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Ronald George Woodland / Flora Cooper
Ronald George Woodland, 24 Whitehorse Rd, Croydon

Ronald George Woodland / Flora Cooper

Ronald George Woodland born 14th February 1888 to Wallace Woodland / Mary Rebecca Weedon at Glebe Farm, Ickenham, Middlesex. Went to boarding school after his father died (1891) later being apprenticed to David Greig (Grocer) at Cricklewood ? , although he wanted to be an engineer.The family fortunes were lost through mismanagement of the farm leaving his mother poor and dependant on farmers welfare.

Flora Cooper born 30th March 1885 to Benjamin Cooper / Eva Shepherd spent her early life in Greenbottom, near Littledean, going to school at the Plump School where her cousin Flora was a teacher. After leaving home she took up a position as a dairy maid in Cricklewood, married Ronald George Woodland at Prestyterian Church, Rondu Rd, Cricklewood on 8th June 1908. Ronald George lived at 39 Oaklands Rd, Cricklewood, and Flora lived at 20 Howard Rd, Cricklewood before they were married.

They moved around the area to Wandel rd, near West Croydon Station, Old Town Croydon, Beddington, 24 Whitehorse Rd, 28 Whitehorse Rd at different times mainly during WW1. Ronald George although passing for the Royal Flying Corp, delayed entry for the birth of Lilian Alma, after which the position was no longer available, he then enlisted with the Northhamptonshire Regiment in 1916, and spent the war years in Hertford training, and then in France and Belgium (see letters from the front) . During this period there is some talk of Flora setting up a second hand furniture shop at 24 Whitehorse Rd. At some time during this period Flora stayed with Ivor Cooper / Sarah Middlecote during the birth of Eva Cooper. Also Mary Rebecca Woodland stayed for a while at 24 Whitehorse Rd. After demobilization in 1919 they set up a spring mattress business at 24 Whitehorse Rd. This business slowly went down hill resulting in Ronald George Woodland and Tom Cooper cycling to Gloucester to find work and lodgings just before WW2.

The children spent their holidays with Tom Cooper / Ethel Bowen in Yorkshire (Askern), except for Marion Rachel and Flora who usually went to Dean Hall, Littledean, with Ivor Cooper / Sarah Middlecote. The lock was turned on the shop at 28 Whitehorse Rd, with no formal closing of the business and the family, Ronald George, Flora, Mavis Eva and Marion Rachel moved to rooms owned by Mrs Porter at 13 Victoria St, Gloucester in 1939/40. After the last of the children had left in 1942, Flora left Ronald George and moved back to London with Ronald Ivor Woodland (Thornton Heath). When the family moved to Gloucester Ronald George took up employment at R.A.F. MU, Quedgley as a turner / fitter. Flora moved from Thornton Heath (working on the railway, (catering) to Clapham (working as a dinner lady at a school) with Lilian Alma, but moved out after a disagreement to Ruardean Pludds in 1952 with Jane Middlecote / James Copeland later moving to a converted barn at the Pludds. Ronald George moved from 13 Victoria St. to 61 Wheatstone Rd, with Mr / Mrs Bishop then in 1948/49 to 48 Columbia St and on to 15 Birchmore Rd. where he died on 17th Septenber 1967. Flora fell ill at the Pludds and was taken to Chacewater, Cornwall with Mavis Eva where she died on 13th June 1961.

Wallace Woodland with Ronald George Woodland
Ronald George Woodland in uniform
Life in Croydon in the 1930's
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Recollections Of Croydon
by Marion Holyhead (Woodland) Pt1
Whitehorse Road, Croydon.  

May be a little different with names etc. I believe that the crossroads at the top of Whitehorse Road ran over a railway. Apparently Spurgens Tabernacle was on the one corner and (although I don’t remember them) there was a pub on the other three. This I believe was the beginning of Whitehorse Road at our end. On either side of the road there were a few houses which on one side a road was cut into Whitehorse Road called Thornhill Road.

Trams ran down Whitehorse Road and there was a policeman on duty at the crossroads and once he stopped the traffic to let Alma and Molly cross the road with me in the in my pushchair; when crossing the tramlines he said “don’t run you’ll bump her bum”.

The shops on the other side of Whitehorse Road began with

1. 26 - Jack Daniels, where my dad used to send me for a packet of coffin nails – 5 for 2p of Woodbines in a paper packet
2. 24 – Where we lived until I was about 3 years old when we moved to 28
3. 28 – Was on the corner of Whitehouse Road and Strathmore Road. This road was very poor as most of the side roads were, some of the children did not have shoes.

On the other side of Strathmore Road was quite a large furniture shop owned by Mr Rutter. He gave me a box of shells which he told me were used for money in a foreign country. I can’t remember the other shops on our side of Whitehorse Road although I know there was a dairy shop. On the other side of Whitehorse Road to us there were a few shops – greengrocers, grocers shop which came to another road (Union Road) where Gillet & Johnson the famous bell foundry was housed. On the corner of Union Street and Whitehouse Road there was a Public House called the Old Mail Coach. Mum used to tell us about a trader with his horse and cart would stop there every day for his pint. His horse had first sup and if he left any the old man would drink the rest up.

Recollections Of Croydon
by Marion Holyhead (Woodland) Pt2
I was born at no. 24 Whitehorse Road, W. Croydon, Surrey but moved to no. 28 at about 3 years old which I believe was a larger house.
We lived in sight of a famous bell maker Gillet & Johnston. When they had made a carillon of bells they played a tune to test them – usually ‘The Blue Bells of Scotland.
We went to church at St Michaels and All Angels which was rather a high church where my two brothers, Ivor and Bill (Wilfred) were choir boys and subsequently Ivor’s two sons. I do not remember much about that church except that they had some marvellous oil paintings around the walls of the crucifixion which we were paraded around each Easter. Later on when I was about 6 years my sister Molly wanted to change churches to the Baptist church at the top of our road called Spurgeons Tabernacle as most of her friends went there. As mum was brought up a Baptist she allowed this if all of us went (Molly, Mavis and me) and as it was such a freer church we did. We joined the Band of Hope ( a temperance society) and did all sorts of things for that, - a yearly get together from all over at the Crystal Palace in May where Mona Hipwell – one of Molly’s friends was May Queen and Mavis was her maid of honour and her brother her page. Also once a year we had a concert at the North End Hall in Croyden in which I recited a poem about my dolly getting drunk (My awful dolly) when I was only 6! There were no microphones there but a lady came up to me from the back of the hall and gave me a bunch of daffodils and a ½lb bar of Cadbury’s chocolate which were both taken by someone. We used to have sweets but to have a whole ½lb chocolate was really something. Two things that happened about that time also. I had to recite a poem at a church in Penge and the only other one to entertain was a young up and coming boy violinist and I was taken by Mum up to Caxton Hall to give a purse to someone which mum told me was a great honour. Don’t know what they were about. About that time mum took me to visit a cousin of mine in hospital and apparently I ran down the ward – slipped on the floor and sailed under a few beds! The nurses said to mum it was easy to see I was the only child and I was 6th it was a great compliment for which mum was really pleased.
When I was 6 I started school at Holy Trinity School. I was late starting because they thought I had TB. Anyway that was cleared up. When I was about 9 I used to take a little girl to school for which her mother gave me a penny a week. We had a teacher there called Miss Howkins who called me a liar in front of the class. Anybody that knew me would know that I did not tell lies but I have never forgotten that to this day. Going to school I used to step into the shop (we had a side door as well) and say to Dad “can I have a halfpence for sweets?” and if I was lucky I had a whole penny. On the way to school there was a sweet shop where the owner had a wall converted into I suppose 1ft squares each one with a different sort of sweet in it. It took ages to choose because everything was so cheap. No worries about e no’s then. A kid’s paradise. You could get gobstoppers which would last all day and every time you sucked one layer off the next layer would be a different colour so of course we kept having a look to see what it was. I remember seeing Paper Jack in Wallington when I was about 8 (1933), he was wearing only newspapers for clothes, mum would not let us talk to strangers so we never got to speak to him.
When I was 11 and due to sit my 11+ which was the exam in those days I had a bad abscess in my neck. Mum, who would never have the doctor because it cost 3/6d a visit, realised I had to have one as I could not open my mouth (suspected tetanus) and when he came he said “well it is a cut today or off to hospital”. I chose home and he came back and did the job. A few days later Mum took me to the doctor’s surgery (that only cost 2/6d) and a few days after I was sitting my exam at school. I passed and I went to Lady Edridge School. I really can’t remember much between the years.
I used to like to help Dad make the spring mattresses there were the diamond mesh ones and as he turned the metal strips I would link them together and then he would attach it to the metal frame. We made a wooden yacht which we sailed once in a park.
Dad made Mavis and I a doll’s house between us. The one side was Mavis House and the other Marion villa. He also made all the furniture.
We used to have different people call into the shop – sometimes only once a year. I remember a Sheik with a turban which was quite a thing in those days. I think he used to sell silk scarves. Another was a friend of dad’s who was an artist. He drew me a picture (in pencil) of one of the eastern countries (maybe somewhere like Baghdad) with all the temples etc. I don’t know his name or what happened to the picture because the war came and we moved to Gloucester.
Every New Year Mum would get me up as it was my birthday to see the New Year in. Looking back I think I was rather spoilt. I only remember being on Mum’s lap.
When the Second World War started Mum packed Mavis and I straight the following day down to Aunt Jinny and Uncle Ivor down the forest. We did not stay there long. We were too much for Uncle Ivor who was very straight so we went to live on Pope’s Hill. It was the first freedom we had ever had. There were about 20 of us in a group boys and girls. There was no mucking about – what a difference. There was Renton and Cath. Nothing worried them and Renton went poaching for rabbits which we almost lived on. Cath was from the Bayliss family and Rent from the Middlecotes which was a family from Littledean. I went to school at Cinderford which was then called Double View, I came top in my exam of most subjects and the boys said it was not fair because I had been to a High School in Croydon. Anyway at the time you only stayed on at school until you were 14 which meant I left at 13 when Mum and Dad came for Christmas. At that time our group went picking walnuts unfortunately they had to be buried to get the skin off and when I went to get them for Mum and Dad Cath had dug them up and eaten them.
After we went home to Croydon I had to get a job. The only job I could get at that time was 5/- a week in a shop that sewed part of the collar of sailors top. After about 18 months I found another job in a laundry – much more pleasant and with £2.7.6 a week. Mum had said that when she thought the bombing was going to start I had to go. I was so happy living in Thornton Heath with Olive. Mum and Dad took rooms on Victoria Street with Mrs Porter.
I worked in the Co-op cash office on Queens Street in Gloucester opposite to where Pete worked so that was where we met. The first walk we went on was to Wainlodes Hill and back which took us all of 8 hours. Pete got a real telling off by Mum when we got home. Believe it or not we did not have a cup of tea all that time, nothing was open. Pete joined the Home Guard then. It was when we lived at Mrs Porter’s that her husband died and when Mum had a letter telling us of Doug Funnell’s death (he was supposed to be Molly’s boyfriend but a little more on Molly’s side). After that Molly went down to Cornwall and met Ernie who died soon after as he was ill (he had been in the army).
I left Gloucester and went to work in a children’s nursery in White Oaks, Kent. After a while I went to live with a friend at Clacton. She was an only child and of course always had her way with her Mum. I then left home and lived with a family joining the Clacton Operatic for a laugh when I was one of the dancing girls. I also used to help her husband. The woman had a china shop and her husband a shop that sold all sorts of goods including umbrellas which I used to repair. They had a son which she thought I was after but believe me I was not. Oh – these mummies boys. After a couple of years I came back to Gloucester to be with Dad and Pete. I rather liked Clacton and had fun joining the Clacton Operatic Society. Richard should have several pieces about that time. After that I went back to Gloucester to live in rooms until we joined forces with Dad. Pete nor I had any savings and dad had a small amount enough to put down as a deposit on this little house which we bought between us which suited us both. It was a scruffy little place but suited us until we were able to move to a bit better place where we stayed for 53 years odd. Dad and I both worked at Quedgely.

