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Saturday 14 August 2010

Reminiscences of Burton Green by Rick Jowett

Photo of Cromwell Lane, 1940, provided by Rick Jowett
My name is Rick Jowett and I lived at Dawlish, Cromwell Lane, till 1955.

The first photo I have sent you shows Burton Green, near the City boundary, in 1940.

Oh yes, that me in the push chair.  Sorry for the quality, the negative is a bit old.

We lived in the bungalow behind the power pole, which was called Dawlish.

This photo was taken in the front garden of Dawlish in 1939. The baby in the pram is me.

This photo was taken in Kandahar in Afghanistan, in 1917. The photo includes Charles Samuel Jowett, Rick Jowett's father.

I never knew where Candahar was till I heard it mentioned in connection with Afghanistan! The spelling now seems to have changed from C to K. I read that the Brits beat the Afghans 3 times, the last time being around the time this photo was taken.

This photo was taken in the back garden of Dawlish, in 1939. It shows Charles Samuel Jowett, and son Rick. In this picture Charles Jowett was 69 years old. He was resident from 1936 to his death 1956.

Note the flat water tank in the background. Miss Jackson lived in that house. Under the flat rain water tank was a pantry accessible from the kitchen. The bottom of the water tank was the pantry ceiling, thus in summer evaporative cooling kept the pantry cool.

There were no windows in our pantry and I remember water condensing on the ceiling so it did cool pretty well. We did not have a fridge but eggs, cheese, meat, fish seemed to keep well enough. I think the Cheese got moldy on one occasion. Big disaster we were on rations,it was eaten anyway, toasted under a fire grate in the living room.

There was a lady named Woodward who rode a motor bike and delivered fish during war time. Any connection with the Woodward in the history group?

In the back garden of Dawlish, in 1949, showing Rick Jowett's collection of toys of the time - his tent, swimming pool, and wheels.

I remember many of the same things as Anthony Richards...

Sargent Wright just inside the coventry boundary. Fred Morse the coalman who lived in the farm cottage. Mr & Mrs Bayliss. Fred Smith. The Adams family Bill Phylis,Olive, The Druces, The Petets, The Gutteridges? The Old Machine gun emplacement. The Cottons Mary Brown. Miss pickin. Miss Jackson next door to us. and The Browns on the other side. Louise and Audrey Sprig. Johnny Dams from Tile Hill railway station.

Mrs Lancaster and her son Gareth. Mrs Lancaster taught at Westwood Heath C of E school which I attended. Peter Wadsworth, and his younger sister who lived opposite the Lancasters.

Also in my mind are Kitty Ward and Gareth Lancaster as well as Peter and Janice Wadsworth.  Christian Gaddie, a fellow asthmatic, and her brother who were both very nice people.

Please ask Anita [Smith] what her surname was in 1950+ and maybe I can place her. Maybe her Dad’s name was Fred? and her mothers name was Rose? Or Morse? or Sprig. That anyone should remember me is amazing.

Lee Beesley's field. on the corner of Cromwell and Westwood Heath road. The gas lamp on the corner.

This is a gypsy caravan behind the Bayliss' home.

The photo was taken in 1972. This caravan was certainly there from 1955.

This is Westwood Church of England School, which I attended. This photo was taken in 1972.

Peter Maddison the head master. He had a daughter Stella. 

I was lucky to gain a 11+ scholarship to Leamington college so I caught no.18 then no.537, then no.517. Quite a trip for 11 years old. I went to an out of town school, and I was also very sick with Asthma, so I did not interact much with people.

Visiting my Dad in Hospital, Tues night, Thursday night and Sunday also took a lot of my time. I remember Mrs. Whitehead and her husband. It was he he came to our door at 7 am on the 7th of March to tell us that my father had died. Things like that do tend to be remembered.

And this is a general view along Cromwell Lane, 1972.

The double-storey houses in the photo were, the Browns and daughter Mary; the Armites and their two lads. I think they shot at me with an air rifle while I crawled across the field behind the pond behind my house. Luckily it had been ploughed the same way for centuries and there were raised  rows and depressions. Towards the Peeping Tom were the Cottons and their son Bob.

Circa 1945-50 there was a fish and chip van that parked outside Dawlish on a Sunday night to sell to the Pubs customers as they walked back to Canley and Tile Hill.

Film for cameras was not available in wartime so I do not think there are many old photos of Burton green. In the 1950s I was a keen photographer but I took photos of people mainly. Film was available but as the son of a pensioner, I had no money to buy it. I did use some out dated microfilm film with about an hour of forced development.

Developing my own pictures was mainly a matter of economy.  I used Dufay color which was pretty good it was really black and white film with red green and blue pixels printed on it, so no big deal to develop. Good blacks. Then I got ambitious and used an Italian film Ferrania  color processing that was something else. about two hours with temperature control being critical, trying to keep everything at 65 degrees F was not easy in the UK. I finally solved it by using a bath full of water adding boiling water till it got to 65 degrees and then putting all the bottles of solution in it so they equalized.

