Saturday, 4 April 2015

Remembered days from before 1939

These are some of the memories that the late Dick Mylam sent to the Eton Wick History Group on 1st April 2010.

The other day I came across a reference to Eton Porny, my old school and it got me thinking about those early days. I attended the school for four years. In those days we had to walk from the village and back no matter what the weather. Freed from the tyranny of the classroom I always enjoyed the walk home. it varied according to the weather. Often I would cut through the parish church and make for the Brocas then following the river, under the railway bridge shouting a few times to hear the echo. 

A little further on under a small bridge ran a side stream which was the Eton Collage boys swimming place. It was some years later that an indoor pool was built for them. At the weekends in the summer we village boys would go there to swim. This stream ran in from the river at one end and out the other. There was always wildlife to see. Swans, dab chicks and herons etc during this time a pair of black swans lived in this part of the river. 

Then home past the village hall. At that time the lane down to Alma road was lined with very old Elm trees in the roots could be found large black stag beetles which in warm evenings would fly about. On the corner into Alma road were a row of very pretty, old cottages, in front of which the old folk had neat vegetable gardens. My home was at 6 Shakespeare place. 

On another day I would leave school and go down the road past the Burning Bush and music school. There was a narrow lane through the collages which came out into the little common. In the spring there was always masses of frog spawn in the stream that ran down to the village. When reaching the village I would pass Mr Bonds, the greengrocer's house and yard, where the fruit and vegetable boxes intrigued me. A little further on The Wheatbutts the house that David Niven the actor lived during the war. 

At other days if I needed to get home more quickly I would take the Eton Wick road. Along the stretch to the church on the field side grow wild plums which would be gathered for mother to make jam. 

Some days in the summer I would take sandwiches for lunch going to the castle. In those days I could wander all over the grounds. I climbed the round tower and entered St Georges chapel, no one would bothered me. It made history lessons more interesting. At the time of George V Silver Jubilee Eton high street was draped in silver and blue garlands. The children had the day of school and went up to the castle to watch the funeral. We each were given mugs made of aluminium (a new thing at the time) with the royal heads and date embossed on them. 

Come March 1939 it was long trouser time for me and I left school to take up work at the Rheostatic Company Slough. Within a few months the war began and life would never be the same. 

By Arthur F Mylam (Dick) 

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