FOLLOWING on from the last Didcot history features, 'Emergence of our street for civic amenities and emergency services' ( David Taylor 03/07/19), and 'Shocking moments at the funfair and sunny memories of childhood' (John Rowland 31/07/19), David and I were prompted to ask a Didcot resident, Graham Young – who has been interested in reading the Heralding the Past column – to share the memories of his own childhood, upbringing and working life in Didcot.

On the afternoon of Tuesday, July 16, Graham agreed to be recorded while telling us his memories and so, after listening to the recording and making notes, I have put together the following article using his own interesting and vivid memories, some of which coincided with mine. We both went to Greenmere Primary School, although he was two years ahead of me, in the same year as my brother Geoff.

Graham was born in East Dereham, Norfolk, in 1943 and came to Didcot at the age of 10.

He told us that his father, who had been a navigator on Lancasters and Wellingtons had been killed during the Second World War. The family then moved to Didcot where his stepfather, Maurice had a job on the railway in the engine sheds.

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Graham only attended Greenmere school for one year before moving onto St. Birinus Senior Boys’ school. He recalled various teachers by name, Mr Rigby, Mr Page (science teacher), Taffy Williams (woodwork), Mr Barclay, Mr Lucket and Mr Mulford the headmaster. He also assured us that the cane was still used.

He left the senior boys’ school in 1958 at the age of 15 with an end-of-school certificate and had his first job at Thames Valley egg packing at the top of Haddon Hill.

At this time the family lived on the Broadway opposite Haydon Road and Graham either cycled or got a lift to work.

He was a van driver’s mate to John Culley, delivering eggs all around the country. After about five years he changed his job to working in the ministry section of the Ordnance Depot where parts for mobile kitchens and trailers were being made.

He remembered an unfortunate accident that happened at that time when a lady was hit by a train and was badly injured. He worked at the depot for about seven years while his stepfather was still working in the engine sheds. Graham moved onto a company called Dunlopillo for about 25years, became transport manager and retired due to ill health in 1999.

At the age of 20 years Graham married Marion (nee Nicholls) and they were married for 48 years and had three children.

Whilst listening to Graham I had my own memories jogged about the various shops and establishments that had existed along the Broadway, as well as people we both had known.

Some of the shops were individual retailers or family-owned and even in the rooms of their houses. We tried to list them going from just past where the fire station is now to the bottom of the Broadway.

We started with the fish and chip shop which has changed hands a few times but still sells fish and chips, a motorists shop run by Peter Wilcox and a pram shop run by Peter’s wife Olly.

For a brief time there was an Iceland shop, Smallbones confectionery/tobacconists shop, SEB electrical building (where the electric bills were paid and some goods sold).

Scaddans chemist, Smiths or Streets (depending on which era), then across Haydon Road to Jane Grey (ladies' fashion), Bradley’s jewellery shop, Gordon’s cafe, Mr Richards men’s outfitters and Mrs Richards ladies' fashion, Audrey’s clothing and accessories.

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We stopped for a breather to compare notes when we remembered the dentists, who were Mr & Mrs Trent. They had their surgery in their house which was about where the Smile practice is today.

Graham then told us that his mother used to go out to work and had been employed at Parslows, (a cake shop later to be Swiss Chalet), Scaddans chemist and Smallbones.

Other shops remembered were Home and Colonial, Rymans greengrocery, Woolworths, International stores, Rumbelows televisions, Curry’s electrical, Paynes (household goods and ironmongery), Milwards shoe shop, Co-operative butchers and grocery stores. I worked after school and Saturdays in the Co-op weighing up cheese and bagging up sugar.

In the market place we can remember Boots the chemist, the main Post Office, Jenkins Toys, Collingwoods, Houghtons, Stones the butchers, Warners chemist, Turners shoe shop, Bosleys ironmongers, Mr Sturts men’s clothing, Brown’s men's outfitters and Red Stores, then Moxon’s fresh fish and Greengrocery shops – Jimmy Green’s greengrocery stall as well.

Off the Broadway in High Street was Dale’s which was a shop that sold practically everything: locals used to say 'if you can’t get it in Dale’s you can’t get it anywhere'.

Living’s bakery was also in High Street on the corner of Bourne Street and they had another shop on the Broadway (now M&G Kitchens). Revamp was a shoe repairers called Wel-shods.

Graham then went on to tell us about the different cafes, Le Boi, The Buccaneer and Jean’s Cafe which was down opposite the station which prompted more memories of The Junction, The Dragon Hotel, The Great Western and Midwinters shop. Also in Lydall’s Road was a shop called Jeans and Things.

In this area was the Labour club (now closed), the Staff Association which is still in use and a Railway Hostel next to Cow lane bridge which later became The Garrick and is now Station Flooring.

Graham remembered being a passenger on the last train to travel on the Newbury line.

At this point I will save his other the memories and those of his working life until next time.

As with all the articles that we have written we appreciate the help, information and photographs given to us with permission to be used.