Interview with Pete Toms and Pete Pattinson

Pete Toms was born in Bristol. At 3 weeks old he visited his Grandparents who lived at Graston Farm in Burton Bradstock. Pete's Mother and Father eventually moved into a tied cottage at 'Gages' when he was 5 years old where they worked for Colonel Holland as Housekeeper and Gardener.

Pete Pattinson lived at 24 Annings Lane where Roger Day's house is now. There were only 2 cottages, numbers 24 and 25, there then with Rob Gale's farm next door. Rob had 2 fields and a Milking Parlour in Grove Orchard. The Council Houses in Lower Townsend were built first, and then the two bungalows on the road at the end of Norburton, then Norburton and finally the rest of Annings Lane. Jo Linee built all along there and a couple on Beach Road. He bought the land from the Norburton Estate and he worked from a caravan where Apple Garth now is. Terry Linee went to Burton School with both Petes. Electricity came to the Cottages and Lower Townsend in 1958/9 although the bigger houses had it earlier.

School Memories

When Pete Toms first went to School, Miss Body was the Headteacher and Mrs. Rodford taught the Infants. Miss Body made a great impression on Pete and taught him for several years. At that time you were in the same class for 2 or 3 years. In 1952, when Pete T was ten, Mr. Starkey took over as Headteacher.  In the 5Os, the School had the same front door as now. You would go through the Arched Door straight into one big classroom. This was divided into two by folding shutters, with the Infants at the back (Later this was the Dining room too). Pupils used to eat at their desks. In Pete Toms' day, the toilets were outside by the river but 5 years later when Pete Pattinson got to School, there were inside lavatories.

The pupils used inkwells and pens with nibs and lots of Blotting Paper! They were taught italic writing, times-tables and bits of History and Geography. The School Nurse (the Nit Nurse) visited regularly as did the School Doctor and Dentist. Mr. Dittmer, the Vicar, came every Friday and he taught RE (Religious Education). When you skipped lessons, the School Officer used to chase you round the Village! Mr. Hitt delivered the School Dinners and it was he who told the children that the King was dead in February 1952. Mrs. Widger and Olive Youngs were Dinner Ladies and, like in Schools across the country, the pupils were served lumpy Semolina, Frogspawn, Tadpoles and soggy cabbage!

“The schooling was pretty basic and not many of us liked School. Most of us thought we would work on the farms. We played Football at School, starting in the Rookery Gardens and continuing Into The Hatches where Roger Poole's is now. All the things the pupils collected used to be put in a big cupboard and we did a lot of craft, e.g. building a Puppet Theatre. When the School milk came it was frozen in winter and had to be put on the pipes to thaw out. When Len Starkey was Head, pupils used to be sent to the Post Office for Polos (Polo Mints). A habit he had was to roll a pen between his hands and it would click continuously against his ring.

Miss Bailey, who taught Sunday School, lived at Greystones next to the Hotel on the Cliff. Sunday School was held in the Lady Chapel in St. Mary's Church and you went because they did good Outings to Weymouth and Exmouth."

Coronation Day Memories

"Ration Books were still in and we all went to Mullins shop for sweets. The Village had a Fancy Dress Parade [C1] - we had a lot of those then. It started at the Village Green and we walked to the Playing Fields”. Pete Toms well remembers being dressed up as a Television Set. He 'wore' a silver cardboard box with a 9 inch 'screen' where his face stared out and he carried a bamboo stick as an aerial! The problem was Pete's parents couldn't afford a camera so he doesn't have a photo. Someone in Burton Bradstock must surely have one. "Another big event with a parade that stays clearly in the memory is the Bridport Pageant in 1953. This was to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the granting of the Charter to Bridport and Princess Margaret came. Mary (Pete's wife now) was 'Pageant Queen'. All the Burton Bradstock kids were there and many of them were dressed up as what looked like medieval peasants."

Village Memories

There were Slides and Boat Swings in the Playing Fields down by the Gate. It was very overgrown. Howarth Close was built on land designated for new Playing Fields. The Thorners family lived in Greenwich Cottage opposite Cheney's Garage and Mrs. Wratislaw lived at The White House. She ran the Pooh Club (Winnie the Pooh) and a lot of people went. The first TV either of the Petes saw was at Mr. Ayes house. He lived opposite the Red House which is Alana's house today. His son built a TV; it was just a screen on 4 bits of Dexion. He invited the school-children in on their way home from School to watch Andy Pandy and the Flower-Pot Men.

