26th July, 1904, Till 1909
I was brought into the world by Dr. Windle, a very well respected family doctor who lived atChippingham Lodge, South Road. He used to run a dispensary club to which a family paid 6 pence (2 ½p) amonth to belong. I was a bit of a disappointment as a girl was wanted, but in due course was christenedRichard James at Holy Trinity Church. Girls were not to be in our family, as my younger brother Alf was born3 years later. Mrs. Quinion did go on to have another boy Leslie and a daughter Ivy.
I cannot remember anything until starting school, but I have been told that I was nicknamed DirtyDick – always getting into mischief and several times having to be fetched back from the cattle market, whichin those days had a back entrance in Boyd Avenue. There were few cars then, but plenty of horse and carts,so you can guess you could get very dirty and smelly. Gypsies would use Avenue Road to run their horses upand down to test their fitness, and deal with one another, and cows and sheep would be driven into the slaughterhouse. My mother was always busy collecting the manure for the garden. Wednesday market was also early closing day. That meant that shops closed at 1 o’clock.
Another thing that happened when I was about three (1907), the County School at Boyd Avenuewas built, and the boilers and heating was installed by the firm of Haydons from Trowbridge. Two of themen came to lodge with us, one by the name of Willis. This started a family friendship which has lasted tothe present day, 1978, with the fifth generation.
I started school at the age of 5, (North Road Infants; Mrs. Dunn headmistress and Miss Varney (Mrs. Jones) my teacher). Other teachers Miss Wilkins, Miss Marlow, Miss Shipway, in that order. These were happy days and I can remember taking concerts and good Christmas parties.
Money was always hard to come by but my father, who was then working for E. Plaistow, buildersof Southall, was a very good sober man and also a good gardner, having an allotment. Also he used to do Mr. Plaistow’s garden, which was good for us boys, for one of our older cousins was housekeeper thereand tea and cake came our way when helping dad, also cast off clothes and other things not wanted by the Plaistow boys. My mother was always full of energy. It was her who made sure we behaved ourselves, but we always had plenty to eat and were well clothed.