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The Fernhurst Society

Oral history interviews: clubs and societies

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Kathleen Bird | Christine Maynard | Margaret Cole | Paul Heath | Colin Lambert | George Larbey
Phyllis Ling | Brian Silver | Roy Woodward

Kathleen Bird

I understand that you were also a member of Jigsaw.  When did that start up and…?

That was the Youth Club.  It got its name Jigsaw, because the hut was a very old army hut I think which was dismantled on its original site, brought to Fernhurst, and the youth club members actually built it. Slightly before my time.  I was able to enjoy all their efforts and the Youth Club then seemed to be for older children than the youth club in the village these days.  You were actually a member from probably mid-teens until you were about 21 as far as I remember.  Yes, a very happy time.  Derek Wiseman was the leader when I was… he used to live on Henley Common.

What sort of things did the teenagers do at the Youth Club?

We played table-tennis, listened to records.  I think we had a fund and we used to pay so much a week and then a record was chosen and had a continually new stock.

Did you vote for/elect/choose the record between you or…?

I think we all took it in turns to choose.  It was your week to choose and you were able to select the record, yes, and we used to go off to… it must have been Jeans the music shop in Midhurst then… and bought singles.

Did the youth club go on any outings or do anything offsite?

I think we did occasionally, but I can't really remember.  It's silly because I can remember Sunday School outings and of course I was a lot younger, but I can't remember any youth club outings. 

So you went to Sunday School… where did their outings go?

Littlehampton… because I think there was something for everybody there…There was the sand and the sea and there was the funfair if you wanted it and there was a nice building which would take quite a large party for our tea before we set off back home again.

Was that just the children or did the adult congregation go as well?

The parents went, and there again I think George Lambert and his coach came into use. 

You've mentioned being involved in the youth club, what other village organisations have you been involved in over the years?

Very briefly with the stoolball club, which is a game which is peculiar to Sussex , and also the Optimists.  My first memories of the Optimists are of being a schoolgirl in Happiest Days of your Life which would probably be the late 1960s.  And the Optimists were a very friendly group.  They performed in the village hall, two productions a year.  It was a mixture of village people and ICI staff.  We've done Tom Jones¸ The Happiest Days of your Life which I've mentioned, Oh what a lovely war!, some Noel Coward, so it was quite a mixture… a pantomime or two Outside Edge which was a cricket play - a play about cricket and cricket teas - quite appropriate for the village.

 

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Christine Maynard

We did some proper [Optimists] plays as well which were much more fun for the players because pantomime characters are cardboard cut-outs.  It’s ‘Where is it?  It’s behind you,’ kind of thing.  Although when people started corpsing each other on the last night of the panto, it did put you on your mettle rather. 

I was one of the brokers’ men one year and we were doing an Arthur Askey routine and it involved me holding a mouthful of water and spitting it at my partner at the end of the dialogue, at the particular moment.   And you know he would duck out of the way.  It was alright, it wasn’t too mucky.  But on the last night I kept my little flask of water with the rest of the props behind stage, so I’d grab it as I went on for that particular scene.  Well that night my partner, unbeknownst to me, had refilled my flask with gin instead of water and it wasn’t until I took the mouthful of it that I realised what he’d done - and he was really stringing out the lines and the business leading up to the [spitting] bit... my eyes were watering, my throat was burning and eventually we got through it. 

You know there was all that kind of thing going on, but one of the most enjoyable plays was ‘Flare Path’ which was a Terence Rattigan piece set during the war.  Andy Woodage was the director and he insisted on period costume, not only the RAF uniforms for the men but for the women as well.  You know period dresses, suits, the whole bit… seamed stockings all of it.  That really made the whole piece quite authentic, you know, and was good for us as well and we had people like Les Colcutt who was a brilliant set builder, and Terry Parkhouse doing sound; we would have a gantry built at the back of the hall for the sound and light equipment and all that kind of thing, so it really was as near a professional performance as we could make it.  So you know that was all brilliant fun.

