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  • Interviews and Storytelling: Audrey Clark

    [TRACK 1]

    The first thing is, I’d like you to tell me your full name and when and where you were born.

    Well my name is Mrs Audrey Clark, I was born in Luddendenfoot, a place called Turner Buildings at Luddendenfoot which is up a place called Naylor Lane; it’s up the top end of the village.

    Is that near the Midgley side?

    …No, not really. You come down Luddendenfoot and go up Luddenden Lane to go to Midgley but…how shall I say…my mother and father were just working people and my grandfather lived with us.

    What did he do?

    He was retired, he’d been the manager of the Co-op at Luddenden, oh yes he was highly thought of. His family thought he’d come up in the world because he’d been a very poor boy early on and I remember as a little girl in bed, I could hear the workers coming down Naylor Lane, they were going to their work. They worked in the cotton mills, the textile mills; I could hear their clogs and I was so pleased that I was stopping in a nice warm bed and they were going out into the cold to work, so I was glad that I hadn’t to do that. Anyway, when I got to be five years old – I had brother, Fred, he was about three years older that I was – anyway when I was five I had to go to school of course. I remember I didn’t want to go to school the first day and I remember hiding under the bed [laughing] so they had to get my out from under the bed to go to school, but I went to school and I got to quite enjoy it in the end. It was strange at first…and the boys and the girls were segregated. The girls were in one part, they played out in their own playground did the girls, the boys were in the other playground. In school you didn’t sit with the boys, they sat on one side and we sat on the other side. t’teachers were all right.

    Can you remember any of your teachers?

    Yes, when I should be about nine or ten, there was one called John Willy Needham, Mr Needham, I liked him, yes he was very nice.

    Did he teach you everything?

    Yes…he was very good at art and I remember he made two things which was good at teaching people geography – it was a big plywood board and there was one for England with all the names of the towns and down at the bottom there was another, with all the names the same and he got it so that somehow there was electric behind it somehow or other, if you pressed the right one at the bottom and the right town on the top, a light lit up at the top and that to me was marvellous and he did that himself. He did one for England and he did one for Europe. He was quite a clever fellow. The headmaster was…what did they call him?…I’ve forgotten his name now..I was never taught by him anyway, I remember he came on Friday morning and I think he must have got up at the wrong side of the bed because he got a line of us out in front of the class and he gave us all the cane, and I didn’t know what he was giving us the cane for; it’s the only time I got the cane I think, and I never forgave him.

    Anyway, when I was ten I tried for the exam to go to the secondary school. The first time I failed and for some reason, I don’t know how I managed it, I got another chance to try the year after and then I passed to go, so you can see I wasn’t all that good a scholar was I? So I went to the Sowerby Bridge Secondary School after that.

    Which school did you go to first?

    That was the Luddendenfoot, the Council School. You went there from five till about ten or eleven and if you went to the secondary school, you went there till you were sixteen in those days, yes. The people who didn’t pass, they just stayed in the Council School until they were… I think they could leave when they were fourteen I believe.

    What did your parents do?

    Well my dad, he was a spinner in the..cotton, it was a cotton mill…which mill did he work at? I think it was Whitworths he worked at, Whitworths Mill. There were mills all up the valley in those days – Whitworths, Helliwells, and one that they’ve just pulled down to build flats in – Sagar Richards; that wasn’t a textile mill though, that was engineering – yes there were a lot of cotton mills. There was no difficulty in getting a job in those days.

    How about your mother?

    My mother stayed at home, they did in those days. You couldn’t even be a school teacher if you were married; it was forbidden to be a school teacher in those days if you were married…Anyway, I went to the classes at school; I wasn’t a good student, I was mediocre one I think.

    What was your favourite subject?

    My favourite subject…I don’t know…gym I think! I was very good at gym, jumping over the horses and climbing up the bars at the back of the school, yes it was very good.

    What kind of things did you do outside of school?

