will enjoy themselves.

What has happened to the box of sand they took back. They left behind a ball which we found on bench in shed.

Note ring now returned to Stella no doubt she was pleased to have it restored to her.

Well I must close now or Mum will not get in with her bit. Hope you are all keeping well.

All our love to you both and lots of kisses for two little girls – Susan and Carol.

Mum and Dad. 

Eva to the family on the remaining three-quarters of a sheet of Leonard’s paper:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol

Thank you for letter and drawings was one of them supposed to be Grandma?

Well here we are with more fine weather after a few storms. Mrs Stacey came down for the day yesterday and before she arrived it poured so thought we should have a miserable day but it cleared about 10:30 and she arrived 11. She and I went out all the afternoon and Mr Stacey arrived just as I had got the tea. He is studying cars again but can’t make up his mind. His is a Ford Anglia at present, something the colour of ours and like Richings but they look tinny. You ought to have seen Richings with theirs, they went off with a blare of the horn announcing to one and all to clear the path.

We have started to pick raspberries but have to keep the strawberry nets over them while doing it as the birds are all round.

Did you know Ford the watchmender? Well it is his wife’s brother who has bought Martindale and lives in Birmingham and will not retire for 5 years so don’t know what they are going to do. 

Sheila Garland and her husband Ron Cook will have her home.

Two weddings on Saturday expect the first will be a buckshee ringing.

Well no more news now so will close with best love from Mum and Dad .

A note on historical inflation calculations

There should be a letter from Alec to his parents for Sunday 9th April 1961, but it seems to have vanished – and, although I have an undated partial letter floating around loose in the box, it is very unlikely to be from this particular date due to its contents.

Therefore, this seems a reasonable moment to explain where I get my ‘2021 equivalent’ money calculations. I use a very helpful calculator on ‘This is Money‘, which is part of ‘MailOnline’ (no political agenda intended). This is not the only such calculator available, but for the sake of consistency I think it’s important to use the same one every time – and this just happens to be the one I used in my previous occupation as an editor and publisher of fiction books.

It’s really nigh-on impossible to pin down equivalent values from one era to another. There are always websites that will tell you how much a pint of milk cost in 1961 and how much it costs today – ditto a pair of shoes, a modest family car, a TV licence, a flight to Alicante etc. etc. The simple fact is that of course inflation does not move at a level pace across the board, and manufacturing/harvesting processes change all the time. Also markets open up and close again with astonishing frequency, which is why betting on stocks and shares has always seemed an especially hazardous occupation. (Short-term no doubt there are profits to be made, but you’d better be prepared to keep your money on the move!)

In particular, the cost of housing has increased out of all recognition in the past sixty years – despite the fact that the supply has also gone up. Houses in Leonard and Eva’s road in Clevedon were selling at around the £3,000 mark (depending on condition) in 1961. Their house – which has admittedly had plastic windows and solar panels since their time, but now has only half as much garden – would be something like £425,000 if it came on the market today; that’s a mark-up of about 1,400%. If all inflation operated at the same level, a toaster – £6 in 1961 – would be £8,400 today, whereas the cheapest one in Argos at the moment is £9.99!

So, on the whole, these calculations have only limited usefulness – unless one cares to speculate how much profit could have been derived by hanging on to a house which, in Leonard and Eva’s case, they had moved into the moment it was completed and moved out of forty-eight years later without ever having had to change the light-bulb in the hall. For anyone who reads these posts and is not in the same ever-so-slightly-over-21 age bracket as the present author it may, however, serve as a salutary reminder that “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”

Sunday 5th March, 1961

Alec to his parents:

Dear Mum and Dad,

Thank you for your last letter, on time as usual. Another enclosure from the girls this time but I do not know what is in the envelope. We too look forward to the post, and the girls are pleased to be allowed to leave the table to go and get the “Gardeners Gazette” as it is sometimes called.

The route you have received from the A.A. seems to be very much the same as the one that I followed on the way down only instead of passing through Maidenhead we went through Henley, Hope your visit to Heavitree goes off satisfactorily. Note you are having the car given a short servicing before you come up here, Had mine tested last Wednesday, and guess what – it failed. They refused a certificate on the grounds that the reflectors were the wrong colour (Orange ) and therefore illegal, and there was said to be insufficient reserve of travel in the handbrake. The reflectors have been attended to, but the brake will-be done this weak when I hope to have car tested again.

