Return to History

Ken Robinson Remembers

Written by Ken Robinson in September 1991
He remembers the Village as it was.
9 Little Park, Abbotts Ann     

Perhaps the first memories I have of Little Park are of the oil lamps we used for lighting the bungalow until the electricity supply arrived.

I was four years old when my mother, my brother, my sister and myself came down from Newcastle-upon-Tyne. My father having arrived the previous year to become a trainee and learn the various skills of a smallholder.

He had been a fitter in the shipyard, but the depression had brought long periods of unemployment.

My father became the tenant at Holding 14. My brother Timmy, who was about i6 at the time, went to work at Taskers Trailers at Anna Valley, and my sister Clara went into service as a maid in the household of the Rev. Morrel in Andover.

Most of the tenants on the Estate had families so I was never short of pals to play with.

I started at Abbotts Ann School in 1936. The headmistress at that time was Miss Cowell. With the coming of the 1939 war air raid shelters were built behind the school, and, of course, we all had to carry gas-masks.

My father, having been a fitter by trade, was drafted to Tidworth Ordinance Depot where he spent the duration of the war repairing artillery.

At this time Abbotts Ann had three shops and a dairy.

Where Friary Cottage is now was an Off-license and General Store which sold all manner of things including confectionery and other food stuffs, household goods – including paraffin oil. The proprietors were Mr. Tom Baker and his wife.

Mr. Jesse Threadgill owned the Bakery and had bread delivery vans plying the whole Andover district. It was always a treat before school to go to Mr. Threadgill’s shop and buy a warm penny bun.

Mr Threadgill will be remembered by most of the older villagers as the Chairman of the Andover District Council, Chairman of the Parish Council, and a devout servant of St. Mary Church, Abbotts Ann.

Mr Ken Whatley owned the Dairy just on the North side of the Jubilee Oak in the middle of the village. He ran it with the help of his wife and her sister and a cowman called Maurice.

The cow byre was at the top of West Hill on the road to Monxton, and I remember Maurice would bring the milk down in churns on a bogey or in buckets carried with the aid of a yoke across his shoulders.

The milk was bottled, and Mr. Whatley delivered it in Abbotts Ann and surrounding district in an immaculately clean Jowett van. He was always very smart in cap and brown overall and highly polished brown gaiters.

I always remember my dad trying to sell Mr. Whatley hay cut from our poultry pens, but he was always reluctant to buy because of the risk of poultry wire.

Mr. Whatley’s home paddock is now the site of the Hillside estate.

Mr. Ward run the local Post Office from the house where Mr. Frank Girvan now lives. Mr. Ward was gassed in the 1914-18 war. He also rode a two-stroke motor-cycle, and we children rather unkindly nick-named him ‘Puffer’. His daughter, Mrs. Smidt now lives on the Salisbury Road.

Mr. Joe Perry was the village blacksmith. He lived in the white house north of the Village Hall. His smithy was up the end of Dunkirt Track. A bungalow aptly called the Forge now stands there.

Joe’s work was very largely agricultural machinery, hand-carts and shoeing horses. Many of Joe’s decedents are still around Andover, namely the Bucks and the Hallets.

The vicar throughout most of the war was the Rev. P K Venner, who was also keen on dairying. He used to have a small dairy where the church car park is now situated.

I remember he always called his cowman ‘Forsyth’. I never did get to know his christian name.

The Rev Venner only farmed in a small way, what is known as the “Glebe Land” around the Rectory. He was also a member of “Friends of the Birds” a forerunner of the RSPBA, and encouraged we children at Abbotts Ann School to write essays about various birds.

He also ran a “Young Peoples Fellowship” in conjunction with the church; dramatics being one of the activities.

Being wartime, travel was severely restricted. So trips to the seaside were out of the question. I remember as young boy at Abbotts Ann School, every 1st May, if it was fine, we would go up to the fine lawns at the Manor and danced around the Maypole. The Manor at that time was owned by Mrs. Fletcher.

Another of the characters of the Village was Mr. George Smith, who was the village Roadman. His duties included keeping the verges tidy, the village street swept, and the ditches kept clear.

At this time the village was very largely populated by people engaged in farming, factory work, or building.

Thomas King came to the village from Essex between the wars and with the help of his family created a thriving building business.

After the war, Major Miller Mundy of Home Farm, Red Rice, made a gift of a plot of land at the top of the village to be used as a council house estate and a sports field.

Thomas King & Sons built the houses, and the result was one of the best laid out estates in the Andover district.

The sports field was and still is widely used; Abbotts Ann being known for many years for its football and cricket teams.

In later years, more housing developments has taken place. We welcome this and look forward to newcomers taking part in village life. For my part I am thankful that my parents made the decision to come to Little Park and enabled me to grow up and to live in this community.

  This article was transcribed in full from a three page type written (not computer) document produced by Ken