A Postman In New Romney
First Published Issue 1
On leaving school, I obtained a job as a Boy Messenger at New Romney Post Office and sometimes they gave me part-time postman’s job if they had gone sick. The first time I did a postman’s round I had to go to Newchurch and back. Our postmistress gave me details of what to do. I was given a spring balance and a three foot measure.
That was to weigh and measure the parcels that I would pick up on my round. She also gave me a whistle and said, “When you get to the centre of the village, blow the whistle to let people know you’re there.”
When I got there, one or two of the old inhabitants asked why was I walking. Apparently the regular postman road a trike so the next day I borrowed a little old woman’s bike and never walked out there again. I had to go as far as Oak Farm, which was half way to Bilsington – a long way to walk!
After some time, they opened up a Post Office at Newchurch and it had a little hut where we used to go and have our meal.
I also did the Dungeness round once as the old boy there had got hay fever. I rode my bike to where the old boy lived at Greatstone and then put on backstays to walk on the beach right through to Dungeness. There were no roads down there then. As a Boy Messenger I sometimes used to work up to 72 hours a week. Mrs. Pomeroy was the postmistress and my first duty was to sweep the Post Office, dust the counters and then tidy up the little sorting room at the back. The Post Office then was on the corner of the High Street and Tritton Lane.
The postbags in those days were sealed with hot sealing wax over the knots on the string. They were long sticks of sealing wax, like a bar of chocolate and we had a ittle gas jet to heat the wax and
drip it onto the string. The postmistress had to buy the wax and to save money, we used to tear the bits of wax off the bags as they came in, put it in a saucepan and boil it up. When it was bubbling,
we turned it out onto a piece of slate and when it cooled a little, rolled it back into another stick. And then of course as the telegrams came in, I would go out and deliver them. This would be in New Romney, Old Romney, St. Mary-in-the-Marsh and Jesson (St. Mary’s Bay). In Jesson, there were only a handful of houses. When I went out in the summer, I always had time to pick a few blackberries
to eat on the way back. The only thing I dreaded was on a winter’s night and a telegram coming in about five to eight. I remember once I had one for North Lade, where the airport is now. It was pitch dark and raining like hell and I was on my bike with a little oil
lamp. It wasn’t very nice.
Mrs. Pomeroy had an invalid sister and they used to take her out in a wheel chair. I remember it would have been around 1912 and she asked me to push Miss Francis out if any telegrams came in as it was a nice sunny day. Well, I pushed her round into Fairfield Road, by the Prince of Wales, and at that time there was a big air race on. There were quite a lot of planes in the sky, and of course in those days they were very interesting and I had never ever been close to a plane. All of a sudden, one I was watching went bang and it landed, just in the fields along the road or so I thought. It was around nine in the morning and I said to Miss Francis, “Will you be alright, I’m just going to run over to look at the plane.” She said, “That’s alright, it’s lovely here, I’m alright.” Well I ran down the lane, and ran, and ran and people kept coming by me on push bikes, so excited to see this plane. And would you believe, this darn plane had actually landed at St. Mary’s Bay!
I eventually reached it and was so interested that I just stood and watched it with all the crowds around me. A fellow I knew was there and I asked him the time. He said half past one! Just imagine,
I’d left that poor old girl at nine in the morning outside the Prince of Wales. I borrowed the chap’s bike and raced back to New Romney, expecting a hell of a row. They’d been searching all over the place as they’d expected me back in about half-an-hour or so. They eventually found Miss Francis and I was still missing. I didn’t get in a very big row and I wasn’t reported to the Post Office officials. Just as I got back to the Post Office, there was a telegram for the pilot of the plane, so I rode the office bike and pushed the chap’s bike all the way back to St. Mary’s Bay. I met the pilot but didn’t know what the telegram was about and he took off later in the afternoon. I often wondered as he was in a ploughed field, how he managed to get up in the air.