GRANGETOWN IN TIMES PAST
St Marys School
Mick Traynor - Boer War Recruit + Others
Streets and Buildings
World War One 1914 -18
Parish, Priests and Processions
Street Stories + Characters
1925 Ladies Parish Outing + More
A Tale from the Duckie + other stories
World War Two 1939 - 45
Messages from Home & Abroad
Shops and Shopkeepers
The World of Work
Upstairs and Downstairs...
The Board School
Pochin Road Infants School
Leisure & Sports
Grangetown Boys' Club
Sir Wm Worsley School
Maps, Plans & Aerial Photos
St Peter's Senior School
St Matthew's Parish
Eston Grammar School
Trolley Buses TRTB
Grangetown Methodist Church
Contact Information for Grangetown in Times Past
Links for Grangetown in Times Past
The Day Trip
|In 1934 the Grangetown Hotel at fifty years old, was still an impressive building. A long two-storeyed structure dressed in smooth dark red bricks dotted with several attics, some cheekily wearing a dunce cap roof, others solid and square leading up to four storeys, accompanied alongside by now unused stables and reminding us of a gentleman's country seat which had somehow been mistakenly built beside the town's iron and steel works owned by Dorman and Long.
Like a thorn in the left hand side, was the 'Women Only' bar - aptly named by the women themselves " The Duckie "- partly because of the room's niggardly smallness and the fact that the women ducked sharpishly in and out, in case they encountered one one the few " who went to bed and left their eyes and ears on the doorstep" - who would be double-quick to inform one of their family that they hadn't gone out to look for a " penny for the gas".
The size of this paltry room in such a large public house blatantly stated what the community thought at the time - especially the men - that women must do as they are told and men can do as they like. Ironically the women regulars in the Duckie treated strangers with hostility.
Even the few local married women under forty who nipped in like the ' regulars' on Saturdays for a gill of beer to escape their poverty stricken lives and defy their domineering husbands just to convince themselves they were “ yes women” to nobody, had to stand in the partitioned-off passage, " the bottle and jug " for months before they gained acceptance to the private and jovial ‘crack’ of the ‘duckie’.
But one particularly hot Saturday afternoon, a tall heavy-boned woman with a childish pout and small smouldering brown eyes set in a pasty face with firm jaw line, pulled a fast one on the 'regulars'. She audaciously sat on the end of the bench in " Big Lena's " place, adjusted the two large pronged hat pins in her navy straw hat and proceeded to carefully drink her beer, a mouthful at intervals... to make it last.
Normally the sudden freezing silence of the regulars would have given the thickest woman the wire to retreat and stand in the passage. But on this particular sunny Saturday afternoon, the regulars were in their element, 'carried away' with a barrage of questions and bland statements to a young university student, Commander Bower's daughter, who had by thirst, bad luck or sheer bravado, entered a Labour Party Supporters” den' to boister support for the local Tory Party candidate.
The girl had a certain charm, no-one would deny, for she offered to buy all present, a half of best bitter, which greedy cat Lily was dying to accept. But as quick as a whip, Nora jumped to her feet saying,
"Thanks all the same pet, but we don't take a drink from schoolgirls, though you're very welcome to sit an' state ya' case.. if ya' can gerra word in edgeways."
Little Annie shot her bullet,
" Do that pet, ya' can't ' elp who ya 'father is ."
Now these regulars would be the first to admit that they knew nothing at all about politics. Their politics was how to get the dinner on the table for a large family every day, whilst struggling with the dole, the means test or the dreaded ' parish '. Still, they were streetwise and knew the basics The Tories stood for the rich - helping people who had money to keep it and make more, while feeding off the poor who were employed for long hours and low wages. The Labour Party stood for the poor and if they got in, would fight for full employment and higher wages. The Liberals were in between the Tory and the Labour Party who unfortunately when in power seemed to wear a Tory coat. Politicians on the whole were viewed as "a crafty set of buggers" so the regulars were not going to let this educated girl off the hook. So began the barrage.
" Please ask ya' mam if she could tell me, 'ow does a wida’ with five children keep children on the bread line, while earnin' four pound' six shillin' a month as a school caretaker?"
"My 'usband's a Sergeant Major from the last war. Your dad's ex-service....ask 'im 'ow 'e'd like standin’ at ow'ah work's gate every mornin' at six o clock, cap in 'and.....beggin’ for a shift?"
A quiet, timid voice said,
" 'Ave ya met the brazen employment officer Mr. Erton yet? My ‘usband’s a good worker but he 'as a ‘ump on 'is back through no fault of 'is own. He 'ad the bloody cheek ta say to'im ....we want steelworkers 'ere not camels."
Another voice, weary and disillusioned muttered,
" Pet ..our men fight their bloody wars for 'em, sweat blood in the trenches for 'em, and what d' the' get.....a tin full o' tickets that 'ave run out ..at the pawn."