    Well, we played out all the time, at a place called Daisy Bank which was about a quarter of a mile up the road. There was a sort of a little recreation ground, there was a roundabout and a slide, sort of built into the hillside if you know what I mean – just a piece of wood that you could slide down and some swings; we used to go up there all the time. I had a friend who lived there; it had been a very big farm in the olden days and they had made it into houses, and my friend Marion Clark, they actually called her Clark, lived there and so I went up playing there and I went and visited her. We played about where I lived – we played a game called ‘Kick Can’ – all you needed was an empty can, and you put it at the top of a slope and there were many slopes around here as you know, and one person had it if you know what I mean, then somebody kicked the can as far as they could and you all went and hid, then this person had to come and find you and they had to bring the can back to the top of the slope again and go out and find you. If you could get back to the can, you kicked it again and they had to come and find it and take it back… so you can see it was quite a cheap game and it could go on a long time.

    Were there other games that you played?

    With a ball – all you needed was a ball and you threw it against a garage door, we called it ‘our exercises’ and you jumped over it…. We played…hopscotch I think…yes we played hopscotch; I had a big wooden hoop, we had whip and top, I believe at one time I had what they called a diablo, I had one of them. Yes, there were plenty of games and we were never inside much, but I did read when I did learn to read – I read quite a lot of books. My mother and dad had won some books as prizes when going to Sunday School if you were good at attendance, you got a prize at the end of the year and there was books like ‘Adam Bede’ and there was one called ‘Thelma’, there really old fashioned books, but I read them.

    Did you enjoy those books?

    Yes I did, I liked reading books.

    Did you win that prize?

    Later on I did. Sunday School was the only place to go to at the weekend. You went to chapel and oh of course we went to the pictures, we went to the cinema later on. There was one down Sowerby Bridge and when I was a girl, a gang of us would go on the canal bank to Sowerby Bridge and they called it ‘the tuppenny rush’ because it was tuppence to go in! [laughing] I think I went at the beginning…they were just silent pictures at first but then the talkies came and that was our Saturday afternoon treat. Sunday we went to chapel at Luddendenfoot, they called it the Congregational Chapel in those days; what is it now? I believe they call it the United Reform now.

    Did you like Sunday School?

    Yes, it was alright.

    What did you do there?

    Well, you just sat in your class and listened to your teacher and I don’t know if you sang hymns in the Sunday School..yes we did,we sang hymns, sometimes we went on an outing; they took us in the summer, they took us to Wade Wood. The leader of your class would take you up to Wade Wood on a picnic. Whitsuntide we went on a procession and we had games and races; we went to some field or other you know, a convenient field, and had races and we ended up with coffee and…currant teacakes – I think they were buttered, I’m not right sure, but big currant teacakes and coffee. That was our Whitsuntide treat.

    Did you have to get dressed up for that?

    Well Whitsuntide yes, my mother took us to Halifax to get the new clothes for the coming summer and I think we went to the Co-op in Halifax. We had coats made for us I believe in those days, I think I got a summer coat made for me…And so time passed and then you went in for your school certificate at the end of three years I think we were there, and one morning the headmistress gathered all us girls together and she said they were going to have an examination; it was for the Robertshaw Scholarship and if you passed this examination, you would get a year’s training at the Halifax Technical College in commercial things – shorthand, typing, book-keeping. She asked would any of us like to go in for it? I went home and told my Dad and I said ‘I don’t think I want to go’ and he says ‘go on, try it’ because if you did pass, you got twenty pounds besides, so I went in for this exam. There were four scholarships, it was called the Robertshaw Scholarship and there were eight people went in for it, and I passed! Well I mean it was a fifty-fifty chance wasn’t it? So I took my school certificate and I did pass that although I don’t think they would have let my leave at Sowerby Bridge Secondary School if I hadn’t pass that because that’s what I was there for, so in the August – that would have been 1938, no I think that was 1939 because when I went to the Halifax Technical College, because that was when the war broke out and I was there during the first year of the war. I remember if you know it…in Halifax on Albert Road, the soldiers used to march along the road and we used to look out of the windows watching them. They used to do their bayonet practice in the field. It wasn’t a bit like ‘tec is now, it was just a small place in those days. There was one for the boys across the road I believe, I don’t know what they taught them in there! Anyway, there were about fifteen of us in the class, it was very nice; there were four of us and they taught us as I say shorthand, typing, book-keeping, French and German, arithmetic, handwriting which I needed; my handwriting was pretty lousy. And what else?…that was about it. At the end we took our RSA exams, RSA, that was the exam you took in the end, and at the end of that year I started my working life. I was sixteen then, which was pretty old in those days because most of them were working when they fourteen or fifteen, and of course I had a ‘job in my hand’ if you know what I mean, a shorthand typist in those days – I could get a job quite easily. I know the first one I tried for, it was somewhere on Queen’s Road and the wage they were offering me was fifteen shillings a week, which wasn’t much even in those days like; my mother went with me and she said ‘oh no, it’s too low is that’ and we swept out!

