INTRO. CHRONICLES. SOCIETIES. PARISH. VILLAGE. CHURCH. PEOPLE.

A History of YALDING, Kent, England

BOB WOOLLETT.

(written by his daughter MANDY with items by Tony Kremer.)

Bob was born in 1920 to Alice and Norwood Woollett. He grew up in Yalding where his father was a school teacher, with his three brothers - who have all sadly passed away - and his sister, Brenda.

He was gifted with the ability to draw and an enthusiasm for making things. A much loved story of Bob's, of which he had many, was of the 'Peckham Flyer', a go-kart made out of old pram wheels and boxes. He, his brothers, sister and friends would take it to the top of the high street, which sloped down to the bridge, and spend many a happy hour whizzing down. However, one flaw to the go-kart was that it didn't have a brake and Bob still had a scar from when it went out of control!

 

 

(This vehicle lasted many years, for youngsters in the 1940’s were still conveyed from the top of Bob’s garden, through the builder’s yard, across the Green and Vicarage road, and down the alley to the Working Men’s Club, exhilarated but holding on with white knuckles).

 

On another occasion, while still a schoolboy, Bob partially completed the fuselage of a full-size glider. He had calculated that if he took it to the top of Yalding Hill he would land on the Kintons playing field. During the building of the glider his father went to the shed to see how Bob was doing and said, "If you want to kill yourself, join the RAF."

Bob shelved the glider project but later, on re-doing the calculation he discovered that he wouldn't have landed on the Kintons but in the playground of the girls' school. He wished he'd carried on with the project! Bob's love of aeroplanes grew and he began not only making model aeroplanes, but designing them as well. He had many articles and photographs published and became well known in the aero modelling world of the 1950's. (Whenever Bob and his brothers went to fly their models down the Kintons, a troop of youngsters followed, all keen to watch the aerobatics of each model. Some were fly-by-wire, circling round the controller with the occasional loop or high flight before returning to ground and a smooth landing. Much more exciting were the free flyers that were supposed to circle round the playing field, until they ran out of fuel, but occasionally they would hop over the trees, resulting in a mad dash to be the first to reach and rescue the craft or its wreckage.)

 

At fifteen, in 1935, Bob took his father's advice and joined the RAF at Halton, Bucks, as an aircraft apprentice in the Engineering Branch. To him it was luxury, going from a cold house with no hot water to barracks with central heating and plenty of hot water for baths. Here at last he was among full sized planes and learned his craft which took him through the rest of his working life. During the last few years the Moth Club (bi-planes), another of Bob's passions, have held their annual meetings at RAF Halton. It was a great pleasure to Bob to show his family where he had trained, when they took him to the meeting last year.

Bob and Jean married in 1948 and moved to Congelow Cottage, Yalding where they spent the next 60 years making it into the home and garden he loved. They celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary last year with a family party. At Congelow, Bob put all his practical skills to good use. Not one to spend money unnecessarily, he built and repaired what he could whilst Jean scoured the second hand shops for bargains. The walls were filled with sketches of local towns and villages he had drawn in his late teens, cycling to each location, making a pencil sketch which later became a pen and ink drawing. When the children came along a few years later (Chris and Mandy - sadly Chris died in 1996) he then embarked on making trains, trikes and dolls houses, progressing to a surf board for Chris, canoes and a dinghy for the family to enjoy.

Next.