2019 - Conrad and Richard Pearce (CP and RP) Recording of memories of Oare

Conrad and Richard Pearce (CP and RP) Recording Summary

Total recording time: 25:51

Interview January 31st2018 at Richard Pearce’s home in Oare

Interviewer: Dawn Wilson

[File 080120 001]

CP born April 10 1941; RP born 16 May 1947 Latenbury Cottage in Oare

0:42 CP Memories of childhood in Oare. Born in South Wales and moved at age 5. Oare school much smaller than the South Wales School. All lads were friendly at Oare School.  We had good times there. in summer we used to go out harvesting after rabbits and see which field cut earliest and go out a gang of us with sticks and catch rabbits We had long hot summer holidays then.

1:30 DW Names of the friends? Dudley Brookes, Mickey Smith, Mikey Giddings, Jo Collins, quite a few of them.

1:50 DW Where were you living at the time? Latenbury Cottage, Pewsey Rd Oare.

1:57 RP Memories of childhood in Oare. Going to Oare School, Brother would have stayed at Oare school till he was 15. Pewsey School opened I think in about 1958.  RP went there at that point. Oare School consisted of three classrooms and the toilets were outside. Dinners came around in a wagon they delivered from back then and the dining hall was a wooden shed out in playground. As children we used play in the main road. We used to go roller skating and we had hand carts we used to roll up and down in. We used to roam up over the hills weekends. That was it. There was a cinema in Pewsey we used to go to now and again. NOTE [This was on the site of the shops and flats opposite the Coop in Pewsey and to the left of the Elizabethan Cottages.  It was then a Copydex Glue factory which closed in 1987 with the Wilts and Dorset bus depot right beside it]. That was about it really entertainment wise.

3:08 DW Location of school? RP where it is now [Cold Blow]. Although now it is a lot bigger. [RP has a picture of the school off the Main Road] My grandmother lived on Huish Down [Huish Hi] on top of the Hill and used to come down to the school then which was in the bottom of the Churchyard [in Oare]. I think father went down there as well cause this school [Cold Blow] is about 100 years old.

3:53 CP something like that. [records state the School at Cold Blow was built around 1914] RP Yes so, they both went to that school [Main Road].

3:55 RP friends we used to play with [RP has photos of Coronation in 1953 when the children all dressed up] Michael Mannings, Peter Giddings, Richard Cannings [P Giddings was best man at R Cannings wedding], Gordan Flippance, Maureen Blackman, Anthea Drewitt, Rosemary Lee, Several Giddings Michael, Len, Clifford, Phillip, Sylve, Dorothy, they were quite a big family in Huish.

5:00 DW How many generations of your family have lived in Oare? CP don’t know we moved from Wales. RP Charlie [son of Nicky Pearce, Conrad’s Daughter] is the fifth generation at Oare School. Which is my niece’s son.

5:30 DW What characters used to live in the village? CP There was one old chap used to sit outside the White Hart[pub] in the village, anybody who’d come along he’d invite them in the pub.  His name was Schemer. He’d never buy a pint but however he walked into the pub with he’d get a pint out of them. There was another bloke here David Dudman, never worked in his life, never had a haircut in his life, but the hair on his head was like a sheep’s back, just tight curls, never had a haircut. All he used to was follow the hounds round Wednesdays and Saturdays and they used to tip him for opening the gates. That’s all the money he got. That’s the two that lived in the village wasn’t it? RP Yes.

6:28 RP Well the one that springs to mind was the old lady who used to live on Huish Hill called Miss Grant. She used to come down to the Post Office with a bicycle. She never rode it, she used to whell it down with the shopping bag on the handlebars to get her groceries, and then she’d wheel it all the way back up again.  She was a bit of a recluse really. CP Ex teacher wasn’t she. Cause all the water she had was underground in big containers. She had two big tanks sat in the ground underground, and she used to drop a bucket in there and that was her water, rainwater.

7:24 DW Memories pf school days? CP Not really. Only thing I can remember really was Miss Gricks a school teacher used to come from Wootton Rivers every day. She got married to a Mr Smith and the whole school was invited to the wedding. We walked to the wedding from the school along the canal. It was a beautiful day.

8:24 DW Memories of working life once you left school? RP I was 15 and went to work for Sir Phillip Dunn of Stowell Park [buried at Huish Church] in the gardens. I was a gardener for 3 years until. Point was you got an agricultural wage, you never got a full man’s wage until you were 21. so, I left and went on the building. I went to work for W A Chivers at Devizes. Then we got full wage on that one and that made a lot of difference really. CP Left school in the summer on the Friday and on Monday morning I started work for Whites in Pewsey, builders firm. After six weeks I had an apprenticeship, which I used to spend a day and an evening in Salisbury at college, and the rest of the week doing practical work with the firm. That went on for 5 years [the apprenticeship].

9:36 DW Tell us about the Coronation celebrations? RP We were all dressed up, not quite sure what it was all about. There was Britannia on the photo and we were all dressed up in different costumes. CP I can’t remember the coronation, but I remember the jubilee on Martinsell.

10:17 Jubilee CP didn’t we have a big bonfire up there. RP, we had cheese rolling [from the top of Martinsell iron age fort]. RP That’s right.  Mrs Waterlow, the lady who lived at Parsonage House in Oare, she bought the cheeses. We had sports up there, welly throwing, cheese rolling where you had to chase the cheese.  The old people went up on a tractor. WE had a good day up there. RP, I remember it well because we weren’t married that long, when Margaret, my wife hurled the cheese down they all went hurdling down trying to catch this cheese. When we got home she discovered that her wedding ring was missing. Anyway, the following we went back up. Probably like looking for a needle in a haystack really. Anyway, we went back up to the point we were stood at and picked it up straight away within a matter of minutes which was a good outcome really.

