Memories of Tysoe

An Oral History circa 1930 to 1960

by Margaret Hunter

Introductory note

This text was originally produced as a small booklet in 2013 and has subsequently been made available on this website for free  public access. The Tysoe Heritage Research Group (THRG) is grateful to the originators of the project, the Tysoe Women’s Institute and the author, Margaret Hunter, for allowing this to be possible. The copyright remains with them. The original text was updated in 2022 to include minor amendments. The text was part of a wider project and is best read in conjunction with a video of the interviews made by students from Kineton School in 2012. Click here to view the video which is available in three parts at the foot of this page.


Click on the links below to navigate to different sections:

Foreword and Acknowledgements
Domestic life
Shops and Services
School life
Working life
Businesses and Trades

Foreword and Acknowledgements

This booklet has been produced by volunteers on behalf of the Tysoe branch of the Women’s Institute; the accompanying film has been produced by students at Kineton High School supported by staff. Funding for the printing and reproduction of materials has been generously provided by the Tysoe Utility Estate, a village charity which is supportive of educational projects and the elderly, and Councillor Seccombe on behalf of the Warwickshire County Council Councillor Grant Fund.

The village of Tysoe is fortunate to have a number of elder residents who were born in, or very close to, the village. These men and women have spent much of their lives in Tysoe and their personal memories provide valuable insights into the history of the village. I would like to thank the following people who have shared their personal memories for the benefit of the wider community and future generations:

Mr Ken Bloxham                Mrs Sheila Gaydon             Mrs Margaret Gibbs
Mr Michael Gibbs               Mrs Greta Gibbons             Mr Patrick Goodman
Mr Robin Hancox               Mr Gerald Hart                   Mr Conway Hopkins
Mr Tony Lomas                  Mr Keith Oliver                   Mrs Margaret Oliver
Mr Percy Sewell                  Mrs Doreen Smith              Mr Phil Walker   
Mr Derrick Walton             Mrs Marguerite Wyles       

During the collation of all this information I have been aided immeasurably by many individuals. In particular I would like to thank Mr Phil Tabinor, Mrs Sue Hancox, Dr Richard Goode and Mr Kevin Wyles for their efforts and support. The names of businesses and trades was provided from a list compiled by Mr Geoff Smith and the late Mr Walter Blunn.

Margaret Hunter

Tysoe May 2013

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In the first half of the 20th Century, there were 20 or more small farms in Lower, Middle and Upper Tysoe. The three Tysoes were distinct at the time as they were separated by open fields. Many families were tenants on the farms and much of the land was, and still is, owned by the Compton Wynyates estate, the Upton estate and the Local Authority. Cottages were often tied to employment on the estates. Over the years some farmers bought land to increase their holdings while further land was bought up for housing developments. There are currently about five farms remaining. Throughout the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s Tysoe was a vibrant village providing for the needs of the wider community and, during the Second World War, for the aerodrome at Shenington. The memories recorded in this booklet relate to those years and include: domestic life; shops and services; leisure; school life, and working life. Places and names mentioned are shown on a plan of the village at the end of the booklet (Plate 13).

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Domestic life

Many of the elder residents of Tysoe were born in tied cottages as their fathers were agricultural workers. Other families had owned their own cottages or houses and some had lived in council owned houses. Most homes were basic, with no running water and no electricity. One resident described the “tiny” thatched cottage in Saddledon Street where she lived between 1946 and 1950. There was a small living room downstairs with a brick and earth floor, a kitchen and pantry. Upstairs there was one bedroom and a small landing just big enough for a single bed and chest of drawers. The cottage had been condemned for human habitation before the Second World War but three further families lived in it after she moved out. She commented that “you had to be content with what you had”. Another resident told of the large gaps between the walls and the earthen floors in her old cottage. One day she found her two year old son had fallen through one of the gaps and had only been saved from falling further because his head got stuck. One of these cottages later collapsed and the whole row of houses was demolished.

