Growing up in Neston


The Green, Double decker buses and halfpenny up a pylon.

The ‘Green’, mentioned above, is the small patch of grass to the right just on the first bend of Chapel Lane, it was our meeting place, a place for friendly wrestles, games and sometimes not so friendly wrestles. 'See ya on the green' was often heard in those days. It seemed much larger then than it appears today and was a place of play and great fun. We would talk for ages under the street light before being called home.

At one point I got hooked on a storyline that was running in ‘The Archers’, a radio show still continuing today and the longest running radio drama in the world. My parents always listened to ‘The Archers’ and would call me home at quarter to seven so I wouldn’t miss the story. I really didn’t want my mates on the green to know that I listened to such a thing. One day much to my embarrassment my mother called not just my name but ‘The Archers are on’. I think the other kids scratched their heads a bit to think I would be interested in such a show.

Guy Fawkes night would see us build a giant bon fire on the green, probably too large to be safe, no adult supervision then! We enjoyed the simple fun of hiding from car headlights as vehicles came up Chapel Lane. On frosty winter days we would venture onto the ice that would form on the pond that was on one corner of the green. It also provided a source for tadpoles on summer days. They were glorious days and I remember them with great fondness.

Neston was originally served by one bus ‘The Ridge Bus’, it ran from the Town Hall Corsham via Potley, Westwells, Moor Green, Neston and onto The Ridge. This service continued back and forth all day and was used my may people.

It was announced that a new bus service would be started from Bath to Corsham, through Neston, down Neston Common and on to Melksham. The  news was greeted with delight by us kids especially when we found out the bus would be a double decker. Wow, a double decker bus through Neston, that would certainly put the place on the map! The announcement was followed by days of anticipation that turned into weeks and months. Then a lorry with men and saws drove the route through the village to remove any branches that might be too low for the bus to go under. They certainly had work to do down Neston common were numerous trees hung low over the road almost forming a tunnel. Several weeks later, to our delight a giant green double decker bus  slowly made its way through the village, turned into Chapel Lane past ‘the green’ heading for Neston Common. I remember us kids chasing after it as it made its way down Chapel Lane. The ad on the back read 'There's only one tea in Bath - Cardwins!' Not sure why I would remember something like that but I do. The bus would go to Melksham, (later on to Easterton) turn around and follow the same route back to Bath. I think it ran once in the morning, around 11am once in the afternoon 3pm and returned from Melksham in the evening stopping outside our house at Lockscross around 8pm. The picture is a composite courtesy Google Street View and Bristol Omnibus Historic Webpage. It re-creates what the shiny double decker looked like as it stopped outside our house on its way back to Bath.

At an older age I used to catch it to Corsham and sit upstairs in the front. It was always a scary moment as the bus negotiated the railway bridge at Pound Pill. It had to make a very sharp left hand turn over the bridge in those days and from upstairs in the front it seem the bus was just too big to make it across the bridge.

Halfpenny on a pylon.

In the mid 50's new electricity pylons began to appear across the fields in a line south of the Ridge heading to the top of Rough Street and onwards. Pylon after pylon, giant metal structures standing starkly against the sky waiting for the wires to be attached. They stood like that for a few years.

Climbing was a way of life for us kids in the '50's, but up to that point had been confined to the many trees that surrounded Neston. The pylons presented a new challenge. They were yet to have the wires attached so now might be the only chance we would have to climb one. We finally decided which one would be best. It had to be remote and out of sight. Passers by might be alarmed to see two kids climbing up a pylon, even if it didn't have any wires attached. We chose one south of the Ridge in the corner of a field. The pylons had long bolts sticking out of the corners all the way up to aid maintenance workers. Climbing would be the easy part, coping with the height might be more difficult because these things were far higher than any tree we had climbed. We started up, at first it was quite easy as the bolts were spaced for climbing just like a ladder. After a while and after looking down we realised just how high these things were and we hadn't even reached the first horizontal cross section. Not deterred and probably running on adrenalin we pressed on and eventually reach the first cross section. It was very high and I remember thinking this may not be a good idea after all, knowing every step up also meant a step down on our return.

Legs now beginning to ache as we climb ever higher, I stopped and could  feel the pylon gently moving in the wind, something we hadn't expected. Nerves almost got the better of me because this seemed enormously high now and with aching legs getting down would not be easy. After a pause I decided to continue and it wasn't long before I was level with the second cross section. The pylons get narrower as they get higher and the swaying seemed to be worse up here. I looked up and could see the very top which extended a little above the top cross section. I had to do it. I climbed on slowly, hands now gripping the girders so tightly it hurt. I reached the very top and put my hand over the upturned channel section which forms the top of the pylon. It’s about three foot long with open ends. It was a magnificent view from up there but the swaying seemed much worse and the thought of getting down a little daunting.

Having climb this far I thought I should leave something up there to mark the occasion. I wrapped my left arm tightly around the top girder and with my right hand found a half penny in my pocket. I placed the coin in the channel at the very top of the pylon. Feeling very satisfied we started back down. The climb down was not as bad as we thought it might be but what a relief to be back on the grass again. That was around 1954-5, I image that coin may still be up there, but I am not going to check!