Fred and Kath Watts

Interviewed Monday 10 February 1986

Fred Watts used to help maintain St Marys churchyard

Fred Watts used to help maintain St Marys churchyard

Fred Watts, born in London 27.5.1909.  Father killed in 1st WW and mother re-married to Miss Alice Weeden’s brother (a policeman).  Came to Pirton for school holidays.  Used to follow Kath (his wife) to Holwell to get the milk when he was 12 years old.

Came to Pirton in 1933 to take a job on the bus – the Pirton Belle.  Fares to Hitchin when then 7d. return or 4d. single.  Earned £3 p.w. and 5s more when he married in 1934.  When he first came to Pirton lived with grandfather in Royal Oak Lane (where Ann Bennett used to live).  When first married, he and Kath lived at No. 14 Holwell Road cottages.  Paid 2s. 6d rent.

Left the bus and went to work at White Horse (taxi hire).

In 1940 was the first volunteer after start of the 2nd WW.  In the Army for 6 years – France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.  Working on troop carriers.  Demobbed in 1946.

Worked at Maidments in Hitchin for 3 years.  Then London Transport Garage Hitchin (country servicers)Then Brookers on deliveries

Retired in 1974 at 65.Started at school as handyman etc. (part time), loved working there with Geoff Welch – the happiest time of his working life.  Left Christmas 1978.

Kath Watts (nee Titmuss), born 2.4.1909 in Pirton in one of the 3 thatched cottages on Great Green next to White Horse (now pulled down).

Mother was     Jane Titmuss (nee Odell)

Father was       Charles Titmuss who was a labourer (building).  He worked at the Moat House, Holwell.

She has one sister, Hilda, who is older than she is and lives at Arlesey.

Her Grandfather (? Titmuss or Odell) bought house in which she and Fred now live (no. 4) for £75 in 1912.  When her mother died in 1964, it was valued at £1400 and that was when Kath and Fred moved in and bathroom was added.

She enjoyed school, went at 3 with her sister!

With Miss Donson, they made polish from beeswax and polished the desks with it.

She left at 14 (1923) and went to work at Ickleford at an embroidery firm.  Four sat round a frame, work divided into 4, paid 7s. 6d p.w. but more if their work was finished more quickly.  Embroidered crests, tapestries etc. from big houses (e.g. Lord Lytton’s).  Liked the work very much.  Cycled to work – 8 a.m. start 4.30 p.m. finish.

Then worked in hat factory at Luton for 2 years – women’s hats, including straw, trimmings etc.  Paid £2 – £3 p.w.  They cycled to Shillington where they left their bikes and then there was a private bus to Luton.

Went to cinema in Hitchin (6d or 9d) – Playhouse in Market Square and another in Hermitage Road

Sweets – Vinegar flats 1d.  Lamb’s tails 2d. from shop where Effie Goldsmith now lives (end of Cromwell cottages) and the one where P.O. now is.  Also Harry Davies (butcher) who also sold sweets, general groceries etc.

Milk collected from Jack Burton’s – took your can and filled for 1d. or 2d.

Petrol 1/- a gallon. (hand-pumped in the village, where garage was).


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