Recollections of life in Kirkby Underwood from just before the Coronation

by Keith Wright

Our phone number was Morton 74 and not a party line, as father wouldn’t have a shared line.

The policeman came from Morton on a regular basis and cycled until they upgraded him to a bike with an engine.

Home was opposite where I live now and my father ran a general stores and sweet shop.  At that time we had rationing so you needed coupons to buy goods.

Our house didn’t have running water you had to go out into the garden and pump the water into a bucket and cart it into the house.  Water for the laundry was collected from the roof into a cistern and heated in a copper and then used for washing the dirty clothing.  I got the job once a year of cleaning inside the cistern.

The outside toilet (no such luxury as inside then) was a good 100 yards from the house so I used my push bike to get there.

Electric came to the village about 1952, when they built the telecoms mast,  and the television about 1953.  Our TV was black and white with a 12” screen with very limited viewing of just BBC in the evening.  Children’s programmes were on the radio.

My father got a car when I was about 15.

With no TV our spare time was filled by playing cricket, rounders, football,  trundling hoops and skipping on The Manor  field.

The Forestry Cottages were the first to be wired for electric. 

Charlie Gresswell from Billingborough ran a bus twice a day on Thursday into Bourne and for a short time Lincolnshire Road Car ran a bus on Saturdays.  Charlie Gresswell also ran a bus to take us to the panto in Peterborough at Christmas.  So really if you wanted to go anywhere you biked.

The School

Mrs. Osborne the school teacher lived at the bakers in Bourne where Double and Megson is now.  She caught a bus from Bourne to Rippingale and then pedalled a bike which she kept at Rippingale into Kirkby  -  even in the winter of 1947.  At Christmas she managed this trip with iced buns for all of the school children.  Talking about Christmas we used to put on little plays and had a piano for the musical bits.

The school had two classrooms, infant and junior then for the final year you went to Rippingale School and then on to Bourne.  About 20 to 30 children attended.   Later on there was a woodwork room for the boys.  With no electric the classrooms were heated by a solid fuel heater.  The loos were outside where the store sheds are now and a man came to empty them weekly.  With no mains sewer and no running water there was no option. 

The railings in front of the school had their tops turned over after a boy fell onto them and impaled himself.

Heating was by a solid fuel heater and water was fetched from the stand pipe in front of the houses where Derek Bard’s bungalow is now.

In the morning the boys and girls had to line up outside and then march into school for assembly, prayers and singing.  And to the delight or terror of the children once a week you could be chosen to sing the first verse of a hymn of your choice – that could be painful for the singer as well as the audience.

Mid morning the milk was delivered from The Grange (Mr and Mrs Woods’ farm).  The bottles had cardboard tops which were washed and kept and then made into raffia placements.   This was a time of rationing so recycling was very important.

Lunch at 12 and the children returned home for their meal.

Lessons – as well as reading, writing and sums we all learnt how to knit, had PE lessons and played games.

The Nit Nurse

Nurse Perry, the nit nurse, lived in Rippingale.   Father sold nit combs in his shop.

The dentist came to the school once a year,  towing his surgery behind his car (a caravan). 

I got myself some pocket money by feeding the cows and calves that were on the field behind the school.  This was when the farmer, who lived in Irene House,  was  away.

I remember playing the game Nuts in May which is sung to the tune of Mulberry Bush.  May be on the Jubilee Monday we will all be able to play this again in the grounds of the school.

I was 14 at the time of the Coronation and not very interested, it rained all day.  We did all get a Coronation mug though.