I had heard you tell the story about the walk at Martock many years ago, probably when I first joined the rail. Not very good old days as you say.

Acton Yard L.D.C. not much worse than any other I suppose, but the same principle applies – it’s the noise that is heard. Have got four of them taking an appreciation course of three days starting next Tuesday when they can let off steam in private.

Geoff mentioned something to me about all going over on Easter Sunday but we have not yet decided what we are doing on that day so have not made any promises yet. Glad you are able to look out a couple of bottles of wine for us. I found the bottle of plum you brought up last time ( 2nd grade ) and found it still a bit sharp. Added some sugar to the bottle and put it back for a bit. We drank the ( 1st grade ) bottle some time ago.

No I do not think that I can do with any more chrysants, shall have nowhere to put them. Thank you for offering though.

We had not flown the kite until this week as you know we do not get a lot of gales here and even a strong wind is unusual. This week-end it has been glorious without a trace of wind to spoil it. As a result of the heat, the soil is beginning to dry out at long last. Still too tacky to get on but if this keeps up it will not be long before it is workable. Sounds as if our garden is a small edition of Cornishes, I suppose he does do something to it occasionally.

Bad luck about Mr Heal’s mother. When things move suddenly like that though people even a short distance away often fail to make it in time. It must have been a most unhappy day for them.

I am not sure that Mrs Salway knew Carol, but she certainly saw Susan a time or two. Sorry to hear that Aston seems to have some internal trouble, probably due to too many sandwich lunches in the past. Nice to know that mother helps in the garden, I thought she occupied the deckchair and gave advice.

I am glad that the Clevedon cricket ground is not to be used for building, I do not think It was much of a prospect as a building site.

Was interested to learn of the opinion expressed about Susan’s drawings. She really does seem forward for her age in most things, and her little drawings do have more than a little talent.*

I agree this is lovely weather. Three days in a row and the week-end to boot. Hope we have not had it all by the time you arrive – not long now. I can- see I shall have to arrange for a coin operated parking meter to be fixed outside our place when you are here, may be able to make a bit.

Glad to hear your new shops are having such a good effect on the other traders. Good job they are not too near Elford, it might make him wake up.

Made a gallon of “Braverys Extra Special Jungle Juice” yesterday with slight variation. In addition to the four pounds of potatoes I added about one pound of very old and stale parsnips, ( my own that had lain in the soil since last year ) and used Sultanas instead of raisins which were not obtainable. Threw in a whole oz. packet of powdered yeast and the whole lot is in a state of vigorous ferment now.

We had a visit from Peter and Brenda this afternoon and they brought with them Brenda’s two little cousins aged four and two. The girl is very shy and hardly speaks at all but the boy who can toddle steadily round with the minimum of help joined in the fun. Heard a squeal from the front room at one stage and walked in to find he had pushed Carol over and she was lying all arms and legs and voice between the armchair and the wall, They did not leave until well after eight ( nearer nine ) and both children had been well off to sleep long before then. It was a pity to wake them, but I believe they are quite used to it. Gave Peter plenty of wine while he was here and a couple of bottles to go home with.**

Managed to tip over a cup of coffee with the carriage of this machine a few minutes ago, and that brought the pangs on for a bit. Panic over now but lost the drink. I am afraid I shall have to draw the line here this time, it is now 10-30pm much later than the time I usually do this letter – for reasons already explained.

More next time, love from us all.

[*So why refer to them as having been ‘committed’ or ‘perpetrated’ then? It seems especially ungenerous, but is all of a piece with the remarks about Mr Aston – and his own mother – in this letter.]

[**’Plenty of wine’ does not sound like such a great idea considering that Peter was driving with his fiancee and two young children in the car – and there were no seatbelts in those days.]

Wednesday 15th February, 1961

Leonard to the family:

Many thanks for letter received on Tuesday and another good effort by Susan – thank you very much Susan your drawings are improving wonderfully.*

Am glad to say we are both feeling very much better but a little exertion seems to take it out of us still – this will wear off in due course.

