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Family Memories


Family history is a wonderful excuse to pick up the phone or share a meal with siblings, grandparents and other loved ones. Use this time to ask your relatives about names, dates and places they remember from your shared heritage.


N.B. All contributions on the memory pages are anonymous unless no objections to a name appearing have been made, this is to enrich the section for our children and grandchildren


You may note that a large percentage of the Childs memory pages are written by Thalia, as to date , no other members of the Devon based family have wished to participate in this section or send in contributions. Therefore most of the articles are only one person's view.
Other branches of the Childs family appear on sub sections with their contributions.

All our memories added together give us a clearer picture of the family web of relationships
Mother's attitude was - if people were nasty kill them with kindness ... our generation, being pre NHS babies, pre nuclear children - pre rye grass adults and pre GM grandmothers. Some how it sums up what we've lost, the site and why we are doing it!


We were all given a copy at the party 1953

We were all given a copy at the party 1953

My mother had a comfortable life as the wife of a local shop owner but
she never had any of "her own Money" She was never consulted on any
family decisions or expenditure. This loss of any control in her life
was offset a little by Family Allowances. She was treated as a child or
worse all her life. This badly affected her Mental Health and Self
Esteem, She desparately did the pools every week to try to get some
control in her life. Some of her poorer friends seemed to have more
independance and dignity. The idea of Family Allowance was to put Money
in Womens Hands! Thalia

" If my two brothers and two sisters sat down and wrote their version of events the reader would have five markedly different accounts. We all saw things differently and viewed the same things differently. We reacted differently and were treated differently"
From the book 'Title Deeds' by Liza Campbell (Available on loan)

(This is probably the same in the Childs family, everyone having a different slant on things)

Thalia and I remember Lynne telling us she didn't even feel she came from the same family, and that her parents did not seem like the same parents as the rest of you - she felt so different from you all. It would be good to read some other siblings' stories - also memories from Childs cousins. It would be wonderful to have more contributions but this seems unlikely in the present climate .......


Lilian first met Maurice whilst she was working in the thatched kiosk selling ices and drinks near Torre Abbey in Torquay. Maurice and his brother Dudley used to play tennis on the red clay courts. Maurice told Dudley that he had met the girls for them and later Dudley started courting Lilian's older sister Thora.
Later Maurice met Lilian again when he applied for a job as a drummer in the Bird family's band. He carried his drum kit up the 200 steps to Newholm and much to his surprise they met again!

The two Childs brothers married the two Bird sisters.

Lilian appeared in a beauty contest in Torquay and there is a painting of a Pageant including many of the Birds in Torre Abbey Art Gallery. If anyone has any details please let us know.

When our Grandmother Edith Childs died Pop Childs got a Welsh housekeeper Audrey .Visits were short and difficult for us all . They married and it got worse ..I remember dad and Dudley being very upset as they found it increasingly difficut to see Pop Childs. When Lilian died I remember dad saying that he would not remarry and have that happen to him ........

I remember mother telling me how with brothers and sisters and young friends they used to take a wind up gramophone and jazz records to play on Goodrington Sands, probably not so developed when she was young. Thalia




Do you remember the Guardian clip about the Mass Trespass on Kinderscout Derbyshire? ** That's where Dads Attitude to "- Private - Keep Out - Trespassers will be prosecuted" Notices Came from. The notices were like a red rag to a bull to him! Has anyone still got that Article? I remember his arguments with fishing toffs and land owners about swimming and walking in the countryside, he made the case for public access very well, ignored them and did not leave. In the little Ideen during the war I forgot who told me about the discussions between GMB and POP Childs I think they had much in common but still much to argue about. I remember Dad telling me about the Aircraft industry and The Bosses deliberately making the wrong parts to sell off as scrap after the war, and him arguing with them about this and eventually being taken to court and prosecuted as a communist trouble maker. They made fortunes after the war. He had the luxury of his business to go back to so could take risks. He told us that Gerald used to rip him off a bit when he left the business in his hands But he did not mind! We used to get Black market petrol at Elys Garage to go on the moors. Do you remember the flowers in the car ashtrays? That was way out! Almost hippy, certainly eccentric. I really like and admire Dudley but he being City Treasurer was much more proper than DAD. In the aircraft industry also they were not putting the Aluminium parts in the salt bath part of the process and endangering the lives of "our boys" this too got him across the bosses. I wish I could remember the name of the boss! Dad also used to be well up on the corruption in Torquay as all the 'nobs' used to plan their scams in his changing rooms whist being measured up for posh suits. He found this amusing as they assumed he was one of them a Tory and as corrupt as them but he told me he always voted labour and loved fooling them, he never joined all those Lions Toc H etc, he always told me he wanted to spend all his time with his family. So sad how he and mum ended up. Dad was quite a rebel as was GMB, also a strong humanist only informally. Of course GMB was a theosophist. Do you remember the different smells in the houses of the RC family on one side and the Jewish family on the other. I always felt a sense of free thought in our Clean Religion free home. At Ideen 81... I of course left home in 1958, your years there were different, possibly Mum and Dad less happy much more to remember; love to hear your memories too and the others if they are interested. We Probably all have different tales, which will make up the whole.


