Stan King

affectionately known as 'Mr Elmswell', 1932-2015
- see below, Stan's Obituary and villagers' fond memories of him.

Interviewed on 18th July 2001 [If you are using the CD-ROM version you can hear him]

Stanley King was born in 1932 in Hawk End Lane. He has worked in the local Post Office since he was 10 years old. At the time of the interview he intended to retire the next year, at 70, but he didn't - by now (2005) he has put in an incredible 63 years of service to the village! He told me: "It's hard to cut off after 60 years - it's better to wear out than rust up!"

School days

Stan went to the old school in School Road (pulled down in 1990) from age 5 until 14. At first the headmaster was Mr Stern, a bit of an old devil who would pull your hair or rap your knuckles. He lived in Arven House, next to the old village hall. Miss Durrant was the infant teacher - she lived in Yew Tree House, Ashfield Road; he was in her class from age 5 to 7 years. She was nice, always gave you a penny for your birthday. There were three classes at the school, each having the same teacher all day.

At 7 he moved into the next classroom. "We seemed to learn more then than they do today: we had a garden, with a plot each to look after; we grew chrysanths and sold them at 20 for a penny, and a pear tree, selling pears at 4-a-penny, the money going to the school. We had temperature and rainfall gauges. School was a happy time".

The headmaster took games: they paraded in pairs like soldiers through the village to Pye's Meadow (where the Blackbourne housing estate now is). The girls played rounders. But if the arithmetic lesson wasn't good enough they had to miss out on their sport!

Johnny Palmer was the next Head - he came from Norton, and lived in East View, Ashfield Road.

At age 13-14 they were allowed 6 weeks leave on special permit, to work on the land, potato picking etc. - but they couldn't all go at the same time! Stan spent all his holidays doing gardening for people, earning pocket money. School holidays were good fun, so much to do: you could take a packed lunch and a bottle of lemonade and be in the harvest fields all day - harvest-time had character then - the old binder, the horses and rabbits.

Old Albert Scase used to shunt the railway trucks around the sidings with two horses; Stan spent every hour he could with him, and used to help feed the horses in the stables (behind the present vet-surgery). There was a siding this (south) side behind the station, and more where the industrial estate is; it was a busy little station.


When the war started there were a lot of evacuees arrived. They stayed in houses in the village. Hannah Greenwood, from Bethnal Green, stayed with Mrs Robinson in Hawk End Lane. The evacuees appreciated the country peace, and the welcome they received. The old church hall and the adjacent wooden hut, next to the school, were turned into classrooms. The school was sometimes so crowded they had to miss an afternoon, and make it up on Saturday morning.

Forces people mingled with villagers, dished out chewing gum; his cousin went out with one; one or two girls married and went to live in the U.S. Stan delivered papers at the airfield. There is a picture from that time, of Mr Fred Wright serving ice-creams - they had to bring a cup to put it in. Stan is just visible at the back on the right, wearing a cap. Rationing was 2 oz of sweets a week.

Once they went up to the airfield and saw Glenn Miller, the September before he went missing.

There was a social evening once a week at the old church hall, with a radiogram, games, dancing, and refreshments in the wooden hut next door. It was always packed out and always the same format - the Gay Gordons etc. The Vicar was George Dolman, a German.

Home and family

"Dad worked on the road, Mum used to go out and do housework for various people, as you did in those days." Mother died in 1974 after being ill in hospital for 5 years. His brother Eric is 5-6 years older, and was in the forces.

Gran lived in Hawk End Lane too, in the same house. She used to clean the church hall, and went once a month to Rev Dolman to get her wages. She'd say "Morning Rector, how are you?" - "Better in health than I am in temper" came the reply.

They moved to School Road from Hawk End Lane, then another house in School Road, then to Wetherden Road - been there 40 years now. He wouldn't have wanted to move elsewhere.

In School Road they had oil lamps and candles; they used to go and get paraffin by the gallon (and he delivered it, too, as part of his work). Lots of people had a Tilley lamp on the table in the middle of the room. So radios were battery-driven. Stan remembers the programme Bing sings - before the big fight on a Tuesday night. You had to be sure your battery was OK!

They first had electricity when they moved to a second place in School Road. "Having electricity was marvellous." They first had running water when they moved to Wetherden Road in the 50s. "People didn't lock their doors in the old days, and you could leave your bike outside."

