Pauline Fowler and the weird and wonderful world of 1950

Did you know Pauline Fowler once went out to pick mushrooms and came back with a giant puffball which was larger than a football?

Friday, 4th March 2016, 12:02 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 6:30 pm

While this may sound like a particularly strange episode of EastEnders, it actually involved three little girls exploring a field in 1950.

Pauline, who was 11 at the time, and her friends Mona Boyce, 11, and Judith Craddock, 8, were hunting for mushrooms in Houseman’s Field, at Guernsey Farm, Middleton, when they stumbled across the massive funghi.

It was 33 inches in circumference and weighed four-and-a-half pounds – around 2kg. The report in the Midhurst & Petworth Observer said that sort of funghi was quite common in the area – though they did not usually grow to such an impressive size. There was no clue to what Pauline and her friends did with the puffball, though they were said to have been very excited by their find.

A giant puffball wasn’t the strangest report in the Observer that week in 1950. That title went to the Phantom Hydrangea Cutter of Old Bognor Town.

The person in question was a Bognor woman named Adelaide and, once her dastardly deeds were uncovered, she found herself facing a magistrate at Dorking on a malicious damage charge.

Adelaide, it seems, had been nipping into the gardens of a house called Anstie Grange, which belonged to one Captain Leopold Cuthbert Heath and taking sneaky cuttings from his hydrangeas.

According to the Observer’s report, poor Capt Heath had “suffered repeatedly from depredations in the gardens”, which sounds nasty.

The report continued: “The house was empty but the gardens were cultivated. On September 8 [Adelaide] was seen leaving the Anstie Grange grounds with a pair of scissors in her hands and 10 hydrangea blooms.

“Previously she had approached Capt Heath about the letting of the shooting rights there but he had told her they were not available for letting.”

Quite why Adelaide then opted to pinch the man’s flowers is anyone’s guess. She was fined £3 for her trouble and had to pay £1 and one shilling costs – which would have bought a lot of hydrangeas.

Elsewhere, a clogged sewer brought traffic in Angel Street, Petworth, to a standstill while workmen tried to work out what was causing the blockage.

The answer wasn’t as disgusting as you might think.

After much prodding and poking, the sewer was opened and found to be completely clogged with sand.

The report said it had filtered in through the joints of the pipe and the flow wasn’t strong enough to wash it away.

Given the population growth, that probably wouldn’t be a problem today.

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