By Margaret Long and the late Roy Dudley
The only development in the early 50s in Yaxley was along the Broadway, Hillcrest Avenue, Middletons Lane, Chapel Street, Church Lane and Windsor Road. Yaxley consisted mainly of orchards, hedgerows and grass fields.
Dundee Estate was known as “The Meadows”. On the southern edge of “The Meadows” ran a public footpath, which turned left, northwards along the western side of the railway towards the Yaxley and Farcet station.
The station played a vital part of village life with one or two steam trains stopping at various times of the day for passengers and freight, which included bricks, farm produce, agricultural machinery and parcels. The Station Master was Mr. Smith.
The two schools were the Infants or Girls School with the headmistress Miss Lucy Beeton. The site is now Beauvoir Place. Only the school house stands today. The Boys School was at the now present Amenity Centre.
The headmaster was Victor Yarrow. The central heating for both schools in those days was a coke boiler in most classrooms. For those who liked milk, it was from a bottle with a straw. The crate would be placed in winter by the boiler to reduce the iced capped top. The tops of the desks lifted up, in which you placed your exercise books.
At Sports Day and recreation time during the Summer, we would be lined up in pairs. We turned left out of the school, down towards a set of stiles on the Main Street, turned left up towards the Broadway, over a second set of stiles into the grass field of Mr. G. Day, in which his cattle grazed. The field would be clothed in long grass with daisies and buttercups peeping through. We had to be careful not to step into the cow pats on our way. Then we came to another stile at which we turned
left onto the present recreation field. Mr Yarrow was in charge of arranging the sports and presenting the cups. The footpath route today is on the present site which runs by the side of the Infants School.
The Doctors Surgery in the early Fifties was at Mill House, Broadway (The British Legion) where Dr Daniel Ashton administered coloured bottles of medicine for most ailments assisted by Dr Smiter. Dr C Hart had his surgery after Dr Ashton died in his private house along the Broadway during the early sixties. The surgery then moved to the present Police Station in Queens Street before moving to the Health Centre in Landsdowne Road.
We had two non conformists Sunday Schools in the Fifties. The Methodist Sunday School in the old Wesleyan Chapel in Chapel Street was approximately 50 children. As of l993 it had an attendance of 15. Sunday School Anniversary was around the second Sunday in June to which three services were attended. Morning for practice of reciting poems and singing, and than the afternoon and evening services.
The Anniversary was a special Sunday because nearly every member acquired a new cotton dress or a new pair of sandals or a new suit, shirt and tie. Family relations were invited for a special Sunday tea; a very proud day for family and friends. We were all rewarded later in the August when Sunday School members with their families enjoyed an outing to the cost to Skegness, Yarmouth or Hunstanton. We filled six Alec Head coaches, which awaited us on Main Street.
The old post office was in the Main Street at number 142. The Postmistress being Miss Breault. In Winter the warmth of a paraffin heater greeted you, combined with the old wax seals. The post office has a special smell of its own. The post office was on the left hand side of the building and a small, very low shop on the right, to which Miss Breault appeared from the rear of her living room.
The present post office in the shopping centre was opened around the early 1970s followed by the library, Junior and Infants School, which celebrated their 20th Anniversary in 1993.
The manager of the Peterborough & District Co-operative shop on the village green was Mr. Lenard Clarke.
The shoe repairmen were Mr. George Arthurs and Mr. Weekly on Main Street.
The butchers were Mr. Ernie Manton and Mr. Jack Sharpe.
A private hire service was run by Mr George Wiles and Mr H Britchford.
Mr. Britchford also repaired cycles.
The Blue Bird Garage, Broadway, was run by Mr. Pywell. The Crossroads Garage and Cafe was run by Mr. Harry Clarke.
Fish and chip shops were owned by Mr. Fleming on Main Street, Mr. K. Pratt on the Broadway and Mr. Reynolds on Church Street.
The hairdressers in the village were Miss E Richardson on Chapel Street, Mrs. B Rootham on Broadway and Mr. Challis on the village green.
The handicraft shop was owned by Mrs. B Rowell along the Main Street. Mr. Jack Rowell was rge electrician who supplied the television for villagers to watch the Coronation in the Girls School (Now Keepsakes, Main Street).
The grocery shops were run by Mrs. Elizabeth Mears, Mrs. Doris Whitwell, Mr. Francis Clarke, George Wiles, Mrs. Perkins and Mr. Stratton.
Bakers: Cox, Mitcham and Chapman.
Butchers: Chamberlain, Stanyons, Sharpes and Mantons
Coal Merchants: Thompsons, Hensons and MacMichael.
Co-op Milk: Hazel, Mills and Hall.
The builders were Mr. V Goodwin, Mr. Stretton and Mr. Ireson.
Cooks Foundry, West End – Haulage contractor J T Mears.
Prevost, Main Street – Agricultural machinery Russell Burgess.
The farmers and small holders in the village were: Amps, Askew, Beeton, Bullivant, Burgess, Clarke, Coles, Coxall, Crane, Davies, Day, Gorman, Hall, Hood, Lenton, Luff, Mears, Milner, Spendelow, Strickson, Toynton, Terrell, Wade, Whaley and Woolsey.
The Vicar was Rev. W G Hopkin.
The police sergeants were Mr. Richard Horseford and Mr. Tom Bloxham. The police constables were PC Roy Dudley, PC John Gifford, PC Phillip Cook and PC Tom Graham. The police station was situated at the corner of Middletons Lane and Broadway.
The public transport was Eastern Counties Bus Company (No. 320).
Public Houses and their proprietors:
- The Royal Oak – Bob Speechley
- The Duck & Drake – George Smith
- The Chequers – Mr. Goreham
- The Three Horseshoes – Mr. Pywell
- The King William – Mr. Clithero
- The Recruiting Sergeant – Mr. Strickson
- The Hatchet & Bill – Mr. Cluer
The T A Club on Chapel Street was run by stewards Mr. and Mrs. Garratt.
The Fire Chief Officer was Oswald William Richardson. The Firemen included Burrell, Britchford, Cox, Coles, Colbert, Dale, Giles, Jackson, Lenton, Manton, Newell, Pranks, Richardson and Wiles.
The postmen were Mr. R. Green and Mr. Clithero. The postwoman was Mrs. Coles.
The population in the 1950s was approximately 2800.