 

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Margaret Cole

My father-in-law, JGC was instrumental in obtaining the recreation ground field.  It had been a recognised playing field and cricket had been played there since about 1899 which was surprising because I have the minutes of the first.... inauguration of the trustees of the recreation ground.  It had also been used for cattle grazing and then when Blackdown Estate was being sold they first of all used to rent it from the estate for the first 40 years and it wasn’t until 1942, surprisingly, that the actual field was being bought.  I think I’m right in saying this.  The tenancy had been given to the Working Men’s Club.  When Lady Phillipson -Stow died in 1930, I think, then when it was being let out to the village they were before that paying 5s a year but then it went up to £5 15s a year.  In l941 when this field eventually came up for sale JGC was very instrumental in raising the money.  He collected £531 by approaching local residents personally with a promise of another £55.  Mr Mills who was then the Clerk of the Council obtained a grant of £100 from the Playing Fields Association and because of that the Carnegie Trust gave a further £100.  The Rev Lawson who started off as a lay reader at the church, he compiled a crossword puzzle.  It’s terribly difficult, a very rambling affair but it raised £25 and then they were going to give a £5 prize to the person who had the correct answer but nobody got the correct solutions so they awarded it to a lady from Hindhead – I believe she had a bottle.  They did raise the necessary money and it was really all down to JGC. 

Now as I said there is this list of the donors in the recreation ground in the pavilion which Pat Boyd had very kindly scripted out and I was asked when the new pavilion was done and they wanted to frame this original list, I had the privilege of over-scripting which I thought was quite a nice achievement.  I must go back a bit further because the £700 that they raised was not enough of course, they wanted £1000 for the actual field, that was Knight Frank and Rutley, so father-in-law called a meeting.  They had a village meeting and then they were rather in a stalemate situation when three of them got together and as somebody walked passed the door where they were meeting, JGC saw him and he called him in and he said I will guarantee up to£1000.  So JG Cole was sent to London to negotiate with Knight Frank and Rutley and so he went and offered them £800 so they said no that wasn’t really fair but they compromised for £900.  So they eventually raised the £900 and then subsequently of course they had to have their trustees for the field.  I always thought that JGC had been the first chairman but he wasn’t in fact because we had Mr Ohlenschläger and W K Warren from Greenhill, they were both trustees and JGC was not only a trustee but he was Secretary as well. 

He had all his other interests like various committees and carrying on with the other good works.  Which brings me onto first of all the Village Hall, to go back to father-in-law again because it’s sort of hereditary all this lot.  Father-in-law having acquired the Recreation Ground and seen that functioning properly, he was then persuaded to become Secretary of the Village Hall which was ailing.  So again he raised money to get them out of debt and he held that job for about 16 years, only acting as Secretary but when Ron came along of course they had a more up-to-date shorthand typist type Secretary.  So Ron became Chairman of the Village Hall Committee.  Also too both father and son had followed each other in Parish Council, District Council.  They both served many years on both of those so they really have done a lot of community work.

In the village hall, what was it used for in the early days?

I think they had dances there, I can’t honestly remember.  The meetings like the WI and things like that.  I think Aunt Edith that was in the shop, she must have been one of the original members of the WI there.  That was that.  I think I’ve almost covered JGC’s life history.

 

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Paul Heath

I was involved with scouts for many years, or cubs, right from the age of 8, when I was blackmailed by my mother to actually join the cubs, because I didn’t want to. But I wanted something, she said she would do it if I joined cubs.  So I did. At the age of 8. And to be truthful I haven’t left scouting until last year. Not as a Boy Scout all the time, I hasten to add. I came through as a Leader. But I was a cub under.. , I’m trying to think of the name but I can’t. The last two Akelas that I had were Betty Mariner and Mrs Hunt, I cannot think of her name, Betty Mariner being from Dawes Farm. But I did scouts as well, with Reg Parkhouse , I was involved with Bunny Welland and Malcolm Gilbert. Malcolm was never a Leader as such, never took uniforms…. but he was there for many years down at the Scouts Hut at Ropes Lane. We were there before the major alterations which included putting on toilets. All we had outside was a good old dunny which was a big hole in the ground, with a shed on top. Many a time if you were in there you got knocked around. But it was great fun. I thoroughly enjoyed it as far as cubs and scouts was concerned. I think it set me up for quite a few things, for life if you like.