    By that time we’d moved from the house we were living in which was just opposite the school, what was it called…Victoria Terrace it was called – it was the middle house of three and it was the warmest house I ever lived in and it was back-to-back. My mother became the caretaker at the chapel so we moved down to the Chapel House, so when I went to Halifax Technical College we’d moved down there then.

    What happened then?….then I got a job at Fairlee Mill which was not very far from the Chapel House; I only had to go down a lane and round a place what they called Narrow Nick then across the river and there I was at Fairlee Mills, so that was my first job. There was another woman, an older woman there…what did they call her? My memory’s gone…there was somebody called Selwyn Nichol, he ran most of the office and an older woman, I’ve forgotten her name now. Anyway, there were those three and the owner of the mill, Mr Cockroft, had another office; you didn’t see much of him and when you did see him, he was dressed in a long brown overall and he went down into the mill looking after his workforce, his machinery and everything. I don’t remember ever doing any work for him. The other lady, she did all the shorthand, if there was any shorthand, and typing for him. I did the book-keeping in those days; I did the wages as well.

    What was the average wage then for a worker there?

    When I started my first wage I got was, I think it was twenty-five shillings – one pound five shillings (£1 5sh), just a bit better than the other, but it was very low wages…I worked there for two and a half years and then I was sort of called up for some reason, although it was a textile mill I couldn’t stay there. It was a case of either going into the army, into the WVS or the land army or, because I’d passed in physics and chemistry in my school certificate, I got a job at ICI [laughing]– me! I was never much good at physics and chemistry but I got this job at ICI in Deighton; you go up through Halifax to Huddersfield, and Deighton is further still so I had to catch three buses to get there, but in war time you did all sorts of strange things. It took me an hour and a half to get there; we worked shifts, seven shifts at a time; seven morning shifts, seven afternoon shifts, and seven night shifts.

    How long were the hours?

    Well, the morning shift I think…was it from seven till twelve or was it one…then afternoon was one till eight or nine…I’m not right sure, and the night shift was nine till seven, but because I lived so far away and it took me such a long time to get there, I had to work and extra hour on the night shift; for some reason my afternoon shift was an hour shorter but I had to make it up on the night shift, was it because of the buses? so I worked a terrific long time on the night shift. You got a weekend off at the end of the night shifts and you thought ‘thank God’ but I usedto be coming home on the bus and my head was nodding, oh it was terrible. To make matters worse, something happened one time – it was a trolley bus from Huddersfield to West Vale or to Halifax it would be, and at the weekend it didn’t run or something right early, so I had to go on my bike from Luddendenfoot to West Vale – this was just one day this was – and I left my bike in somebody’s back yard and caught this trolley bus to Huddersfield – oh it was murder – then coming back I had to come back to West Vale, pick my bike up and ride to Luddendenfoot.

    What was the trolley bus like?

