...during a boyhood in Alcester
Continuing his reminiscences of Alcester, which he left in 1906, Mr.Hayward writes:
When about eight years old I learned from my friends that there was much activity around the wasps nest in the well-known Elephant Tree (also know as the Elephant Oak) (Ed. Likely to come down when the Alcester by-pass is built - the Elephant part was preserved by the engineer in charge F.M. ) This tree, with a flattened trunk, grew against a grass bunk which rose about 12 feet from the pathway on the night-hand side of the road, about half way to Arrow. We boys were under the False impression that if we killed the wasps by smoking them out we could pull out the comb and enjoy eating the honey inside it. So, on one autumn evening, we climbed up this broad trunk and with matches surreptitiously brought from home lit folds of newspaper and pushed them into the large hole the wasps used as a doorway. Unfortunately the flames went out when only part way down the tunnel and. the whole brood of wasps nose up from down below and attacked us with their stings, all over our faces and bodies. We slithered to the ground and with each one of us pursued by a swarm and concerned only by the incessant stinging we ran off in panic in different directions. I ran solo for about an hour with many stops during which I tried to beat off the wasps or pull them away from under my clothes. Gradually those on the wing faded away. That tree was a bogey to me for the remainder of the time we lived in Alcester.
Another escapade was when with older boys, I was dared to climb over the three foot high stone wall of the railway bridge along which the road went from Evesham Street to Arrow village. With our faces turned inwards to the wall, we dropped down on our feet about a yard on to a ledge about six inches wide. Holding on to the top, the older boys could pull themselves up and back over again but, two years younger, I lacked both the strength and length of arm to be able to do this. This meant that I had to wait in this stationary position until my father arrived and hauled me up.
A third sobering influence on me from the time that I was a
child of six was a sign on a board in the field along this same road which, despite the
footstile, read Trespassers will be prosecuted. This word 'Trespassers' had a
daunting influence on me. No one could persuade me to enter that field. It was even in
those days a prohibition to nothing more than the towns golf course!
Spring 1986 Index
© Alcester & District Local History Society 1986