Children's letters brought back to life thanks to film

By Nigel Slater 30/03 Updated: 05/04 16:21

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Buy photos » ABOVE - Market gardener George Keen who originally wrote one of the letters dated from 1933 is joined by Blackminster Middle school pupils David Conway, Deborah Jones, John Sellick and Beth Smith. (s)

A REMARKABLE series of letters written by Vale schoolchildren decades ago have been brought back to life in a new film.

The letters, which were found in the Worcestershire Record Office, date back from 1933 and were written by pupils from the then named Badsey Council School describing everyday life in market garden families.

Students from Blackminster Middle School have recently been filmed reading out the letters as part of a new film made by the Badsey Society about the history of market gardening in the Vale.

The film is part of a community project titled 'The Last Market Gardener', which is a two-year investigation run by the society exploring Badsey and Aldington's history when market gardening was the main occupation in the parish.

The project has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the film is scheduled for its first screening in September.

In 1933 Badsey Council School headteacher Frank Amos asked his students to write to Sir John Russell from the Rothamsted Experimental Station in Hertfordshire and tell him about what they do.

As well as reading the letters, Blackminster students got the opportunity to meet George Keen who wrote one of the letters 79 years ago when he was eight-years-old. Other letter writers included Hilary Crane, James Wheatley and Joyce Franklin.

George's letter tells of the moment when his friend comes and helps him on the job. The letter reads: "Chip baskets are needed to put the currants in. these have to be ordered from the Central Market, Evesham.

"I call for my friend Violet Southern when I go up to the ground, she comes with me to help. I have a small box to sit on when I pick currants."

Peter Humphries, headteacher at Blackminster Middle School said: "We are delighted that the school has been able to help with this project. It was particularly exciting for the students to meet Mr George Keen who was one of the original letter writers back in 1933."

Maureen Spinks, chairman of the Badsey Society said the group were excited to use the letters for their new film.

"This is a wonderful piece of social history," she said. "The letters tell in the children's own words what it was like to live in a market gardening family. These were often large families running their own business where everyone contributed to the work."

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Buy photos» ABOVE RIGHT - This is one of the letters written by Joyce Franklin. (s)

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