Barn Close

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BARN CLOSE (formerly part of Seth Smith's land) - AND PEGGY EVANS

'Barn Close' was part of Seth Smith's 'empire' of fruit trees and market produce attached to the barns there – also part of Barn Close and the Barn flats. In order for more houses to be built in rural areas, the Government through the County Councils insisted that every Parish had to be willing to give up sections of land for houses/bungalows, and Clifford Chambers Parish Council were told that 16 properties had to be built in the village. The area now known as Barn Close owned them by Mr. Barratt, was to be used for this. .

I have to include someone in these Memories who only came to the village at the end part of last Century, and was seen on the arm of Taffy (David) Evans. The long marriage of Taffy and his wife Sheila had come to an end, and for a long while Taffy felt lost – and lonely – and was seen many times with first one lady and then another on his arm.

Tom can the photo of Peggy be put in here

Then Peggy was seen on his arm. She was such a joyous person – wearing clothes that spoke of sunshine and singing birds – even when she was wearing Winter clothes! Yet, her life, right from birth, had been a struggle for her to survive.

She was born with only one lung - one of twins, in an ambulance! . She always thought that the reason she survived and her healthy twin didn't, was because the ambulance crew fought to save her life because of breathing difficulties, and didn't notice the healthy twin also needed attention.

Most of Peggy's life was taken up struggling to breathe. As a child lying in bed and coughing and coughing, there were many times when she heard the neighbours banging on their front door demanding that her father 'stop that child from coughing all night long and keeping other children awake' and she longed to die so that she would be no more trouble to anyone.

She was eight, when, with her young sister and little brother, she and all her school were bundled onto a train from Liverpool where they lived, to 'somewhere in Wales' to escape the bombing of the Liverpool docks.

She remembered that no teacher accompanied them on that long journey in their carriage. All those children sat there, with a packed lunch given them by the teaching staff and left to look after themselves. But Peggy had a problem. Not only could she not stop coughing and irritating the children, but her little brother needed the toilet. And there was no toilet.

In the end he messed himself, and the smell caused even more unkind remarks to be hurled at Peggy. But worse was to come.

At the Welsh station, one by one the children were picked out by various ladies and taken away by them. Peggy watched her little brother being taken away crying. Then her sister. Finally just Peggy was left, a very white-faced and ill-looking child with flaming red hair that had a tendency to curl.

No-one wanted to care for her during the children's evacuation there. The children's WVS lady took her around from door to door where the answer was always “No we have no room” But finally she was taken to a house where there was one room free - up in the attic, and the family had to take her.

It was not good for Peggy. If visitors came, Peggy was told to go upstairs and stay out of the way, sometimes eating her meals alone up there. When the family went out, Peggy was not to go with them. She had to stay behind – but not in the house. They couldn't trust her in the house. She had to stay on the front door-step until they returned.

On one of these occasions, Peggy's breathing was so bad, she was unable to get breath to speak. The family left her there, but fortunately called on the Doctor and informed him of her illness. And that was where the Doctor found her, sitting on the doorstep unable to breath. An eight year old girl far away from home. She was in hospital for a year, and when she came out she was placed with an elderly brother and sister who loved her – in fact adored her – that when eventually the War was over, Peggy did not want to go back and live with her family.

Back at home, her condition didn't get any better. She told me that one year, the attendance register showed that she had only managed school for one day only, and of course, when in Wales, the attendance register showed that she missed school the whole of the year.

Lack of schooling due to her illness meant that, by the time she left school to work, she could neither read or write in a way to satisfy any employers. Also her constant stays in hospital each year was not acceptable to anyone wanting to employ her full time.

She began doing voluntary work, and was still doing that into her seventies. She married while still quite young, and amazingly managed to carry full-time and bring up - four children! But many times during their school years, Peggy was in hospital with the children having to be put in care.

Her husband left her more than once, with Peggy struggling to keep the family together. He also got into debt and Peggy was left paying off the debt for many years, while she worked as caretaker in a Church. There had been one day before she had this job, when the whole family were turned out because the rent had not been paid, and Peggy tried to make the children comfortable sleeping on two park benches. It was a night she never forgot, and one of her voluntary jobs she took on in her 70's was working in the Salvation Army Soup Kitchen helping the homeless feel cared for and loved, for she knew what they were going through.

Eventually happiness and security came when, after her husband's death, she fell in love with a divorced man and father of 6 children who treated her with the love and romance she had always longed for. By this time she was a grandmother- and he was a Grandad, living in Barn Close She at last began to feel 'family' of a rather larger family than she ever thought she would have.

Her breathing problems weren't quite at an end, but due to modern medicine she was having far better health than she had ever had throughout her life. She would skip, dance, jump with excitement that her life was now 'living' throughout the warm months, though excess heat in summer made her breathing bad. The winter weather though always usually meant one or two days in hospital full of antibiotics

But by this time, other problems had started. Her heart for a start. Her heart had had to work so hard throughout her life, that it was now weak. Then she developed cancer of the skin, in many places on her body which required treatment. And there were other problems too.

We had to say 'goodbye' to our joyous Peggy before she reached the age of 80, but not before she had prayed for everyone, not just once, but constantly throughout the last 20 years of her life, particularly those ill in hospital.