A tribute to the life and work of Brian Torode

Brian’s Dorset Holiday with his Family (1956)


Brian and his Aunty Millie at Swanage, 1956

Essay 1956 ‘A Holiday in Dorset’

This delightful account was written by fifteen-year-old Brian Torode. This would have been a rare holiday in the U.K. for someone who spent the whole of his childhood in St Peter Port, Guernsey. Much of the detail that he describes will be recognisable to those of us who remember family holidays on the South Coast.

On Tuesday September 3rd Mum and I went to Aunt Mill’s house where we waited for a taxi. When it arrived we said “cheerio” to Gran who was rather upset to see us go, and we then proceeded to the boat. We had to wait for a while before we could get on the boat. We made friends with a couple of “newly-weds” who came with us to the lounge. Dad and Uncle Cliff came to see us off. We also made friends with two elderly ladies who had been to Jersey for the holidays. We had a lovely crossing and the sun was shining all the time.

We arrived at Weymouth at 3.10pm. We passed safely through the customs. I saw my first train outside of the customs office. We saw Shirl and Don waiting for us, and we hurried to meet them. We walked along the road past the beach. The beach was packed like a tin of sardines. The fair was also on the beach. We saw part of a “Punch and Judy” show. We also saw an Abbey made of nothing but sand and water. It was fenced in and people used to throw money into the pen. We had a good look at the huge buildings and we were greatly taken by the large crowds. We went to the bus station and caught a bus for Poole. It was a two decker bus, but we remained on the lower deck. It started to rain during the journey. We passed through Dorchester, Puddleton etc. The journey lasted 1 hr and 30 min, and the cost was 3/8 each. When we arrived in Poole it was raining. We walked to our lodgings, as it was not far from where we got off the bus.

We were introduced to Mrs Peglar and Valerie and Christine, and then we were taken to our rooms. Mum and Aunt Mill had a large room with two twin beds in it. The room had a basin with H & C and there was a large bay window which overlooked the front garden, the park and Brownsea Island. This is the island where Lord Baden-Powell took his first troop of scouts. I had a single bed in a tiny room. I had one window which had the same view as the one in Mum and Aunt Mill’s room. My bedroom was next door to theirs and on the same floor as the bath-room.

When we had dried off and put our clothes away, we went down to tea. Mrs Peglar had asked Shirl and Don to stay also. After tea we put on our macs and went to the bus stop. We waited a long time in the rain for the bus, remarking that “we’d just as well be in Guernsey.” We finally caught a bus and got off at Elgin Rd. We then went through the cemetery to the Rowley’s abode. We were shown around the house and we then had some home-made carrot wine. Neither Mum or I really liked it, but Auntie Mill certainly enjoyed it. We then caught a bus, got off at ‘Park Gates’ and went to bed at about 10.30. We could hear the trains “whistling” during the night. We slept well and we were still tired in the morning.

When we got up at 9am it was raining. We had a wash and we did not change as it was raining. For b-fast we had egg-bacon-fried bread and cereal. Shirl and Don came to meet us, we caught the bus and went to Bournemouth. It was a wonderful place, and very beautiful. The sight took our breath away. We visited many large shops and the Winter Gardens. We had lunch at Smiths which cost over £1, and afterwards we had some ice cream sundaes at Fortes. Mum treated us all. It cost 15?- just for ices. We had to serve ourselves, and we ate in a large room with a mass of huge lanterns hanging from the ceiling. We then went to Wimborne to see the Model Village, passing through Bere Regis. We also saw Wimborne minster. Aunt Mill had bought a cake in a shop which we carried around with us. As it was raining we went back to the café and asked if we could eat it there. The waitress spoke to the manageress and she said we could. We also bought a pot of tea for 5, for which we were charged 5/2. We also had some bread and jam. We never touched the jam but they charged us 8d for it so I sprinkled cig. Ash over it. We did not go to Mrs Peglar for tea, so we went straight to the Rowley’s. In the afternoon we had seen films at a News Theatre. We went in the dearest seats – price 1/9.


Millie, Shirley, Alice and Brian

We spent the evening at the Rowley’s and caught the 10.30 bus alighting at Park Gates.