Families used coal, wood or paraffin as fuel and paraffin and candles for lighting. People used outdoor bucket toilets or chamber pots indoors at night. One resident described how her neighbour’s beautiful Dorothy Perkins rose died as a result of another neighbour emptying the chamber pot out of the window every morning. Water was collected in buckets and jugs from a number of well points and standpipes around Tysoe (Plate 1).

Plate 1. Collecting water from a well point at the junction of Main Street and Peacock Lane.

The oldest well points were built in the late 19th Century and previously people had collected water from the local brooks. Standpipes were provided when the council built new houses, such as the houses in Avon Avenue which were built in the mid-1920s. Hot water from a kettle had to be poured on standpipes to melt the ice on the tap in winter. During the Second World War, as the aerodrome in Shenington had no piped water, servicemen came to Tysoe by truck to collect water from standpipes in Avon Avenue. One resident met her future husband while he was collecting water for the aerodrome.  

A tin bath was used in front of the fire for bathing. Clothes were washed in a ‘copper’ every Monday using water from the nearest standpipe. A ‘copper’ was a water boiler built into a wall and a fire would be lit beneath it to heat the several buckets of water inside. Some families were not able to have a copper in case the thatched roof caught fire. One person recalled an occasion when a toddler had wedged his potty underneath the copper and it took his mother a while to work out why she couldn’t get the fuel under.

Children often helped family members with different tasks before or after school. One resident recalled how he would get up at 6.30am to help with these tasks. On one occasion he helped his grandfather to slaughter a pig, holding its head while his grandfather cut its neck.  Common tasks for children included running errands, feeding animals, such as the family pig or chickens, and collecting eggs. Spare eggs were cleaned with wire wool and sold to a company in Studley. Some children would go apple scrumping but if the local policeman caught them he would ‘clip’ their ears. Parents were strict and would do the same again if they found out. One resident remembered not being allowed to eat in the street. When he was 5 years old his mother found out that he had eaten some sweets in the street and he was punished with a slipper.

Families ate the same meal together usually of vegetables from the garden or allotment and meat. If a child was late they missed the meal and no alternative would be given. Many people had a cold larder for storage and, as they did not have refrigerators some food was pickled and meat was often salted for preservation. Pigs were so common that when the first council houses were built in Tysoe, they included pig sties. Christmas was the only time of the year when poultry would be eaten. The father of one family of nine would go to buy two cockerels on Christmas Eve for dinner on Christmas Day. Children received few presents.

Life changed during the Second World War. Many people provided accommodation for children who had been evacuated from Coventry, which was heavily bombed, and the evacuees attended Tysoe School. Residents described how they could hear the bombing of the city and see the lights of the fires caused. German bombers would pass nearby afterwards and there was a searchlight in the village. It was one of these bombers that damaged Whatcote Church when it dropped an unused bomb on it. There were no road signs or street lights during the war and houses had blackouts. Any homes with lights visible during a blackout would be visited and warned by the village warden. Villagers also heard a number of British planes crash at Shenington aerodrome as they were returning from training exercises. The rapidly changing weather conditions at Shenington, especially during the winter months, posed a particular problem for pilots and there was said to be an unusually high number of crashes there. Some described how children would go to the aerodrome to see what debris they could find.

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Shops and Services

Residents described how Tysoe used to be largely self-sufficient, with several shops, bakeries, milkmen, cobblers, butchers and a post office. Other businesses in the village included undertakers, hairdressers, a saddler, a blacksmith, thatchers, builders, a garage, petrol pumps, millers, chimney sweeps, coal yards, a nurse, a midwife and doctors’ surgeries.

Heritage’s shop and bakery, which had opened in 1833, had vans which travelled through the village and to neighbouring villages to deliver goods to people who could not travel to Tysoe (Plate 2).

Plate 2. Heritage’s shop located on Main Street opposite Saddledon Street

This was a free service and it was remarked that “it must have been the first dot com” shopping service. Residents remembered a range of mobile shops in the area during the 1940s and 1950s. Bread, cakes and confection were delivered on Mondays, groceries on Fridays, and paraffin on Saturdays. Milk was sold by ladling it into galvanized containers from 17 gallon churns. It was said that on Good Friday a hot cross bun was put aside and looked at a year later and it had not gone mouldy.

