Percy Mundy (1908-c.2000): oral history audio recording.
When PM was a child, there was no place called New Bradwell, just Stanton High, Stanton Low and Stantonbury. The old club in New Bradwell remained the Stantonbury Social Club. There was another club called the Progressive Club. He remembered the Hospital Fetes, which had “marvellous” processions of vehicles and the boys and girls dressed up. There was also the fair held on Corner Pin, with the Thurston organ that would play the hymns for a church service on the Sunday.
He remembered the 1913 Army Manoeuvres and his Father taking him to hear the bands, including bagpipes, playing at Sunday Service. At the outbreak of War, the Wolverton Works was on holiday and the employees were called back to get the ambulance trains ready. The Bucks Territorials sang “We are the old Bucks Boys” on Wolverton station platform on their way to France (and PM sings it near the end of the recording). In 1916, his Mother received a “Missing in Action” telegram concerning his brother HM, who was, in fact, a prisoner-of-war. PM also remembered the bomb falling on Salcey Forest. His Father was smoking at the bottom of the garden and came in complaining about a “moty-bike” nearby. He learnt about the bomb at work on Monday morning.
PM’s first car (owned by his Father, who couldn’t drive) was a 12 horse power Bean, with no roof, solid tyres, hand-operated windscreen wipers and the gearstick on the running board. There was a steam tram that used to run to Deanshanger and Olney and was repainted in LMS colours in Wolverton Works [after railway amalgamation], but never ran again after the General Strike.
Mulliner’s, the coach-builder, was situated at the bottom of Bridge Street, Northampton. When PM was apprenticed there, his starting wage was ten shillings per week, out of which he paid 8s/9d in railway fares. He was still an apprentice when the men walked out for the General Strike. The apprentices had to continue to work, but, by the second day, there were no trains running to get him there. He remembered hearing that the “Lathbury Gents”, students at a nearby college, were seen driving trains through Wolverton wearing top hats. Bradwell got the nickname “Little Moscow” at this time. There were fights about the “blacklegs” (no more than a dozen, he thought) and the Stantonbury Brass Band used to play the strikers to and from meetings in Wolverton. He also remembered the concerts at the Empire and the Welsh Miners staying and being given new boots from Northampton.
By the time he started courting, his wage had increased to 25 shillings, but a friend had found work in Coventry and boasted of earning five pounds. PM moved to Morris’ in Oxford, claiming to be a “Man” (i.e. over 21) on his National Insurance Card. Later, at Salmon’s, he lost all his tools, which he’d had to make himself, in a big fire, including a “granny’s tooth” (a groove-making tool). He had cancelled his insurance and had to make do with company-provided tools from Woolworths.
During the Depression, the motor trade was very uncertain. One day, he travelled to Morris’ at Oxford for 8:00am and was laid-off for the rest of the week at 8:30. The unemployed received dole of about 15 shillings per week, which was subject to a Means Test. The assessment was conducted by “ordinary people paid to do the job” and PM had three pence deducted because his Father was employed at Wolverton Works. The dole was forfeit if the recipient turned down a job offer. People felt “disgust” about the system, but there was no shame attached.
He remembered the two most prominent citizens in Bradwell were Father Joey Guest and Mr Derricutt. He described Father Guest as having a temper and liking a drink and remembered several stories about him: cycling down Bradwell hill with his feet on the front forks; swearing at a coalman who tried to obstruct him; and assaulting an evangelist preaching outside his church. He described Mr Derricutt as a “jack of all trades”, including photography, vehicle hire and road transportation. On one occasion, he interrupted umpiring a local cricket match to capture a swarm of bees, which he then transported home in his car, together with the cricketers he had taken there.
He was in the Home Guard during the Second World War and was called out for guard duty after the bomb fell at the top of the High Street. The explosion brought down part of the roof of the club and lifted paving slabs over the schools into the main road. He also heard that a child was lifted up in the air in its cot without being thrown out.