Local resident Donald Barker talks to fellow evacuees on life after moving to Bicester.

DURING the hostilities between 1939 and 1946 many children were evacuated to the country to escape bombing of the capital city.

Quite a few came to Bicester and I was one of them, at four years old in 1941.

I was taken to a war nursery in Cottisford just north of Bicester and home to Lord and Lady Brooke-Popham. Then on my fifth birthday I was billeted with a family in Mixbury, near Bicester, and have lived locally ever since.

In recent years through various publications, I have tried to make contact with other evacuees who came to Bicester.

Success in 2001 came when two sisters who had also been at the same war nursery replied.

On of the sisters was still living in London but her older sibling had moved on to Toronto, Canada.

In the next two years I met both sisters when they had a family reunion in London. In 2005 I visted my eldest sister who had married a Canadian soldier and had been living in Toronto since 1946.

Whilst visiting my sister we met with the siblings again.

Surprised and very please in 2017 I received a letter from one Fred Rampley who had arrived at Bicester Town Railway Station (now renamed Bicester Village Station) in 1940.

He was taken to St Edburg's Hall in London Road.

Mr Rampley was aged 12 at the time and with his younger sister Marie he was billeted with a young lady who had a baby. If a home had a spare room the occupants were obliged to take an evacuee.

This lady couldn't manage with three children in the house so they were soon moved on to 171 East Street in Highfield - the home of Mr and Mrs Chittenden.

The two siblings had been evacuated together with their school, from Hallesville in Canning Town, London E16.

The school was relocated in Bignell Park House in Chesterton, and he says he has many happy memories of Bicester as it was then.

Schooling in the big house and the freedom of Bignell Park was wonderful, catching sticklebacks in the brook, looking for birds nests and being introduced to 'scrumpin' by local boys - although it did bring a visit from the local constable.

All good experiences.

Leaving school at 14 years old Mr Rampley was taken on as a delivery boy by the Ashmore family who ran an ironmongery shop in the town.

He ended up travelling the whole of Bicester on a tradeamans bicycle, until his family returned him and his sister to London in early 1942.

Correspondence during 2017/18 brought about a meeting, coinciding with Mr Rampley, 92, and his wife Joan celebrating their 71st wedding anniversary at the Littlebury Hotel in Bicester.

Their daughter took them to 171 East Street for a photograph outside the house where he had the same picture taken in 1941.

The family that occupy the property now were most interest to hear his story.

Since, I have also made contact with descendants of the Chittenden family - with help from the Bicester Local History Society.

If you were evacuated to Bicester during this time, or have family members that were evacuated to Bicester get in touch on 01869 425 427 or naomi.herring@oxfordmail.co.uk