Madeline Foreman's Memories - 1955 - 1968

Photo:Madeline Foreman aged 18

Madeline Foreman aged 18

Photo:Dave Foreman outside The Stores 1958, with the old WI hall on the left

Dave Foreman outside The Stores 1958, with the old WI hall on the left

Kindly submitted by Madeline Usherwood (nee Foreman) and Melody Foreman

Photo:The former NAAFI hut was last known as 'Top Shop'

The former NAAFI hut was last known as 'Top Shop'

pictured here just before demolition in 2009

Photo:Dave Foreman built 'Villa Nova' in West Street

Dave Foreman built 'Villa Nova' in West Street

Picture: thanks to Madeline and Melody Foreman

Photo:Madeline Foreman clearing snow in front of her dad's shop

Madeline Foreman clearing snow in front of her dad's shop

The Street, looking towards School Road

Photo:Helen Foreman's class at Hothfield Primary School 1966 - can you name them?

Helen Foreman's class at Hothfield Primary School 1966 - can you name them?

Back row left to right- Daphne Hood, John Cox, Elizabeth Gillard and Gillian Marden, Helen Foreman (in pink cardi with recorder) Front row left to right- Sandra Ballard, David Coppins and Karen Willis

Life at The Stores Hothfield

By Melody Foreman

Sisters Madeline and Melody Foreman have kindly sent their story of Hothfield.  Their dad ran a shop in the former NAAFI hut on The Street, after George Sainsbury moved to the new Post Office across the road:

Life at The Stores Hothfield

After reading Michael Bates' memories of Hothfield I wanted to contribute my own tales of helping my dad David Foreman run The Stores in The Street Hothfield from 1963 to 1968.

I moved to 19 Beech Drive, Hothfield in 1954 with my mum and dad when I was six years old. I was born just in the next village of Westwell. I remember the houses around us were still being built and finished and I was sent along to Hothfield Primary School for lessons with the formidable Mrs Shersby, there was Mr Purkiss who became headteacher after taking over from Miss Bottle. There were about two dozen children in the class and we had a big stove in the middle of the classroom and when it was snowing and cold we had permission to place our wellies, coats and gloves on the guard to dry out. 

I made friends with Vivian Butcher from Pluckley and the two-seater desks with the flip up seats. I sat next to Vivian who I remain friends with to this day. She now lives in Ashford and married William Gilfiligan who resided at Common Way, Hothfield.

During the 1950s my dad (Dave Foreman) was working as a carpenter and joiner for a building firm in Kennington, Ashford.  He was also building a property in West Street, Hothfield. In 1958 my sister Helen was born. By this time we moved to a cottage in The Street as a temporary measure while the new house was being completed.

I remember the weather in the 1950s in Hothfield was tremendously cold and no one had central heating. Food was basic supplies like potatoes and bread, and there wasn't the fancy extras we can buy today like asparagus, or grapes. Although if you desperately wanted these fruits you could fork out for them at a greengrocery in Ashford. We didn't have a television until the early 1960s. 

I recall seeing Tom Dawes the Hothfield policeman on his bicycle.

Along with my friend Vera Marsh from The Street we often walked on the Common and enjoyed the sight of primroses, bluebells and collected chestnuts from the ground. We also walked around Rippers Cross towards Bethersden.  As you can imagine there wasn't much traffic around and we often waited for the steam trains to hurtle and whistle their way through and pass under the bridge leaving a huge cloud of smoke. This was not something my baby sister Helen enjoyed if she had accompanied us in the pushchair!!

Our new little house in West Street was finally completed in 1961 and my dad christened it 'Villa Nova' after a village in Italy where he had been stationed with the Royal Engineers during World War Two. There was also extra accommodation on the property for my elderly grandmother (his mother) Beatrice Foreman. There was also some land at the side of the property which in 1964 was used for another house. Meanwhile my sister Melody was born in 1964.

Around this time we moved to the larger house which my dad built and by 1958 he had opened The Stores in The Street which had originally belonged to George Sainsbury who had moved further along the road.

The shop had started life with D.F. Foreman as a drapery and general store as the pictured indicates in 1958. Within a couple of years my dad expanded the front of the shop and ‘Bachelors’ cigarettes put up a sign over the door.

I started working with my dad in The Stores when I left school in 1963 and remember the customers from the village of the time. The shop stocked everything from fruit and vegetables to knitting wool, slippers, children's shoes, socks, sweets, cigarettes, toys, greetings cards - just as Michael Bates correctly recalls it was like Woolworth's. 

The shop was always busy. We opened at 8am, closed for an hour for lunch, and then closed the doors at 6pm. Six days a week. Then Sunday mornings it was 10am to 12noon. I remember even when we had closed villagers still came around to the house to knock on the door for out of hours provisions.

During the winter at the shop, especially 1964, the winter was brutal. We only had a small paraffin heater to warm the shop and my hands were ice cold for weeks.

My dad’s answer to my feeling the cold and hovering by the heater was ‘do some work and warm up!’.

Madge Bates - wife of the famous Darling Buds of May author, H E Bates, used to call in for supplies.  I remember she also drove a small Countryman style car which was quite unusual for those times.

