Brian and Jacqueline Bodle: Growing up on the Nevill Estate

Nevill Memoirs > Brian and Jacqueline Bodle

BRIAN BODLE

Beginnings

I, Brian Martyn Bodle was born on the 26 July 1939 in 12 Hamsey Crescent.  There was a Nurse Marshall on this estate – she lived at 7 Firle Crescent opposite where we live now – (that house there with that little annex on the side.)  She brought me into the world ‘cos everybody was born at home.  She was a lovely person.  There was another lady down by the green there. She was the laying out lady so when you died she came up and did the honours.

Family Background

My great grandfather was a gamekeeper out in Novington Manor and my grandfather was also a gamekeeper in Balcombe Forest.  There’s a lot of history there.  Jacque spent a lot of time on my family tree – got back to the 1500s.  All locals – nobody has gone too far afield.  He had numerous children at Novington Manor.  I have traced them all.  I’ve still got one of the relatives of mine: my grandfather’s sister’s daughter, Mrs Willard, who is 105.  She is still alive today at home.  (She died soon after the interview)

Dad

My Dad was William George Bodle.  He was known as George but my mother called him Mick; now don’t ask me why.  When my father started he was an apprentice.  He got a job with a Mr Jenner of Southover High St and he used to make inlay coffins – you know, when you did the inlay. They didn’t mind paying in those days for that.  He later became a carpenter for Ringmer Building Works.  He worked for them for some years.   I’ve got a picture of him outside a house, I think with wooden scaffolding.   I’m pretty sure it might be one of the ones in the middle of little Highdown. That’s my Dad there, at the back there.

William Bodle building Downs Estate, Nevill, Lewes
Click on image to enlarge

He worked with Mr Cheesman’s father who was also in the building works but he worked in the joinery shop.  Dad had been living at Timberyard Cottages before he bought 12 Hamsey Crescent.  Ringmer Building Works loaned Dad a deposit which he paid back weekly.  He bought it in 1935 for £470.  He had it over 22 1/3 years at £2 16s 5d monthly payment and he ended up owing £7 3s 3d.  He paid it off in 1957.  He had six children, three boys, three girls.  How he bought the house with 6 children amazes me.

Early days in 12 Hamsey Crescent

I discussed the house we grew up in with my elder sister.  We slept three to a bed in our house.  I slept with my two brothers up to the Royal Air Force. You walked through our lounge to go up the stairs.  We very rarely went into that room except in the winter when we’d had dinner.  It had a pathetically cold fire.  You didn’t put coal on for the sake of it because it was money.  We had two little coal scuttles.  They had tops to them: fabric.  They were seats as well as coal scuttles.  My sister only reminded me the other day that we used to sit on one for about quarter of an hour and then sit on the other to get warm and that’s how it was.  We had no central heating of course.

William and Agnes BodleWe used to just all more or less be in the kitchen area where we had an old cast iron range where Mum used to cook.  My Mum just had a mangle outside and an old copper boiler. She used to club the washing with a stick.  It used to break my heart to see her leaning over a bath with a piece of wood, literally and going up and down it with the sheets.  You remember the old trademarks: Tide and Oxidol and things like that?  It was very, very hard for them when you think back.  But you didn’t know any better. When she did her ironing, of course, it was a solid iron: just a solid bit of metal which she used to heat up and then dashing away with a smoothing iron …not electric at all.  And just one small sink where we all washed.  Although it was male and female, somehow you got along by just washing at this sink. We didn’t have a toilet with a basin in it – we just had a bath.  So we had a bath once a week. I remember that!  I didn’t smell!  And that’s just how life was, you know.

We had a really lovely shed where my father used to have to do all our shoes.  My older brother had new shoes.  I can never remember having new shoes.  I would have rather had new shoes, I didn’t and neither did my younger brother.  I used to have my elder brother’s and after that my younger brother had them.  Of the three sons I used to take a lot of interest in my Dad.  I was in the shed most of the time with him.  I used to watch him do his carpentry.

