The Walkers of Stanhoe

Arthur Walker lived in Stanhoe from the 1930s to 1965. Here he gives some history of the Walker family and his memories of the village.

The census of 1841 reveals a William Walker living in Stanhoe. He was born in 1806, married Mary Shaul in 1825 and fathered seven children: Jacob, Henry, Thomas, Frances, Rhoda, Charlotte and Haylett.

Their son Thomas was born in 1829. He married Jane, about whom I have no other information. There were five children: George, Harry, Charlotte, Ann and John.

George was born in 1869 and added Williamson to his name (perhaps his mother’s maiden name) so he became George Williamson Walker. The 1881 census gives his address as Docking Road. He married a lady named Maud and they had seven children: Thomas Irvine Walter, Charles, Frederick, Arthur George Verdun, Alice, William and Kate.

George Williamson Walker and family

George Williamson Walker (Arthur’s grandfather) and family, taken probably before Tom’s marriage in 1926:
Back row (l–r): Alice, Tom (Arthur’s father), Fred, Charlie, Kate
Middle: George and his wife Maud, William
Front: Verdun

Maud died before I was born. Towards the end of his life George lived with his daughter Alice, now married to Bob Keely, in the last house but one in Ramp Row.

Uncle Fred contracted tuberculosis when he was quite a young man and died before his youngest child was born.

My uncle Arthur George Verdun Walker was always known as Verdun; his name had some sort of link with the First World War battle of Verdun. [One of Verdun Walker’s sons, Tony, still lives in Stanhoe.]

My father, Thomas Irvine Walter Walker, was born on 27 July 1901. He later married Gladys Agnes May Plummer and had six children: Katherine Maud, Margaret Lillian, Barbara Henrietta, Arthur Thomas, and the twins Jack and Jill.

Memories of Stanhoe

Tom Walker and family moved to a new council house in Station Road around 1939/40. Before that, they had been living in one of the terraced cottages in the area known as The Green. My memories are the strongest from about that date, when I was aged eight or nine.

When the war broke out, the whole village seemed to come together and worked endlessly to help the war effort in any way they could. They held garden fetes, sports days, “miles of pennies” and all sorts of functions that would bring in cash to help buy Spitfires or other wartime needs.

There was a Home Guard unit in the village. The Commanding Officer was Jock Johnson. They gave a demonstration one Saturday, firing the Blacker Bombard mortar they had been issued with. The audience were asked to imagine that a tree stump situated at the far end of the field was an enemy tank. It was plain to see that everyone was terrified of the mortar, especially the man who pulled the trigger. A big “bang” and the mortar hurled a massive shell across the field, missing the tree stump by a country mile. Nobody ever mentioned what would have happened next if it had really been a tank! [See here for a photo of the platoon.]

There was also a small first aid unit with its headquarters in the Old Chapel. Billy Ayres was in charge I think. One Sunday my schoolmate Nobby Steward and I were wandering round the village when we were asked if we would be patients so the group could practice bandaging wounds. We agreed and the next moment we were plonked on a stretcher and bandaged from head to toe. We enjoyed it really because we were given tea and cakes at the end of the afternoon.

Stanhoe children

Standing: Norman Howard, Brenda Johnson, Jill Walker, Eileen Howard, Eric Howard.
Sitting: Unknown, Olga Chilvers, John King, Jean Johnson.

“I can’t remember the occasion, but it must have been an inter-schools competition of some sort,” says Arthur. “The children are wearing sashes for identification.”

My father was asked if he would join the police force and become a Special Policeman for the village. His duties include making sure that the strict blackout was maintained. He also helped guide the airmen from the Coastal Command station at Bircham Newton back to their barracks when they were a bit tipsy. There was no uniform for him but he did have an armband with “SP” on it. He was also given a medal after the war.

I was educated at Stanhoe school and left in 1945 when I was 14. Working at Barwick Hall Farm was my first and only job while living in Stanhoe. The farm was first owed by Guy Savory and when he died it was bought by his manager Jock Mckenzie.

I married Pauline Scoles in September 1959. Pauline lived in Burnham Market and was the infant teacher at the local school. We had bought a piece of land next to the village stores and had a bungalow built on it. We named the house Arline, the first two letters of my name and the last four letters of hers. Our eldest daughter Trudi Jane was born in July 1961.

Red brick bungalow

New home for a young family: Arthur and Pauline’s bungalow Arline on Docking Road

In 1965 we moved to Oaklands Agricultural College near St Albans where I took up an appointment as a Practical Instructor.