Continuing with Gill’s Memories of Bourne End

Here is Gill’s latest jottings of her memories in & around Bourne End… enjoy!

Right! Ready to continue our walk around Bourne End? Let’s go!

Furlong Road was the last walk and having gone past the well remembered Jacksons Mill…wait…where is the bus shelter that sat on the roughly triangular green…where and when did that go? Across the road, now an Antiques Shop, was The Crossing Stores, sweets, groceries all things useful, presided over by a lady called Joan, a must go to from Jacksons office.

Next the railway line…cut no doubt by Dr Beeching…always busy between Bourne End and Wycombe, the big gates that were closed manually when a train was due to pass, by the railway man in the little hut and opened again when all was clear. So across we go and on the right New Road. Just up New road on the left hand side was the Red Cross Hut. I remember joining and on Saturday afternoon we used to meet – had great fun bandaging people up and each November a very important date was Remembrance Sunday and, dressed in our Red Cross Uniform, we marched to Wooburn Green to take part in the service at the Cenotaph.

A few steps along the main road was a fish and chip shop (Harley’s) very convenient for a bag of chips following a visit to the Cinema, it later morphed into Bourne House Restaurant and right next door the Telephone Exchange.

The Telephone Exchange always ways seemed a huge, imposing building and a great mystery. I guess back in the ’50’s not too many folk had a telephone – so what a joy when I worked at Jacksons and I learned to operate the switchboard! A 10 + 50 which meant ten outside lines to the exchange and 50 internal extensions, vast in those days and back then not automated – people picked up the phone and asked me to get a company, I had to look up the number, ask the exchange to get the number wait on the line till the call was answered, get the right person on the line, then announce to my caller. How things have improved since then!

I loved it and so enjoyed working the break times, lunch hour cover and Saturday mornings on the switchboard. I remember a few people from the office were invited over to the Telephone Exchange some time in the early ’60’s to see life from the other side of the fence. That was brilliant meeting the “number please ladies” and understanding how the next stage worked. I have never forgotten it!

Highfield Road next on the right some of the original houses in Bourne End. The left hand side of the road was allotments and railway land before a very few private houses. On the left hand corner where Penny’s Corner is now was a row of old cottages.

Where St.Dunstans Church now stands, the Community Centre and the Library was all spare land….it has all been there many years but not as the Bourne End when we were children. That area plus the bungalows for the older people and the vast area that is filled with Council Housing was all “The Field” used once or twice a year for when the fair came to Bourne End or for Bonfire Night with an enormous bonfire!

The now defunct Lloyds Bank building stood on the corner (I wonder what that will become?)

Next was the small Parade of shops including Louise Ladies Hairdresser where the lovely Jean Peasley worked, Babette the shop for ladies needs, Edward Gray Estate Agents. A Dry Cleaners, Donald’s the sweet shop and the very important Royalty Cinema (beloved by teenagers in Bourne End,)

Now the Royalty Cinema, I could write a book ……..but perhaps not now. The Cinema closed in 1959. Used to go there in the front three rows. – reserved for kids – on a Saturday afternoon, where, for your nine pence (9d) you’ve got a big film, small film, Pathe News and any number of advertisements…good value eh?

I forget at what age the admission went up to one shilling and sixpence but being old enough to pay that, at about 13, also meant we could change to Friday nights, still in the front three rows but it did mean we were also old enough to have a boyfriend to sit and hold hands with during the film – it gave the usherettes extra work to do keeping order! Then when the film was over we all went to the chip shop to finish the evening!!

Such a shame when the Cinema closed there was not much else to do in Bourne End and certainly not many of us had televisions to watch. The Cinema then became Townsends Furniture Shop so, funny really, we who spent so many hours in the Cinema came back to spend our money in the furniture shop to set up home….the wheels turn!

Across from the Cinema Bourne End Motors and behind that The Regent Cafe, oh joy! Complete with a juke box, the first one in Bourne End, we learned to make a drink last for hours to listen to the latest hits!

Then “The Field” right along to where Tesco is now where the Police Station was. Yes Bourne End had a police station with P.C Dennis and P.C. Claridge very much in control of what went on!

So good people of Bourne End that completes my tour around the village from a few years ago….people come and go, shops change, but memories stay with us and how good it is to be able to think about life as it was back then.

Gill Hoare

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