I got my first bike which I thought was an old girl’s bike:  it was a ladies’ bike, three speed with hardly any brakes on it.  A mate of mine used to repair bikes.  I said: he wants 10 bob for it Dad.  I can see my dad now:  he undid his purse and parted with it and I remember that for the rest of my life – it meant so much to me.  From my paper round I wanted a racing bike and I got my father to go down to the Cliffe High Street and buy this racing bike.  You had to have a deposit and he gave me a deposit and then I paid it off.

Later on I wanted a record player.  Same thing.  I went to Mrs Briggs who had a radio shop in Fisher Street where the Fish Shop is now.  There was a finance company in Kent and I used to pay back the debt.  And you see that’s discipline, that’s how it worked.  I paid that off from my paper round: East Way and Hamsey was my family round. My two brothers and I, we did that over the years.  Plus I used to do gardening for people on the estate and creosote the fences and things like that.  If there was any work I’d be there.

Gardens

Everyone of course on these houses tended their gardens and had a vegetable patch.  Of course a lot of people don’t now, do they.  My father, I don’t know how he did it as our garden had really poor chalky soil.  He really did grow an awful lot of vegetables for us.  It was very chalky in Hamsey Crescent but it still produced cabbages.  Over the years the fields behind us used to be cultivated with wheat and barley year in year out.  We had racing pigeons, I started off racing pigeons.  At the top of the garden we used to have a big pigeon loft and we used to race to France and Scotland and Spain.  It was a good childhood.

The milk round

We had a milkman, a Mr Martin, who was related to me and he had a horse called Dingle.  He used to start his round from a dairy and bottling place in De Montfort Road and used to come along Nevill road. The horse would stop at every single place of its own accord and when you came out it would start again.  When it finished its round, because I used to always be with him Saturdays and school holidays:  I’d ride it down to the bottom of De Montfort Road and reverse the trailer.  It was all beautifully hand-painted, just like a gypsy’s caravan, really, really lovely.  We used to reverse into a lock-up, which is still there now at the back of what was Caffyn’s.  Then I used to ride the horse with him down Bradford Road, round into Park Road where there is a nice house originally built for a disabled person.  Prior to that it was a big open field and I used to have a few walks round there with it and then leave it.

Local Trades

Opposite where I lived there was a man who used to drive a vehicle called Neptune drinks, a Mr Watson.  All the lovely flavours.  That was taken over by a company called Corona.  We had a voluntary PDSA (Peoples’ Dispensary for Sick Animals) van which used to come up quite regularly in the square in Mt Harry Road. It was free for anybody.  Roberts, the grocer, used to come round and we had a good fish man and horse-meat man who came down for people that had their dogs.

There was a big Sheepfair between the prison and the new Gallops: a huge Sheepfair.  By the recreation ground on the side of the road there used to be Nevill Shoe repairs.  It was just a hut.  Now, in this day and age it would have been vandalized because that is the way the world is, but no-one touched this man’s hut.  It had all his equipment in it and everything.  He was there for some time before he moved down to Market Street.  Nevill Shoe Repairs.  He was a Canadian, I think.  His Canadian daughter is Helen Chiasson (Education Officer of Lewes Priory Trust). His wife was Elaine Booth from North Way.

And there was a Mr and Mrs Gardner.  He had the Lewes Building Works which mostly did interior works for schools.  He had a yard up at Herstmonceux and he had some really good people working for him.  He did work with my father years ago.  He owned number 4, number 10 and number 14 Hamsey Crescent and my father bought number 12.  Mrs Gardner used to have two dogs which I used to help exercise and do lots of rabbiting with them.  And one long weekend, a bank holiday weekend we caught 32 rabbits.  And of course people like Mrs Page and Mrs Piper and Mrs Gander as well as my own parents always used to rely on me, to supply them with fresh meat.

