Wednesday 30 November 1994

Wylye Valley Memories

Danny Howell

Wylye Valley Memories features the edited transcripts of tape-recorded interviews made by Danny Howell with four people, namely Les Saunders, Edwin Stone, Bill Robbins and Rhona Collier.

Les Saunders recalls growing up in Fisherton Delamere, where his father, George Saunders, was a gardener at the Manor House, first for Mr Young, then Dr Brookes, and later for Captain Jeans. Les tells of archaeologist Mr Newell at Fisherton House, the village cricket club, the Carpenter family and the mill, visiting traders and nearby shops at Wylye, games along the banks of the river Wylye, his memories of Wylye School, the annual Sunday School outing by charabanc, Fisherton Church, and Wylye Railway Station. He also recalls Bishop Wordsworth's School in Salisbury, and his apprenticeship with Smith Bros.'s garage in Wylye, and fun with the Stockton Tennis Club.

Edwin Stone, born at Hanging Langford, was the son of a farm carter. He tells of agriculture when horses provided the power and when a sheep fair was held at Yarnborough Castle. He documents his home life, and school days at Wishford, and his working life spent as a shepherd. He then moved to Tarrant Gunville, working with pigs, before returning to the Wylye Valley and his final employment at Chalke's at South Newton.

Bill Robbins, born at Upton Lovell, remembers his father's work on the railway, the baker and other tradesmen, and the Prince Leopold when it was not only a pub but also a shop and coal merchant's. The Post Office, the fire brigade, the school, the gale of 1929, the Sunday School and the harvest field are all lovingly recalled. The family moved to Heytesbury and Bill relates life at Heytesbury School, Mrs Sassoon, Sambourne School in Warminster, employment as the gardener's boy at Knook Manor, and Mr Targett's farm. Bill eventually worked in the building trade and concludes his story with recollections of the cinema, the shops and the two pubs in Heytesbury.

Rhona Collier's grandfather Giles Conduit worked at the Wool Stores in Codford. And her father, George Conduit, ran a shop, bakery and off-licence in Codford until the First World War years, afterwards running a shop and bakery in Hanging Langford. Rhona, with a basket, delivered bread around the villages, while attending Steeple Langford School. She then went to Bishop Wordsworth's School in Salisbury, catching the train at Wylye Station. In 1941 Rhona married Bill Collier, a plate-layer turned sub-ganger on the railway, and they moved to Mountain Ash in Wales.

This is a delightful book and each of the interviewees, as well as reminiscing, give their candid opinions of progress and change in the modern world.

Wylye Valley Memories.
Danny Howell.
Softback, 233 mm x 154 mm, 96 pages, 20 black and white photographs.
Published by Bedeguar Books.
November 1994.
ISBN 1872818110.