Sheila’s Derby memories spring up
By Daisy Baker,
August 14, 2019
In celebration of 80 great years of life, Sheila Lovegrove’s family threw her a surprise birthday last weekend which she said was an unforgettable day.
Surrounded by family, food fit for a king and country and western songs performed by Bobby Young, the birthday celebration was complete.
“The work and effort that had gone into such a momentous surprise was really phenomenal,” she said.
“I am truly one of the luckiest people in Bridport to have such a wonderful family.
“I owe a big thank you to everyone who was involved in making my 80th birthday so memorable.”
The birthday celebrations have left Mrs Lovegrove reflecting on her childhood years spent in Derby.
She was one of 15 children, who were referred to as that ‘mob of Howards’ kids’ at school.
In Derby’s main street Mrs Lovegrove remembers a butcher’s shop run by Percy Press, a newsagent opposite the top hotel run my Mrs Haas, Jane Rankin’s miscellaneous store, a chemist, a drapery, a garage, the bank and three hotels.
“Some of the other well known identities that my sister and I could recall were Doctor Jones who later came to Bridport, the local policeman Mr Rainbird and bus driver Ray Loone,” she said.
“One night we watched from our front verandah as the hotel was engulfed in flames and burnt to the ground.
“Some of the townsfolk and students we remembered were George and Thelma Rayner, Margaret Cunningham, John Beswick, Shirley Mallison, Betty Hyde, Joy Wheeldon, Helen Davis, Lionel Kelly, Teddy Jaffray, Leslie Maumill, the Krushka and Harper families.”
Mrs Lovegrove remembers with excitement Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Launceston in 1954.
“It was a very exciting day for the Derby School pupils. With our lunches packed, we walked up to the Derby train station quite early in the morning to be able to catch the train,” she said.
“What an experience to travel to Launceston on the train, particularly when we went through the tunnel, which I had never been through before.
“On arrival we waited spellbound when the Queen finally arrived and was greeted by hundreds of her Royal subjects.
“It really was a true highlight for all of the pupils for many a long time to come.”
Throughout her teenage years, Mrs Lovegrove and some of her friends used to ride their bikes to the ‘Valley’, a swimming hole where they spent many hot days.
“The old swimming pool was another of our favourite places to spend quite a lot of our hot summer days,” she said.
“Many school carnivals were held in that old swimming pool.
“Should it be brought back to its original glory today I think that it would, once again, be a favourite spot for locals and tourists alike.”
Mrs Lovegrove said she also spent time at Mr Burr’s cordial factory nearby with her friends.
“We would invariably help him glue the labels onto the bottles, for which he would reward us with a lovely bottle of cordial.”
Around 10 year ago, Mrs Lovegrove returned to Derby and got a glimpse of her childhood.
“My daughter Michelle wanted to see the area where we lived when we were kids, but of course the house was long gone,” she said.
“However on arriving where the old house once stood, we could see the tops of our original fruit trees peeping their heads over the tangled undergrowth.
“We carefully scrambled our way through the bushes to where the house once stood and were astounded to discover some snowdrops still amongst the undergrowth, after about forty years.”
She now has snowdrops growing in the garden of her Bridport home as a reminder of her childhood in Derby.
“Needless to say, all of these never to be forgotten childhood memories from our time at Derby spring up every year when these little snowdrops pop up their lovely little bell-shaped heads in my garden.”