Redcliffe Parish Rooms, Guinea Street

Redcliffe Parish Rooms Key

A – Entrance to canteen

B & C – Small room with kitchen known as Canteen

D – Cloakroom

E – Ladies’ toilet

F – Main entrance

G – Gents’ toilet

H – Window giving light to head of stairs

I – Storeroom

J – Caretaker’s hideaway room

K – Vicar’s garden

The Vicar’s garden although tended by a Gardener, he was told it was to be kept tidy but wild for children to play. Two swings, planks of wood strung on ropes on one large tree a Tarzan rope on another. The garden was open from 4:30 to 5:30 weekends, and 10 to 1 on a Saturday morning. This was a magic place for kids who lived crammed together in houses without gardens. Cowboys killed Indians, logs were ships that sailed the world, fairies lived at the bottom and fences made horses to ride on. How we loved that bachelor Vicar with such an outlook for children. Scouts and Guides were allowed to use it on group nights. Between us we built a campfire circle in a corner where on summer evenings (we couldn’t use it in winter because of the war time blackout) we would sing campfire songs, toast marshmallows and sometimes roast potatoes. We practiced tent pitching and tracking. Guides met in Church centre, Scouts in a hut in the school playground and as we met on the same night, and as later the Guide Captain married the Scout leader we often did things together. Although most of us had scout brothers so preferred to do it alone. I remember practicing for my first class badge, lighting a fire using only two matches and cooking two sausages. The Vicar’s garden was very different from finally trekking to the Dundry Dunes and lighting a fire and cooking there, but I did pass.

Christmas 1940

Christmas was coming 14 families still without homes, very little clothes, food and money, how miserable would it be. One lady who visited us every day from church was determined this wouldn’t happen. First the children were organised to make paper chains, to decorate the canteen. No coloured sticky papers, but she had glue, magazines, newspapers and scissors. These were cut strips, glued and hung. These now, I suppose, would be quite trendy, then we thought wonderful. Then we were set to make bells from silver milk bottle tops. Quite easy if you mould them over your thumb, silver stars from cigarette boxes silver paper, anything that would decorate a Christmas tree if we had one. Gradually during Christmas week, kind people dropped in odd bits of food, a butcher brought a chicken, a farmer brought a rabbit and some beef, a docker some oranges. But for us kids the farmer brought a Christmas tree planted in a red fire bucket and three aged pieces of tinsel, how pretty it looked to us with its silver paper stars and milk top bells. On Christmas Eve Mum’s brother, her youngest one (21 years younger than Mum, she was the eldest of ten, seven boys and three girls) who worked for Witts Bakers” had persuaded his boss to donate a large Christmas cake which he brought along and handed to Mum with a small parcel. Christmas day arrived and after dinner we played party games. Tea time came and every child was told not to ask for Christmas cake although it was on the table with its Father Christmas, snowmen and Christmas trees. Boxing day arrived, my birthday. I dressed went into the canteen for breakfast and there hanging across the room a large banner made from an old roll of wallpaper on it in large red capital letters “HAPPY 10th BIRTHDAY BETTY”, and everyone had signed it even the Vicar and Clergy who had visited the day before. After dinner some of the Dads were asked to take all the children for a walk, how we grumbled sure that as soon as we were out the grownups would eat the Christmas cake. We arrived home, what a sight, the table groaning with left over chicken sandwiches and other goodies but in the middle a beautiful cake covered with pink sugar roses and ten blazing candles. The Christmas cake had been recycled as a birthday cake. Since then I have celebrated many birthdays. One I became engaged, another I was married. My 21st started on Christmas Eve and ended on 27th but of all my birthdays the one I remember most for love and companionship will always be my 10th birthday. Shortly after I joined the Guides, that led to another stage in my life. Six weeks after Christmas, the Hall was closed for us people and we moved into two rooms on Redcliffe Parade. We had air raids but no Blitz until Good Friday 1941 and that’s another story.

Redcliffe Parish Rooms - Downstairs

Redcliffe Parish Rooms - Upstairs

Information from Betty Morris
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