Headington history: Reminiscences

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Martin Ferguson

Memories of the Slade Camp and Wood Farm (1950s)

Martin Ferguson

My mother, father, myself, and my three-year- old sister Marilyn came to Headington in 1951. My father Ronald Ferguson had gained employment in Pressed Steel’s private hospital located at the Cowley car plant. My mother was Mimi Ferguson, who later became secretary to the Principal of the Oxford Academy of English in Bardwell Road, north Oxford.

We had nowhere to live and shared a wartime hut in the Slade camp off the Slade. As we shared this hut with the Johnsons, the tenants, we were evicted by the local authority six months later. My father found a disused airfield at Mount Farm in Berinsfield, and we lived in an abandoned Nissan hut near the runway and shared the site with very friendly gypsies camping with their vans next to us. I was aged four: what adventures I had with those children and fond memories of that gypsy community. My first school was in Dorchester.

In 1952 we got a new council house at 12 Palmer Road on the Wood Farm estate: growing up playing in nearby woods, endless school holidays playing at Shotover, where aged 14 I kissed my class girlfriend June Rouse from Pauling Road in Wood Farm. I attended Margaret Road Infants, Junior, and Secondary School until age 17 in 1964. Headmaster Spammy Eason, what a man. My closest friends at school were Michael Sheller, Robert Dancer, and John Howland. Wonderful years, except for the nuclear attack rehearsals under desks at the junior school: people forget the constant anxieties us kids felt then. I wondered why we had a three-minute warning! I lived 30 minutes from school, no phone, why even warn us, I quietly thought! Us baby boomers didn't have it that easy, not to mention living on rations.

My sister Marilyn Ferguson went on to Milham Ford Girls School.

I became a plastic body engineer in the Pressed Steel research department, and in 1969 I was sent to Arica in Chile to build fibreglass Mini Coopers and build two MG 1300 prototypes with fibreglass bodies, and then establish production. This I did, and during my time there I married a Chilean girl: I was 22, she 17. We returned to Oxford in 1970 and purchased a new home in Quarry Road, Witney.

We left for Australia in 1973 and had three children in Adelaide, south Australia, where I have lived for the last 45 years. Midsomer Murders sparks old memories.

Martin Ferguson
January 2018

© Stephanie Jenkins

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