Introduction to oral history interview with Philip Burley
Interview conducted by Bob Leslie on 15th October 2018
Philip Burley, the third child of Freddie and Dorothy Burley (nee Coles), was born in Turvey in 1949. The family lived in the second cottage in Carlton Road (from May Road). Fred was a lorry driver for local firm Quenby Price and he owned and ran a family car, an old Ford registration number FJO 245, which was quite unusual at the time. However, before he was old enough to attend school, Philip recalls daily trips up to the allotment with his mother …
We had chickens and pigs at the garden field, by the cemetery and, Mum used to go up there every day and I was pushed up in the pram and I can remember almost literally and the pushchair, of being going over the bumpy road with the bucket, holding, holding the bucket, and all the eggs were in it with straw, bits and pieces. When we come back, Mum used to wash them, daily, and it was the smell of Vim that always struck me as the first thing, the eggs were always washed off because they were proper free range eggs, those days.
The income from the sale of eggs collected at the allotment was an important income which funded the car and the Sunday trips out, sometimes to relatives in Hemel Hempstead.
Phil and friends used to play out in Carlton Road as there was rarely any traffic, playing football and riding their bikes. As the boys became teenagers they joined the Youth Club held in the Boy’s Club room or went to the Reading Room.
Boy’s Club had table tennis in there, they had dart boards, and in the, going back to the old Reading Room that it is now, (Turvey Pre-School Playgroup), they used to have a full sized snooker table in there as well, and was really good fun, they used to get a lot of young, a lot of the older teenagers used to come in there and play snooker, people of twenty years of age go up there.
When Phil was 12 years old he became very involved in football and athletics at Harrold School. Harrold School had an excellent football team which included Phil and his mates, several of them to become professional footballers. Phil had several trials for Northampton Town and played for Stevington in the Sunday league.
When Phil was 13 years old the family moved to Fair View, Norfolk Road. This meant no more pocket money as the family resources were stretched to afford the move. The same year Phil became a butcher’s Saturday boy for Mr. Les Skevington, a local butcher. However, after a few months the school authorities stepped in and explained Phil had to stop working until he was 14 years old. Phil had an interim paper round and duly went back to Mr. Skevington’s butcher’s shop once he was 14. Phil worked for Les Skevington full time after he’d left school. When 18 years old, Phil broke his leg and he was off work for 16 weeks before regaining full fitness. When he returned, Phil said, Mr. Skevington
… just turned round when I got back and said, “Right, I want you to take more responsibility blah blah blah …” he said, “I want to start having an afternoon a week off.” I said “Fine, OK” which we did do, blah blah blah, and then Liz and I married quite quickly”
Liz lived in Harrold and had attended Harrold School so Liz and Phil already knew each other and started courting in 1969. They married in Turvey Church in 1970. At the beginning of 1971 Mr. Skevington asked Phil to go round to his house the next day, a Sunday.
I thought, Oh God, he’s going to give me the sack, you know and he just said, “I don’t know if you’re aware I’m now sixty” I said, “Oh, right, OK” and he, he said, “I’ve decided I’m going to retire shortly, so … ” he said, “I’ve done well for myself blah, blah, blah” he said “If you like” he said, “Would you like to buy the shop off me, or buy the lease off me, and go from there?” So, I said, straightaway said, “Yeah, of course I would.” Went back and said to Liz, she said, “Are you sure?” I said, “Yeah, we’ll make a go of it, we’ll make a go of it, Liz …
Liz and Phil successfully made ‘a go’ of the Butcher’s business. They took it over on 15th July 1971, the first week takings were £198.37p and the second week takings just over £220.
Then literally just went from leaps and bounds after that. But, you know, had to work at it but so … yeah.