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Looking back: Happy days on 'wrong side of the tracks'
IT MAY now be one of the more desirable areas of Dorchester, but within living memory Fordington was regarded as one of the dodgier neighbourhoods of the county town.
However, what it lacked in money and status it more than made up for with local pride and friendliness and now both have been celebrated in a delightful book by David Forrester.
David, who now lives at Charlton Down with his wife Ros, has written Fordington Remembered and filled it with happy memories of growing up there.
“We had a wonderful childhood because we had the freedom that children just don’t get these days,” said David.
“We would head off to Bockhampton and Charminster and round the rivers and streams and we would know everywhere like the back of our hands.
“Fordington was very different then. It was a very poor area and the river was full of rubbish and scrap and a lot of unsavoury characters lived there.
“The policemen only used to come into the area in pairs and when we were kids we used to get to Holloway Road and then break into a run and not stop because of the gangs of boys there.
“It was called ‘the wrong side of the tracks’ and when I met my first wife, whose parents lived in Damers Road, her mother and father thought I came from the ‘wrong end of town’.
“But they were such happy days.”
David was born in London but the family decamped to Dorset when he was still a baby after one too many Second World War bombings.
They initially lived in Piddlehinton but eventually moved to Fordington where his redoubtable mother Winifred opened a store in the High Street.
“The shop was at number 33 and we lived at number 25,” said David.
“She ran it for 35 years and you could buy anything from cotton reels to cauliflowers there.”
While his mum worked in the shop, David and his brother Brian – nine years his elder – grew up happy in Fordington.
He had a posse of friends – David Moxom, Derek Pride and Mick Croft, who still meet up for a chat in the Blue Raddle today – and received his education from St George’s Infants School, Colliton Street School and Dorchester Modern.
Like rural lads everywhere the boys got into all kinds of scrapes – avoiding the river wardens while fishing illegally in the Frome was a regular occurrence – and accepted that life in a market town had its own brand of eccentricities.
One particular instance mentioned in the book was when a herd of bullocks, being driven from market down High East Street, made a break for freedom and entered a shop called Dyers near where the old White Hart pub once stood.
“It was havoc!” recalled David. “They went in and got stuck in a narrow passage out the back and they were the very devil to get back out.
“And of course the trouble with cows is that they do make a bit of a mess, and that shop smelt for weeks afterwards!
“We would stick out heads round the door and moo at Mr Rosendale who ran the shop, and then run away!”
He added: “I wanted to write the book because I look at my grandchildren’s lives and everything they do, like Facebook and the internet, seems so instant. Their lives are so different from that experienced by us Fordington boys in the 1940s and ’50s that I felt a need to put it down in writing, to let others know.
“In a way it is a piece of social history that I felt needed recording, just as today’s youngsters record their world daily on Facebook or Twitter.”
• David will be signing copies at the book launch at St George’s Church Hall, High Street Fordington, on Wednesday, December 11 between 6pm and 8pm. All welcome.
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