Trevor Wedlake's Writings
"Oh, call back yesterday"(Richard III)
First published in the Village Journal October, 1992
|[Relative newcomers to the area need to know that Kingcotts garage was the predecessor business to the present Wrington Motors - Ed]
The article on S.O. Kingcott in the July Journal revived many memories of a Wrington that hummed and buzzed as a completely self-contained place before it had become a dormitory of Bristol. Wrington was then the supply hub of a wheel whose spokes extended to Butcombe, Felton, Churchill, Chew Stoke, Congresbury, Blagdon, Mendip even Nailsea.
These villages and others all depended largely for their supplies of everything from coal to bread on the tradesmen of Wrington who ran small fleets of vehicles and bicycles the purpose. These vans and lorries all would have way regularly to Kingcott's garage for fuel and repairs.
There were no tractors on the farms then and private car ownership was so restricted that any schoolboy would know instantly whose car was approaching by the distinctive note of each and every engine - Mr J's Riley, Miss H's bull nose Morris and so on. There were no foreign cars except for a small black Opel which appeared in the late 3O's. Its very competitive price was explained by the schoolmaster to be because the Germans were made to work very long hours in the factories.
The Wrington roundsmen who made the daily deliveries to the far-flung housewives who seldom got out of their houses would also bring shoes to be repaired, post letters and deliver messages, there being few phones. For some years the Blagdon post-master would redezvous with one roundsman at Charterhouse cross roads and pass him the Daily Herald for remote Piney Sleight Farm and there the farmer would have his Littlewoods coupon ready for posting.
All the tradesmen and their staffs worked long hours of course and they were always busy. Some money was made. This is village life which of course had to end 'like the tale that is told' but its passing has not gone un-regretted by many who knew it then and enjoyed it.
Mr Kingcott put his customers before everything, certainly before Sunday lunch when on at least one such time he was seen on the road assisting a motorist. Mrs Kingcott once said that he was a bit like a raincoat waiting to be taken from its hook in a storm.
A difficult war-time job Mr Kingcott undertook was to travel to an eastern counties bomber station to retrieve the car of a young Wrington bomber pilot lost over Germany. All sign posts had been removed for the war. To have been seen consulting a map would have aroused suspicion, to have asked the way would have prompted a report to the police. Such was the fear of spies and fifth columnists.
A young man enjoying the dogs at Knowle stadium one night rang Kingcotts and asked to be met from a late train at Yatton. The train was duly met but the fare did not alight. He woke up in Weston and again rang Wrington 297. Mr Kingcott got up and returned to Yatton. In his very quiet voice he said "I think Mr. P. you should ring from Yatton next time". Men who are kind to the young are remembered with affection by the old.
In a pre-war budget the Chancellor's price increases to support the re-armament drive increased petrol from 1/1d to 1/3d per gallon (5p to 6p). The operator of a daily carrier service to and from Bristol called in with his 'T' model Ford van for his first post-budget fill-up. Incensed by the new tax he remonstrated with the pump attendant. "It's the budget", said the boy, "You know, re-armament and all that". "Re-armament", came the reply, "I don't mind buying 'em a rifle but I don't want to buy 'em a ruddy tank".
At that time Fords had not out-grown their 'Tin Lizzie' image. Kingcotts did not favour them. "It won't be cheap whatever you pay for it", said Bill Kingcott to a prospective purchaser.
A youth was sent to Kingcotts once with the message "The Ford won't start". Mr Kingcott was found up a step-ladder. "The Ford won't start" said the youth. The reply was instant, precise quiet and echoed the sentiment attributed to the dying King George V re Bognor.
In those insular days most people thought that the aliens, the odd-bods, the queer folk began at Calais. Did Kingcotts think they began at Dagenham?