Two ladies remember the
1930s and 1940s
This booklet contains the memories of two lifelong residents of Ashley: Daphne Stone and Joan Selby. It has been compiled by their friend Philippa Smart.
All three hope that the contents will provide some amusement as well as information to the reader, be they old or young, providing a short insight into childhood in Ashley, beginning over eighty years ago.
No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means, without the permission of the authors named above.
If any copyright material has not been correctly acknowledged, the compiler will rectify this at the earliest opportunity.
Growing up in Ashley: two ladies remember.
The Stones and the Selbys
Unlike most children born today, Daphne Stone and Joan Selby were born at home, in the very houses they live in now.
I’ve always lived here. Born in that bedroom…..and so was my brother….There was a little lady, nice soul she was, lived right down Lower Ashley, and she used to help deliver babies and look after mothers afterwards. (Joan)
Being born at home was typical of the time; in 1934, for example, only about a quarter of deliveries in England and Wales took place in hospital, and not all midwives were trained.
Daphne and Joan were born into extended families and both remember their grandparents.
Daphne’s family were local to New Milton and Ashley: one set of grandparents lived on Kings Road, the other on Christchurch Road. Her maternal grandfather was a builder and undertaker, while her paternal grandfather helped in the blacksmiths opposite the Green in Old Milton.
I can remember going to look at him and I was scared stiff of the horses, because he had the horses’ legs in between his legs, and hammering, hammering that horseshoe on! I thought it hurt the horse! (Daphne)
Joan’s maternal and paternal grandparents lived in the countryside in the Bransgore area; subsequently, her mother’s parents moving to Hordle.
Both families have not always been local. Dad’s father was a baker in Bransgore. Mum’s family came, apparently, from Ipswich, but not straight to Hordle. They were down at Waterditch near Bransgore. Mum lived with her mother and grandmother when she was small, and then my grandfather was a gardener, and he got a job up here, and they came to live in Hordle. (Joan)
Daphne and Joan’s respective parents bought what were in the 1930s ‘new build’ houses when they married, and settled down to domestic life and raising a family: the Stones on Manor Road and the Selbys on Lower Ashley Road.
Joan and her mother outside her home: ‘Ourden’ Lower Ashley Road. 1936
Basic amenities in the home were very different to our day. Joan remembers a time when her grandfather from Hordle used to call in on his way to work.
It used to be dark mornings, I think, because I think we had an oil lamp. I seem to remember him coming in and there was an oil lamp on the table….probably the electric wasn’t on when we first came in… (Joan)
Daphne remembers fragile gas light bulbs they used in her home before it had an electricity supply.
Lymington Times January 4th 1936
It is highly likely that the houses built in the early 1930s in Ashley were initially without an electricity supply as the National Grid wasn’t completed until 1933. Adverts appeared in the local press in the mid 1930s, encouraging the public to install electricity in their homes.
Although the Selbys had mains water and drainage, Joan remembers her paternal grandparents in the countryside having to use a well in the garden for their water supply. Hard work for her relatives, but to a young girl:
That was quite fun! (Joan)
With loving parents, local aunts, uncles, and cousins, as well as a younger sister and brother respectively, Daphne and Joan’s early years were family focused and stable. Their parents followed the custom of the day with the father working and the mother running the home and raising the children.
Daphne’s father was a carpenter/joiner; Joan’s was a painter/decorator and sign writer. Although many people in Britain were affected workwise by the Depression years, the Stones and Selbys benefitted from the expansion of New Milton as a desirable place to live in the 1930s, associated no doubt with the flourishing of Barton on Sea as a thriving holiday resort.
Sights and sounds in Ashley in the 1930s.
Daphne and Joan’s early childhood years were lived in surroundings, some of which are familiar today, but other aspects of which have been lost to time.