What a good idea to have the flu vaccine injections – private firms have been doing this for several years. Hope it works out alright and that it can be done annually. Do you remember some years ago we went to Dr Geo Mcleod for some injections and at that time three injections were necessary at monthly periods. Did not bother after the first year but if such injections are proof against flu then we must think about it next Autumn.

Note you have been busy with various meetings including one at Oxford – a place I’ve never been to by train although we had a choir outing there by road a long time ago. Sounds as if you are all going to have plenty of work to get on with. No wonder you want additional staff.

Have not heard from Norman. He will call up on phone if & when he has any news. There must be hundreds of applicants for Work Study posts and presumably all those successful must have a period at the school otherwise it would be most difficult for them to undertake the outside work. Have you had your chat with McDonald yet about things? and found out who is doing what etc.?

You still find a bit of time for winemaking then? I’ve nothing brewing up at the moment but am thinking of making some Parsnip Wine. Recently dug up the remainder of the parsnips and they are drying off in garage at the moment – about 4 or 5 lbs I should think, just enough for a brew.

Is there any more news of Susan’s possible start at school after Easter or have you still to wait for information? Is Susan excited at the prospect? We shall see a big difference in both of them – it will be about nine months since we last saw them and they can alter quite a lot in that time. Last June when you were here Carol was not too sure on her feet but I expect she is all over the place now. Susan will have grown too. They are both still fond of their prams then** – something to show us when we come up.

How nice for Pauline & Eileen to be with you last weekend. I’m sure Susan & Carol were pleased.

Had a line from Geoff last week to say you had all been over to Headstone Lane and that the children had had a good time. Note you visited Harrow last weekend but no lampshades on view. We have not been out in car except for local trips to library and Hill Road. Am gradually filling up with petrol for the journey and shall put car in for ‘short servicing’ in early March. Have you got certificate of roadworthiness for yours yet? I see the very old ones are now liable to prosecution if not in possession of certificate.

The current name of the hairdresser who bought Roselands is Hamblin and not Hamilton – my mistake. Hamblin has had a ladies hairdressing business at Six Ways (near Babyland) ever since that block of shops were erected and is noted for buying old property – renovating it – and then reselling. I don’t know if the other man – Hamilton – is still in Knowles Rd or not.

Someone was looming at Spencers’ house in this avenue last Sunday – understand Spencer starts his new job in Southampton on March 1st. At the moment he is busy painting the outside woodwork – windows, doors etc. – presumably to get a better price for it. Should think it’s a bit late in the day for that.

Those people in Cranley Gardens seem to be in it right up to their necks – the place was well organised. It would be very interesting to know who first put the police on to them.***

Have got down to some serious gardening this week. Dug another rough plot across garden and started weeding from the bottom end next to Heels. In the frames I’ve sown Lettuce – Carrot – Beetroot – Leeks and Cauliflower whilst in greenhouse I’ve taken quite a lot of chrysanthemum cuttings. It was a glorious day yesterday and from BBC accounts it was pretty general all over the country. No sun today but dry although very dull. Mum has gone to Townswomen’s Guild meeting this afternoon and is going with them tomorrow to Bristol to the pantomime. I shall be keeping the home fires burning or perhaps one in the garden – nearly time I started another.

Note you had a trip to Pinner Park on Sunday but that it was not too pleasant – not very nice here either. I went ringing morning and evening but we did not feel well enough to sit in church – still a bit of cough at times.

Have you disposed of all the Country Lifes we brought up last year? Hope so for we have another lot for you. Joan tells us that commencing last January she has changed to the ‘Field’ a somewhat similar publication to the Country Life but we shall still be having them as usual (i.e. the Field).

Quite a lot of train mishaps lately – what is the matter? Some of them appear to be carelessness from the brief particulars given in the Press but it is just as well to wait for the official verdicts. The fact remains however there are too many accidents occurring now-a-days****. Don in his last letter said he had heard that they are taking men from the Labour Exchange at Exeter and training them as goods guards and that when the period of training is over (ten weeks) the men resign and go back to the Labour Exchange having had ten stamps stuck on their card.

