Reminisces of Village Life in the 1940s and 1950s

John Pitman was born at Headbourne Worthy, near Winchester, 71years ago and therefore is Winchester born and bred. An experienced raconteur he entertained the members of the Probus Club of Basingstoke with his experiences of Hampshire village life as he grew up in what he may have considered then was a rural idyll and now appears to be a very basic existence.

He has lived and worked around Winchester all his life and his roots in Hampshire village life run deep being connected with many social groups in his locality. Village Hall committee for 40 years, being chairman for 26 years; drama groups where he has established a reputation for playing pantomime dames and being Vice President of a brass band are some of his interests. He is also chairman of the Southern Water Retirement Association for Hampshire having worked in their finance section based in an office in Otterbourne.

John’s talk on “Village life in the 1940s and 1950s” centred on his family life during war time and the immediate post war ‘austerity years’ and it brought back wonderful memories for many of the assembled members.

With great humour, he meticulously took us through the country seasons as seen through his eyes as a child living in Headbourne Worthy. It was a detail of life before ‘The Good Life’ shop in the village.

During daily life in a farm worker’s cottage on a 2000 acre country estate, he vividly described how he and his parents coped without running water, an outdoor ‘copper’ for washing clothes and an earthen closet loo at the top of the garden. The only electrical appliance in the cottage was a ‘wireless’, powered initially by an accumulator battery and, when electricity came to the village, by an adaptor from the ceiling light. Many of the familiar and favourite family programmes of the period were recollected.