On Gaunts Common – 23rd July 1994

Gaunts Common was a quiet rustic village in Dorset, the heart of the south of England. It’s only shop, Gaunt’s Common Post Office, closed down in 1985 due to lack of funds and use. No more would the children be able to gather outside its window in the small parking area perturbing customers and neighbours alike.

17th Apr 2021 – The picture above is all that is left to remind me there was once a post office here. The traditional red public phone box has gone too.

The village school still thrived though, taking in the five to eight year olds from many surrounding areas. Morning and afternoon would be the busiest time of day as parents ferried their offspring to the South end of the village, packing the car park with their vehicles and causing quiet traffic jams. Some of the luckier pupils need only walk across the road and into the school.

17th Apr 2021 – I seem to remember more foliage around the front and being able to run around all sides of the school as we would often play ‘flashlight’ here at night time.

The community was mainly a farming one, though several of the newer houses were built specifically for their rich owners who travelled into Wimborne Minster, the nearest town, about four miles away. So, slowly the community was diversifying though tractors were as frequent on the roads as buses or taxis, leaving behind them great clumps of mud from the sodden fields. Everyone knew by name the farmers who ploughed the land and looked after the cattle.

17th Apr 2021 – Occasionally we would steal one of these hay rolls and roll it down the road until we got bored, or roll it into the woods where we were hidden from view, set light to it and talk shit with each other whilst throwing asbestos into the flames to hear it crackle and pop.

There were several riding stables in the village and surrounding area, riders taking advantage of the woodlands which began at the top of the hill and spread out to the Northeast towards Holt and Holtwood (more woodland areas). Cars were often required to slow down driving through the village as they waited behind a troop of horses and riders on their way to the woods for a healthy gallop.

By night time, after the small of rush of cars carrying people on their way home from work, the village became quiet except for one or two of the noisier children who would gather at the bottom of the school field, away from the prying eyes of their parents. The focus would then turn to the football club about a quarter of a mile south of the village where people were welcomed by friendly faces to share a beer, a game of darts or pool or, most importantly, to catch up on the latest gossip.

17th Apr 2021 – On the left, the ‘impenetrable’ woods where, as kids, we built a BMX track, camps, fires, war zones and get drunk before we were of age, at which time we migrated to the Football Club, on the right.

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