Well I think this is the lot once more. Mum must put a few lines before posting to say how much she enjoyed pantomime.

Hope you are all keeping well.

All our love to you both and once again lots of kisses for Susan & Carol.

Mum & Dad

[*Against what standard, I wonder? And is improvement the only reason for making them? I think not. Why wouldn’t one tell a child that age ‘I really liked your drawing’ or ‘Your drawing made me smile’? Continually measuring any child against some imaginary yardstick must surely lead to disappointment on both sides – especially for the child who can never quite be ‘good enough’ for the adults in their life.]

[**Having owned the things for only about seven weeks at this stage this may not be too surprising.]

[***The simple answer to this question is ‘the CIA’, who had tipped off MI5 about the activities of a man known as ‘Gordon Lonsdale’ but who was in fact a Soviet agent by the name of Konon Molody. Permission was obtained to investigate the contents of a safe deposit box in ‘Lonsdale’s name, and spy paraphernalia was discovered. From then on he was under intense scrutiny until he was arrested on 7 January, 1961, and so was everyone he came into contact with.]

[****This was certainly a bad spell; Wikipedia lists three accidents very close together at this time – at Royton in Lancashire on 8 February, where the accident was followed by a fire which destroyed two houses; near Rugby on 11 February, when a driver was killed; and at Baschurch in Shropshire on 13 February, when three railwaymen were killed. Further crashes took place on 20 March at Canon Street, London; 11 April at Waterloo; 18 April at Pitsea in Essex; and on 16 July at Weeton in Lancashire, leaving a total of twelve people dead and at least 142 injured.]

Letter from Eva on the remaining two-thirds of Leonard’s sheet of writing paper:

Dear Alec June Susan & Carol

Many thanks for letter also Susan’s drawing. I expect she will be an artist later on.

Well we went to the Pantomime in King St. We had nearly left Clevedon when two members found they hadn’t got their tickets so back to Herbert Rd, & also Fearnville. We eventually arrived at the Theatre Royal* 2.15 p.m. & it commenced 2.30. This is not a very big theatre I was surprised. Jessie Matthews was the principal actress. She must be sixty if she is a day by now*. I remember her better in the films. We got home about 6.30 p.m. On the 22nd we hope to go to Capern’s Seed place at Yatton.

Dad has been busy putting the gate right today.

The Triangle Post Office was raided this week £500 stolen. Somebody said Mick Rees Barratt went off & left the door open. He works as a labourer somewhere not being fit for other work.

The Hamilton who used to live in Knowles Rd lived with a Mrs Middleton who had a number of children. Don’t know if he lives there now.

There was Ronnie & Reggie Hoy one of them died I think it was Ronnie, the other is a clergyman.

I have bought some paint to do the bathroom don’t know when it will be started all depends when the electricians do their job.

This is about all for the week. Lots of love from

Mum & Dad

[*Now known as the Bristol Old Vic and recently given a massive face-lift. (Mutter mutter, monstrous carbuncle…)]

[*A little unfair; she was fifty-four.]

Sunday 13th November, 1960

Dear Mum and Dad,

Thanks for letter, arrived just after breakfast on Saturday as usual. Herewith this week also latest effort from Susan. This one is in technicolour. Yes I agree it is a messy arrangement about the house at West Drayton. Unfortunately it is so involved that it is difficult to see what can be done.

Sorry to say we can not claim to be even reasonably healthy this week. Returned from Cardiff on Friday to find that Carol had been giving trouble* with a head cold and to-day Susan has got it. They both had fairly good nights last night but June has been sleeping in with Carol in the small back room far the last three nights. Of course there was no Sunday School to-day for either although Susan announced that she was quite recovered. The worst is over for Carol to all appearances but it will be a day or two I suppose before they are back to normal. June and I are free so far.

While on the subject of the girls, I washed the dahlia tubers to-day and to dry out I have tied string round the stems and hung them in a bunch from the centre girder of the garage. When Carol saw this she said “thats the oujah tree Daddy”. Another one, – Susan this time – when June had bathed her she said to Susan gracious look at that tide mark round the bath. Susan said “of course it isn’t we do not use ‘Tide’ in our bath”.