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WEST CROYDON, SURREY by Mavis Trevithick (Woodland)

Whitehorse Road was a long, straight road. The part that was our territory must have been about 1/3 mile long. It went on a little further but we knew little of that. The time it would have taken to walk along the whole length of the road by the shops would have taken, I should think, about 10 minutes.

The shops were on both sides of the road and in the middle of the road in the 20s went trams with the attendant tramlines. They were replaced in the 30s by trolley buses. Buses always ran. The buses had stairs going outside the bus. These were replaced with inside stairs in the 30s.

Also travelling along were delivery vans, flat open horse-driven carts, heavier horses and carts for milk, beer and coal. Then there were handcarts for people like knife grinders and chimney sweeps - and a barrel organ! There were many bicycles including delivery or errand boy bikes, tricycles with huge baskets in the front, ice-cream tricycles, usually blue and white Walls’ Ice Cream. There were Post Office vans and bicycles, telegraph messenger bikes, walking postmen, tradesmen of all kinds, road sweepers, but very few cars.

I cannot remember whether the bread van was mechanically driven or driven by horse and cart. The deliveries of bread were daily and the milk twice a day as were the posts – the last probably three times a day, morning, afternoon and evening.

The road started from Spurgeon’s Baptist Chapel. That end of the Road was nearest to Croydon town centre which was, I should say, about a mile away. In the other direction, the Thornton Heath, Selhurst direction, the road would have ended at a cinema, called, I think, the Luxor, which was called also the fleapit and we never went there! The Luxor was not exactly on the Whitehorse Road but on a fork, I believe in Windmill Road, but I always felt that it was at the extreme end of our road and was the only really identifiable building there that I remember. As I said, Whitehorse Road did, in fact go on further but I did not take that in at the time.

The only other notable building that I remember in the road was the ‘Gillett and Johnson’ clock tower (this firm is still there click on for more information). It was not actually in Whitehorse Road but a little way up a side street but the square clock tower overshadowed the whole area. They were bell casters and traded all over the world. I have seen almost identical clock towers in many places in this country. Whether Gillett and Johnson designed them as well, I don’t know.

The side street where they operated led to another side street that was out of bounds to us and was where the costers lived. Our Brown Owl took us down there once for some unknown reason, and we were booed and laughed at all the way and everybody there threw their vegetable peelings into the gutters.
On our side of Whitehorse Road, the side street by us, Strathmore Road was semi-out of bounds to us. There seemed no point in going down there anyway. There was nothing important for us there. A girl, who was an albino, from there once stood for a couple of days to hit me. I don’t know why. But she soon gave up. Other side streets along Whitehorse Road, as far as I remember, were the same, of no consequence to us. Our territory was the main road.

The shops were, as far as I recollect, all one-man businesses, largely terraced. They sold everything you can imagine. There were butchers, sweet shops, antiques, fish and chips, newsagents and sweet/tobacconists, knitting wools and crafts, spring mattress makers (ours), furniture, delicatessen which sold pease pudding and faggots as well as jellied eels and other delicacies, bakers, carpets, rugs and lino, hardware, greengrocery, boots and shoes, dairy, – you name it, it was there.

There were plenty of characters. I remember Mr. Burstoe, the coster who came around with his open, flat cart with greengrocery. Mother always bought from him though he was dearer than the stalls in Surrey Street in the town. He was a tall, thin man, always respectful but, as I remember him, never exactly friendly and addressed mother as ‘ma’am’.

Then there was the milkman, in his uniform, including peaked hat, very efficient, knew exactly where to leave the milk during the day at the top of the basement stairs down where we lived. Always pleasant but in and out in a trice. A nice, good, working man.

Our music teacher was one of two spinsters who kept the boot and shoe shop down the road. She was the dominant one of the two – a tall, big boned, angular woman we called fish face because when she was playing the piano she pushed her lips out and assumed a frog-like expression. She taught the piano for 6d an hour but naturally we were ‘posh’ and paid by the quarter. She wasn’t a bad musician, I believe, but what a soulless life for her, with a sister who wasn’t ‘xactly’, to use a Cornish expression, trying to teach little monsters who did only the minimum of practice that was required of them – and that under total duress and belonging to those families with delusions of grandeur.

Then there was the sanitary inspector mother called in from time to time. He was called Mr. Hunt. To my surprise and wonder, he turned out to be the man in charge of the Band of Hope club we went to on a Monday night at the Baptist chapel. He was a quiet, reserved but quite severe man. Within these qualifications, I never did see him smile in either of his capacities. But more of him on both counts later.

Then there was Mr. Risby! He opened the antiques shop nearly opposite us, and, as I remember, next to the fish and chip shop. He was a medium-tall built man, gingery in colouring I believe, wore spectacles and a soft trilby. Neat, dapper and very superior, well-mannered, - ‘proper’. He came for a cup of tea every Wednesday. I think mother liked him because she was very interested in old furniture. I don’t remember what their conversations centred around – if anything. But he was always a source of quiet, very respectful, of course, humour to Marion and myself. He sipped his tea very carefully and respectfully and was generally a very pleasant man though a source of fun for the two of us. I believe he gave Marion something. I can’t remember if he gave me anything, though Marion says he did.

