Monday, August 24, 2015

Fordington Remembered - by Anita Harries from 'Durnovaria Diaries'

What do you do when summer turns to winter overnight, when the rain comes down so hard you wonder whether you should put away the deckchairs and build an ark?

You pick up a book, sit yourself down with a blues-banishing cup of coffee and immerse yourself in another world. Fordington Remembered by David Forrester is one of those wonderful books that takes you on a journey through Dorchester as he vividly brings to life the experience of living here post-war.

This was without doubt the “wrong end of the town” where families were disadvantaged, times were often difficult but people went about their daily lives working hard yet keeping a smile on their faces. 

It is heart-warming to read David’s reminiscences, from St. George’s Infants School to the still familiar names of much loved shops, some still with us but many lost to the relentless march of progress, the Magpies football team, street scenes and the wide open fields that in those days hugged the boundaries of our town. 

It was refreshing to read of an area that means so much to my family. My dad and my grandparents spent many years in Holloway Road, my grandfather in particular gave the Swan Inn the dubious benefit of his custom on many an occasion, and certainly at least one of my brothers attended St. George’s Infants School. 

And I can just about recall deliveries made by horse and cart, perhaps one of my earliest memories of my Fordington experiences – that and playing in the river despite the extraordinary range of items that appeared in there with alarming regularity. Not actually a part of Dorchester for much of its history, it is now a far more respectable area of the town. Has it now lost much of the character it once had, has time dulled its appeal? I guess many would argue the point, but it is certainly more “up-market” than it was in the times depicted in David’s book.

How fortunate we are that his memoirs and vivid recollections have created such an important record of the social history, not just of Fordington but of post-war life in many other rural areas across the country. 

It is a good read, humorous, light-hearted, thought-provoking, depressing in places yet an open and honest account of growing up and surviving in what was then one of our poorest areas. 

Published by Roving Press, and with some of the proceeds going to the Rotary Foundation and the Dorset MESupport Group, I would recommend it as a book worth reading whether or not you have a personal affinity with Fordington. Well done David ……. And the wonderful array of photos are worth a look alone!  

Publisher's note: we are currently working on a second book with David based on the Mill Street area of Fordington, Thomas Hardy's notorious 'Mixen Lane'. The book is part of the Mill Street Project, in association with the Mill Street Housing Society which is supplying many of the old photographs (some of which appear in this blog). The book will be out in time for Christmas. For details see our website (

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Durnovaria Diaries
3 Aconbury Avenue
Dorchester, Dorset DT1 3RE
United Kingdom

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