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Mr Brian Watts

A series of random recollections as published in the village magazine 2002-03.

My name is Brian Watts and I was brought up at 25 (79)Wilton Road, Feltwell. My mother lives in Mulberry Close. Her name is Queenie. Mum gives me the magazine every month and I enjoy reading the articles that take me back to my boyhood. I can remember seeing the Thor missiles rising from their bunkers; it was an exciting time for a young boy living just across the road from a rocket base. Prior to that I can remember the Provost and Harvard pilot training planes. It was a lovely village to grow up in. I remember buying my first bicycle from Basil Vincent's cycle shop and my first wristwatch from his brother Hughie Vincent's little shop and having my haircut at Ray Parnell's hairdressing shop. 

I started in the little Primary School, opposite Dolly Cooper's sweet shop in the early 50s and two of my earliest friends were Rod Edwards and Victor Leslie. From there we moved to the new school across the way. School dinners were in the canteen - I wonder if it is still used as a canteen!! Mr. Charlesworth was the Headmaster, but my favourite teacher was Don Feltwell. I remember he organised a school football team of which I was the captain and would you believe that we had a girl in goal, one Heather Brown. Other members of the team were Peter Wing and Graham Brown. Can any body else remember any other team members? My last year at Feltwell Primary was spent in Miss Beryl Addison's class. She was a fine teacher and I believe due to her teaching I was able to achieve first place in class that year.

With harvest due to start any time now, (summer 2002) I was reminded of my summers at Wilton Road. School holidays had just begun and all the Wilton Road gang would be anxiously awaiting the harvest to be completed and the bales of straw left in the field behind Wilton Road. The gang would then begin the task of building a series of tunnels, placing bales of straw parallel to one another, leaving a two foot gap between them, then closing off by placing bales on top of the straw bales forming the tunnel. Once this arduous task was completed, the fun could begin. Scary fun as the tunnels were very dark!! From the gang, one person would be chosen to wait outside for about a minute or two until the rest of the gang had concealed themselves. The one outside would then come inside and search for the others. The one who was touched would then go outside and wait while the rest hid within the tunnel. I can still remember the screams from the tunnel, as somebody touched somebody else in the dark. It was great fun on a summer's evening to play this game in the harvest field. Our mums' would call us about 9pm for a bath, as it was dirty work building straw bale tunnels. In the 50s we did not have the luxury of running hot water or a bathroom. We would strip off outside and scamper in the kitchen to be scrubbed and cleaned in the tin bath filled with kettles of boiling water. This was just one of the activities that the Wilton Road gang enjoyed and it made my childhood very enjoyable.

One of my earliest memories is when my family lived with several other families on both Methwold and Feltwell airfields in what we use to call the" tin huts" but were I believe used previously by the airmen of RAF Feltwell and RAF Methwold. Dad was just out of the Navy and times were hard. Mum and Dad squatted in one of the huts as did the other families living on site 4 and site 5. Material things were in short supply and I remember Mum used newspaper for curtains and items of furniture and beds were given by friends or relatives. One of the huts was converted into a shop and was run by a lady called Dolly Cooper who later had a shop in Feltwell opposite the old primary school. Every body who lived on the camps loved Dolly, she was kind and would let people have food and be paid when they could afford it. I seem to remember there was woodland and we kids used to spend hours playing in the woods. I learned how to make a bow and arrow from wood cut from the trees and binder string collected from the farmland surrounding the huts. The hut was heated only by a coke fire set in the middle of the hut, I can remember collecting sticks and pieces of wood from the woods to burn as additional fuel. During the summer holidays I used to "help" the farmworkers working on the land around the huts. It was in the days when horse and carts were still being used. The land was owned by Ted Porter. One of his workers was Derek (Chris) Howes and he would let me ride on the horse all day which was great fun. I believe Chris emigrated to Australia.

I have memories of creeping up to the airfield fence to watch the aircraft (doing circuits and bumps), one of which was I believe a jet, maybe a Meteor or similar.  I was glad when we moved into Feltwell not least because it was a lot nearer to school.

(A Gloster Meteor visited very occasionally and when it did it caused great excitement. When Brian lived in the Methwold huts only Percival Prentices and North American Harvards were stationed at RAF Feltwell.)

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