Tuesday, 11 April 2006

"Arbury Is Where We Live!" - 25 Years On...

It really doesn't seem possible, but it is now twenty-five years since the Arbury Is Where We Live! book was published. It all began as a project called "Arbury 1980", which the Arbury primary schools worked on cooperatively during the Spring Term of 1980.

The project was designed to help build an identity for the area and culminated in an exhibition held at the Manor School in March 1980. The book followed in 1981.

I was a pupil at the Manor School in 1980, and so too old to take part, but I found the project fascinating as my great-great grandparents had lived at the Manor Farm on Arbury Road. My grandmother's cousin, Reg Jones, spoke to children at the Grove School about his youth as part of the project, and some of his memories were featured in the book.

I particularly enjoyed his account of long summer days spent in the company of his friends and cousins, including my grandmother...

When we had our six weeks holiday in the summer, we used to go over the railway line and turn into what we called the Mere Way - all trees. We used to spend our time up there with a little bonfire. We used to take our sandwiches and always managed to scrounge an egg off mother and we'd take it up there and boil it in an old salmon tin we used to find.

As you can imagine, I was very interested in the project and the resulting book.

Children wrote about the various eras of life in the area - stretching back to the Iron Age at Arbury Camp...

... through to the days of the area's three farms - Hall, Manor and King's Hedges. The "Campkin Road in snow" photograph on the page above shows what was known as the Manor Farm "drive" and the Manor Farmhouse (often referred to as "the manor house") c. late 1950s.

The book moved on to the building of the estate and then to life in Arbury in 1980.
We keep the bisuits and all the tea-pots in the kitchen cupboard. I put some toy sharks in my Mummy's cup of tea and when she picked it up the sharks opened their mouths and closed them. Mummy nearly fainted but Daddy laughed. There is a bird's nest inside my loft. The bird chewed the inside of my scaletrix.


Arbury Adventure Playground in 1980. Look at those flared trousers! Despite rosy coloured (and often inaccurate) programmes like the BBC's I Love The 1970s, I have no fond memories of flares, which haunted us from the late 1960s until c. 1981 - although they weren't high fashion by then.

In the Arbury of the 1970s, the wearing of flares did not indicate hippie idealism in my experience. Hippies were a 1960s thing as far as the people I knew were concerned. Flares were worn simply because they were fashion and, as fashion was strict and regimented back then, to go against the trend was to risk getting picked on!

To return to 1981, the publication year of Arbury Is Where We Live!, I find it fascinating to consider how different life was for children back then. No mobile phones. No personal computers. No compact discs. No satellite television.

A national survey conducted by Walls, the ice cream company, showed that the most popular kids' games of 1981 were hide and seek, chase, and cops and robbers and the most popular toy was Rubik's Cube.

It really was a different world!

1 comment:

  1. Just seen this and love the pics. I have trying to tell my friends just how insanely fun and dangerous the rec was but I could never find any pics of the place. I absolutely loved that place. Cheers for posting this. Darrell