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Oxford Street in the 1940s

With the kind permission of George Bodman

Lambourn 1930's - 40's

A description of Lambourn and local characters, based on the memories of George, who for many years, until his retirement supplied coal and other fuels to Lambourn residents.

Oxford Street 

The first building past The Red Lion, on the East Side was the old Memorial Hall where dances, jumble sales, whist drives and cinema shows were held. Up on the stage next to the projection box were padded seats costing 2/3 (two shillings and three pence) while the hard seats on the ground floor were only 9p (nine pence)! I well remember films with Shirley Temple, Laurel and Hardy and plenty of gangsters.

Oxford St (G.Bodman)1940College House next door was occupied by Jim Clanchy (secretary to HL Cottrill at Seven Barrows) and his wife until after the War. Jack Wise, who founded an electrical business in the early 1930's, then moved in. In later years he could always be seen tending his allotment and won many Flower Show prizes. Ron Rackham lived in the house where the Natwest Bank used to be. The next two (thatched) cottages were owned by Mrs Dudley and were burnt down in the 1953 road tanker crash.

Then we come to the yard of Mildenhall's, builders, carpenters and undertakers. Adjoining was that of Theo Harris, heating engineer, plumber, Parish and District Councillor, Sports Club President, ardent churchman and Fire Brigade Captain! Across the river was Mr Bracey's farmhouse. He was Church Warden and bequeathed the land in Newbury Street on which the Vicarage now stands. Next-door was the home of Tommy Rodbourne whose great interest was racing. The neighbouring house, now called The Old Bakery, was once a grocery shop run by Mr Elkins and later by Ray and Mrs Greenough. Mr Greenough used to collect grocery orders by bicycle on a Tuesday and despatch them by delivery boy on a Friday.

The McGaughan family lived at number 21, formerly The Laburnums and now Oakwood Lodge. Mr McGaughan served as a Special Constable during the last war and later took on the Weathercock public house in Upper Lambourn. Next-door lived Bill Morgan who ran a bicycle and wireless shop which was on the opposite side of the road. Many of us used his facilities to charge our accumulators up so that we could listen to our wireless sets.

Then came North Lodge, occupied pre-war by the widow of the well-known jockey Tommy Robbins. He donated the first red and white striped shirts to Lambourn Football Club; these colours are still in use today. This house was then occupied by the Fenna's. Mrs Fenna later married Bob Read, the famous racehorse trainer. During the last War, North Lodge housed the Windsor House prep-school on its evacuation from Slough. Mr and Mrs Noding and Mr Gurr teaching. The distinctive feature of the school uniform was its yellow caps. Henceforth, Windsor House School was known locally as "The Yellow Cap School" The Spring in the paddock next to North Lodge used to produce a large lake in the middle of the field.

After the junction with Mill Lane, the last house on the East side of Oxford Street was (and still is) North Farm. This was farmed by Mr Willis and his two sisters and was known locally as Willis's Farm. The two Willis brothers (Bob and Nelson) married two sisters.

Back to the Market Place, on the West side (nearest the Church) were tea rooms run by Mrs Pike. Next-door was Chance's Bakery where a lovely smell of bread permeated the shop. Then came the shop of churchwarden Jack Wing and George Billings who sold watches, clocks and sweets. I well remember their wartime jam tarts! Next door was The Chocolate Box - a sweet and gift shop run by Mrs Wells, who lost a son in the Burma campaign. This shop was excellent at Christmas. The large rambling house next-door housed the ironmongery shop of Stokes Griffin and later the haberdashery of Mr Brailsford. He delivered clothes around the village and divided the house into flats, one of which became Mr Read's hairdressing shop.

Then there was (and still is) a chemist shop, once painted a gloomy green; Mr Lasham dispensed medicines and cough mixture from a typical variety of coloured bottles of all shapes and sizes. Each side of the river was a builders' yard run by Mildenhall Bros. Until about 1940, but sold to Harris Bros. When the two Mildenhall brothers split up. Bob Mildenhall remained in the house but brother Henry started again across the road as HG Mildenhall and Son.

Then there were three cottages occupied respectively by Reg and Mrs Povey and their children, Mr and Mrs Rosier and the Townsend family. Next-door was Pomona. The family home of Harry and Mrs Rodbourne, sons John, Clifford and Peter and daughters Mary and Joan. The Rodbourne's wrote sporting articles for various newspapers. Sarsen Cottage next door was once the home of George Mildenhall the builder. Several doors down was occupied by Charlie Ryder and his son Cyril. Charlie looked after Mr Bracey's horses and often watered them in the river by Harris's yard. Cyril worked in the grocery shop on the corner of the Market Place and was organist at the Methodist Chapel. The temperamental organ was unusual, part pipe and part harmonium and operated by one pedal - too much or too little wind would make the sound disappear! Only Cyril could work it!!

A little further on was Bill Morgan's wooden bicycle and wireless shop that unfortunately, eventually burnt down. Then came two cottages, one occupied by Mr and Mrs Kelly and the other by Nedder and "Auntie" Kate Rodbourne, who was a skilled needlewoman. Overnight, she could transform a piece of material into a dress, skirt or jacket. She could also turn collars, alter trousers, make curtains - literally anything, using just a treadle sewing machine. Auntie Kate could make anyone look nice!

"Many thanks to George for sharing his memories with us"

Liz Beard

February 2008