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History Group AGM - Back in Time in Benhall

The big room at the Benhall and Sternfield Memorial Club in School Lane was packed on 19th March to hear Bob Sharman talk about his childhood in Benhall Low Street during the 1950s and 1960s. The son of a farm worker father and an equally hard-working mother, Bob grew up, as he said, “amongst old boys who had served in World War One”.  There  were different kinds of housing in the village, including prefabs, Council houses and very old cottages. Bob lived in a tied cottage attached to Walnut Tree Farm. The cottage was not well maintained, there was an outside toilet, no bathroom, and infestations of wildlife! Furnishings were pretty basic for all working families, with home-made rag rugs and second-hand furniture,and, instead of a bathroom, a tin bath in front of the fire. Clothing too was home-made, and in particular Bob recalled a knitted swimming costume, dyed navy blue - the embarrassment of his first swim in this outfit made a traumatic, never forgotten moment! Those in the audience from Low Street enjoyed his account of particular houses and families, while everyone of a certain age could relate to his memories of the toys of the time - also often home-made, and including cut-out models from Weetabix packets and, he wondered, did anyone else remember the Tango Wobbly Ball? 

Bob’s memories were so stimulating that people were still reminiscing  excitedly over old photographs half an hour after the end of his talk. He was much appreciated and will be asked to come back to the History Group to talk about his schooldays in Benhall  at a later date. 

The business of the AGM had been done at the start of the meeting. The Group’s finances were revealed to be in a healthy state, although it was stressed that fundraising for the rent and insurance of premises had to continue. The Chairwoman’s Report detailed a range of interesting activities with the promise of more to come, as announced from time to time on this website. Two presentations were made. Retiring Treasurer Margaret Swanenberg received a lovely floral arrangement and former Chairwoman Katie Carr-Tansley was awarded Honorary Life Membership of the Group. The officers elected for the coming year were: Chairwoman Brenda Burtenshaw, Vice-Chairwoman Eve Hostettler, Secretary Karen Howman and Treasurer Joan Edlis. 

The evening’s entertainment included a raffle; refreshments were provided by Group members. Drinks were purchased from the bar and once again we were reminded what an important amenity the Memorial Club is to our two villages. Long may it flourish!




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