‘We were never bored’

Summer fun: Five-year-olds Mary Smith (now Tansley), left, Barbara Davies, centre, and Stella Couling, with cat, at Barbara’s birthday party

Summer fun: Five-year-olds Mary Smith (now Tansley), left, Barbara Davies, centre, and Stella Couling, with cat, at Barbara’s birthday party

First published in Memory Lane

MARY Tansley, pictured below, remembers the wonderful times she had with her brothers, sisters and friends during the long summer holiday.

Today, much of the six-week break from school, which is just ending, is dominated by TV, computers, tablets, iPhones and lots of other new technology. But life back then was much simpler – and fun.

Now in her 90th year, she recalls happy times growing up in Bridge Street, Osney, Oxford.

She writes: “We thought it great fun going to school walking on planks to try to keep dry from the quite deep floodwater overflowing from the river in East Street, Osney and at Headington.

“I learned to ride my Fairy cycle in the street as there was little traffic.

“This was about the only time my sisters, brothers and I were allowed in the street – we were always in the back garden.

“But what wonderful concerts and other games we devised – I remember them well.”

After several bouts of bronchitis and pneumonia, she and her family were advised to move to higher ground, “otherwise this child will not survive”.

Oxford Mail:

So in 1934, when she was nine, the family took a house on the newly-built Great Headley estate at Headington, just below where the John Radcliffe Hospital is now.

Mrs Tansley, of Arlington Drive, Old Marston, whose maiden name was Smith, recalls: “We had a brick kiln at the bottom of what is now Headley Way. All the bricks for the estate were made here – plenty of clay in this area!

“We ‘helped’ with the making of the bricks, then made our way home through the woods.

“Headley Way was thick woods with lovely springs and very up and down. This was our only way to get to school in New Marston, other than along Pullen’s Lane, which was a private road and was closed once a year by a gate to remind us it was private.

“Jack Straw’s Lane was so rickety and very dark with lines of trees on either side. Very few houses were in this lane and there were extra large ones right at the top.

“Fields were all around us. We camped and dug dens, stole potatoes from mother’s larder and cooked them on a smoky fire. We ate them, half cooked and very black, but what fun.

“We swam in the river down the side of St Clement’s Church. We were never bored and it seemed the sun always shone.”

Any more memories of the long school summer holidays to share with readers? Write and let me know.

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