In the 1920s and early 30s several children travelled with their mother from Tottenham to Langstone Station to spend the summer holidays with “Grandfather and Grandma Dedman” at The Old Mill.
The 1911 census for the former windmill at Langstone shows George Dedman as a 60 year old cowman, his wife Mary, and two of their children. In addition there are two boarders, Ethelbert Barton aged 25, a railway signalman, and Alfred Honeysett aged 21, a railway porter. They all lived in the mill cottage which had four rooms including the kitchen.
George and Mary had eight children including Ellen Beatrice, known as Nell. Nell was born in 1889 and in 1920 she married James Charman, a milkman. They lived at 1 Railway Cottages, next to the Hayling Billy line. Nell’s oldest brother, Francis John, had five children; William, Ernest, Beatrice, Kathleen and John, who were born between 1914 and 1923. These were the children who used to come to Langstone and stay with their grandparents. In 2001 I corresponded with John, who said, “I remember Auntie Nell, primarily because her husband delivered milk with a pony and trap, complete with churns and measuring ladles.”
“The old mill was a smashing place for the summer holiday. Time meant nothing to 4 -11 year olds. As I was born in 1923 we are talking late 1920s to early 30s. The journey must have been a nightmare for mother. I do remember that a trunk was sent in advance with Carter Paterson and on the day of departure we would take the steam train to Waterloo Station and then a steam train – Southern Railways – to the south coast. There used to be a station called ‘Langstone Halt’ and we could walk from there. Incidentally, the aforesaid Auntie Nell was the gate keeper at the level crossing at Langstone.”
“The mill tower was in a state of disrepair, windowless and without a cap and we were not supposed to go inside, but of course we did!. One day when Granny Dedman was hanging out the washing the remains of the top of the mill fell down and narrowly missed her. The family lived in the cottage next to the tower and us kids slept willy-nilly in the part usually kept for apple and potato storage. These commodities remained but were tidied up to provide sleeping space.”
The children had complete freedom to play outside all day, wallowing in the mud and fishing with bent pin, string and homemade rod. Nothing could quite match up later to the adventurous holidays at the “O.M.” for these London kids.