When I finished school I went to work in Haslemere and one evening in summer, when I had nothing to do, for some unknown reason, I wandered down to scouts or cubs, just wondered what was going on, to be greeted with “come along and help”. “We’re here next week if you want to.” And I did, like an idiot, and that was for three weeks. On the third week it was announced that cubs was going to close because Betty and Mrs Hunt were finishing. This was in July. During the summer, no problem, the summer holiday came, and during that Ken Laws and Alan Bloomfield, who were Committee members, had been for many a year, came along to me and said “ I understand that you’ve been helping out at cubs.” I said “Yes..”. I was only 15 at the time. They said “Well, if we go along as adults, would you be prepared to try and run the cubs for us?” I said “Yes”, I don’t know why I said  “Yes”, but I did. And that was the idea, I’d go along and try and run an evening, I knew roughly what was going on, and give it a go with some help from the district team as well. But they actually found someone from Camelsdale who would come along. Her name was Anne Perkins. Anne and I ran cubs for quite a few years. Anne eventually left to become District Commissioner. Scouts were having problems and a chap called David Quinnell from Henley Village, a friend of mine, took on scouts for quite a while and took up uniform as well, like I did. There was another chap, John  McQuorquodale, helped for a while, on scouts. And we kept it going for quite a few years. I’m just trying to think. Bunny Welland was involved for quite a bit. He was Midhurst District Commissioner or Acting District Commissioner, for about 14/15 years. How you can do “Acting” for that length of time, I don’t know but he did. But he helped; Reg used to come along and help.  And I think we provided scouting for quite a few boys for many a year.

I eventually left when I got married, when I was 22. I continued to run the cubs for another six or seven years, when I moved out of the village, coming back to the village for that, every Thursday evening I think it was. We had some great fun. I’m now playing cricket with some of the boys that I actually had as cubs, which is a horrible thought, but there we go! That’s another story.

One of the things I can always remember as a cub and a scout was, as was mentioned earlier, the barbecue. It took all day to set it up. We would roast a lamb, and they would have an open fire and then we’d start cooking it on a spit, about 9 o’clock in the morning. Ready for about 4 maybe 5 in the evening.  It was purely the scouts, the scout group, who’d run it. And I can remember, they used to have music, a pop group or something come along, a local band and I can remember one year, the group actually being put on top of the old air raid shelter, which was then used as a shed for the tractor to cut the grass on the recreation ground. That’s obviously no longer there, but it’s just along from the present day pavilion. But they used to be good fun, with lots of sideshows put on and various things, and it went on until late in the evening.

 

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Colin Lambert

I can remember going down with my parents to a house on the crossroads to see them and my Grandmother and he was a stocky gentleman (pretty like myself) and I understood he used to be the Village Postman and also the Village Barber and he was a great supporter of the Working Men’s Club – hence this is where he used to play his instruments and have a singsong – he enjoyed a singsong and he enjoyed his cricket – which they all did and used to sing and play an instrument. – even in my father’s day they did that.  My father said that to play at Lurgashall they used to walk with their cricket gear – I don’t know how they got the instruments there but they all had banjos or squeeze boxes - if you didn’t have an instrument you had to have a bit of toilet roll and a comb! – you had to do something for the entertainment after the cricket match.  In the Fernhurst Working Men’s Club they used to have a smokers’ conference, about twice a year I think, and had to ‘sing, say or pay’ - you had to sing or recite a bit of poetry or you paid a shilling – which was a lot of money in those days and that would go round and perhaps we would have to do two or three – what they used to do (I know my father used to do) perhaps a song – my mother was a pianist and then the second time round he would sing the same song but he would put his own words to it.

 

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George Larbey

Were you ever a Boy Scout?

 Oh yes. I think we were all Boy Scouts at one time or another. I joined the Boy Scouts when I was 11.  Mr Dudman, he was the scoutmaster then. Down in that scout hut, which I remember quite clearly, that scout hut.  I was in Hippo patrol,  I remember. Bob Lambert who lived down in Ropes Bottom, Colin’s cousin, he was troop leader. We would meet pretty regularly down there, I seem to remember. Of course, that field where it sits, well it doesn’t sit in a field now, it sits in a wood, but it was a field when I remember it, it was on the edge of a field and the field was sloping and was always used as a sledging field. Every year we went sledging there and this is why I would argue with anybody that in those days it snowed every year. I mean nowadays it doesn’t seem to, but it did then. Every year we would go sledging and that was our sledging field. As the First Fernhurst troop of scouts we weren’t ..nobody had very many badges pinned to their arms. I believe that before that the First Fernhurst troop was quite an important troop. I remember right at the end of the war it was suggested, on VJ Day when the war ended, it was suggested that we build a big bonfire in the cricket field down here and three of us, including Bob Lambert I think, went to Mr Dudman and said could we borrow the scout Union Jack. It was huge, a big one and could we put it up on the green. He wouldn’t let us do that. He said that he didn’t think that was a very good idea anyway and so three of us, I remember came up to start building a bonfire.  Mr Esdale and his two daughters had beaten us to it and they were at that time dragging out huge amounts of wood out of Millhanger for the bonfire.

 

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Phyllis Ling

Your husband – you and your husband- had a lot to do with Fernhurst, I know, many of the activities.

