Camp Hill Resident Ray Ward recently contacted us to talk about his childhood growing up in Camp Hill and Bucks Hill.
Ray initially lived in Queen Elizabeth Road and later on in Orchard Way. He has many memories of the fun times he had playing with his friends. He told us:
“When I lived in Queen Elizabeth Road I remember going to Stubbs Park to play football with some lads who lived nearby and them coming to us at Queeny Rec (Queen Elizabeth Road Recreation Ground) for a return match later on. We also played against lads from Blackatree Road. We all got along really well and there were almost no fallouts.
“I spent many hours playing at Queeny Rec. I used to like looking around for frogs, slow worms, newts, annd fossils from the Spinney (an area of undeveloped land at the back of Bucks Hill Cemetary.) I also used to go to Oldbury Fields to shin up the trees to get conkers. Happy Days!
“We used my dad’s shed for a base and one time we got it into our heads to turn it into some time of garden nursery. I’m afraid we used to go around stealing plants and cuttings from people’s gardens. We never did sell any they all just ended up in my mum and dad’s garden. I guess some of them died when we got bored of the idea for a nursery.
“One time when I was about 6 or 7, we saw a massive pile of what we knew as ‘Jack and the Beanstalk beans’ at the back of one of the bungalows that then stood on Ryders Hill where the Craddock Court warden controlled flats stand now. We couldn’t believe how much there was. One of the lads said they were lucky beans so we set to and took the lot back to my dad’s shed. Once we had them there we podded the lot, dropping them into an massive white enamelled bowl, filling it to the top. Then we went back up for the final few left. When we got there a man with a big red angry face came out of one of the bungalows saying we’d taken his next years seed that he was drying out. We explained we thought they had just been dumped. Well, off we went back to my dads shed, emptied half the beans into an old potato sack and took the seeds back to him. He was well pleased to get them back and after that we never nicked his seed crop again.”
Ray remembers how having fields at the back of their house often mean the family were living in close proximity with nature. He told us:
“My mum said that cows used to get in through the back fence from the fields behind our house. Other types of animals used to get through too including one time an adder snake that bit my sister. She nearly died but thankfully lived to tell the tale. One year it actually rained frogs, lots of little ones, our kitchen was overcome by them.
“Eventually as a growing family we needed a bigger house, so we moved to a 3 bedroom house in Orchard Way that was originally my aunties house. My aunty, uncle and cousin had moved to Ireland when my uncle got a new job but they came back to visit us most years. We didn’t have a car so they often took us to Drayton Manor or Twycross Zoo for the day. My aunty always made my uncle stop the car at a chippy for fish and chips as she said the English ones were much better than the Irish ones.”
Ray told us about other times we the family had a day out. He said:
“My mum and dad loved Bucks Hill Working Men’s Club and we all loved the Christmas Parties, the Easter Bonnet Competition and trips to Blackpool and Skegness (with £5.00 in an envelope for each child.) Ont the trip we had as much pop and crisps as we could get down us and the adults had a crate of beer and a crate of Cherry B’s. There was always a sing sone on the coach both ways and a collection for the bus driver on the way back.”
Moving to Orchard Way didn’t stop Rays love of mischief though as one tree owner in Green Lane found out. Ray told us:
“One of my mates lived in Green Lane and told us that the house over the road from where he lived had apple, plum and pear trees in their garden. He told us that the couple went out every Friday night and didn’t come back till 10.00pm. So we met up at 8.30pm to do a bit of scrumping. We weren’t all exactly dressed for the activity, some of us were only in short trousers and sandals.
“One of the bigger lads got over the wall and undid the bolt on the gate from the inside. We were in! We shook the trees to get the fruit to fall filling our coats and anything we could use to carry fruit in. Suddenly one of the lads urgently said the householders had come back early. We all ran for a low down hole in the hedge to escape, unfortunately though we were all running at the same time which caused a bit of a traffic jam at the hole. I was a little podgy lad back then