The old man crossed the line at the ’Red Shed’. As he climbed the stilehe glanced over his shoulder and in the blink on an eye was transported back in time nearly 70 years. Instead of Orchard View, four boys were playing in a meadow, the ‘Red Shed’ was once again Henry Smith’s saw mill and across the way ‘Nobby’ Miles and his father were cutting logs to fuel the fires of the village. Was this a trick of the mind, was it really happening? He turned, crossed the line and with a friendly wave to the smiling Bill Everard, leaning over the parapet of the signal box, made his way down the track. Only it wasn’t the track is was the ‘tram lines’ A horse was plodding up the incline pulling high ended trucks laden with bricks destined for the station siding.
“Do you know you are trepassing?”, a voice that sounded from above interrupted his reverie with a jolt and brought him back to the present. He looked up and there was girl sat on a horse, “T-t-trespassing?”, he stammered, “Why when I was a boy we roamed these marshes from Bax Farm to ‘Scotland’, from Blacketts to the Rifle Range. We often followed that stream to Conyer, past Harris’s bungalow into the reeds to where it disappeared under the sea wall into the creek. Over by Conyer Farm the Conyer boys played their home games against the Barrow Green boys. Teynham F.C. once had a pitch near here! “The public footpath is over there”, said the girl on the horse. With a reluctant shrug of his shoulders the old man made his way in the direction indicated.
As he went he could be heard quietly talking to himself, “I used to pick hops for Percy French near here, once he grew loganberries in a field beside the tramlines, he paid us a penny (1d) a chip to pick them, you could make 1/6d on a Saturday morning. Percy never mentioned private property!”, with that the old man disappeared beyond a hedgerow. On past the sewage farm where the man in charge, Percy Wood, was going about his daily routine. Beyond the field opposite stood a clump of scrub and small trees he knew as the ‘Copse’, chicken often strayed into this tiny wood to lay their eggs, he once found a clutch of 12 eggs!
Now he was entering the Teynham brick field. Leaving the sheds behind he emerged from the stacks of bricks burning in the kilns. He smiles as he glimpses a meadow at the side of the marsh, This where the Barrow Green boys played their home football matches against the Conyer boys. It reminded him of the day ‘Chubby’ Horsenail brought a small metal cup to school and it was agreed the two teams would play for the trophy. A time was set for the following Saturday morning; the Barrow Green boys won 2-1 but they never received their trophy, for as soon as the game ended ‘Chubby’ picked up his cup and ran all the way back to Conyer!
What is was to be young
What is was to be free
To roam in a meadow
Or climb a big tree.
To run with a hoop
My best pal and me
What it was to be young
What it was to be free!!!
The icy slides of winter
March winds with whip and top
In summer we ate the cherry
In autumn we picked the hop
Notes: In Doug’s story ‘Scotland’ is an area of the marsh lying between Frognal and Conyer, it lies between Blacketts and the Mill stream. Kestrels used to build their nests in small trees there and in the Spring boys used to go looking for them. ‘Nobby Miles’ was the son of the lady who ran the sweet shop at Barrow Green beside the alleyway that leads to Trigg’s row.
For those who are fully metric 1d is equivalent to less than 1/2p and 1/6d to 71/2p.