Betty Field - My Family History

By Betty Field

Photo:My mum (on the right) with her sister

My mum (on the right) with her sister

Photo:Mum with her first husband

Mum with her first husband

Photo:My half brother

My half brother

Photo:A later photo of my half brother

A later photo of my half brother

I was born at 42 Hartington Road in June 1932. My father had volunteered for another 7 years in the army after WW1. He had spent all the time in India and was a regimental Sergeant Major. He returned to the UK in 1926 and met my mother who was a widow with a son of 8. They married in 1930 and when I was born in 1932 my half brother wasn’t too made up with me and promptly joined the Navy boy service.

            My grandparents lived in Freshfield Road and my grandfather was foreman of Pankhurst coal wharf in Kemp Town station. Mr Pankhurst at some time was mayor of Brighton, Pankhurst Ave being named in his honour. My grandmother used to take in paying guests, sort of B&B. When I was 18 months old my parents moved in with my grandparents. My father had a job to find work and finally got a job with Southdown Motor Services but very poor pay and they couldn’t afford the rent at Hartington Road. So my whole childhood was in Freshfield Road.        

            The benefits: grandmother was a wonderful cook and once a week at 6am would get up & bake bread. If we had “guests” there would probably be a large gammon cooking as well. The down side was if we had guests. My parents and I and grandma would all be sleeping in the basement as our beds had been hired out. Grandfather died when I was 4 and a half and WW11 started when I was 7 and about to start at junior school in Sept. 1939  So no more guests but still sleeping in the basement as it had been shored up to use as a shelter. The lovely food also came to an end when rationing began.

            Dad was a sort of Captain Mannering and took care of everything with the Home Guard. In front and behind our house were large Southdown Garages and was essential to protect them in the event of invasion. A lot of 16/17 year old lads were recruited into the home guard and a lot of local girls soon found a source of abundant young men. The home guard had to march every hour, from the garage at the front to the garage at the back, and my Dad would look out the back bedroom window and see a guy and a girl in a huddle, fling up the window and holler at them in his RSM voice.

            Memories of the war were hours sat in shelters at school. I got a scholarship to Varndean but mother wouldn’t let me go as she said in the event of an air raid or invasion it would take her too long to get to me. So I went to Brighton Intermediate school near St. Peter’s church but as the school was bombed we had to share what was left of the school with the boys. So we went mornings 9-1 for one month and then swapped over to 1-5 for a month. Boys and girls kept separate. I got a scholarship to Brighton Art College in Grand Parade with a £60 a year grant but I only stayed for 6 months as I couldn’t possibly live on £60 a year and my parents were poor as church mice. All my friends were working and having a good time. War had ended and everywhere was euphoric. I had several jobs. One working the office of Evershed & Co. at Kemp Town railway Station but finally settled into the credit office of the Co-op bank in London Road.

            I was 17 when I met my husband in March 1950. He proposed after 3 weeks but my parents, mainly my father, said No. Marriage without parental permission in the 50’s was age 21. Finally got married when I was 20 and I was so distraught as 3 weeks before my father died and we had to delay the wedding for a few months. My father was 54. At 21 I had my first son after many months in hospital. 1954  first son 1955 second son 1961 Daughter. Moved to Craven Vale in 1962.  Lots of lovely stories in between about family holidays, parties, several dogs with guest characters. Celebrated 50 years of marriage with my husband in 2003. Sadly his health deteriorated and he died in 2009. We have a legacy of  9 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren. I have never been rich but have a wealth of happiness.







This page was added on 18/06/2014.