History of the Scene 1969 – 2000
article submitted by Jim Fieldsend
Wickhambrook Scene began life in February 1969 when the first Scene was published. It contained twelve pages (half foolscap size as it was then) and carried seven adverts on the back page and on the inside pages. One of the advertisers, Alan Farrow, still takes advertising space with us, as does Thorns Corner Stores, albeit under different ownership.
The cover carried a picture identified by Alf Hicks as being Hole Meadow near Coltsfoot Green, and appears to be a photo copy version of a photograph. This uses the same technique as the present cover.
Always being a cusker for reading old magazines and newspapers, having to read all the back covers of the Scene was fascinating to me. So many names I have come to know of kept appearing prompting remarks like ‘and he’s still doing that’ or ‘I never knew he (or she) did that’.
1969 – 2000
In the beginning, a number of jokes appeared which now would probably bring a storm of abuse down on my my head if I dared publish them, so politically incorrect were they. So to all mothers-in-law and Englishmen, Irishmen and Scotsmen. It’s not my fault I didn’t live here then!!
The original editors were Derek and Janet Gee who lived at Malting End. However, they only edited the first four issues as they then moved away from Suffolk. The editing was then taken over by the executive committee of the Community Council, a state of affairs which must have been a nightmare to organise.
Issue number 8 saw the start of a junior section for the Scene with riddles, puzzles, news of what was available as entertainment during the school holidays, etc. The first competition foundered at the first hurdle, when they received not a single entry for it. However, the junior editor persevered and in the end the junior section ran for three or four years.
Issue number 8 also carried an emergency cover as no one had ordered the new ones front from the printers. Issue number 10’s cover carried a wonderful pen and ink drawing of a village scene, although it is imagined and not of Wickhambrook.
Issue number 9 saw a rise in the number of advertisers to thirteen, which included both the village pubs.
Issue 14 saw the weekly draw winners listed for the first time – I bet they’ve spent the money by now – after all it was April 1971.
Issue 16 sees the first mention of plans to open HIghpoint Prison. By then we also have another new cover, again a wonderful pen and ink drawing and the advertisers had risen to twenty-two.
Issue 19 carried an article entitled Join the Hunt and see the World. This tells of the Puckridge & Thurlow Hunt, having met at Peacocks Farm turning a fox at New End and running it to Australia, where they lost it. Anyone with no knowledge of local place names would have been bemused, picturing a fox, hounds, and riders swimming the Pacific Ocean. The same issue contained a piece by Jim Mayes introducing his family on taking over Thorns Corner Post Office and Stores. At the same time it had a farewell piece from Jack Woollard as he closed down the business at Commerce House which his family had run in the village for a hundred years.
Issue 21, September – October 1972 contains the report on the opening of the new foyer, toilet block, bar room, kitchen, store-rooms and committee room at the Memorial Hall and the change of name to Memorial Social Centre. There was again a new set of covers which showed the new Memorial Social Centre frontage.
Issue 23, Reverend D H Reeder took over the job of editor, assisted by Mrs K Webb. Since the resignation of the last editors, the committee had edited eighteen issues, a remarkable achievement.
Issue 27 and another new cover. This one depicts Brook Cottage drawn by V B Rush (?) This issue was delivered free to every house in Wickhambrook to encourage membership of the Community Council and increase its money-making potential. This issue also saw a change in production methods from the duplicator to the photocopier.
Issue 36 sees the retirement of Reverend Reeder as Editor due to ill health and the taking up of the reins by John Bean. As with everyone else, John took on the editorship as a temporary measure! He continued as a temporary measure from April 1975 to September 1993, when I took over.
Issue 40 saw the return to local amateur duplicating of the Scene due to rising costs of having it done professionally. The cover for 1977 did carry the Queens Silver Jubilee Logo, as well as an excellent drawing of Rolfe’s Farm.
Issue 42 (June-July 1977) reports that the Amateur Drama group is now functional and that their first performance will be at a Cheese and Wine evening in the M.S.C. So there really is nothing new in Wickhambrook!!
The following issue contains the fist report of escapes from Highpoint Prison. Unfortunately this was something that was going to become so commonplace it ceased to be worth mentioning!!
Issue 51 contains the announcement of the introduction of the What’s On Newsletter. There was the bright idea to feature a Sales and Wants page, a bit late really – there had been one in the very first Scene and it had continued for a couple of years.
1978 was Wickhambrook School’s Centenary year and the new cover not only contained a drawing of the school, again by V. Rush, but a a logo of their own to replace the Queens Jubilee one.
So it goes on, the life of a village, recorded for posterity by its inhabitants. It is history recorded in the words and pictures by the ones who were living that history. Reporting the highlights of a lifetime, King George V reviewing his troops and taking tea, the Princess Royal arriving by helicopter. The highlights of a year, the Carnival, the Pantomime.
All is not sweetness and light of course, after all this is real life. There is more than one letter from an overworked but still willing helper written in disgust at the carping of those show believe, quite erroneously, that these people actually get paid for their work in the community. Possibly some people do, those employed by local councils or the Social Services do. For the most part however, these volunteers are unpaid yet still give up time willingly, which is more than can be said for the moaners.
Throughout the early editions we find that same names appearing as contributors time after time. E S Golding, H J Burton and of course A C (Alf) Hicks, to name but three. Without these and many like them the scene would not only have been much thinner, but probably wouldn’t have survived.
Later, of course, we find newer contributors appearing “messenger” an apt pen name for our local postman and of course “Barfly” another apt name for Bernard Young, local raconteur, bon vivant and occasional prison governor.
Issue 108 goes to great lengths to explain why the publication was late. Having spent many hours, as others have, surrounded by inky black paper, torn stencils, and up to elbows in printing ink trying in vain to get the duplicator to work, they have all my sympathy.
Issue 117, November – December 1988, saw the report of the first pantomime performed in the M.S.C. Looking back I cannot believe how naive we were. What I do remember was the fun we had, I don’t think there has ever been a happier one.
Issue 146 September – October 1993 saw things really hit rock bottom when, in sheer desperation, they dragged me out of the woodwork to take over from John Bean as Editor. John, after almost 18 years in the chair, proclaimed enough was enough and handed me the reins. I have to admit I did get an awful lot of help from er-indoors initially, she had been typing the Scene for about two years by then.
Unfortunately, one of my first duties as Editor was to write the obituary of Bernard Young – Barfly. Bernard died on the operating table of Addenbrookes Hospital during a liver transplant operation.
This then brings us up to date, apart from the six years between then and now. So what’s happened in the meantime?
Well in December 1994, the Scene became the runner-up in a competition for village magazines, only being beaten by a flashier “Desk top published” job from Shotley.
1997 saw the demise of the Community Association and was expected that the Scene would fold at the same time, however the Wickhambrook Memorial Social Centre took over the running of the weekly draw and the production of the Scene as a means of raising revenue for continued upkeep of the hall. At the same time the typing and graphic side was taken over by Ron Weir and the whole thing was photocopied at Clare Middle School. The improvements, not only to the magazine but to my temper when it came to print it every month were immeasurable. The typing and graphics are now handled by Joanne Elers and the printing, folding and stapling done professionally. You also had the dubious pleasure of reading the load of drivel that I write, and er-indoors edits every month. Have we got it right? I hope so, if not you can always write and let me know. If we have, I drink IPA and can be found in The Greyhound, usually on Friday evening.