Interviewed on 21st September 2005 [If you are using the CD-ROM version you can hear him]
He went to school in Norton, and attended the Baptist Chapel. The minister there was responsible also for Elmswell and Bardwell; it was the custom of young people (in their late teens) at that time to go over to the other chapels for Festivals, so he would cycle with the others to Elmswell. In 1938 they came over for the baptists' harvest festival, where he and his pal met up with a very nice young lady and her pal. Charles only remembers one thing about the sermon: Rev. Cook's maxim "Never do your courting in a cornfield - there are too many ears about!" For the rest, his attention was elsewhere... Things blossomed, and he married Ivy Miller on her 21st birthday in 1941.
By then Charles had been called up (see below) and they could see each other only now and again. Ivy and her sister worked on a fruit farm at Risby, and lodged there. When baby Maureen was born in 1943 he made a dash by train and hitch-hiking down from Yorkshire to her parents' home in Rose Lane. For a while Ivy went back to the fruit farm in Risby, living in digs and carrying the baby around with her, then moved to a Wetherden Road Council house, subletting from Tay Armstrong, who drove an LNER lorry from the Elmswell depot to surrounding villages.
Three months before Charles was demobbed in March '45 they had to relinquish their rooms to the Armstrong family, and were lucky to have use of the temporarily vacant baptist manse in Norton. In May this, too, was needed, and for the next year they "squatted" (as so many had to do, at that time) - in an ex-USAF radio hut at Rougham. Here their son Roy was born. With his mechanical training Charles got a job with Bill Brazier at Thurston garage (now Cracknell's), but he was not very happy there and was glad to be taken on at F J Nunn & Sons, soon moving into one of their houses opposite the works in Ashfield Road. Their children went to Elmswell school. The headmaster was Mr John Palmer, who had been Charles' teacher in Norton.
After 12 years they moved from Ashfield Road to 'Elm View' in Church Road, which was then the eastern half of St John's House, where they could have three bedrooms instead of two. At the time the whole building was rented by Miss Nora Head (for whom Ivy had been working) from Kate Green, who also lived in Church Road. The house had been divided in two, the Elm View part being occupied by Miss Head's companion. When the latter moved to The Cedars, Miss Head invited them to sublet it, a shrewd manoeuvre, as before long Ivy was having to do things for the old lady.
After 18 years, by which time Maureen and Roy had moved away, Miss Head retired to Hanover Court, so they had to leave too; Charles then bought the house next to the Tate&Lyle depot from Ernie Goodfellow, the butcher; they christened it "Sawmills". Ivy died in 1990. Charles eventually found the garden too big, and as he was denied planning permission to divide the property and build an additional bungalow, he moved to Millers Close instead.
Music was always an important part of Charles' life. He was the only child in his family who had some piano lessons, when he was 8, but at home they had only a harmonium to practise on; his enthusiasm waned, and his parents naturally had not the money to waste, so the lessons were stopped. But when he was 14 or so the Norton Sunday School hadn't anyone to play the pedal harmonium, so to fill the gap he taught himself, and sometimes even played for church services. Then his uncle gave him a violin, which he still has, loaning it out to deserving cases. Singing was the great thing: his father and the three sons formed a quartet, and they went to various churches to perform for special occasions. In the forces Charles started a male-voice choir. Years later Bernard Wainwright started the Beyton singers, with whom Charles sang for 38 years - he was sad when it folded, but still sings with the Tudor Rose singers.
Charles still plays bowls - he has been at it 30 years now; Ivy used to play too.
Chas has Elmswell memories going back to 1947 when he first became involved in the various projects with young people which have engaged him ever since. . . youth clubs. Boys' Brigade,choirs, the Dominote music group, all have gained from his enthusiasm and experience. All have enjoyed his positive outlook, still evident in his mature years;'if you've got something of benefit to give - use it.'
A lady named Madge Catling (who lived at last house in Ashfield Rd before Whitehouse Farm, then Hicks' Farm) was running the methodist Sunday School; one day she came to him at home and asked if he would take over, as she was getting married and moving away. He had done some such teaching in Norton, so he decided to give it a go (this was in about 1947). He changed some things at once: for example, she had conducted the classes from up there in the pulpit - somewhat distant, he thought, so he stood below at a reading desk. There was a grand company of teachers, eventually 10-12 of them, as the number of pupils gradually built up to 80-90; fortunately the kids were better behaved than these days! He ran a teachers' training class once a fortnight, so they could follow a proper syllabus; he organised a junior choir to lead the singing on Sunday mornings, and a senior choir in the evening. They also held a 'Sunday School Club' during the week, age-split under-8 and 8-17 years old. Eventually (c.1955) Wesley Hall was built.
Charles had been in the Boys Brigade as a lad, cycling into Bury, and going off to camp near Cromer. So he joined forces with Bill Cook (himself a BB officer at Whiting St Congregational, and his daughters came to Chapel Sunday School) to start a Boys Brigade here; later on, Bill Nunn's wife & others started a Girls Guildry, and Ivy became an officer. A full life! "Did we do too much?", Charles wonders...
He gave up the methodist teaching when he fell ill, and a younger person took over, but he occasionally helped by playing the piano.
He remembers the Rev. Don Bullen doing the history of methodism in Elmswell; he had been a junior minister, and came back later as a minister in the Bury Circuit.
Looking at the aerial photo of Nunn's, Charles recalls the various buildings, many made by shuttering - concrete poured between boards, using 6' scrap blades for reinforcing! All the buildings were built in Nunn's time, except the blacksmithy traverse(?) and forge; previously at the roadside, when Charles joined it was taken down the yard to the Anderson shelter.
The old house (where Nathan Warren had lived) was 'The Laurels'. An overgrown tennis court can be seen in the middle: the Nunns played and Charles too, and other methodist folk (the Nunns were devout methodists).
They also purchased three of the houses (grey brick) over the road from the site, for renting out to employees. Charles' family moved into the 3rd house along.