We moved from No. 24 to No.28 in the 20’s I believe. We moved to a corner property that had a bigger shop area. We had a large picture of a lady, sitting on a fallen tree trunk dressed in a long, black skirt and lacy, white blouse – Edwardian costume - in our passageway and I can remember asking mother if we were going to take ‘the picture of the lady in the funny hat’ with us, and she replying, laughing, ‘but that’s me’. I cried and cried because I thought I may have upset her. This was, I believe, before I went to school and I was born in 1924 so I could only have been three or four years old when we moved.

The earliest memory I have is of Marion and I in the old-fashioned, bucket-like pram. Marion was at the top and myself at the bottom, facing each other. We were having a gay old time pulling her dummy between us, laughing and screeching. We stretched it as long as we could make it. I suppose they were made of rubber in those days. Mother warned her and warned her about breaking it – again. Eventually, I understand, she kept her word and didn’t replace it. Apparently Marion felt for it in the middle of the night but soon got used to the idea that it was not going to be there any more.

In our daily routine, we’d get up as late as possible – 8.30 am as I remember, go downstairs, perhaps wash our face and hands if we couldn’t get away with not, make ourselves breakfast with a slice of bread, butter and jam, a cup of cocoa with water and a dash of milk, and off to school we’d rush. I remember mother before that time cooking porridge for our breakfast, I’m pretty sure in a double saucepan, but it was always lumpy and burnt and I think she got fed up with complaints and refused to see us off to school so stayed in bed. I hated milk puddings anyway. I could tolerate normal rice, but not ground rice or tapioca. I cannot name the year in which Mum left us to see ourselves off to school. It seemed for ever.

We walked to Holy Trinity Primary School that was about a mile away, along Northcote Road to Selhurst . We walked home for dinner and walked back for afternoon lessons. To get to our senior School, Lady Eldridge Central School, being in the same direction but another mile away, we went to by trolleybus for which we bought special, cheaper tickets. I’m not sure, but I think the school administered these.

We would come home from school around 4pm and mother would have, usually, a sweet tea for us; plenty of bread, butter and home-made jam, plus one slice of cake. We had to ask for each thing before taking it from the serving plate. Very, very occasionally there would be meat or fish paste, which I liked.

We would then do various activities – knit, sew, draw, play cards, do homework if we couldn’t get out of it, do our piano practice, go to the Band of Hope on a Monday, then Guides, Brownies, Sunday School and sometimes chapel.

Before we went to Spurgeon’s Baptist Chapel (the chapel is still there, click on ) we went to St. Michael and All Angels’ High Church (the church is still active today and has a web site, click on ). The boys had been choir boys there and Ivor, at least, attended there for some long time. The church people were not very pleased when Molly, Marion and I changed denominations!

Sometimes in the evenings or weekend afternoons mother would let us play with her button bag. We would sort them by shape, colour, size; any variation we could think of and sometimes they’d be soldiers lined up, etc. She may not have realised it, but young children are now given this kind of sorting to do in school. It is a precursor to calculation.

She would read us stories and poems and we took part in local concerts with Band of Hope and Brownies and with Sunday School, perhaps.

Sometimes Dad would play cards with us. Mother never, ever played cards. She was brought up as a Primitive Baptist so I suppose that was why.

From 6-7pm, according to age, would be bed-time. Every evening before bed, we would ask if we could have an apple or orange and would take one from the cupboard where they were kept, eat it and go to bed. Bananas were out of the question. We never had them because they were ‘bad for the digestion’.

We had no bathroom and I don’t think that mother was particularly concerned whether we cleaned our teeth or not. That supervision was more in principle rather than in practice. We had all the necessary ingredients and tools but it was more a matter of clamping down on us sometimes. I seem to remember washing face and neck in the bowl in the scullery and suppose that must have been a daily task, probably before we went to bed. After kissing Mum and Dad goodnight on the cheek, we went upstairs. They both, especially mother, accepted the kiss, but didn’t bother to return it. Perhaps there was a little more response from Dad.

This, then, was our general routine. We weren’t tired enough to sleep half the time and would stand at the window which looked sideways on to the main street. We would listen to the sounds of laughter and chanting which came from the pub on the diagonally opposite corner, which our family never frequented, it being a ‘coster pub’. Saturday nights were the noisiest, when the men and the women came out onto the pavement at chucking out time and continued their singing and dancing ‘knees-up’ before dispersing.

Our house was a four-storey place. The living quarters were behind and below the shop. Our living room was in the basement. Because Strathmore Road was on quite a steep slope, our garden was on a level with the basement. There was a small lean-to addition at the garden side of the living room which made the latter rather dark, where the gas cooker and the sink were.

On the left-hand side of the garden was an extremely high, wooden fence which was a hoarding with adverts on the street side. We had a gate at the far end of the garden in this hoarding. You had to walk up a slight slope to get to it. I don’t remember using it very much, if at all. It was probably forbidden to us children. On the right-hand side of the garden was the neighbours’ garden. Our neighbours were two maiden ladies, the Miss Hesters, who kept a craft and wool shop. They were very nice people and we rarely saw them. They were very reserved. We must have driven them mad.

Mother grew flowers in the garden. I remember the creeping jenny. I have it in my garden now. And we had a swing that Dad made for us, with very long ropes so one could go very high on it. The others enjoyed it but I could only have 3 or 4 single ups and downs on it before feeling sick so I hardly used it though I wanted to.

I remember in the hot days of summer when we were small, mother would put a zinc bath of water outside for us to play in. We pretended we were at the seaside and we had a doll’s tea service so held tea parties.

We had a dog called Bob until he was run over at the age of thirteen by, I believe, a motor bike and killed. He was our constant companion. He had a kennel in the garden and was a cross, I believe, between a wire-haired terrier and something else.

We would dress him up and would give him rides in our doll’s pram and on our wooden tricycle. He loved nuts and Ivor got him drunk one Christmas by feeding him nuts dipped in whisky. He walked downstairs backwards and went to off to sleep in his kennel, snoring loudly.

I shall never forget the day he died. I was absolutely distraught because the family had him from the time I was 1 month old, so he was a special part of my life. He lay peacefully in a box and we were allowed to see him. He just had a small area of blood on his head and otherwise looked at peace with the world. He did manage to get out sometimes and would chase motor cycles down the busy main street so perhaps it was a fitting end for him.

Brother Bill had a motor cycle and seemed to be constantly fiddling with it and its bits and pieces in the side street outside. But he went all over the place on it – to places like Brighton, with friends of his own sex and often of the opposite! They had a high old time.

Ivor we rarely saw. He had one friend, Robbie, surname Robinson, who was a master printer and who gave us children lovely birthday and Christmas presents. He gave me my ‘Alice in Wonderland’ which I still have – a part of my life! We were allotted seats once at the Lord Mayor’s Show in London in which he was taking part.

Marion showed him her new knickers once. She was wearing them at the time! He didn’t seem to know how to cope with that. She was very small.

He enjoyed it with us. Mother would open a bottle of her home-made wine. This was always an adventure because more often than not, when the cork was taken out, the wine would spurt up as high as the ceiling! Great fun.

She brewed it in the cellar that was on the same level as our living room but was under the shop and pavement at the far end where the coal cellar was with a coal hole in the pavement where the coalman would deliver the coal. Sometimes a bottle of her potent wine would break, the glass broken in two – with the cork still in the neck!

Mother did the washing in the cellar. There was a copper built into the wall that heated the water and boiled the whites. The water had to be carried from the lean to and then lifted and poured into the copper. There was a fire space underneath.

There was a large mangle there with wooden rollers that she had to turn. One day she turned her thumb in the rollers. Her thumb was a bit flat ever after. She used two baths and had a board – wooden with a metal, ridged plate on it – for rubbing the clothes clean on it.

Her wine-making took place on the right side of the cellar. She had a small wooden cask where she kept cider which I believe she made from apple skins. I used to ask her if I could have a glassful. She kept some very small glasses there. I usually asked before I went to bed. For some unknown reason she’d say yes and I’d pinch an extra glassful. I’m sure I staggered slightly up the stairs!

On the next floor at the top of the basement stairs was a small lavatory and further along the passage, a hallstand, on the right, a side door to Strathmore Road – our front door! On the left was a door into the shop. We went through the shop always or mostly.

Upstairs on the next floor were two bedrooms and our posh sitting room that wasn’t often used except for piano playing by the older ones and for piano practice by Marion and I. There was some lovely furniture there and it was carpeted wall to wall!

On the landing there was another flight of stairs to the attic which was one huge bedroom. Unfortunately, it being in the roof, there were bedbugs living there also. This was why the sanitary inspector, who was our Band of Hope chief, came to the house. Mother must have been absolutely beside herself over them. She always reckoned they were there because the place had been a cookshop at one time, whatever that was. We never ever saw one flea in the house.

