On the west side of Chatterley Farm was a well-wooded hillside called Braddow Wood in the common speech of the time. This wood was divided by the same common speech into the Big Wood and the Little Wood.
The Big Wood was the home of birds and rabbits, strictly watched by two keepers who lived in cottages one at each end of the wood. Bold was the man or boy who strayed off the footpath leading through the wood. Beside the two keepers were two ferocious dogs, their constant companions, and probably no constable then and no policeman now (1903) was such a terror to evildoers.
The Little Wood, however, was the most trespassed upon, for birds’ nests in the summer and blackberries in autumn. Blackberries then meant not only a luxury but meant also less butter and less treacle to be used in the poor homes of people living in Tunstall. Children were encouraged, despite the perils from dogs and keepers, to invade the Little Wood at the proper season.
Happy were those who came away with their cans full of the precious berries: but woe to those pursued by keepers and dogs and whose cans lost their precious treasure in the pursuit. This pursuing was a brutal business, for little harm could be done by the children in tramping on the rough scrub. But game was sacred then, even rabbits, and rather than these should be disturbed a useful and wholesome fruit was allowed to perish largely on the trees.
(Edited extract from “When I was a Child” by Charles Shaw published in 1903)
Did you and your friends play in Bradwell Wood when you were growing up? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us about the games you played and the adventures you had there.