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Mr Zummerset Comes Home

by Robin Wale

Robin lived in Curry Rivel from the 1950s through his school years and early adult life. As he married he moved away from Oath Hill Farm (but not too far) though has since returned. In a series of short articles, Robin recalls his years in agriculture, his schooldays, growing up around Curry Rivel and his eventual homecoming.

School Days in 1950s Curry Rivel

My mother and father started their married life in 1942 at Berry Hill Farm, Nunny, near Frome, which was a rented farm. In 1950 they purchased Oath Hill Farm at the bottom of Red Hill and we – mum and dad, older brother Dave (who lots of you will know through working for Osmonds and Shires), younger sister Margaret, plus me and a menagerie of livestock – moved in.

Two cattle lorries arrived and the dairy cows walked calmly down the tailboard and across the yard to their new home in the cow stall. We had given all the cattle names but, when we had finished, we realised one was missing. We searched around and back down the drive there was Mary, a petite dairy shorthorn, walking towards the road as if telling us she wanted to go back home. Well, eventually we all settled in. Including Mary.

I was only four at the time and soon it would be time for me to start going to school. The day came and a car from Osmonds arrived to pick me up, usually driven by either Tim or Ken. Walking into the playground I first noticed small groups of boys playing marbles. In my later years at Curry Rivel School I became as good as the rest.

Headmaster Mr Willis blew the whistle and I entered my first class room. How lucky we were to have Miss Trott, from Drayton, as teacher. She proved to be a very kind, caring and helpful person and she took away all of those first day nerves.

We all settled in to the routine of school life starting with Assembly and singing all those lovely hymns; amongst them Praise My Soul the King of Heaven, All Things Bright and Beautiful and Rock of Ages, my favourite. Later a lunch time walk across the road to Sewers Hall, not forgetting of course our mid morning bottle of milk, sometimes very cold!

Whilst enjoying life at Curry Rivel School, I was getting to know and make new friends like David and Robin Macey who use to come down to the farm tadpoling, David Lock and Valerie Louch, who I recall coming down to the farm with a white blanket for a spaniel pup. It was the last one of the litter that I was planning on keeping, but dad annoyingly gave it to her! Sadly, three weeks later, the mother of the puppies died, so we were left with no dogs at all. The things you remember though years have passed.

I moved with my schoolmates into Class 2 with Ms Lovell, again a very good teacher though maybe a bit stricter. To be honest, being a bit older we probably needed that attention and discipline. Finally our last year with the Headmaster, Mr Willis, a very tall and well built man. Though not as big as my father who, at the peak of his working life, was 26 stone and all muscle.

I remember the last year at Curry Rivel School very well. The previous year, in the last term, each evening after we had gone home Mr Willis would give a tick on the blackboard to the boy and girl who had behaved and worked hard. At the end of that term the boy and girl that had achieved the most number of ticks became head boy and head girl. In that last year Janet Tackle and I were the overall winners and had the pleasure of sitting next to each other for that final year.

We invite you to share your own thoughts, reminiscences and photographs of life in and around the village; shall we call it a little social history project? Whether it's 80 years or 5, your memories matter. email

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