Gordon Bridges' Recollections
These reminiscences are collated from contributions elsewhere on the website
|now of Nottingham.
We are told that the evacuation of schoolchildren from London went without a hitch! The children smiling and cheerful, left their parents to board trains for unknown destinations in the spirit of going on a great adventure
Allowing that wishful thinking, one of the earliest schools to start the evacuation was my old infant school Carlton Vale. Forty children aged between four and seven assembled before dawn; each child carried a gas mask, food and change of clothing and wore three labels.
Arriving at Paddington Station a teacher cheerily told my mother "We'll be back in a week, the weather's glorious for a nice holiday." However, I was still an evacuee three years later. The organisation at the station was good and quite quickly we left Paddington Station for the West Country.
The journey lasted a long time, too long for some, namely those who wanted their parents, those who wanted to be sick, and finally those who wanted to run riot. Controlling us were two teachers from our school, two ladies determined to continue our education, wherever the Education Board decided that would be.
Upon our arrival at Weston we the Carlton Vale Infants School contingent were taken to a village called Wrington.
Being five at the time my only recollection of the first evening of my stay with the family of Mr & Mrs Oliver Millard and their daughters Lillian and Olive was a hot drink and a warm comfortable bed.
The daughters Lillian and Olive were put in charge of me and two other evacuees Barry and Ann Johnson, who overnight became my brother and sister. Wrington Somerset was a very unusual place indeed, for it produced instant new families.
School was one side of a curtain that divided the Memorial Hall that was until a few weeks later when we were allowed to attend the village school.
On the journey to school each day I had to pass Sullivans Bakery the window of which even in wartime was attractively decorated with what appeared to be cream cakes. As luck would have it Mrs Sullivan thought I looked like a nephew of hers, therefore the trip to school took a little longer each day as I made sure Mrs Sullivan saw me, for having seen me a cake was always given and gratefully received.
I have many fond memories of the village and on my many return visits, I always feel that I have come home. On these visits some of the villagers who know me greet me with "BE THAT YOU GORDON ?"
It is ironic that the village is now home to people who moved down from Nottingham, to take up jobs when Imperial Tobacco centralised its Head Office in Bristol. Some of whom I know from the time I was Players Supply manager.
So my evacuation turned out fine, I was treated as member of wonderful family; given love and affection, which secured friendships to last a lifetime.
For some of us it was a life-enhancing, mind-broadening experience, leaving us with memories we treasure to this day. Namely the generosity of those who took us into their homes.
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