James Bryant... about Buckden Village

Approach to Buckden from the south, Church  & Towers just visibleMY first view of the village of Buckden was in the late summer of 1967 as we approached it by car from the south on The Great North Road having just flown back from Cyprus. About one mile away, I looked over to my right and there in the distance loomed the spiral of St. Mary's church, next came the "Towers" and then finally the roundabout - see actual video clip. <- NEW My dad negotiated the roundabout and as he took the third exit we arrived in Buckden High Street.

In the 1970s Buckden was rapidly expanding and benefiting from the newly opened bypass which I presume was built in the 1960s? Before then all the traffic went through the High Street making it a busy if not dangerous place to shop and get about.

When we arrived the population was about 2,500 consisting of the few indigenous people (the old brigade) who had lived all their life in the village and the hoards of new comers. However, apart from the strange accents everyone mixed in!

We arrived at 64 Manor Gardens which was a semidetached property situated right at the end of the estate and bought by my dad while he was abroad. The estate was far from complete.

The roads didn't have their final top coat on and the gully's were standing proud like pill boxes and in the winter the mud made the place look more like a battlefield than a new housing estate. Many of the houses were not occupied or complete, but it was home to us and a great place to be.

Three observations that I can make in hindsight which at the time I either took for granted or just didn't notice in my impetuous youth.

First, the abundance of history which can be traced back to the Doomsday Book in 1086, although remains have been found which suggest human activity in the area as far back as the Stone Age.

Secondly, the abundance of public houses (pubs) which for an up and coming teenager would prove to be rich pickings. My recollection of the pubs was as follows:

The Crown - just closed when we arrived and being cut off from the main village by the new bypass presumably killed it.
The Spread Eagle - High Street, near Tayor's Lane (now closed).
The George Coaching Inn - junction of High Street with Church Street.
The Lion Hotel - junction of High Street with Church Street.
The Vine - High Street, near Roundabout end.
The Falcon Pub - Mill Road, heading towards the Offords.
Village Hall (now the Community Centre) built a couple of years later say 1970?

Thirdly, the pure beauty of the surrounding area such as The Valley, The Offords, Stirtloe, The Towers, St. Mary's Church and Grafham Waters to name a few places.

In my youth I joined Buckden Chess Club and use to play chess in the Vine Public House and The Towers - the club is still around today and run by the same person, Tom Hazel!

There was a Buckden Boys Club that met, I believe, every Thursday in the Kings room of Buckden Towers.

I started a Bridge Club called, unsurprisingly, Buckden Bridge Club (BBC) which met weekly in The Towers.

I also use to enjoy airgun shooting in the The Valley, Spinney or gravel pits at a time when it was OK to use airguns in public places, albeit cautiously.

There is an excellent web site that I would recommend you access if you're interesting in reading more about the village, it's called Buckden Village and the link will take you there.

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