Rex Robinson

The Marbles Season

By Gina Da Cunha

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Rex Robinson' page

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Rex Robinson' page

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Rex Robinson' page

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Rex Robinson was born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent in 1925; moving to Crawley during the war.

Memories of grandparents

'I only knew one of my grandparents. My mum was 6 weeks old when her father got kicked in the stomach by a horse, and then got galloping consumption (no pun). My dad's parents died before he married my mum. My grandmother Smallwood (Ellen Sophia Parker, later Smallwood), She lived in Brighton at 185 Elm Grove. I used to stay with her in the holidays. In 1895, her husband died, the one with consumption. My dad was born in 1894; he had me when he was 49. His parents were George and Annie and lived in Yorkshire. They were coal merchants. My dad died when he was 87 in 1963.'

Cable guy

'I was born on 4th Oct 1925 in Tunbridge Wells. My dad worked for the Post Office as a way leave officer. This was a way to work out the shortest distance over land. This was when they were erecting cables for telephones and it cost lots to go round a field in the countryside with the cables, it was cheaper to go at right angles, so he used to go and talk to farmers and see if they would let the post office go across a field, as it saved pounds that way. My mum and dad got married in 1914. My brother was born in 1915 and another brother in 1920. In 1937 we moved to the Crawley area.'

Home comforts

'We were at 59 New Street, Three Bridges in 1937. We had a general store and lived in the same building. My dad took on the store after retiring as a way leave officer. I did a picture of the whole house. We put coke on the stove and we had electricity. There was carpet everywhere apart from the shop and the hallway. There were open fires everywhere. There was a huge garden, settee with fitted covers. I had two other brothers and my mum and dad. The walls were papered with paper with raised patterns.'

On the ration

'My mum ran the shop but it went bust in 1942 because of rationing. There was no rationing in the WWI, people just had to stock up when there were shortages, and before rationing was introduced in WWII, people thought it would be the same, panicked and used to go to the Co-op rather than the local stores, and because of this, they didn't get the ration books in, and so they didn't get the rations, hence they had to close. My mum died in 1959, my dad died in 1963. This was the New Street shop.'

School days

'I went to Down Lane School, Tunbridge Wells in Kent. This was the infant's school. Then I went St John's school in Tunbridge Wells till I was 12. I started at King Charles senior school, but then we moved to Three Bridges. From 1937, I moved to Sarah Robinson School on Robinson Road, named after a famous Quaker in Crawley. She paid for the school to be built. Then I went to Redhill Tech. Redhill Technical School about 1941 to '42, there was where I did my apprenticeship. My first raise was 1 penny.'

The marbles season

'I had a satchel as I lived further from my school. I had a leather satchel with my name on it inside in pen. It had a shoulder strap. I used to take my lunch in it, sandwiches and a bit of fruit. There would also be a maths or English book, a wooden pencil case with a levered lid, a P.E. kit on P.E. days and sometimes a game if it was in season. I could take marbles, but they were only in season in Easter time. All these games had a season to play them in'.

Dyslexic but not recognised

'I was dyslexic but they didn't recognise that then. They thought I was one slice short of a loaf! I didn't get good grades. When I had English lessons I hated going to school on those days. My wife was totally the opposite; she knew typing, shorthand, French. That was the London education you see. I wore grey shorts till nearly when I left school. I was about 14 before I wore long trousers. That's how it was then, not like now. Now they wear long trousers from a young age.'

Our first home

'I'm grateful that the war came along, because my wife was evacuated to Crawley and that's where I met her. We were both 16, she went to West Green School, which was bombed. When we were married in 1950, we moved to Station Road to rent some rooms there. We rented them from a Miss Alcott, who was a dear old soul. It was like going back in time though, there was no light upstairs only candlelight, very romantic, no indoor toilet, cold red flagstones in the kitchen. The other place seemed like luxury, we stayed there for 18 months till Miss Alcott died; my wife looked after her at the end.'

This page was added by Gina Da Cunha on 01/04/2008.

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