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Wrockwardine Wood and Trench Parish Council

Rona Harris - My Story Part 1

Hello Everyone. I have been asked to write about my life since coming to live in Shropshire.

It was 1946 and my father was transferred in his job to Wellington. We were living in the Peak District in Derbyshire and I was 16 years of age. We moved to Sinclair Gardens in Ketley and I got a job on the telephone switchboard at the Sinclair Iron Company in Ketley and from then I have lived with my parents in Wellington, Ketley Bank, Oakengates, then afterwards through marriage, in Wombridge, Donnington, Wrockwardine Wood and finally now in Trench and I love it here.

Now, although the Peak District is very beautiful, the village where we lived was very quiet. I recall the first day that we moved to Ketley, it all seemed so different, and I remember my Mum was fed up with a day of removals, so with my Dad not yet properly demobbed from the army, she took us to Wellington and we went to see a film at the Grand Theatre. To me it was truly gorgeous as the cinema in our previous small nearby town was known as the “flea-pit”, and no comparison to the Grand. To me it was luxury itself.

I really love Wellington and all the surrounding villages and small towns, I have made some very good and everlasting friends over the years. I have seen some huge changes since I have lived here, and I am afraid to say, not all for the best. I am now getting on in years and yes progress is fine, but in my opinion destruction should never be allowed. I know that a lot of people probably don’t agree with me, but my firm belief is that Telford Town Centre should never have been considered, never mind actually built, but unfortunately it is a fact of life, and I can only say how lovely all this area was before “Telford”. It is slowly destroying our lovely little market towns.

I use our buses to get around, I do not drive, but there again, I recall many moons ago when the “little buses” used to go from Oakengates or Donnington areas to Wellington they were always packed, but they always turned up too!

Oakengates was a very busy little town and believe me you could buy anything from wet fish to clothing, shoes and well, as I say, everything including the ironmongers etc., there was also a good little market.

I used to walk on summer nights from Oakengates through Wrockwardine Wood and St. Georges and along the Cockshutt and it came out at the top of the Albion Bank and down into Oakengates. On these walks I counted seven pubs in Wrockwardine Wood, namely The Fountain, The Pheasant, The Red Lion, The Whitehouse, The Bulls Head, The Lamb and The Talbot at the start of the hill up to St. Georges, although I do not frequent any pubs myself and I am not sure how many are still open now.

I remember how we would catch Brown’s Buses from Stafford Road, Oakengates to Donnington, some of them had wooden slatted seats, but who cared? We would be going to the “pictures” at the Garrison Theatre in Donnington or hang-out with a coffee at the Cartwheel Café in Donnington. But those buses would never let us down, unlike these “Arriva” things of today, another sign of the time wouldn’t you say?

I have spent many a night in the Regal Cinema in Wrockwardine Wood (now the Kingdom Hall I believe), I know that we almost always had to queue at the Grosvenor Cinema in Oakengates. I would be around 18 years of age and life was really good. Just around this time I decided, that dividing my leisure time in the evenings was not varied enough so I took up ballroom dancing lessons in Wellington. Someone may remember the “Margaret Kendrick School of Dancing” and it was great, so from then on everything changed, I loved dancing, and I must just mention in passing that I am sitting here in my home in Trench, and it is almost the very same spot where some dances were held in a Nissan hut namely the “Four by Two” and I have danced the night away here many time to gramophone records, these were quite adequate with also a few microphones thrown in for good measure, then after wearing high-heeled shoes all night I had to stagger home to Oakengates, yes right up on to the A5 and it was too late to catch any buses by then. Wombridge Road did not exist (this was 1948) so I walked up Farm Lane and through Wrockwardine Wood in to Oakengates and up to the A5, and I must admit there was nothing to fear in the darkness and late at night, but this was only 3 years after the end of WWII and it was OH such a different, slower, lovelier time then.

I suppose that at my age I have seen so many changes, a totally different pace of life, and I think much more enjoyable too.

I mentioned at the beginning that I started my job at Sinclairs in Ketley, and I think the other place I worked was Chad Valley Company, at Wellington. Then in 1948 my life and I suppose everyone’s lives changed for the simple reason that the National Health Scheme started and at the age of eighteen I was interviewed and got a job as a clerical assistant in the then Ministry of National Insurance, and I worked in Stafford Road, Oakengates, and that actual building is now a private house.

Life was good, I enjoyed the work and I remained in the Civil Service for almost thirty years. There was only one problem, “My Parents” they were very staid in their outlook and also very strict, and at this moment in time my wages were increased with this job, but I was not allowed to keep them, I had to ‘tip’ them up to my parents, who in turn would give me ‘spending money’ and this situation continued until I was 21 years of age, but I will tell you more next time about my life, which I am afraid left a lot to be desired.