Foster’s used to deliver goods in a van on Saturdays. The van was crammed with goods for sale. Coco matting was strapped to the wheel hubs and tin baths fastened on the roof. One resident remarked that “it was quite a sight to see this van going through as it had so many things hanging off it”. The women would come out to the van to buy their goods and to gossip with one another while waiting for their turn. Papers were brought in a Morris 1000 and the driver took orders for a variety of goods “including caps for guns”. Mr Lucket, who ran a shop in the village with his wife, charged alternators for radios and also made coffins. When neighbours heard banging early in the morning they knew there had been a death.

Shops gave customers order books so they could write down their requirements for the coming week. These would then be taken and returned when the goods were delivered the following week. An order book for 1953 showed that 40 cigarettes cost seven shillings and two pence (there were 20 shillings in a pound and twelve pence in a shilling) and ten gallons of paraffin cost a pound. One person recalled that the Manor House had a monthly account to pay for their order and showed an order book from 1927. This book showed that the household took 12 pints of milk each day. One order showed 40 eggs for seven shillings and six pence and two loaves of bread for one shilling and three pence. One resident remembered Johnson’s petrol pump which was hand operated by using a large lever. The owner’s wife used to “vigorously swing the lever backwards and forwards”. She was always attended by a large white poodle called Boo Boo. Also remembered was the first mobile library service to come to Tysoe in 1950 (Plate 3).  

Plate 3. The mobile library parked opposite the present Post Office around 1950.

During the war everyone had to have an identity card and a ration book. Ration books were still in use until 1953 and had to be produced to buy food, fuel and other commodities which were in short supply. Fruit was generally not available. Some residents would go rabbiting with ferrets. A net was placed over the entrance to the warren and a ferret sent down to flush out the rabbits which were then caught. At night, a long net would be put around the field to catch rabbits; those caught were eaten or sold. A resident described how, when one shopkeeper went to Stratford to buy fruit and vegetables for his shop, he would take people’s rabbits to sell for them. Another resident recalled his father taking rabbits to the Alcan factory, in Banbury, where he worked and selling them to workmates to supplement his wages.

Two doctors held weekly surgeries in Tysoe, travelling in from Shenington and Shipston. One surgery was in the front room of a resident’s house opposite the present post office and the other was held in a house next to the post office. Patients would wait in the street until it was their turn to see the doctor, or the doctors would do home visits if needed. The village also had a nurse and a midwife. A travelling dentist visited Tysoe once a year and the residents described his treatment as being “like butchery”. Tysoe’s first permanent doctor’s surgery was set up in Epwell Road after the war. There was also a vet called Mr. Bull who lived on Shipston Road.

The original fire station, called the Engine House was on Main Street opposite the current butcher’s shop. It had a thatched roof and the fire engine had to be altered so that it could fit under a large oak beam that supported the roof. It is believed to have been the only thatched fire station in the country (Plate 4).

Plate 4. The old thatched fire station and fire engine on Main Street.

When there was a fire the fire bell would ring and the firemen, who were all volunteers, would come running from their homes or work. Several of the residents at the memory session had been part-time firemen. The fire engine would pull a trailer behind it which carried a pump for the water. Another resident who lived next to the fire station remembered when she was a child having to ring the fire bell on occasions to summon the village firemen when there was a fire. This fire station was in use until 1973.

Tysoe, like other villages, had a policeman and he lived in a flat above the police house on the Green. Residents described how one particular policeman would apprehend people for “anything”. In one case, a resident’s aunt was taken to court and fined five shillings, “a week’s wages”, for not halting her bicycle at a junction in Tysoe, even though there was no other traffic at the time. She told how her husband had been taken to court during the war for using his petrol ration in a motorcycle instead of in his car. Two men decided to get their own back on the policeman and used ropes to pull his bicycle up into a tree. Residents described how Tysoe was a close-knit community and people looked out for one another. Parents and older people were respected and no-one locked their doors. There were only minor crimes in the village such as one or two incidents said to have involved boys from the Approved School in Kineton.