The boys slept in the attic but where Alma and Molly slept before the boys got married I’ll never know. Marion and I slept in the small, second bedroom on the first floor next to mother’s and father’s. There was a small ‘office’ at the back of the shop. Perhaps that was used to sleep Alma and Molly before the boys were married. I don’t remember

We were taken out from time to time. We went to the Crystal Palace and to Croham Hurst and Selsdon, the last two of which were in the country. I think Croham Hurst was a nature reserve. I loved it.

We went to Riddlesdown which was fairly local. We were allowed to roll down the hill full length sideways. Great fun. We went to Brighton or some other South coast seaside for the day once or possibly sometimes twice a year.. One of those outings was, as I remember, with the ‘Equitable’ which, I believe, was a friendly society, insurance or perhaps a building society because No. 28 was on a mortgage. What different standards! You can imagine that happening today! I think the other outing was with the Sunday School. These seaside outings were always organised, I believe. I understood special trains were run.

We went to camp with the Brownies and/or Guides, again near the South coast.

Also there were various activities with the Band of Hope. Mrs. Windsor took us. It was really like a youth club and we did a lot of interesting activities like dancing and dressing up to give concerts, singing in our own small choir, games including table games, walks – all kinds of things. Mr. Hunt came to speak to us occasionally on the subject of the evils of drink and once they showed us a tear jerker about this man who was a drunkard and how his little daughter pleaded with him to stop. One evening, Mr. Hunt told us that no alcohol had ever passed his lips except when he was very ill and someone had poured a mouthful of whisky down his throat. I thought at the time, well if it can do you that good, perhaps it’s not so bad after all. I must have been preparing myself for my present nightly dram! Then there was the annual Temperance Queen crowning. One year a friend of Molly’s was chosen as Temperance Queen for all England and I, together with her young brother, was her attendant. I had a long, white, satin dress with, I believe, a blue sash around the waist.

We sang with mixed choirs at the Albert Hall once. I believe that may have been with the schools but I don’t really remember. We sang, if I remember, ‘Oh for the wings of a dove’. I remember practising that at school for a concert and some singers got part of it wrong when the big night came, but it seemed to recover somehow. We also went to the Crystal Palace for such occasions.

We were taken to Christmas pantomimes, either at the Empire theatre (if I remember that name rightly) or at the Davis cinema. Once we were taken to London for, I believe, ‘Sinbad the Sailor.’ In this one, on stage at one time, there was an extremely large open-ended cylinder on its side that was supposedly a ship’s cabin. The movement of the imaginary sea rocked it and once it turned a full circle with the players still in it!

I can remember seeing other plays. We may have gone with the schools to see these, but these were very, very rare events. The one I can remember was called ‘Where the Rainbow Ends’.

You’d think, reading this that we had the happiest of childhoods but that really wasn’t the case. It was spoilt by mother who was very hard to please and for whom we could do nothing right. I can only think that she used this ‘put down’ as a disciplinary method. Perhaps she was brought up with it herself. But I found it totally soul destroying. It affected our whole lives. None of us had any confidence because we thought we would fail. So one put on a brave face to get through life but if we were challenged, we folded. And we were told nothing whatsoever about the facts of life which made things very difficult and I wonder how we got through life as well as we did.

None of us was stupid but we never really achieved our potential.

It was like living on the edge of a volcano with her. She was a very unpredictable character. I have since wondered whether she suffered from a mild form, if there is such a thing, of manic depression. One never knew what the reaction would be to anything one said.

I have heard people say that to say that the ceiling falls down on you is a ridiculous thing to say, but I can tell you, that was exactly what it felt like when she was suddenly in that mood. And she could take it to extreme lengths. I can give you personal examples but I won’t unless you want them. I will say that one, no worse than others, entailed my being kept away from school for a fortnight, sent to the other side of London to an aunt I didn’t know very well, with an arrangement being made that I should go to school there. On the Sunday that I was to start at the new school, I was whisked back home again and sent back to my old school! I had to go back on my own. Nobody accompanied me. This was all over an utter triviality, as I knew at the time. The headmistress, Miss Mayhew was more than reasonable when I returned. She held out her hand at the school door and said, ‘Oh, Mavis, let’s forget it, shall we?’ and we shook hands. I could have kissed her though she was an oldish spinster with a hair bun and not very prepossessing! But I had been so frightened to return. I think if I’d had any money which we didn’t have, I would have run away. It was never taken out on me at school. When Mother lived with me at the end of her life, she brought up the subject as though she had been in the right. I said to her, ‘Did you ever see Miss Mayhew about it?’ ‘No!’ she barked in her usual way. I said, ‘Did you go and meet her and talk to her about it?’ ‘No,’ she repeated. I said, ‘Well I had to go back and face her.’ She looked thunderstruck. ‘I never thought of it in that way,’ she said. And that was the truth. She never did. Everything was done from her own angle. This is the sort of thing we had to live with.

Marion seems not to remember them but she had a special position in the family. She was the youngest and Mother raised her after she was born, probably slightly premature, at 4lbs. There was no assistance in those days. Alma remembered her in a small cardboard box in the hearth for warmth, wrapped in cotton wool. You either raised a child, no matter what, or it died. So I’m pretty sure that she was spoilt and was allowed to get away with things that the rest of us were not allowed to. I don’t remember getting any cuddles ever but Marion does. I think one’s position in family counts for a lot. She would be on Mother’s lap if she was reading a story or a poem, which she did, but I would just be standing at her knee, an also-ran.

When she wasn’t in one of these moods, life would be quite good, but the tension, the apprehension, was there all the time. One could never completely relax.

To speak for her, I think she had talents that she never allowed to use. It wasn’t much of a life for her, living in the basement, and she had 6 children to raise, all the washing, feeding, traumas to deal with, etc.

I’ve guessed, after reading Father’s letters from the trenches, that she started the business selling furniture when he was fighting in France. I think she would have made a good business woman and she loved good furniture. Her body lit up when I went to an auction with her once. And perhaps she enjoyed it when Mr. Risby talked to her, I imagine about his antiques. But when Dad returned from the war he changed the business from furniture to something that suited himself and I never ever saw her in the shop. I doubt if she was allowed.

I know she gave small inheritances she had from time to time to the shop because she told me so when she lived with us at the end of her life. So she must have been a very frustrated woman.

There were not so many busybodies around then as now and in spite of what she was like I would have hated for her to have been carried off and given electrical shock therapy. I think that would have finished her for good. I always loved her and tried to please her.

Mind, my father, who was a mild, laid-back man must have been a particularly frustrating person to live with, especially with a lively personality like hers. To an extent he was extremely selfish because he appeared not to consider her feelings at all. He never took her out and spent most of his time in the shop, even in the evenings when it was shut for business so he was no company for her. She was relegated to the domestic scene in the basement.

We used to have parties – for our birthdays when we could invite friends, usually school mates because we were not encouraged to have friends to bring home. We also had parties at Christmas time when very often, if not every year, either the Coopers from Littledean or the Coopers from Askern in Yorkshire came to stay. We all piled into the bedrooms as well as we could, top to bottom, girls and boys. I remember Olive staying with us at one time. She got under the bed and raised herself under us, playing at ‘ghosts. People said party pieces and games were played. I always felt unhappy with some of the games that were instigated by Mother and were designed to make fools of people. One of them involved some kind of tasting from a spoon but Mother substituted mustard from something sweet and the poor ‘victim’ suffered, much to everyone’s amusement.

She had a cruel streak in her. I remember fingers with gatherings on the cuticles being thrust into very hot water, much hotter than was necessary. And when she was told that the nit-nurse had visited school, she would bring out the nit comb and start at the top of your hair and comb through to the bottom all at once. We were not allowed to have short hair like everyone else but were forced to have ringlets. Also, we were never allowed to comb our hair but had to brush it with Maison Pearson pigs’ bristle brushes, the best that money could buy. We had one each of these brushes. So the nit comb routine was particularly painful, especially as Mother didn’t comb one’s hair with an ordinary comb first and she never held the top half while combing the bottom. It started at the top and went straight through to the end. Excruciating. I can feel it now.

I remember, too, walking along Wellesley Road into town with her at one time. A young family was on the opposite side of the road, the parents admiring our hair ringlets. Mine, the colour of ripe corn, curled naturally. One of their very young children stepped into the kerb and a vehicle came along and went over her foot and went on, not realising what it had done. The poor little foot must have been crushed and I was most upset and wanted to go over to help but Mother made us walk on as though nothing had happened which of course we had to do with the poor little child’s screams ringing in our ears.

I remember presents we had. We children always had a stocking, left by Father Christmas, with an orange and some nuts and small toys, etc. One year Marion and I were given a large dolls’ house. It was semi-detached, Mavis House and Marion Villa, made by Dad. We didn’t think too much of that. We never did get on too well and the houses felt like a shared present

Marion had a doll called Clara. She also had a teddy bear. I cannot remember having either. But after one Christmas, I was given the china fairy doll from the top of the Christmas tree. I loved her but I’m blowed if I can remember what I called her.

