During the recent school holidays, I visited two lovely senior citizens who were busy as ever going about their exciting lives. I thought it was about time someone interviewed them about their lives in and around High Wycombe.


The couple, Mr and Mrs Patience, moved to Downley, a sweet village which is rapidly expanding, just outside High Wycombe, in 1964, nearly 50 years ago, and have brought up their two children here.  Mrs Patience said; “When we first arrived here, there were very few housing developments in Downley and most of the land was farmland or meadows and some of it belonged to the Dashwood Estate. There were only a few streets.” Mr Patience added, “It's difficult to remember, but some people we knew, like we did, moved within Downley itself as new houses were built closer to the village... There was a shortage of shops when we first came apart from a couple in the village, but soon a butchers, hairdressers, newsagents and Bowler's Hardware Shop developed and then the Post Office too. Mrs Patience added “Most of these shops have gone now as things have changed over time, and the last to go was the Post Office which was a great nuisance as it was very useful.”


When asked about what made them choose High Wycombe as a place to live the answer was interesting. Mr Patience said, “My sister was living in Holmer Green at the time, and we knew the place from when we used to come down to visit her.” Mrs Patience included; “You also had just moved jobs to come and work near London, and so we needed somewhere local to live, and houses were being built here, just on the edge of new developments from London.” What did they still like about this area? she said, “The proximity to Oxford and London and the beautiful countryside nearby and the Cotswold area. ”



When asked about extensive physical changes to the area, Mrs Patience said, “Well, we were the first housing development in Downley, by the Pastures and Hithercroft Road. The town centre is also very different now, as it used to have the River Wye running openly through it (by the Oxford Road), which was covered in soon after we got here.” Mr Patience added; “ There was no motorway here when we first arrived and the town was different, they were beginning to knock down old buildings and there was pretty much just the High Street for shops. There was no Eden Centre then, which really needs covering properly, as they found out before, when they built the Octagon around the time we arrived. They hadn't put a cover over it, and thought they really needed to!”


When questioned about what the best improvement to the area was, the answer was clear, Mr Patience said, “The M40. It vastly improved access which saves a lot of time now. It was built in stages during the late 1960s and early 1970s, and made my journey to work a lot easier. I used to have to go through all the towns, Beaconsfield and Gerrard's Cross to get there and it used to take and hour and a half. Initially after they built it, it took only 45 minutes!” 

The couple who have lived here for  a long time, have also participated in many local organisations. “We've been going to Wesley Methodist Church since 1964! We've also been part of the Downley Horticultural Society, (now the Downley Gardening Club), Probus, the local National Trust group, the  Downley Library, the over 50s club at the sports centre, and given talks to many local groups, including the WI (Women's Institute),” Mrs Patience said after pondering all the groups they've been in over the years.


When asked about her occupation before her retirement, Mrs Patience replied, “I taught at Downley Middle School from 1969-1988 on School Close. It used to take me seven minutes to walk to school as it was so close to where we lived.”

Finally, we turned to the subject of family. “We brought up our family here, and together we visited most of the nearby National Trust sites and often went well into the Cotswolds and the surrounding area. With our children, we went to Hughenden Park and Downley Common, which was great fun.”

I certainly hope that I am as optimistic about life as they are in fifty years time! The area will probably have evolved again and who knows what the town will be like. One can only imagine.