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Brian Foster on growing up in Rendelsham

by Belinda Elton 5THE FM wattlerangenow

Brian Foster’s shared his memories of ‘Growing Old in Rendelsham’ at the Millicent Library at a local history afternoon.  He was invited to do so by the late Phyl Wheelan shortly before she passed away and he said he had told her that he thought it better to call his talk ‘growing old’  not ‘growing up’, because he isn’t sure he has grown up yet.

Brian talks about life in Rendelsham:-

Brian Foster  was born in 1954 to parents Bob & Beryl Foster, third and second generation Rendelshamites respectively. He is the second child of Bob and Beryl. He has an older sister Pam who lives in Southend and his younger sister Kathrine who lives in Mt Gambier.  Both of Brian parents are long term Rendelsham residents and only moved to Millicent a few years ago.

Bob and Beryl Foster opened their grocery store in Rendelsham in 1946.  Bob used to joke that Millicent was a small town just on the out skirts of Rendelsham.  Brian said it was just like that,  because everything he ever wanted he could get at Rendelsham or Southend.

“Home was  a grocery store and ‘we often sampled the stock’, until we were caught.”

The groceries used to be brought to Rendelsham by train which ran through the middle of the town, but once the train stopped running in 1956,they had to get the groceries from the train station in Millicent. After 1960 they had to go to Mt. Gambier to collect the groceries because the train stopped altogether.  Fresh bread would come from Millicent three times a week.

There were three stores located in Rendelsham,  Fosters grocery store,  Pooles Post office who also sold work clothing, shoes and fuel and just down the road was Carthew hardware store.

Brian said his father Bob used to have a grocery and fuel run to Mt Hope and Hatherleigh twice a week. People would phone the orders to the shop and Bob would fill the orders and do the grocery run in his red truck.  Fosters still have their red truck today, it has been resprayed and looking just as good as it did then.

Brian started school in Rendelsham in 1960, his first teacher was Jenny Ford who boarded with the Foster family. One thing he remembers very clearly about Primary school is the annual Beach picnic day. It wasn’t so much that he enjoyed the athletics of the day but more the red cordial that was supplied for the children. The family would all pack up for the day and hop in the red truck and head of to Southend where the Beach picnic is held. The Rendelsham School still has their annual Beach picnic. He left Primary school in 1966.

Brian said he remembers the store selling everything in bulk;  biscuits, flour, salt and dried fruit would come in a big wooden box and sugar came in 70lbs hessian bags. Brian also said they had no television until he was about 15 but there was a film  at the Rendelsham Hall once a month.

Brian said, “We  had a large back yard and we used to build tree houses and it seems that there was always plenty to do.”

Brian and Iain Stewart are cousins are but  also great mates. Iain taught Brian how to swim, snorkel and dive. Brian’s interest in diving continues and he has made several successful dives on the historic Geltwood, recently capturing it on film.

Brian’s entrepreneurial skills were obvious early in life when he and cousin Iain used to trap rabbits together for pocket money and they enjoyed camping, fishing and hunting.

“Most of my pocket money was spent on fire works Poole’s store and it all went up in smoke.”

Pocket money was also earned by harvesting chicory;  the children’s job was to cut the tops of the chicory and this was in the middle of the South East winter.  Brian’s great grandfather grew the first crop of chicory in Rendelsham in 1882.

Brian’s father Bob moved his business to Millicent in 1972 but still ran the Rendelsham store for a further 2 years.

Brian said he didn’t know much about Millicent until he started high school. He left High school in 1971 and became an apprentice butcher in his father’s store in Millicent. The apprenticeship took 4 years and he continued being a butcher for one more year after he completed his apprenticeship. In 1975 he became manager of Fosters Foodland and still is today.

In 1980 Brian married his wife Kathy and they live in Rendelsham. They have 3 boys Michael, David and Nickolas. Nick and his family live in Rendelsham,  David lives in Southend and Michael lives in the  Adelaide Hills.

Source: Brian’s talk at the Library and family photos  Contributor S Lowe 5 THE FM wattlerangenow

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