I remember Bill’s 21st birthday party. The shop was cleared and the office too. Everything was decorated and Bill invited his friends. He worked with Dad. I believe he earned his keep and had ten shillings a week pocket money. When he married, Dad couldn’t afford to give him a living wage so he left and made his own way in the world. He rode a blue and white tricycle for Wall’s Ice Cream for a while and in the evenings studied electricity by correspondence course, then managed to get an apprenticeship with a local firm and got his papers.

At Easter, we had Easter eggs – chocolate ones and marzipan. Molly had a marzipan one once but she didn’t like marzipan and it was put onto a high shelf in a cupboard in the recess beside the fire. She generously said that Marion and I could take some, so naturally we did – a bit at a time! She discovered this when it was nearly gone and she was absolutely furious with us!

Mother made painted faces on real eggs for us and baked Simnel cake etc. She was a good rich cake maker, for Christmas, birthdays and weddings. Ivor, coming in late one night, saw in the cupboard what he didn’t realise was the Christmas cake and cut a large slice for his supper. Mother had to make another.

We always had a card and an egg from Mrs. Bashford, a friend of Mother’s. We called her Mrs. Bash and she never forgot our birthdays or festive days until Mother decided she didn’t want her to call any more after what seemed like, and I think was, years. So on Wednesday nights, her weekly visits, we had to be quiet while poor Mrs. Bash knocked on our front door (at the side) and finally got the message after a few weeks. It was a source of sadness to me but one didn’t argue with Mother. Mrs. Bash’s father we called Granddad, and he was special because both our Granddads were dead. We never knew them. When we saw him out, Granddad would take from his waistcoat pocket a halfpenny tube of wine gums and give us each one. He never forgot. One day, he didn’t have any and he laughed when he reported later that I had whispered to Marion as we walked away that wasn’t Granddad mean not to give us some wine gums.

When Mrs. Bash was persona non grata we were embarrassed as to how we should behave to Granddad and missed Mrs. Bash a lot. I believe there is at least one birthday card from Mrs. Bash in my personal photograph album

I remember, indeed have never forgotten, extreme poverty in the 30’s. Welsh miners in the town singing for a few coppers, with gaunt faces and the large, vibrant eyes which come with starvation. I made friends with a lovely little girl whose father was born a cripple with a hump-back and club foot, the two of which seemed to go together. I haven’t seen this for many years. Her mother was a lovely, loving woman. She reminded me of my Aunty Ethel in Yorkshire where I would spend my summer holidays and never wanted to return home. These people have an aura of love around them and are usually, I find, very poor. I invited the girl to my birthday party and in return she invited us to hers. Her birthday tea was tinned pears and a tin of cream. Also bread and real butter! That was it.

Soon after, Mother said not to be friends with her because she wasn’t really very nice. I broke my heart quietly, but one did as Mother said. There was no alternative. But I felt a real desperation at the decision.

I learned much later that the Coopers in Askern had also been living below the official poverty line though Uncle Tom was working as a miner. But they had been involved in the 1926 general strike for better pay and conditions, both of which were atrocious. But their leaders had let them down and caved in and the men, all over the country were treated cruelly. Roy’s father, also, was involved as a railwayman, and they were taken back to work a trickle at a time and gained nothing but punishment.

In Yorkshire, the family could not afford to have cooked dinner every day. The children were threatened not to tell us when we visited but because Mother sent a few shillings for our keep, Aunty managed to cook us all a dinner. The only thing I couldn’t understand was about her gravy. It was made with just flour and burnt sugar. She kept a special spoon in which to burn the sugar over the cooker. I used to watch her, fascinated, when she made it. The gravy tasted awful. We always had a Yorkshire pudding first, to fill us up I suppose. Both those parents died in their 50s, I would say from malnutrition.

Mother was very careful about our clothes. We were taken to the tailor’s for our coats to be made. Molly, myself and Marion had identical, fawn and other colour dogtooth check coats in extremely good cloth. The trouble with them was, they were too good and were handed down one to the other. Poor Marion got the worst of that! With our school clothes Mother was her usual cussed self. We never had exactly the school uniform. There was always something not quite in accordance with it. This was the problem when she behaved so badly involving me, as I told you about earlier. She sent Alma to school once with a wide stripe of pink fabric down the centre of her tunic which apparently she had cut down lengthwise and inserted the strip. Perhaps Alma was leaving school soon and had outgrown her tunic. But our clothes were always handed down if that was the case and so Molly could have had it. But no, Mother knew best and the other girls ridiculed Alma for it. What did Mother care? If you told her about such things she soon put you in your place and said what others did didn’t concern her, she did as she thought. I was about 15 before I was able to choose a Sunday hat for myself. It was a beautiful, emerald green velvet halo hat that was fashionable at that time! I loved it.

She made us accompany her to Surrey Street on Saturday evenings in order to buy fruit and vegetables which were cheaper there than from Mr. Burstoe. This may have been more when the business was failing because spring interiors were coming on to the market and because Dad couldn’t get the wire easily any more because war was looming. Surrey Street was full of great characters plying their wares on the stalls. It was quite a long road with every conceivable commodity for sale, including sarsaparilla kept in a tank a bit like a fire engine. Perhaps it was one! We never tasted it. A rather pungent, peculiar aroma wafted over the area from a brewery, I learnt.

There was a pinch-nosed woman, very thin, dressed always as I remember, in brown, including a hat, selling bunches of lavender and saying in her thin voice, ‘Penny a bunch of lavender lady, penny a bunch’. And there was a man with a tray carried from a cord around his neck selling braces. He would stretch the elastic and shout, ‘Braces. Bob that pair!’ I could never make up my mind if he was bobbing that pair or charging a bob for them. Looking back of course it was a bob for them in price. We would help Mum to lug all this vegetable and fruit stuff home.

Saturday mornings were spent doing our household chores for our 2d. a week pocket money. My jobs were to sweep the three flights of stairs with dustpan and brush and to dust the front room furniture. I don’t know if you had the black glass cabinet come sideboard at home. It was a good piece of furniture, black with glass doors at the bottom half and an almost heart shaped but not quite mirror at the top half. Surrounding it all was this black, open, coiled fretwork. Every week, every single week, Mother would come to inspect my work, put her finger inside the coils and bark, ‘No, you haven’t done that properly! Do it again!’ and she’d go away and never return to see if I had remedied it. I say, ‘every week’, but one week she actually said, ‘Oh yes. You’ve done that very nicely.’ I walked on air for a brief while and thought she was wonderful. I doubt if it lasted long before she was at her old tricks. But I remember how it felt to have something nice said to me. The only trouble was, I hadn’t done the dusting any differently than always!

This then was what I remember about our life at Whitehorse Road. Of course there must be more, but I’m sure it’s more than enough for now! Anything I have got wrong perhaps your Mum could put right. And of course, she will remember things I have forgotten and even have a different interpretation on the things I have written about.

By Mavis Trevithick (nee Woodland)

Letters From the Front During WW I
All these letters were sent to Flora Woodland (Cooper) and Mary Rebecca Woodland (Weeden) from Ronald George Woodland during the first world war. Some of the images from this page are available in better quality on the download page.
Dear Flo
Just a few lines to say am still going on alright. We've arrived at a place called Anicke, not far from Douai, and expect to stop here some time, they're making all preparations for sports and instruction, I have put down for a general electrical course and told them I wish for a job in that trade when I leave the Army which will probably be about February or March. I expect my leave in about a fortnight. We have a good billet and make it more comfortable every day, we've got a clockwork piano and a long table with two fine candleabras on it, and enough bed and chairs to go round, and are just fitting a nice little stove so you can guess we're alright. The town's not very lively in itself but is improving, we have the Div Concert Party and a good cinema fairy handy. Canteen stuff is still a bit short but not nearly as bad as it was, we can get plenty of fags which we used to miss so much. We had a long march to get here and are glad to be settled though of course we'd rather have remained in Belgium. Some of the boys are going home to-morrow to their civil occupations but they will still be in the Army until general demobilization Well suppose I must close now as I have no more news at present. Best love to you all, hoping to see you soon
I remain
Your loving hubby