Rabbiting and other pursuits

We went to Bonnie Scotland for the rabbiting.  We called the route down to Offham from the Chalk Pit Bonnie Scotland. And we also went over to Black Cap and the valley down below Black Cap.  One of the dogs we used was a cross which made it look like a wolf but it was a gentle dog.  And a bitch fox terrier.  The dog would always catch a rabbit and bring it back to me in its soft mouth and I had to kill it.  But the bitch always used to kill it.  The bitch would go to an area and the bitch would go down and the dog would just circle and circle and the rabbit didn’t have a chance.

There was one occasion which was a nightmare for me in that dip with the farm at the bottom; Court Farm I think it is.  I had to go down and knock on the door and say “Can you phone a number for me because I’ve got a dog and its gone underground and it won’t come out and it’s been over 2 hours.” And they got in touch with Mr Gardner who sent one of his workmen with a spade and it took us ages to dig it out.  When we got to it, it had the rabbit in its mouth.  So it couldn’t come backwards and it couldn’t go forwards.  And that was a nightmare for me.  I’m just grateful it never happened again.  But up to that point we had a good industry over there with the rabbits.

But, no, it is a really great place to live.  I spent all my time over on those downs  – I don’t think I am exaggerating – from about eight years old.  I mean there was no fear of anything happening to me, I’d be over there with the two dogs as soon as I came out of school or at the weekend.  Of course, you’ll hear this from many, many people, kids like us, we used to leave home after a bite to eat in the morning and you didn’t come home until evening time.  You were gone for the day, especially school holiday time, especially if you were with some of your mates.  We had fantastic tree camps in the woods, really good, and then sometimes we’d stay up half the night.  Even in the winter months, especially if there was snow.  I remember one season when we had a lot of snow come early, and the bales – not the big round bales but the orthodox bales – were still there.  These bales made a big house for us and we were up there until very late.  They were so warm, so warm.

It was quite rural.  I used to sit up there for ages with the dog and just admire Court Farm in the valley below Black Cap, where the dog got caught.  There was a big field and the lady used to be on it with horses – they were majestic Arab horses.  No, it was idyllic; it was a lovely place to live.

There was an occasion, should we say this now, but my great friend Alan Brown and I went up to Hamsey Church where I’ve got relatives buried in that church yard.  Without doing any harm we climbed up to the tower just to look at the kestrel’s nest.  We weren’t going to touch anything.   And a tractor driver on the sort of triangle on the floods over the river, he saw us and shouted out and we took the quickest way down via the bell rope. You never heard such a noise in your life.  When we got down we couldn’t go through Bottings Farm to get back to the mainland so we had no choice, we had to go across the river.  When you think of it now, I mean. You’d die a death wouldn’t you?  I also joined the Cubs and Scouts.  We met in the cells of the old Naval Prison in North Street.

The Race Course

Of course, the other thing we did, we’d go to the Race Course… that was a really good thing because you had Sir Gordon Richards.  Lester Piggott was here.  Jimmy Lindley used to live along Hamsey Crescent, he was a successful jockey.  If you ever want to know the history of horse-racing in Lewes, with Jacque’s father being a farrier, I’ve got all the documents here. It was very interesting.

As a kid, I played darts quite a lot, and I used to play for The Brewer’s Arms and then the Royal Oak, Chalkpit Inn and St Mary’s Social Centre.  One of the players I played with was Jack Cole.  Jack Cole’s father, he was the main manager of Lewes Race Course.  As kids we used to go in there, they used to allow us to go in there to tidy up – we used to find florins, two shilling pieces, sixpences and three-penny pieces and things like that. He used to pay us as well but normally you wouldn’t go inside on a Race day but on the outside where you got all the other bookies.  They set themselves up and there was one, Prince Monolulu and he had a big hat with a lot of feathers and he used to shout: “I’ve got a horse, I’ve got a horse.”  People would pay him so much for a card if they wanted to bet, and it was just very entertaining.  Because the beauty of that race course, it was a tragedy that it closed, was that you could see the horses from right the way round once it started.  It was very, very interesting.

