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No services, but rich in rural skills

Mr FRANK TASKER of Ramsgate, Kent, gives us some of his memories of the village of KIRBY MISPERTON

HAVING been away from Kirby Misperton for many years, I can only give an all too brief summary of the village as I saw it when I went there to live in 1927, at nine years of age.

No street lighting, no water mains, no WC, no gas or electric services, drinking water was carried in pails from the communal pump down by the hall gates and war memorial.

Rain water caught in a tank by the back door was used for personal cleanliness.

Baths were taken in a portable zinc tub, brought in from the shed on bath-night and the water heated in the coal-fired copper in a corner of the kitchen.

The loo was at the top of the garden and the toilet paper was square-cut sheets of newspaper hanging by a nail and string behind the door. Frequent sprinklings of lime controlling the niff!

Lighting was by paraffin lamps, candles or the Kelly Lamp - a tiny paraffin burner used mainly as a night light.

The family occasionally kept a pig, which was slaughtered in autumn and almost totally consumed in as many forms of food preparation as necessary.

There were lots of bats around in those days and one of our forms of amusement was to throw our caps in the air just to see the bats dive on them.

We also had the tree-lined approach to the village to play in, known as "T'Plantin" and later destroyed to meet housing needs. We used to use old bicycle wheels as "bowlers", pushed skilfully by a bent stick in the groove. We knew the tangy taste of sour-docks, and where the best crab apples were.

We'd go for a warm winter's day to Jack Dobson's smithy, next to the penfold, or watch Mr Harding as he made a gate or a wagon for a farmer, and we had a youth club that enabled us to play billiards or snooker in the Constitutional Club, the venue for social events in the village.

It was a village rich in rural skills - a smith, a carpenter, a butcher, a builder, a chimney sweep, a postman, a tailor, farmers and a carrier who went to Pickering on certain weekdays to make purchases for the villagers.

I used to assist him and he paid me 4d per week.

I'd walk to Pickering, go to the matinée and buy some sweets, which I'd still have when "blowing the organ" on Sunday evenings as Mrs Ward played the organ.

I can still see that look on her face when I failed to maintain the pressure and sudden silence fell! Much, much more I could relate on life in "Owker", but one must abide by the imposed editorial limit!