Hazel Robinson was born in Alton in 1935 and went to live in Shepperton onThames with her mother and father soon after. They had a very modern semi-detached house on Gaston Bridge Road with large rooms and running water.
She can remember how in 1937-38 her father had a conversation with his brother about how the war was imminent and that they would be best to send Hazel away to be safe. Their home was right next to Walton Barracks and as soon as the bombing started her uncle drove her, her mother and father up to Alton to stay with her grandparents who still lived there. Hazel hated the journey as she was always car sick.
Although she had been born inAlton, Hazel had no previous memories of the place, and upon arriving with her parents remembers thinking the place was very ancient. She lived with her mother’s parents on High Street in a tiny cottage with one room downstairs, a horrible back kitchen and two bedrooms. She shared a bed with her grandma until she was used to being there. She remembers how different it was to have freshly baked bread direct from the bakers and collecting milk from the neighbouring farmers. Click on the link below to hear her talking about being in the countryside:
After six to eight months Hazel was brought back to Shepperton as the bombing had eased off and her parents missed her. However, as soon as she got back the bombing really started and she can remember the Vickers Armstrong factory being bombed and incidences of German pilots landing in the fields nearby. As a young a child she found this all very exciting but she was soon sent back to stay with her grandparents again. There were times when her mother would have stopped for a few weeks at a time and she remembers getting letters off her dad telling them about how bad the bombing was.
Hazel went to the Church of England primary school in Alton and later went to the high school. There were also other evacuees in the area, two of which stayed with her aunty and uncle across the street from where she lived. She remembers they were called Shirley and Brian and that they settled in very well. She remembers the villagers being very friendly, if not a little curious about this little ‘Londoner’ and other different evacuees who had come to stay for a while. You can hear her speaking about how she thought she fit in by clicking on the following link:
Unfortunately Hazel lost her father in 1943 and although she was back in Shepperton for VE day, both her and her mother moved back to Alton and were there for the end of the war. Hazel has never left North Staffordshire, and currently lives in Leek. She is awaiting a move to a tiny village in France, which reminds her of Alton when she first arrived.