358 P.O.W. Coy
Avion. B.E.F. France
My dear Flo,
Have just received your letter, so glad to hear you are doing so well at the shop but so sorry to hear about poor Charley, it certainly is rough luck after getting through the war but the weather has been so terribly treacherous lately, freezing at night and hot as summer in the day. Well I suppose we are a bit hardened by the events of the last few years but I know how you must feel it but dear we must believe that all such things are for a purpose that we can't see through at present. Well dear we are getting on pretty well here, the work is not too hard though rather monotonous, the Jerrys are very tractable and will do any mortal thing for us. We are quite busy making souvenirs, hope you have received the two shell cases alright, shall try and send a few more. I have just been on three days pass, went up to Mons with the sergeant major, I spent a day and a night with my dear Belgians, you can guess what a welcome I had, not only from them but from all the neighbours. There was only the old man at home, but he soon fetched the others back and he wouldn't go to work that afternoon, I had to catch the train at Mons at 7 in the morning but they wouldn't hear of me going back that night, they got up and gave me breakfast at 3'oclock and Amir walked most of the way with me. They say that when I get back to England I am to bring you out to see them, Madame is going to make a huge cake etc. I said I would come when I take you for a trip round the war area. What did you think of Wag's letter ! You can guess what a nut he is. Did you notice the piece about his brother fetching the corporal one in the eye on Xmas Day and getting the D.C.M. and 56 days for it. Sorry I couldn't see anything in Mons suitable for Ivor but am enclosing a few shillings for him, of course we can't get anything anywhere here as we're right in the midst of the devastated area round Lens. Well, will close for the present best love to all hoping you are keeping well and that Mr C is better again
I remain
Your loving hubby

Decorated shell cases from the front during WW1 by Ronald George Woodland
Decorated shell cases sent home fromn the front during WW1 by Ronald George Woodland
Dear Flo
Many thanks for the parcel I received it quite safely last night and which was most welcome. We haven't been able to get any fags or anything for sometime though they've issued us rather more than usual. As you say we've had a very rough time but thank goodness we're out of it now, though I'm more than sorry to say my favourite chum has gone west, killed by a shell as we were coming home from the trenches. We got into a state I can tell you, the lines were terribly muddy, we absolutely lived in the mud and slosh and we have had long marches to and from work over bad ground and very little rest in between, we're still at work but its comparatively easy now. Jerry has cut up very rough at times but luckily we have missed the worst of his activities, from what I can hear he has paid heavily for his little picnic. We have had pretty good grub but our appetites are enormous, the few canteens that we have here are sold out in no time, talk about margarine queues, you never saw anything like the crush when there's anything eatable to be got, the froggies can ask any money they like for stuff and get it. My cake went pretty quickly but must say I feel all the better for a good feed. I don't think the war can last much longer at the present rate, either somebody must give in or things quieten down a bit. It's quite a treat to have dry boots and clothes again and to lie down in a dry place. If only the miserable grousers at home could have a single day out here such as our boys have had for months and years there'd be no more strikes or anything of that, but the life has its compensations as it makes one appreciate the small comforts a great deal more than other appreciate their larger ones. I have heard from Mabel and she appears to be well contented in her new place, I think it will be so much better for her. Glad Ma is still with you as she seems so much better there, hopes she keeps well and does'nt worry too much. I have'nt had much chance to write during the last few weeks but have managed to get a letter through when there was any chance at all. Its not much of a place where we're staying but hope to get into a more lively place very soon. Well I suppose I must close with best love hoping all is well with you at home and that the time is not far off when we shall all be there
I remain
Your loving hubby
P.S. Our sergeant and a few more are recommended for the M.M. so you can tell the old platoon has not been idle. R.
The cake arrived 358 P.O.W. Escort Coy
alright and was A1 1st Army Area
B.E.F. France
Dear Flo,
Just a few lines to thank you for the parcel which I received quite alright, I'm enclosing the agreement with this, also a P.O. 10/- to pay for plates etc. I've had no letter from you since I came back, hope you are going on alright. The terms of the agreement seem to be quite alright, except it is assumed that we extend the house in good order and those things that want doing should be done first. I am writing to Mr King on this subject. I think I should be home during the next month or so as they're making a start on 1916 men who joined before July 1st. I can't do anything on business grounds as I was not in the place previous to joining up but I shall be one of the first to get away from here. We've had plenty to do lately as there's only three sergeants for duty and one of them is ill, Brownie and I have it all on our own for the time being. There is some talk of having to march the companies back to Germany as there's not sufficient accommodation on the railways, it is nearly all German rolling stock on the railways here. Brown and I managed to get yesterday off together and went to Bethune, met many of our old regiment then had a fairly jolly time. We had a bit of sport today the German cooks and mess orderlies took sides armed with pails and jugs full of water, one side stood on top of the cook house and the others dodged all round, our own waiter put the lid on it by getting a large spraying machine and nearly drowning the roof party. Well, I think I must close now, best love to all from
Your loving hubby
3rd Platoon A Coy
Dear Flo,
Just a few lines to say I'm still jogging along in the same old place, there's no signs yet of going backward or forward. We've been in this unholy place nearly four months and I'm sure we're going properly scatty, you'll see me roll home one day with grey hair and a long beard and an armful of Blue chevrons. The boys in Germany are having a rattling good time but there's no such luck for us, I think we must be the last regiment they ever made, and they've forgotten that we exist. I had Alma's postcard alright, isn't it just like her, at first I thought it was. I've had very few letters ever since I've been back the mails are awful. Hope you've received my little parcel alright. We expected to be going home on the 11th but it didn't come off. Excuse this rather doleful letter but this desolate stagnation is getting properly on my nerves, I suppose we shall warned for the Rhine or demob all of a sudden some day when Dilly and Dally wake up for five minutes. Best love to all from
Your loving hubby

Northamptonshire regiment plaque by Ronald George Woodland
Plaque for the Northamptonshire regiment made by Ronald George Woodland during WW1 (from shell parts and shrapnel)
Dear Ma,
Just a few lines to say am still going on alright, I received two letters from you running. Well we have started on the first stage of our journey to Blighty, we still have a long march in front of us but expect to arrive soon at one of the base towns and stay there over Christmas and then cross the water and start demobilizing, I should be home for Christmas on leave if we don't cross before that. We said aurevoir to our dear Belgian friends yesterday, we walked over to see them several times while we were at Blaton as it was only five miles and a pretty walk and the weather has been grand. We all promised much correspondence and exchange of photographs, we said to them "you visit us in England" and there was a chorus of "you visit Hautrage". We marched off singing Good Byeee and they all came to there doors and wished us good luck and bon voyage. We never saw Mons or Germany after all but still we're not sorry, we've already crossed the border and are back again in France, at a place called St Amand where we had rather a shock a few weeks ago, we were supposed to be out on rest at the time, we were billeted in a chateau, and Fritz sent some long range shells over, several burst just outside our door, wounded two of my section who were standing on the doorstep and killed two R.E's, jolly hard luck that, so near the end, the armistice was signed two days later. We were halted at Blaton near the church you see on the postcard, on our way to Hautrage when the colonel rode up and told us the war was all over. The chaps took it very quietly but we had been expecting it for sometime. The people told us how Jerry had blown the bridges up before all his men were clear, and the people set about them with Knives and sticks. A German officer ordered his men to fire on the people but they refused, eventually he was shot from a top window but whether by a German or a civilian nobody knows. We hope to arrive at Douai tomorrow, not far from the old battle line. We have had the demobilization scheme explained to us fully and think it is great, there are so many things to be considered and the scheme provides for them all. Well, think I must close with best love hoping to see you by Christmas I remain
Your loving son

Dear Flo
A few more lines to you
From the fair fields of France
There's no parades, so I write this
While I have got the chance.
There's not much time here as a soldier
There's heaps of work to do.
And when we get home tired and cold,
And feeling rather blue,
We don't feel much like setting down,
And getting froze, you bet,
So down go blankets in galore,
And then, Sleep and forget

We're on a rather quiet front
And miles behind the line,
If it was only summer time
The billet would be fine.
But air is cold in winter time
And snow is colder still
We break the ice upon the stream
To have our morning swill
We grouse and grumble at the cold
Which nips our feet and thumbs;
We'll soon be moaning at the mud
When warmer weather comes.

Our luck is out this bright New Year
We've lost our weekly fags
We've got no cash, and grub is short,
Next week we may have bags.
When will some genius, great and good,
From out the land arise,
To put things straight, to right and wrongs,
And equalize supplies.
When war is O'er, and peace time comes,
And quiet is every gun,
Some clever bloke will up and say
How things SHOULD have been done.

