“Living in Effingham”

Lavinia (née Bishop) Ottaway

The late Lavinia Ottaway was born in 1920 to parents George Joseph Bishop and Alice Amelia (née Kelly) who had married in 1913. She married firstly in 1938 to Albert George Wells who died in 1950. She married secondly in 1951 to a widower Percy George Norman Ottaway who died in 1989.



Interviewed and recorded on 28 October 2010 by Yvonne Shaw; transcribed by Christopher John Hogger in January 2020.

Themes : Curtis Dairy; Unigate; Cow & Gate; Grove House; Village Stores

Living in Effingham

Yvonne: Right?

Lavinia: Yes. Well I come here when I was eighteen years old, now just got married. We lived with my husband’s sister-in-law for a time. And I had one room round in Norwood Road, that was a lady and her husband. We went then to Salmons Road in a little old shed, just one room, bedroom and just a little stove where we done all our cooking. Toilet was there back at outside.

Yvonne: How many children did you have then?

Lavinia: mmm?

Yvonne: How many children did you have then?

Lavinia: I think I had only three children, I think.

Yvonne: Right.

Lavinia: Yes because … yes because Sid was, um, my Mum took Sid, my eldest boy, my Mum took Sid and brought him up because she didn’t think I could look after him. And I’d just had Peter. And, um, I think I had Ann as well, yes, I think I had Ann and I was in hospital at the time.

Yvonne: And this would have been about 1936 or 1938, something like that?

Lavinia: When we was down [near] the Haig, with two houses there, it was the war on, and there’s two bedrooms, an open stove – that’s all I can remember there. And Curtis’s farm was opposite [… unclear phrase …].

Yvonne: So are you all living on the road – were these houses on the road, on the main road sort of through the village or around the side, going towards …

Lavinia: Well, on the side because, there was these two houses by the Haig and the School so it was right on the corner.

Yvonne: On the corner, sort of opposite the school?

Lavinia: Yes.

Yvonne: Right, ok, where the car park is now?

Lavinia: Yes, where the car park is now. And then I went to Aldershot, that was a three-bedroom house. And then I come back to Grove House, that’s where my husband passed away, that’s the first husband passed away.

Yvonne: And Grove House is St. Teresa’s?

Lavinia: St. Teresa’s

Yvonne: Right

Lavinia: Where they are putting up the flats, that’s where my husband died, and …

Yvonne: How long did you live there, roughly?

Lavinia: Must be about a couple of years, I suppose. And then my second husband was [… unclear phrase …] that’s how I met him at Grove House. And then I went round to Norwood Road and got married to my second husband, went round to Norwood Road, and then from Norwood Road round to Norwood Close and then back down to Barnes Wallis Close.

Yvonne: What did you have in Norwood Road, was that a house or a flat or …?

Lavinia: It was a three-bedroom house.

Yvonne: A three-bedroom house.

Lavinia: [… unclear phrase …] wasn’t big enough. In Norwood Road we had a four-bedroom house, till they got married.

Yvonne: So you had a big garden there?

Lavinia: Well it wasn’t a big garden, but it was decent size, we had vegetables and we had a dog and the dog ran … I was quite happy there, anyway, I was quite happy with all of them once. I’ve got settled down again.

Yvonne: And it was about 1951, we decided, when you married for the second time, wasn’t it, really?

Lavinia: Yes.

Yvonne: And where did your second husband work?

Lavinia: Unigate, at Unigate Dairy.

Yvonne: And he was a milkman?

Lavinia: He was a milkman.

Yvonne: How many milkmen did they have?

Lavinia: Oh quite a lot. Because he worked for Curtis’s, it was horse and cart then, and then of course Cow and Gate took over, and um, and then Unigate took over. He used to get all the milk out. He used to be down the farm at half past four and get all the milk out ready for the milk roundsmen and then, um, he wouldn’t leave the farm until every … til the orders for milk was [in?] from Guildford, and all the roundsmen [were in?]. But he loved his work.

Yvonne: So when it was Curtis’s farm did they – they still had the cows, didn’t they?

Lavinia: Yes, they still had the cows, yes.

Yvonne: So it was their own milk?

Lavinia: Yes. Because they done it all by hand, with the cows, they had the cows there then.

Yvonne: And did he have to go and milk the cows as well, or was he just …?

Lavinia: Yes, yes he done all that.

Yvonne: Right. And so would he milk the cows and then take it out on the round?

Lavinia: Yes.

Yvonne: Gosh. And then when Cow & Gate took over did they still have cows, or was that …?

Lavinia: No, that was when they …

Yvonne: When the milk came from Guildford.

Lavinia: Yes, you know, when it changed over and the milk come from Guildford then.

Yvonne: Right. And how long did you tell me he worked for?

Lavinia: He worked … counting for Curtis’s time, forty-six years and six months.

Yvonne: Such a long time. And how old was he when he retired?

Lavinia: He must have been in his seventies when he properly retired.

Yvonne: So did he just take a horse and cart round?

Lavinia: Yes, to start with, when he was working for Curtis’s.

Yvonne: And was he out on a milk float, he could drive those as well, later on?

Lavinia: Yes, that was his life when he come out of the Army – well, it was before he went in the Army. What did he do, thirteen years in the Army. And then he come out and went straight into the milk.

Yvonne: So not just wartime service then?

Lavinia: Yes, all his life he’s been in the milk first, in the milk trade.

Yvonne: But you said he was in the Army thirteen years.

Lavinia: Yes, before I knew him.

Yvonne: OK, well we’ll stop it there just for a sec.

[Interview and recording then paused for about 70 seconds.]

Yvonne: So where did you go shopping when you lived in the flats, in Grove House; where did you go shopping?

Lavinia: In the Village Stores.

Yvonne: In the Village Stores.

Lavinia: Yes.

Yvonne: And where were they? Tell me where they were, for the tape. By the flats, did you say?

Lavinia: No, Village Stores were down The Street, opposite the house called The Hollies. And then there was the Post Office round by the side of the butchers, before they moved up to where they are now.

Yvonne: And was that a butchers then?

Lavinia: Yes, it was a butchers.

Yvonne: OK, that’s lovely, thank you. Thank you for your time.

Lavinia: Oh, that’s all right.

Notes by Christopher John Hogger

1. Her mention of “the Haig, with two houses there” refers to the pair of semi-detached Yew Tree Cottages that once stood north of The Sir Douglas Haig pub, on the site currently now a car park.

2. Curtis’s farm was not directly “opposite” but was rather on the other side of the road further up The Street, being Home Farm.

3. Grove House was the property formerly named The Villa standing on the northern side of the A246 roughly opposite the Golf Club main entrance; it was the home of the Ross family in the early 20th century. Much later it was turned into flats and after that was taken over by St. Teresa’s School as a nursery school. Subsequently it was redeveloped as private dwellings.

4. The Post Office she refers to was established in the property called The Laurels only for a short period after the second world war, this property having previously been used as a butcher’s shop by the Conisbee family in the early 20th century and subsequently the Madge family in the 1930s.