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A Walk Through Hilton in the 1930s, continued
I spent a very happy childhood in Rose Cottage with my sister, two brothers and mother and father. My father was wounded in the Great War and on discharge in 1918 worked for a time erecting telephone poles. As this meant staying away during the week and mother being on her own, he left the job and worked on the land as an agricultural labourer. He later worked as a jobbing gardener. One of his customers was co-owner of the Hemingford laundry and when she found out that father could drive, she would call on him to drive the laundry van if the regular driver was off sick. He eventually drove the van full-time until he retired. He was also Sexton and grave digger; he always insisted he was doing the job temporary. This was after forty years. Mother was church organist for over fifty years.
Adjoining “Rose Cottage” was a one up and one down cottage which was used as a washing room and general store by my family and adjoining this was a stable with a door opening onto the drive.
In 1945 Dorothy and I decided to get married and my father offered us the plot of land where the small cottage used to stand to build a house on. This was just after the war and there was a great shortage of all building materials and before you could start to build you had to get a licence. A lot of men were getting discharged at this time and had wives living with their parents and were rightly given preference to a licence over such ass Dorothy and I. We were told it could be five years before we would be granted a licence.
My father suggested that we converted the old stable into living accommodation and as it was an existing building we would be able to convert it. I did get a licence to buy some new timber, so with a lot help from my cousin, we converted the stable into a living room and kitchen and built a bedroom on the back. My father thatched the roof. At this time there was a lot of timber being brought down from London from the bombsites and sold by auction at St Ives. I bought all of the timber I needed for joists and rafters from this source, also doors, as my licence was only enough to get architrave and skirting boards. We added another bedroom and bathroom.
My father offered us the washroom and store, on condition that I knocked down some old wooden pigsties and built him a barn and new pig sty. So I built a barn and two pigsties with concrete blocks and tiled the roof. My father always kept a couple of pigs and when large enough, he would have them slaughtered. One he would sell to the butcher, the other would come back all jointed. The sides of the pig were hung up on hooks either side of the chimney, some were salted in a large “Ali-Barba” type earthen jar. The hams were cured, they were brought onto the kitchen table to be rubbed with saltpetre.
We put a door into the old washroom from the kitchen. The old washroom had a very low ceiling, a box stair in the corner leading to an attic bedroom. So we raised the ceiling in the washroom, put in another window at the front and it is now our lounge.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 July 2009 23:39