It was nothing to see New Forest ponies all the way round the roads, having a look in peoples’ gardens, and, if you’re not careful, they’d nibble some of the hedges, because there was no cattle grid, of course, up at the Rising Sun…..They were always roaming all the way round, all up Manor Road, all the way round. You never knew where the ponies were….The traffic wasn’t rushing around like that, so it was alright; they never got run over……I think they got through Station Road, so they may have gone along to the seafront as well. I don’t know. It’s quite possible; there was nothing to stop them.
And there are no cuckoos now. Although two or three years ago I did hear one just for a little while; but not for very long. Because, you see, they built on all the copses. For instance, Ferndale Road and Brook Avenue North weren’t in existence…..and it was all woods, all up over there. And all the other little roads have all been built and added to. (Daphne)
Looking at the 1931 Ordnance Survey map of Ashley it is easy to see the differences in Daphne and Joan’s immediate localities between then and now.
The most obvious change is that the areas were less built-up. For example, apart from older cottages, houses on the west side of Lower Ashley Road where the Selbys lived only extended to current day number 30 ; from the Baptist church downwards on the east side, there were no houses before Hare Lane.
With fewer houses, the 1930s was a time when people’s homes were known by a name rather than a number. Daphne and Joan’s homes were named ‘Springtide’ and ‘Ourden’ – as they are still today.
Equally less built up was the Ashley end of Manor Road where Daphne lived. Looking at the map, all the smaller roads and housing to the north of Manor Road off Oakwood Avenue are missing, and only five houses are visible on what was then called Oak Wood Road which was very short, the remainder of the road being marked as a footpath.
From Lower Ashley to Ashley Clinton, the road used to wind up over Hooper’s Hill; Joan remembers this well as her maternal grandfather was at one time a gardener for Major Murray of Hooper’s Hill House and would have taken this way to work. Today, that road is no longer visible, having been replaced by a new, wider section of Lymington Road to accommodate a heavier volume of faster moving traffic.
Another change in their localities is the extent to which the landscape has altered from being largely rural to residential. Daphne’s walk each day from home to her primary school called ‘Runnymede’ in New Milton illustrates this:
When I went to Runnymede we walked underneath the railway, along Oak Road, but of course there were only houses on the left hand side. There were no bungalows on the right; that was all Stevenson’s nurseries. We’d go onto Ashley Road, turning right – there were no houses on the right, Osborne Road didn’t go all the way down to Ashley Road – then it was Tarrants nurseries, and there were one or two large houses. And then we’d turn left into Copse Road just after Branksome House that was, and then there was a big field all the way down, but now it’s all built on, so we would walk round there. It’s amazing how the land has been built on. (Daphne)
Shops, schools and churches
Although things were changing, in Daphne and Joan’s early childhood years Ashley still had the feel of a village in largely rural surroundings, with an identity separate from that of New Milton, based on Ashley’s farms, shops, post office, churches, schools, garage, dairy and a hotel.
Ashley post office and stores was flourishing on the north side of Ashley Road. Also on the north side was a greengrocer and a cattle lorry business. Ashley Parade on the south side of Ashley Road was smaller, with only three shops in place: a butchers, a wet and fried fish shop, and a grocers. Ashley garage, which in those days also sold petrol to car and lorry owners, was in place at Ashley Crossroads, and behind that was a piggery.
Daphne and Joan remember other shops and businesses being scattered around the area in their younger years: both girls would buy sweets from a general stores in Lower Ashley Road, and Daphne would run messages for her mother to a grocers run by Mr Parrott along Manor Road. Their families could obtain oil from Wooldridges, situated where Cull Lane meets the top of modern days Oak Wood Avenue. Bartletts the butcher ran a shop on Ashley Common Road close to the crossroads, and Hygienic Dairies, owned by Winifred and William Bailey, opened on Poplar Road in 1939, having previously been in Hordle. In those days milk was delivered to your door, and it wasn’t uncommon for local shopkeepers and business people to deliver goods to peoples’ homes as well.
My mother used to write out a list of what she wanted and take up the list, or send me up with the list, whatever, and somebody would bring it down…..sometimes by bicycle.