During the Second World War, a Tysoe and Brailes Home Guard was assembled (Plate 5).

Plate 5. A formal photograph of the Tysoe and District Home Guard

Talks on protecting the community and fighting an invasion were given and the members practised throwing hand grenades on the hill by Compton Wynyates windmill where there was also a firing range. It was recalled that the four seconds it took for the grenade to explode did not seem very long. When things were quiet the men would shoot rabbits.

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Residents remembered how, as children, they would play hopscotch, skipping games or pretend to be shop-keepers. Some used to go into the fields to play and take a picnic with them. One said that she and her friends would light a small fire and make tea using a kettle filled with water from a spring. Some went fishing and bird watching, or would play in the churchyard. There were occasionally fights between children from the different Tysoes. Children often climbed trees seeing how far they could walk out onto the branches and surprisingly few were hurt. Only one boy, it was recalled, broke an arm by falling from a tree. One man remembered being stung by wasps the day before a school trip when he disturbed a nest.

The old elm tree, after which Old Tree Lane is named, was popular among children in Tysoe and residents described how 10 to 12 children would play inside the tree at the same time (Plate 6).

Plate 6. The old tree where children used to play, opposite Tysoe Hill.

The tree was thought to have been planted in 1714 but had eventually to be cut down after it died of elm disease. People also fondly remembered the village pond and the ducks that used to leave the pond in the morning, waddle across Main Street and then return later in the day. In the winter children would skate on the pond (Plate 7). Residents felt that as children they were perhaps more accustomed to danger than children are today.

Plate 7. The village pond next to the Village Hall.

Practical jokes and tricks were an important part of childhood. Several people described one incident when some children tied string across the lane in order to knock off the hat of an old man who would regularly cycle through the village. One resident mentioned how they used to tease the dogs from the pub until they barked furiously and then they would run away.

The village hall was built in 1929 and became a focal point for entertainment in Tysoe. There were regular cinema shows, whist drives, dances, dramatic productions and concerts. The Young Farmers’ Association organized many activities which were well attended. Cricket matches against Oxhill were played in the fields and Tysoe had a very good football team. The team travelled to many away matches and, it was recalled that, unusually for the time, a woman drove the bus used by the team.

During the Second World War, the airmen from Shenington aerodrome would visit Tysoe for entertainment and a dance band was formed by Mr Fran Heritage a local shopkeeper. This was originally called the Buskers Band, but was renamed the Melody Makers. The musicians, all local and mostly self-taught, would perform at dances held three times a week. Some of the airmen who could play piano, drums or saxophone would play with the band to earn extra money. The Melody Makers also went to Shenington aerodrome to play as well as to Ratley and Wellesbourne. The wartime dances in the village hall became very popular. The Saturday dance was called the sixpenny hop as it cost sixpence for entry while the other two dances were known as the “sweatbox”. The dances were frequented by a range of groups from the local area, including airmen from Shenington, the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAFS), the young women from the land army who were stationed at Idlicote, soldiers from the Central Ammunition Depot in Kineton, and members of the Czech Free Army who would cycle there from Woodley House in Kineton. Two men from the Czech Free Army went on to assassinate a senior Nazi, Reinhard Heydrich, known as the “Butcher of Prague”. The cousin of one resident married a soldier from the Czech Free Army. A resident described how fights would sometimes break out between soldiers from Kineton and airmen from Shenington. The Shenington airmen, who came from America, Canada and Australia as well as from Britain, were seen as a great attraction and young women from other villages used to come to Tysoe to meet them. The sixpenny hop would end with a ‘twilight’ waltz during which all lights but one were turned off. One resident remembered how this had caused concern among the older generation and so two well respected female committee members stood in the doorway during the waltz to keep an eye on the couples.

