The train from Paddington arrived at Weston in the afternoon in the autumn of 1940. 0n the train, along with hundreds of other evacuees were myself and young sister. It was the first time on a train and the first time away from home. The same probably applied to the vast majority of us on the train.
I was six and a half years old and my sister nearly four. It was a cold and damp afternoon. We were assembled and put on coaches, taken to Worle Senior School on Spring Hill in Worle. The school turned out to be a dispersal centre from where we were coached to our billets. We set off to deliver children to what appeared to be pre-arranged addresses .We were the last on the coach. I learnt later they were having difficulty in placing a brother and sister. We ended up with a couple of spinster sisters at the top of Pine Hill in Worle. We stayed there for two miserable nights and were returned to the school.
I think it was in desperation that the officials turned to the nearest house to the school for help. They succeeded placing us for what was meant to be two weeks until permanent accommodation was found. It turned out to be more permanent than anyone could have dreamed. Unkindly, I have always thought that the Government payment played some part in our staying. Why not? They were in their mid-forties and he was a Farm Labourer and no doubt the money was welcome. Also they gave us the first pocket money we had ever had. We also got into such a routine that to us it became permanent.
The next thing was school. My sister was sent to Worle Infants Nursery and was sent to Worle Junior School, St. Martins on Hill Road. Apart from the first day, I spent all my school life getting to and fro from school on my own. If my memory is correct I think I was also responsible for my sister getting to and from School.
We had to get used to calling two complete strangers Auntie and Uncle. Going to Sunday School and Church in the evening. The Church was in Stafford Road in Weston and we had to walk. Uncle never went to Church. Nevertheless, they were kind and caring in their own way, they were saddled with children who had to be taught how to behave. We must have been very difficult to handle but they never laid a hand on either of us.
We were lucky!! We had a garden the size of a football pitch. There were apple trees, plum trees, a pear tree and three greenhouses and grape vines. The garden had to be tended to and it wasn't long before I could dig a straight line and dig a full spit of soil on my spade. Also I was made to clean my spade after use. I still do. For sure, we never went short of fruit and vegetables. Also we kept some hens and a cockerel. Chicken was sometimes on the menu.
Because Worle was spread over quite a large area the only time we seemed to encounter other evacuees was at school. As we had not met any of them previously it didn't worry us. I cannot recall any abuse or teasing because we were evacuees. The only time that we were made aware of being different was when parcels from the Canadian Red Cross were distributed.
Life took a dramatic turn for my sister and I in 1942. We had already witnessed our first air raids. I remember the glow in the sky from the raids on Bristol and the night Weston got bombed. We went into the Anderson shelter when the siren sounded. One night, the noise of approaching aircraft was louder than usual and also the scream of bombs being dropped. We thought "we had had it". It transpired that a stick of high explosives had dropped into a market garden about a half mile away up Spring Hill near Spring Terrace. Was the school next door to us the target? If it was thank goodness the bomb aimer got it wrong.
The other big and permanent change in our lives was about to take place . Our mother and father split up and our father died soon after. In what must have been a gigantic step for our foster parents, they adopted us. I vaguely remember going with them and my sister to court. I do know that Mr. Glimstead dressed up for the occasion, he put on his black suit and wore his kid boots. That only happened on a Friday for his weekly visit to the Bristol Arms in Locking Road.
My sister and I were now Glimsteads.
There were still a few hurdles to be jumped. I think by now we had both acquired local accents, which must have made life easier.
At school it was a little different, suddenly during a lesson I was told to stand and then go to the front and face the class. Then the teacher, Mr. Dodgson, a violent man with a cane, announced to the class "I was no longer to be known as Thomas Cook but was to be known as Thomas Glimstead". Though I had a vague idea what he meant, but probably didn't understand what was meant by adoption. Probably the worst thing to happen was that I no longer qualified for the Red Cross parcels. For one day I was the centre of attention. The other thing that happened about this time I was diagnosed "short sighted" and had to wear spectacles. It did not help my ego.
At the end of 1943 there seemed to be the start of an exodus of evacuees to their homes. This did not affect my sister and I as we were fully integrated into the community. In 1945 I won a scholarship to the County School (later known as the Grammar School). The catchment area for the school ranged from Clevedon to Highbridge. It made life in one respect easier,no-one knew my background and they probably weren't interested anyway.
My sister died some years ago, she never referred to our past and made no effort as far as I know to contact any members of our original family. As far as she was concerned Weston had always been her home. As for me, I have always kept contact with my original family on a very infrequent basis. I have always regarded myself as a Westonian and always will.