There was an occasion when we had a find.  We were up there at the tail end of it and everybody was going away.  And the police always used to have white helmets to be seen but I think a lot of them were hired for the time from Brighton.  We would forage around where these vehicles were backed up and the bookies had their appropriate stands and we found a huge leather grab bag full of money and notes.  To this day the worst thing I ever did was trust a policeman because we went over to him because and we said we’d just found these and he said “That’s all right, I’ll take that.”  I said, “Do you want our names and addresses?”  He said “No”.   And that has lived with me since I was about ten or eleven ‘til now and I’m 73. There was a lot of money there.  I’ve seen my friend Mick Cuiffe since and reminded him of that.  He said “Don’t tell me about that.”  So, you see it doesn’t give you a lot of faith, does it.  If someone had given us a pound reward in those days we would have thought “crikey!”

The Second World War

One of my earliest memories is if the flying bombs (doodlebugs) falling when the family would retreat into the air raid shelter.  We nearly all had our own Anderson shelters in the war.  I was born in ‘39 and I distinctly remember going in them.  My older sister Eileen would never get out of bed.  She would never go in them.  Mrs Feast who lived next door to me used to bring sandwiches out.  I remember this distinctly.  I couldn’t have been more than three or four.  We used to muck in you see.  I can remember the bombers going over and I also remember distinctly the doodle bug noise:  you know, once they stopped you knew you were in trouble.  I remember that was an eerie, terrible noise.

I spoke to my sister on the phone up in Bexley Heath, the eldest child in our family.  She said that her first job when she left school was in a leather shop, saddler:  Rice Brothers.  She was coming home on her bike, an aircraft was flying over and it was opening up.  She threw herself to the ground – she thought she’d been hit but it was all the gravel.  There was an aeroplane did come down in Landport, and I remember as a kid going and looking at it.

On the way to school

I attended St Anne’s Infants school, then the junior school in Western Road and then went to Mountfield Road until I was 14.  There were many prisoners seen out doing numerous jobs like clearing ditches and sweeping up with prison officers.  You wouldn’t see that now. We used to walk to school observing the prisoners doing their bit.  We always used to wait for some time because there was a beautiful house called Astley house and that was a racing stable and it would be nothing to see a string of twenty horses walking across the road from there.

Street Parties

There were street parties for D Day in 1945 and for the coronation.  That was ’53.  It was really very good.  I don’t really know how they organised it because, if you see by the pictures, we were all sitting there so sedately. How people could afford to get that sort of money I don’t know. You see the food they’ve got there in the pictures: all the sandwiches.  We are all waiting to dive in and, all the chairs were brought out by different people.  Every street had one at that time of course.  I did say to my mate, Mick Cuiffe, who was an evacuee from London who lived at number 21, Hamsey, how come you’re not in it?  Of course he’d moved out then, hadn’t he – he’d moved to Cross Way.  As far as I know he did – each person had a different street party.

End of WWII street party, Hamsey Crescent, Lewes
Click on image to enlarge

Nevill Sports Days

Jacque, my wife, was chairman of Nevill Sports Days for some years.  I used to enter everything in that as a kid. Then they created the Sportsman’s Cup and I thought that one of these days if I enter everything and get plenty of thirds and fourths and seconds and occasional firsts I would win.  I did well in the cross countries –in those days we really did have cross countries.  Well I never did achieve this Sportsman’s Cup.  My son, carrying on from me did.  I’m pleased now.

It was good, of course, in those days everybody mucked in.  Mr Breeze who lived on Caburn Crescent did an awful lot.  I would help do the markings of the lines.  I put all the flags out – this would have been on Friday because in those days you could do that and there was no thought about anything being vandalized.  I’m afraid if it had been now you’d have had the flags down by the next day.  It was really, really good and the catering was good.  Mrs Brown did the catering. There was a Mrs Carter who allowed all the children at the sport to use their toilet.  That was rather nice.  Now you have the Social Centre but in those days you didn’t, did you.  So it was really, really interesting.  A lot of work went it.

