Woodcocks Well Evacuee Experience

I had been kindly asked and attend the Woodcocks' Well Evacuee Experience and I certainly was not disappointed. Today had been the turn of Havanah School in Congleton to be whisked back to the war years and what life was like for the evacuees who had to move away from Manchester and come to live at Mow Cop. The children were met promptly by a very firm but fair Mrs. Harriet Proudlove (Sue Doorman Congleton Museum) and right from the word go the children and teachers were in no doubt as to who was in charge. The children all lined up on the school car park and were told that they were evacuees and from now on had to share their lives with the local community and of course they had to share a school.

Mrs. Proudlove accurately pointed out that because the school was small then they would have half day lessons, however on their day of they would be helping out in the gardens and digging for victory and helping to earn their keep at their new temporary homes.

The children were then lead into the school with unusual calm and quiet, they were beginning to get into the role of things straight away. Mrs. Proudlove then explained to the children in her wonderful no nonsense way that children went to school every day in Manchester with their suitcase packed and never new if today was evacuation day, suddenly children were transported to the countryside and didn't have time in many cases to say good-bye, or indeed when or if they would see their parents again. Once the evacuee's arrived at Mow Cop they would line up in a hall and local people would come and inspect them and take the evacuees that they like the look of. Were they clean, polite hard working, would they eat much. Many children would have fond memories though as Marion Simlo can verify.

The Children learn about the problem there might have been with gas bombs and how every man woman and child was issued with a gas mask. Mrs. Proudlove showed the children how to put on a mask and then they had a go themselves.

Then the air raid sounded and all had to calmly make there way to one of Woodcocks' Well two air raid shelters.

Off Harriet marches closely followed by her new pupils all eager to see inside the air raid shelter. 37 children and 8 adults all piles in with nearly enough seats for all.

Once the children are in they learn about air raids and how long they may have to stop in the shelter.The lights flicker and the air raid still sounds as planes can be heard overhead and the sound of distant bombs. Lets hop they don't drop one on Mow

Once they are safe inside they start to sing, first "Run Rabbit Run and followed by White Cliffs of Dover" Inside is still dark with very little illumination from a battery powered light. The children then hear the story of Just William. At this point I had to bid farewell but am told that the day doesn't finish here. After dinner the children are taken to the Congleton Museum to learn more about the war effort.