Sheila Long, Olive Drew, and Pat Robinson
Two sisters, Sheila Long and Pat Robinson, and their friend, Olive Drew, recall their memories of wartime Tredworth.
In the first clip, Sheila recalls the shops in Upton Street and carpenter’s shop which housed the street’s barrage balloon, which was inflated by the RAF every week.
“It was a joy for us kids to come and see that”, she says, “and how we longed to cut the wire to see it go up. Everywhere in Gloucester you would look and there would be barrage balloons, but we were proud because we had one in our street. So we were the proudest girls. It was little things like that that kept us kids going during the war.”
Wartime Entertainment in Tredworth
Entertainment was important to keep spirits high during the war.
In clips 2-5, Olive and Sheila recall some of the songs and customs that helped to keep the community buoyant.
Olive remembers that her husband, Maurice, would play his accordion whenever he could in the Laburnum Hotel. The pub closed at 10 p.m. before the war and only opened in evening. Olive remembers, though, that upon closing on a Saturday night, Mrs Hodges, who lived in the “end house”, used to say “if anybody wants to bring themselves a pint a draft I shall open my door and I shall put some glasses out and you can have it on the table”. They would then have a dance in the street and the old policeman would stand by the lamppost and listen, but everybody knew to go home and make no noise after 11 p.m.
Sheila explains that, during the war, such summer time dances would’ve been held during the light because there was an extra hour added to British Summer Time, making what she remembers as “double summer time”. It would be like “broad daylight” til about midnight, she remembers, to allow farmers to get their crops harvested and to make it easier to spot German planes on bombing raids.
In the following two clips, Olive then sings two songs that used to be sung in wartime.
Food and resourcefulness in wartime
Sheila recalls her father’s struggle to find work during the war and how he turned to poaching to feed his family. She remembers that her father was such a good poacher and poached so much from Biddlecombe’s farm that the farmer made him a gamekeeper because he said it was cheaper!
Pat and Sheila continue to remember their father’s work as a gamekeeper and how he fed them during the war. Food came from the elvers were caught from the Severn and garden snails boiled in salt water were eaten and the leftovers sold down the pub. Pat and Sheila go on to recall the street party in Upton Street for VE Day in 1945 and bombing in the area.
In the final clip, Sheila remembers how German planes that were brought down during bombing raids would be taken into Roberts’ Toy factory, which became a munitions factory during the war, and dismantled for parts.
Click on the link below to read The Times’ coverage of Sheila’s snail recipe!