It would be
interesting to see what our village was like some 80 years ago, when the
population was about half of what it is today.
In the street would be horse
riders, horses and carts, bicycle riders, people and children, but no cars or
lorries. In the Mackney Lane recreation ground two small boys would be playing
cricket. The ball had gone into
some stinging nettles. They would both sit down. Presently, one would say – it’s
your turn to get it. No it isn’t
said the other. You hit it, you get it. In the end both would go looking for
it, and having found it, would resume their game. Then disaster struck. Three
older boys were coming across to join them. No big ones, no big ones the young
ones would wail, but with no effect. But soon they would be playing reasonably
well together. Later, when both
small boys were in possession of the bat and ball, they would say that it was
their dinner time and would hurry away taking both bat and ball with them.
The older boys,
now at a loss as to know what to do, would either climb the willows around, try
catching frogs in the ditches, or go bird nesting to collect eggs. This last
choice was very popular. Fathers made shallow wooden trays lined with sawdust
and with glass tops in which to display the egg shells. There were so many
birds to be seen in the village long ago, but today, sadly, many are no longer
children’s bicycles, everything was on foot.. Boys would make kites with nut
sticks, paper, glue and string and fly them on the recreation ground when there
was enough wind. Football and cricket would be played of course. Fist fights
between two boys did occur, but were rare. They were much more likely to back off and throw stones at
one another. This paid dividends later when young men playing cricket, would
throw the ball in from the boundary line with commendable speed and accuracy.
winters, and there were some were dreaded. Not all children were adequately clothed
to combat the cold. Boys would search the hedgerows for dead sticks and so make
little camp fires on waste ground. Both boys and girls would visit the
blacksmith’s forge at the top of bell lane and he would allow them to come as
close to the furnace as he dared to give them some welcome warmth.
All in all Brightwell was a nice
village to live in and still is today.