Reflections: People & Lifestyle
They used to donkey stone the steps and window bottoms and some of them even did the flags outside their front door. And inside the house it was all flag floors and you scrubbed that, donkey stoned it and then you washed it because donkey stone used to clean it. You’d donkey stone it with a cream donkey stone, not one of them horrible yellow ones, and then you washed that off and you’d a lovely clean floor. You got the donkey stones from the rag and bone man. You’d give him a bundle of rags and he’d either give you a donkey stone or he had a great big block of salt on the back of his cart and he’d cut you a bit of this off with a rusty old saw. If you were posh and had carpet you’d put salt on it and brush it off to clean it but my mother used to save the tea leaves and then scatter them on the carpet and brush them off. That was meant to clean the carpet.
Monday was washday. You sorted all the washing out into piles because the whites were kept separate and underclothes were kept separate and towels. They all were done separately. You got the boiler going with the soap in. They all went in the dolly tub but the ones that were bad that needed scrubbing went in the slopstone because it was flat and you could scrub the collars and cuffs. Of course they were loose collars then, there weren’t many shirts with collars on. You had to starch the collars then. The whites went in the boiler then and you got on with the others. You then rinsed and rinsed the clothes to get the soap out and then put them through the mangle which had a great big handle on. You’d then hang them outside or put them on the maiden to dry. Then you ironed. It was generally a flat iron. There was a gas iron but it was a bit tricky because if you went too energetic at it the gas shot out at the front. It was lit, the light was underneath keeping it hot and if you went too fast this flame would shoot out at the front. The flat irons were warmed on the oven or in the fire and then you had this slipper, a tin thing that fitted over it so you didn’t dirty the clothes. It didn’t do many before it went cold again.
I remember whooping cough which was different from other illnesses because you had exciting cures for it. One of the cures was that you were taken up to Salthill. Mother would take tightly hold of your hand and then you’d to stand as near the limekilns as you possibly could and inhale the fumes. These were supposed to cure your whooping cough. If it didn’t succeed and you were still whooping and coughing the next time the tar sprayer went round the town you’d to follow that round and inhale the tar.
At Easter crowds of people descended on the town. They came by train from Blackburn and they walked from Accrington and Great Harwood, they came round the end of Pendle from Nelson and Colne. This was before there were busses. Literally thousands of people came to town and went down to Brungerley for the first holiday of the year. They’d go and sail in Tucker’s Fleet, the twenty or thirty rowing boats that he had and he had a motor boat too and there were slot machines, there were food stalls, there was a tea-room. It was a wonderful day.
Popa Parsons and his Seven Lancashire Lasses
There were three cinemas in Clitheroe and just occasionally, perhaps two or three times a year, we’d have a theatrical production either at the Co-op Hall, I remember an opera company coming there, or at the Grand Kinema. For several years Popa Parsons and his Seven Lancashire Lasses used to come. They used to present a revue and they were seven really lovely girls and I remember they used to lodge at the house down York Street and we boys were getting thirteen, fourteen or fifteen and we were conscious of the two sexes on the face of the earth and we’d walk past the house a hundred times hoping to catch a glimpse of these lovely girls
Occasionally we were successful but they were very well chaperoned and there were a number of broken hearts amongst the younger boys at the Grammar School at the time. I remember two more cinemas. There was the Queen’s Hall at the bottom of King Street which is now Dawson’s the ironmongers shop. I remember seeing my very first films there as well as music-hall. Then there were the Empire Buildings down near the Wesleyan Church where you’d to go up the steps and pay your tuppence to get in. Ignacious Cullen, who later became the manager of the Grand Kinema, he used to play the piano there.
Article from Lancashire Evening Post 26-11-1957 Frank Dougdale
Sixpence and a shilling
Original by Anon with ‘extensions by Judy Driver, Steve Burke
Part One (Anon)
Back in the days of tanners and bobs,
When Mothers had patience and Fathers had jobs.
When football team families wore hand me down shoes,
And T.V gave only two channels to choose.
