Interview with David J Forrester, Author of Fordington Remembered
Local author David J Forrester was raised in Fordington from the age of 3 months old. His long awaited book, Fordington Remembered – Growing up in and around Dorchester, is a mixture of memoir and local history, bringing to life the Dorchester of the 1940s/50s, a time of rationing, hardship and community spirit.
Ahead of the launch of the book on Wednesday 11th December (St. George’s Church Hall, 6-8pm), we got in touch with David to ask a few questions about his book and what it was like to grow up in Dorchester in the post-war era.
What made you decide to write the book?
I explain at the beginning of my book that when staying with my daughter in St Neots Cambs, I noticed how the children rushed in after school, throwing down their coats in the rush to get onto their computers etc to play games – anything from killing alien invaders to playing football. I compared this with the life we had as boys making our own entertainment.
There was little to have and we had little, but what we did have was a wonderful imagination and an insatiable thirst to know more about the world around us. I felt moved to record our life and times so that our experience was not lost forever.
How did people cope with the hardships of life in the post-war period in Dorchester?
People in Fordington were on the whole poor; money was short especially in the Mill Street area, often spoken of as the “wrong end of town”. However, they knew nothing else, so the hardships were accepted as part of life. Bread, cheese, and potatoes were very much the staple diet in this area.
It was not unusual when meat was available for a woman to buy one faggot. This was cooked with gravy, the husband would have half a faggot, the children a quarter each, and the wife would make do with mashed potato and gravy, all eaten as usual with a hunk of bread to help the meal go round!
How have you seen the town change in the last 60 years?
The biggest change in Dorchester is in the Mill Street area with all the old slum buildings around the mill now gone. Much credit for cleaning up this area must go to Alfred Edwards and his family who formed the Mill Street Housing Association. This area had such a bad name in the 1940s that Policemen were only allowed to venture beyond the White Heart Pub and into Fordington in pairs. Fordington is now of course a quiet area to live, a pleasant walk into town.
The other huge change is the fact that High East and High West Streets were the main shopping area, not South Street. Any person entering Dorchester from the bottom of town could complete their weeks shop before they reached the Town Clock.
How did you go about finding photographs from the era, and what were the most interesting things you uncovered?
Having written the book, the hardest job was getting the old photos, and I am eternally thankful to those named in the book for all their help. I won’t list them here! However the most interesting were those supplied by Rupert Edwards which really help to paint the picture.
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
The book paints a picture and I hope it brings to life the social history of the time, and takes the reader off into a different era – the history of which is in danger of being lost forever.
Fordington Remembered – Growing up in and around Dorchester is published by Roving Press (01300 321531, www.rovingpress.co.uk), priced £6.99. Author royalties are being donated to the Rotary Foundation and Dorset ME Support Group.