A Telegraph Boy in the 1940s
81 year old Dave arrived to watch the cricket on The Green and told me his life story – although I was cutting hedges at the time. He would not give his surname in case it got on “the internet thing” and he “became known by everyone in the world”.
He had been born in South Devon, evacuated to a North Devon farm and after the War came to a Kent boarding school. Meanwhile, his older brother, Arthur, was working as a cattle man at Paul’s Farm and living in half of Budgens Cottage down Station Approach, as Lower Green was then normally called. Dave used to live with his brother and his brother’s wife in the school holiday and got to know the village well.; His main memories from 65 years ago were about food – particularly the lack of it with rationing – but he still remembers the fresh bread from the Old Willow Bakery in Lower Green and the scones and the little cakes. A loaf of bread cost 4½d. Dave’s main passion in Leigh was fishing and he used to go round to the local farmers and ask permission to try their streams or ponds. The best place he found was a big pond on a stream up above Egg Pie Lane, owned by Lord Massereene, the N. Ireland politician. “You could get trout up to a foot long – the best trout in Kent” says Dave. [Note: Can anyone place the house or the pond?] Directly Dave left school he became a telegraph boy in Tunbridge Wells – Vale Road while waiting to do his National Service. “I was given a bike and I used to cycle to work from Leigh, even in the snow. There were seven or eight of us. If you were lucky, you got a tip: and, if you got back to the office and saw one of the others smoking a Capstan and eating chocolate – Cadburys – you’d know he’d got a good tip”. “I remember the maximum number of hours the Government allowed people work went down from 48 hours to 46 and then to 42½ but agricultural labourers were excluded because producing food was thought to be so important. So my brother was working very long hours and always a half day on Saturdays. He and his wife would have to go down to the International Stores in Tonbridge on his motor-cycle and side car to get their weekly shop on Saturday afternoons”.
“It was a different world in those days”.
Chris Rowley (Parish Magazine Article: Sept 2015)