Do not know what Carol will do at first when Susan goes to school. It will be a bit of a shock I expect but after mooning around for a day or two she will probably get used to it. I remember going to the Infant School for the first time at Clevedon very well. I also remember many incidents of school days at Westbury including catching the bus home (when I remembered it).

Bristol getting quite posh with the new shops. Hope Mum and Aunt Joan had a good day – not too expensive.

The rain came back with a vengeance this week end and has filled me up with catarrah again. I have noticed that particularly heavy and prolonged rainfall soon produces that effect. Must look forward to some dry cold days to put matter right. Do not think the frost we had has done any damage this end. Not much about to damage now except the dahlias and I have forked them all up now. When they are really dry I shall bring them indoors and put away somewhere without heat or extreme cold.

Have a very full Diary these days but last week I only got out of London for one full day. Stayed in the first part of the week to ensure there were no last minute surprises from Pickford for his meeting on the Thursday. Went to Cardiff on the 3-55pm (stayed the night in Bridgend) and had meeting with Bluff and Bryer the following morning which lasted till five minutes to 4-0 pm (inc lunch). Just managed to scramble on to the 4-0pm to Paddington and arrived home at 8-30pm. Monday I had free but I am told I have an interview that day for job of Work Study Assistant to Mr Philips so that day has gone now. Tuesday we meet the Vice Principal Of the Derby Railway College, Wednesday to Exeter to see Hartnell (that answers your query) and Thursday and Friday in the Exeter and Plymouth Districts to get some general impressions make contacts etc. Monday 21st I have meeting at Swindon with Accountants (in morning) and the rest of the week looks like being in the Cardiff Area as I have a full list of Goods Agents and Stationmasters to see. Have a team at Cardiff Control next week to measure the use made of two Control Circuits. (The two most heavily used in the Control) to find out what we have to do to avoid delay and congestion if the train loading messages were increased by two and a half times. Things are certainly warming up and I could use a couple of good Class One assistants. Trouble is you just can’t be in two places at once. I rang McDonald up on Friday and asked him if he wanted to see me whether it would be convenient that day. He arranged to see me at 11-0am but sent a subsequent message to say he had been called away but would see me next week. Passed a message back to say I was only available on the Monday so the ball is now in his court. Of course fit he may have heard about the interview before me and that may have changed his mind for him. Feel I only hold an evens chance for this one. I only applied for the London job although all four were offered. It seems there are two highly paid Commercial Work Study men to be found homes and as McDonald was from that office the chances are not good. There is no reason for the Bristol Divisional Manager to be represented at the Exeter Meeting, but he will be given the opportunity of attending if he likes. We did agree that an informal approach would be made with Hartnell and Dean after the initial meeting.

Susan’s reactions to the fireworks were healthy enough. We did not have many apart from the sparklers. Susan wanted a Catherine wheel so June bought a large one and I poked a hole through it and worked the needle in it so that it turned freely. Unfortunately the needle must have expanded with the heat as after the first few seconds the wheel stuck and could not be persuaded to revolve. She was not disappointed and later saw some of Janet’s out of the window.

Peter and Brenda were here on Friday when I got home. The ring was in evidence so that is established. I do not know when they will be married but I think not for some time yet.**

We have been lead to believe that with that verdict on Uncle Cyril there can be no question of compensation. This sounds only too logical. We hear that Iris has returned to her own home, and Aunt Beryl is keeping the other one going as a home for herself and Clive who is as yet unmarried.

Yes I thought it odd that Charlie Rust did not see the London train off. I made no real attempt to go to see him as I assumed he would be certain to see train out.

I wonder why you decided to extend the bench to the end of garage. It seemed to me that you had a long enough bench and the bit at the bottom was most suitable for stacking long poles and laths vertically.

While on the subject, June and I had the idea that you might care to try your hand at making us a Standard lamp. We realise that a tall lamp might present some transport problems but it might be possible to make the lamp in two or more sections which could be reassembled. We have always wanted a standard lamp and one with rectangular section would be just as good as a round one.

You seem to be having similar trouble to mine in getting car in and out. Must say that particular problem is simple compared with that of walking round garage (inside) with car in position.

