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Changes over 96 years
WHEN Joyce Murgatroyd was born, Rodbourne Cheney was just a village, but in 96 years she has seen a lot of change in the area.
Born in 1916, Joyce lived at number three Church Walk South and, other than a brief stay in east London, has been in the area all her life.
The mum of three, who has six grandchildren, is now an active part of the community she loved growing up in.
Joyce went to Rodbourne Cheney School from the age of three and, from there, she went to the college at the bottom of Victoria Road.
She said: “I have good memories of Rodbourne School. I can remember it when the playground was lined by Laburnum Trees.
“The school itself has not changed much. The building is much the same but when I was there the class sizes were very small.”
Joyce met her husband-to-be, Henry, at the old clay pits in Cheney Manor Road, which were filled up with water to create a lake and became a popular hang-out for young people before the war.
The pair got married at the register office in Swindon in 1938 before they moved away from the area when Henry took a job as an engineer in Dagenham. The pair lived in Hornchurch, close to where all the Spitfires were based before the war.
The factory where Henry worked was bombed during the war so they moved back to Rodbourne to live with Joyce’s parents after Henry secured himself a job working at the Great Western Railway, where he had been an apprentice.
In 1943, Joyce and Henry moved into the same house she still lives in today, after the occupants, who were evacuees of the war, returned to London.
Joyce completed a teaching course at the Univeristy of Bath and started working as a teacher at Gorse Hill School.
Henry sadly passed away in 1997.
Since retirement, Joyce has been busier than ever, attending meetings for the Swindon Society and as a member of St Andrew’s Church.
She is also a founder member of the Rodbourne Cheney Residents Association, where she has campaigned on many occasions to ensure the voice of residents is heard.
She said: “When I was a child it was just a village. We had no mains drainage, no electricity and no gas.
“Rodbourne Cheney now is totally different to what it was like when I was a child. There were still horses and carts back then and everybody knew everybody in the village.”
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