Dad told me some wealthy Vegetarians in Torquay were planning to buy The Isle of Pines,
part of Cuba and set up an idealistic Vegetarian Community .. This must have been in the 1940s / 1950s.. He pooh poohed joining this scheme but to me he seemed a bit tempted?. I think he found being a shop keeper left him a little unfulfilled.. He told us when he was in the hospice he resented his father putting him in the shop!! But It certainly gave us a comfy Childhood. He told me all their Cuban plans came to an abrupt end with the Castro Revolution and The island became a place for the Cuban Youth Movement!!! Reading Southey's Life Story reminded me of this .
I'm sure my siblings will call me a fantasist but I was Close to Dad and he did share things with me as the oldest....
It shows how way out and adventurous some vegetarians were!!!.. And it carries on ....They probably belonged to the local Vegetarian Society we attended. You can see the wealth in that photo of the Meeting Sculpture, paintings etc... Thalia

This sign was always displayed in our house

This sign was always displayed in our house

Thora and Bird Brood

Thora and Bird Brood
As young Thora looked after all her 8 siblings so I had the same task.
Mother used to send us out having instructed me as to where we could and
could not go and why. I did not do as she asked but with great care did
the things we were not supposed to do! For example we were not to go to
the red clay pits by the Newton Road, steep slippery hills of red clay,
fringing steep sided deep pools of water, blue, green and red and old
rusty machinery and I think a hang out for undesirables.But full of wild
orchids, wild flowers and berries at different times of the year as well
as newts, frogs and toads and all manner of wild life. She was not so
against us going to the nearby "dump" which was a limestone hill behind
our road covered in wild garlic and fringed with woodland well worn by
childrens feet and full of childrens dens. We once found to our wild
delight a gypsy horse tethered there and on another occas ion a
bull/bullock escaped from the adjacent slaughter house opposite our home
help Mrs Hayward's cottage. We hid in the dens in the hedge . I remember
the panic in its eyes as it was chased by the slaughtermen up the narrow
lane and rushing home to report this adventure to GMB and Mother.

The frogs and newts were brought home in jam jars to put in our pond we
ourselves made on top of the old concrete air raid shelter copying the
builder we saw making cement. They aways went walk about, our pond was a
barren shallow bit of water.

Julia describes a piece of paper with all our names on which Gertie hid in the boarded up bannisters.. her memories are different to mine

It was a treat on warm summer evenings when we all got dressed up and at Dusk went for a walk to see the Lights especially along rock walk.

I remember in the 1950's 4 young lads on a summers evening who had had a
bit to drink jumped naked into the inner harbour.They were prosecuted and mother was very upset at their treatment in the courts and their punishment.
Its only in the last few years I identified one big thing which at that time
made us different . We had no conception of original sin...


Dad used to tease Gertrude about remarrying ... I think it took a while for the
secrets to come out... and for even longer he used to tease her about her
meetings.... Theosophy and Coop etc and tease her about her friends who used
to visit her at 81 Teignmouth Road ...Miss Story ???, another Miss Brunstrom
a Swedish woman who taught at Brixham for a few years possibly at KHS too
she had a bed sit at 200 teignmouth road. for a while . .... probably
Aya Broughton, a Japanese Artist too....who the family took under their
wing during the war...she was not interned...but had a hard time....
I remember a group of indian women coming to visit with their Red spots on
their foreheads. They gave us two saris a pale blue and gold silk one and a
red patterned cotton one probably to do with theosophy...

