Jennifer Bartoli, nee Cliff

Jennifer remembers...

Growing up in Kirby Muxloe.

My parents moved to Kirby Lane just a month before I was born which was early 1939. Most of my friends were from Kirby Lane and Forest Rise. An elderly lady, Mrs West, lived next door to us and was collected by car by a couple who lived in Charnwood Drive, LFE. so my mother arranged that I should also be picked up and attend church in the morning with them, probably from the age of 3 or 4. She also asked a couple of children to take me to Sunday School in the afternoon – they lived further up Kirby Lane and were Mildred and Alan Newman, I think. I don't remember much about that except for having an anniversary service there. I think that they must have taken me for about a year or so. – One day as I was passing the church in Church Road with my mother and pointed it out to her, saying that it was where I went to Sunday School, my mother was very surprised as she hadn't realised that there was a nonconformist church in Kirby as well as the C of E. She then transferred me to St. Bartholomew's Sunday school, which is the church which she had thought I had been going to all the time. I don't remember much about the teachers there. Miss Spriggs was in charge of the Sunday School and I believe a neighbour of my friend in Forest Rise, (Mrs Johnson?) was also a teacher. (I always remember Miss Spriggs sitting at the back of the choir stalls next to Mr Webster,the organist, on Sunday mornings, who then went to sit next to her during the sermon.) One Sunday I remember was when the Sunday School was in church for a service in the afternoon and an elderly gentleman sitting nearby fell asleep – at first it was thought that he had died!

I joined the Brownies as soon as I could, which was held in the Scout hut behind the Free church. I went there by bus from the bottom of Kirby Lane with a couple of friends from Forest Rise and we walked home afterwards. We always stopped at the fish and chip shop in Church Street on our way home where we could purchase an Oxo cube for one penny which we thoroughly enjoyed nibbling on as we walked along.

School Memories

I was at Kirby school from 1944(?) until 1949. When I first went, my mother arranged for an older girl, Ann Percy, who lived nearby, to take me to school. I remember that we were late one day so played truant and didn't go to school that day - we spent part of the day scrumping apples belonging to a house in Kirby Fields. My other memory of Ann was sitting on the curb in front of my house with her where she had a cigarette which she shared with me. (I didn't take that up or the scrumping!)

I remember stopping to watch a number of boys making a dam in the brook at the far end of the 'reccy' after school one day. I wonder if that was the same one mentioned by Norman Lally in his memories. My father worked in Leicester, travelling by bike and later on a moped. He probably got home around 5.30pm and when he discovered that I wasn't at home that day he rushed down to the school to try and find me. I was in a huge amount of trouble when he did, though now realise that my parents must have been very worried by my not returning home at the usual time.

The teachers who taught me were Miss Richardson, Miss Hubbard, Mrs(?) Williams, and Mr (Juggy) Jarvis. Also, the name of Mrs Perryman sounds familiar though I don't think that I was ever taught by her. I spent two years in Mr Jarvis's class and would have had to have spent a third year there due to my being just two days too young to take the 11plus exam. My mother didn't want me to have to go to Market Bosworth grammar school, which I was almost sure to go to if I did sit the 11 plus, so sent me to Loughborough High School where I had to take an entrance exam (which I passed). My parents were both from the Loughborough area originally and both my mother and her mother had both been to that school. As I was only 10 it was decided that I should be a boarder there, which lasted for three years, after which my parents moved to be nearer Loughborough and I changed to being a day girl. So that was the end of my connection with Kirby, though I still stayed in contact with my friend, Ann Harvey, from Forest Rise, and still am to this day.

The two photos I have are of Mr Jarvis's class taken in June 1949 and the school sports team taken in June 1948. the photo was taken on the day of the competition, I think, and I remember very little about it. I thought that we only competed against one other school, don't know which, and we competed in the 'reccy' just near to the school – that's the only thing that I am sure of. Because I was tall and had long legs I was put in to do the long jump. I only remember having one practice and when it came to the competition managed to do two 'no jumps' out of my three!! I do not remember a teacher called Mrs Moore, who is said to be the teacher in the 1948(?) photo you have. (I wondered if it is actually of Mrs Williams, though am not at all sure.)

I have memories of a class which joined us for a term or so which met in the class room adjacent to Mr Jarvis's, which was usually empty, and think it was at the time I was in Mrs Williams class, though as I thought that they had been evacuated from somewhere am not sure about that. We didn't mix with them as far as I know. I just know that they were not local. I would be interested to know if anyone else remembers them and who they were.

I enjoyed the school dinners, especially sago and tapioca puddings. Also, we were sometimes given sticks of raw carrots or parsnips (or was it swedes) passed round in containers after our puddings, which I also enjoyed.

Remembering the shops and people at that time

My mother used to phone Mr Hudson to order any meat which she wanted and I would go on my large tricycle to collect it for her so I was not more that 7 years old at that time.

I remember Dr Jones coming to the house at least a couple of times when I was ill in bed with a high temperature and tummy ache. We were told that it was a chill in the stomach so wonder what it would be called these days.

I was a frustrated ballerina and keen to learn to dance, so went with a friend when a lady started taking a class upstairs of the Royal Oak. We had to pay for a course of ten classes at a time and when I called to go with Jennifer Herrick, as usual, who lived on Station Road, for the 10th class, she didn't want to go any more and I was scared of the teacher and didn't want to go by myself, so that was the end of my dancing career. I believe Ann Harvey's mother taught there some time later, after we had moved away. My parents also went to the Royal Oak for British Legion meetings after the war for a short time but weren't seriously involved with it.

I remember having my very first ice cream one day when my mother bought one from Hardy's shop in Castle Road. It was a cornet and I remember still eating it (it couldn't have been a hot day) on the way home on Station Road, just past Stamford Road. I decided to take a bite from the bottom end of the cone and was most upset when the ice cream fell out onto the pavement.

I also remember Goodalls and Heightons shops.

The War

After my father had joined up it was arranged that my mother should take in airmen stationed at Desford (or Braunstone?) for a while, one at a time, to sleep in the spare bedroom. My mother used to shop at a small shop on the Hinkley Road, near to the Red Cow. It was run by a Mr and Mrs Lillington – I think that they were only there for the war years. Mrs Lillington's daughter and her husband (Noreen and Harold Griffiths) moved up to be away from Southend in the war and lived with them for a short time. My mother became friendly with the Griffiths and invited them to live with us – us being just my mother and me, my father being away in the war. The husband was employed at Braunstone aerodrome. Their only child, Roger, was born whilst they were with us - he was born in the maternity home which was on the corner of Barwell Road and Station Road at that time. I had been born at home and my mother had a serious haemorrhage after I was born. A Dr. Porteous attended to her – my mother said that he saved her life. Some years later when I was in my teens and worked for a Leicester dentist, Dr Porteous attended as one of the emergency anaesthetists and remembered my mother.

I don't remember much about the war, though heard about the bomb which had landed in Church Road and that things on the pantry shelf had shaken or fallen off it, from someone at school, who either lived there or had a relative living there. I can't remember who it was. I do remember a footpath going from the top of Kirby Lane towards the castle(?). The footpath went at the back of houses in Kirby Fields, before going out into open field(s) and there was a large bomb crater there, at least it seemed large to me when I was young. We used to play around the castle, which was open to all and sundry at that time.

I also remember Ann Harvey telling me that there were Italian prisoners of war working in the fields in the Forest Rise/Hinkley Road area and she had met one of them in an air raid shelter which was at the bottom of Forest Rise, near to the Kirby Lane junction, and he had taught her to count in Italian.