On Thursday we got up at 8.45am and we all had a large breakfast. We walked through Poole Park, and we saw the many swans swimming on the pond. There were also boats for hire. We walked into town and visited Marks and Spencers. There were not as many bargains as we expected. We also visited Woolworths and many other shops. We bought many gifts and had our “elevenses” in a little snack bar. We walked back home, arriving there at 12.45. We put our things away and then went down to lunch. We caught the 3 o’clock bus to Sandbanks. It was an open air bus. We went on the top deck and certainly had all of the cobwebs blown out of our hair. We got off the bus outside of the Lido. We took some snaps of the Lido, got weighed and we had a look around the Lido. We then made our way to Shirl’s Café, but half way there Aunt Mill remembered that she had left her camera at the Lido. I had to run back and fetch it. We had our tea at the café, bought some and took some snaps. We then went for a walk and then caught the 5.50 bus to Poole. On our way back we saw “The Blue Lagoon” open air swimming pool. We arrived home at 6pm but as tea wasn’t ready we went into the park, where Aunt Mill and I had a ride on the model train. We then had a good tea, after which we went with Shirl and Don to Bournemouth. We went to the New Royal Theatre, where Bob and Alf Pearson were appearing. Don gave Aunt Mill the money to get the tickets. When she asked for the tickets, the office girl replied “Standing room only”. Aunt Mill, who thought the girl had said “Romoni” said, “Ah well, we’ll go and see him eh Don?” At this the girl repeated “Standing room only”. Didn’t we laugh. As we did not want standing room, we went to the Winter Gardens, where Charlie Chester was acting, as we thought. Don bought two programmes. We heard very classical music coming from the pit, then the attendant told us that as it was Thursday there was an orchestral concert on instead. Don gave the programmes back and his money was refunded. We now decided to go for a walk. We walked through the town. We then went to the coast where we could see Boscombe Pier. We also saw a pleasure boat leave Bournemouth Pier. All along the sea front the lampposts had huge images fixed to them. All the images were made of multi-coloured lights. We walked to a fish and chip shop where we had supper.

We caught a bus back to Poole and went to bed at 11.10.

On Friday we got up at 8.30. We caught a bus to Sandbanks, after having fish for breakfast. From Sandbanks, we took a ferry boat across to Swanage. We then took a bus to the town. We looked at the shops and had lunch at the Alexandra Café. In the afternoon we went shopping and also to the amusement gallery. We had our fortunes told {every bodies fortune was the same, then we went to another gallery and saw “What the Butler saw” etc. We caught a bus to Durleston where we saw Durleston Castle, Durleston Head Lighthouse, The Great Globe, and the Tilly Whim Caves. We took many photos of The Globe and the caves. We returned to Swanage Pier and caught a bus back to Poole, passing through Studland, past Corfe Castle, Wareham and past Poole Harbour. Then we walked through the town back to 51, Parkstone Road. We had steak and chips for tea.

At 7pm we met Shirl and Don, and this time we got into the New Royal Theatre, Bournemouth. We saw Bob and Alf Pearson. George Bolton acted as a Salvation Army recruit and he brought the house down. It was an excellent show. We got home at 11 o’clock.

We got up at 9 o’clock on Saturday. We had eggs for breakfast, after which we went shopping in Poole. We also went for a walk around the town, and went as far as the harbour. Auntie Mill had a blister so we caught a bus back home. We had lunch at 1 o’clock and in the afternoon we went to Upper Parkstone where we did some more shopping. We had a large tea and I went with Val and Chris for a row on the pond in the park. By the time we came out, we were as wet as the water. Shirl and Don came for us and we all went to Wimborne. We had fish and chips. Mum, Shirl, Mill and Don had a drink of mild and bitter. Shirley felt a bit sick so we went to Poole, had a walk aroud, and came home at 9.30. And so to bed.

On Sunday, Aunt Mill came rushing in saying “Get up its 9.40.” It was 9.40 by her watch but when we got downstairs it was only 8am. We met Shirl and Don at Poole bus terminus. We were going on a tour of Cheddar Gorge and Wells Cathedral. We departed by luxury coach at 9.50. We covered approximately 160 miles that day. We passed through Blandford, Sturminster, Sherborne, Stallbridge. We crossed from Dorset into Somerset at 10.51, after we had seen Stallbridge Estate. We went through Templecombe where we saw the stocks. We went over Mendip Hills and then went to Castle Carey for coffee. This is a lovely little village with a stream flowing right through it. From here we went to Shepton Mallet, over the Mendip Hills; the main thing we saw at Shepton Mallet, was a pub called Cannard’s Grave. Cannard, as the story goes, was a sheep stealer. The custom was to bring sheep stealers to the nearest X roads and hang them there. Cannard was hanged and his body was buried under the door step of this pub. Old village folk say that if you tread on the door step at night, you can hear his bones rattle.

The sign post, outside of the inn shows Cannard hanging with sheep above and below him. We saw many a market cross, one being at Shepton Mallet. It is supposed to be the most elaborate of its kind. A market cross is a monument erected to commemorate the visit of Queen Anne to this part of the country. Each cross is of elaborate and different design. One is even in the shape of a Cheddar cheese. At the top of Cheddar Valley, the bus stopped and showed us the Gorge. We passed through the gorge and the bus stopped outside the Cheddar caves. We went in Goughs caves and saw the many natural rock formations. We looked at the gift shops, and the museum outside the caves. We then went up Jacobs Ladder. This was nearly 200 steps. At the top, we could see all of the Gorge and surrounding countryside. When we came down we looked for a place where we could have tea. We came to a café owned by a Mrs Poole, who, as one of the oldest members of Cheddar had appeared on T.V. We knocked on the door of Lily Cottage, to obtain tea, as there weren’t any waitresses in sight. Mrs Poole herself called us in, and she made us have tea with her, in her kitchen. There were ornaments all over the open range, and the walls and furniture in the room were covered with ornaments and pictures.