Just down the Teignmouth Road round the corner at the top of St Vincents
Hill was an orphanage for boys. It had a high grey limestone wall
around it and was a gaunt grey limestone building. We children with
mother on our outings used to see the Nuns with their whimples and
flowing black costumes taking a crocodile of these 50 or so small boys
all in grey for walks. I remember mothers comments on how sad it all
was..I used to wonder what their lives were like. Thalia

Description of the school day 1934 :
Children were called at 6.15am to get up; say their prayers; strip the bed; wash in cold water; dress; make the bed; and be ready for 07.30 am Mass before breakfast. This was followed by peeling the vegetables'; cleaning shoes; and performing a cleaning job from the roster

Breakfast was two slices of bread and dripping and tea. Lunch alternated between soup (with pastry or suet pudding) and meat with vegetables.

Tea was two slices of bread and margarine with tea or cocoa - except after a rare trip to Petitor Beach where winkles were collected and boiled for a feast or a twice yearly visit to Buckfast Abbey where the monks would serve up tea with scones and jam.

The annual egg was served at Easter, dipped in cochineal.

Christmas meant making paper chains, a tree lovingly dressed with candles and a small present from Father Christmas.


This photo of Churston station brings back memories. John and Iris took
me out for the day as a toddler and had a drink in the pub there and I
walked into a lamp post.I had an enormous bump on my head .I think this
was the first experience John had of children. I think it was on the way
to Mansands in their Jeep .... Vina my school friend used to go to school from Churston
station after a bus ride from Higher Brixham and then walk to TGGS from
Torre station. She had to get up very early Thalia

John and Ellen were thinking of their retirement so thought it would be nice to retutn to Devon to be near the family. They bought a new build in Churston, but only stayed a couple of years. It was a long journey from Kent every other weekend and they were never made welcome, they thought, rightly or wrongly, because the family were afraid they would be 'landed' with Alastair in later years. The only two who were friendly towards them were Maurice and Lillian who used to visit on a Saturday evening to play music. Janice

Lord Churston owned the row of cottages in Mansands that the family had rented since the 1930's.

During the interwar years Churston station was very busy with passengers getting off to travel to seaside towns such as Brixham. By the 1950's there were two large Pontins Holiday camps on the coast. But by the late 1950's road transport started to take over.

In May 1963 the Brixham branch line closed completely and in 1965 Churtston's goods facilities closed, the branch line siding was closed in 1968.


Here the city taints the rural idyll
Daises between the sleepers,
Sleepers midst the daises.
Ultimately the daisy will prevail.
The sun drenches both with relish,
A fine juxtaposition.

Silver threads right to the heart of it,
Some of it is brought here,
Soon I'll be carried to that other place.

Maurice Bird

This post card of Dartmoor prison sparks memories of the cars being
stopped and searched on family outings over the moors when prisoners
escaped as well as Iris giving up the cottage at Mansands after an escaped prisoner
squatted it.


At four with my dancing school I went on the stage at the Pavilion and was sick in the wings.
All our family went to the pantomime every year at the Pavilion.
1953-6 In school we did G.B.Shaw's St Joan and Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.I was involved in making the props in the art stock room. Too shy to take part in the plays.
1940s 50s
With mother and possibly father we went to all the plays put on by the local Repertory theatre at the Babbacombe Playhouse
The play - The Late Christopher Bean had a strong influence on me .It was about an artist ignored in his life time but later people search for his paintings including one used to repair a hen house to sell for lots of money.
We also went to the summer shows at the Babbacombe Theatre .I remember the very young ginger haired Bruce Forsyth and his jokes about how clean Torquay was as all the Seagulls flew upside down!!!! It certainly made me feel we were a close family all those shared outings.
There were also Shakespesare plays performed in the Spanish Barn at Torre Abbey in the 1950s which I enjoyed for the access to the building as much as the idealistic time

I met Breon 'O Casey and we went to London to see his fathers plays and went out with the cast after drinking whiskey in jam jars in the dressing room under a naked light bulb..
Years Later 1999 I saw a Sean O'Casey play in Malta an interesting experience seeing a play about Catholic Ireland performed in catholic Malta. A harder Macho culture which put a special spin on the experience.
As a student in London in 1959 I went to all the theatres ...a few shillings in the gods.
During my first teaching post 1960 we went to the kitchen sink stuff at the Nottingham Playhouse...
Jo Orton's Loot was on at the same time as our exhibition in Hull Arts Centre.
In the 1970s we went to Powys Theatre in the community..I especially remember seeing Davids Hare's Fan Shen in Machynlleth Comunity centre which they transformed into China with just a few simple props and brilliant acting...Thatcher cut their funding!!!