One Good Friday the baker used to call and, of course, my mother ordered some Hot Cross Buns, and he left them early in the morning in a bag on the step. Nobody was up at the time he called, early in the morning. When we went to fetch them in, they were gone. The dog next door had smelt them, I suppose, and taken a fancy to them, and there was the empty bag at the bottom of the garden! (Daphne)
Daphne and Joan’s early education was at different schools: Daphne at the private school ‘Runnymede’ in New Milton, and Joan at Ashley state school which in those days was on the corner of Hare Lane and Lower Ashley Road.
Ashley School, on the corner of Lower Ashley Road and Hare Lane
The former took children up to the age of eleven; the latter educated children of all ages up to the leaving age of the time, which was 14 when Joan first went there.
Both girls walked to school: Daphne with her mother, and Joan first with her mother and then either on her own or with her friends as she grew older. Neither families owned cars.
Both girls grew up in church going families: Daphne attending Church of England churches – both the parish church of st. Mary Magdalene in Old Milton and st. Peters in Ashley – and Joan going to Ashley Baptist church. These services were held in different buildings to the ones that are there today: in the 1930s st. Peters was known as the ‘tin church’ due to its corrugated iron structure, and was on Ashley Common Road, not far from the current st. Peter’s church but with fields either side of it.
The ‘tin church’: external view
The Baptist church was on the same site as it is today, but was an older building.
There was also a Baptist chapel adjacent to Ashley cemetery on Lower Ashley Road; Joan’s maternal grandfather from Hordle, John Hiscock, was taken there when he died prior to burial in the cemetery. Other Hiscocks joined him later: John’s wife Charlotte, and Charlotte’s sister.
Early childhood pastimes
For hobbies and pastimes, Joan admits to having been a bit of a tomboy as a youngster; she wouldn’t think twice about climbing the oak tree that grew opposite her house.
Daphne’s early memories include going for family walks. By 1938, the family at home didn’t include her younger sister Mary as she had become a long term patient at Great Ormond Street children’s hospital, having been diagnosed with a congenital dislocated hip when she was two.
In the spring we used to go primrosing; we used to send boxes of primroses to the sister of her ward….and I think sometimes there was a stick of barley sugar put in it.
In the winter, when it was very, very cold, Ballard Lake use to freeze all over, and the ice – it was so deep that people skated on it, and I mean real skating. One couple, we used to go up there and watch them, and my goodness they did skate. It was super. It was very cold, mind you. I haven’t seen that for a long time. (Daphne)
The War years.
Daphne and Joan were aged six and seven respectively when the Second World War broke out in 1939. Over the next six years they experienced war-time sights and sounds that are best conveyed in their own words.
Before I went over to that (Senior) school, we had so many evacuees around here we used to have classes in the chapel. They had a great big hall, and one or two smaller rooms for the different school groups and we used to have lessons in there. There was quite a lot of evacuees round here…..most of them came from Southampton….I had one very good friend and we kept in touch for quite a while afterwards….She had relations in Ashley and she came to stay with them. Her sister came too.
We did of course hear the sirens, and everything…..we didn’t have blackout curtains. ……Dad being in the building trade, we had boards at the windows….that used to fit into the window. And that middle bedroom where I sleep now, he built a shelter in there, a thick wooden shelter. There was a double bed at the bottom with the head of it with a space for my brother the baby, and our black cocker spaniel and a bunk for me. Dad built all that before he had to go off to the war and, as I say, these boards at the windows…..I’m sure it was every window.
We used to hear the siren and then the all clear. When my brother was a little toddler and my aunt was still living at Bransgore before she was married, she was up here one day and we were all out in the garden, it must have been a summers day, and the siren went and she panicked and she said ‘come on, we’ve got to go in’ and my aunt rushed in and left everybody else out there! (Joan)
I was frightened once or twice, scared to death, and shivering in bed. Never mind. Because the German planes, you knew exactly which were German because the engine noise was different. And every time at night if you heard a German plane, goodness, you were shivering away in bed. It was awful. Especially when one… you see they used to come over and bomb Southampton, and if they were fired on or something and had to make a hasty retreat over the Channel, they came over the Forest and out over the sea at Barton wherever, Hordle Cliff and that, and would drop any odd bombs and that’s why I think New Milton Station Road was bombed that time.