11:29 DW Who lived in the bigger houses like Oare House when you were younger? CP Sir Geoffrey Fry who owned Fry’s Chocolate was in Oare House. He was a Quaker and lived there with his wife and daughter. He used to come around every Sunday whatever the weather in his Quakers outfit and post a letter in the local post office box. He always went along what they call Pound lane. And because he used to do this they stopped building the council houses along there and built them at Portway instead because he didn’t want to see the washing on the line. That was the tale at the time. [Oare house now owned by Henry Keswick]

12:26 DW What about Rainscombe Park? RP, I believe, obviously when our parents were of working age about 14 or 15. My mother came from the Rhonda Valley, and she was a maid at Rainscombe Park, a parlour maid.  She used to live in he rooms right in the top of the house. Presumably that where father met her, and obviously they got married.

13:00 DW When? CP I was born in 1941, father was in the army then WW2 and got demobbed, we came up to Wiltshire in 1946 or 7. We moved up here to live with an old uncle who mother looked after anyway.

13:33 Pearce family: RP Arthur Pearce or Charles Arthur Pearce I think, cause Charles if very relevant in our family, my brother got the same name and I got same name and other have as well. Father was the only son I believe. I know nothing about my grandfather, whether he died in WW1 or not I am not sure.  And grandfather form Oare as well, not sure what happened to him. Mother had five sisters and one brother and most went into service, but uncle was in the coal mines. In the Rhonda Valley. CP He was a carpenter not a Miner. RP oh was he. CP, He built bridges, wooden bridges. RP, I thought he was a miner. CP No that was Grandfather. RP Oh. CP Bailey. NOTE [ RP lent a copy of his family tree].

14:55 DW Other properties in Oare like Ox Yard? Don’t know. CP we were always told the Ox Yard was always open underneath and the Ox Men used to live on the top and that was their heating in the winter.

15:29 The Limes? CP Colonel Keith. Old ex-army man. He was head of the Home guard in the Village, He had an old shed out the back full of old battery radios and wind up ones. When he sold up they just got sold.  Mrs Bristow in the village she got the old settee. as they were carrying it across the village all these old horse stirrups fell out. Out the bottom. I hall always remember that. What they were doing there I shall never know.

16:40 Hatfield Farm? RP Oscar Peall. CP, we used to go down there picking apples. And when it was Potato picking time, we used to be able to have Friday afternoons off form school. We always finished Friday dinnertime and went picking potato up. We used to go down the orchards as well picking the Bramley apples and Coxes as well then take them back to the sorting sheds.

17:26 DW Can you remember where the orchards were? CP Yes exactly. One was along Pound lane what they call the Damson hedge on the right-hand side from Pound lane to Sunneyhill lane. On one side was all Coxes apples and on other was Bramley apples and across form there was Conference Pears. And these pears you used to have to go around and put little bags on them to stop the wasps form eating them. I remember that as plain as day. [for the record the round topped barn opposite the gate at Hatfield Farm is the old Apple shed and cold store which closed on 1983 and has been repurposed]

18:25 Cold Blow? CP Mr Rollo. RP He was a barrister in London. His son William lives there now.  CP wasn’t it Old Rollo’s sister that married that film star. RP Yes David Niven. CP Primrose Niven Nee Rollo is buried at Huish Church.

19:00 Oare Church? CP didn’t go. RP we were brought up Welsh Methodist. Conrad lives in the chapel now where we used to go. We sometime went 3 times a day. The old Methodist chapel is off Pound lane [now a residence] and the Church of England is off the Main Road.

19:41 Memories of the White Hart Pub [formerly the Monpessan Arms which existed in 1803]?  CP Well we first got here to live I used to stay with my grandparents a bit opposite the school. Sunday nights they used to go to the pub into the Snug a little room where all the women used sit. We used to go every Sunday night to sit in the Snug. The men used to go in the main bar. The first landlord RP Gibson CP He was second, but he was there the longest, then Summers, RP When I started drinking it was our namesake who used to be in the Green Dragon, John and Edna Pearce. CP the guy from West Stowell, the chauffeur he had it for while that was Summers. CP, I remember the man before Gibson was Gerald, same age as me. John and Edna were there many years when it was owned by Wadworth’s.

22:48 CP I have always liked living round here it’s nice to walk. RP the village has changed a little bit. there used to be cart sheds alongside the main road there that belonged to the pub. CP which was a bowling alley. RP, at the end of then was a well where father used to have to pull the water up from [Latenbury Cottage] that was all demolished.  There were 3 cottages opposite that and they were demolished. And two built a bit further back. Back down towards the stocks [ end of Rudge lane where it meets the main rd.] there was another 3 cottages right up on the bank and they were demolished, and they built the two that are there now. There has been a few other like my house that I built myself back in the 1980’s.  I built Russet which is just across our neighbour just over the other side there [ off Rudge lane]. I built the village hall back then as well. The old original village hall [which is where Beechcombe is off Cold Blow by the School], was a barrack block and grandfather brought that on a horse and cart from out Chiselden way. So, the quite a few things happened in our lifetime. CP Grandfather used to have a wood work centre in Oare and that was off Rudge Lane. That got burned down. In the same area there was a fallout shelter for Sir Geoffrey Fry. I think it is still there isn’t it. RP, I think it is. They built that new house called the Gables that is now Cherry Tree Cottage. Not sure if they demolished it [fallout shelter]. It was on the right-hand of the drive as you go in. We used to play in there when we were kids. whether it’s still there I don’t know. It would have taken some shifting cause it was probably reinforced concrete.


Interview Ends