My husband was Church Warden for fourteen years.  He started the Christmas Fair, he and Gordon Wright.  Most of the things that are going he did have something to do with most of them.

He helped to start the Youth Club, didn’t he?

Oh, yes, he negotiated the buying of a piece of land from Alf West to start the Youth Club. 

Where it is now?

Yes, where it is now, yes he did.  But there was no Youth Club, nothing here at all like that and he and Miss Tudor and Mary Burnett, went to Midhurst and organised the starting of the Youth Club.  And we had a barbeque on our ground going up to …. And that’s how it started, yes, that’s how that started.

So [the Optimists] went on for about 30 years?

I wouldn’t have thought that but I mean it must be..

They had the anniversary..

Yes, 30 wasn’t it. I think I left it out for you, did I?

Optimists 30 years anniversary celebration, Getting to Know You, on 1st June 1991. That’s tremendous. So it must have gone on for a bit after that.

It does say 30 somewhere, did you say?

30th anniversary.

Oh, well, yes it must be. 

Well, that’s very nice. I wish I could read that out. This was written by Margaret Cole, in May 1991. A long poem. Would you like to read out the first verse, can you do that?

The first is, she’s just saying when Jenny’s said

Please write me just one more poem
About all the members, who’d been in the play. 
I said “What is the point, for no one will know,
So can’t we forget it and call it a day?”
But no she relentlessly pushed and she shoved me,
She vowed that for ever and ever she’d love me,
So now you all know that I do obey Jenny,
But believe me she owed me much more than a penny.

We’ve known Rogers and Phyllises, Jennys and Pauls,
Rosemarys and Margarets, I can’t list them all
There’s been Michaels and Celias, some short and some tall,
Kens, Jeans, Tonys and let’s not forget Moll (?)
Producers who thought they had chosen the best
And found out the difference when put to the test.
I’ve often regretted their zeal and their zest
And after a show have retired for the rest.
The Opties have travelled many a mile
Not always showing that persondant smile
Small audiences we’ve  tried to beguile
While trying to add the treasure’s pile
So who were the cast of thirty years gone
When some fluffed their lines and some sang a song
And all those producers they should get a gong
For just staying the course and just carrying on.
Among us tonight there are many past members
Strolling down memory lane with the do’s  you remembered
We acted in pantos in all those Decembers,
It doesn’t take much to fan bygone old embers.
The smell of the greasepaint, the glare of the lights,
The use of the facepowder to turn our hair white
But whatever the struggle, whatever the plight,
What does it matter if it’s all right on the night.

Very good.  And that was written by Margaret Cole?

Yes.

 

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Brian Silver

Certainly by the time when I was in the Scouts, John and myself were fortunate when we were in the Scouts that we both went to the World Jamboree at Sutton Coldfield in 1957. We represented the Sussex contingent at the World Scout Jamboree, which was quite an experience. In fact, I remember there was at that time Bob Lambert was the Scout master and Reg Parkhouse was the Assistant. There was only one place for a Fernhurst scout to go to the World Scout Jamboree and I remember going to Bob Lambert’s who lived just below what was Kingsley Green guest house, the nursing home now, and his father built the house which lies down in the hollow there, Sandy something I think it’s called.

Sandy Ridge.

Sandy Ridge is it? That would be it. Well his father, Bob Lambert’s father built that house. I remember going up to see Bob with John and we tossed to see who should go to the Jamboree. And John won. So I wasn’t too happy about that but it was the fairest way of doing it and anyhow out of the blue, Sussex came up with an extra contingent that they were sending to the Jamboree and I still went, so I was quite lucky really. It was quite an experience.

Were you a Patrol Leader?

Yes. Both John and myself were Queen’s Scouts I think at the end of the day but yes I was a Patrol Leader. I thoroughly enjoyed the scouts, but once we got to about 16 or 17 it was when we became Venturers , and we joined up with Camelsdale and there was a bloke named John Adams who used to run the Camelsdale Venturers. And because our numbers were small we sort of joined up with them. So there was quite a good relationship between the two troops of Camelsdale and Fernhurst. And we used to go camping together. I can remember, yes, scout times were very enjoyable.

How many troops were there in Haslemere?

I don’t know about Haslemere,  because Haslemere was in another area. We came under Midhurst. Camelsdale being in Sussex also came under Midhurst. We used to go on camping competitions down in Sussex. There was some characters in the Camelsdale troop.   I still remember them. Peter May was in the troop at that time,  who I think has quite a bit to do with the village now, doesn’t he?

