Happy Visits to Meldreth in the 1940/50s

Chiswick House, 2009
Photograph by Tim Gane
One of the Meldreth signs made by Percy Cox in 1951
Photograph by John Crawforth, March 2014

From the latter years of the Second World War until the mid-1950s I used to stay periodically, as a young boy, at Chiswick House, Meldreth, where my grandfather, Percy Elbourn, lived with his younger son Eric and his youngest daughter Joan.  Coming from our home on the fringes of South London and Surrey, what a contrast it was to be in Meldreth!

I remember waking early each morning and hearing the morning chorus of crows in the tall trees across the road from Chiswick House. Another regular early morning sound was of engines warming up in the yard; these were the road haulage lorries (owned by my uncle, Donald Elbourn) emblazoned with “Elbourn of Melbourn”. Two of his drivers, Jack Cox and Cyril Harper, became pals of mine on my visits, as did Wilfred Fuller, the mechanic who looked after the lorries and farm equipment.

In the same yard worked  a very memorable character, Percy Cox, who was the blacksmith in whose forge I would stand and watch him (spectacles on the end of his nose). It was, of course, Percy who made the iron “Meldreth” signs, two of which still stand at the entry to the village near “The Sheene” and in North End. There was also a carpenter, William Hayden to complete my list of friends!

The yard at Chiswick House at the time was a wonderful playground for a young boy; there were traction engines, farm equipment (some looking quite tired!) and a variety of derelict cars with grass growing in and around them! I would spend hours playing among these machines, often with my cousin, William Elbourn.

Moving now into the early 1950s I remember Mrs Radford who used to come to Chiswick House to cook and clean (after my Aunt Joan had married and moved away). Of particular interest to me was the so called “Mini-Motor” which Mrs Radford had attached to her bicycle – a new form of motorised bicycle. Another regular visitor was Mr Leverington who delivered groceries from his shop (later called Riverside Stores, I think). I wonder if any readers remember the Farmer’s Glory corn flakes which he sold? To this day,I have never tasted better!

Luckily for me I have many cousins living in the Melbourn and Meldreth area, so I am able to relive my very happy memories whenever I visit them.

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