To-day I took lid off radio and retuned all the six settings. What was in tune at Clevedon was a little out this end. Have now fixed positions 1, 4, 5, and 6 with “Light” “Home” “Hilversum” and “Paris”. The stations on 2 and 3 are not very powerful and I can hardly hear them, I can not seem to get anything else on those settings.

I expect you were able to find a good use for the flower pots, or will do when potting time comes round again. See you had a walk on the sea wall. How far exactly did you go. June and I had a short walk on the wall one evening when we were last at Clevedon but we did not go further, than the new river. Incidentally we met Aston coming off the wall as we went on. Had a look for the missing Jewels lately? There is always a small cluster of people working at the Pill. During the Winter when the boats are out of the water, there is a lot of caulking and tarring to be done and new coats of paint to be applied. At one time Captain Rowles had a yard down there where he kept all sorts of masts, spars, sails and gear, I think it has gone now though.

So you have some big game in the neighbourhood? I suppose Bill Raine popped out and put some salt on their tails.

Thanks for the B’water paper. Some good pictures in it especially Lyng Halt. The children appreciated the letter from Grandma and had it read specially for them. Will close now and try to think up what questions likely to come up tomorrow (and answers). All the best to you both for now. Love from us all.

*’giving trouble’ pretty much sums up the attitude; naturally if a child was ill they were doing so *at* Alec and June, deliberately. There is never a word of how unhappy the children themselves must be.

**Spoiler alert; the wedding never did take place, and Peter later married someone else. It will be interesting to see whether or not anything emerges in subsequent correspondence as to the reason for this. I remember Brenda as a very friendly blonde lady, although we only met a couple of times.

Why Broadchurch is – and isn’t – Clevedon

Like a large number of UK viewers*, and later on a considerable faction of the world’s population, we sat down one day in March 2013 to watch the first episode of ‘Broadchurch‘, which is a murder mystery set in a seaside town and centres on the death of 11 year old Danny Latimer. Like 99.9% of those viewers we had absolutely no idea what to expect, except that it looked like a genuine and effective British attempt at Scandi-noir. Unlike a lot of those people, however, we jumped out of our seats during the first establishing shot – a street at night – and yelped “Bloody hell, that’s Clevedon!” And so it was.

Or, rather, part of Clevedon was part of Broadchurch. IMDB, rather insultingly, says it’s Portishead, and there may indeed have been some scenes shot there – but Portishead and Clevedon are two distinct entities. The spectacular cliffs and the beaches are very definitely at West Bay in Dorset. The church, however, and the street with the hotel and the newspaper office, and the field which backs on to the Latimers’ house, are all in Clevedon – together with other incidental locations. The Latimer and Miller houses, too, are both in Clevedon. This trend continued with Broadchurch 2 and 3, but the first series is the only one we happen to have on DVD; we bought it solely for the location shots – because one day we may not be able to get to Clevedon, and this is as good a way as any to remember it.

The street in the opening sequence, down which Danny Latimer skateboards to his fate, is Hill Road in Clevedon. Detective Ellie Miller refers to it as ‘the high street’ so presumably it’s actually called ‘High Street’ for Broadchurch purposes. It features several notable businesses, the most prominent of which is The Traders Hotel B&B, in the building which was (in 2019 at any rate) occupied by J. Edward Sellars Financial Planning. The little street market which turns up in episode 1 is, as far as I can discover, an invention of the series, presumably to indicate the passing of time. The newspaper offices are also in Hill Road, Clevedon, but the newsagent’s shop run by the character Jack Marshall – although supposedly in the same road – is actually located at West Bay.

The Latimers and the Millers, as well as other characters (Nige, Rev. Coates etc.) all seem to live on streets that give easy access to a large field with a sea wall behind it and a good view of a church on a hill. This field is easily identifiable as Marshalls Field in Clevedon, and some scenes actually take place on the sea wall. Beth Latimer meets her stalker there, for example, in episode 3, although it’s difficult to imagine where she thought she was going as there is nothing whatsoever along the path but a couple of isolated farms and – eventually – Weston-super-Mare.