St Mary’s Hall

Before St Mary’s Social Centre, St Mary’s Hall in Highdown Road was a place where things would happen. Well mostly pantomimes and flower shows.  I’m pretty sure they used to have caged bird shows in there.  Little things like that.  They used to have many pantomimes down there.  Our Jacqueline (his wife) used to be in those.  I always used to go to the Sunday school down there.  I used to enjoy that and church services. I sang in the choir at St. Anne’s church.  I think the Hall will have to come back into its own if they did lose the Social Centre.  I don’t know.  It seems a lot to lose.  It’s a shame that they can’t find somewhere else.  It’s a shame they couldn’t find something up at the Race Course.  But then we need something local.  The floor is marked out for badminton (Jacque) Yes. They did do badminton there.  (Since this interview the future St Mary’s Social Centre has become more secure.)

Bonfire nights

Prior to Nevill Junior Bonfire society even operating, Borough Bonfire used to be on the Brighton Road.  It switched from there briefly to near the prison where the Gallops are, and from there it ended up where it is now.  Commercial Square bonfire used to be the other side of the road.  So, if you visualize Hill Road, it was to the left of Hill Road just on that sloping triangle between Offham and Hill Road.

Jobs

I was 14 ½ when I started my first job with Clark-Hunt Builders’ Merchants.  I worked in the showroom shop where the pottery shop now is.  My manager was Mr Pye and I earned 37s 6d a week.  Their warehouse was in what is now the Needlemakers.  I moved on a year later to be a parcel boy at Mansfields Garages in the building that is now W.H Smith.  Mansfields built a new garage at the stables of Astley House in Spital Road.  It became the Sussex Police Workshop later, built by Ringmer Building Works.  You can still see the remnants of the old stables in de Montfort Road: there’s a black bitumen wall.  It was all like that all round it.

I met my future wife, Jacqueline Windless during this time.  From the age of 18 I served for 3 years in the Royal Air Force, training at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire to be a radio transmitter operator before moving on to a very rewarding job on a bombing range at RAF Wainfleet on the Wash.  I came back to Mansfields but worked at Black Rock and then in their parts department in Hove.  After Mansfields was sold I worked 6 days a week managing the parts department at Preston Drove Motors and later Bishop’s Group of garages on London Road, Brighton.

Jacque and I had married in St Anne’s Church in 1963. We had our wedding reception at the Brewer’s Arms catered for by the Bull House Restaurant.  By 1974 we opened our own business at 31 Western Rd.  We worked very hard running Lewes Motor Spares for 25 years until I retired in 1998.

The Downs Estate

This part of the estate is the Downs Estate, built by Ringmer Building Works.  The Nevill estate was built earlier.  It says on my house document:  Downs, Nevill estate.

Cars in Hamsey Crescent, Lewes, 1950s
Click on image to enlarge

Biggest changes that happened over my life-time:

Extensions to property:  we’ve got three on ours.  It’s taken a long slog to do it.  When we got married we rented a flat above Mr Meyer’s photography shop in Station Street.  We bought this house at 8 Firle Crescent for £3,900. We put £900 down and we had a mortgage for £3,000. That was 1966 and we paid it off when I was 42, simply by working all hours God made.  This was prior to us having the shop.

Public Transport:  There was more use of public transport; we had a 28 with a bus driver and conductor to collect fares and give tickets in those days.  It never came round the estate like it does today.  They used to come up the road and reverse into Caburn Crescent.  Later on for safety they cut a bit out at the green there on Mt. Harry Road.  The bus used to reverse into there and wait and then it used to go down across Windover Crescent, Cross Way and down Middle Way round the Crescent and away.  There were double-deckers and you did speak to people more.  You’re lost now.  People go into their car and they’re off.  But there’s still a community feel.

