Linda Robinson

Linda Robinson (nee Pratt) b 1951.


Linda is born and bred from Yapton. She married Geoffrey (Geoff) Robinson also from Yapton on 12th September 1970 in Yapton Church (St Marys) . They met when they were 16 years old. Their engagement party, 3 years previously was at The Barnham Bridge Hotel as was their wedding reception. It no longer exists it is now Tesco Express in Barnham.

Linda was born in Chichester hospital to a mother, Amy Brown, who came from Manchester and a father Dennis Pratt born in Yapton and was a plasterer. She lived in a family of six in North End Road in the row of council houses on the bank. The houses are still there. The family got too large and was moved to a brand-new council house in Canal Road.

As children she remembers playing in the old canal. She said that that it had a load of rubbish under it and was overgrown under the bridge. The Canal bridge is now a feature with a footpath over it and under it is now modern housing and Known as The Pines.

Geoff was born in Sunshine flats in Yapton Gardens, Yapton. Geoff was 16 he came to help Dennis with plaster boarding and painting the inside of the house in North End Road. That is when he met Linda.

Geoff and Linda had three daughters and in turn now have 10 grandchildren. They live in 2 Canal Cottages where they have been for 50 years and where their three daughters grew up. Their daughters went to Yapton School and 9 of their grandchildren also went to Yapton School. The 10th one is still a baby but will go in due course.

Yapton was a farming village and small close-knit community. They both say the village has changed due to the amount of building that has gone on. It has expanded to at least 20 times bigger than when they grew up.

Yapton had huge annual flower shows and processions that started from the old Lamb pub in Bilsham and the procession of floats and tractors (mostly tractors) processed to the Village Green. (The King George playing field.) A dance was held in the evening for the Mums and Dads in the old Village Hall . It was situated where the CO Op is now. It was run by Mike MILES. The village Hall ran jumble sales, a Cinema and Bingo on a Saturday night. It had a snooker table upstairs and the Men’s football team used it to get changed in it. The men had to come past the women who were queuing up for the jumble sale in the afternoon. Geoff remembers the men being very embarrassed when had to troop past them. The Men were in their shorts and showing their nobly knees. The youth football team met and changed in the Youth Centre which is now the Family villages Centre. Both football teams were run by Don Boxall. He used to own the greengrocers which now Hobsons Estate Agents.

Geoff, as a teenager ,often helped Dennis with plaster boarding . Linda and Geoff met when he came to help Dennis paint the inside of their Council house in North End Road. When Geoff left school he
became a carpenter.

The farm fields were growing potatoes, root vegetables and wheat. Linda remembers her Father telling her that he was taken out of school for several weeks at Harvest time. A horse and cart helped to bring in the harvest. The whole village helped bring in the Harvest. Tractors started to replace the horses to bring in the harvest. Harvest Festival was big and the whole church was decorated. There were Sheaves of corn, vegetables and flowers from the local nurseries. After the service all the produce was boxed up and distributed to the elderly of the village.

Linda worked for Turners nurseries in North End Road. Mr Turner lived in Bury Court.

The old Abattoir was next door to Yapton Primary school. The butcher was Smith at the time but later became Clays. The abattoir was owned by the same family. It was situated in North End Road. It is now a private house. The flats behind the abattoir were built in the 1970s.

Linda remembers Yapton School was tiny at the time she went. Three classrooms in the Victorian building and two wooden huts. In the huts they had a proper coal stove surrounded by a fireguard, In three Victorian class rooms they had open fires surrounded by a fireguard. Linda said that the classrooms were very draughty particularly as they faced open countryside. The children were dressed warmly in grey clothes, no proper uniform but it had to of a be grey colour and thick hand knitted jumpers and gabardine raincoats. Lots of clothes as layers, including vests and Linda remembers wearing a liberty bodice when she went to school. The boys wore balaclavas. The coal for the fires was kept in a shed in the playground and the toilets were in a block outside.

The old post office in the village which is the big cream building on the Main Road (it is now flats) was owned by the Diggance family. Gordon ran the post office side of the business while his brother Jim ran the clothing side of the business. The clothing sold was men’s and ladies wear, shoes and some school uniform. It was possible to obtain credit by having a card marked with your weekly payments laid out and getting Jim Digance to come to your house each week to collect the payment and mark it off your card.

In the very late 1950s or 1960 a swimming pool was built at the back of the school. No one can remember exactly when. The labour was provided free by the villagers. Linda remembers having a tin and a red book to record the amount collected each week. Money was collected each week from anyone that could spare anything. It was taken into school and checked by the teachers.

Barry Smeeth our village postman who is still working, remembers being taught to swim in the pool. He is a little younger than Linda. His Mother was the swimming teacher. Barry started at Yapton school in 1961 and left age 11 years but cannot remember at what age he learnt to swim but it was whilst at school in that pool. The pool belonged to the village. Geoff remembers that it used by was Mums on a Sunday morning. The school holidays was for family swimming. Swimming competitions were held within the school.

Much later on in 1980 when Duncan Goodhew won his Medal a swimming cup was donated in his name.

Duncan Goodhew lived with his parents in Church House Church Lane, Yapton. He went bald from the shock after falling out of a tree aged 11 years.

NB. Twiggy (Lesley Hornby) now lives in Church House.

The pool has now been filled in and a dining hall is built on its site. Again no one can remember it being filled it but think it was about twenty years ago. It hadn’t been used for some time and people used to break into the grounds at night to swim. Therefore a decision to fill it in resulted.