I SPENT my childhood in Aldershot, and the town holds many happy memories for me. Aldershot in the 1950s seemed to be a magical place in which to live.
For us kids perhaps the major attractions in the locality were the army training ranges.
A wander up to ‘the common' held out the prospect of fabulous adventures and games to kids who hankered after excitement, coupled with a faint tinge of danger. It was all so very different in the Fifties. As children, we ranged far and wide over the sandy heath and gorseland which encompassed the town.
If one happened to find a box of blank rounds carelessly discarded by some National Service squaddie, it was a great treasure.
Oh, those beautiful bright, shiny brass shell cases, crimped over at the end. To discover a real live bullet, laying in the sand, was like hitting the jackpot.
Occasionally, one would see a bomb case, with fins attached, languishing seductively on the heath. Go on, we would urge one of our more reckless comrades, give it a kick. After all, it was only just a big firework, wasn't it?
I recall that there was a derelict tank somewhere on Eel-Pie Plain. We used to play in it, and somehow managed to winkle out huge, shiny silver ballbearings from the wheels. At school, these ballbearings would smash the other kids' marbles to smithereens.
The huge bronze statue of the Duke of Wellington loomed up rather frighteningly in woods to the north of the town. Where the magistrates' court now stands there was an old Victorian building which could have been used as a stable for army horses.
We often had great fun charging around the cavernous rooms, firing staples at one another with elastic bands.
Rowhill Copse near Ayling Lane was another great place to play. There was an open clay plain, with a dark wood on the far side which was a good spot to find chestnuts and toadstools.
The gravel pit lake and the Blackwater stream towards Badshot Lea offered further splendid opportunities for fun. Frogspawn and newts were always high on the list of desirable acquisitions. There was an area of waste ground nearby that was perfect ‘mountain bike' terrain.
Whenever I visit Aldershot these days it is not as a paunchy, greying ‘wrinkly' but as a 12-year-old intent on fun and levity.
Ian Fox, Rope Walk, Littlehampton.
Editor's note: Please remember that objects found on military land should never be touched.