John Henry Edwards [JH]

  1931 -
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John's Story > Chapters > Chapter 4 Early married life

"Chapter 4 Early married life" 


Date Range: 01/01/1951 To 12/31/1953   Comments: 0   Views: 13,669
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Chapter 4


                             Early Married Life

Oct 1951


I was back on track working for the bus company again and planning my forthcoming wedding to my long time fiancé Bertha, we were married on March 7th 1952 just a few months after my return home from the army. Money was short in those days so we honeymooned in Chepstow the town that I had been brought up in, we stayed in a boarding house in Welsh street owned by the mother of a childhood friend of mine, Donald Powell. But only for a week and on our return moved into my Mothers house in Ashcombe road.

Our first child Janet was born on January 16th 1953 just ten months after our marriage.


My mother bought a house in Bathurst road from my elder brother Charlie, a three bedroom semi-detached, and we were able to move into the lower floor there, the upper floor was occupied by a man and wife, the Plumbers, who had a fixed tenancy under the existing regulations having been bought as tenants when my parents first bought the Highley Hotel in Upper Church road.

Nanny E and Janet  

Raymond in front and Stella behind him playing at Nans at Edingworth 

 Nanny E pretending to drive my Standard 8 

As our family increased by the birth of another child Stella Joy in October 1954,

Stella’s problem------when Stella was a toddler she suffered from a condition known as Peti Mall I think this was caused because when she was born the cord was around her neck several times she was on medicine for three or four years with twice a year visits to the Burden

Hospital in Bristol for checkups

The town council re-housed the Plumbers into a council flat so we could then have the entire house which was just as well for along came Raymond John in August 1956.      



I was not happy working in the local bus garage as a mechanic on a “poor pay but a job for life”.  So I requested a transfer to the Head office in Bristol at Lawrence Hill

Central Repair Works where I became the assistant to the Second Engineer and in charge of the Experimental Department. My pay was pretty meager even for those days, a five and a half day week for 7 Pounds 7 shillings and six pence and for this I had to travel 25 miles on three different buses there and back with no chance of any overtime pay.


In order to advance my career I went to the Bristol University evening classes for three evening a week to study for my National Certificates in Engineering I finished up with a Higher National Certificate A1 pass.


The Children were growing well and the money I was getting was barley enough so I decided to change my job and became a vehicle inspector at Henley’s factory in Weston-super-Mare, part of my job in Bristol was to inspect the newly built chassis for the new busses that were built by Bristol Tramways at Brislington so I fitted in well to this new task. A five-day week 15 minutes from home a pay increase to 11 pounds 15 shillings and overtime pay as well.


I inspected five Champ rebuilds every day, and inspected the odd vehicle rebuilds like Fire Engines and Fuel Tankers I worked a lot of overtime to give my family a better standard of living, working three evenings and Saturday morning, When the factory closed for the two weeks Summer holiday I was in the small band of volunteers that painted the factory walls in order to earn even more money.


I bought a second hand motorcycle, a 350cc pre war Aerial for £12, just to go to work on, my army service enabled me to get a driving license without taking a civilian test and to this day in 2005 I have never passed a civilian driving test. My first car followed in a year or so a 1934 six cylinder Woolsley it was so old it had an upright windscreen, I spent a long time under the engine because when I bought it there was a big end bearing that had failed, I was well able to repair it but I had to work outside by the side of the house in Bathurst Road, it was winter time and I was up and down scraping in the big end that I had had to have remettaled, it was before shell bearings were thought of so it was a casting job to have new whitemetal and then bored to size.


Funny thing is even now I cannot remember what happened to the motorcycle.

Holiday in Weymouth


The old car served us well for a few years running us out to Edingworth to see Nanny A on Sundays and to Lympsham for visits to great granny Harriet and Granfer Dave. This is where Bertha was brought up and attended the local infants school close to Lympsham Church, Granfer Dave’s cottage was then between the Church and the school, Harriet used to clean the Church and the school and Dave worked on a local farm when I knew him he was in his eighties and still had the best garden in the village.


In the course of the next few years old Dave died and Harriette didn’t last much longer we still made trips to Edingworth and from there up to Barrow Gurney hospital to visit Bertha’s Father who had had an accident with a horse he was leading on the A 370 close to Hewish, having contracted Septicemia from his wounds, he never came out of the hospital. He is buried in Brent Knoll churchyard along with other family members.


The children remember the trips from Edingworth to Barrow Gurney because the old car that was fine on the flat, used to overheat dramatically half way up redhill, the radiator was partially blocked so I used to carry a five gallon drum of water in the boot, the radiator cap was always left off and when the engine boiled it filled the car with steam and three screaming children, they never got used to it, there was a car park at the pub half way up and the routine was to open the off side bonnet, stand the drum of water on the folded bonnet and dribble cold water into the radiator.