This view, across Marshalls Field to St Andrew’s Church, was taken from the sea wall in July 2014, and corresponds closely to camera angles seen in ‘Broadchurch’. Leonard and Eva’s house – as well as those inhabited by the fiction Miller and Latimer families – would be either in the picture or just off it to the right hand side.

The church itself, however, is the most important individual location from this blog’s point of view. St Andrew’s, Clevedon, makes its first appearance in episode 2, where it’s seen in the background for the first time at time reference 12:36, on the left hand side of the picture – and then in an establishing shot at 33:14. The angle there is not quite wide enough to show the family grave, where Leonard is buried and Eva and Alec are both commemorated on the stone**; that’s just off the right-hand side of the image, on a gentle rise close to the gate which leads out onto Poets’ Walk, the footpath around the headland. The hill from which this image was taken is called Church Hill and is in itself the subject of an interesting story which we’ll no doubt get to in a later post.

The family grave also has ‘narrow escapes’ at time reference 18:55 in episode 4 and 10.59 in episode 8; the bench which clearly features in both these scenes is the landmark by which the grave can most easily be located.

The interior of the church as shown is indeed the interior of St Andrew’s Church, and the font which can be seen behind Pauline Quirke at 33:36 in episode 2 is the font where Carol was baptised. Her name used to be on the Cradle Roll, which was up on the wall near the font, but doubtless this has been superseded by now. We have not been inside the church since Leonard’s funeral as it is generally kept locked these days.

The skate/BMX park where Joe Miller takes his son, Tom, in episode 3, is on the sea front at Clevedon, next to the northernmost corner of Salthouse Fields – the green area in front of the pub frequented by Alec in his World War 2 diary fragment, which can be found elsewhere on this blog.

If we hadn’t already been sure, after that establishing shot of Hill Road at night, that we were in Clevedon, the identification would have been confirmed for us by the distinctive sight at 28:23 in episode 1 of the two masts and the line of the sea wall. This is part of a scene which begins at 28:10 and takes place on the path which leads from the end of Old Church Road (St Andrew’s being the ‘old church’ of the name) down to a tiny ramp and boat yard***. From here there is a path to the right which runs up around Wains Hill and joins up with Poets’ Walk, and one to the left which – being part of the Somerset Coastal Path – eventually finds its way to Weston. Alec always said that the two masts were Clevedon’s defining characteristic (remember, he was a radio ham), but if he gave any further explanation I was unable to understand it then and certainly wouldn’t be able to do so now. Therefore I have located this comment by a user named Simon on a forum called UK Vintage Radio Repair and Restoration which may help:

These two masts are the aerial for the 50kw BBC R5L AM transmitter serving most of the West Country and South Wales. The radiating mast is the one nearest the coast the other mast is an earthed reflector to reduce co channel interference with Brookmans Park, near London, along the M4 corridor.

The Clevedon signal on 909Khz is very strong and clear at my address near Bristol which I use for my mid band test when checking the alignment of any medium wave radio. It’s also a good test of selectivity as nearby is a very strong signal from BBC R Wales on 882Khz from the Washford transmitter, just down the coast from Clevedon near Watchet, which some of the older and smaller transistor radios have problems separating.

Any other Clevedon locations which appear – and there are one or two – are usually the product of either turning the camera around and using the same place from a different angle, or simply following a character with a Steadicam. By cross referencing the DVD with Google Earth it’s relatively straightforward to work out where both the Millers and the Latimers live – and even to come up with a fairly good idea as to where the crew parked their vehicles while they were filming. I won’t give the exact addresses of the houses used for filming; it’s easy enough to do what I did and identify the locations, particularly as they don’t seem to have changed too much in the interim. It seems likely that the interiors as well as the exteriors were used, too; since there wasn’t going to be a lot of damage (nothing got blown up, for example), it was just a case of selecting a house with the right vibe to begin with.

