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Exeter folk and friends in their own words - << Previous storyNext story >>

Peter Phillips - 1940s kids and neighbours


People didn't move house then as they do now so I knew all the people in the surrounding houses. I used to play with the twins next door, (No.21), Brian and Barry Smith and John Strawbridge (No. 17) and across the road was Colin and Tony Smyth. (No. 20).

The Wheatleys lived at number 1 and Billy was the one I was always scrapping with. At the bottom of the street, where it met the main road, there was a large green area on a high bank. Trees grew on this bank alongside the main road. There was no pavement and whenever it rained there was a stream running down the hill - always good for stick races. This area was our playground. We scooped pits out of the dry clay soil to play marbles and also used to race our tricycles over tracks in the grass. I remember punching Billy Wheatley, a bigger boy than me, for pushing my trike over the bank. His father came to our house and my father made me go out into the front garden and fight it out with him. I broke his glasses – I think that was the end of the fight. The Breeze family lived at 29 – there was Sam, Lillian, Janet, Beatrice and at least one other. 

There were a clan of girls – Valerie and Brenda Lee opposite, Helen Davis in no. 22, whilst further down the street there was Margaret and Barbara Higgins in no. 8 and opposite in 15, Sylvia and Michael Huxtable. Mrs. Ridd in No.11 was broad Devon and used to call out the front door for "Lo-o-o-rr-na.' !!". Her voice carried quite a way. There are photographs of the street party that we held after the war and also of a Christmas party in the Buller Hall in Cowick Street where most of the Barley Mount children went. No. 13 Barley Mount was where Mum and Dad’s friends, the Bennetts, lived. Bill Bennett was a carpenter and worked at the same place as dad. Jill and Jackie Edwards lived in number 19 and next door to us at number 25 were the Lyons family. Mr & Mrs Lyons and Yvonne, who was about five years older than me. The Robins family lived at 31 and on the other side of the street at number 24 were the Lampreys.

Kids games

Our little gang used to play together and go out cycling and we had a den in a woodshed in the next road, Isleworth Road, where we could hide amongst the timber and have games. There were no televisions or computers then so we made do with whipping tops, marbles, collecting cigarette cards, and one game with milk bottle tops. These were made of cardboard with a push-out circle in the centre. We collected them all on a piece of string and then had a game flipping them against a wall - the nearest top to the wall won the others. Of course we had comics - the Beano and Dandy and Radio Fun and later came the Eagle, a more senior comic. I submitted a story once to The Eagle and won a pen from them.

What else do I remember of Barley Mount? There was a lamp-post outside the house and we boys used the base as a wicket when playing cricket. It was also useful for climbing and for hanging a rope from which to swing. The girls used to tie one end of a rope around the lamp-post end across the road and hold the other using it as a giant skipping rope. All this was possible as there was hardly any motor traffic – anyone with a car was rich!

We all used the paving stones to play hop-scotch, chalking the 'board' on the pavers. I also used the pavement as a racetrack. Using one roller skate, I sat on a small plank of wood placed across the skate. With feet held out in front I flew down the street, steering by leaning my hands on one side or the other - it was the original skate-boarding! One of the favourite boys’ toys was making go-carts out of wooden boxes and using old pram wheels. The front wheels were on the end of a piece of timber which was anchored to the central plank and the cart was steered with both feet resting on the cross piece and string or rope fixed to the two ends.

Peter Phillips is a retired prison officer, who now lives in Yorkshire.

Barley Mount VE Day celebrations. Barley Mount Victory Party circa 1946. My father is pouring the tea and Billy Wheatley is second from the right next to Mr. Lyons. Mrs. Davis is talking to Mrs. Strawbridge on her right.

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