Cynthia Smith - A girl in Cosgrove

Cynthia Smith aged 7
When I was born we lived in the New Buildings. My grandfather Tompkins was a drayman for the Brewery and I can remember the last brew.

Later, during the war, the Brewery was used for storing stock, like a warehouse.

Malcolm Jelley had the Barley Mow and Mrs Jelley was a very busy person. At the end of the war the Old School was our social room and Mrs Jelley used to organise Sixpenny Hops – the boys used to swing us off our feet. They were good nights – sometimes we had baked beans on toast.

We had the Guides – that was organised by some people who were evacuees. I can remember singing all the old songs, like “Shoo Fly, don’t bother me.” That was Mrs Andrews – she lived in the middle cottage where the Barley Mow car park is. On one side of her were the Kightleys and on the other side was Doll Lambert, that we called Auntie Lot – she used to do music lessons. There was a Blacksmith’s by the pub too – that was run by Howard Smith’s mum’s first husband.

I remember when I was about three they had the first electricity in Cosgrove. My mum has just bought hanging lamps for the New Buildings house too! Then in 1932 the first six council houses were built on Bridge Road, next to the School. We pushed our stuff up to the new house on a cart. There was no water in the house – we had to fetch it from the well on Bridge Road.

I went to the school on Bridge Road – they did take children at three years. I started, but when I saw my brother and sister staying at home I stopped going, and wouldn’t go again till I was five, when we had to go.

The infants’ room had a range for heating. The children had a sleep in the afternoons on a rush mat. Mt teacher, Miss Keverin, biked from Stony Stratford. She was a caring old dear. She used to say “You boy, come and put your coat on.” She biked over to Stony to get the wages. Mrs Thacker was the head teacher – she was quite fond of me.

I left school at 14 and they got me an apprenticeship in a hairdresser’s in Wolverton. You had to sign papers for two years, but I didn’t want to commit myself. So I started working at The Priory for Grace and Philip Atkinson. Grace used to feed the chickens herself and wouldn’t let anyone else do it.

I remember there was a big open entrance hall. I used to polish the parquet floor with beeswax and scrub the back stairs. There was a grand piano in the corner. Olive was the milkmaid and Mabel was the Head Parlourmaid. I quite liked it – we had a midmorning break in the servants’ hall and there was homemade butter. Miss Gertrude Marlow was the cook. She used to call me in secretly and give me little treats, like gooseberry fool.

A few years ago I went to visit the Priory when it was open for a festival. It hadn’t half altered – nothing was the same. I couldn’t even find the Billiard Room. I went upstairs and they did still have the Nursery and St Ledger’s room.

It was the same when they got rid of the Mill. One Monday I was walking down the Lane with Den’s dog and I could hear all this noise. They were knocking down the Mill to use the stone around the Priory.