Memories of Ballinger

'A lot of the cottages in the village were the foster homes for Dr Barnardo's children. Widows were often better off than the wives of the farmworkers because they fostered several children at once and had more housekeeping money.'
'I remember the women sitting in a circle doing their straw plait. The stone floors of the cottage were so cold that a bucket full of hot ashes were passed round under the women's skirts to keep them warm. Once one of the toddlers burned himself badly when he fell on the bucket.' 'Little Billy was a bit simple. It was said his mother gave him an overdose of laudanum when she was doing the straw plait and he slept for two days.'
'For lunch on Saturday we used to have a huge muffin covered with chopped vegetables and tomatoes.'
'Bird pie and rabbit was often eaten for the meat dish. The birds were trapped with a net as they flew from the hedges and from the ivy growing on the houses.'
'When roads need mending, the Overseer of the Parish had to find which farmers owned nearby land with plenty of flints, known as 'Buckinghamshire Diamonds'. In this area of the Chilterns, the Overseers were the Parish Wardens. The farmers were told how many 'yards' of flints were needed and if necessary, they had to employ the labour to pick up the stones to meet demand. It was the Overseer's job to find someone with a horse and cart to collect the piles of stones. It was a fairly amicable 'gentleman's agreement' type of arrangement and a good Overseer spread the load fairly round the local farmers.
'Boys were paid sixpence for picking up a 'yard' of stones, which was measured with a yard-square wooden box without a bottom. When full, the measure was simply picked up, leaving a pile of flints on the field.'
'I can remember the bodgers' tents with the lathe for turning chair legs. My father walked to Hampden to work in the woods.'
'There were brick fields at Sly Corner; clay was dug out of local gardens for bricks.'
'The beginning of May was Wendover Fair. The end of May there was the tea meeting at the Baptist Chapel. Mid July there was the Great Missenden Benefit Club Entertainment and tea; and the Great Missenden Cottagers' and Labourers' Friendly Society. In August there was the School Annual Treat, followed by the Methodist Sunday School Treat. In November there was the Primitive Methodist Sunday School Anniversary.'
Ann N. Marchant, Ballinger

I clearly remember holidays with my family at a small farm in Ballinger during the first decade of the century.
Besides the farm, Mr Bachelor owned a brick kiln and our chief joy was sliding down the shute used for the bricks.
In those days we could safely bowl our hoops along the country lanes, and as a great treat Mr Bachelor would let one or other of us accompany him on his occasional errands in the pony trap to the little towns of Chesham or Tring.
Sanitation was primitive—an outside privy with cut-up newspaper as ammunition hanging on the door. My mother, feeling this was a bit rough on our tender rear ends, enquired of Mr Lewington who owned the village general store if he had a toilet roll. He regretted but politely asked if he could oblige with a newspaper...!
One dull Sunday afternoon, we children were playing a game of Halma in our sitting room, when a sudden commotion in the yard sent us out to see what it was all about. A large sow had got loose. The crisis over, we went back to our game only to find that it had been carefully put away and a Bible placed on top—a gentle rebuke from Mrs Bachelor who was a strict Baptist and obviously didn't hold with our heathen ways!
M. Webber, Little Chalfont