But one day, I heard this plane and I saw it in flames and I shot indoors under the kitchen table. (Daphne)
Daphne was on Station Road with her mother when a bomb fell on New Milton on the 23 August 1940. They were on the way to the doctors for an appointment for Daphne.
Unfortunately, we’d forgotten that the siren had gone. The siren was that awful thing to warn you that German planes were around. It had gone so long before we had forgotten it had gone. So up the road we walked; we went as far as Lloyds bank, Lloyds bank has always been there as far as I can remember, and all of a sudden we heard this plane. Mother looked up and saw bombs falling out of this German plane. So she pushed me over to the shop over the corner, which is the New Forest sports shop now, but used to be Bonne Marche, I got into the doorway but she got blown to the ground and injured her knee. We never got to the doctors, of course. (Daphne)
They recovered sufficiently to walk back home. But as her maternal grandparents were living in a flat in Station Rd above Wesleys the men’s outfitters at that time, naturally her parents were anxious about them. In order to check on how they were, and as Station Road was blocked to the public, her father biked to the recreation ground, and climbed over the hedge and the fence at the back of the properties to gain access to their home. They had been blown from one end of the flat to another: shaken, but otherwise alright.
While Joan hadn’t been in New Milton that day, she remembered seeing the planes fly over Ashley.
I don’t remember feeling frightened…….There was nothing on fire or anything like that, but, the bombers that came and bombed New Milton we saw them, they came over here, they came over us…..we didn’t know at the time they were going to fall on New Milton, of course, but that’s what they did, and the odd one or two, there was one that fell on Golden Hill…..and another one over in the recreation ground. …..I remember clearly seeing them come over, I do remember that. But I don’t remember that I felt frightened. I didn’t realise what could be the consequence, probably. (Joan)
Daphne and Joan’s home life during the war years was affected differently due to their father’s varied roles in the war. Joan’s father was called up, and served abroad in the Army for three and a half years in Austria, North Africa, Italy, the Middle East and Greece.
I think I wasn’t a very nice child because I hardly ever wrote to him. I know Mum was always telling me to write, and I hardly ever did.
I remember having ration books….and sweet coupons. When my father was abroad my grandmother and my aunt came and lived with us and my brother and I used to get one sweet each night from my grandmother. Before we went to bed she’d give us one sweet each. (Joan)
Daphne’s father didn’t go abroad, but served in the Home Guard. Regarding not being called up:
I don’t know whether that was because of his trade, or whether it was because of the age. You see, he was older than his brother who was called up. …He was at Southampton, busy, but of course Southampton had all the bombs. I mean, we never went to Southampton; and we could see sometimes the sky lit up with all the bombs being dropped on Southampton. Everything was going up in flames; we could actually see the lighted sky. (Daphne)
The Home Guard duties kept her father very busy, in the evenings and sometimes at night, both in and around New Milton as well as Southampton. One of his duties locally was to patrol the area around the Lower Ashley Pill Box, still visible today in a field on the east side of Lower Ashley Road, near to the junction with Lymington Road. During the day he was helping to build power boats at Southampton.
Daphne recalls how the current Hoburne Bashley, which was then a large private house, was commandeered by the army. When Lord Montgomery came to visit the troops there, Daphne, her sister and her mother walked up to take a look.
Despite the war, many aspects of family life carried on much as usual: going for walks, visiting family, listening to the radio.
Joan became an Ovaltiney in 1940.