    Oh the trolley buses, they were alright, they had a trolley – I never saw it, but I believe that sometimes in the winter the trolley used to come off and they had to put it on. They had long poles so they could reach up and put the trolley back on the wire. I don’t know when they disappeared but they used to run from Huddersfield…yes to West Vale it was in those days.
    But we weren’t bombed or anything at ICI, thank God.

    What job did you do at ICI?

    At ICI, we made nylon, I was in the nylon department. The whole place smelt of ammonia generally. It was a very big place; a train used to go through the works, in fact I don’t think I ever walked all around the works at all, but was nylon we worked at. The men used to come in from the factory with liquids and things and you had to do a refractive index on one of them, I remember this – there was a machine and you put a spot of it on, I think you did, and it was a refractive index. We also had to do a pH – now I do know what that is – it’s something to do with acid and alkaline; we had to do a pH on something else like that. Sometimes we had to boil things up; I hadn’t the faintest idea, you just followed it like a recipe although you were making a stew, that was all I knew about it as well, but there we are. It came out as nylon in the end. It came out as plastic, it was a plastic of course; once a man showed me how it was. It was a long length of white plastic and he said they cut it up into small pieces and sent it to another firm on the west coast of England and they would melt it down and put it through a mesh as it were, to make it into threads you see, that’s how the nylon was made. We were supposed to be making it for parachutes so whether I ever did make any for parachutes I don’t know, but they gave us a pair of nylon stockings at the end – a lousy colour, purple – a bit like that colour there and they laddered nearly as soon as you’d put them on, but anyway….

    Then I thought ‘this is too far’ at the end of the war. As I say, we weren’t bombed – there was one bomb dropped on Halifax that I believe killed one or two people but that was the nearest we came to being bombed., so at the end of the war I realised ICI, the chemical industry wasn’t for me at all so I left the ICI and I went to work at Mackintosh’s in Halifax in the laboratory – I was the shorthand typist, and I worked for a Dr Lipscombe and there were quite a few laboratory assistants. That would be in 1945.

    What did they make at Mackintosh’s?

    Oh chocolates, toffees, sweets of all sorts. Rowntree’s took them over didn’t they, later on, much later on. But Mackintosh’s was the sweet place in Halifax, yes.

    Did you stay there a long time?

    Ten years, ten years…then I got married after ten years.

    Who did you marry?

    He was a friend of a friend of mine – I had a girl friend called Irma Leaderer; she and her family had come from Germany before the war started; they lived between Germany and Czechoslovakia, and Mr Leaderer must have made it known that he didn’t like Hitler so they decided that they ought to come out and they just got into England before the war started. He was an engineer was Mr Leaderer, and later on my husband-to-be, he worked in the same place as him and…I used to go and visit them. They lived up Hardcastle Crags at a place called Hollins, a little cottage – there were three little cottages in a row and they bought the middle one. I believe there was a hole in it and they bought it for a very cheap price in those days; I used to go and visit her and I used to go to a dance in those days at the end of Queen’s Road….anyway, I went to her house one day…I went out with her, we went….she was a shorthand typist as well so we used to go on trips. I used to go to ‘tec improving my shorthand, my typing and book-keeping and we used to go out together with friends; we used to go to The Grand in Halifax to watch the plays, we thought we were really smart. I actually smoked a cigarette but I didn’t like it so I never did smoke, thank God!

    I went to her house one day and this Ivor was there, Ivor Clark; it became known that I used to go to this dance at the end of Queen’s Road and he lived on Queen’s Road, so the next time I went on Saturday I went with a girlfriend – he came and we started dancing together you see, so to cut a long story short, I married him! [laughing] I was thirty at that time but he was 33; his parents had died and he’d lived by himself for seven years. He lived in a rented house on Queen’s Road and so I had a house already prepared for me like really, so I moved in with him so we lived there, got married and our first child was born a year later, a girl Lynnette then two years later my son, but my husband, he was an engineer; where did he work…I can’t remember the names of the places he worked at but he had quite a good job, considering in those days.

