Memories of Lane End

The road between Peacock and Cadmore End was very quiet in 1935, it being quite an event if a bicycle passed that way.

Memories of the Lacey Farm at Bolter End, and the use of horses and carts. The carthorses and long wagons piled high with sheaves of corn to be stored in barns and later threshed—no combine harvesters in those days. A very dirty job the farmer faced when the threshing machine visited his farm. Hay was all carted and made into ricks, something which is almost a thing of the past in this part of the world. Milk was delivered by Joe Figg, who carried a large can and walked on his round delivering in the neighbourhood.

Cattle were grazed on the commons—cows and sheep too. Since the cattle have ceased to graze on the commons, a tractor mower has had to be employed to cut the grass.

Later came buses, memories of Hollands, who first ran a huge lorry into High Wycombe from Lane End. Mr Tom Ashby ran a small brown bus which was always full to capacity. His wife travelled with him and took the fares. Tom always waited for his regulars if they were a bit late!

Men journeyed into High Wycombe chiefly on bicycles from the surrounding villages, working long hours in the chair factories with one week's holiday a year unpaid.

Warren's old shop in the High Street sold everything in the grocery line and hardware. Goodchild's shop (now Sunset Stores) was another landmark of the village, in those years run by Bert and Fred Goodchild. Always plenty of sweets to be had there for ½d or 1d. Mr Fred Bates had his own bakehouse (now Crockett's Dairy) at Bolter End. His hot cross-buns were delivered piping hot on Good Friday morning in time for breakfast. Mr Arthur Plumridge also baked and delivered assorted cakes from a bakehouse behind the old post office.

There were no houses in the Cressex area forty years ago, except about two. The land at the top of Marlow Hill was all fields, and part was used by the Technical School as playing fields adjoining the lacrosse pitch belonging to Wycombe Abbey School.

Beryl Free, Lane End

Seventy-six years ago our village could have been called the village of the five ends as it consisted of the main village of Lane End joined by the hamlets of Wheeler End, Cadmore End, Bolter End and Moor End. These were only short distances from the Parish Church in Lane End. There were only two main roads in the village, one from Stokenchurch to Marlow, the other from Wheeler End to Frieth. Most of the houses were built on or around the commons and approached by footpaths. There were seven pubs named after the work done in and around the village—for example, the Chairmakers (now the Victoria) and the Old Armchair; or the Brickmakers at Wheeler End that backed on to the old claypits, and the Old Kiln which is now a house. There was also a very old pub in Stonor named the Broad Arrow, that had once been the home of some fletchers who made very good arrows. All these pubs were, more accurately, beer houses and were known locally as 'jerry houses', allegedly for the obvious reason.

There was no piped water—though there were many ponds where horses were taken for a drink. Each house had its own rain water tank in the garden and a barrel to collect water for washing purposes. Both supplies depended on the rain collected from the roofs. During a drought water was obtained from land springs and people used a yoke and two buckets to fetch the water. Most of the shops were in Lane End near the main road. There was a butcher, baker, grocer, shoe mender and a general shop which sold everything from pins to oil, braces, mending wool. All houses and shops were lit by oil lamps.

Sunday was strictly observed. People either attended the church or the Wesleyan chapel—all dressed in their Sunday best with shoes neatly polished. There were two schools built at opposite ends of the village by the two churches and known as the Church and the Wesleyan schools. Most parents took their children for walks through the fields or woods on fine Sunday afternoons. It was very rough and dusty walking along the roads which were made from flints thrown down and then pressed into the ground by a steam roller after water had been thrown on them. Shoe leather didn't last long in these circumstances.

The only public transport was the carrier's cart. In Lane End there were two carriers who took people to High Wycombe three or four times a week at a cost of sixpence or eightpence for the return journey. Passengers often had to walk up the hills to assist the horse. With the exception of the Penny Farthing no bicycles were seen.

Men known as chair bodgers worked in the beech woods in sheds and, using a foot lathe, turned chair legs. The wood chips from these were collected into bags and sold locally by the 'Chip' man at fourpence a bag. Other local employment was provided by a brickyard, an iron foundry and a blacksmith and by the steam factory that made boxes for tin plate and chairs.

On weekdays the women wore shawls and white starched aprons. Men wore bowler hats on Sunday and caps on weekdays. Girls wore white starched pinafores, black stockings and boots. Boys were dressed as girls until they were five years old. Then they wore jackets with wide lace collars and wide brimmed hats with elastic under the chin. Most women and girls did lace making on pillows. Some did beautiful work and one Lane End woman received a gold medal for her lace at an exhibition in London.

Once a muffin-man appeared from High Wycombe and rang his bell around the village. Many of the poor families worked in the fields picking up stones and filling buckets with them. Heaps of these were later broken by a stone-breaker and used for road making and other things. May Day was always celebrated in the village with garlands and Jack-in-the-Green boughs. Dancing round the Maypole was also done. Lane End was proud of its local brass band with their uniform of scarlet and gold braid.

In 1897, when Queen Victoria celebrated her Diamond Jubilee, all the children were given a tea in Mr Slocock's barn at the Moor Farm.

R.E. Bristow, Lane End

I was born in 1892 and lived at Lane End, five miles from High Wycombe, and was the third daughter in a family of eight.

My father was a bricklayer, and when there was no work through bad weather, there was no money and my mother had to supplement the family income by lace making and caning chairs. Later she taught me to make lace. My sister and I walked to North's Chair Factory at Piddington, two miles away, before school, to collect the chair seats or frames, and two sorts of canes and wood for pegging. My mother did them during the day and after school we walked again to the factory, taking the completed caned chairs and collecting more to be done the next day.

I left school at the age of thirteen having obtained the necessary number of attendance marks and went into Service to live in at a house near Aylesbury. I
was taken by horse and trap with my tin trunk and will never forget those first days away from home.

F.M. Woodstock, Beaconsfield

Extracted from 'A Pattern Hundreds' (1975) and reproduced with the kind permission of the Buckinghamshire Federation of Women's Institutes