Relationships between neighbours:  When we moved to this area, this house, in 1966 we were the youngest and now we are the second oldest in this row of houses.  That brings it home to you: there’s only a handful of our age group.  I mean in this road alone I don’t think there’s more than two of us, if that.  There was much more community feeling in the old days.  When you see the young ones move in.  I always acknowledge, and I always exchange names and talk to them on a regular basis.  Then they have kids and it makes me feel old – it doesn’t seem two minutes ago when a couple moved in and had children and now they are up at Wallands.  It’s nice to do that.  I don’t think many people like to keep in touch with people but I know them all by name.  I mean if a couple go by now I can talk to them by name and it’s rather nice.

Recently a lady died who was here before us and we would never ever have called anyone by their Christian name would we?  We still call them Mr and Mrs.  Mrs Reynolds has just died and I always called her Mrs Reynolds and that’s what you do.  It’s the way you’re brought up.  That has changed.  There’s not many houses that haven’t changed left up here, I think there’s just one that has still got the original windows.

Wallands and St Mary’s

Where Wallands School is now there was a huge pig farm owned by Mr. Burchett.  He later had the Black Horse Pub in Western Road.  Before this the family lived in Highdown Road.  Jane Burchett, his daughter, now lives next to the Black Horse Pub. Where St Mary’s Social Centre is there was an isolation hospital.  The top part of it (behind the hospital) must have been admin offices. That’s where Jacque lived.

The building was changed by the council in 1950 when Jacque moved in aged 7.  I knew the families who lived in the two buildings before it was adopted by the council and became home to the Windless family.  One family with two children lived in the building which had a sitting room, bedroom, kitchen, toilet, bath and basin.  The other building, open to the elements about 10 feet away was just a bedroom and bed/sitting room.  The two families had to share the kitchen and toilet.  The first part was Mr and Mrs Baker with two children.  The second was Mrs Thompson with two children.  I used to call in to meet Wendy Thompson and walk with her to school.  That was when I saw real poverty.  The council joined the two buildings to make a large entrance hall before the Windless family moved in.  Jacque moved from there when we married in 1963 and her family moved to the Forge, Southover, around 1966 when St Mary’s Social Centre took on the premises.

The current car park was a garden.  There was a rough road up to the flats.  You can’t really visualize it now but as you go up to St. Mary’s there were huge trees, beautiful beech and birch trees.   Opposite St Mary’s Hall, down in the dip where Mildmay road is, there used to be really good quality allotments.  Really good.  At the top end more or less every other one had a pig sty.  Each person had a pig.  When we were kids in the late 40s we used to come home from school that way and we’d see a skull of a pig.  They used to, literally, buy a piglet, feed it up and kill it on site.  There was just a rough track from St Mary’ Hall up to the left which led to Gundreda Road.


JACQUELINE BODLE

Beginnings and growing up in Nevill Place Flats

I’m Jacqueline, previously Windless (now Bodle) born in 1943.  When I was about 7, I think, I moved from Paddock Road where I used to go to school at what is now St Anne’s nursery.  Then I walked up to Wallands School because it had just been built.  So when I moved up to 3 Nevill Place flats behind the old Isolation Hospital it was wonderful because I lived next door.

It was a Council house and the next block down was occupied by two families:  Williams and an old lady Mrs Gee who was the mother of Mr Gee who lived in the first block.  He lived there with his wife and one son called Maurice.  And right at the end was the Lee family with three sons, one of them grown up.  Patrick Lee has done quite a lot of building on the estate.  There was no road up to there, it was just a track with an electric light that had to be turned on by a man who came along with a hook and turned it on.

