Life in Brocton in the 1940s –‘ 50s

It is a cold wintery day at the beginning of February 2013 and I have been invited into the home of Roger Turnpenny and his wife, Gillian, who now live in Sawpit Lane, Brocton. Roger has lived in Brocton all his life and we spend a pleasant hour travelling down memory lane to look at the stories behind the pictures taken when he was a child. Roger lived with his family at White Lodge, Chase Road, now the home of one of our Parish Councillors.

As we have just been having problems with the ice and snow in Chase Road making
lifedifficult for the residents who live there it has to be remembered that these problems
arenot new and were just as apparent sixty years ago. In those days the quarry was in
full production and Roger recalls the lorries from there sliding sideways down Chase
Road on the ice and snow, probably made worse by Roger and his friends sledging
down thereat weekends and compacting the snow into hard ice. Lorries often got stuck
sideways across the road and regularly hit the black and white cottage at the bottom.
Snow drifts on Chase Road and in the village would be four to six feet in places and could last from October to March. Local residents would dig a pathway about 3 feet wide to get around the village. Roger’s mother and friends would borrow the children’s large home-made wooden sledges and walk to Stafford and back to get provisions because the two local shops were unable to get deliveries due to the snow.

The Chase Road Quarry provided work for local people and Roger remembers one particular employee, Sammy Brown, who lived in a converted 20ft x 10ft wooden garage situated in the garden of the Old Post Office on the side of Chase Road. He had a cast iron stove in the middle for cooking and heating and used to throw his tea leaves from his billy can out of the door and across the road. There were always tea leaves stuck to the road and sometimes they would only just miss passers- by.

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The Chase was, for Roger and his mates, their back garden. They would wander far and wide all day when not at school and built dens, sometimes underground, from wood and bracken. Old pram wheels were like gold and much sought after to make trucks/carts. Roger’s dad, James William Edwin, was a radio amateur, call sign G3CP. He built all his equipment from ex-war department equipment. He had masts and aerial wires all across the garden and no doubt with the location high on the Chase he managed to contact other radio hams world wide. He had a shed (shack) in the garden and spent most evenings transmitting from there much to the disgust of Roger’s mother who would be in the lounge trying to watch TV on the Pye TV set but father’s transmissions would cause massive interference with the TV so it would be normal for mother to open the windows to the garden, get a stone or brick and hurl it at dad’s shed. His face would then appear at the window and much verbal abuse would be exchanged between the two of them. Roger’s friends who were there at the time thought it was hilarious but to the family it was just the norm!

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In remembering these earlier times and looking at the photographs of White Lodge and the
surrounding fields, the thing that struck me was the amount of housing development that has
taken place, swallowing up every available piece of open space in such a relatively short
period of time. Yet, despite this development, the various “problems” the residents of the
village faced in those days still remain in some way. The disruption caused by ice and snow,
particularly in Chase Road, the problems with traffic in Chase Road, not today the continual
rumble of the quarry lorries but the visitors to the Chase. Flooding in Pool Lane. Go carts and
sledges have been replaced by “joy riders” and mountain bikes. Archaeologists and Historians
continue to search for and discover the stories of earlier times the Chase still has to offer, and
perhaps the thing we should be most grateful for, the fact that the wide open spaces of the Chase are protected so that they can still provide that big back garden that previous generations enjoyed and future generations can continue to enjoy and hopefully appreciate.

If you have enjoyed reading of Roger’s experiences and you have photographs and/or memories of your time in Brocton we would love to share these with you.

Chris Hammond

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