1962: Eileen

Saturday 14th July 1962


Eileen Mary Stedman (Nee Howse)

You may have an idea that I was a bit of a Mummy’s Boy as a child. You are probably right so it is important that I should spend some time writing about her. I have chosen 1962 to do this as it was probably the time of her life when things were most in her control. Later on in life she was to lose a lot of her essential meaning and function as matriarch of a growing family. At this time she was probably at her most active and had the energy and interests that fitted my image of her as a typical sixties mother. She had three teenage children plus two rug rats and one more to come along within another year, Life would have to be very organised to function. Mum had to be occupied and busy to manage the underlying insecurity that came with the legacy of her own childhood.

Eileen was the only sister to three boys, Uncles Tom, Reg and Ken. She was born in Abertillery Monmouthshire but brought up in Pilning. In 1962 she would have been 40. Her Dad died when she was eight years old. Her brothers were packed off to private schools. To her annoyance Mum went from Pilning School to Clarks Commercial College in Clifton. She talked about then working at the Aircraft Works at Filton. She met Harold during WWII and they married in 1945. They settled to live in Severn Beach, first at Enfin in Church Road but then as the first residents of No.6 Albert Road in 1953. She was one of life’s anxious people and suffered from Schizophrenic episodes in later life. Dad was quick to act as Nurse and carer long before she was diagnosed. I was lucky enough to leave home before the worst of her manifestations. Derek and Gerald lived with her as teenagers when Mum found life hardest to cope with. Her final years were spent in care and then nursing homes.

Have you ever tried to remember your earliest memory? They will inevitably be triggered by a photograph that distorts that event. I have tried to find mine and use one that has no associated picture. This date would have been about the time we went on the Railway line from Severn Beach to Pilning. This line was closed to Passengers in November 1964 and I can clearly remember watching and waving to trains going over the railway crossing. I can also recall Mum taking just Gerald and me on the train, getting off at the Low Level Station and walking to the high level platform to watching the trains leave for the tunnel. I, unbelievably, had a strop as we then walked on towards Granny Howse’s house along Station Road. I guess I expected to catch another train, perhaps to Barry Island on a Sunday School trip.

Her imagined diary.

Saturday 14th July 1962

Dad was working nights and came in at 7. I do worry about him riding home after a night shift. At least he has the weekend off. Patchway breaks up this week so the kids are full of end of term sports days and thinking of holidays. We are off to Pompey again next week, I wish we could go somewhere different just for a change. I hate living in Severn Beach. If only we could be somewhere that I could do something for me, just for once but Dad just won’t listen and talks about how lucky we are to have a home, a garden and friends who know us so well. How would we get that if we lived in Bristol?

So what of our friends in Severn Beach? Today was a good example of so called happy people in a happy place. The Beach was busy today. People came off the train and I knew hardly anyone when I went to the shops with the two boys. I could hear people playing the rides and shouting in the field and swimming pool. It is so annoying to hear this when I know that we won’t be playing out like them. I wish they would all go away and leave me and my family to live in peace. Ron Hamilton will look after the house next week. Dad wants to make sure the garden is watered while we are away. I will leave the house exactly as I want to see it when I get home. I don’t trust all these holiday people and gypsies in Severn Beach. I’m not sleeping well at night without Dad being home.

I did something different today. I took Richard and Gerald on the train to Pilning. I wanted to see my Mum and just chat over a cup of tea. Dad could look after the others so we just went. I felt really good just getting away from home for a bit. We didn’t stay long, we couldn’t, but Granny was Mum again.

There was a game of Cricket in the field. I think Alan wants to play for the team. Granny will be happy if he plays, like Tom and Reg did, for Pilning. It has been a good day so we went for a walk on the sea wall this evening. We had a chat with Mrs Rowe who says I should go to the Methodist Bright Hour. Mr Miller wants us to send the kids to the Sunday School at the farm. God doesn’t like me at the moment and I should go to church more but I just don’t have the time. Dad has sorted the garden again so he had to come with us. We went after the crowds had gone home so Richard wouldn’t nag about the dodgems again. Valerie still calls him Rich. And he calls he Vavvy. That’s not right and is lazy. I will tell them again but Dad then does the same and I can’t tell him off in front of the children.

Another day gone, tomorrow will be better.


1984       Simpson A W 47

1990       Bow Brickhill H W 2

1993       MK City H Abandoned

2009       Derbyshire

2014       Derbyshire

Next Entry  1st November 1963

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