We went to school by going up the main Nevill Road because otherwise we had to cross the field which is now Clare road to go in that entrance and Fitzjohns Road didn’t exist.  And Mildmay Road didn’t exist.  That was all allotments.  So really we were quite isolated: isolation hospital as is!  But we used to go down to the Nevill recreation ground – that was our playground as such, where the children did generally congregate and meet and play and practise for Nevill Sports.  I think we walked a lot more in those days.  We used to walk really long distances.

Delivery vans did come up to Nevill Place Flats although we didn’t have a proper road.  I really did feel part of the Nevill because I went to the school, went to the shops, and caught the local buses.   Although I did get lost in this top bit of the estate actually.  When I got older and came into North Way and South Way I can remember feeling panic one day because, being Crescents, you can’t really see where you are going so I did think,” oh, how am I going to get home?”  Being the oldest in the family I did have to go out on search parties when my sisters were meant to come home from school.  They would pop into see friends on the way home and then they weren’t home by a certain time so Mum said can you go and look for them.  So I had to get to know the estate then because I had to go and find children.

Otherwise I suppose I really only kept to the recreation ground and the path to the school and to the shop.  Yes, sweets on a Sunday, my dad did let us have sweets.   I used to take the order and go up to Mr Puryer at the local sweet shop and buy seven bags of sweets that they had all chosen.  The shop was where the paper shop is now. (At the time of interview – now a convenience store) It sold and delivered papers as well but we really knew it as a sweet shop.  That was a treat, to have I suppose a ¼ pound of sweets, served loose from a bottle in a white paper bag.

Shopping

There was a shop on Middle Way where we got our groceries.  We took a little red book and my Mum had written down in there what she wanted and when I got there the grocer would put the price in the book and weigh things out.  At the end of the week the little red book would be added up and the bill would be paid.  It was just a regular, probably daily, thing to go over there and get what you needed because we didn’t have storage other than a large cupboard to put things.  There was no refrigeration.  So you just bought what you needed for the day really.

A fish man used to come down the recreation ground and sell from a van, once a week I think that was and we did have a dog meat man come round because we had a dog.  We called it dog meat, it was probably horse I expect.   The Corona lorry did actually come up as far as our house too so, although it was just a made up track, we did get some vehicles. The poor postman had to walk up that way too.  It was quite a long way to come for just a few families but he came- twice a day, of course.  And the milkman because we had milk delivered in those days too.  But that was not with the horse and cart that Brian remembered: it would have been a motorized vehicle.

Houses and housework

On the Downs/Nevill Estate many of the houses had a sort of curved alcove on one side of the fireplace.  It was a feature in most houses and basically it carried the flue from what used to be a kitchen or living room.  (There was only one other room other than the lounge) There would be an Ideal coke boiler and the flue then ran over the archway to join the main flue from the lounge and bedroom.  We had three chimney pots on the house.

Most people would have one fireplace upstairs as well as downstairs.  But we never really used it because of the expense of lighting a fire unless someone was having a baby maybe – most children were born at home.  My mother, who did have two children up at the Nevill Place Flats, had them all at home. My sister and I were born at home in Paddock Road.  Five children born at home and Brian’s mother gave birth to six children, all at home.  We would just go to school and find out we had another brother or sister – or otherwise they were born while we were there but we didn’t really hear lots of noise, just kettles going on and wanting newspaper.

Yes, it was hard work being a house-wife.  There were no vacuum cleaners, I don’t think.  Brian’s Mum certainly didn’t have a vacuum cleaner.  My mother didn’t have a washing machine at first.  I didn’t here.  When I had my son in 1967 I had a boiler because we believed in boiling terry nappies.  Goodness knows how we dried them.  I did use a mangle to get water out and then hopefully put it on the washing line.

Brian and Jacqueline Bodle


Adapted by Ann Holmes from a recorded interview in 2013 with Sarah Hitchings and Jenny Stewart

See also Jan Newbury:  Lewes Life – Brian Bodle, Lewes News, July 2014

You can download Brian and Jacqueline’s interview as a pdf [710KB]