1939 began with little conception as to what the year ahead had in store. The North Somerset Left Book Club Group which met fortnightly at Kingwell did discuss in January, however, Hitler’s foreign policy as preached in his book “Mein Kampf”. It was generally agreed that the book and its doctrines had been dangerously ignored in this country for too long. The meeting also condemned the expulsion of Sir Stafford Cripps from the Labour Party calling the action high-handed and undemocratic.
In the same month two passengers on a bus from Timsbury to Bath ran into snowdrifts six feet deep near the Crossways pub. One of the passengers Miss Violet Maggs was a member of the Mayor of Bath’s domestic staff. A relief party drove out from Bath in a car but was unable to get nearer than three miles from the stranded vehicle. One of the party managed to struggle through the snow waist-deep to reach the bus and the two passengers, driver and conductor. Eventually they reached the relief car after walking in single file but were totally exhausted.
Timsbury WEA Players staged Emlyn Williams’ play “Night must Fall” in front of packed audiences at the Church Hall (today’s Royal British Legion Club). The play which was produced by Stanley Dyer is descibed as a masterly study of the psychology of a murderer whose meglomaniac vanity leads him to believe that his crimes will never be discovered. The main character Dan was played by local schoolmaster Idwal Roberts while other members of the cast included May Cox (Mrs. Branson), Joyce Moon (Olivia Grayne), Rob Dyer (Herbert Lauries), Edith Nicholson (Mrs. Terence), Margaret Pickford (Dora Parkoe) and Edward Short (Inspector Belsize). The play was well received by enthusiastic audiences.
50 members of the Timsbury branch of the British Legion attended the annual supper at Headquarters. Dr. Crook, the President was in the chair and a musical programme included songs by Mr. Gale and Mr. Thompson, piano accordion solos by Mr. J. Turner and recitations by Miss I. Carter.
Rain spoilt the annual fete and flower show organised by Timsbury District Nursing Association at Pendogget House (Parish’s House) held through the kindness of Lady Sysonby. The opening ceremony was conducted by Countess Waldegrave and proceeds for the day went towards paying for a house for the village nurse together with a grant from the Somerset County Nursing Association.
It was a difficult season for Timsbury Football Club. Beaten 5-0 at home by Peasedown in the second round of the Somerset Senior Cup the side struggled throughout the 1938-39 campaign and eventually finished one place off the bottom of the Somerset Senior League. The officials of the club then took the decision to revert to Junior football and entered the Bristol Church League for the coming season little realising how the events of September 1939 would alter things.
In November 1939 Flight Lieutenant Kenneth Maconochie of the R.A.F. who lived at Camerton Court was killed in a flying accident while on active service. He had been a director of Western Airways Limited and had two other brothers on active service: Lieutenant-Col. H. Dunbar Maconochie of Widcombe Hall, Bath was in the Royal Engineers and Major H.A. Maconochie was with the Royal Artillery. The Maconochie family was still living at Camerton Court when I used to deliver the mail there in the late 1960s before Mr. Ken Biggs took over.
It is always interesting looking at prices of the day and in 1939 you could buy a one year old Austin Big “7” 4-door saloon in new condition for £105, a 1937 Morris “8” de luxe saloon as new for £77 and a 1937 Hillman Minx de luxe saloon for £95. A coach trip to Cheddar and Weston would put you back 3 shillings and sixpence, a Raleigh bike was just under a fiver and you could get a pair of gents’ flannel trousers for 4 shillings and eleven pence and a lady’s dress for 3 shillings.
At the end of 1939 the future was clearly shrouded in uncertainty. I end with the editorial from the Somerset Guardian of December 29 of that year.
“ In a few hours more the year 1939 will have run its course and will be relegated to history. Unhappily the year 1940 opens with war and turmoil in many parts of the world and the British Empire is with its allies engaged in a gigantic struggle against Nazi Germany to put an end to aggression. What the future has in store for us no one knows but all will hope before the new year has run its course we may see happier and more peaceful times.”