They used to go to church - Stan was made to go to Sunday School on Sunday afternoon in the church hall; but the outings to Felixstowe on the train were fun, and they always had good weather! Stan didn't join the choir till much later, when Alex Colson came {1965}, and was in it for 25-26 years. One very wet Sunday morning the 9 a.m.service was broadcast on the Home Service - he can't remember which vicar. He loves the old church (St Johns) - it "seems to sparkle" - and enjoyed the old days in the choir; Eve (Armstrong) used to be the choir leader - she put her heart and soul into it.

He wasn't in the scouts; he and his brother were involved with the youth club, collected old newspapers, met in the church hall.

A cousin from Norwich stayed here during the war, and she preferred the Methodist Church, so Stan left the Anglican and went with her (say no more!).

Stan never married - he lives with his brother Eric. They have 3 televisions, but Stan much prefers the radio, and still has an old radiogram that plays 78s. He gets around the village on his bike ("I never had a new bike until I was 18 or 19, always a second-hand one").

He never played cricket or football himself, and never ever had a camera, but he still writes half a dozen letters a week; likes to go and chat with the old people, and is still active in the Helping Hand club. "They are very appreciative of what you do for them."

Stanley King Stanley King

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Click Here to see larger image

Post Office

Stan started at the place where he is now at the age of 10, as a paper boy and errand boy, on the 26th June 1942. The PO used to have a fire(place) in the middle, 2-3 cats keeping warm. One of his first jobs was a bonfire - where the Coop now is there was a two-storey warehouse, and he had to help clearing it out. A rat jumped him as he was coming down the stairs. The warehouse had been a butchers (Mr Wybrow?) before his time - the hooks were still there. His last job on Saturday evening before going home was to sweep the drive in front of the PO; old Mr Leeks (Ray Leeks' father) would come to inspect and do his nut if there was so much as a matchstick.

The Postal Service always had a delivery on Christmas Day. He remembers the postman having to walk back through the fields from Fox & Goose cottages across Hall Farm. But he was so pickled by the time he reached Hawk End Lane that they used to meet him out there and get their mail out of his bag.

Stan was a postman himself for a time; he remembers having to walk across the fields through a snow drift to get to Eastwood Farm. There were not so many houses in those days; now there are more houses but with fewer people in each - recently 630 houses on Deano's round, and the sorting takes ages.

But he was not a postman for long - he went into the grocery side, which continued until the Coop came. Mr Leeks sold to an ex-seaman called Garfield, but he was soon called back to sea; then Tony Green and his wife moved in.


"There used to be quite a number in the village."
  • Don't know why the (present-day) vet surgery is called the Old Tea-Room, it never was....
    ... but a little old sweet shop in the adjacent terrace, where Bank House is, south of the railway crossing, eventually became a tea-room. It was kept by a very old man called Mr Farmer, who had a white turned-up moustache, and always had a pekinese under his arm; When you went in, he'd pull back the green curtain and say "Hello, boy, what do you want?"
  • A radio shop called Wayletts(?) where Margaret's Hairdresser is now. Then it became a council office - Mr Wyatt worked there.
  • Moys' in the old cornyard in the good old days of the railway station; Ivy Toombs worked in there as a young girl.
  • A little shop opposite Thurlow Nunn's: shoe repairs and also a barber's shop (hence the present Barber's Row)
  • Mr Wright ran a radio shop where the Lufkins later had a hardware shop (halfway along New Road, east side).
  • Butchers Shop (next to Mace) - Mr Last was the butcher when Stan was young.
  • Barber (Mr Kay) on Wetherden Road, top of Prescott Drive, pulled down; brick, but DIY, like a doll's house. Got turned into a grocer's shop
  • First house in Hawk End Lane was a shop when Stan was a kid, general store just in someone's front room.
  • Shop in a little tin hut place opposite the Fire Stn., little grocer's shop too; other side of Tudor Cott., handy little place.
  • Baker's shop (Rand's) where the fish and chip shop now is. Mr Smith, lived upstairs in a building at the back of the baker's, was a carrier, pony and trap; quite an effective old boy, quite a character...
  • The old mill (Baker's) was in full throttle
  • Hairdresser on Pightle close in the 80's

To many people, Stan is more familiar behind glass!

But he has a kind word for everybody...

Village changes


"We don't seem to have such characters nowadays."