Interview with Ivy Jarrett
This is a summary of an interview with Ivy Jarrett, recorded by Ann Kneif on 10th October 2012 at her house in Huntingfield Road, Meopham.
Ivy Jarrett, born Hogg in 1925 in Meopham.
Ivy's parents worked on Mr Tickle's farm opposite Meopham Village Hall.
Ivy remembers some of the teachers: Mr Windo and Mr Richardson, who had been there when her brothers had been at school, and also Mr Potter. The school had two small rooms and one large one. She went home to dinner every day. Her parents lived in a cottage opposite the Village Hall. In her last year at school a lorry would take the children to Cuxton, where in summer they were taught laundry and in winter cookery. She left school when she was 14.
Mr Strand, the headmaster, suggested that Ivy went into service. She found a job as a servant at Pitfield House working for the Alexanders. She lived in although her parents lived nearby. It was a 6:30 a.m. start and the work was hard so she did not stay long. She then went to Homestead, where she worked for a naval officer, Commander Skipwith, where she looked after the daughter. They moved away and she then found work with Major and Mrs Arnold at Meopham Court. Ivy describes them as nice people. She talks about the house and the work she was expected to do. She stayed at the Court until she left to join the Women's Land Army at the age of 17.
War years - The Women's Land Army
Ivy describes how she had wanted to join the Forces but was not old enough so she joined the Women's Land Army instead. She describes the work she did working at Dabbs Place, Cobham, where she worked with her cousin Peggy. Whilst taking off from Gravesend airport a Mosquito plane crashed in the field where she was working and killed two Land Girls. Two other Land Girls worked for Mr Bolster, a racing driver and they lived in a hostel converted from a large house at Lances Close. Ivy, however, still lived at home and cycled to work every day.
Brothers in War
Ivy had three elder brothers who were all in the Forces during the war. She discusses what they did and was pleased that they all survived.
Ivy talks about some old photographs she is looking at:
Ivy with her father outside the Village Hall.
May Queen Celebrations in the 1930s on Meopham Green together with schoolchildren.
The schoolchildren wear bonnets in a photo from the 1930s of the May celebrations on Meopham Green. One of Ivy's brothers is on the far left, riding a hobbyhorse. She speaks of other people in the photograph.
Ivy and her mother in 1942.
Ivy talks about her husband, Bob, and how she met him. He worked on the railways but during the war when he was called up he volunteered for the Palestine Police. He left the police and they were married in 1948. Bob returned to the railways and so they were able to take holidays in the Channel Isles as transport was free.
Working in the varnish factory
Ivy worked for a time in Leemings varnish factory, where they made different types of varnish. Ivy painted the tins and wrote the labels.
Ivy's father worked at one time for Jesse Wells at the wood yard on Meopham Green. He cleared the woods that had been bought for that purpose and made fencing, pea and bean sticks.
The Arnolds again
Ivy spoke more about her time at Meopham Court, working for the Arnold family. There are a few anecdotes about what she got up to there.
More Land Girl work
Ivy wanted to drive as it was necessary to have a licence but no test was required. Her cousin, Peggy, had been allowed to drive an Alice Chalmers tractor. Ivy was told if she could start the tractor she would be allowed to drive it too. She managed to crank start it and so was able to try driving. She also spoke of picking peas and earning extra money, which allowed her to go on a shopping spree in Bromley.
Shops on the Parade
Ivy talks about the shops on the Parade. She worked marking up newspapers and for the grocer but did not stay long after she married. She went to work for the greengrocer when she had small children but they moved away and the new owners let it get run down.
Two of Ivy's daughters worked on the railway in London and joined an amateur dramatic society in Marylebone. They persuaded their mother to take part and eventually the whole family became involved. She gives some anecdotes of amusing incidents that happened there.
Wrotham Hill Camp
The Wrotham Hill camp was an officers training camp. Ivy speaks of the 6-week training and what the officers did. She met a lot of the officers and took them home to meet her parents. She remembered dances in the village hall, where Mrs Clarke was in charge. If the men had dirty boots she made them take them off and supplied them with plimsolls. Erskine Hall at the camp had films and she also went to the Clarendon in Gravesend with some of the officers.
Doodlebugs and Balloons
There was a balloon site opposite 4 Huntingfield Road where Ivy lived with her parents. One day a doodlebug was so near to the balloon that it left a scorch mark where the doodlebug had hit it. Some of the men at the site came to their house to have a bath and to play cards and Ivy kept in touch with one until he died a couple of years ago. When she cycled to the farm she passed three balloon sites: one at Sole Street near to where her cousin lived, one at Round Street and one on the corner going to Dadds Court.
Father's Work for Voluntary Police and brothers meeting in War
Ivy's father worked for the Voluntary Police. He had a uniform and spent time guarding the Pepperhill Power Station. Her brothers wrote letters home and two were able to meet up in India.
Ivy was born at Lomer Cottages. She describes how hard it was for her mother with four children, a husband and her husband's two brothers.
More about dances in the Village Hall
Ivy only went once to the camp. The officers always went to the Village Hall, where she met them. She remembers Mrs Clarke allowing her to take records to the hall and practice and she taught herself to dance. After she met her husband she did not go to dances as Bob did not dance.
Life after marriage
Ivy had four children and was too involved with the family to join any clubs or societies. Her husband bought a television to watch the Coronation but she was not interested. She is not fond of the Royal Family, although she did like Diana.
A family dress
When she was nine or 10 she was bought a pretty dress as a present because she was upset at not being allowed to be a bridesmaid. The dress has now been worn by her own daughters, her granddaughters and recently her great granddaughter.
Changes in the Village
Ivy used to know most of the people in the village but not now. There have been a lot of changes with new housing. When she was young there were no Cricketers Drive, no Pitfield Drive, and no Cheyne Walk. Only part of Huntingfield Road, where she lived, had been built up. She remembers playing cricket on the old balloon site. At that time Huntingfield Road had been only partly built on as the War had put a stop to further development. When her parents moved to Huntingfield Road they did, at last, have electricity and an inside toilet. The field at the bottom of the road was used by Mrs Birch (Waterditch) for her horses.
Brownies and childhood
Ivy was a member of the Brownies, where she was in the Fairy group. Florrie Harrison was the Brown Owl. Later, when her own daughter joined the Brownies, Florrie was still the Brown Owl. Her mother was given a Guides uniform by the butcher's wife but Ivy was not allowed to join as her mother did not want her to go out in the dark. She mentions several things from her childhood: running errands to the butcher, spending a penny for sweets in the Post Office opposite the church, getting her hair in a tangle and cutting it off, which displeased her father.