The Craig Family at No 28

1964 - 1978

Sue Craig and Caroline Mandeville have contacted us with their memories of growing up at No 28.

No 28 in 1974, very much as it looks today

"My name is Sue Craig - I'm one of four girls that lived at number 28. I have an older sister Alison and two younger sisters - Julie and Caroline.

Our parents, Leonard and Josephine Craig moved into 28 Sydney Buildings around 1964, when I was 10 years old, Dad having been finally posted back to Bath by the MoD. They had left Bath some 15 years previously returning via a succession of postings which took in dockyards at Cape Town, Portsmouth and Rosyth as well as a brief tour of duty in Risley where I was born. Mum and her sister were evacuated from the East End to Bath in the Second World War and never moved back - in fact, my grandparents followed them and the whole family settled in Bath. Dad is originally from Swansea but got a posting in the MoD after the war which is how they both ended up in such a wonderful city.

I used to babysit for quite a few families in Sydney Buildings - Rutherfords (12), Beales (32? May have been rented?), Salmons (38) and the Mungeams (39) are those that I can remember. I used to sketch in the cemetery of Smallcombe Church while my little sister Julie played with her friends, the daughters of the Dingle family who owned Smallcombe Farm (as a proper working farm) at that time.


This black and white photo was taken at my guide camp in Chew Valley and would have been about 1966, not long after we first moved into Sydney Buildings. From the left is me, Mum with Caroline in her lap and my sister Julie. The girl at the back is Gail a friend of mine.

Dad had two allotments - one along the canal towards the cutting up to Bathwick Hill and another above the house, up the path that cut through to the upper part of Bathwick Hill. I can always remember the mad dash to collect manure with a bucket every time a horse went by the house.

I can also remember my younger sister Julie getting in trouble one evening when she came home too late and tried to sneak in through the back window, She climbed along the wall from the path between number 29 and 30 and fell off putting one of her platform shoes (it was the early 70s - how did we walk in those???) through Mr Richardson's cold frame!"

Sue Craig


And from Caroline:

"My family (Craig) and I used to live at No 28 between 1964 - 1978. I have very fond memories of living in Sydney Buildings and have a few facts that you might be interested in. My sisters and I used to play in a very old derelict cottage that was up the steps virtually opposite our house. I seem to remember that the house was just left empty, and unlocked, with most of the previous occupants belongings in it. Of course it seems quite deviant now that we should have played there, but at the time it seemed a very mysterious and magical place. The cottage was taken down at some point in the 70's and the Applegate family built a new house on the site.

No 13 - I had a friend at school (Widcombe Infants) who lived in Sydney Buildings and I think it may have been at No 13. They were American which is why they probably don't show on the electoral roll. I can only remember the name of the child who was Daniel Rouday (may be spelt differently).

No 36 - Mr Harbutt and his spinster sister. Mr Harbutt was unmarried and childless as far as I can remember and used to make a big fuss of me. He used to bring me toys from his factory which I believe to be the Harbutts Plasticine factory. In fact I believe that Mr Harbutts ancestor was the creator of Pasticine.

One other very vivid memory I have is of a terrible storm sometime in the l ate 60's. I remember standing in my cot, and looking out of the window to see all the neighborhood men at the bottom of the steps opposite the opening to the canal trying to divert water that was flooding down from the fields above. Most of the houses had railing openings down to the basement/cellar at pavement level, and the water was gushing down into everyone's basement. It must have caused considerable damage.

As for No 28, my father had the loft converted and the dormer's put on so the houses below us must have had alterations made at a similar time. I can only assume that the houses originally looked like the houses beyond the slipway down to the canal. I also remember that the railings at the end of our garden had a gate in them so there must have been steps down to the top lock at some point.

I had another little memory that popped into my head and it was one of migrating frogs. There always used to be one night in the spring each year when all the frogs would migrate down to the canal to lay their spawn. Because we were so near the slip down to the canal there was a lot of passing traffic. On that night you couldn't step out of the front door without finding the pavement literally covered with frogs. Some poor hapless ones used to slip down the grid outside our kitchen window and we had to go out and liberate them the next day."

Caroline Mandeville


"This family picture is from 1975 and was at a Peter Robinson's (soon to be renamed as "Top Shop") Christmas Party at a place called Tiffany's. Mum was working at Peter Robinson's as a window dresser at the time. Front row is Mum, Julie then Dad, back row is Alison then me. Caroline wouldn't have been old enough to come at that time. We left Sydney Buildings a couple of years after that photo."

Sue Craig

Text and photographs with kind permission of the Craig family

June 2009

Sydney Buildings History Group ©