Some Random Memories of growing up in Barn Close, Epsom

By Brian Robinson.

Woodcote Side Laundry viewed from the Common
Woodcote Side Laundry viewed from the Common
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

The photo of the laundry is obviously taken from the common and it is amusing to see the 'laundry' hanging out to dry especially as the end by the tall chimney is where the boiler house used to be and where we, as small children used to go and chat to the boiler man and have a warm up in the winter. We definitely went to the laundry during the Blitz and I can remember we even had a concert party to cheer everyone up. One of the acts, I seem to remember, sang "any umbrellas to mend today"!

Woodcote Side Laundry
Woodcote Side Laundry
Image courtesy of Brian Robinson.

In my photo you can see where we used to go in at the right hand end into a very large room. I don't know if the area was slightly underground or whether it was all the concrete structure that made it safer than our houses. [Webmasters note: During WW2 the laundry's basement mess room was reinforced with steel posts and used as an air raid shelter. A wall was built directly in front of the basement doorway and acted as a 'blast wall']

Being only 14 miles from London meant that Epsom got more than its share of bombs. In fact one dropped near the bottom of our garden when we were in the Anderson shelter which saved our lives. The blast blew out all the windows and most of the tiles off the back roof. Dad and I went to stay with his sister on West Hill whilst the house was repaired. My mother was ill with TB at the time and spent a lot of time at the Sanatorium in Merrow I think it was. Although we had a Morrison shelter indoors as well. [see WW2 Bomb Maps]

I believe when we moved to Barn Close in 1937 it was into a new house. There seems to be no information about BC on your website but I believe the houses were originally built for either the laundry workers or Woodcote Estate employees.

When I was growing up there 7 other children in residence all about the same age, give or take 2 or 3 years From about the age of 6 or 7 we used to spend most of our free time playing on the common, climbing trees and making camps in the bracken, which was as tall as we were! I remember it being an idyllic time. My "best friend" was John Evans at No.14. We went everywhere together, on the common, cycling, girl friends etc.

From about the age of 12 we 'helped out' at the farm on the common owned by Mr. Loveridge, cooking up the pig-swill, feeding the calves and the pigs and chaining up the cows when they came in for milking. Later on we even learnt how to drive Tractors. the little Grey Ferguson being a favourite. I like to say I have been driving for 66 years, since I was 14! I still enjoy driving immensly after all this time.

Highfield farmhouse in the time of Mark and Edie Loveridge (see below).
Highfield farmhouse in the time of Mark and Edie Loveridge (see below).
Image courtesy of Alice Opoku.

Mark and Edie in later life.
Mark and Edie Loveridge in later life.
Image courtesy of Alice Opoku.

Woodcote Side Post Office
Woodcote Side Post Office
I remember the shop being there when I was growing up.
Where we bought Lyons Maid Ice Creams which were drum
shaped and put in a cornet and cost 2d. photo
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Woodcote Side
Woodcote Side
At the far end of the row of houses you can just
see the white painted gable end of No.15 Barn Close.
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

2 Woodcote Side
2 Woodcote Side
This lovely old clapper board house was there when I was growing up
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Woodcote Side Laundry
Photo of Barn Close taken when a crane putting on the
top floor offices for the new business over the ex-laundry.
Image courtesy of Brian Robinson.

Now, the Lecture Hall School. What memories were stirred. I attatch a photo of the pupils. The tall girl behind Mrs.Young was called, I believe, Maureen Gourley. I am standing to her left and to her right is my cousin, Mike Osborne. In front of him and slightly right is .........Hislop ? and in the pigtails in front of her is, I think, Anne Bridson. Next but one to her is my cousin Mikes' sister Sue. The girl on the right sitting at the end of the second row was Barbara Baffin, a Downs Syndrome girl. I don't remember Paula Baxter (another of your contributors), I wonder if she is in the photograph? I too remember the Art teacher who used whatever she had in her shopping basket as the subject. I seem to remember on one occasion she produced a 'bloomer' loaf and leant her brolly against it !! How did I remember such trivia? We also had a singing teacher, a Miss Mole, who clapped me heartily on the back when I won a prize for singing! I don't recall walking up to Alexandra Park, that would have been quite a hike for us little 'uns. But I do recall walking down Upper High St, and round the corner into Depot Rd. We went to a grassy area belonging to ?? and enjoyed some free time and I think a picnic or two and played games. I remember Miss Gray and Mrs. Young as being very kind and caring to us. I went on from there to Pound Lane for a year before I passed my 11 plus and went on to Lintons Lane Grammar (later Glyn's).

Lecture Hall School
Lecture Hall School photo
Image courtesy of Brian Robinson.

We used to watch the Cricket on Stamford Green, always hoping to see a batsman heave one into the pond, which happened quite frequently I remember. Near there, on the common, were built "tank traps", pits about 30 feet long, 8 feet wide and 6 feet deep and filled with water (my memories of the actual size are a bit vague) and were supposed to deter German tanks when they arrived!! My cousins and I used to go fishing in them! and one day I fell in and had to be pulled out by my cousins. I was soaked and covered in green, slimy weed. My cousins Mikes' mother (with whom I was staying) was NOT amused.

The Robinsons were quite well known in Epsom, my father had two brothers and a sister. At least I think they were well known as whenever I went into town with Dad it seemed he said hello to nearly everybody! He was an electrician by trade back then and helped wire Ebbisham Hall when it was built.

Ebbisham Hall
Ebbisham Hall
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Which promotes another memory. When I was 14, I think, John and I joined the Methodist Youth Club in Ashley Rd. Mainly to meet girls I think more than any religious convictions! Anyway, one time there was a production of "The Balalaika" at Ebbisham Hall and they came to the youth club to see if we would be interested in being 'extras' in the crowd of revolutionaries. So, for a few nights a few of us were made up with dirty faces and the odd blackened tooth and equipped with imitation wooden rifles we surged on stage waving said rifles and murmering "rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb" (it really works in crowd scenes). I don't recall if we were paid equity rates! What fun it all was and the actresses were very pretty!

The Balalaika at Ebbisham Hall
The 1952 Epsom Operatic Society production of The Balalaika at Ebbisham Hall
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

I was called up to do National Service in 1954 and joined the R.A.F. for 3 years. Like your contributor, Brian Bouchard, I too went to West Kirby, maybe we were there at the same time.

I really left Epsom when I left the RAF at 21 and embarked on my working life. I really enjoyed my upbringing in Epsom and although have had no connection with it for some years now I have very fond memories of growing up there. With Uncles and Aunts and cousins (5 cousins) there were lovely family days out, Blackberrying on the common, visits to Leith Hill and Box Hill etc. Wonderful.

A memory has just popped into my head. I seem to recall, at 6 Barn Close, we were host to some refugees from Belgium, a Mr & Mrs Heslop.

Brian Robinson. © December, 2016.



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