Mother in 1981
She had a few lucid happy times... teaching Tom to drive a small black A35 round and round the lawn in front of Glangors ..she was very fond of Tom having TAKEN HIM HOME TO TORQUAY FOR A MONTH WHEN ANGUS WAS DIAGNOSED WITH DIABETES and in hospital in Taunton ..
Also with Lucy and I took her to visit two elderly spinsters who with their brother had farmed the land across the road from Glangors before it was sold for massive caravan sites.
It was the wedding day of Princess Diana on TV. Their house had not been changed for 150 years just a naked electric bulb in the ceiling and a TV...... All lime washed inside and out,tinged pink with mercury in one room and green with arsenic in the other room. These two elderly women were so different, one a fervent Welsh nationalist and the other loved the royal family. One wanted to see every detail of the wedding the other wanted it switched off. Our visit kept the peace...They made us tea with a black kettle hanging over the coal fire. The table was spread with newspaper.....mother remembered newspaper on the table in her childhood.
Mother was so happy and nostalgic it took her back to her childhood, she completely forgot herself talking excitedly about her past with the two old Welsh women. She always said her childhood was so happy. Soon after this Lucy and I left to march to Greenham ...she was a bit reluctant to leave the beach and her horses...
We were very loathe to take mother back to Torquay as her version of reality and dad's just had no meeting point and they were driving each other crazy .
.... Dorothy 's funeral was soon after this and from Janice's account of her visit things had only got worse.
At Glangors she found the smell of meat cooking difficult. she climbed out of the bedroom window twice. still very agile. Sadly their relationship just got impossible and destructive from then on..


I have just remembered more about mother and Gertrude. they certainly prevented
me/us from being prejudiced about "creepie crawlies". the bhuddist hindu
jain influence??? It was evidenced in two memories. I remember those two
describing how "big" Thalia at Mansands was taught not to panic about
wasps by putting jam on her fore arm and quietly watching the wasps eat
it looking at the colours and shapes of the wasps etc and being told
being calm can prevent stings. I still get very distessed when people
panic and scream about Creepie Crawlies or even use the term Also mother had a thing about not
getting rid of spider webs..... this early experience made it difficult for me at Glan Gors to rid the surrounds one bedroom window of concrete ants.... I did eventually use boilng water after years of letting them be... Thalia


On my Green Lenton Raleigh Bike I used to cycle the nine miles from Torquay to Brixham to go Riding with My school friend Vina. She is from a farming background. We rode two ponies a dark bay, like a new conker and a dapple grey like our rocking horse in our playroom. They were in a field on a hillside on the outskirts of Brixham. Their Stable was made of corrugated iron. They whinnied and neighed as we fed them crusts and apple cores. We brushed and groomed them ,Mine the dapple grey always used to nip my bottom and catch me out however wary I was. I wore my black velvet hat, a gold yellow polo jumper and ginger or beige jodphurs. That was a uniform for riding in those days. We would saddle up and walk to the edge of town then follow a stony unadopted lane and down the secluded valley to Mansands a deserted beach. Here we could canter and the gallop along the grass at the edge of the marsh full of flowers and wild life. Finally the beach where we would take the horses
in the sea after a gallop on the beach. My Grey pony always tried to roll in sea! We used to ride down the tracks at the side of the valley but coming home up the wet muddy valley bottom past two ruined cottages, possibly a mill in the past . Here there was a five bar gate and the first time out Vina on her bay jumped the gate I followed and got covered in mud... we gently walked to the ponies home and dried them with handfulls of straw. I usually stayed over night with Vina in her old red sandstone Devon Farmhouse with an orchard and bees hens ducks etc, Her mother had been in Service in a big house and we had Lavender bags in our beds and all sorts of luxuries she had learnt as a servant in the big house. Then on Sunday I cycled home to Torquay. I also used to go riding around the lanes between Maidencombe and Teignmouth.
This was in the 1950s just after the war. In the 1970s A rich farmer bought the farm. He destroyed the woods , drained the marsh and took out all the hedges .. Lots of bad things happened in the 1970s.