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memories of Cherwell Lodge & the Old Forge

by Steve Flynn

I stayed at Cherwell Lodge (known as No 24 in those days) with Mrs & Ms Aldridge from 1939-45 as an evacuee. They used the front left room as a shop in which embroidery items were sold and they used to undertake sewing for the local gentry - Major Oakley and his family.

I can still see Sawyers, the large hardware store and farm supplies on the opposite (north side) of Newland Street and to the left of that going toward Mill Street, there was Burden's blacksmiths with Mr & Mrs Burden and their son who was later killed at Cirencester.

He walked into the propeller blade of a bomber, of which he was a crew member, that was warming up preparing for take off. Syd Cross was the Blacksmith, and a wonderful advert he was to his profession. A short thick set man who was as tanned as hide leather. a face that rivalled polished chrome leather.

Many a day after school or during the holidays, I would spend in the shop watching Syd perform his magic on red hot pieces of steel for horse shoes, and the smell of burning horn as he would prepare the hoof for the fitting of the shoe.

I would supply the labour for producing the air for his forge - pumping the large bellows and watching the results of my labours as the fire went from almost out, to white hot. After a while I could gauge the temperature of the ashes throughout the spectrum of colours,

He also used to make and put the steel tyres on cart wheels. This was done in the yard at the rear, I wonder if the centre hub post is still visible sunk into the surface of the yard, into which the dummy axle was sunk allowing a stub to be fitted to the wooden wheel hub so that the wheel could be turned during the fitting of the red hot tyre and then drenched the water so as to shrink the metal tyre to the rim of the wooden wheel.

Ah those were the days - when the days and nights were as one with double British summertime. Time there was the arrival of the thresher...but that's another story.

Click here for more memories of Newland Steet - from Mike Weller