    When I worked at Mackintosh’s my highest wage was eight pounds a week and at that time I was nearly 30 then… and that was the highest wage I would ever have got in those days, but that was considered a good wage. Things have changed.

    What happened then…then I stayed at home with my two children till the boy was going to school.

    When you were at home with the children, did you have different days for doing different jobs?

    Yes I think I did, like my mother before me. Monday was washing day, Wednesday was baking day, Friday my mother, she used to go to Sowerby Bridge market; we walked along the canal bank to Sowerby Bridge and there was a market. I don’t know why she did it but she bought her apples and oranges there ‘cos she only had to trail them back. She used to do her shopping at the Co-op at Luddendenfoot, that was where she did her shopping, but it was an outing and it was nice on the canal bank – yes, that was the place we went, Sowerby Bridge market.

    Anyway, I took part-time jobs then; you could get a job easily in those days, a morning job or afternoons. I was always at home when they came home from school and it was a way of making more money. This Irma, she was a teacher; she taught shorthand, yes she just taught shorthand I think, so I thought ‘if she can teach shorthand, I can do that’ so I passed the exams for teaching shorthand and as one of my part-time jobs I went teaching shorthand at the ‘tec and I also passed for teaching typing so I taught typing as well…but it was something to do. I used to go learning at the ‘tec in the afternoons.

    Were there special things you did on days such as Easter, Whitsun, Christmas or holidays?

    Well, we went on our holidays as a family; we went to Bridlington. I think we went nine years running because we had a good place to stay, she was a good cook was the lady and they liked the sands, my daughter especially liked riding on donkeys; she liked horses. She wanted me to buy her a horse. I said ‘in King Cross? Where would you keep a horse?’ There are no fields in King Cross are there, so she never got one but later on when she grew up, she got a horse of her own.

    [pause] They grew up, they went to school, my daughter went to Princess Mary’s, which was quite a good school but my son didn’t go to as good a school, he went to Clare Hall.

    I continued doing my part-time jobs…then the Pakistanis started coming in. This would be the seventies…the eighties…the end of the seventies. They’d grown up now had my children; my daughter, she went to a college at Sheffield and learning to be a teacher of housecraft or cookery and she was there for three years. She lived there in Sheffield. During that time she was courting in the second year she was there. In the first year they lived in the college but in the second and third year they had to get a house and five or six girls lived together in that houses who were in the classes learning to be cooks; at that time that she met this Malcolm, Malcolm Barrett and I looked at her one day and I thought ‘I can’t teach her anything about sex or anything like that – she’s eighteen, nineteen’ – she was twenty-one when she left this college, so when she came out of college she didn’t come home to live with us; she and a friend got a flat of their own and they lived in the flat until she got married later on…when was she married…she’s been married fifty years, no let me think…anyway she got married and my son, he got to be eighteen and he passed his Higher School Certificate I suppose it was, anyway he decided to go to Liverpool University; he was a clever lad. He went for a year to Liverpool College…University, and now comes the sad parts perhaps.

