A view from "The Three Fyshes" - Memoirs of Fred Collins

Not many people can claim to have been born in a pub, but the chances are increased if your father runs an inn such as The Three Fyshes. Frederick Francis Collins was born in 1928, his father Frank together with his mother Ada ran The Three Fyshes. Frank also owned part of Tander’s Close where he kept cows and behind the Inn he established a garage for the maintenance and repair of vehicles as well as operating a transport business. The Inn had a petrol pump on Bridge Street and in Mill Lane you will find the current incarnation of the garage in the form of Turvey Motors which is still owned (2019) by Fred Collins.

At the age of 72, Fred decided to write a memoir of his childhood in Turvey from 1928 to 1946, a copy of which may be found in the Fred Collins Collection of the archive.

The memoirs tell of life as a young boy growing up in a rural village, the games they played, the rhymes they sang and the larks they played on others. At the age of 5 Fred attended the local infants school, with its emphasis on handwriting a severe discipline. Fred recalls that people were very superstitious and he provides many examples of how this was manifest together with many of the old sayings one could hear in the village.

Fred recalls the regular pattern of daily life in the village and whilst some memoirs might be tempted to provide an idyllic picture of life in a rural village, this cannot be said of Fred Collins. He talks of how expensive food was and recalls how the village used to stink.

Firstly smoke, all heating was by coal fire. Everybody had bonfires. The tip in Baker’s close the former quarry, was always smoking. There were more farms all with cowsheds and manure heaps, animals would be driven along village streets. There were horses and carts about. There were many pig sties all with manure heaps and we must not forget that all the houses had an earth closet. Finally, there was the brook.

In 1939 Fred went to Bedford Modern School as a fee payer just as the second world war started. He tells of life at the school during the war and how the village was affected, particularly when evacuees arrived from London. But the war also brought opportunities, particularly for his father’s transport business.

In 1946 Fred joined the army, his parents moved to Northampton and The Three Fyshes had a new tenant in the form of Captain Tom Behan. After a spell in the army, for four years he would travel to Turvey from Northampton to work for the family transport business finally declaring Northampton his home and the fact that he was now a “townie”.

Turvey History Society should like to thank Fred for allowing his interesting and well written 30-page memoir, together with the accompanying photos, to appear in our archives so that current and future generations may learn of their heritage.

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