May Day and Empire Day were always celebrated. A maypole was erected on the crossroads outside the school (traffic was few and far between then) and selected pupils danced round it for the entertainment of parents and friends. On Empire Day – curiously enough we were rather proud of the British Empire then – we all paraded on the same spot, solemnly saluted the Union Jack flying at the flagpole and sang patriotic hymns and songs such as Kipling’s Recessional . We were then each given a bun, an orange and a bag of sweets and the rest of the day for a holiday.
In Grantchester Lane between the school and Cross Hill on the main road, where the War Memorial stands, is a public house called The Unicorn . In one of the outbuildings of this a fried fish shop operated on several evenings a week. A piece of fish then cost 2d, and chips to match, 1d.
On the main road opposite the War Memorial stands The Red Lion , but the present building is comparatively modern. When the old building stood there, there was a lane running down beside it to a small meadow at the rear. This was the site of the village Feast which lasted for three days and took place in summer, the week after the Midsummer Fair in Cambridge. It invariable consisted of one large roundabout operated by the great traction engine which pulled the vans, one of a type which has now vanished from the roads. The music was supplied by a steam organ decorated with the moving figures of gods and goddesses. Later this music was replaced by amplified music from records which did not have the old magic of the organ. There were swings, coconut shies and skittle alleys, dart saloons and a shooting gallery. There were rock stalls, at one of which you could watch the rock being made before you bought it, cockle and whelk stalls and occasionally a man selling solid gold watches for ten shillings each! One year a boxing booth appeared and was very popular, another year a cabaret show ‘direct from Paris’.
When The Red Lion was rebuilt it blocked the lane and as there was no other place for it, the old Feast died. Now the blaze of lights in the summer night, the sound of the organ, the clang of the bullets on the steel plate of the shooting gallery, the mingled smell of rock, whelks and the naphtha flares are things of the past. In those days the Feast was an event to be anticipated and saved for. A trip on the roundabout cost 2d, the swings, 1d, and the skittles, 2d for three balls.
Just down Grantchester Lane on the left, past a row of old cottages, was a triangular piece of land reputed to have once been the site of a witch’s cottage. She was supposed to have cursed the land when she died and certainly I don’t remember a good crop of anything being grown on it.
Continue with the next part of W.E. Dring’s reminiscences of Trumpington in the 1920s.
The War Memorial and Church Lane (Grantchester Lane) in the 1920s. From a photograph used by Percy Robinson during lectures in the 1920s-1940s.