The Swaffield Sisters had the Post Office and owned one of the Beach Huts when there were only 3 or 4 in front of what is now "the Snake Pit'. Where Jayne's Hairdresser's is was another general groceries and sweet shop. Mrs. Brewer, Mr. Mullins' sister, ran it leased from the Estate. Willy Smith had a coal round and in the 50s Pete Brown bought it out. He continued with it and branched out into haulage and removals. The Grove Mill Bakery was still open in the 5Os; it was the children's job to go to get the hot bread and you could take your Turkey there to get it cooked. Milk came out of a churn delivered to the door [C2].

The cows were a major feature in the Village. Pete Pattinson's first job was driving Edgar Hawkins' herd through the Village [C3]. He worked there for 4 years.  Annie Williams, at the shop in the High Street, gave Pete 10 Woodbines if he would drive the cows past the shop fast! The cows would go past if she stood there with a stick but as soon as she went back inside they turned and ate her cabbage stock. The Hawkins family of Shadrach Dairy Farm eventually had a Bailey Bridge put across the river in the back field so they didn't have to go down the High Street anymore.

The Village Show took place each year and Arthur Berkeley organised it. In the early 50s, Pete Toms won 1st Prize for the most Cabbage White Butterflies displayed on a board. They were considered a major pest. Pete's Dad, James Toms, won several Classes each year for his Produce but the Exhibitor was always named as his boss Colonel Holland, although Mr. Toms, as Gardener, did all the work. However Mr. Toms took the prizes in his own name for his Flowers [Prize Certificates exhibited below]. The Village Hall Christmas Party was run by Mr. Howarth. Magicians and conjurers came and the children loved them. There were Fetes, first around Darby House grounds and then at The Rookery. Every year, a Skittle Alley came and was set up on the Playing Fields.  You bowled for a real pig. The competition lasted a week and it was a good prize. One year it was held in the Shoes Car-Park.


"We didn't have many hobbies as such. We didn't have any paper to waste so drawing or writing was a non-starter unless it was for a purpose. We made AirFix models and some people had a Radio. This was run on an accumulator made of glass. It was a battery and could be charged for 2d or 3d a time. You had two. We listened to The Archers but discipline was strict at home and you had to go to bed early. If your Parents left the door open, you could Just about hear Dan Dare and Dick Barton. At 14 we were at work and in the Pubs."

A Day In The Life Of…….

"Every child had jobs to do at home. We had pet rabbits and had to look after them [C4]. Pete P had a pet Magpie and Pete T had a pet Jackdaw. Most of the food was homegrown and you had to help. Despite all the cows around we only had butter on a Sunday. After that, you rarely stayed in because there was nothing to do in the house."

Pete P - "I suppose we ran wild really. We went where we wanted and would disappear for the day, ferreting and collecting frogspawn, toads, minnows and newts. The best trips were to the Dump just over North Hill by Buglers Farm. We found old bike frames and built bikes - no tyres though - to ride down North Hill. We made Go-Carts from any old rubbish. We spent a lot of time playing round the Reservoir; something kids wouldn't be allowed to do now. We went to the Beach a lot; after bad storms, you could find Sailors' hats and lots of wood. Mr. Naylor at 6 Lower Townsend built a garage from wood he found on the Beach! We would go bird-nesting on the cliff and pick the flowers; a lot of what we did is illegal now.

A gang of 6 of us would go down the Beach and we used to help pull the Seine net in [C5]. There would be hundreds of Sprats and Mackerel because the Sprats always came in front of the big Mackerel shoals. You would find a few Gar Fish caught in the net but nobody ate those and Sea Bass were just considered a pest. The Cliff Path then went straight along the coast, not up the steps as now [C6]. There used to be a cafe in a wooden hut virtually where the Beach House is now and a pond full of newts."

Pete T - "Granary Cottage was a Farm Worker's cottage in the 50s with the farmyard at the back of it. On Saturday mornings, I used to go out with Maurice Austin who lived there. We went in the Horse and Putt (Trailer) to collect mangolds from where they were piled up in Annings Lane and we'd take them to the fields off the lane. We'd drive through the fields, up and down in rows, throwing the mangolds off the back of the Putt to feed the cattle who followed.  This took all morning because you had to feed the horse and put the Putt away. In winter, Maurice had to cut hay out of the Hayrick with a hay knife and we took this to feed the cattle. The cows were left out a lot longer in those days.

Another job I had at weekends was collecting wood for the week and usually I got this at the top of North Hill. Sometimes I got it off the Beach. Ships carried deck cargoes of wood and in rough weather it got washed off onto the Beach. Beach-combing was something all the kids did. There was always something to watch and there were still horse-drawn carts coming onto the Beach to collect shingle - something else that is illegal now!" [C7] and [C8].

Compiled by Susan Moores - May 2012