Oh, roll on pay day, roll on leave,
Roll on duration too.
No more we'll dine on onion wine
Our tea mixed up with stew.
About a fortnight Saturday
I should be home, you know
We never know for certain till
The day before we go
Well, tea is up at four o'clock
And time is getting on.
Must close up know with best love from
Your loving hubby

Dear Flo
Just a line to say am still alright. Have had a letter and a pic from home and Ma seems to be getting on alright. Haven't had much chance to get a letter off the last few days as we are out all night and sleep in the morning when the letters are collected but we're leaving them now where they can be found. We got wet shirts last night, rained like fury while we were out, should like a few of our arm chair experts to try a few miles of slippery tracks and muddy trenches in the dark to say nothing of a few hours hard graft in no mans land among machine guns and mortars and then the same walk back again. Just the same with the air raids, people don't realise that we can't send all our machines home from here to protect London. I think a lot of the blame can be laid to the well paid but unsatisfied workmen at home. I'm glad you've sold the old lathe as it will be so much less to move and the price is not so bad under the circs. Well I must close now well best love to all from

Shrapnel paper knived from the front during WW1 by Ronald George Woodland
Paper Knives made from shrapnel by Ronald George Woodland during WW1, you can see the rifling marks when the shell has travelled up the barrel
25382 L/Cpl Woodland
17 J.B.D. S24 A.P.O.
B.E.F. France
Dear Ma,
Just a line to tell you I'm having a nice little holiday on the Continent, we've had it a bit wet and cold but hasn't been too bad altogether. The first night we landed it was almost up over our boots in mud and in the night the water overflowed the tent boards and as there were 22 of us in the tent you can guess it was a bit of a mixup. Next day we took a trip in a pantomime train, chaps were getting out all along the line and picking celery etc and then walking back to catch the train up. We get any amount of food and nothing to do except a bit of fatigue duty sometimes. I've met a lot of old pals out here, including many I knew at Hertford. They sent us out all in a hurry but now were here they apparently don't want us. I haven't heard from you for a long time, not since I first went to Hertford, hope you are all alright and enjoyed our Christmas, we didn't have any Christmas at all, but better luck next year. We're all quite contented and comfortable out here, we have fine old times in camp and get out into town sometimes, just learning the French language alright. It's quite a decent place where we are, on a sandy soil so that all the wet does not affect us so much. Well, I suppose I must close with best love to all
I remain
Your loving son

25382 L/Cpl Woodland No 2 Platoon
1 Company
N.C.O's School Instruction
Dear Flo,
Just a line to let you know we arrived here on Saturday, seems a very country town after Chatham, we had to bring all our equipment and luggage, you ought to have seen us struggling across London. We're living in the old married quarters, rather a change from the tents, we have eight in each house, that's 3 rooms and a washhouse and backyard so we're doing alright. The food is altogether better and served up in very different style to the other place. From all accounts it's a very hot show to work at, everything's got to be just so and the drill is enough to make a cat laugh we have to walk about the town like a lot of dancing dolls they serve us out with special canes and they have to be carried in one special way. We're told that if we can get through the course alright here we can do anything so hope we shall manage to stick it. One good thing, we get plenty of leave, Sat afternoon till late Sunday night nearly every week and after the first month if we come out specially well in our exams they extend the privilege to from Friday evening. We don't get paid for a week or two so if you could manage to send me two or three shillings should be glad, and I'll return it as soon as we get paid, we've got to buy stripes and things, they wouldn't let us put up our stripes till just before we were coming away, and then of course the quartermaster hadn't got any in stock. The town is awfully dark at night time, they've suffered a bit from Zeppelins at different times, Cuffley isn't far away. I am dropping a line to Ern to ask if I can spend next weekend with him, it's about 15 miles from here. Funny thing , one of our chaps at Gillingham going home on leave Saturday asked me the train for Bishops Stortford and turns out he used to call at Ern's for grocery. Well, I suppose I must close with best love to all hoping you have had no more nerve destroyed lately I remain

358 P.O.W. Coy
1st Army Area
B.E.F. France
My dear Flo,
Just a few lines in answer to yours, we are still going on alright, I have just sent two shell cases and a few other souvenirs, shall try and send as many a possible as they're worth 15/- to ú1 each in England plain.
I'm sorry to hear Mr C. is still so ill but perhaps he will pick up if he takes things quiet. I expect to be home about the last week in June but can't be sure as we're losing one sergeant soon. At present I am acting sergeant major while the usual one is away on leave, not such a bad job in a place like this. We are getting on well with the railways and Lens will soon be a busy place again. There are some postcards with the shell cases, you can compare the two different views of the same places to realize a little what the destruction has been. There is going to be a big fete here in July in the "Grand Place" you can see it on the postcards. We haven't got our photos back yet, but shall have them soon.
Well, think I must close for the present hoping you are all well and that Mr. C. is going on better
I remain
Your loving hubby
On Active Service
With The British
Expeditionary Force
Dear Ma and Flo and kiddies
Just a line or two to you
While I'm lying in my bivvy
And have nothing else to do
The night is dark and stormy
The wind is howling wild
Our cupboard's full of bread and cheese
But short of stout and mild
I'm glad we've been on day work
for it's raining cats and dogs.
I've had enough of slippery tracks
And trenches full of frogs
The boys won't half be moaning
Tonight while coming back
A slipping into wet shell holes
And sliding on the track
My chum are playing solo
And pont and crib and brag
But my five francs a fortnight
I'd rather spend on fags
The Army's greatest comfort
Is woodbine or the 'flake'
It eases our poor weary souls
Of every pain and ache
How doth the little busy Hun
Improve the dark some night
His star-lights shine for miles and miles
And make our pathway bright
I see their radiance through the mist
Among the trees so green
Without this help we could not see
The way to our canteen
Well must close, because I'm running
Rather short of verse
I stop
Before it gets much worse
I hope you're all in best of health
I'm feeling
I'll shut up now and sign myself
Your ever loving

