The annual Larkhall Festival came and went last week-end. Yours Truly enjoyed his two minutes in the spotlight cutting the ribbon outside the New Oriel Hall to officially open the seventh annual community event.
A lot of hard work by a group of volunteers – supported by local businesses – ensures that the talent living within this amazon area is seen and appreciated by the community.
The Virtual Museum was contacted by Mr Eddie Priest who lived in Larval from 1949 to 1970.
He told me : !”I remember the festivals we had there in the 50’s and 60’s – including the 1963 Carnival in which my wife – then girlfriend – was a beauty queen contestant. The roads were cordoned off from Camden right through the Square and up to the back fields where the contest was held. It was a great social event organised partly by my old dad. Happy Days.’
Eddie did not tell me whether his wife – then girlfriend – won the contest but we can all imagine he got himself a ‘winning’ wife!
Eddie asked our help with something he remembers his father telling him.
‘He explained to me that during the war an unexploded bomb dropped through the pavement under the old pub at the junction of St Saviours Way and St Saviours Road – opposite St Saviours Church.
I have been unable to find any history of the pub. When it opened or closed and l am not even certain of the name but think it was ‘Queen’ something. Can anyone help.
Tracey Hill of Larkhall was quick to come through and confirm that there was a pub called The Queen in a property that is now a private house and opposite St Saviours Church. It’s not the only vanished pub either. According to Tracey ‘even the Larkhall butchers shop used to be a pub.’
In the meantime l was also intrigued to know how the Oriel Hall in Larkhall came to be named. Turns out the original Oriel village Hall was in the Swainswick Valley – an area of land once owned by Oriel College at Oxford University. As it stood in the way of the new by-pass it had to be demolished by the Highways Authority did fund a replacement.
Took a few years to find it but eventually the then derelict original St Saviours Junior School – built in 1845 – was renovated and re-opened in 2004 for the use of the community.