It was May or June 1947 when I arrived in Lunsford Lane with my Mother, Grandmother & two Uncles from London at the age of 4 ½ to live in a tied 2 storey Cottage of Lunsford Hall.
I started School the following year in New Hythe Lane and my two Uncles went to Snodland.
My memories of Lunsford Lane are a little dim these days but I do remember Mrs. Horton’s shop was across the road and we could get most things there, but the best we could buy was a half ice cream block for thruppence (3d), and the picture on the ice cream wrapper was of a man skiing.
1947 was a bad winter and I do remember looking out the window seeing the quite deep snow on the road in front of the cottage.
I don’t remember the cottage having a bathroom, as I always bathed in front of the fire in a tin bath, but there must have been something for my family to have a bath.
Mrs. Horton had a son Richard and every Sunday he would take me to the church in New Hythe Lane on the cross bar of his bike, where I could help ring the church bells and one time forgot to let go, and also help pump the church organ.
The old vicar used to ride his bike down Lunsford Lane and doff his hat to anyone he met and was always a cheery and polite man.
I can’t remember any of the kid’s names I used to play with in the lane, one family half way up Gig Hill had 2 or three boys and I think a daughter and we played together at times; I also think a teacher lived at No. 1 Gig Hill.
Half way down the lane, on the left was a field where we used to play cricket etc. As you went further down the lane to the orchard there was a path that went left across the fields towards Snodland with a couple of styles in the fields, but these fields used to have two horses in them, if you ran across the fields and the horses saw you they would chase after you, very scary at times.
The footpath next to the cottage ran down to the quarry and over a bridge on to Leybourne, I often went down to the bridge to watch the tug pull the barges and would call out and ask for a ride and one day a man who worked there took me down to the quarry where I got my wish with a ride in the tug, I was over the moon!
One time in the summer we had a grass snake come indoors and got under the Linoleum, somehow my uncles with help from someone else they got it out and it was put in the dustbin and thrown into the lake at the end of the pathway.
Mr. Harriman lived next door and always seemed a grumpy old man; I have found out since that he was an ex- policeman. Next door to him lived Gerald Russell; I often would play make believe trains with him with a bicycle tube tied in the doorway of his shed.
Mr. Williams had two quite large and long haired dogs and very seldom did he let them out when people came as I believe they were a little supposed to be guard dogs.
My first trip to the seaside was with Mr. Williams in one of his cars, he had two black Rovers at that time, also one time I was allowed to go and watch TV with him and his wife, and he seemed to me a quiet and sort of round in size man.
Mr. Williams also employed two German POW men “Helmut and Kasper” on I think part time basis as possible gardeners/grounds men? I believe one of them had been in the German Navy in submarines; we often used to talk with them as my family came from the Sudetenland so we all spoke the same language.
We became friends in the lane with a Mr. and Mrs. Walkling as they had one son and I often was allowed to play with his toys (he had a lot). Next door to them lived Mr. and Mrs. Ballad a little further was Mr. & Mrs. Watson. There was another lady who lived across the road near the Watson’s she gave me a rabbit as a pet, but I can’t remember who she was.
In Leybourne was a big House called the Chimney’s owned by Mr. & Mrs. Charlton my Grandmother sometimes went to the house to clean for them if I went with her I was given sixpence (6d) for doing some weeding in the garden.
We had to walk to School at New Hythe Lane going up Gig hill and through a farm as a shortcut, in the winter the horse trough water would freeze over and we would break the ice with stones to let the water flow.
To get to Maidstone by bus we would have to walk up Lunsford Lane and into New Hythe lane to Larkfield to catch a bus by the Spotted Cow Pub. Whitbread breweries used to produce small metal plates with the names and signs of their pubs on them, we would collect these and would swap duplicates between us kids, these were called ̏Inn Signs “later the collections became made from plastic. Just around the corner in New Hythe Lane was another Pub called the Monks Head but it wasn’t a Whitbread Pub.
At the bottom of New Hythe Lane was Reed’s Paper Mill which ran along side of the Medway River, Later years Kimberley Clarke came along with Medway Sacks.
In December 1950 we were evicted from Lunsford cottage as my Mother had ill health and could no longer work for Mr. Williams so the council moved us to Burham to an old Army Camp with Nissan huts, but that’s another story.