Sidmouth Herald cutting sparks memories

Sidmouthian Bill Maeer recalls his younger days in Sidmouth after 1923 newspaper cutting comes his way

BEING given a copy of the front page of a Sidmouth Herald published on October 20, 1923, brought back memories for Sidmouthian Bill Maeer.

Bill, 92, was five when the paper was first published, having been born in his grandmother’s home - a thatched cottage at the entrance to Holmdale.

“I was born there in September 1918, during the First World War, and my father was away in the Army,” said Bill, who lives in All Saints Road. “When I came home from the Second World War I moved in there and my second daughter, Hilary, was born there.”

The association continues today as Bill visits the cottage – now a gent’s barbers – to have haircuts.

Bill was given the cutting by his son-in-law Martin because of an announcement of a wedding gift of vases given by Freddy Maeer and Miss Elsie Tedbury – later his wife – to Ivy Hucker and Alfred Allen from Teignmouth, who were married at Sidmouth Parish Church.

Ivy was the twin daughter of Mr and Mrs G Hucker who ran the Temperance Hotel, Sidmouth.

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A long list of wedding gifts, including that given by Freddy and Elsie, was published alongside an account of the wedding.

Bill, in turn, will pass it to his brother Eddie, who is nearly 100, from West Hill, “who will probably remember more about that time than me.

“In those days nearly everyone in Sidmouth was related,” said Bill. “The Dagworthys, Slades and Maeers were all part of one big family.”

Bill went to school from the age of three and “didn’t dislike it at all.”

He then went to The King’s School, Ottery St Mary, which he left at the age of 14 to get a job in the office at Sidmouth Gasworks.

“I had a push-bike and I went on the train to school every day. Then when the trains stopped I went by bus,” he said.

Bill remembers fixing tombstones after leaving school and going to the gasworks, and joining his father Charles in his haulage business.

“When I realised I didn’t like office work I drove a lorry until the war years.”

While shops have changed hands over the years, surprisingly few seemed to have changed what they sold, said Bill.

“It is surprising how similar they are and the same sort of selection. As far as Sidmouth is concerned we are very well supplied with shops.”

The adverts on the front of the 1923 newspaper interest him as Bill can remember names such as gasfitter Charlie Hellier, who operated from the Horse and Groom pub, Russell Street - now houses.

Other names he remembers are W Hook the fish man and May Smith who sold fruit, flowers and vegetables at Market Place.

“Everybody in Sidmouth knew everybody, maybe not by name but to say hello.”