Village celebrations were eagerly anticipated and street parties were held for Victory in Europe (VE Day) and Victory over Japan (VJ Day) as well as for the coronations of King George VI and of Queen Elizabeth II. One resident remembered dancing round a maypole at the old vicarage, now the doctors’ surgery, with other village children as part of the Queen’s coronation celebrations. A village brass band would lead a parade on celebratory occasions (Plate 8). A travelling fair with round-a-bouts also came to the village periodically.

Plate 8. Village brass band.

Most people did not have holidays and many children never travelled anywhere outside of the local area until in their teens. Several people said that their first holiday had been to Wales at around 14 or 15 years of age. It would take a whole day to travel there by steam train. One recalled going to Port Maddoch for a family holiday. His parents and four younger siblings went in a van while the three older ones went by train. He remembered leaning out of the window and, by the time they got to Port Maddoch, his face was black with soot. Some families went on day trips to Weston-super-Mare and one resident told of going there each year with his parents, brother and grandmother. He remembered playing on the beach all day and being exhausted by the time the family returned to Tysoe in the late evening. Another resident recalled travelling to Frinckley, in Derbyshire, in a car with three adults and three children and a tin bath on the roof. He described how his father was a very slow driver. It was said that he had once, while driving a motorcycle, been overtaken by a pedal cyclist.

Several people recalled a retired teacher from Kineton who would take boys, aged between 11 and 16 years, from the village on a camping trip. The boys had to raise the money through doing odd jobs and donations and it cost five shillings for one week for an 11 year old. They stayed in a tent and had to cook their own food and in the middle of the week there was a sports afternoon. The boys took their own kit and food to the railway station, in Kineton, sometimes in pushcarts.

Most people did not own a car and travelled by bus, using other vehicles when necessary. The Midland Red Bus service went to Banbury and the Blue Bus service went to Stratford. Mr Rouse’s private bus service also went to Stratford on Tuesdays and Fridays and was very popular (Plate 9). Once the bus returned to Tysoe, it was said, the driver would have his dinner and a beer in the pub before beginning the next trip.

Plate 9. Rouse’s bus service; this bus operated until 1975.

Lorries could also be used to transport people, and tractors were used in bad weather to get through the snow and to collect coal and other goods. Many people rode bicycles and some had motorcycles. Sunrising Hill was a struggle for most vehicles and passengers often had to get out and walk up the hill while the driver “took another run at it”. Although many people did not travel far, they went to Banbury and other places nearby. Banbury was a small town with a focus on agriculture and had the largest cattle market in Western Europe. It later became industrial and was developed to accommodate industrial workers including workers who moved there from the South East with what one resident described as “their flat vowels”. A resident said that his father used to hunt in the area around Banbury where there is now a retail park. One person recalled that a shopping trip to Banbury with his mother and sister was a treat and also remembered a trip to Coventry to the pantomime as well as cycling to the picture house in Shipston. Another told of a trip to Wembley which cost seven shillings and sixpence.

Before the 1950s the vast majority of people did not own a television and, even after that time, as televisions became more common, there were no daytime broadcasts. People would gather in relatives’ or neighbours’ houses to view sporting and other major events but otherwise created their own entertainment. Concerts were organised in the village every year (Plate 10). These were run over three nights, involving groups such as the Women’s Institute and the Social Club. One of the residents remembered doing the lighting for the performances. There were a variety of singing and musical acts and the residents recalled three men who used to impersonate the Beverley Sisters, a female singing trio.

Plate 10. A concert production at the Village Hall.

The village flower show was organised every year and still runs today. It included tug of war, jumping and an event in which men tried to knock each other off beams (Plate 11).

Plate 11. Men trying to knock each other off a beam at the Tysoe Show in 1926.

Churches were an important part of growing up in the village. There was St Mary’s Anglican Church, the Wesleyan Methodist Church and a Primitive Methodist Church which was also used for Plymouth Brethren services. Later, when the Primitive Methodists moved into the Wesleyan Church, the Plymouth Brethren took over the Primitive Methodist building in Back Lane. It was recalled that the Methodist Church had an old harmonium which the choirboys had to pump up; the father of one of the residents played the harmonium. Children went to Sunday school and each church had an annual event and anniversary celebrations every year when children would recite poetry or sing. Some children went to two churches so that they could go to events for both. It was remembered that everything closed on Sundays and people would often go for a walk in the afternoon. When a new vicar came to the village he started a choir at the vicarage one day a week and put on plays in the church and this was very popular.