We passed through Cheddar, Rodney Stoke and Easton. Then on to Wells. We saw the Cathedral and went inside of it. We saw the magnificent clock on the Cathedral, and we saw the Bishop’s Palace. Water from the moat which surrounds the Palace, runs through Wells High Street, so as to keep it clean. We took some snaps of the Cathedral and then got into the bus again. We then went to Glastonbury, where Joseph of Arimathea was supposed to have landed when he brought Christianity to England. Here he planted a staff, and a thorn grew. We saw the tree which was the descendent of that thorn. We saw Glastonbury Abbey. When Henry VIII fell out with the Catholic Church, he tried the monks for their lives. We saw the tribunal where monks were tried and saw the tower where the last monk was killed. He was divided into 4 quarters and a ¼ was sent to each of the four main towns in Somerset. Glastonbury Tor can be seen from almost any part of Somerset. When the last abbot or monk was killed the chalice, used at the Last Supper, was said to have been buried near the Abbey, but no one has ever found it. The Pilgrim’s Inn was the next sight. Here pilgrims to the Abbey etc. were housed and fed. The Abbey provided a lot of interest and the Abbot’s Kitchen was seen. In each corner of the Kitchen is a stone large enough to roast an ox. These oxen were used to feed the pilgrims. We passed Holy Thorn Hill, where Joseph planted the staff. It is held on trust by the C. of E. We passed through Bridgwater and Ilchester. At Yeovil, we had tea outside of the Police Station. Onto Sherborne, Blandford, Wimborne, arriving in Poole at 8.25. We had supper at The Zebra, just Mum, Aunt Mill and myself, {because Shirl and Don were tired, and wanted to catch the bus}. We walked home arriving there dead beat.

On Monday, we got up at 8.30. We went to Bournemouth. We marched around the shops and we were so taken up with them that we never got home until 1.50 for lunch. We bought Mrs Peglar a 3 egg poacher. In the afternoon, we went to Branksome Chine. The beach was beautiful. We saw some wonderful views and after a little walk we came home. After tea we went to the Rowley’s, returning home at 10.15.

On Tuesday we got up at 9am. After a good breakfast we went to Bournemouth. We visited Woolworth and Marks and Spencer and a huge place called Beales. We went up to the 5th floor in a lift, and then walked down again., looking around each floor as if we were going to buy the place. After this we went home and had lunch. In the afternoon we went to Christchurch. Here we saw the Priory, and a man fishing from a punt, in the middle of a river. We visited many shops, and came back through Lansdowne Boscart Iford. We had seen Roy Le Vasseur and his wife in Bournemouth in the morning. We went to the Rowley’s at 6 o’clock that evening. Shirl took us around the cemetery and we had some home made drinks. Then we caught the 10.30 bus and home to bed.

Wednesday, being our last day, we got up at 9 o’clock. After breakfast we went into Poole. There, we booked our train seats. Mrs Peglar was working at the café at Sandbanks. We went there for lunch, sitting at a table reserved for us. We sat on the beach all afternoon, and then went to say our “cheerios” to Pop etc. He treated us to some tea, and gave us a card for George Collivet, whom he Had made friends with, when he came to Guernsey. We walked a third of the way back to Poole, and then went by bus the other two thirds of the way. In the evening, we again went to the Rowley’s, and came home at 11pm.

On Thursday, we were very sorry to leave. We said our “Goodbyes”, and Mrs Peglar came to the bus stop with us. When we got off the bus at Poole, we met Don. He came to see us off at the railway station. We caught the train at 19 minutes to 11. Passed Holton Heath, Wareham, Wool, Moreton and Dorchester stations. We walked from Weymouth railway station to the boat. We got on the boat, The St Julian, there was no 2nd class lounge, so we had to sit near the hold. We had a bit of a rough crossing, but nobody was sick. We arrived safely in Guernsey and dad met us. We then went to Aunt Mill for tea and that was the end to a wonderful holiday in Dorset. 1956.

                     Tues      Wed    Thurs        Fri     Sat      Sun       Mon       Tues        Wed
Morning     Rain     Rain    Showers    Sun   Sun    Dull      Sun         Sun         Sun
After 11      Rain     Bright Sun            Sun   Sun    Dull      V.Hot      Sun          Sun
Afternoon   Rain    Rain    Sun             Sun   Sun    Bright   V.Hot      Sun        Dull
Evening      Rain    Rain     Sun            Sun   Sun    Bright   V.Hot      Sun        Dull


(Finally Brian drew  the inn sign of the Cannard’s Grave)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


This entry was posted on June 8, 2016 by in Brian Torode and tagged , , , , .
%d bloggers like this: