Winsham cartoon village map showing the church, primary school, jubilee hall and community shop with fields, cows and sheep. Created by Bethany Fowler as the header banner for the Winsham Web Museum.
Home Memories, Recollections and Nostalgia Beryl Genge

Beryl Genge

Orginally published Jul 2021
Last updated Aug 2021

Recollections of life in Winsham

I was born at Marshwood Farm on the 16th May, 1936 in the year of the three kings! I was christened at St.Stephen’s at about three months of age by the Rev. Frederick Richardson.

One of my first memories is of the outbreak of World War II in September 1939.We were visiting my mother’s parents who had retired to ‘The Haven’ in Holbear  in Forton Road-where we have now lived for 47 years. I was coming in from the garden, and I remember the family talking about Neville Chamberlain’s broadcast and the declaration of war. They all seemed very sad, although, of course, I was too young to understand what it really meant.

It was also in 1939 that my Uncle Tom was killed in an accident at Leigh Farm .He left a wife and two sons, Alan the eldest-now about 76-was sent to a boarding school, but his younger brother, Geoffrey, about a year older than me came ,with his mother , to live with us at Marshwood Farm. Geoffrey’s grandparents also came to stay with us for a while, because of the heavy bombing where they lived in Bristol. The grandparents did not stay very long- country life with living in an isolated spot did not agree with them!

My cousin Geoffrey and his mother did however stay on for a couple of years.

I started at Winsham School in April 1941, just before my fifth birthday. Living where we did at Marshwood Farm, I had never mixed with other children, and of course in those days, there were no such things as ’Pre-School’. As a result I was very shy and took a long time to settle in. Cousin Geoffrey also went to Winsham School, and I used to walk to school with him until he stopped living with us. After that I used to walk the two miles each way on my own. Imagine that happening now! It was on one of my walks home, on a misty Friday 23rd October, at ten minutes past four when four bombs were dropped on the milk factory at Chard Junction, killing one person and injuring another.

I was very independent minded at that age. I remember that when the evacuees came, there was a teacher who had come with them. She had lodgings at Tatworth. She wanted to take me home as she walked from Tatworth to Winsham-she must have been worried about a small girl walking so far across fields on her own. But I had a different idea- I did not want to walk home with a teacher, so I ran off. As a result she got lost, and had to ask how to get to Tatworth at the farm cottage.

I started school in the Infants Class and was taught by Miss Durston who lived in Chard, and drove an old Austin Seven car. Miss Dawes ran the Juniors.

 I then went up to the Seniors - Miss Harding’s class. She always seemed to be picking on me, so I never liked her very much. In later years, unlike my two sisters, I refused to join her Girl Guides Group.

Winsham was very different then. Everybody seemed to have lived there all their life. There were very few cars around, and a lot more shops and pubs. Church Street always seemed deserted when we turned the corner on our way to school.

We had our groceries delivered once a month by Donald Pattemore, from Appleby’s store (now Winsham Shop & P.O).We also had butter, lard & cheese from the Factory shop at South Chard. I remember riding with my father on the cart pulled by a horse taking the milk down to Wilts. United  Dairy (That was before it was Unigate).

I also remember the American soldiers throwing sweets and chewing Gum to us. I also remember the start of the hunting season in 1945.We were allowed out of school to see the Cotley Hunt meet outside the Village Shop

My father suddenly died of Meningitis when I was nine years old-a week before the end of the war. Because of this I missed the Winsham V.E. day celebrations.

My father’s grave is in the Winsham cemetery. He was only forty one years of age when he died

The farm was rented, so we had to move to Holditch to live with my mother’s brother, while she found a more permanent home, and for about a year I went to Thorncombe School, where I passed my Scholarship and went to Lyme Regis Grammar School (now Woodroffe School).When I was eleven years we moved to Pipe House near Kittwhistle.

For the next five years my main link to Winsham was going to Monday night ’pictures’ at the Jubilee Hall. We would pay a shilling to go in. I also came to Village Fetes where the Winsham Band always played.

From left-right: Beryl with Phylis Froom (sister of Marilyn Maffy)
Beryl's wedding at Broadwindsor in 1958

In 1952 the King died and I can remember coming to Winsham for the Memorial Service at St.Stephen’s. It was packed.

I left school in 1952, usually travelling to Chard by bus from Horn Ash, which also picked up a lot of people from Winsham as very few people had cars at that time. When the weather was fine I used to cycle to save bus fares. I also used to cycle to Winsham to the Monday night dances, when Percy Trott and Mr & Mrs Daniels (from Chard) used to give classes in Old Time Dancing. Like the film show they also charged one shilling admission.

As I left childhood behind my contact with Winsham became less frequent. We lived in the Broadwindsor Parish, and I married Ronald in Broadwindsor in 1958.

However from 1970 until 2006 I worked as a Home Help and was often sent to Winsham and it was good to hear all the stories about the old Winsham. I shall always have fond memories of my life in the area.