Back in the days of three penny bits,
when schools employed nurses to search for your nits.
When snowballs were harmless; ice slides were permitted
and all of your jumpers were warm and hand knitted.
Back in the days of hot ginger beers,
when children remained so for more than six years.
When children respected what older folks said,
and pot was a thing you kept under your bed.
Back in the days of Listen with Mother,
when neighbours were friendly and talked to each other.
When cars were so rare you could play in the street.
When Doctors made house calls and Police walked the beat.
Back in the days of Milligan's Goons,
when butter was butter and songs all had tunes.
It was dumplings for dinner and trifle for tea,
and your annual break was a day by the sea.
Back in the days of Dixon's Dock Green,
Crackerjack pens and Lyons ice cream.
When children could freely wear National Health glasses,
and teachers all stood at the FRONT of their classes.
Back in the days of rocking and reeling,
when mobiles were things that you hung from the ceiling.
When woodwork and pottery got taught in schools,
and everyone dreamed of a win on the pools.
Back in the days when I was a lad,
I can't help but smile for the fun that I had.
Hopscotch and roller skates; snowballs to lob.
Back in the days of tanners and bobs.
Part Two ( Judy Driver)
Yes back in the days of no central heat,
When hot water bottles would warm up your feet.
When bottles of milk were given in class
And children weren’t wrapped up and treated like glass.
When trees were for climbing and dens were a joy
And kids knew their gender - a girl or a boy.
If somebody shouted a horrible name,
You turned round and answered - with some of the same.
You didn’t go whingeing and being a wuss,
You got on with life without making a fuss.
Part Three ( Steve Burke)
Aye, Back in the day – a’fore we were teens,
We had ‘Mischief Night’ – and not Halloween!
A thrupny Cannon’d lift your neighbour’s bin lid
As you tied each door handle, knocked, ran and then hid.
We’d start ‘plotting’ (in Yorkshire) in the long holiday,
Collecting old rags - to make Guy’s pennies to pay.
Old ladders, shed doors, backyard loo’s fanlight,
Owt that’d burn was fair game fo’ Plot Night.
And on that night, there’d be Parkin, Plot toffee - and more,
Guitars, Harmonicas, songs from old shows and the wars.
At the end of these nights, when the plot was just embers
Your mill band was done - but so much to remember.
These ingrained memories, and the flash-back reminiscence,
A great store to be drawn on and to see be-yond t’present.
Simple pleasures remembered from Whiteacre Lane Barrow
Tea on a blanket in front of the house,
On a lawn pocket handkerchief size.
A picnic! Exciting! And so close to home
With a menu, that was no surprise.
My favourite, egg ‘buts’, followed by homemade cake,
A tumbler of pop or a bun.
Mrs. Wilson, next door would come out for a chat
And we all had such jolly good fun
Watching cricket on Sundays, a walk up the lane,
Cricket whites didn’t stay white for long.
Dodging the cow claps was part of the sport
It was that or else suffer the ‘pong’!
The mobile ice cream van was part of our treat,
We’d no fridge to keep it ice cold
A bit like fish and chips, it’s best eaten out,
I still think so now, truth be told.
Remember the meadows all full of wild flowers?
We were never permitted to pick.
If we trampled the grass there was trouble in store,
We were scared of the farmers big stick!
Yes, back in the days when we were all kids,
Expectations were simple and few
Some progress is great, but some of it’s not
Good or bad, we will have to make do!
With what’s happening at the moment with coronavirus and the time of year I thought I‘d find some memories of holidays past. I came across something I did some years ago for an exhibition. Sorry there are no names attached to the clips but without going through many, many hours of recordings I can’t find them – Andrew Schofield
Where would you go to stay?
Well we were in various... well we used to go to... only places near home like Morecambe and Blackpool and St. Annes. Those were the three best places really.
And when you got there what sort of place would you stay in?
