The Granary Reflections of Wells

Pauline Kelly is a resident of Peterborough and was born in Wells in October 1945.  She has vivid memories being brought up in Wells. In this post, she recounts her memories of Wells from the Granary, of snowstorms and family.

In 1949 I was a young child of 4 or 5-years old.  I remember going to work with my Dad, Arthur Edward Newman.  We lived in Northfield Crescent, backing onto the railway line, and the train drivers always use to wave to us and whistle with clouds of steam.  From memory, not many trains ran during a day or even over a week. The highlight was when anyone got married and left on the train for their honeymoon when detonators were placed on the rails making a series of very loud bangs, no secrets there!

My Dad was employed to turn the grain in the Granary at the Maltings, which was done at intervals during the day and night, and I often went with Dad a couple times a day.  We went everywhere on his bike; I had a seat in front on the handlebars and when the weather was bad, he placed his waterproof cape over us, we were always cosy and dry.

The Granary floors were covered in grain probably 5 or 6 inches deep. I am not sure what sort it was either malt, corn, or wheat, but I’m sure it was not oats! The building was heated and always very warm, which I presume must have been to dry out the grain and stop it going mouldy.  The atmosphere was dusty, and dry, and Dad had a red and white neckerchief which he put over his nose and mouth. Using a wooden plough with several forks he used to get behind with a harness, like a horse and push the plough up and down the rows sometimes pulling it.

There were several floors, but I was never allowed up on the top floor. An open shoot was located at the end of the floor down to the sea, so when a boat was under the shute, it was ready to receive the grain poured from above.

I used to sit in the corner and watch my Dad, always having a stick just in case any rodents appeared, thankfully, they never did. I used to climb up the wall ladders, which were tricky, as Dad would have to do the next floor, or leave me where we were shouting to each other at intervals.

It was lovely in the building in winter, the building was snug, and often I use to stand by the door while my Dad stoked the boiler up. It was huge to me, and when he opened the door to shovel in coal, it roared and was fiercely hot.

Winters were hard, although as children, we loved when there was no school because of the weather. Dad often used to dig a path down the garden to collect fresh snow for us, melted snow was used for the toilet and for cleaning, and I can remember Mum panicking if we missed the water cart bringing fresh water round once or twice a day when all the pipes were frozen.  I never realised how much snow you had to melt to get a bucket of water.

Dad had an allotment attached to our garden and grew everything, except pea pods, because I use to eat them all. He very carefully wrapped tomatoes and apples in newspaper and put them in the loft these and these gems were retrieved at Christmas, the apples were a bit wrinkly, but were very sweet.

I remember it clearly, even though it was a time ago, and am pleased these reminiscences will be saved as part of our heritage for future generations.

Pauline Kelly.