Lady Rootes drove a car and came in regularly for supplies which included cigarettes. Her cook, Edie, was the main shopper for the Rootes family who lived at Polla House, Hothfield.  

Mrs Tufton who lived just outside the village further along West Street was often at the shop buying local produce.  In many ways the shop became a community centre with customers standing to chat and pass the time of day. 

The Coppins family from the village were regular customers to the shop, and the Matthews family lived opposite at The Street.

We were always happy to see Sid and Bertha Willis and their family who lived on the corner of West Street.

In fact I recall many of the families mentioned by Michael Bates in his posting on this excellent village website. I too recall PC Spooner and his big beard and moustache who was always on duty during the late 1960s. He rode a motorbike like the ones in the ITV show, Heartbeat. We called this a 'Noddy' bike.

In 1969 my dad sold The Stores and decided to emigrate to Australia with my sisters Helen and Melody.  I remained as a newly-wed in Mersham, Kent. 

I married Geoff Usherwood from Ashford in 1968 and we now live in Hamstreet.  My dad and sisters returned from Adelaide, Australia in 1971, and lived in Ashford.  My dad (David Foreman) died in 1976.  

I often visit Hothfield as my sister Melody lives in the village and works as a freelance journalist and author. 

I am sure more memories will come back to me now I have discovered this amazing website.

Madeline Usherwood

April 2014

This page was added by Melody Foreman on 12/04/2014.
Comments about this page

What a lovely letter. I remember your father well as my uncles Jack and Tom Stafford ,also carpenters, were friends of his. I was and still am friendly with Steve Matthews who lived opposite your shop. My mum and auntie Phyllis were fanatic knitters so many hours were spent picking out the wools required.

By MikeT
On 26/05/2014

I remember the name. Foreman but we emigrated to Canada in 1961. We lived at 7 Common Way. With my brother John and mom Tilly. My mom was friendly with Hollicks who she work with up at Hothfield hospital Mrs Bean and Mrs Woodcock. Who sadly pass away this year. She was the reason when we are in Kent on holidays we always went to see. I have remain friends with my child hood friend Dawn. And see other friends and friends of my brother from time to time. Hothfield will always have a place in my heart. 

By Karen Roders
On 28/07/2014

we lived in common way next to mrs Butler I use to look after Melody Foreman on a Saturday when Madaline worked in the shop, Mr Foreman was good to our family which consisted of 8 children 1sadly died Barry when he fell in the sewage tank on the common when he was 5 yrs old, I use to love going on the common with Carol Nicholls catching butterflies and naming their breed, I was also a friend of Tina Latter we would rollerskate up and down the rd you wouldn't do that now too many cars about I remember Rosemary Blake Carol Bryant Clara Collins [who sadly died] Jennifer Hicks and many more we use to go to primrose wood and pick bunches and sell them we had great fun,i left the village in 1968 and married in 1971, 44 yrs later we are still together lol

By Gloria Burling was Maynard
On 17/07/2015

It was interesting to read Gloria's memories of our dad Mr Foreman and Hothfield.  I too remember Carol Nicholls, Tina Latter and Jennifer Higgs. Also Carol Bryant and Clara Collins. I can report that Rosemary Blake is in the area and I met her by chance while was working at the Garden Centre in Bethersden.  I remember as a child also picking flowers on the Common and playing in the bracken. Happy days.  I went strawberry picking in Egerton one year with Gloria and her mum. I always remember Gloria and her brothers and sisters visiting my dad's shop in 1960s.  My sister Melody remembers Angela Maynard at the North Girls School in Ashford in the 1970s.  I live in Hamstreet and have been married for 48 years.  My husband Geoff and I are retired now and have three grandchildren and three dogs that keep us busy. There's also the occasional Hothfield quiz! Good to hear from you, Madeline Usherwood.

By Melody Foreman
On 26/07/2015

Melody ,the cafe in Betherden garden centre , I believe is owned by Jeannette and John Lancefield . Robin Murrell and I worked with John for a short time. He was a regular visitor to Hothfield , being friendly with my next door neighbours , the Beaneys .

By Mike Teesdale
On 29/07/2015

I was born at 19 Beech Drive Hothfield in 1965. My birth name was Linda Harris, I lived there until I was 5 years old, when was taken from my mother by social services an became a Ward of the State.

By Linda Gray
On 03/07/2016

Loved reading your article about the village you grew up in. My ancestors, Thomas and Jemima (nee Willis) Henniker came from Westwell and Jemima from Hothfield. They emigrated to South Australia in 1839, only 3 years after the colony were settled. Their family esp my great great grandfather James Heneker (who was 12 when they emigrated) became a very well known and respected member of the outback community in South Australia, and was known by many, as he drove a bullock team to many areas and worked with many explorers opening up the remote country. His sons were miners often finding copper and silver in mines they opened up. I visited the UK in 2008 and went to Westwell, sadly at the time I didn't know of the Hothfield connection, as I would have loved to visit there as well. Thanks again for your great story and the lovely photographs. Cheers Vicki Lovell (nee Heneker) Adelaide, South Australia

By Vicki Lovell
On 28/03/2017

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