Wednesday, 29 August 2018


Following on from my last story, I thought I would tell you another tale from Wickham Lane. 

In 1934, my Grandparents Bill and Ivy Wray moved into No 59 with their two young children Eileen (my Mum), aged 6 and her younger Sister Betty, aged 4.

If you look at the house today, you will see that a large housing estate backs onto the garden, blocking any exit, but before the War, it was all open land and allotments and you could walk through them and up to Bostal Woods.

One day, Eileen (my Mum) decided to take herself and her younger Sister for a walk in the woods; something she did quite often. Now at this point, you are all probably wondering how her parents could have allowed her to go wandering alone in the woods with her little Sister but in those days, it wasn't at all unusual. In fact, even by the 1950s, I can remember as a small child being allowed to ride my tricycle out of the back gate and along the road unsupervised. This included going up onto Wickham Lane itself: a busy bus route.

Anyway, back to the 1930s and there are two little girls aged around 8 and 6 wandering around in Bostal Woods without a care in the world when they are approached by a man riding along the path on his bicycle. He stopped to speak to them and they exchanged a few pleasantries then he offered my Mum sixpence if she would look after his bicycle while he took her little Sister into the bushes to look for butterflies. 

Sixpence being about two week's pocket money, she readily agreed and things would have ended badly at this point if it hadn't been for the fact that the Police had been watching him for some time and when they saw him leading a little girl into the undergrowth, sprang into action. All my Mum says she remembers is that there were suddenly a lot of people running about and shouting and she couldn't understand why they were all being so horrible to this nice man who had just given her sixpence.

I don't know what the outcome of all this was; I would have assumed it would have finished up in court and I have tried to find any record of it in the local paper archives but with no luck. I don't recall Mum saying what happened to the sixpence either. Perhaps the Police took it as evidence; she never said.

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