Albert Mills - Caneshum Man The World according to Albert Mills

Life In Keynsham    Life In Keynsham
where the memories of old keynsham are literally trickling back

Keynsham In A Bygone Daze
Memoirs of Ron 'Dapper' Hill, Aged 103
"See, back then Keynsham were all trees. Trees and lame mules. Bleeders were everywhere, always getting in your way and whatnot. Then the war came and times were 'ard. Then the car came and I was well 'ard. Seven shillings would buy you twice as much as what it used to, with enough left over for a bus into town and a fish supper in Weymouth, which used to be called 'Shallowsea' on account of the deep water near the front.

"There used to be 76 pubs in Keynsham-upon-Chew but Foot In Mouth wiped a lot of 'em out."
We often played conkers on the old bridge down by the Federated, which was still houses back then. One lad, think his name was Bill Bailey, odd fellow, beard and hair combo, nifty with a tune but lousy with a conker. He missed our kid's nut completely and cracked the bridge clean in half. How we laughed as we ran! Coppers were faster and had more powers in them days but we always knew where to run to escape 'em - the park. Safe haven it was. 'Lawless Lawns' we called it. Still do, mind.

The Corridors of Power (democracy not pictured)
The Corridors of Power
(democracy not pictured)
One time the circus came to town, with clowns and jesters and them daft buggers what swings from the roof on a cheesewire. Turns out they liked it here and we still can't get rid of the blighters. They used to be called Wansdyke, now they'm BANES. Quite entertaining for the first show, then a bit predictable and under-performing after that. Cost a fortune to get in too. My mate Cecil said he knew a bloke who got in free just because he had a field where nobody ever went.

There used to be 76 pubs in Keynsham-upon-Chew but Foot In Mouth wiped a lot of 'em out. We had a cinema, the abbey, a hospital, a load of them 'listed' buildings, and our very own Hawthorns House, where me and the missus Cherie met.

It's all gone now. Progress they calls it. Our Reg calls it Shifty Dealings. Shame really but that's the way it goes with this democracy lark.

I remember when that internet craze came to town. Turned our whole worlds downside-up it did. There was an inter-site what used to make the townsfolk laugh. Then they got all gobby and buggered off. The site that is, not the townsfolk - they were always gobby, 'specially if the Madness Tribute Act didn't play at the music festival in the old park. Riot there was one year. Almost three thousand of 'em smashing up the High Street all night. Caused 30 worth of damage they did. We won the BANES Most Improved Town Award after that, but only 'cos Radstock had a slurry spillage the night before the judges came.

Course, we've always been in Somerset, except when we were in Avon. Now we're in Bath. Won't be long before we're part of France. Some nights we used to go to the pictures. No sound in them days. No pictures either. We used make our own entertainment by watching the Roman mosaics by the Handymans. There was always singing in the streets, especially late on Friday night. They reckon Handel got inspired by the voices, but mainly just got kept awake all night, so he killed time by building the Church.

Anyway, that's all that happened. If I remember any more I'll forget it for you. Be lucky."

Ron 'Dapper' Hill, aged 103, Old Hawthorns House, Keynsham-upon-Chew-upon-Avon, North South Bristol & West Bathshire.

Living With Ron - A Survivor's Guide
Cherie Hill (nee Gardiner), Wife of Ron
"I first met Ron at Hawthorns in the summer of 1925, on a Tuesday morning about five-and-twenty to ten. Smartly presented lad 'ee were, always had an eye for the ladies. Course, he weren't a resident then and neither was I. Ron used to see to the bushes in the gardens. Good at it 'ee were. I used to work in the kitchens and Ron was always poking his nose in when I'd got me pie out. Said he could smell it from four furlongs away. Cheeky blighter!

"Ron wrote into that Time Team on the telly and asked what the right time was."
We worked there until we both retired and then we was old enough to be residents so the pair of us stayed. Been here now for 84 years. Ron often jokes that he'd do less time for murdering the President of America with one of them 'dirty nukes'. But then he's always saying things like that. Only last week he called the councils and told them they "didn't know what they were doing". Bold as brass! They said they'd look into his enquiry and let him know how it went. Never 'eard nothing, mind.

Old Hawthorns House, yesterday
Old Hawthorns House, yesterday
He wrote into that Time Team on the telly and asked what the right time was. They wrote back and told 'im it was time for bed. Which is where he spends a lot of his time nowadays since the police felt his collar for growing 'medicinal pain relief' on his allotment up Park Road. They were going to send him to prison but the judge reckoned he was already in one, more-or-less, so they let him off with a caution and a curfew. He's only allowed out for two hours in the mornings to collect his pension and worry the shopkeepers.

That Doctor Herralpath reckoned Ron was the fittest old man he'd ever suffered. In his prime years 'ee used to have the strength of two-and-a-half horses if he was in one of his moods. All that forking and hoeing must've been good for him. He and his muckers had a fight one Sunday with the Publow Posse. Right old barney it were. Coppers said they'd never seen as much blood as they had up Charlton Field that night. And one of them used to work in a slaughter house.

I used to laugh at Ron when he found God for a bit in his eighties. Told me he was 'edging his bets but to say nothing to no-one about it. He went to church and everything but that all fizzled out when he got interested in that Antiques Roadshow. We had a look in our attic but there was only an air conditioning unit and some of them bright coats the council workmen wear nowadays. And some magazines that Ron swears he's never seen before.

Anyway, I'd better go. Mary's promised to get her organ out presently and Ron's helping her to plug it in. Nighty-night. God save the Queen."

Cherie Hill nee Gardiner - New Hawthorns House, Keynsham-near-Bristol, Bathavon.