    Anyway, my daughter got married and she went to live with her husband and my son was at Liverpool University for a year, then he came back; he’d had some sort of a fall-out with his professors. He was always a very quiet boy was my son and he…what happened…he didn’t go back…wait a minute…he fell out with them somehow…he went back but I said to him ‘if you don’t like it, if you can’t stand it there, come home’ so he did come home but then we got him in at a Polytechnic up at Newcastle so he went up there for a year, then he came home from there. My daughter was living happily with her husband; she always had a job, not as a teacher – she never did teach cookery which is what she went there to do; she couldn’t find a job teaching cookery in any school, I don’t think they do teach cookery even now, so she was okay – she was with Malcolm and they looked to be getting on okay…. After my son left Newcastle…well he came back from Newcastle and he didn’t like it there, so he said, so I says to him ‘if you don’t like it, if you can’t stand it, come back home’ so he came back home after one year there; he’d been a year to Liverpool and a year to Newcastle then he came back home, and I don’t know… he acted rather strangely. He’d tried to get a job I think but he was writing letters to Texas Instruments because that’s what he was doing, sort of science and I looked at it…I saw some copies of what he’d written on the sofa and I thought ‘this is ridiculous’, it was absolute rubbish. He was sending these letters trying to get a job so I took it down to our doctor and he looked at it and he says ‘there’s another doctor who’s here’ at the time – this was Dr X, he says ‘I’ll take it to him and see what he thinks about it’ so he brought it back to me, and he says ‘he’s got schizophrenia’. Well I was amazed, I didn’t think it was anything like that – I just thought he was going through a rotten time in his life…He didn’t get any better….he lived with us for ten years, did he? Yes, it was ten years.

    My daughter was married and she kept going, they lived at Cullingworth for a quite a long time then I think her husband he lost his job and they went living down South, they got a lovely bungalow down there eventually and they lived down there, so I didn’t see very much of her but I didn’t bother much about her, I was more bothered with my son because he was very awkward to live with – do you know anything about schizophrenia? A little bit. Well he used to hit my husband sometimes if he argued with him but I never argued with him. I know every meal time, he came did David and helped me to wash up and he would try to argue with me but I didn’t argue with him. He went to Dr X once and I don’t know what happened, but he came home did David and went off on his bike, and a bit after somebody from the Social Services came up to see me and he says to me ‘where’s your son?’ I said ‘he’s just gone off on his bike’ and he says ‘well do you know he’s knocked Dr X out?’ so…of course they took him to court and he was put on probation for two years and fined about forty pounds or something. This is when…tragedy comes upon you isn’t it? So there we are. What happened after that?…This was a peculiar ten years that we lived with, but we left him at home when we went on our holidays, we went abroad, me and my husband. I went down to Dr X and I says ‘Will he be alright if he stops at home – if we go off and leave him at home?’ and he says, in his funny way that he has, he says ‘Well, if he sets the place on fire, you’re insured aren’t you?’ [laughing]

    You want the whole of my life story, do you? It gets a bit tragic.

    Well if you don’t want to talk about it, that’s fine – I have other questions I can ask you.

    Ask me some more questions because it doesn’t end very happily; he did commit suicide in the end, did my son.

    That was very sad.

    Yes it was, yes…

    Can you remember any Yorkshire sayings, like maybe your parents or grand parents said when you were little?

    Well I do remember…oh yes they talked Yorkshire, they used to say ‘So-and-so, you know, they used to have a chanson’ and I used to think this it is a big family, this Chansons – there are such a lot of them and I didn’t know what they were talking about – but they meant a ‘chance one’, a bastard, somebody born out of wedlock. I didn’t know that No I didn’t when I was a child. My father, they never talked about sex at all, that was no-no; I remember, I think I’d been reading ‘Jane Eyre’ and I asked him what a…what they call ‘em….when they’re not married…an affair? No…a mistress – I asked him, I said ‘what is a mistress?’ because it sounds so reasonable doesn’t it? and he ummed and he arred and in the end I said ‘is it when they’re not married to each other’ and he said ‘oh yes, that’s right’ – you know, so relieved!

    Why do you think they didn’t talk about it back then – to do with the church do you think?

    No not really, no.

    How did you find out then?

    How did I find out? Well, not through my mother, not really…no, you know when you have your periods and the first one, she came up to my bedroom that night, and she says ‘you know you can have a baby now’ and she never told me how, but we learnt from each other as girls growing up, we used to talk to each other. Nobody said anything at school about sex or anything like that, it was never mentioned, not in my day, no.

    Did you wear clogs when you were young?