Several eccentric characters were remembered. One old man used to wear odd socks and when this was pointed out to him would say that he had another pair the same at home. An elderly man who lived on Main Street went to bed every winter and refused to get up until he heard the first cuckoo. His wife had to take all his meals to him in bed. He wore plus fours and a straw hat and carried a cane which came apart to reveal a gun. An eccentric lady was recalled by one resident. She appeared to live on bread and jam, did a lot for charity and collected animals; it was said that she had 127 pigs. Although she bought a farm in the late 1940s, she chose to live in a caravan. She travelled by horse and cart and used this to go to Cheltenham to visit her mother. As it was too far to return in one day, she would break the journey and sleep that night by the roadside. One day she was stopped for driving a horse and cart on the motorway.

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School life

Before Kineton High School opened in 1958, children in Tysoe went to Tysoe School up to the age of 14 or 15 years (Plate 12). Some pupils went to the Grammar School in Banbury at 11 years of age although fees had to be paid there up until after the Second World War. One resident remembered being the first boy from Tysoe in 28 years to attend the Grammar School when he went in the mid-1950s. Later, as more children went to school in Banbury, there would be around 50 children on the bus sitting three or four to a seat.

Plate 12. Tysoe School before current modernisation.

Tysoe School had a headmaster and two women teachers. The 90 to 100 children were organized into three classes. Boys sat at the front of the classroom while girls sat at the back. There was no school uniform and the school day ran from 9am until 4pm, with a lunch break of one and a half hours. Children came from neighbouring villages as it was thought that Tysoe School was better than other schools nearby. Residents recalled that after the Second World War there were so many children in Tysoe School that the youngest children were moved to the village hall to be educated. The children played outside the front of the building and a white line was painted by the road which they were told not to cross. They also played by the village pond next to the village hall.

There were no school dinners so children walked home for lunch and then returned for the afternoon session. Some children walked while others used bicycles or tandems, often with older children escorting younger ones. Children who lived further away brought sandwiches that they had to eat outside regardless of the weather. One family rode ponies which grazed in a neighbouring field until the school day finished. In later years dinners were transported to Tysoe School from Kineton but the residents recalled that these were of variable quality. On one occasion a jam tart was so hard that the teacher resorted to hitting it repeatedly on a table to try to break it for serving.

The children had to use outside bucket toilets which were emptied into the adjacent brook. One resident recalled that there was a gap under the door and that the boys would try to look underneath. The teachers lived nearby, sometimes lodging in the village, and the headmaster’s house was part of the school, so the school never closed when weather was bad. In the winter of 1947, when there were large snow drifts, the headmaster gave children piggybacks through the snow to the toilets.

Teachers were very strict and often used corporal punishment such as the cane. The children were frightened of one headmaster in particular as he would beat them, while another used a slipper or shook pupils hard. The residents remembered one incident when the headmaster tried to shake a very large boy but gave up red-faced after much straining. Some teachers also had a sense of humour, or thought they had, at times. During the war, one headmaster, it was recalled, would jump out at the children wearing a gas mask to shock them.

The school was heated by a coal fire and, in the winter, the children’s milk, which was delivered in small glass bottles, had to be thawed above the fire. Sometimes the children had to run on the spot to keep warm. The ceiling leaked when it snowed or rained and “a galvanized jug stood next to the fire to catch the drops”. While the teacher was completing the register and other documentation the children would use a dictionary to look up unknown words from the hymn book. One teacher would knit while she was teaching, although it was claimed that she could still see everything that went on in the classroom.

