Interview with Kathleen Grace Fitzell
The interview with Kathleen Grace Fitzell was recorded on XX YYYYYY 2012 in ZZZZ Street. The interviewer was Maureen Arrowsmith.
Kathleen Grace Fitzell, nee King, was born in station Road Meopham in 1920. Her father worked as a Line Tapper on the Railway in and around Meopham.
Kath left school at 14 and wanted to be a Nanny, so she worked for the Robinson family who lived in "Crockers Villa" on the corner of Wrotham Road and John's Road. She looked after their two children and worked there a long time.
She attended the only school in Meopham (which is now Meopham Primarary School) but then it dealt with all ages until the leaving age of 14. She always came home for her lunch and would walk the one mile each way from home to school four times a day.
Marriage and family
She married quite young, her husband was an Engineer and worked at Short Brothers at Rochester, but when the war came he was called up and she took her two children to Cornwall for 3 years, which she describes as a very happy time and she hardly knew there was a war on. When she was newly married they lived in Luddesdown and after the war in Meopham. Her husband was invalided out of the Army, and it was not until 1954 that they got a house in Evenden Road.
Shops in Meopham before the war
Kath considered it much better than now as they had a Butcher's, 2 grocer's shops, a Baker's, a Post Office and a shop called Mackley's that sold everything from a pair of sheets to a pin. She felt they only needed to go to Gravesend for clothes. She also considered the transport better as they had a regular bus service.
Did you ever work as a child?
Kath once went Hopping, but only to Cobham and she enjoyed that very much. As she was a girl guide they got her to light the fire and make them cups of tea. She explained how they had to have a bin but she and her friend would use an open up-turned umbrella for speed and then tip their hops in the big bin.
Did the war change Meopham?
She said she missed most of the war being in Cornwall but her Father's house in Station Road was so badly blasted by a bomb that they had to move out. She said her Father grew all his own vegetables and was very self sufficient.
Can you recall any major events or happenings??
She had very happy memories of earlier May Days which were celebrated by dancing round a Maypole both on Hook Green and Meopham Green. She enjoyed Country Dancing at school. She recalled the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II with a Street Party and tables in the road and having a good time.
Farming and work in the village before the war
She recalled Tickles Farm opposite the village hall and Melliker Farm, also a farm in Norwood Lane as being working farms then, and said there were many other small farms throughout the village. Work was limited to Domestic or shop work for the women and men who were not working on the land usually had to travel outside Meopham for work.
Can you tell me about a typical working day for you?
She worked in the Canteen at Meopham Primary School, starting very early in the morning as all the food was cooked on the premises and they also provided food for Ash and Stanstead schools.
Leisure and clubs
Kath enjoyed working with children and helped to run the Youth Club for 14 years. As a girl she was a member of the Girl Guides and camped all over Kent, and hated having to clean the latrines when it was her turn! She was a member of the "Golden Years" club being Secretary for 2 years and Chairman for 12 years.
Do you recall any major land-owners in the village?
She could only recall Major Edmeades, whose family had lived in Nurstead Court for centuries, and Major Arnold at Meopham Court. She recalled Mrs. Smith-Masters allowing them to have Garden Parties at Meopham Court, which she always attended and very much enjoyed.
Her early life in Station Road
Her grandfather had lived in Station Road since the houses were first built and then they had great big gardens, where new houses have since been built. Her own father, apart from growing all his own vegetables, also had a goat, chickens and rabbits, so food was never short. She recalled that she would play in the street quite safely then with her friends, making up their own games and playing ball. As she grew they were allowed farther afield and she would play rounders with her friends in the fields near Melliker Lane.
She fondly recalled Mackley's the drapers shop as being the start of her Christmas when they put the wind-up Father Christmas in the the window. There was always a big Christmas Tree in the Village Hall and they always went to a party there and received presents. Mrs. Storr, she said, organised this and it was Mrs. Storr who first started the Welfare Clinic there.