An Evacuee in Scrooby

Peter Lewington

This article first appeared in the STAR newspaper.

What did you do in the war?

A few years ago I was reading some of the many stories on the BBC World War 2 web site and one story entitled 'Evacuation to Scrooby' caught my eye. After reading it I 'posted' a message on that person's page and have since been in communication with a Mrs Valerie Frith who now lives in Canada. I invited her to write a short piece on her time in Scrooby in 1939. As an extra intro I should explain how children came to be evacuated before the war started. It was thought that there would be immediate bombing of the large cities, not only with explosives, but also with gas.

Evacuation to Scrooby

I have such happy memories of having known Scrooby. All that history of the Pilgrim Fathers gave me a life long interest in history. I have read so much about them I almost feel I am an expert on the subject. I was billeted with Mrs. Johnson, as I was only 12 at the time I thought she was and 'Old Lady' perhaps now I am and 'Old Lady' I realize she was not as old as I am now.

I remember her as being kind but strict in a different way from my own parents. I particularly remember that when my father sent me my bike I was not allowed to ride it on Sunday. In retrospect I don't think I had time to ride it on Sunday anyway. My friends and I were in the church choir. In fact I remember it as the evacuees being the whole of the choir. If my memory is correct we attended every service.

Monk's Mill, which straddled the river Ryton at that time (the river has since been diverted a little to the north) was not occupied and I don't think it was used as a mill at that time. We used to throw paper boats or big leaves into the little river at one side and then dash to the other to watch then come through the mill-stream. I can't remember if there was a water wheel. I remember my friends and I were up the lane beyond the Mill picking blackberries when someone ran up to us to tell us war had been declared. I don't think any of us were worried about it at all we were all on a BIG ADVENTURE.

I remember the Durdy family who lived at Manor Farm, (I should be pleased to have any news of them from anyone who remembers Brian and Margaret Durdy) we used to play in the barn and the orchard on the farm. I remember the little school that was on the Great North Road, so different from the one we attended in Leeds. The road going down to the railway line, and running down to watch the trains go past, is another happy memory.

Mainly my memory of Scrooby is being very proud to have lived there if only for four months until we all went back to Leeds in December, in time for Christmas with my family. I now live in Canada and have travelled quite a lot. I am always amazed at the many Americans who know of Scrooby, when almost nobody in England has ever heard of it. Americans are always interested in my experience and want to know about Scrooby, I wish I had more pictures of your lovely village, but I have happy memories which are more precious.


See this discussion on WW2 Evacuees in Scrooby on the BBC website.