written in 1959
What Banbury used to look like 60 years ago
The Editor has received the following interesting letter from a correspondent who recalls life in Banbury 60 years ago.
SIR, - I would like to tell your readers of some of the things I remember of Banbury 60 years ago.
In the summertime of those days, the Great Western Railway used to run half-day and whole-day excursion trips from Paddington to Banbury, the half-day trips used to cost 5s. I usually went with my mother. On arriving at Banbury Station, visitors would be met by boys between six and ten years of age, pleading for your return half, "Are you going back tonight. Mister, if not will you give me the ticket?" I found out that they would sell these return halves very easily to people that wanted to go to London for 4d. or 6d., which would be a very cheap trip.
I remember on one of .these trips, my mother left me behind to stay with an aunt that lived in Banbury. I eventually stayed there twelve months. During that time I made many friends that were introduced to me by one of my cousins. I dare say some of the old folk in Banbury may recall the name of Joe WILSON; we were about the same age in the 19s and 20's, I suppose; I am now in my 78th year.
I remember during my twelve months in Banbury the cables being laid on the street for the electricity supply for the town. At that time Banbury, like many other places, was badly lit, but I enjoyed my stay. Of course, there was nothing to amuse one much, as in those I days the radio, television, cinema and all the modern places of enjoyment that we now have were not invented.
"No Teddy Boy Stuff"
I, with five or six of my friends, used to walk from the Town Hall to the pub on the corner where the cattle market was, stay there for a while, and then return to the Town Hall again, and repeat this walk three or four limes during the evening. Sometimes we would meet a party of chaps walking in the opposite direction doing just the same thing as we were, then we made quite a crowd on the pavement, but we soon moved on when we saw a policeman coming. Mind you, there was no "Teddy Boy" stuff about us chaps.
Another thing I remember was playing a game of football with the Box Factory team; I was smuggled in to this side; I believe our opponents were an eleven from a place called Brackley. I was supposed to be a member of the club. However, we lost that game. I also remember playing in a sack football match with my pals, but we won this game and with them I got a silver medal (which I still have).
Another thing I remember was going with my uncle on the brewer's dray to outlying villages delivering barrels of beer. 1 think the brewers he worked for were a firm named Hopcraft and Norris; you see there was nothing else to do during the daytime, my pals were at work. Couldn't I have got a job in Banbury? Well, perhaps I could, only I was never certain when I would be returning to London. My job was open to me if I did return. I am now living in Southall, Middlesex, and have been this past 23 years. Previously I lived in London, Notting Hill - this is a place that has been in the news quite recently.
Well, I will tell you the names of some of my pals I remember: Mickey VIGGERS, Alby WHITE, Arthur MEAKINS, Bert SODEN. I wonder whether any or them are still about; if so; I would like them to write to me. I have many things I could recall to them. Of course, they would be in the 75 to 80's now.
Another of my memories was the election of the Mayor. His name, I believe, was WALKDEN. I know he was the proprietor of a cornchandler's shop near the Town Hall.
Well, these are a few of the things I remember of Banbury in those days, but I must not forget those Banbury Cakes made by the confectioners, "Betts," and they were Banbury Cakes in those days.
My mother, whose maiden name was BAYLIS, was born in the village of Broughton. She told me that she used to go to Banbury very nearly every day. She worked at the Castle for a few years, then she left to go to one of the colleges at Oxford; she became head laundry- maid there. She told a good story,one of how of how she was told to go on the gates with another maid to receive permits from visitors that had been invited to a party, that was being given.
Stopped the Prince of Wales!
One of the visitors was King Edward VII (at that time he was the Prince of Wales). He arrived at the gates on horse-back, accompanied by his tutor. When they stopped at the gates, my mother asked for the permit to pass through. The tutor said that they hadn't got it with them. My mother said, "I'm sorry, but I can't let you through without a permit." So the tutor said, "But do you know this is the Prince of Wales?" Again mother said, "I'm sorry, but I can't let you through without a permit, but if you like to stay here for a few minutes I will go and fetch an official." They agreed to wait and mother went off to get the official.
She soon came back with him, and as they were nearing the gates he said to mother, "Oh, it's quite all right, it is the Prince of Wales!" So mother opened the gates and let them through.
The Prince and the tutor saw the funny side of it, as mother said they rode down the path laughing their heads off. Do any of the old folk remember the Hon. Gordon LENNOX, of Broughton Castle, or Mary BULL, who kept the pub at Broughton? A walk I used to like was to Bodicote, passing Horton Infirmary on the main road. I had a cousin who was manager of the Co-op at Bodicote. Then again, I remember the carriers' carts coming into Banbury (horse-drawn, of course, as there were no motor cars).
Well, these are a few of the things I remember of Banbury that may interest the old folk.
William E. Fuller,