Clevedon doesn’t get a lot of publicity on the whole, it’s a quintessentially genteel Edwardian seaside resort where band concerts and flower shows have always been more popular than ice cream and kiss-me-quick hats. The few ‘attractions’ are clustered around the Marine Lake and Salthouse Fields, with several excellent restaurants – and Hill Road – up at the further (northern) end of town near the pier. There are still occasional sailings-from and arrivals-to the pier in summer, and Alec and his parents are commemorated on a brass plaque there – although we couldn’t find it last time we looked. (We think they remove them after a certain period and re-sell the space.) At any rate it’s a quiet spot and has remained relatively unchanged.

We noticed an autographed photo of David Bradley in a shop window in Hill Road back in 2014, but that seems to be pretty much all the impact the place suffered for having three seasons of a popular crime drama filmed in and around it – and if that’s the case we can’t pretend we’re terribly unhappy with the result.

*Apparently 9.07 million viewers watched the first episode, either live or on time-delay. See

**Eva died in York, and due to a misunderstanding her ashes were scattered and no marker was ordered for her. Leonard died in Clevedon and his ashes are interred under the stone in St Andrew’s churchyard, to which Eva’s name was also added. Alec died in Exmouth; his ashes were interred at Exeter along with June’s and those of her sister, Pauline, and there is presumably a marker of some sort to commemorate them all. However his name has also been added to his parents’ gravestone at Clevedon. At the moment we manage to visit at least once a year to tidy the grave and leave flowers, but this is becoming increasingly difficult and we may need to pay someone to maintain it for us in future.

***This is also where a suspect is apprehended in episode 8 at time reference 04.48.

Wednesday 31st August, 1960

Eva to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan & Carol

Just getting a few lines off this week, thanks for letter. The weather this end has been changeable although not like last week. Saturday was terrible here, we had a terrific thunder storm & Hack’s Cottages were inches deep in water & sewage so we gather.

Believed to be Hacks Cottages, Old Church Road. (c) Geoff Hale, sourced from

Our new car (to us) is very nice although I liked our old one very much. It is ivory & pale grey quite a good combination of colours when you look at it & the wheel had an ivory centre. The inside is red upholstered stinks of cigar or cigarettes but that will go soon. The only draw back that I can see there are no pockets but a good wide shelf & a small place above for a bag. The light on the roof switches on when the door is opened. The inside of roof is plastic & can be washed & you can double lock the back doors so that children can’t meddle with them. It will carry five comfortably & seems a little wider than the A40. I daresay Joan will be green with envy & want to change “The Countryman” when they see it. They will be up one Sunday soon.

Last Friday afternoon Mr Palmer came up & showed us his gold watch he was presented with also Mrs Palmer’s necklace, brooch & earrings at the do at Bristol on the occasion of his retirement from Hawkins Ltd. His employers also gave him £400. We understand there is no work pension so suppose that is why he hung on until he was 70.

During the time he was here was had another visitor, Mr Stephens called in on a road trip from Hereford. He is much slimmer but looks very fit.

We are still selling tomatoes but the bean stakes have dwindled out.

Was very pleased to hear that Mr & Mrs Baker are at last going to retire from the shop. It will do them good to have a rest but they have another worry until they find another place to live in. Westcliff seems a long way away, as far as we are I should say.*

Hope Alec got on alright at the meeting, no doubt you will get another day in lieu of Tuesday.

Ian Spencer seems A1 again & is shopping for his mother. we hear that the specialist called to see him while he was in bed in the hospital & asked him a lot of questions which he answered then the next day another man called to ask some more questions & he said do I have to say it all over again, what I told the other chap?

We have more roses coming in November & I think they will be A1. They are Hybrid tea: Beaute, Mojave, Grandmere Jenny, Opera, Cleopatra, Ethel Sanday, Konrad Adenauer, Lilac Time, Sutter’s Gold.

This morning we received a nice catalogue from Waltham Cross (Cuthbert’s). We did not send for it & roses cheaper than the ones we bought at Almondsbury, something to note for future requirements.

Dad had two weddings on the go last Saturday at Parish Church & he & Stanley James have been asked to go to one at Portishead on Saturday as they are short of ringers. Nice little extra for them. The house at the bottom has not been sold yet & there is great activity next dor, in there every day.

I think this is all now as will leave any other news for Dad on Friday.

Love to all from Mum & Dad.

*Westcliff is roughly sixty miles by road from South Ruislip, Clevedon approximately twice that.