A life growing up in Wootton.

By Chris Cornford Apr 25, 2021

A Wootton man, who wrote of his childhood memories during the 1920s, has finally had his work published as a book after his son found the journals in a trunk 60 years later.

Charles Lansley was clearing out his late father, Peter Stark Lansley’s belongings following his death, when he stumbled across the diaries which had been lost for decades. Now, after painstaking research, Charles has pieced together the chapters of a long-gone era on the Island.
Charles, who is still a regular visitor to the Island and has a second home in Shanklin Old Village, said: “As a teenager, I vaguely remember my father writing down his memories of Wootton when he was a child.

“It was only after both my parents passed away a few years ago that I wondered if they were still around and, eventually, I came across them in a trunk full of bits and pieces which had been left in the garage. It is a wonderful collection of stories capturing the touching innocence of childhood. It is something we can all relate to and takes us back to a wonderful sense of Island tranquillity but, at the same time, expresses a delightful sense of humour and naivety.
“My father lived at Station Road, Wootton, which was known as Woodside Villa.
“The book covers his growing up between the ages of five and ten. When I found all the pages, they were all mixed up, so I spent a couple of years transcribing them and putting them into the right order.

“To help the reader locate the people, places and events in the stories, I have added annotations which I hope creates a greater understanding of what family and Isle of Wight village life was like in the 1920s. I spent a lot of time going through parish records and checking addresses. Back in the day, there was a local butcher, baker and cobbler and I was able to identify them
“He also attended Hillgrove Nursery which I couldn’t find in any records, but it turned out it was a private nursing school run from a local house.
“It was a time when the steam train ran supreme, when there was no electricity or telephone, and when it was safe for a five-year-old to walk into the village alone.
“My father’s childhood world speaks for themselves. As he says: ‘My world was wonderful as I stood in my smallness by the gate, now and again leaning backwards against the wind, using him as a resting place for my back, and talking to him as a living person instead of a sea noise taking away fading summer leaves. I splayed out my hands and felt the freshness glide through my fingers as I watched the leaves soar upwards against a background of white seahorse clouds under a bluey canvas sky’.”

‘Pon My Puff – A Childhood in 1920s Isle of Wight’ by Peter Stark Lansley is published by Beachy Books and available at Amazon, Waterstones, Book Depository, Blackwells, Foyles and Wordery.