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When I became pregnant in 1949, we were renting two rooms in a house in Shirley (part of Birmingham), at 28 Hazeloak Road. Your Dad was working for the B.T.H. in their District Office in the city, as a Sales Power Engineer. I was working in the Rates Office of the Borough Treasurers in Solihull. Our landlady (a very bossy woman from Lancashire) said we could not go on living there, as she didn’t want any babies in the house. So we went back to my Mum and Dad at 7, Eastlands Road, Rugby and your Dad travelled to Birmingham every day. My brothers Fred and Ron were still living at home then as well, and in the November of that year 1949, Fred went off to America.

You were born on a lovely sunny spring day, in the Maternity Hospital at Harboro’ Magna, at about 11 o’clock in the morning. In earlier days, it had been the old Isolation Hospital, where children were sent if they had scarlet fever. When you were about 4 months old, your Dad started working for the BTH Company in Willesden, London, in the Switchgear Factory, and we left Rugby to go and live with Nanny and Grandpa Mills at 45, Peel Road, Gosport, mainly so that they could get to see and know you. Your Dad travelled to London every day. After a few months he changed his job for more money, to work for Johnson and Phillips, as a Sales Engineer, in Aldwych (Columbia House) in London. So we rented a house in New Haw, near Byfleet, Surrey for the time. After about a year, we still felt that we were not getting on very well or well enough, so we decided to go abroad. Our main object was to make enough money to be able to buy a house. Your Dad signed up with A.E.I to go to Calcutta for three years. You were then 18 months old.

We sailed from Liverpool in November 1951, in a ship of the Anchor Line, called the SS Cilicia, all first class.

The voyage took 21 days, calling at Port Said, Aden, and Karachi. On the ship, Jimmy Walker befriended us. We disembarked in Bombay and travelled by train across India for 3 days to Calcutta, and were housed in a large ground floor room with one bedroom and en suite bathroom in a large guesthouse in Harington Street; all meals were provided, and the company, AEI, paid for everything. After a couple of months a company owned flat became available in Minto Park, Alipore. It was a large old house, converted into 4 flats, all occupied by Europeans employed by the company. We lived there from January 1952, for nearly 2 years. Celia was born in July 1953, and I went into the East India Clinic, a European hospital, for her birth. All medical expenses were met by AEI, as were our phone bills and they employed the gardeners (Malis) and the gatemen who were Nepalese.

I became ill with dysentery and the doc said I would be best off, either going up to the hills or going home. As we didn’t have enough money for me to go up to the hills, I came home in October 1953.Celia was then 3 months old and she travelled in a carrycot, and you were nearly 3 yrs old. We flew in a Constellation, 1st class, for which the company paid.
We left Calcutta (Dum Dum Airport), at 4 in the afternoon. Your Dad had to stay behind as he still had one year to run. He moved out of Minto Park into the United Services Club at Chowringhee (a bit like a hotel) with all bills paid for by the company.

Our plane put down in Bombay to refuel about 7 pm and we all got off the plane to have a meal in the airport, then we reboarded, slept, and had breakfast on the plane. Our route took us next to Beirut where we again landed to refuel and have coffee in the airport. Our next stop was Zurich, again for refuelling and coffee and the time was by now 11 o’clock European time. We landed at Heathrow about 12 o’clock. As we were flying westward, the time, of course kept extending - it felt very odd. We left Calcutta at 4 o’clock on one day and landed at Heathrow at 12 o’clock the next day; but in reality, we had been travelling for 28 hrs or more. Grandpa and Nanny Mills met us at Heathrow, which was in its early days of development and was a collection of pre fab type buildings, and drove us to Gosport. They were still living at Peel Rd. but were in the process of buying Spring Garden Lane and for 2 or 3 weeks, while they moved in, you, Celia and I went to Rugby again. Celia took her first steps in the back garden there. Then we returned to Gosport and Spring Garden Lane.

Your Dad came home in November 1954. You and I met him off The Blue Train at Victoria. He didn’t fly but came by ship, disembarked at Marseilles and got The Blue Train home. He looked for a job in London but being unsuccessful, he returned to AEI and was offered a post at their Sheffield District Office. We bought a new house at 36, Alms Hill Rd. which was still being built, so we stayed with the Mills’ until January 1955 when we moved to Sheffield. Nanny Billson came for a week to help us settle in. The district of Sheffield was called Eccleshall.

While at Spring Garden Lane, I started you at a little private school at the end of Peel Rd., called Peel School and run by the Blanch family in their house. They weren’t very good. You went to an infant school in Sheffield. Your Dad had a company car, a gray Hillman Minx and used to take you to school every day and I used to meet you in the afternoon, walking and pushing Celia in a pram. And, of course, Brian was born in the house. We lived in Sheffield for 2 years, left at the beginning of 1957 and moved to Rugby, and stayed with Nanny Billson and Grandpa Billson until the new house at 74, Alwyn Rd. was ready.
We started you at St. Marks School, Old Bilton and you went by bus there and back until we could move in, which you probably remember anyway. Celia started school at Eastlands Infant School until we moved. We lived in Rugby until January 1970, when we moved to Stafford. We came to Pratts Bottom in September 1974.

Joyce Olive Mills – March 2003

Linked toCorin Vincent MILLS

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