Celia Lewis – More Memories of Ullenhall

I started school at Ullenhall when I was 4 1/2 in 1920, and walked 3 1/2 miles to get there. There were two classrooms: the infants and the big room. Miss Albrighton taught the infants and Miss Crookes (the headmistress) taught the others, with help.

There were two blazing fires in the school-rooms, and we were allowed to eat our sandwiches at lunch time by the fire in the infants room (unsupervised), and also to dry out our outside clothes when they got wet. The only drinking water was from a tap in the playground with an enamel cup attached with a chain.

At that time the school room was used for concerts, whist drives and dances. Later the institute was used for these functions. There was also a Boys Club, with billiards, dominoes, card games etc. Members included older men, such as Mary Pugh’s father, Mrs Sparrow’s father, Les Richmond, Steven Pugh and Bill Harris.

There was a caretaker for many years, if the pianist (Gordon Hobbs), didn’t attend, Cis Morgan and myself (Celia Lewis) would take turns to play. The only other entertainments that I can remember were the occasional visits by a man with a magic lantern – showing the first pictures. About once a year, we had a small fair in the field behind the institute (now the Coffee House). Of course the great day out was to go to Henley or Stratford Mop. We sometimes had charabanc outing to Warwick or Kenilworth Castle from school. In those days we had a bakers shop, Allcotts a grocery shop, post office that sold everything from bacon, butter etc to paraffin. The pub (which was much smaller than today) with an old cottage where the beer garden is now. This was kept by Freddy Linton, there was a haberdashery and wool shop kept by Mr and Mrs Tatnell at the top of the village. They also sold meat. I can remember the garage site being used as a fish and chip shop, and then a dairy. Later as a cycle shop and a place for charging wireless batteries, together with a taxi business. We used to have to watch the blacksmith shoeing horses at the forge next to the post office. If we wanted to go to Stratford or Birmingham, you had to go to Henley or Danzey station and go on the train.

The big day was at Henley market where my grandfather was the auctioneer. Most of the boys leaving school would work on the farms or on the railways or on the roads. Some boys went to work in factories in Redditch mainly to do with needle making, fishing tackle or at the BSA making motorcycles or guns.

The girls went into service, some did work in shops or went into Birmingham by train to work in offices as typists. When women had their babies, they would have to send to Wootton Wawen for the midwife who did all the rounds on her bicycle.