Peter was a little bit older than me. But I remember him. And I suppose my best mate within that troop would have been Neil Hedges, who was a Camelsdale scout. I think he married and went and lived on the Scilly Isles, somebody told me, but I haven’t seen him here.

Camelsdale has always had quite a reputation for scouting hasn’t it?

They have. They’ve always had an excellent scout troop. I think they were unfortunate that their scout hut was burnt down wasn’t it, a few years, I don’t know how long ago now, but they’ve rebuilt it haven’t they?

Yes. Was the scout hut down Ropes Lane, was that extended  when you were..?

Oh yes, yes. That was built I think right back in the thirties.  Certainly Reg Parkhurst talks about that. I can’t remember the actual date when it was built, but I think it was sort of early thirties, from my recollection of it. Yes, it was in the same place.

Did it make a good scout hut, do you think?

Yes, excellent. It was in an area where there was plenty of room for the activities, the scouting activities around it. Obviously in those days it was a little bit out of the village, it still is now but I think when I was brought up certainly, the working class families within the village didn’t have cars, so everything was done by either walking or cycling everywhere.

You talked about the building of the Youth Club.  Did you belong to the Working Men’s Club?

I did, yes. My father was involved with the Working Men’s Club. He was quite keen on snooker play as well and billiard play. In fact he was more of a billiard player than a snooker player, but snooker sort of took over from billiards. The club had a team in the local sort of snooker league. He used to play quite a bit of snooker and I used to go in there as a sort of teenager and play snooker. At that time the stewards were Reg and Tina Orchard.  Reg and Tina being the parents of Barbara Beaumont, … and Christine Brown. When I lived in Chesholt Close… they lived in a bungalow down Chesholt Close. Chris was more or less my age, I think she was probably a little bit older, but we were brought up together.   So I know Chris extremely well. And then they moved down to the Working Men’s Club and Reg was the steward down there for a number of years I think. Certainly during the period when I was going in there, when I was a teenager, they were the stewards.   

Would they have been the longest serving stewards, do you think?

I don’t know, to be quite honest. I don’t know who was the longest steward. I know another one of my sort of distant relatives if you like, a Wyn Ford, was a steward there for quite a while, but certainly that was before I was born, in the thirties. In fact since I’ve done the book, it’s something that I would have put in the book if I’d had it, I’ve acquired a photo of them standing outside the Working Men’s Club. At the time I did the book, I couldn’t find a picture of the Working Men’s Club.

Let’s face it, it has been the centre of Fernhurst activities, hasn’t it?

That’s right, it has.  It was a very friendly place to go to. And I can remember some of the sort of characters it used to get in there at that time. I think I mentioned in my book, Jack Edwards, he used to get in there.  Jack was married to…He was married to a Voller, let’s put it that way, so he’s related to me in a distant sort of way. But he was landlord of the Spread Eagle for years. And then when he retired, he moved down to The Cylinders. But when I knew him he was living on his own down The Cylinders, but he was always in the Working Men’s Club. He was quite a character. Always got the crib pulled out, the dominoes out, challenge anybody to a game.

What was the dominant game at the club? Was it snooker or cribbage or..?

There was always people sitting around playing cribbage and dominoes but the main game I think was snooker and billiards. As I say I think billiards was the main game until about probably the fifties and sixties, when snooker tended to take over. I know my father was a better billiard player probably than a snooker player. But they still held, within the club, billiard competitions and snooker competitions.

Really. Up until when?

Well, certainly during that sort of period, the sort of fifties they were playing both I think, in the club. But once the league started, you know, it became more competitive and therefore snooker sort of tended to take over. And certainly the younger members were playing snooker and not billiards. Certainly I didn’t play a lot of billiards although I played a bit with my father, but it tended to be snooker. I'm afraid I was nothing like his standard.

 

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Roy Woodward

And the Optimists too were you involved in that?

Only briefly – I helped front of house – I am not an on stage person.  I actually introduced one of the plays and for once only did I do that.  But I did help front of house.   The Optimists were started at Verdley House.  One of  the Christmases they did a pantomime and they decided to carry on and as the Optimists grew they transferred to the Village Hall and more and more local people came and joined and at one stage they were very proficient actors, they were very good.  My old boss David Bateman was a very good actor indeed as was Alf Rance the Packing Shed Manager – he was cockney and he was very good.  The Optimists produced two plays every year in the Village Hall.  You mention Phyllis Ling she was part of the Optimists – it was a big event in the village three performances twice a year.

 

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The Fernhurst Oral History Project was supported by the Local Heritage Initiative. The Local Heritage Initiative was developed by the Countryside Agency and was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Nationwide Building Society.

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