Gill D’Arcy on A Wincanton Life, Part 2. 24-4-2015

Gill D'Arcy

Gill D’Arcy

On the 24 April 2015 Gill D’Arcy gave us her second talk reflecting on her life in Wincanton, throughout the l960s and 1970s.

She began by telling us that around 1965 she left King Arthur’s at sixteen and like many in the town took a job in Cow and Gate.  Here she started in the Packing Hall, where baby food was packed and sent on its way.   (Later the 5-pint dried milk was produced and packed in Wincanton).  A wonderful description followed of Gill as a “catcher”.  This involved dried milk/baby food coming down a chute to be caught for packing at a rate of 1,200 to 1,500 bags on hour!  This you would think would be enough – but not so – Gill took a Saturday job as a chambermaid at the White Horse Hotel and described the great atmosphere she found working at this once impressive establishment with its grand entrance hall, and dining room.  But – in 1966 the railway closed, and the rest is history.

This had all been a stop-gap for Gill who had to wait until she was seventeen so she could apply to be employed by engineering company Plessey in their office at Templecombe.   This was because Gill had to be 17 before she could sign the Official Secrets Act.  So her career there began in a job she really enjoyed.

Then the weddings started, including Gill and Richard’s and great photos were shown of Gill and Richard as bride and groom at their wedding, and as guests at the weddings of their friends.   As Gill recorded – everybody went to weddings at that time.

Gill and her family moved away to Stalbridge where they had their first home for six years in the early 1970s, but they returned to Wincanton for love of the town, family and schools etc., in fact everything that makes up Life in Wincanton.  They joined fully into community activities, especially Charity Week, and the Walking Race.  Nothing but enterprising, someone drove to Bournemouth to pick up Ruby Murray, and well-known recording artists of the 70s, who had agreed to open a Charity Week in Wincanton and again, with great energy, they completely gave of their time to the PTA.

The Miners Strike came and went, changes happened to Wincanton buildings, the first by-pass was built, and as the 70s drew to a close, so did this excellent talk.  Relaxed and eloquent, Gill had been both interesting and entertaining and through her selection of photographs of buildings old and new, and many faces we recognised had given us a nostalgic and memorable evening..


Janet Fray

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