“...This country is at war with Germany.” This historical announcement by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain came on Sunday 3rd September 1939 and within two days a seven year old Bill Parker, carrying a gas mask and name tag, was kissing goodbye to his mum on Victoria Station, London and left his home in Brixton bound for Brighton.
One can only imagine the mixed emotions of a train load of young children making that journey and arriving in Brighton later that day.
Bill stayed at 28 The Crescent, Moulsecoombe, Brighton and can remember seeing the sea for the first time in his life, the children being allowed to play on the beach at certain times, though it was mostly a restricted area.
Then, Brighton became a prime target area for German bombers, so Bill and many of his friends were evacuated again, this time to Kiveton Park and Wales, probably in 1941, and with the now regulation gas mask and name tag.
Bill remembers attending Wales School, members of staff include Bill Bailey, Ted Harding, Ida England and Miss Carr. His guardians were John Sayles and family on Storth Lane and later Aunty Winn Glossop on Wales Road.
Other evacuees at Aunty Winn’s included Des Williams and someone called Hammond whose first name eludes him. Dicky Fearnhead was looked after by the Spacie family and Bill Carter by Mrs Burr. Another evacuee name he remembers is Rodney Barthorpe.
Bill had to undergo some mickey taking from the locals, especially with regard to his then strong Cockney accent, but overall his time here was quite pleasant. A return to London for him only lasted six months after which he chose to return to Aunty Winn and make his life in our village.
Bill spent many happy hours helping out at Brabbs’ farm, then after leaving school he worked at Fellows’ Nursery, at Tommy Roberts’, for Maynard Havard as a coach driver for Kirkby (where he met his wife) then finally at Kiveton Colliery. These times were punctuated by regular soldiering during which he saw action in Korea and the Suez Canal.
Many thanks to Bill and his wife for sharing his story, one of many of which the history society is hoping to collect in order to shed some light on this fascinating period in village history.
Kiveton and Wales History Society meets on the third Thursday of the month at the old colliery offices, starting at 6.30pm. They have guest speakers each alternate month and light refreshments are served.
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