    Yes I did to go to school in, yes, everybody wore clogs at one time, and then suddenly they started wearing shoes. When was that? I couldn’t have been at school very long – I started when I was five like I say, when I was about six or seven I think, shoes came in then and they wore…clogs went out…and we wore awful long stockings you know, what did they call them…they were thick stockings we wore, of course there weren’t any tights in those days, no; I didn’t like those.

    Did you have any nicknames or did you give nicknames to other people?

    I don’t remember any nicknames really, no.

    Were there any unusual characters around in your teenage years or later on – individuals as they call them – a bit out of the ordinary?

    Let me think [pause] unusual characters…I don’t really….they all spoke broad Yorkshire I suppose but no, I don’t remember any unusual characters or unusual trades trades…no…

    That’s fine…how have things changed in this area from when you were a young girl to now, what’s the things that have changed the most for you?

    Well, there are no factories any more; they don’t work in factories. I don’t know what they do – they work with computers, yes. Both my son-in-law and his sister work at the Halifax. We used to go out and have a meal together at Christmas – Christmas dinner together and I say they both worked in a bank – it’s a bank, let’s face it. I says ‘nobody makes anything these days’ you know, they don’t make cotton sheets, they don’t make toffees, they don’t make anything, they don’t make carpets – Halifax had a big trade in carpet making. I says ‘they don’t make anything, produce anything’ and Yvonne, Malcom’s sister said ‘oh we do make something you know’ I says ‘what do you make?’ she says ‘we make mortgages’ which I thought was a bit funny! That’s a good joke! [laughing]

    Do you know any other jokes?

    Well…I don’t know, I can’t think of any off-hand…

    What do you think about young people today? Do you think they have the same attitudes and values that you did when you were young?

    No, no…I don’t think they think at all like we did. They want things now don’t they? I mean, my mother, she never got anything on credit until…till…1950…she got a washing machine, she did get a washing machine on credit; it took her all her time to get a mortgage for about five pounds you know. Now, they seem to get everything they want on credit and things keep mounting up. I don’t really agree with anybody having to have a debt when they’ve left college or university, they shouldn’t have done that. They’re too young to be left with a big debt to pay when they might not get a job, who knows? How are they gonna pay that back? But nowadays…and of course, things have changed; when we were young, there was nothing to go to except the cinema which wasn’t bad, but nowhere else on Sunday but the church or the chapel, so you went to the chapel on Sunday. Now, what do they do…there’s computers, mobile phones, all sorts of things to play with…the trouble is me, I’ve never had any grandchildren you see; my daughter now is my only relative. My husband died, my son’s dead my brother died…

    I’d like to go right back to the first house you lived in when you were very young. Can you tell me what it was like? How many rooms there were, what was in it and things like that?

    Well as I remember…what did they call it…Turner Buildings, I would imagine somebody called Mr Turner built them, Turner Buildings, it was a long row of houses, all back-to-back houses they were and it was on a slope, in a sloping field, and we lived facing the road. Ours was the first house and you went in at the door..there was a big field in front where my mother hung her clothes out, hang washing out and you could walk up to the other houses on some flags. There was steps you had to go upstairs and on this side was the living room…where did she do her washing? She must have done it somewhere at the back of the living room somewhere, I can’t remember now – but that was where we lived..I was five when we left there, I was only a child when we lived there. There were three bedrooms upstairs but it was a back-to-back and the people who lived on the other side of the row, their bedroom came over our…no, one of their rooms, I don’t know which one it was, came over one of our bedrooms you see – that was it. Of course there was no bathroom; the toilet, I suppose we were lucky to have a toilet and it was outside; you went up some steps at the side to the toilet.

    Was that a communal toilet for the other houses, or just yours?

    I think it was just ours – goodness knows where the others went to, I don’t remember anybody else going up there – perhaps I never went up there – I was only five!

