I read with interest the article on The Willow Beds in the August (2009) edition of Round & About. I was born in 1930, next to the Town Well, at no. 4 Jubilee Terrace, now more commonly called by the more rural-sounding name Jubilee Cottages. It was in those days when farmers, at times, still brought their cattle to the town well for water. We did not have a sewerage system in the village, or electricity; there was no playing field or a children’s playing area or any play equipment of any description for the children to use – we had to make our own enjoyment.
The Willow Bed, and it was the Willow Bed and not Willow Beds as it is now called, there being only one. The entrance to the Willow Bed was open from Halton Road and at that point there was a deep depression in the ground, with a large willow tree – at least, being a child, it appeared large to me. The Willow Bed was mainly wet, dry at times in the summer, and it would flood during heavy rain, and it was one of our play areas. We would make a fire there and put potatoes in it and then having scraped off the burnt and blackened skin as best we could we would eat them. There were two barns on Halton Road, now converted into dwellings, and sometimes we would play in them. Our school was the Congregational Schoolroom and across the road was a field that ran up the hill, and there we were allowed to play. This field was where the houses of Ashmeadow are now built. However, we were not allowed to go and play in the field until we were seven years old, and when that day came we thought we had achieved something. It was a grand field for sledging, in those days we had winters where we would always get some snow.
It was handy living next to the Town Well. The pump there was our water supply as it was not until 1935 that the water supply was laid and it was not until after the Second World War that we had sewerage and electricity. The bungalow of John and Judith Bentham is built on what was at that time our garden.
The Main Road was not as wide as it is now and on the opposite side of the raod, above Hornby Bank was a plantation where we also used to play. Further up the road on the right hand side going towards Over Kellet was the village tip, and we would go there and collect pieces of crockery, the odd saucepan or similar and make ëhouseí in the plantation. When the road was widened the trees of this small plantation were removed. We played Rounders, Stoolball, Football (yes, and I have marks on my shins to prove it) Hop-Scotch, Skipping and other childrenís games; we were always playing and did not know what ëboredí meant. Happy days, and many happy memories of the village as it was then.