Have I told you this before . . . ? The Fosse Way No.2

The Fosse Way was a Roman road in England that linked Exeter (Isca Dumnoniorum) in South West England to Lincoln (Lindum Colonia) in Lincolnshire, via Ilchester (Lindinis), Bath (Aquae Sulis), Cirencester (Corinium) and Leicester (Ratae Corieltauvorum). It joined Akeman Street and Ermin Way at Cirencester, crossed Watling Street at Venonis (High Cross) south of Leicester, and joined Ermine Street at Lincoln.

In the September of 1955 I and the rest of my course took up residence at RAF Hullavington in Wiltshire where we were to commence our basic flying training. I cannot speak for others on my course at this distance in time, but I was mightily impressed by the appearance of the station. It was of the same design of buildings as most other immediately pre war Royal Air Force stations, but instead of being built in brick it was of Cotswold stone, or at least something matching and resembling it. The result was pleasant and easy on the eye and it fitted into its surroundings very well, where it could have been a proper eye sore. It was alleged that this construction was as a result of the intervention of the Duke of Beaufort who insisted on it, but I have no means of verifying this assertion. But it made me aware that there was a Duke of Beaufort, and he went up in my estimation.

Alas, this happy chance was not to last and in a very short time a group of us were told to pack our bags and take ourselves off the RAF Swinderby where we were to convert to the Vampire to see how we got on ! This was an experiment. It proved successful, and after a brief return to Hullavington we became fixtures at Swinderby. My then girl friend, then fiancee, then later, wife lived and worked in Bristol so I journeyed up and down the A 46 which ran right past the airfield and was, and still is, the old Fosse Way. In later years we were at RAF Little Rissington in the Cotswolds and on several occasions traversed the Fosse Way by following its course on the Ordnance Survey maps. At one time you could do this quite easily but as time went by the county surveyors “improved” things, built staggered junctions, arranged diversions and so forth as they do, and the process of sticking to the old road became more of a fiddle and much less fun. But the memories still last. One thing I remember is that my parents had a painting of a tree lined road “near Warwick” and I came to realise that this was indeed the Fosse Way. Where that picture went I don’t know, but when I stumbled across this painting by David Gentleman it brought back all these reminiscences. The way in which the line of the metalled road is continued as a green track while the tarmac bends way is, or was, typical of how it used to be.

About The Author

Born 9 December 1933. Former Royal Air Force person. Retired Church of England Clergyman. Father. Grandfather, and now, Great Grandfather. Citizen of Europe and Fervent Remainer. Thinks that Members of Parliament and especially Ministers of the Crown, who lie to Parliament should be brought before a public tribunal where the evidence can be heard, and examined, and suitable penalties awarded.
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