Well we stayed in a boarding house then. A boarding house that let the rooms off. You took your own food and you kind of... well mind you it was only 4/6 then but I mean you took your own food and they generally found you a little cupboard in the sideboard and you put all your things in there and then, as I say, when you came back to a meal, before you set off in the morning you'd generally go to the shops and get a bit of meat and some vegetables - she generally provided potatoes - and you'd come back with your meat and then you'd go out and enjoy yourself 'til the lady of the house were cooking your meal. And then you came back and it would be ready for you kind of thing. And if you needed bread and butter you did that yourself.
You cut it and buttered it yourself?
And buttered it yourself, you see, - out of your cupboard. And then as I say, you'd get your meal. It'd be meat and vegetables and potatoes she'd provided and then you... for the finish you'd get a plate of rice pudding. Now that might be 3d for a plate of rice pudding. Very watery you know, not very good. But still that'd be your meal. And then you'd pay perhaps sixpence for the cruet for the week that might be, or a shilling. And that was the boarding house business.
What sort of sleeping accommodation would you have?
Oh decent sleeping accommodation as a rule. You'd have booked the room and she'd... you'd say well there's four of us - two girls, two boys and mother and dad kind of thing. Well she'd find you a room perhaps with three beds in it then - one for the girls, one for boys and mother and dad.
So you'd all be in the same room?
Yes, generally. Although when you got a bit bigger, of course, we always used to have one... that the boys had their room and the girls the other. Very good as a rule and that was Blackpool.
Would you go to any entertainments while you were in Blackpool?
Well, perhaps one show a week. Something, you know, really good. But other times... oh and sometimes we'd go on the pier. There was generally a good one on the pier. But otherwise there were plenty of entertainments in those days with pierrots on the sands. So, of course, we spent some time on the sands listening to the pierrots and it was surprising... I were very interested in singing and that and it was surprising what a lot of songs I knew from these pierrots. And then there was a lot of entertainment with a music stand. They'd be selling copies of music up to well, getting nearly married, I used to go and listen to those.
How do you mean there would be entertainment in selling a piece... sheet... sheet of music?
Well I mean there would be two men, perhaps a comedian, and another man or a lady and a piano on the sands, many a time, or on the prom in some secluded part and they'd say now this is Feldman's - that was a very well known firm - Feldman's Music Stall and they're playing so-and-so. And they'd all the popular songs that year - and I've a lot of copies in the music box there. Feldman's and Theatre Land and all such like as that and Florrie Ford, you know, what she sang. Oh, `Show Me the Way To Go Home' and er.... oh tons of them. All popular songs. And then you'd come back home and you'd know that song. And you thought you were everything because you knew it and nobody else did - they hadn't been away.
Was Blackpool the place where...
Blackpool was the place then, yes.
Was it fairly cheap to go on holiday there?
When we went it was... you had what you called... you kept yourself. You went into a boarding house and you paid for your bed 3/6 in the old money some were 4/6 weren't they, better establishments. And then you would pay what they called cruet money which was 1/6 a week which was for the use of the salt, pepper and the cruet on the table. And then I think these boarding house keepers did a wonderful job really. They... it fascinates me when I think about it now because probably in these boarding houses there were about twenty, sometimes twenty odd people and they were all split into twos, threes and fours, you know, and what they used... what you used to do you used to give them your eggs for your breakfast and your ham and same for your dinner your steak or whatever you were having for your dinner and they used to cook that for you and serve it and that was all for 3/6 wasn't it, 3/6 and of course your bed as well for 3/6, you know. You must bear in mind that when we're talking about then that was 3/6 don't forget that our wages were only £1 you know.
Did you go paddling or swimming at all when you were...?
Oh yes paddling yes, and as we got older swimming.
What would be the sort of wear when you went...?
