January 23, 2019|
Mr Shepherd of 8 Southwick Road
Mr. Shepherd was extremely helpful and interested in the Society, and said that if only he could read and write he would join. His eyes are very poor.
Born in 1900, his earliest memory is the beginning of the railway. As a toddler, dressed all in white, as the fashion was, he was taken by an old chap called “Dorset” to see the train go by. Unfortunately “Dorset” put him on top of a huge manure heap to get a better view and words can’t describe what his mother said to him when he got home.
The railway workers were mostly imported from Ireland and were very rough and fond of drink. One day the foreman hid two bottles of beer in a cavity of the wall of the arch they were building, meaning to drink it later. Unfortunately he was called away and when he returned the beer had been bricked up – and it is there to this day.
As a boy he used to walk the boundary with the other children and when they came to a high wall he was made to walk along the top to fulfil the conditions of the beat.
At Wickham Fair the carters used to walk around with a straw in their hats to show that they were for hire in the coming year. It was no good advertising in the press because so many people could not read or write.
The town criers, Mr. West the butcher and Mr. Norman Welch.
General Booth passing through Wickham in one of the earliest cars.
Mr. Shepherd remembers cycling past the original “Vine” the day of the murders in 1924. The landlord who did them used to be a ganger on the line.
The night they dropped the incendiaries all down the river in the last war and how everyone had to shovel them up.
The greatest change in village life had been the social services. His family could not afford to go to the doctor too often – until after the flood. This is what happened.
At the end of the last century [19th] before the railway was built deep snow fell in the Meon Valley. One night the snow melted rapidly and the flood water raced down towards Wickham. There was no embankment to stop it. Mr. Shepherd’s father was awoken by the sound of rushing water as the river overflowed into the mill. Remembering that Dr. Malony’s ponies were stabled there he dashed out to try and save them. He found them swimming madly with their heads bumping against the roof and with great difficulty he got them out. He had then had to rescue Dr. Malony’s women who were crouching knee deep in water halfway up the stairs in the house. For this great service he and his family were given free medical attention for the rest of their lives.
Interview by Mrs. Allen
From the WHS Archives 1972