Welford in Wartime

Although my home was on the outskirts of London, I have many happy childhood memories of summer holidays in the 1930's spent with a Great Aunt, whose postal address was: Clara Wicks, High Street Welford, Leicestershire. Her cottage was one of a row of several small, but warm and sturdy brick cottages fronting directly onto the High Street, and lit by oil lamps, as there was no electricity in the village at that time. The single hand pump that supplied water for the row of cottages was located in the back yard, as were the toilets in their wooden out-houses.

I spent my last summer holiday as a child there in 1937, and had no opportunity to visit Welford again until 1944 while temporarily stationed in that part of England. When I first stepped off the bus, Welford did not appear to have changed. It was still a small sleepy village just as I remembered. My Great Aunt was still paying only Two Shillings and Sixpence a week rent, but now there was electricity, and perhaps most surprising of all, there was a large airfield not far outside the village called Husbands Bosworth. The Whitley's continuously circled the village; obviously doing "circuits and bumps". The RAF presence became even more obvious that night when I went to the pub in the High Street. It was full of RAF types. However, being RAF aircrew myself, I did not feel out of place, and spent a pleasant evening comparing notes over a few beers.

My last visit to Welford was in 1981. Husbands Bosworth was long gone, but there was a civilian airfield on the site. Also gone was my Great Aunt's cottage, along with all the others - neat new bungalows had taken their place. The outside of the pub in the High Street had changed beyond recognition however inside, it appeared to be much as I remembered it, and the beer was certainly better than the wartime variety.

By W. Roberts

Hits since 22/8/2001