They used to have a programme on Sunday afternoon…and we were usually up at my grandparents. I remember being at my grandparents and listening to it, singing ‘We are the Ovaltinis’….I got a bronze star for being an Ovaltini, and I got a silver star because I introduced three other people, I think it was three; and I wanted a gold star but I couldn’t get anyone else to join. So I didn’t get my gold star. (Joan)
She also enjoyed performing at several local concerts as a member of a dance group run by a teacher who had moved to Ashley from London.
The schools in Ashley and New Milton used to get together to put on concerts. Daphne and Joan both took part, Daphne playing the piano and Joan dancing. One such concert in 1942, which took place in Ashley Senior School, raised over £156 in aid of Lymington Borough’s Warships Week.
Each year, the schools would mark Empire Day, encouraging the children and families to support the war effort.
Walking and biking were part of everyone’s lives in the 1930s and 1940s. Before the war, when Joan’s father was employed in Bournemouth, he would cycle to work and back each day. Joan and her family would cycle over to Bransgore to visit their relatives there, and walk to Hordle to visit relatives there. Even her mother’s pet dog had its own walking routine.
Mum had a dog before she was married. And this dog at Hordle used to walk down every day to see her; spend time down here with her, and then when he thought it was time to go home he’d turn round and walk back home again.
Car ownership was unusual, so people organised their lives differently.
One area out of bounds for everyone during the war years was the beach, which had concrete blocks and rolls and rolls of barbed wire all along it. Of course, whenever people went out, they always carried their gas masks, kept in cardboard boxes.
Church attendance and activities continued during the war. Joan remembers Sunday school outings to Poole and Swanage.
Ashley Baptist Sunday school group 1940. Joan is third from the right, second row down.
Daphne was fortunate enough to go on a holiday during the war to Oakham, in Rutland, to stay at a friend of her mother’s. These were welcome breaks for children in years of austerity and restrictions.
The end of the war.
The day war ended, Joan was thirteen and Daphne twelve years old. They have a number of memories going back to that time and the immediate years that followed.
A VE Day Fancy Dress parade was held in New Milton to celebrate the end of the war. Joan and a friend took part and won second prize in their Under 15s group, dressed as ‘Bride and Groom’.
Another end of war celebration took place at the Waverly Cinema on Station Road, where entertainment was put on for children only; Joan and her brother went along and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
Victory celebrations for children at The Waverly cinema
Other local entertainment events, often to raise funds, continued into 1946. Joan took part in ‘A Patriotic Concert’ by children held in Hordle Women’s Institute hall on May 17 in aid of the Prisoner of War Fund. Daphne had two uncles who were prisoners of war, one of whom returned home, and one who didn’t.
The families would have been aware that there had been prisoner of war camps in the New Forest, including one for captured Italians north of Lymington.
One day we went up to Wooton on our bicycles, of course, and there was a fellow by the stream; he was singing. We decided it was an Italian prisoner of war. He was singing beautifully, outside. (Daphne)
Ashley itself acquired a former wartime building when the Rickmans, who ran Ashley garage at the crossroads, arranged for an aircraft hangar from RAF Beaulieu to be brought over to become the vehicle repair workshop. Joan had always had a special link to this garage from being a little girl; the owner, Ernie Rickman, who started it in the 1930s and had two sons and a daughter, was her mother’s cousin.
It used to be Rickman’s Ashley garage. The garage was their father’s garage, and he was Mum’s cousin, and his mother used to live with them there. And my grandmother used to come down, because that was her sister……If Mum wanted a baby sitter I used to get sent over to the garage. (Joan)
Gradually, a peace-time way of life was resumed although the Selbys and the Stones, along with everyone else, still had to live with former war-time restrictions such as food rationing: this was finally removed in 1954. In terms of shopping, when Daphne’s family wanted to shop in a bigger town than New Milton, out of choice they would go to Bournemouth rather than Southampton as they might have done in pre-war days.
We didn’t go to Southampton because it was so bombed. So desolate. There were so many buildings bombed. (Daphne)
Teenage years to 21.
In the years that followed, Daphne and Joan grew through their teenage years to reach their 21st birthdays in 1953 and 1954 respectively.