Am enclosing 358 P.O.W. Coy
30/- may be handy B.E.F. France

Decorated mortar shell case from the front during WW1 by Ronald George Woodland
Decorated mortar shell sent by Ronald George Woodland from the front during WW1
Dear Flo,
Just a few lines to say I'm still going on alright and hope you are all the same. Glad you've got the shell cases alright, am now doing a couple of smaller tall ones, also a novelty made out of various war material which is much admired in camp. You will be glad to hear I have just been made sergeant, only acting at present but carries the pay and some extra separation allowance from the 19th. If you have not received the 32/- you had better write to the paymaster and explain as brief as possible what you have received between the dates that the shortage occurred. We're having a pretty good time here in spite of the locality though we're rather short of men. I don't see much signs of getting away just yet but don't think they will keep us long after the peace is signed. Sorry to hear that Mr. Caryer has been so ill again, hope he is getting on better now. Gravesend would suit me alright if you decide to go there. We have been having sports today. I entered for a few but didn't win anything though I and my pal Brown, that's the tall chap in the photo next to me nearly won the wheelbarrow race (I was the barrow) but at the last minute he ran me into a nice soft shell hole and we got into a terrible heap, I was doubled up with my head well planted in the mud and he was across my back. Loud laughter in court. The Jerry's gave a concert last night, made a very good band with a couple of mouth organs and some tins on a broomstick. A lot of them can speak English and are very well educated. I had quite a long talk with one of the interpreters yesterday, he's only about 20 but knew a rare lot about the war, he explained any things that had puzzled me and was most interesting. Well I suppose I must close for the present with best love to all from
Your loving hubby
3 Platoon A Coy
Dear Flo,
Just a few lines to say am still going on alright, we're still in the same old place it's getting a bit more lively now but shan't be at all sorry to get out of it. I expect to come home with the colours WHEN they come, but don't think it will be long, and I'm expecting my second stripe any day. There's only two lance corporals in our company now and we're continually on duty, a guard every other day and orderly sergeant in between, we get no time off at all except what we take, and we manage to get a fair bit. They're making several more, including two of my best chums, one of them lives about ten minutes bike ride from us, so I expect I shall see a good bit of him when we come home. I had a nice long letter from Belgium. They tell me that when I see them again I shall find there family increased by one, rather a surprise to me, but it's four months since we were there and I suppose it was hardly noticeable. I have had several letters from our boys who've gone home and they all seem to be getting on alright in spite of the labour troubles. We haven't sent anybody to the Rhine yet and I don't think we shall, we'd all much rather be there than here , but san fairy an, we are living in hope of getting a sudden order to turn our faces Blighty-wards. Demob seems to be quite at a standstill with us at present. Well must close now with best love hoping you are all keeping well and that the shop is going on as well as ever
I remain
Your loving hubby
P.S. Have just received your parcel quite alright thank you very much for it dear, it makes such a pleasant change from our eternal bully and jam. I was on guard when it came, and when I came off my pals had already gone on. They pinned a big notice on it "Don't forget the boys at Somain."
N.C.O. School
Dear Flo,
Just a line to let you know we're still going on alright, have passed out quite as well as I expected, recommended for full corporal. Britton is staying on here as sergeant instructor, Scoffin has passed out exactly equal with me, same total number of points 134 out of 150, so that's not so bad. We had a map reading exam besides, that's quite an extra and I hope to do well in that and get recommended as instructor in that line. We're having a farewell dance tonight but I shall not go unless I can find two or three nice girls to come as well, they're very short of ladies and allow you to take as many as you like with one ticket, they're providing cards etc for those that can't dance. We go back next tuesday but can't get home this time as we're having off later on Saturday and I've got to be in by 5 on Sunday, so I'm going to Ern's for a few hours. We are entitled to four days leave after finishing the course so shall try and get those pretty soon. The photo isn't very satisfactory so I haven't ordered one, I've only seen the rough proof so if the finished article is better will have one sent on, they're about 30 inches long and 9 or 10 inches high so they're worth having if they look alright. We've got a new Commandant now, and he's improved things a great deal, knocked off the early morning parade altogether, so we don't start till 9. Wish we had about two years here instead of two months, we've had some jolly times and don't like the idea of going back at all. A chap I've been going out with a good bit lately is coming to Maidestone and Jerry Knight is at Sheerness. Funny thing this chap was at Harrow that time when they had that big camp, and he was at the N.C.O.'s school at Gillingham, just opposite our camp at the same time as we were in our old N.C.O.'s squad. Well I suppose I must close with best love hoping you are all keeping well
I remain yours
2 Platoon
N.C.O. School Inst
Dear Flo,
Just a line to let you know we're still going strong, glad Ivor is so close as it will be company for you. I don't know if I shall be home again just yet as I'm on guard duty Sunday and we may be gone back next week, either Saturday week or the following Sunday. We still have lively old times, No 2 Platoon gets more undisciplined every week, but Captain was good enough to tell us that our drill had improved greatly in the past few weeks, that's rather unusual as they make a practice of finding faults. I got on pretty well at the last exam after all, 45 out of 50, but we've had a pretty stiff one today I expect we shall go down on that a bit. We still have our fire going alright, Britton has discovered a new store of coal, the other night, I walked in with nearly a whole loaf and half a pound of butter, then in walks Scoffin with two pockets full of biscuits, and just as we were enjoying the prospect of our gains in walks Britton with two great lumps of coal as much as ever he could carry, goodness only knows how he managed to get it in. We have found a new home for soldiers in a gentleman's house, furnished splendid with easy chairs and electric light and a whole library of good books, I can tell you we don't like the prospect of returning to Gillingham at all. We seem to be getting pretty good news from the front now, hope it will continue. I don't think it will be long before we're all out there as nearly all the old N.C.O.'s have gone and everyone's got to take their turn, from what I can hear of it we were jolly lucky not to have gone with old 9 Company as they've had a pretty rough time. I intend to put in for a transfer to the Flying Corps as soon as I get back, but haven't got much hopes of it as Northamptons don't get off very easy. Old Britton was pleased with the way I did his stick but unfortunately some one got larking about on parade and nearly pushed him over and his stick caught in the ground and got pulverised. We've had our photograph taken today but the copies cost 3/6 so don't think I shall get one, at any rate will see how it turns out, of course it's a fair size, about 300 of us altogether, then we had a cross country run, and tomorrow night we have a good concert coming off. Haven't had any more whist drives yet, perhaps we shall get one next week. Well, I suppose I must close with best love to all hoping to get home again soon I remain
2 Platoon 25382 L.Cpl Woodland
N.C.O.'s School Instruction
Dear Flo,
Just a line to let you know we're still getting on alright, getting quite used to being dancing dolls now. We find plenty to do both in and out of parade hours, we have to attend lectures in the evenings and take notes, and find time to write them out fully in a special note book. I went to Ern's last week, found them all well, Billy's a fine little chap very much like our own girl, and very contented, Margaret's more like Ivor was. Dolly says she hasn't heard from any of us for ages, she thought we were living at Willesden, she would have been over last week if she had known the address. I went out for a ride on Ern's bike and got caught in the rain some miles from home so you can guess I was pretty muddy when I got back. Thanks for the 3/-, I only got paid in part last week as the money had not arrived from Kent, and they did their best for those going on pass. I shall try and come home about the week after next, if I pass the exams extra well I can get off Friday night, it costs about 3/- so is hardly worth coming for just the short time. We haven't seen much of the district yet, as we're so busy at nights writing and cleaning up, a speck of dust anywhere is enough to bring anybody up for company orders, anyway we three Northants boys got highly commended on two occasions for the cleanest and tidiest barrack room, the officers sent all the others in to see what a room should be like, that was one up for Northampton. One of the officers recognised Britton as a fellow patient in hospital at the front. One of the mess orderlies knows Ern quite well, lives very close to him, so of course Ern knew all about the school and was surprised to fin I was there. I had a letter from Ma the same time as yours, just about the same as the one you enclosed, she had written to the camp and it was covered all over with chalk marks from different companies there before they found out where to send it. Well , I suppose I must close with best love hoping you are all well I remain
Dear Flo,
Just a few lines to say am still going on alright, we're still at the same place and likely to stop here for a time from all appearances. I have received your letter and election papers alright, as it happened I had already sent off my papers in favour of Mr. Muggeridge. I had a paper some time ago from the other candidate but as he was a Tory I voted for his opponent although I knew nothing about him, but guessed he was a Labour Member. One of my section is a son of Mr Hayday, Labour candidate for Notingham, the greater part of our chaps have voted for Labour by the way. We Have had the battalion photographed today but do not think it will be up to much owing to the way were formed up, and it rained hard all the time. We are to have a grand ceremonial parade next week before the General, so are practising it up a bit. A few of our chaps have already gone away, I expect general demobilization will start very soon now. There's not much doing with the educational classes yet except a few odd things like French and shorthand, but I expect they're waiting till after Christmas to get them well on the go. There won't be much of a Christmas dinner out here this year as meat can't be got at any price within reason but they've made arrangements for everything possible , however I hope to be home well in time for Christmas at the rate they're going now, although of course the large number of special leaves may interfere with us a bit. We actually had our old packs returned to us a few days ago, that we handed in last March, they'd been pulled about a bit but a managed to get some clean new underclothes which were very welcome as the clean changes we usually get are very poor stuff, spoilt by washing under poor conditions during the Great War. We've built our own bath house so we're well away, and I found a good flat iron and had a proper wash day about twice a week, what a difference it does seem from the old life in the trenches. We have our meals on plates we've scrounged, and have everything properly washed up after, take it in turns to wash up and tidy the room, in fact we get more comfortable every day, there's a good set of fellows in my room and they work together well. I've had a long letter from Mabel but haven't heard from Ern or Cis yet. Well, think I must close now hoping to see you all soon
Your loving hubby

If there are any arrangements to make about the shop before I come home I leave it entirely to you as I am quite sure the place will suit me alright.

Wallace Woodland / Mary Rebecca Weeden
Mary Rebecca Weeden as a young girl
Mary Rebecca Woodland (Weeden)
Mary Rebecca Weeden portrait
Mary Rebecca Woodland (Weeden)
Mary Rebecca Woodland in later life
Mary Rebecca Woodland (Weeden)
Mary Rebecca Woodland agricultural benifit card
After the death of her husband Wallace Woodland and her son Wallace C Woodland, Mary Rebecca had no means of income (the farm had been lost due to mismanagement) as there was no social security in this period the agricultural benefits would help her survive and raise the surviving children.
Wallace Woodland portrait
Wallace Woodland
Wallace Woodland and Ronald George Woodland
Wallace Woodland with Ronald George Woodland at Glebe Farm, Ickenham
Marriage Hymn for Wallace Woodland and Mary Rebecca Weeden part 1
Found with some old paperwork/photo boxes after a house move. This is for the marriage of Wallace Woodland and Mary Rebecca Weeden on 24th of April 1877. See marriage certificate below.
Marriage Hymn for Wallace Woodland and Mary Rebecca Weeden part 2
Marriage Certificate for Wallace Woodland and Mary Rebecca Weeden. There is a high resolution image available in the download area.
mariage certificate for Wallace Woodland and Mary Rebecca Weeden
Marriage of Michael Woodland and Charlotte Treadaway - The parents of Wallace Woodland - Later resided at Glebe Farm Ickenham
Marriage certificate for Michael Woodland and Charlotte Treadaway
Family Tree
William Woodland +
William Treadaway +
Samuel Weeden + Rebecca
Michael Woodland
Charlotte Treadaway
Eldred Weeden
Anne Treadaway
Wallace Woodland b(1849) d(1891)
Mary Rebecca Weeden
Alice Kate Woodland b(1873)
nurse, never married
Wallace C Woodland (1880)
Died in an accident on the farm, age 40's
Benjamin Cooper b(1854)
Eva Shepherd
Ronald George Woodland b(1888) m(1908) d(1967)
Flora Cooper b(1885) m(1908) d(1961)
Ernest Woodland
Dolly ?

Paper Jack By Marion Holyhead (nee Woodland)

This photo of Paper Jack can be obtained from my download page.