Ken Barnes

My family moved to Hulverstone from Shorwell in about 1930. We lived at Bank Cottage next door to what was the local post office run by a Miss Newbery and her aged mother. She also sold a limited amount of stationery and sweets. This was our main source of sweets as youngsters. I started school at about this time at the local school in the village. The two teachers lived in a large house opposite. The District Nurse lived next door to the school, Nurse Rann. She used to ride around the district on a large bicycle with a basket on the front for her black bag. The Sun Inn was run by Mr Frederick White and his wife Sophie. The village farm was run by Mr and Mrs Heal of Hulverstone Farm.

My father’s family lived on Brook Green at the eastern end in a large stone-built house about the third from the end. I spent many happy hours there at weekends with grandfather, my Aunty Rose Ballard and my two cousins who were much older than me. Aunty Rose used to take me to Newport on Saturday afternoons on Shotters’ bus, the local service. At this time the field behind the cottages towards the cliff was used by the Army for their summer camps. I remember the Royal Horse Artillery (RHA) being there with their large camp of tents. We would hear the bugle calls during the day calling the troops to their duties. They used to exercise the horses along the Military Road, towing the gun. It was very exciting.

During this time in the summer months the fields around Brook and Hulverstone were used as summer camps by the Scouts, Girl Guides and Boys’ Brigade as well as many individual campers with their tents. The villages were very busy and alive. In Brook village were two farms, a large one owned by Mr Brown and a smaller one owned by the Hookey family (Downton Farm). The vicar was Rev. Winser, he was very keen on cricket and organised many matches. As a teenager I played quite a few times but not ‘up to Test standard.’ Opposite the Rectory, in Old Myrtle Cottage on the corner of Badger Lane Mrs Hayter, an old lady, ran a small shop from her front room. She did not sell very much but we often went there to buy sweets etc.

In the late 1930s a Royal Navy bi-plane made a crash landing at the top of Badger Lane due to engine trouble, it over-shot the field and finished up across the lane; the lane was blocked for several days.  At this time Brooke House was more or less empty but the grounds were kept up. A tea party was organised for the school children on the lawn on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary and we each received a mug. I still have mine.

For a short while Aunty Rose moved to a small cottage on Dunsbury Farm because grandfather had died and my cousin Alec was employed on the farm. Later they moved back to Chine Cottage on Brook Green. Next to the cottage was a black shed which was used by Ben and Phil Jacobs to make their lobster pots from the withies cut from the beds along the Military Road. I remember the lifeboat, the Susan Ashley. In the summer a practice launch was held and the local people and visitors went to the beach to watch the operation. As the slipway by the boathouse was eroded by the sea the boat had to be towed by teams of horses around to the other slipway.  Along the Military Road Jim Millmore and his wife had a smallholding on both sides of the road, it always looked as if it would all fall down at any moment but it never did.

The opening of Hanover Stores was of great benefit to the local people, before that most people had to travel to Newport for their goods. It was magic for us to visit Hanover Stores and see everything on show, the range of sweets was wonderful. Mrs Stone would always put herself out for people and nothing was too much trouble. When we were at school we used to be sent to the Stores once or twice a week for goods, Saturday was the main day for the week’s shopping. Those were great days and Hanover Stores really brought the area alive. It is sad how things have changed over the years, whenever I go back I am amazed by how quiet it is, with hardly anyone around.

Liptons used to operate a service in those days, their rep would call on Monday to take the order and suggest any new lines and the order would be delivered on Wednesday or Thursday. In those days one had to think ahead as you couldn’t pop out to the shops as you can today. I remember the Reading Room (Seely Hall); as children we used to do our Christmas play there and go to the jumble sales. Mr Stone of Hanover Stores operated a taxi service in later years and Aunty Rose used it quite often. My cousin Will was an auxiliary coastguard during the war and often did night duty at the coastguard lookout post on the cliff beyond Brook village.

World War II
After the evacuation of British troops from Dunkirk they were dispersed across southern England. We had the remnants of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers stationed in the two villages. Some were billeted in one of the classrooms at Hulverstone School. They were there for a few months until they were moved away to the mainland. On the beach, large amounts of tubular steel scaffolding were erected to hinder any invading force.  In Brook village, a road block was constructed near the gate of the rectory to deter enemy vehicles. I think it did more to hinder local people. I was in the Home Guard for a short while. I remember that at the top of Brook Shute two 45 gallon drums of a napalm-type substance were set into the bank on the right hand side of the road at the crest of the hill. This was supposed to be set off by an explosive charge in the event of enemy vehicles coming up the hill. We saw this demonstrated at a quarry on St George’s Down, it was a frightening sight; a great mass of sticky liquid blazing. I often wonder if the drums were ever removed from the site on Brook Shute!