David Gray’s Reminiscences of Mayfield and Five Ashes – Part 2

Directly opposite the Baptist Chapel front door is the Corner House which, in the 1800s, was a beer house called The Plough; then, later, our telephone exchange; and then I remember Parkers Electrical business moved in there. But a short walk along the raised pavement in West Street is a private house called Little Shirley which, up to the early 1900s [date provided by current resident], was yet another pub, called The Sawyers’ Arms. Before The Railway Hotel was built, the Sawyers was the nearest licensed establishment to the construction site of the new railway line and new station buildings. So, it was a welcome thirst-quencher for all the many labourers working on that line.

Now, coming back to the Baptist Chapel, I’m going to turn (in my mind) into South Street, which was then – in those days – called Back Lane. Just around the first bend in South Street is a cul-de-sac on the right called Shirley Road, at the end of which is St Mary in the Fields, which was developed in the 1920s as a home for disadvantaged children, and it flourished until the 1940s. In the early-1940s, I went to the kindergarten there, run by Mrs Ellison, who was in one of the buildings, probably the little chapel. Incidentally, the last of the Sisters at St Mary’s departed Mayfield in 1975.

Directly opposite Shirley Road is a garage, on top of which used to be Rogers Cycle & Wireless Workshop, and many Mayfield people had their wireless accumulators charged regularly here. Access was also by a narrow twitten, down from the High Street. The next building in South Street is Brewer’s Grove, on the site of yet another pub, The Brewers’ Arms. The original was really a hang-out for travellers – it was demolished in the 1930s. My parents advised me not to frequent even the new Brewers Arms, when I was old enough, but this is also now demolished and the houses there are modern town houses. Richmead Gardens, of course, wasn’t invented then.

South Street – Back Lane still – divides soon, with Vale Road off to the right and on the very corner of that division was Mrs Hall’s sweet shop and, further up South Street, was – and is – September Cottage which was, I think, Mrs Bachelor’s general shop that became an Oxfam shop briefly after that; but that’s modern stuff – I don’t remember that. But opposite Laurel Cottage was – and still is – a green door which led to steps up to our busy Fish & Chip shop then, in my day, run by Mr Sherlock – very good they were too!

Now, returning back down South Street to the Baptist Chapel: after the Corner House and wandering (in my mind) up West Street, the first shop on the right was the Smockery (?) which I think became a foot clinic, briefly, before it moved to the High Street. The Smockery sold baby clothes and also, next door to it, was of course the long-established April Cottage Tea Room, which only closed at the end of 2011. Next to April Cottage was – and is – May Cottage; then June Cottage. But our vet in those days, Mr Garden (?) insisted on retaining the name Oak Croft for his house, the top cottage. Sadly, he should have called it, I think, July Cottage.

David Gray, February 2017

ERRATA to Part 1 (January): (i) Wood Hill should be all one word: Woodhill, (ii) Shackle should be spelled Shackel. The GP who was called up was Dr. Edward Shackel, the second of the 3 Shackel GPs who practiced in Mayfield, (iii) Earley is should be spelled Erleigh, (iv) Bill Medhurst lived at Lower Crabb not Lower Cramm.
Thanks to Geoffrey Shackel for pointing these out.  EDITORS