Process was: first development 20 Minutes, wash 10 mins , expose to light at 1 foot from a 100 watt bulb for 90 seconds, second development (color) 10 minutes wash 10 mins bleach 15 minutes, wash 10 minutes, fix 10 minutes wash 10 minutes harden 10 minutes wash 10 minutes then dry. I had a developing tank with transparent spirals so the film could stay on its spirals for the whole process. My Mother made me a changing bag, black cloth with one bag inside the the other and zips in different places. sleeves to put your hands through to open the camera cut the film, load it on to the tank spirals, place it in the tank and close the lid. from then on in artificial light.  I had a box brownie 127 camera, which I modified to take the cheaper 35 mm film. I think it took 1/2 seconds of exposure at F16 to get a color picture, from the Dufay color.

Nowadays I curse when I get a message from windows live photo gallery “XYZ codec has stopped working please close the program.”

Nowadays I can take a black picture and lighten the shadows with windows live and there it is.  Before we had things like Uranium intensifiers to darken an under exposed film and reducers for the dark one that would take hours of exposure in an enlarger. One gadget I built was a grease spot photometer. This works on the principle of equal light on both sides of a grease spot on paper and the spot disappears. This had a torch bulb and a potentiometer or rheostat to reduce the light out put from the bulb in a box under the paper and the light from the enlarger was allowed to fall on it. Being able to measure the light intensity saved a lot of time doing test strips developing etc. And of course the cost of the photographic paper.

Now my cell phone takes HD movies, 12 megapixel stills etc. Nokia N8. I chose it for the camera. carl Zeiss lens Tessar.  My fine pix XP30 has 14 MP. and a 5x zoom lens but because of the zoom it is not as sharp as the Zeiss lens.

I also remember watching Jet1 the rover turbine car go past occasionally.

Vampire jets and Meteors used to fly over.

This is the Peeping Tom, in 1972.

[The photo can be enlarged by clicking on it.]

Another hobby of mine was electronics ham etc. And now I do it to earn money!  About 1955, not being able to afford TV I built a on valve receiver to pick the TV sound. However it was a bit off frequency, because I heard a vampire pilot talking to his base “Honiley” or something like that. Later on that same one valver I heard Canada. Bill Adams across the way gave me a 2 volt accumulator to heat the valve filament. So I had to build a battery charger to re-charge it. Now you know why I am a industrial electronics technician here. Still working at 72 years old.

I am thinking of re-joining the Johannesburg Hiking club of which I was a member for 7 years. I hope you are not part of the anti gun lobby? I think South African laws are pretty good, when I renewed my license they interviewed my wife, my neighbors, and some others. Most criminal guns in South Africa are now stolen from policemen often over their dead bodies. I would  like to return to a shooting club I did rather well with the central city shooting club in 1964, and now my son in America, has a collection. AR15, as used in Norway! AK 47. Glok 17 for self defense, some Brazilian copy of a Berretta 9 mm, Smith and Wesson .22 target pistol, and a SKS 7.62 as per the Rhodesian Army.  He got that new in its packaging and cleaned it all up nicely but after he had fired the first clip, it poured smoke, because there was still grease inside the gas cylinder that reloads it. He also bought a load of Russian ammunition, that is made with steel casings instead of brass, this results in lots of Jams, miss-fire etc. I really enjoyed my Holiday with him. Much more fun than shooting under the supervision of the South African Police in 1964.

In 1964 I was young and just waiting for some one to try and rob the bank where I worked. The bank gave me .375 magnum Smith and Wesson snub nosed Bankers special to defend myself with, which is why I went for training in the first place. I did arrest one bank robber without shooting him and later a car thief. 1994 Susan and I came home from the Casino about midnight and as I was parking the car she went up to the Front door where a burglar grabbed her. He picked the wrong girl!, she was always wrestling with her younger but bigger brother. While they fought I drew my pistol and when Susan was behind a wall I shot the guy holding her. Susan broke free and was shot while running past me. That is of course burnt deep into my soul. 

Thank you so much for the info, I think that next year I must visit my son in the US. Maybe the year after I will stop by you guys.

I stayed at the Travelodge next door to where the Leofric hotel used to be this time. We did visit Kenilworth castle but it has changed so much especially the entrance fee! LOL.

Kenilworth: I missed the clock tower, when I remember it there was nothing around it. This time I had driven past before I woke up.

I now live near Sandton, South Africa.

Regards Rick Jowett Nee’ Freddie Jowett.

E-mail: Rickjowett@live.com

See Also

Post-War Development of Burton Green (YouTube video)
Memories of Hob Lane (YouTube video)Memories of Burton Green in the 1950’s by Stuart Barratt
Reminiscences of Burton Green by Anthony Richards
Reminiscences of Burton Green by Joan Pulham and Angela Loughran

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