More Dungeness nostalgia

23 January 2009

An email from Mrs A Keys:

I read with interest Mr P. Wood’s letter from Thailand. My mother, who is now 96, used to live on the beach at Dungeness, in a railway carriage which my grandfather converted, later building on an extension for a Cafe which my grandmother ran for the fishermen & visitors.

They lived there for some years, the first year, and through the winter with my grandmother cooking in a pit which they dug on the beach as there was no heating in the railway carriage. Their surname was Lusted and there were 4 children, Mabel, Cyril, Thelma and Freda. They went to the local school some way along the beach, which was reached by running along the railway line and “skating” along the shingle on wooden slats which they strapped to their shoes. They kept goats and drew their water from a well.

My uncle Cyril became friends with the lighthouse keeper who taught him Morse Code & apparently he was extremely good at this, even as a small boy. He later became a Chief Petty Officer/Telegraphist in the Royal Navy. My mother has recently written a book, just for the family, about her life, and there is a long chapter about Dungeness with photos of the railway carriage/cafe where they lived.

There is also a photo of the school. Mum still recites the school song, which was written by the Head Mistress, Miss Wilman, and it was called “The School Beautiful”. When Mum was 13/14 she became a trainee teacher at the school, but unfortunately, as times were so hard and money so short, she was unable to continue and had to go into service in London.

The surname “Oiler” is one I have heard since my childhood, and especially the name Patchy Oiler. If there is anyone who remembers any of this, I am sure my Mum would love to hear from you. As I said, she is now 96, and although she has bad arthritis, she is very “with it” and articulate. I would be so happy to pass on anything of note to

Mum. She would be so thrilled.

Thank you. Anne Keys

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