Forgot about the Bridge, single track by todays
standards I guess, so not surprised they had to build another! There were only 2
classes at the School, HM was Harry Burton, juniors were taught by his wife. Our
class would go to a playing field just on the Hougham side of the Bridge for
football or cricket. The field was far from level, in fact it was a series of
large ripples! Cricket was therefore very exiting as no-one knew where the ball
was going to fly up at an angle! I always believed that this sort of agriculture
dated back a few hundred years, so if I lived there now, I’d probably have my
metal detector out to see what laid beneath the surface.
I did once write “A Picture of a Lincolnshire
Village in the 1940’s”, which were of course Hougham / Marston, for the “Best of
British” magazine, but they rejected it.
I talked about many PoW’s working for Farmers,
cutting the corn with one of the “new” Binders pulled by a Tractor instead of
Horse Power! They were state of the art at that time of course, and threshing
using Traction Engine power. There was a Post Office in Marston, and the Post
Mistress ran the local WI who did all sorts of things to keep spirits up in the
days after the war.
There was only 1 return train a day into Grantham,
locally known as the Parli (Parliamentary)! It went in around 0900 but returned
at 1300hrs, so not a lot of good for anyone who wanted a job in Grantham! I also
think that there was 1 bus / week, which struggled to get up Gonnerby Hill with
a full load of passengers.
Yes, have got Google Earth. In fact I found myself
on it a couple of years ago cooking a BBQ here. I’ll have a drive through
Marston / Hougham later, courtesy of GE, and see how much I can
Had a “drive through” Marston / Hougham courtesy of
Street Level GE. Very interesting, recognised a lot of properties, but there are
huge additions as you said. I not sure that the buildings on the RHS just
approaching the overbridge are still a farm? There are quite a lot of aerials to
see from GE. The large aerial right next to the bridge belongs to the railway
and is a GSMR system.
Also I noticed a very secure gate at the top of the
old station drive, so maybe there is some form of industry down there, not
necessarily to do with the railway.
The School looked exactly as it used to from
outside. Wonder if the bell is still in the tower calling us to opening time at
0900hrs. Cannot remember if it was used a lunch time as well.
The flagpole has gone from the junction end of the
building. Even when I was there I cannot recall any rope being in place, but the
top pulley was there. There was one boy who could climb the pole and used to sit
on the top bracket securing it to the building! The problem was that it was
difficult to get down again, and Mr Burton had to produce his ladder plus the
inevitable caning of course!
The desks just had flip up lids plus a small
compartment to keep your books. The seats were just flat wooden ones and part of
the desk. Closing the lid after sitting down was quite noisy as the hinges and
stops were cast iron. Someone put some “caps” in my hinges so when I slammed the
worktop down, as was the custom, the caps went off! Caning followed, even though
I knew nothing about the trap set.
School dinners appeared around 1948 /9 I think.
Otherwise you sat at your desk with a Jam, meat paste or even Dripping sandwich
for lunch! The meals came from a central kitchen, probably Grantham, and were
kept warm and dished out by a couple of villagers. They then had to wash all the
plates etc afterwards! There was no separate eating area, plain tables were set
up in the seniors classroom.
Hougham Station was an important site in Railway
operations, although few people knew, or possibly cared. Whenever a new,
refurbished, major repair or modified locomotive came out of Doncaster works, it
stopped for an hour or two in the siding next to our house for examination and
checking over. I got to know the 3 crews quite well and often had a ride on the
footplate up to Barkston triangle where they turned. My Father was signalman at
Barkston North so there was often a lot of banter exchanged..
I used to fetch “mis-shapen” eggs from Mr Capp’s
farm at a nominal cost, eggs of course were scarce, but they couldn’t sell on
those below grade. Some we ate, but a couple were often save to barter with the
engine crews to be a bit “untidy” when pulling their coal forward on the tender
before they left. It is amazing how many large lumps fell off!
They used to cook Bacon and eggs on the fire but
you had to be careful about selecting when the fire was hot, but totally clean.
Obviously if coal was added, it would ruin the taste. Cooking only took a few
seconds, and I enjoyed many a fry up on the footplate! There was one golden rule
that the “blower” had to be “Off”! One day the fire was a bit low on arrival, so
the fireman put a few shovels on and opened the blower to liven it up. The
driver returned from underneath the engine having oiled the centre bearings and
immediately set about cooking their lunch. Unfortunately opening the firehole
door and poking the shovel in bearing several rashers, the through draft sucked
all the food into the furnace and blew it all out of the chimney! Their Bacon
was found 25 yds away completely frazzled!
There was no milk deliveries, we had to walk down
to the Corner Farm and take a pint or quart container which was filled with
fresh milk. In the early days we had a boy evacuated from London who
occasionally went to fetch the milk. My Father noticed that on the return, the
level wasn’t where he expected it to be and had a word with Mr Young about the
The explanation was simple, young David was
drinking it on the journey home!
Groceries came from the Grantham Co-op and we had
an order book filled in every week with the next weeks requirements. These
arrived at our house around 1600hrs every Sat afternoon and as we were the last
delivery, the driver always stopped for a welcome cup of tea.
Rabbits were in abundance and we usually managed to
catch at least 1 / week. I took any skins into Grantham on the “Parli” and I
believe that they were worth around six pence / skin.
I then called at a “Dog Meat” shop, the queues were
often 100yds long to buy meat for our Dog, splashed liberally in a green dye. If
I still had time, I then went to “Roberts the Greengrocers” nearby for a supply
of veg that my Father didn’t grow!
We were mostly self sufficient, but there were
things that didn’t grow, or there was no room in the garden he cultivated on the
opposite side of the track, ie the farm side.
We moved on to Dullingham for a while and attended
Soham Grammar School, then to Clare in Suffolk where I was taken on by the local
power company Eastern Electricity. I served an apprenticeship and worked my way
through the engineering grades until I finished up as a 1st Engineer, System
We covered the whole of East Anglia eventually plus
3 Railway Traction Control Centres. I think that I worked more shifts talking
with their 25KV control centres than any other person on the team because of the
track / traction knowledge. I’d got my FITE by this time and life was looking
Along came privatisation and the need to save money
for shareholders, and I was one of many to be made redundant. A local coach
company who I used many times / year to set up Sports Club functions took me on
1 day / week to set up some “different” types of day excursions. I set up a
relationship with “The Cathedrals Express” company who did several day
excursions to Cathedral Cities using steam traction and also the VSOE company
for a Day’s ride around in Pullman carriages with fine dining! I obviously had a
freebee day out on the railway, but no pay from the coach company of course.
That arrangement suited me down to the ground! Unfortunately as money became
tight, these venues of failed, so I fully retired around 5 years