Life in Borden by Roger Martin

Roger Martin

I was born and raised in Borden until I got married at the age of 22. My mother and her family all grew up in Borden. My grandfather was the local blacksmith, and I remember very well watching him shoe the big Shire horses and helping him by operating the bellows on the forge to get the coals hot and then watching him shape and fit the shoe to the horse, and then that wondrous smell of the horse's hoof burning so that the shoe would fit neatly to the hoof. Granddad had the forge until his death, Nan then moved to Banister Hill in one of the small cottages on the left-hand side.
The old vicarage was pulled down to make way for four new bungalows between the farm and St Martins cottages. There was also a very large house that stood were Coppins Lane (New Private Estate) now stands . Coppins lane was built on the ground that was old man Sedges place, he and his son George lived in there. It was once called Coppins Farm hence the name of the new estate, Old man Sedge had a big grey beard and to me as a small boy looked very frightening his house was surrounded by a flint wall about six foot high with broken glass cemented on the top to stop people climbing over the top. Old man Sedge or his son sold homing pigeons, the problem was when he sold them to a customer they would come home to George and not the new owner.

I personally lived on the old section of the Mount View Estate down by the roundabout with the willow tree in the middle.

We would go to the local village shop owned by Mr. Woods and in the old butcher's section he would put on a toy display at Christmas and we would look at all the toys in the window and secretly yearn for them. We would walk to school, up through the village and through the churchyard and on down into School Lane, finally reaching Borden Chalk hole College, as it was commonly called. My aunt and uncle were the caretakers of the school and also lived there on a permanent basis (the Barrett’s). The headmaster was Mr. Costin, a bald-headed ogre of a man who would frighten the very life out of us with his booming voice, and it was nothing to get your ears boxed for a little mishap or giving the wrong answer to a question. His wife took us for music, Mr. Jenkins was another teacher, and for kindergarten there were the two Miss Edwards, sisters I believe - when they retired their place was taken by Miss Delaine.

When Borden held its fete at the Playstool the local school would show its skill in Maypole dancing. There would be all the fun of the fair, like the coconut shy, wobbly bikes and the local farmers' stalls, and of course there would be all sorts of races for us kids, like the egg and spoon race and the sack race, and there would be marching bands to watch and also farm skills and machinery.
Both my brothers and I were in the local church choir and at one time we had three sets of twins in the choir. My brother and I are identical twins, as were the Brett twins (girls) but the Fitz-Williams twins were not identical. The local paper came up and took our photo and put it in the paper as it was a bit of an achievement for three sets of twins, in fact there was another set of twins that went to the same school and they lived at Chestnut Street, they were the Ruck twins (girls).

After school and on the weekends we were never home, we were always out playing either on the Playstool or down the chalk hole just off Cryalls Lane or in the Pug Hole that was between the Playstool and the chalk hole. I still have a scar on my right hand from playing in the chalk hole and cutting it open on a flint that was stuck in the chalk.

Our estate was surrounded by cherry orchards and hop fields, and also fields with other crops that were in season at the time. The local dairyman was George Waters, and us kids would sit on the gate in the dairy and watch George milk the cows and he would aim the teat at all of us (about 6 kids) and get all of us in the face with warm milk straight from the udder and we would end up with milk all over us, then we would help with moving the cows to a different pasture. My brother and I would cycle up and around the Square to Oad Street and meet up with our friends and get up to all sorts of mischief, but nothing that would cause damage to property (well maybe once) or hurt anybody, just good fun.
Mum still lives in Borden, as do a lot of the people that I knew as a child, but the house that I grew up in has been pulled down and the estate has now got twice as many people living in the same amount of land. We had a huge garden as a child and Dad grew all the family veggies in the garden, ranging from basic veggies to apples and gooseberries, redcurrants and blackcurrants.

I went back to Borden in 1995 and there has not been a lot of change, and that pleases me, as it's nice to see the old cottages at Harman’s Corner still there and the thatched cottages down Wises Lane, but the allotments have now gone as has the shop in the village. Mum said that things have changed for the worst and I think she could be right. I miss the clip clop of the horses in the village and she hankers for the days as they used to be, but you cannot turn back time.

I hope that I have brought back a few memories of Borden even if it is for one person and that I have put a smile on people's faces. I now live in Australia and hope to go back to Borden in sometime soon - if anybody remembers me then I hope to see you then. 


Regards, Roger Martin

Register and login to the site to post a comment.