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Interview with Elizabeth Bugg

Personal details: Born Elizabeth Ann Hasler, 23rd March 1934 in Gravesend hospital. Father was a general practitioner. Her parents lived in a house called Moy near Meopham Station.top

Schooling: She went to school with her sister, who was one year younger. At first a small private primary school in a house called Mayfield near Meopham Station and then to another private school at Meopham Green. It took a direct hit from a bomb during the war so they then went to another private school in Hartley. After a short period at Rochester Grammar School, she moved to a boarding school in Buckinghamshire, although her sister remained at Rochester. She had found the 11+ difficult and felt that she would not have been good enough to stay at the Grammar school.top

Hobbies and pastimes: When young Brownies and later Guides. A bit later she joined the church choir.top

After leaving school: She did a one-year catering course at Queen's College in Harley Street, London, where she learned general cooking, followed by a six-month course at Good Housekeeping. Her first job was a six-month contract working on a tourist yacht in Holland, going around the canals. She enjoyed to work. After this she found a job at Middlesex Hospital, where she did large scale cooking for five years. The constant standing was taking its toll so she completed a course in secretarial training and did a variety of jobs, including working for the Consumer Association for five years. She ended up working for the Country Houses Association, a preservation company, which owned eight large country houses. They had been converted into apartments for retired and semi-retired people. She was dealing with the residential side, which she enjoyed and where she stayed until retirement. After a few years living in London she moved back to Meopham and commuted to work.top

Shops and trades in the village: Elizabeth could remember many of the shops and trades in the village. On Meopham Green there were Kings the butcher, Walter Parsons the grocer and Derhams the baker. At the station end of the village she remembers another Kings the butcher, another bakery, a Co-op and a bank, whilst on the parade were a florist and another bank. At Christmas time the baker on the Green cooked the turkeys for his customers and they would be collected in time for the Christmas dinner.top

Transport: There were buses and trains. Everyone cycled. Her father, because he was a doctor, had a car.top

Farm work as a child: Elizabeth's brother worked on a farm at harvest time and once she helped with the harvest when she was at boarding school in Buckinghamshire. During the war she used to help collect for the Red Cross with her team.top

Farming in the village: The French family owned a large house on Hook Green. The farm is still worked by the younger generation. It was mainly crops. She does not remember any cattle but they had lots of fields.top

Work other than farming: She remembers Waller Engineering in Harvel - the company have now moved away and also Sherwin's Polish. Ronald Sherwin's house took a direct hit in the war but because he was very deaf, he slept through it.top

Memories of the War: Elizabeth remembers ARP wardens making sure that the blackouts were in all the windows. She describes balloons going up, which she describes as looking like baby elephants and she can remember watching the doodlebugs being tracked and caught as they passed above. There was a military camp at Vigo. The officers attended dances at the village hall and went to nearby houses if they wanted a good bath. Everything was on ration so it was difficult to make ends meet. Outgrown clothing was passed on by a family friend with slightly older children. Gas masks were supplied and two shelters, one for indoors for night time and one outside for attack during the day.top

Vigo Camp: Elizabeth did not have anything to do with the camp but she had relatives there. An uncle came on his motorbike and would take the children on the back for a run around. After the war homeless people moved into the camp and were there for quite a few years. As the local doctor her father was often called out there.top

Bombs in Meopham: Quite a few bombs fell as those not dropped on London would be dropped by the aircraft on their way back to France or Germany. For a long time afterwards it was possible to see the pits that they created. Her father would disappear for stretches and the family though he was doing secret work. Even her mother did not know where he went.top

Major events in Meopham: Elizabeth went to VE celebrations near the station. She had forgotten to mention earlier that stone bollards were put at the side of the road during the war. In the case of an invasion they could be put across the road.top

Celebrations: Elizabeth remembers one instance when the Guides had to get from Meopham Green to the station without being recognised. There were football teams, cricket and many people went to church. She was working in London at the time of the Coronation and did not get the day off so she did not take part in any of the Meopham celebrations.top

Clubs and Societies: Elizabeth was in the Brownies and Guides and there was probably a youth club, although she was not a member. There had always been a cricket club. Unlike today, there was no keep-fit because everyone was slim during the war.top

Important local people: The French family, farmers, lived at Hook Green. The Arnolds lived at Meopham Court. They had their own entrance to the church and their own pew. The Smith-Masters were at Camer. Camer was a hospital during the war and a family friend, Bussell, was an army doctor based there looking after casualties. The Edmeades were at Nurstead Court. They went back a long way. Elizabeth's father did not work at the Camer hospital as he had a very large practice with only one partner. It was later split.top

House: Elizabeth spoke about the house she lives in now in Cheyne Walk. It was built in the 1960s on fields. After she married she first lived for a couple of years in Northfleet and then moved to Cheyne Walk in 1983.top

Changes: They have been gradual. Earlier, she knew about half the people in the village. It has spread out and grown. There are more societies. She regrets that the shops have disappeared from Meopham Green. Earlier, after finishing primary school, the children had to go to secondary school out of the area.top

Societies: Elizabeth belongs to the Meopham Historical Society and she was a member of the evening flower arrangers, until their society folded last year. She did voluntary work at Age Concern. She is the secretary for her father's bursary, which helps young people with their further education by paying for books and equipment. She also serves on the parochial church council.

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Meopham Historical Society