Gill Hoare (nee Meek)

Gill has kindly sent the following in….

My Chalklands History started at number 30 and when I was born there it was number 66.

The history of 66 Chalklands began back in 1938 when it was originally bought by my grandfather George Henry Russell who was born in 1878 in Wooburn. Jameson the builder advertised the houses for £550 with a deposit of £50 and repayments at 16s10d per week (81p in today’s money) including rates!  The advertisement proudly states “no road charges” – and you won’t need me to elaborate on that!

The purchase price of 66 was £575 and I understand it was the “show house” on the Estate and as such sported a French door out to the back garden.  George named the house “Merville” after a place in France he remembered seeing during the Great War when serving with the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, Bucks Battalion.

George was a gardener at a house by the Thames and his gardening skills kept a well stocked garden at Chalklands. Back in the war time it was “dig for victory” and to supplement the ration book. He lived there with his wife Kate and two daughters Dorothy and Joan. In 1940 Dorothy married Stan Meek and moved to 118 (now 56) and Joan, my mother, married Ken Meek and continued to live at 66 whilst Ken was in the RAF. Another Meek brother Bert and family lived at the house now numbered 41.  I was born in 1943 and my brother Ken in 1945.

I remember life was pretty Spartan by standards today. The hot water in the house was heated by the coke boiler in the kitchen which was cleaned out and re-lit each morning and the two downstairs rooms and the two largest bedrooms had tiled fireplaces. The fire in the front room and indeed the front room its self was only used on Christmas Day and I never saw the bedroom fires used. The kitchen was tiny but the sink could today be considered a trendy “butler sink”!  Mod cons included one electric plug socket in the kitchen (for the ironing) and one in the back downstairs room for the wireless!  A gas copper in the shed for boiling the laundry and a gigantic wooden mangle!  The only way of keeping food cool was to dig a hole in the front garden to accommodate a large tin to hold bottles of milk but everyone shopped daily in the village so the larder contents were pretty sparse.

The Grandparents had both died by 1952 and my Mum, Dad, Ken and I remained in the house.

The estate was not on main drainage and each property had a cesspool tank and when it needed emptying the householder sent a postcard to the council and the “pipes men” arrived within a few days and did the necessary!  Great excitement when Chalklands was put on main drainage probably early 50s.  My Dad used his two weeks summer holiday from the furniture trade, to dig the required trench.

As children Chalklands was great –in the early days only Mr Townsend at 64 and Mr Holiday at 63 had a car – so playing in the road was the thing to do. Skipping with a long rope across the road, tiles, hopscotch, cricket, football, tennis – the road was whatever you wanted it to be. “The circle” at the top of the road had two huge logs dumped on the centre – a great meeting place!  Back then the sun always seemed to shine during the school holidays and everyone was happy. No one had material things back then but we all made lasting friendships.

Opposite at No 37 (now 43) lived Cyril White who owned the sweet shop in the village.  He kept pigs in his back garden and there was always great excitement when the lorry came to collect the pigs (for slaughter, I guess) and now and again the pigs were not compliant and escaped making a bid for freedom  running up the road chased by the lorry driver! All the children came out to watch and cheer.

The bungalow at the top of the road (now number 42) was owned by Captain Webb who had been in the Royal Navy , and Mrs Webb – he was the first one on Chalklands to have a television and various children were invited in to watch “Muffin the Mule” on a tiny screen!  Captain Webb had a brightly coloured parrot whose large bell-shaped cage was hung outdoors in good weather.

Brother Ken married Gill from No 65 in 1967 and now for them life has turned a full circle and they are back living there at 28. I also married John in 1967 and since then we have lived in Marlow.

Joan and Ken remained at the house the grandchildren enjoyed visiting and playing in the garden.  Each year in September was the ritual apple picking day from the large tree in the garden.  After Ken died in 2005 and Joan could no longer manage she moved into a residential home and lived there until she died in 2010. The house had to be cleared – no easy task after 65 years of family life and accumulated possessions – and was sold on for redevelopment into the house you see there today.

I worked at Jacksons Millboard in the book-keeping office for 11 years until I had Joanne and Nick. Joanne lives in Hutton with husband and three sons and Nick has a house in Marlow and gets married next May.  When the children were at school I was in the office of a light engineering company in Marlow following that I worked at Marlow Surgery in the registration office for 20 years retiring in 2008.  I enjoy doing cross stitch, reading and keeping up with family and friends.