They were both now attending their senior schools, Joan at Ashley Secondary on Ashley Road which had opened in 1939, and Daphne at Fernhill Manor on Fernhill Lane in New Milton.
In her early teens, Joan’s social life continued to be centred round church and school. She was a member of the Ashley school choir, and a regular attender at the Baptist Sunday School, Youth Fellowship and associated activities, particularly ones where she stood a chance of meeting boys! There were regular Sunday school plays, and youth weekends.
Ashley Secondary school 1946. Joan is in the front row on the far right
Joan was a keen school pupil; when she left at the age of fifteen she had completed a Homecraft course, which had included sewing and needlework. The skills and interest she had developed allowed her to apply for, and obtain, an apprenticeship with a Court dressmaker based in New Milton. Court dressmakers were people who made clothes for members of the general public, including debutantes, who attended functions at Court, rather than specifically for the Queen and other members of the Royal Family. This was considered the highest category of dressmaker at the time. She worked five days a week, cycling into town and back each day. After a four year apprenticeship, she stayed on for a further year and was then ‘let go’. To begin with she carried on her sewing work, this time working from home, and then combined it with parttime work in a greengrocers and sweet shop.
In her leisure time, she enjoyed going to the Waverly cinema on Station Road once a week – a popular activity in an era before televisions were available in people’s homes. In addition, she remembers holidaying a couple of times in Portsmouth with her Aunt Dolly.
Over the same years, Daphne’s social life was partly school and partly church based. There were school trips, for example to a music concert in Southampton. She was also part of a school party that went to London for the 1951 Festival of Britain. In the sixth form another trip was to Swanage where two of the school teachers lived.
Daphne attended the school-based Crusaders group, and the monthly family church service. There were plenty of church based activities to take part in: Christmas parties, outings, summer fair. St Peters Hall also housed a small library for use by the people of Ashley.
With her family, she enjoyed going to plays put on each year by ‘The Revellers’, an amateur dramatic group formed in 1947 by people in the st. Peter’s congregation. The group performed plays regularly in the hall adjacent to the church. In 1947, for instance, the group organised three events:
- ‘A Concert Party’, which raised £6 for the new church fund (fund raising for a new st. Peters to cater for the expanding congregation had been ongoing since 1937)
- ‘A Night at the BBC’
- A Comedy Thriller
Daphne left school in 1951 at the age of 18 with sufficient qualifications to enable her to go to teacher training college. She chose to go to Putney in London, where she was a student for two years, before graduating with a teacher training certificate and returning to Ashley. She kept up her interest in music while at college; shortly before leaving Putney she took the opportunity to learn the organ, which subsequently enabled her to play in local church services at st. John’s in Bashley, at st. Peter’s in Ashley, as well as at other churches in the surrounding areas, right up to 2012.
In 1953 she took up her first teaching post at Pennington Infant school.
1954 is where we end this portrait of Ashley, as lived through the lives of Daphne Stone and Joan Selby from birth to the age of twenty one, their age of majority as it was at that time.
Joan had celebrated her 21st birthday the year before, marking the day with a family tea party attended by her grandparents from Bransgore, as well as her grandmother, aunt and uncle from Hordle. Her presents included a double row of pearls, a single row of pearls, powder compacts and brooches.
Daphne’s 21st birthday celebration in 1954 was a party at the family home organised by her parents, to which a teacher colleague and old school friends were invited. Her presents included a framed picture, a gold ring, and a dressing table set – matching mirror, brush and comb. In the same year she joined the Bournemouth Municipal choir.
Ashley continues to be their home to the present day: 2015.
The primary sources for this booklet have been the memories of Daphne and Joan. The majority of photographs and postcards came from Joan, supplemented by items accessed from the following:
- St. Peter’s church archives – for pictures of the tin church
- Lymington and New Milton libraries – for adverts from the Lymington Times and the 1931 Ordnance Survey map
Thanks as well to Mrs Nora Gale for her memories of Ashley shops and other businesses.