Well we had ordinary cotton, navy blue cotton swimsuits at one time and that was it kind of thing, you know nearly down to your ankles and one thing and another. And then a fashion came in that you knit your own with proper wool - wool bathing costumes. And I remember I didn't knit one because as I say mother said we'd enough. I mean we'd one or two cotton ones with different coloured bands on the bottom so she said `No I'm not going to... you're not going to knit one it's not right' and I'm very glad we didn't because my two friends they knit one and when they went into the... it were a lovely fit, nice round neck and so and so, but when they went into the water and they got it wet it was heavy and it dropped and what should have been up at the neck were down here then. So they weren't fit to come out of the sea until somebody went in and brought them out with a towel. So I mean we were very glad we didn't knit a bathing costume.
What about holidays?
I never... the only time I remember going away onnus holidays was when we went away on one of these home things, what do they call... I forget what they call it. I remember they used to send you away to this place for... you know poor kids and I can remember we went and stayed at St. Annes it was and whenever I see a picture of the concentration camps it always strikes me of this place. There was wooden huts and there was a railway run near it and you might go out about once every three days they'd take you out, you know, and you'd go to a... some amusement park or something like that, but otherwise you were just stuck in this place and there was barbed wire round it and you just stuck around this sort of concentration camp. I couldn't say I enjoyed it.
Were you left to amuse yourselves otherwise?
Yes. There wasn't enough staff to... not really, you were just left to do your own thing and now and again they'd take a crowd of you out to an amusement park.
Did you wear your own clothes?
Yes. Just like being in the army you used to queue up for your meals there and they'd dish it out as you went to the table and then you'd go and sit down and they provided you with knife and fork and plate and that, but I haven't got a good memory of it myself.
Do you know how long you went for?
I think it were a fortnight I think we were there.
And that's the only holiday you can remember?
Yes that's the only holiday I remember going away for.
And was this just a one... one off or did you go several times?
No once, I only went once. I wasn't keen to go again. If they had offered I wouldn't have gone again I don't think.
... family holidays? Did you have them?
Yes, occasionally. It was generally Southport, and it was always the one same place - 64A East Bank Street. And you used to take a lot of your own food you know. And your mother'd have a big bag of sugar, tea and things like that. Buy bread there. And at the er.. the boarding house you would pay for bed and cruet and you did your own cooking. So if you were the last up in the morning you were the last to get breakfast. But you paid a little something for the stove and you did your own. So all you had to pay was just bed and breakfast.... er just bed rather and cruet. And it would be about what? I think it were about one and six a night or a shilling a night.
What - for the bed?
Yes. That'd be a double bed - man and his wife...
Would you... where would you be?
I'd be in a single bed.
In the same room?
In the same room, yes, oh yes.
What about washing facilities?
Well they used to er... oh you mean hand washing and things like that? Well there was generally, in the bedroom there was a stand... what we used to call... used to call a washstand and it was like a small sideboard effect. Some had a marble top, some had had a tiled top and some had just an ordinary wooden top and on there was a big... like a big dish. It was a pot bowl, very ornate too, and in it was a big jug and every morning that was filled with cold water and that's... used to pour your cold water into this big ornate dish and wash you...
... no chance of warming it?
No, no chance whatever.
What would you do in Southport?
Well mostly walk, sand and there's plenty of it - sand. And there was always some nice bands on Lord Street and then there was a very nice band stand there and forms and that round. There was a lot to visit. There's... surprising there's plenty to do. And if you had a copper or two there was the little boating lake you could use.
Shows and things like that? Where they part of it?
You might do one in the week, you might, and you may not. It just depended how the money went. You might do. But there was always the free shows in those days. Free shows. They used to sell... they used to sell music on the sea front and they used to be like wooden huts and the side dropped down... well half of it and the other half went up and it made a stage, and there was a piano in there and there was a pianist and a singer, and he'd be in a blazer probably and a straw hat and he'd be singing these songs of the day. The pianist would be playing to him and then after he'd finished the song they'd be going round, one fellow'd be going round with a sheaf of song papers, and selling them - sixpence each. Which in those days paid for these people and it was a real good entertainment, because there would be Feldman's and there would be Horace Wright's as well so you were sure of two daily shows. There's invariably the Salvation Army Band, used to come on the... on the sands and play you know. There was always something going on, something that didn't need money spending on, you know.