Oakridge Memories - Wilf Merrett


Oakridge Memories - Wilf Merrett


Oakridge Memories - Wilf Merrett, 1/2/2000


Back in the 1930s an aunt of mine occasionally visited a friend in Oakridge who lived in a primitive cottage with no amenities and an outside loo.
Later when I attended Marling School I met one or two lads from the village, and how envious they were of us townies living in comparatively modern villas with gas, electricity and even a bathroom. Life in Little Russia was hardly idyllic in those days.
One summer day in 1940 we schoolboys became aware of some unusual air activity and soon rumours reached us that a German aircraft had crashed near Bisley. That evening with 2 or 3 friends I cycled to Oakridge and joined a large group of people gaping at the crumpled fuselage of a Junkers 88. The wreckage was guarded by soldiers who obligingly snipped off squares of wing fabric for eager souvenir hunters.
Some twenty years later Betty and I attended the Oakridge village fete and met Fred Gardiner one of the remaining craftsman working in the Gimson tradition. We couldn't then afford a refectory table but instead commissioned a beautiful oak and cedar lined work cabinet which cost us all of £18. We were then living in Bisley but traffic was building up and with two small children to consider, we began looking for a quieter and safer home and this brought us to Crossways Oakridge Lynch in 1967.
The previous occupier, a weekender, was rather unpopular ,because being a radio ham he had decorated the house with a spider' s web of aerials which allegedly interfered with television reception. This was speedily dismantled meeting general approval .
We were fortunate in having good neighbours Oliver Hunt and Ted Davis in particular. The former gave us a real welcome and was most willing to advise or lend a hand whenever needed. Ted looked after most of the cars in the village, keeping us on the road with the minimum of expense.
All the neighbours in fact were friendly and helpful, including Nellie Davoll father had been one of Gimson's craftsmen, and evidence of his handiwork was in her cottage.
Betty became involved in village activities , joining W.I. .and starting a playgroup, I occupied myself in the garden building walls and creating a driveway, in process of which I opened up a cave (or stone mine) one of many existing in the village. This caused considerable interest and even attracted the attention of Dr Ransome the local bat expert.
When our children Mark and Gillian reached school age , Betty obtained a part time post at the village school which was less than 200 yards away, and she continued there until her retirement in 1989.
Crossways provided ample space for the four of us ,and also my mother who occupied a bed sitting room. She was a life long Methodist and attended the village chapel until her death in 1974 at the age of 88. Encouraged by Oliver Hunt and Evelyn Weare we also attended the services ,eventually becoming members. Joe Bateman had been chapel organist for fifty years and when he finally gave up , Betty was persuaded to take his place with considerable reluctance on her part. There was no Sunday school in the village and Betty together with Evelyn Weare and Grace Cooke started this activity in the chapel room with much success in the early stages.
Both Betty and our daughter Gillian were enthusiastic members of the Oakridge players appearing in a number of pantomimes in the 1970's & 1980's. Gillian had hoped to become an actress but has now settled for the much less precarious role of fund raiser for Greenpeace.
We became founder members of the current Oakridge Society and organised a Bygones display in the chapel room which led to the creation of the village museum. This was a most fascinating project and many villagers helped to make it a success.
Our other involvements in the village centred on the Garden Club, Wa1king Group and Oakridge Society, Chris Abbey and myself being joint chairmen for a period. We were keen supporters of the footpath project and I helped to organise a 10 mile walk to raise money for the cause.
We left the village with some reluctance in 1985 but are now happily installed on a hill overlooking Stroud and still return to support the chapel on Sundays.


The Pat Carrick Collection


Oakridge Memories - Wilf Merrett 2000.pdf


“Oakridge Memories - Wilf Merrett,” Oakridge Community Archives, accessed March 21, 2019, http://oakridgecommunityarchives.org/items/show/691.

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