My grandfather and father, Alfred Pready, worked as coal and salt merchants on long boats pulled by horses along the canals from Sharpness to Worcester. My three sisters, my brother and I were born at Aston Cottage near Rea Bridge which is a swing bridge across the Gloucester and Sharpness canal. This cottage has since been demolished and two new bungalows were built on the land.
My Grandfather had houses Mafikin and Wynberg built in Elmore Lane during the Boer War.
I walked to school along the lanes in winter and across the fields in summer. I eventually had an old “sit up and beg” bicycle.
My brother and sister and I played marbles along the Bristol road. In cold winters we skated along the road. My first school was in School Lane, where the chip shop now stands. There were two classrooms and one cloakroom. The bucket toilets were at the end of the playground.
When the new school was built, we had gas lighting which was not often used. There were four classrooms, a head master’s room and a teachers’ room. We still had bucket toilets. Boys used to be one end of the playground and girls at the other end. There was a lean-to bicycle shed. We had an excellent Head Master, Mr Rintock. As it was a Church of England school, we went to church on special days from 9 am to 10 am and then were allowed the rest of the day off. On Empire Day we marched around the playground and saluted the Union Jack. We were given the rest of the day off.
Before the start of the 2nd World War, RAF sites were built. No. 3 site was behind Aston Cottage where I lived. During the war soldiers were stationed at Quedgeley House. They were on guard every night on the sites. I ended up marrying one of these soldiers.
Victoria Cottages, where I now live, were built in the early 1800s (?) for families of those who worked at the local brick works. According to my father, one day they hit a spring and flooded the works. My father remembered the tall chimney demolished in the late 1800s. At that time all the fields in Quedgeley had names. The field at the brick works was called Canada. This was later, when I was a child, turned into allotments, where my father had two. I remember the land owner closed all of them for more farming ground. My father then had two allotments opposite The Plough (now called Friar Tuck’s). Farmers’ End has now been built near there. From this ditch several of us caught diphtheria and spent several weeks in isolation at hospital in Over (we all called it “Hoover”).
Aston Cottage was called Tom’s shop, where navigators bought their tobacco, etc. When I was a child, my mother sold cigarettes and matches to the fishermen. She also made lovely ginger beer, which she sold at 1d a glass or 2d a bottle. It was mine and my brother’s job to collect bottles along the canal bank, as the folk didn’t return them. These bottles were then sterilised and re-used.
We offer our congratulations to Myrtle Nash on reaching the age of 90 in October 2013 and thank her for sharing her memories.