Connect in writing in Risby

By Gillian Allard

When Gillian visited Risby, to walk around the village and give tips on how to photograph peoples’ favourite places, there was much chat about the local history – which in turn led to this piece, A Walk in Risby written by Roger, one of the participants.

WE’LL TURN RIGHT, so we left the car park and took the incline up School Road.

“Over there Farmer Kemp had all the elm trees pulled down,” said J, indicating the field opposite the Village Hall.

Then said Ja, “I remember those allotments and the big hedge and that ditch with its plank across it, I remember having to go and clear the rubbish from the pipe as all the water came down from the top of the road into the ditch then into a pipe just down there.

There were lots of ponds far more than there are now and hedges on both sides of the road which were so pretty.”

“At the back of the Village Hall,” continued J, ”there was a veranda and I used go there and listen to all the old men gossiping on the allotments, the things they said well…!

“Then I’d go home across the track, well that was where Alymer Close is.”

J and J lived next door to each other opposite Risby Place where Mr Burrell, who owned the orchards, lived. Joan left school at 13 and was put in service to the Burrells. Ja was sent to work with Mr Rickwood of Quay’s Farm.

As we approached Hall Lane, our little group, which was supposed to be taking photos for an arty project, paused as J stopped her wine sparkly red coloured scooter and said,

“Just there was another pond (opposite the one on the corner of Hall Lane) and one winter the ice was nice and thick and we used to slide from the school across the road across the ponds into the field.  Oh! We had such fun.

“We didn’t have much but we were happy. The boys played at the front of the school and the girls at the back. Pupils started aged 5 and left at the very latest aged 15.

“One day a month after War broke out (WW2), we saw a plane, it was so low we could see a swastika and we ran to hide. The plane must have been taking photos of the cold store on reconnaissance. Then it followed the rail track and machine gunned the train. The cold store was camouflaged after that.”

We turned into the churchyard and we talked about some of the people who lived in Risby Cottage (since 1950’s called The Gate House).

J & J remembered Col. Lawrence who bought from the Church Commissioners the glebe land which originally had 24 acres.

“Oh yes,” continued J, “he owned all the way up to the alms houses and had the thatched bit built between Ben’s cottage and the big house. This was used as a playroom for his 4 children. Sometimes for a treat we had films in there and were given sweets.

“During the War the army moved in and from 1945 – 1950 the Land Army was there. There were 19 girls living in the house and the playroom became their dining room. There were Yale locks put on every door and cupboard. Risby Cottage was sold in 1950 to Mrs Hanbury-Kelk who used to whizz round the village in her Triumph Herald on her errands.”

In the churchyard, J showed us her forebears’ graves, some of which were unmarked.  “We couldn’t afford any headstone.”

Then we looked at the stones that lean and make interesting shapes and shadows in the soft sunlight. We took some photographs and Jaturned the scooter round for J and moved slowly down the road towards home.

“Over there is the place where the bullocks were burnt. It was anthrax, I looked over the hedge and watched and that would have been 1937 or 8.”

At this point I said my goodbyes and walked up the new brick road.

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