The school curriculum included daily physical exercise and sports on Friday afternoons; boys played football and cricket in the furrowed field and the girls played rounders. Teachers would normally teach all subjects but those who did not like sport or art did less of these. One teacher who particularly liked chemistry would do rather unconventional experiments and residents remembered that children had to be carried out of the classroom after one experiment because of the effect of the fumes. Boys went to a workshop in Saddledon Street to learn woodwork and in later years pupils were taken to Shipston for boys to do woodwork while the girls did cookery. The playground was very small and boys and girls were separated at playtime. In the winter, the boys used to turn the outside tap on in the school playground to make ice for slides. Residents said that there was “no health and safety in those days”. One resident described his first day at school when he ran away because he had come from Lower Tysoe and didn’t know any of the other children. A cousin found him and took him back.

Before the Second World War, there was a school trip each year to Compton Wynyates. The children were given jelly, blancmange and sandwiches for tea and played sports outside. Prizes were presented by the Marchioness of Northampton and, during the memory session, one resident was wearing the necklace she had won there. The children travelled there on the back of a lorry or by horse and cart. Some parents worked on the estate and one of the parents drove a lorry which was used to transport the children. This was a real treat for most children who did not have many treats. The practice was stopped during the war which was thought to be due to rationing. In the 1950s there were school outings to the seaside at Skegness or Weymouth in the summer which cost “half a crown” (two shillings and sixpence). The children returned late in the evening. There were also trips to Stratford for river rides and on one occasion there was a trip to Hampton Court. These outings were vividly remembered as most people seldom went away.

Also vividly remembered was the ‘nit nurse’, who came regularly to inspect hair for lice.

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Working life

Children left Tysoe School aged 14 or 15. At that age some began working on farms, others became shop workers or drivers, while some learned a trade and worked as electricians or builders. Heritage’s employed 25 people in the shop and bakery and as drivers. Many people went to work in the Alcan aluminium rolling and extrusion works in Banbury, the Central Ammunition Depot in Kineton, or on the Compton Wynyates estate. The aerodrome in Shenington employed a number of people during the war.

One resident started work aged 15 in 1939 at Compton Wynyates, where she would help the caretaker and his wife. She earned six shillings and sixpence a week and her duties included helping with the cleaning and walking the dog. She walked there from Tysoe and, in the winter weather, was told to put a pair of thick socks over her shoes. She later went to work at a house in Lower Tysoe for twelve shillings and sixpence a week. She waited at table and remembered serving “a lot of Czech soldiers”; these were from the Czech Free Army. After this she worked at the aerodrome in the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI) canteen. Later she worked in the Pavilion, a factory in Back Lane in Tysoe which, at that time, made exhaust parts for aeroplanes which she thought had been used in Spitfires. She also spent some time working at the Alcan factory in Banbury. Another contributor became a professional singer after she left school and sang with a number of dance bands under a stage name. She performed at the Winter Gardens in Yarmouth from where she did radio broadcasts of her performances. Later, on returning to the village, she helped in the family business driving a delivery van and subsequently became a school bus driver driving a 16-seater bus to and from schools for children with special educational needs. It was very unusual for a woman to drive a bus at this time.

Another resident had been a cobbler and then became a taxi driver with an Austin 12. He later ran a minibus for Tysoe School and another one for schools in Banbury. By the 1970s he did a special school run for children with disabilities; this would entail a 100 mile round trip. He was the first disabled driver to obtain a coach licence to drive a coach which was an adapted vehicle. He developed his businesses to include hairdressing salons.

The Alcan factory, in Banbury, employed a number of Tysoe villagers. A bus took workers to and from the factory for each of the three shifts operated every day. A local roadman prided himself on clearing the road so that the bus could get through even in very adverse weather conditions. One resident recalled that while on the bus to Banbury she had seen a “plane without wings” at Shenington aerodrome. This turned out to be Sir Frank Whittle’s first turbojet engine, the Gloster E28/39, which was trialled there. One resident described how his father used to cycle to a job in Cheltenham on a Monday and back again on a Friday to support his family. The father of another cycled to work in Birmingham.

