Cicely Irene RUNHAM – a family account

1920: I was born Cicely Irene to Mr and Mrs Runham down the West End Fenstanton on the 13th January 1920.

I was the youngest of five children, brothers Albert, Bertie (who died), Arthur (Bay) and a sister Gwen.

They were happy days. Albert went in the army and Gwen married Jack Armes but Bay and I were still at school so our friends used to come down and we would roam the fields for violets or mushrooms. We used to find many birds nests but we’re not allowed to touch them.

My mother was President of the WI for 12 years and I joined when I was 14. She also played the organ at Chapel URC so Bay and I always went in the mornings and Sunday school in the afternoon .

In the summer my dad used to take Bay and I for a walk right round the with river and up the Fen Road to meet Mum from church. He was a wonderful man as he was a horse keeper on the farm he used to let us ride on the horses when he turned them out down Shepherds Close.

Fenstanton Feast on the first Sunday after the 29th of June was the highlight of the year. On Feast Sunday we all had new clothes and went to Chapel three times and then for three evenings we used to go down Chequer Street for rides on the roundabouts and swinging boats for one penny in old money.

On the Thursday we would be up early to go to Wicksteed Park for the day which was most enjoyed as everything was free there in them days. On Good Friday we use to have a tea and concert to do with the Band of Hope which was held in the Sunday School every Tuesday.

It was an old farmhouse where we lived and we had a pump outside the back door which we had to fill the kettle when we wanted a cup of tea or Camp Coffee.

We had no toilet paper in those days so we cut squares of newspaper and the toilet was a bucket which my dad used to empty on the garden.

We had several cats and 2 dogs we used to walk to St. Ives on Market Days and also walk to school which was about a mile away.

The first time we went to Wicksteed Park (Bill Barker had the only car in them days) and he collected all the children of the village and took us all to Wicksteed free and we all had a wonderful day .

On Good Friday Bay used to get up early to get the Hot Cross Buns from Gifford so we had them for breakfast hot and we did enjoy them as in them days you could only buy them that day.

On a Saturday night a gang of us used to walk to Fendrayton for a dance which cost sixpence then and we used to walk home about 11:30.

We moved from West End to Behaggs Farm on the Low Road in 1948 and then in 1939 World War broke out and a lot of soldiers were put in our manse, in the Village Hall and Tudor.

When my dad died (54) we had to get out of the Farmhouse as it was a tied Cottage so were pushed about a bit when the Council gave us two rooms over the Manor up Huntingdon Road, there were also evacuees there from London as it was a big house. I remember some soldiers went AWOL and the Guards came and search the house but could not find them but they were right at the top of the house.

At last we got a council house in 1942 up Pear Tree Close No. 11 and live there till 1990 when we moved to a smaller new house at No. 6 PTC and still here.
I left school when I was 14 and went fruit and flower picking till I got a job at the Papermill on the Varnish Floor at St Ives for 15 shillings a week in old money and during the 39-45 war I worked at Papworth Industries making boxes and tabletops.

We used to cycle miles in those days to different places where a fair was held for 3 days at each place.

My father died when I was 21 which was a very sad time for us all. His favourite horse and cart took him on his last journey to the URC.

I was married to Len in 1948 and I had three children Mervyn, Pat and Rodney.
I looked after my mother for many years as she was crippled with Rheumatoid Arthritis and was in a wheelchair but I did not mind as I have the most loving parents and a very happy childhood. My mother died in October 1957.

After we moved to No. 6 my husband Len was taken ill and I nursed him for 8 ½ years until he died in October 1998. I could not have carried on but for my children who were very helpful. I am still living at No. 6 with my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren around me so I am very grateful for their love and understanding and now I am getting older they all wonderful to me and I love them all.

Pat comes down every day and takes me for a little walk. Mervyn is living here so that is a great help so I leave everything to them as they are all wonderful.
Sadly Mervyn passed away on February 6th 2009 and I do so miss him he was a good son to me still I still have Pat & Rodney who are good to me. Pat comes down every morning and my granddaughters come in every day Michelle and Sharon and their children they are all so kind.

The WI was held in the Literary Institute upstairs as the men had the downstairs room for indoor Sport. I can remember it was in the early 40s my mother was President and during the war every week they sold meat pies to the evacuees.

Every month at the meeting we had a quota prize (now it is a draw.) Then in 1950s we moved to the Old Church Hall then later to the Church Centre where we are now. When I joined it was half a crown a year in 1934. I cannot remember which year but we won the cup for Drama and also won one with the choir.

The new reason there are no records then there was a fire in the hall and our records were destroyed.

When I was five I went to the school (with my brother) it is now the Church Centre. 9 till 12, home to dinner then back at 2 till 4. Miss Munns was the infant teacher and then a Miss Stanyon. Mr Walter Veasy Smith was the headmaster and a good one!!!

Every September my Mum, Dad, Bay and I had a week’s holiday at my Aunt Nell’s in S E London – we did enjoy it sadly they have all passed away but I have some wonderful memories & enjoyed it so I say thank you to them all although I still miss Mervyn.

2010: My family is wonderful to me and now I cannot walk far without help. Pat comes in everyday and brings my shopping & anything for me. Michelle and Sharon calling everyday and a friend takes us to Tesco now and again & Rodney comes over when he can so I will leave it all in Pat’s hands when I depart.