GROWING UP IN CHESTERTON IN THE 1970’S BY ROBIN PEEL.
I have spent my whole life in Chesterton, being born in 1965. Village life was a lot different whilst growing up in the 1970’s. No computers and just three TV Channels meant that much of my childhood was spent outdoors.
In Summer a cricket pitch was laid out in the field at the back of my house. Occupational hazards included cows and horses and pitch that was so uneven that cricket balls flew up from all angles causing some quite nasty accidents from time to time. Occasionally a well timed shot went in to something disgusting that the cows had left and it was a case of wiping the ball in the grass and getting on with it. It is a wonder that we all didn’t come down with some strange bovine disease.
Football was a case of coats down for goals and away you go. They had is sorted out further down the village as Mark Marchant and Kevin Layton ( a regular visitor from Alwalton) built a set of goalposts. This was a wooden framework with a metal tube as a bar supported by two brackets. Sadly, the bar used to regularly collapse whenever a shot hit the post, leaving the luckless goalkeeper diving for cover. Ah those glorious days before the Health and Safety executive!!! As with the Cricket, football was also blighted by the local wildlife with piles of cow muck being an obstacle that had to be played around. The sight of a low shot once going in to a pile and spraying Kevin Layton from head to toe in dung will remain with me for years!!!
In those days of course, Alwalton school was still in operation. Mr Stocks was the headmaster and Mrs Fowler was striking fear in to the hearts of six year olds from both Alwalton and Chesterton! No portacabins in those early days. Just an assembly hall which was divided down the middle to cater for the two youngest classes. The eldest pupils were taught by Mr Stocks in the Green Wooden building. Going back thirty years it seems incredible that things were so basic compared to what the kids have today. For a long time there was no school playing field, this came later, and there was no provision for school dinners to be cooked on site. Food had to be cooked elsewhere and shipped in!
A few characters still live in the memory from 30 years ago. A woman used to come to the school to play the piano. The name Barks rings a bell but I have more concrete memories of her bringing a dog with her who used to howl as she played the piano. Religious matters were handles by Reverend Taylor and I can recall a woman who lived near Elton coming in once a week to take our bank money. Other teachers included Mrs St George, who I have only very vague memories of, Mrs Harrison, who went on to teach at Orton Longueville school, and Mrs Readhead.
In Summer there was a weekly trip to the swimming pool at Orton Hall School. This was an outdoor pool with no heating and an impressive scum of dead insects floating on the surface. In latter years this was replaced by a trip to the indoor pool at Jack Hunt school.
Back to Chesterton and other memories from the 1970’s include some problems with the water supply at one point which resulted in water having to be drawn from large tanks which were provided. No shortage of water one Friday evening in the late 1970’s when the Elton end of the village was badly flooded. Walking down the village that evening I saw water shooting up out of a man hole cover to a height of about three foot. I believe that, not for the first time, Mrs Anthony got badly flooded that night.
Other weather related memories include a severe wind one Friday evening in the mid 1970’s which was so bad, that Jennie, George and Carolyn Arbon all sheltered in the Peel bungalow. Going in to Peterborough the following morning, there was severe structural damage in the city.