Ecton Village

Memories of Ecton by Jean Axford (nee Buswell)

In the summer I played with Lynne Robinson (Mavis Robinson’s daughter) and her brother Ian and Christopher Dowsett and we used to go over the fields and just enjoy being in the fresh air. We used to collect flowers and keep a type of scrap book.
Lynne and I used to put on concerts in her garden (she lived in the end council house in West Street). Her Dad made us a stage and we performed plays on some Saturday afternoons and charged the other children to come in and then gave the money to Dr. Barnardo’s Homes. One day we were taken to the Home in Northampton to be thanked for the donations.
We were always dressing up and it is something that has never left me, because I have been entering the Earls Barton Carnival for over 20 years.
Mrs Freda O’Connor who lived in West Street used to dress up some of the children (me included) and we would enter the Ecton fete, and also go to other fetes. They used to have a motor bike and sidecar. Enclosed a photo of us as soldiers.
Lynne and I used to go on picnics in the summer, and one day we were coming back from a picnic in the field at the bottom of High Street, when the bees from Mr. Smith’s hives came after us! We started running but I actually got stung by seven of them on my head, but Mrs Smith’s daughter Joan (Mott as she is now) took me in and picked the bees out of my hair.
We played skipping, hop-scotch, marbles and whip and top (we coloured the tops with chalk) and I think I was about 11 when we all had hula-hoops. There was a nationwide competition once at the Spar shop and you had to make up a poem. I entered and won first prize, which was a pair of roller skates.
We also belonged to the G.L.B. (Girls Life Brigade) which was held in the Chapel in West Street,
(now the studio of Mr Rodney Ingram) - we had a wind-up record player for music.
I also played with Linda Fenn and we bought a tandem and painted it - it cost us £10.
We went all over the place, but Linda was much better at riding it than I was, so she always sat on the front. One day we were going down West Street on it and came to the alley (“jitty” as we called it). Linda’s seat was attached to my handle bars and I forgot and turned my handlebars to the left to go up the alley. Of course she fell off with me coming down on top of her!
We went collecting chestnuts, walnuts & blackberries and while at school we would go and pick rose hips and haws and the school would sell them to the manufacturer to make rosehip syrup (we got paid for them). If you opened up the hips the seeds inside made you itch and some of the children would put them down your back!
There were 3 shops in Ecton - the Co-op (Manager Monica James, who always wore a spotless white smock), Post Office and the “Spar” shop -run by Bill & Dora Reynolds. Every Saturday morning I went round to the Co-op with the brown notebook with Mums shopping order, our divi number was 1543! I also used to go down to the Spar shop most evenings to get cooked meat for Dads sandwiches. We never bought vegetables as we had a garden and allotment full of them and we also kept chickens at one time, but I would go down to Mrs. Hull (who lived in High Street) at the weekend to buy a big bunch of flowers for about 10p. I did the shopping for Mrs Dora Patching and she gave me 12 ½ p per week, which was a good amount. I also collected the dirty washing from Mrs Tipler in High Street and take it to my aunt Phyl who would wash it for her, and Mrs Tipler gave me a small bag of sweets - always fruit drops and always sticky!
In the evenings a group of us would meet up at the playing field and we would play games - Fox & Hounds was a favourite, or kick off tin etc. or cricket in the summer. The children from High Street would play down the bottom of the village and we would play up “our end!”. We went to the Youth club which was held in Mrs Wetherall’s house (The Cott). We used her kitchen to make coffee and we played table tennis.

The saddest time I remember was when Robert Tebby died, I was about 18 years old. I was visiting my Grandma in the Co-op yard, and she told me.
On bonfire night we often used to have a bonfire in the garden at home and I would make toffee apples, and we would put potatoes in the fire, also there used to be a big bonfire at the bottom of Franklins Close.

There used to be dances on some Friday nights in the school hall with a “live” group - no discos then!. I must have been trying to impress someone one Friday, because my sister Rita made me an outfit in her lunch hour at work specially to go in!! I can’t remember who it was - honestly!
I was quite a tom-boy and used to go climbing trees with the other boys. One day I climbed along the branch of a tree and it snapped and I fell to the bottom, catching my arm on the barbed wire fence! I still have the scar. I think John Key helped me that day. One day we were not allowed out to play was a Sunday afternoon - we always used to visit my Grandmother who lived in Northampton, every other Sunday. One Sunday my parents were out and I was supposed to stay in, but the girl from next door (Rita Dubb) persuaded me to go out. We went over the fields and it had been raining, I slipped over and scratched my leg quite badly on some more barbed wire! You would think I would have kept away from it. I had to tell my parents because it was a long scratch and I couldn’t hide it. Usually we would be sent to see Mrs. Rands for that sort of thing and I remember my brother Stephen going to see her as he had a fish hook in his finger.

During the summer school holidays a group of us boys and girls would walk to Cogenhoe Mill and go swimming in the river. That’s where I learnt to swim. Mrs. O’Connor had a chalet there.
Years later when I had my own children, they learnt to swim in the swimming pool at the home of Monica James (from the Co-op), who I met up with again in 1977 in Earls Barton.
When I went to Senior School (The Technical Grammar), during the summer holidays my friends would cycle over from Wellingborough to Ecton and then we would all cycle up to Overstone Solarium and spend the day swimming. We used to go into the restaurant and ask for a pot of tea for three and five cups!!
When Mark, John and I were talking a few weeks ago, we all agreed that we had a really good and happy childhood in Ecton.

Left to Right
Val Patching, Rita Buswell, Judith Dubb (who was a twin), Jean Buswell, The other Dubb twin, (unknown), Rita Dubb in front.

And a P. S. to this story
After the February issue I was “accosted”! in Earls Barton post office and was told that the person I thought was Pat Bayes is not! Apparently Pat left school before Miss Green became headmistress so it could not have been her (Dorothy Patching told me this). Also the person in the front row next to Rita Dubb is Judith Gray.