Our little princess 


We even ventured as far as Frome to visit Auntie Betty, I remember on two occasions when we had punctures doing that trip. We never could afford to actually go on holiday in those days, but we lived well and the children always had the best Clarke’s shoes that were the correct size for their growing feet.


In the Bathurst road house we were given a council grant and had hot water put in, driven from the Rayburn back boiler in the living room that burned coal, I built a lean too garage on the side of the house with a small room behind that we called the breakfast room, I installed a coke fired free standing heater in that room, I spent a lot of time building huge wardrobes in the back bedroom that the girls used, one around the hot water tank, and the other project I had on the go was a model railway layout in the front room mounted on an eight foot by four foot board that folded up against the wall. About this time I needed extra money and so I bought an Adana printing machine, only an 8x5 inch machine but I did lots of stationary and business cards.


My sister Doris and Husband George were proprietors of the Birchfield Hotel on the seafront in Weston and she gave me an order to print her Xmas cards, that was fine but she had to choose the blank card, the catalogue had many cards of all sizes, you could get plane folded cards, cards with embossed sunken centers, a deckled edge, a plain or pattern surround etc. of course she had to have the whole works with gold writing and a gold surround on the card, and the best quality envelopes.


She had required 1000 of these cards to be printed so I ordered the materials and started work, having completed 250 cards with much effort and many man hours of working the printing machine, for example the envelopes were printed with a sign to say where it came from, the inside of each card had a merry Xmas message printed and a line saying from whence it came. But the front was the masterpiece it had the name printed in gold script in the sunken centre portion and all around the edge a gold band about a centimeter wide.


You could not get gold foil in those days so each part had to be printed with glue sprinkled with gold powder and printed again to press the gold onto the glue, so the centre was two cycles of the printer, down and up by hand, then each of the four edges went through the two cycle process, a total of eleven cycles just on the front of each card.


To cut a long story short, I took up the first 250 cards and requested that she pay me for a part delivery, they were expensive but she had chosen the most expensive materials and it was a lot of work, she refused to pay me and after much haggling I managed to get just enough money out of her to cover the cost of the materials.


The moral of the story is never do work for your relatives if you expect to get paid.


Bertha was born in a village called Upton Noble near Frome in Somerset but soon moved to Lympsham to be brought up by her Grandmother Harriet, who was also bringing up her brother Bill. Another brother David moved from the village when he was sixteen and came to stay with us at Bathurst Road in order to have better job opportunities, he went to work for Vick Pike the butcher on Locking Road.


We got on very well with the neighbors in Bathurst Road, there was a boy living next door in 16 that the kids did not get on very well with but no real problems, there was a girl about the same age as Janet who used to come and play quite a lot.


Mr. Southerland an old chap lived in 20 and his garden was very overgrown so he gave us money to clear it


Then there was a couple in 22, I think he worked for the Electric board and she worked in Fortes ice cream parlor on the centre, Bertha went to work with her there for a short while as She was bored when all the kids were in school.


And in 24 there was a couple named Stowey with three girls Ann, Linda and Joyce

They proved to be the salt of the earth in our time of need in 65 and 66 all the children in the road used to get on well together it was a Cul-de-Sac so they could play safely in the road in those days


Then there was Elsie and Vic Clapp across the road; Elsie was Bertha’s constant companion for many years and Vic had a grocers shop in Meadow St so for years we had our groceries delivered every week. He used to run an Austin A30 and they had two older children Terry and a Girl who shall be nameless, it was nothing strange to find Elsie in our house chatting She was almost like a mother figure being that much older than Bert.


Next to the Clapp’s were the Brown’s a builder chap about my age and his Wife who was a very attractive blond called Silvia who was much admired by me and young Dave, She used to visit Elsie by nipping over the front garden wall flashing her knickers in the process, She was very chutchy I remember her well.


Then in the Bungalow there was a young couple with no kids, Trevor and Ann.


Next to them was a couple who had two or three girls who did not come out to play much that I remember.


I tried to grow vegetables when we first moved in, as the ground had not been cultivated for years. I was advised to put potatoes in first as they would clear the ground so I bought two 28 lb bags of seed potatoes, planted, watered, hoed them up as recommended and come harvest time we dug them all up, unfortunately the total crop was just half a bucket of potatoes, about half the amount that I planted.

Salad stuff grew quite well we had plenty of lettuce etc, and French beans did well


The Children used to enjoy our trips out to Lympsham and foraging in old Dave’s Garden for strawberries etc. He was a lovely old chap who used to sit by the range making hooks for thatching out of withies, when he finally died his mind went and Bertha used to say he is so funny He thinks Harriet is a horse and says now come on old boy lets get your harness on and get to work.


Harriet would never have an Electric cooker and used to cook on two paraffin stoves right up until She died.

Fishing at Weymouth

Remember cathing that seagull Ray?



Summer of 53 outside the Bus Garage Bertha, Harriet, and Lizze with baby Janet


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