    The second house we went to at Victoria Terrace, there wasn’t a bathroom there. If we went to the toilet, it was in those days a water closet then but it had been one where it wasn’t…they came round every week and emptied the bins…anyway whenb we lived there, again it was a back-to-back house but this time we were over the people who lived on the other side and we used to play in the attic which was over somebody’s bedroom and if we made too much noise, she used to bang on the bedroom top…we had a cellar there where my mother did her washing; of course she didn’t have a washer, she had a posser, a scrubber and the boiler, but if you wanted to go to the toilet you had to come out, go down some steps and then go down some more steps; ours was the second one down and we shared it with the people who lived on the other side where we were over their bedroom, so if they wanted to come it was a bit unfortunate, but we lived like that… I don’t know when that changed, that would have been…I lived there from five till I was twelve years old I think in that house, but it was a very warm house. There was an oven and a fire-back boiler with a hot water cylinder upstairs and it kept the whole house very warm – the warmest house I’ve ever lived in.

    Now the Chapel House we went to later, it was very cold. We lived down in the bottom, in the kitchen. There was a toilet but no bathroom again – they never made bathrooms in those days. Upstairs was like a living room, on the height of the road. We never went up there, only on Sundays perhaps in summer because it was so cold – the bedrooms were even colder because it was a Chapel you see.

    Did it ever flood there?

    1947 when we had a really big snow. I remember wakening up one morning and I could hear the water running somewhere so I got up and it was running down our steps, and what had happened, on the top of the roof it was like a wall on the top of the roof and a drain down below, with grates in every so often, well the snow had blocked the grates up and it had started to thaw and the water couldn’t get down the grates so it came through the roof into our bedrooms like and it went down our steps, so me and my dad, they had a clock on that Chapel and my dad had to wind it up; I often went up with him to wind the clock, so we went up to the roof and we saw what was wrong so we took a spade each and we shovelled the snow from the grates so that the water could get down the grate, so that solved that. It was quite a flood.

    Were there a lot of shops about?

    Oh yes in those days a lot of shops yes, down Luddendenfoot. What kind of shops were there? Oh all sorts – the Co-op, about three butchers I should think, a fish and chip shop at the top, one right at the bottom, a place where they sold newspapers, what else was there…a place where they combed and cut dogs and cats, you know a place where they trimmed animal.

    What do you think about what we’ve just done now?

    I don’t know [laughing] well it was my life, nothing fancy about it. We were never rich, we were never rich, but we were poor, yes, because there was a time in the Depression when my dad lost his job and before that he had to employ two…women …it was the thread going across…he was a spinner and if the thread broke, these women, they helped him with his work as it were, and he had to pay them first before he could take his wage home to my mother; I remember once he came home with half-a-crown, that’s two shillings and sixpence and that’s not a lot, how much is it now? I forget – a shilling is about a five penny piece isn’t it? So in those days we were quite poor, and he was the only one who was working then.

    Do you think other people will find this interesting?

    Well I don’t know – a lot of people lived like that in those days….

    Would you give any advice to younger people today about anything?

    [pause] They seem to enjoy themselves but to me I would be careful how much they get into debt because it is possible they may never get out of it and it’s always a hold that other people have got over them if you know what I mean. It’s not a nice thing to be in debt. That’s the only thing I worry about, but they seem to know how to look after themselves nowadays don’t they usually? They all to have a car – we never had a car, never. When I worked at ICI, a man said he’d teach me how to drive if I got one and in I think in those days I could have got one, but my dad put me off; he said where would I park it because there wasn’t anywhere to park it at that time. I would have had to put it on the road side, but of course they do now.

    My husband, he had a motorbike but he never passed a test – he tried to pass it so he cold get a little motor, but he never passed, so he never passed so we never got a car.

    [END OF TRACK 1] – 62:36

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About Us

Wild Rose Heritage and Arts is a community group which takes it's name from the area in which we are located - the valley ("den") of the wild rose ("Heb") -  Hebden Bridge which is in Calderdale, West Yorkshire.

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Pennine Heritage Ltd.
The Birchcliffe Centre
Hebden Bridge
HX7 8DG

Phone: 01422 844450
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