Farming was an important part of village life and many people were involved in farm work. Farming was done traditionally which was labour intensive and it was recalled that “the whole village turned out to see the first combine harvester” to be used on a village farm. Sons usually went into farming if their family owned a farm. Farms, although smaller than today, typically of 50 or 60 acres, also employed other people. There were around 20 farms and 15 or 16 of these sold milk. It was said that typically a farm might have 20 milking cows and some beef cattle as well as sheep, a few pigs and hens. Most farm business was animal based. It was not until the Second World War, when local authorities allocated a mandatory quota for food production to each farm, that fields were turned over to growing crops and potatoes; every farm had to plant a prescribed acreage of potatoes. Women from the land army, who were based at Idlicote, were allocated to each farm to help so that more food could be produced. At that time farm work was labour intensive as equipment was traditional and basic. One person said that it used to take him half a day to plough half an acre with his narrow horse drawn plough. He did not buy a tractor until 1940.  

Keeping animals was very much a part of family life. A story was recalled of a woman who had asked the animal transporter to come to collect her pig for market. He could not get round the outside of her cottage and asked how he could get the pig out. The woman said that as the pig had gone in through the house it would have to come out the same way.

As there was no running water in houses the water needed for domestic use on the farms was drawn from a number of standpipes along the road but this could not be used for animals so farms often had ponds for animal use. Coal and wood used for heating and cooking were transported in whatever vehicles were available including tractors. Later calor gas was used for lighting and the light from this was said to be better than that from paraffin lamps. Electricity was connected to some houses around 1948 “if it could be afforded,” but not to others until a few years later although two street lights had been installed in the village in 1938. Water mains were laid around 1958.

Farm life was hard and there was little leisure time. Many people did not have cars and used bicycles for transport. Sheep and cattle had to be driven on foot to the market in Shipston or to Stratford-on-Avon which had two markets. Cattle trucks were later used to transport animals. Forty or fifty sheep would be driven at a time. Cattle were walked through the village twice a day for milking. One person told of a farmer who walked his cows from the Banbury Road to Back Lane in Tysoe to milk and then back again twice a day. The main road was so muddy that, at times, the cows’ legs would sink into the mud. One person told how he bought breeding sheep from Wales. These were brought to Shipston by rail and then driven on foot to Tysoe. At hay making time, all the family would help. The bales were smaller then and were individually lifted by women as well as men. A picnic was taken into the fields complete with kettle and teapot and work was carried out throughout daylight hours.  Farmers also laid their own hedges.

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Businesses and Trades
Plate 13. Map of Tysoe showing some of the businesses and trades active in Tysoe at the time as recalled by residents and mentioned in the booklet (see below for list).

List of businesses and trades shown on Plate 13.

1.             Smith’s –  Coaches
2.            Wrighton’s – wheelwright
3.             Lucket’s – shop
4.            Hirons’ – cattle wagon 
5.             Tom Blunn – humane pig killer
6.            George Freeman pig killer
7.             Quinton- builder
8.            Alan Hopkins- thatcher
9.            Conway Hopkins – cobbler
10.          Fred Walker -chimney sweep
11.           Bert Bloxham -coalman
12.          Ben Hancox- Banbury Guardian   writer, carter and haberdasher
13.           Percy Hibbard – builder
14.          Billy Reason – cycle repairs
15.           Laundry
16.          Styles’ bakery
17.           Reg Allen- taxi and garage
18.          Nurse Hunt’s home
19.          Benham’s shop
20.          Frank Hancox haberdashery and Ben Hancox van deliveries
21.          Harper’s – coaches
22.          Dr. Rake (Shenington) – held surgery in front room
23.          Dr. Harris (Shipston) – held surgery in front room
24.          Connie Hancox – midwife
25.          Josie Goodman – hairdresser
26.          Jackson’s – shop and petrol pump
27.          Foster’s – shop (kitchen ware and paraffin)
28.          Typical small farm
29.          The Pavilion – factory
30.          Conway Canning – cattle transporter
31.           George Paxton – cobbler
32.          Chris Price’s – garage and petrol pump
33.          Boycott’s – butcher
34.          Charles Heritage –  butcher
35.          Heritage’s – shop and bakery
36.          Lee Price – milkman
37.          Frost’s Coalyard

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