After a series of similar statements, Miss Bower expressed her pleasure at meeting them and made a hurried exit.
Hannah, a bright woman from Teesport, who spoke through her nose commented,
" Did ya notice she never agreed with one word of any of ya ...' they never speak in the infirmary ( affirmative ). Politicians...they're like corkscrews.........they
couldn't lie straight in bed !"
A roar of laughter greeted the statement, then they all broke into song,
Vote, vote, vote for Mister Mansfield !
Turn ould Bower out the field
For Mansfield is the man
And we'll 'ave'im if we can
Then we won't go votin’ anymore !
Even sly Eva joined in, who secretly voted Tory - for no other reason than her father did before her, and his before him.
This was how Betty Gemistone ( the hat-pronged woman ) from Lackenby made her swift inauguration to the 'duckie' .A woman of few words who travelled a mile each way - on shanks pony - every Saturday dinner-time for a half of beer price fourpence, and later that night - for three gills -finance permitting. Few words or not, her seat wasn't warm before she started to persuade the regulars what they could do with - in fact - badly needed - was a 'good day out'. A full day out at York with a slap -up dinner and tea in a posh hotel - price six shillings and sixpence all - in.
Naturally, the regulars were suspicious and Bridgie Gallagher who could talk with the deliberation of a Philadelphia lawyer and speak Gaelic to boot, knew it was her place to put this newcomer in her place before she dragged them all into a financial hole with her big ideas. So she started to explain,
" Don't get the idea we haven't been on a trip before, " she boasted. " We've been twice on an afternoon mystery trip round the dales, run by our trustworthy friend Maggie Sheehan, who got the bus on strap from Mr Turner, and she gave us two months to pay the one and threepence fare. This two and six for the fare, two and six for the dinner an' one and six for the tea sounds a bit outrageous to me. "
But she was eventually won over when Betty told them all it was a La Carty menu, a choice of soup, beef, lamb or pork plus all the trimmings, a choice of sweet followed by coffee, cheese and biscuits.
Tough, strong Katy Daly, wiping the froth from the sides of her mouth and mesmerised by scrumptious thoughts spoke contrarily,
" They must be gutsy buggers who stay in these 'ere'otels. When 'arve finished dishing our dinner up, ar 'm iucky if ar get a saucer o' tatties an' a dollop o'gravy."
Aunt Etty suggested,
"Let's go on the trip I'll make just us'ere a piece a cake like ah did last time an'we can all take owah own cornbeef an'bread an' maggie ( margarine ) sandwiches. "
Violet poo poohed this idea,
" Look we 're in a rut. Ah think it's 'igh time we mixed with the rich just t’ see for one day, 'ow the other 'alf lives ."
Practical May chipped in,
" To save threepence a week for six and a half months, we could stop comin' in 'ere on Saturda' dinner times."
" An' 'ow long would we keep thar up?" piped up logical Mary Lizzie .
After three weeks argy - bargy, the trip was on Betty would fill the bus with outsiders-women of whom the regulars approved - not rowdy women who might 'show them up’ or deadlegs who might kill the party spirit - but rather pleasant, jolly women who knew how to enjoy themselves without going too far.
Every Saturday, the main topic of conversation was the trip. The arrrangements and the details were trawled over with a fine tooth comb and drank in with gusto. Some regulars religiously paid their threepence weekly, others copping up with payments using methods so intriguing that they wouldn't say how - but pay up they did - two weeks before the date of the trip.
Little Lena brought in a piece of material to show the crowd the flowered dress she was making herself. Mrs Jolly who, like a few of the women had been in-service, brought in a dessert spoon, to demonstrate the art of soup drinking - away from the person - and showed how to eat a sweet in the opposite direction-just so there'd be no flies on their table manners in the posh hotel dining room
They plotted and planned every item of clothing they were to wear and what couid be wheedled onto an already bulging 'never-never' credit ticket and wondered how to retrieve their best bloomers or crepe de chene dress from "Uncles" or tried to decide if they should settle for a cover-all - a long shiny navy-blue serge coat. The 'at pronged woman wouldn't be the only one wearing a hat they decided and plans were made to, renovate an old one, borrow one or order one from Mrs Forster's second-hand cart.
Every single Saturday night, they ate their dinner and tea, changing the menu like a yo-yo.
" I think I'll 'ave the roast pork with stuffing and apple sauce."
" I don't know if it's true but I 'eard too much pork gives ya indigestion.
" Ee ....it's a chance arive been waitin'for !"
"I'll settle for the roast beef an' cranberry sauce."
"Whatever thar is -surely they'll 'ave a few yorkshire puddin's."
" Best red salmon san' wiches- ar wonder wha' they taste like? "
"They're bloody lovely.....we had 'em at me granny's funeral eight years ago. She was well backed."
So it went on, until the Saturday night before the planned day trip to York on the following Wednesday.
Betty Gemistone entered the Duckie at her usual time of ten past eight. She stood sideways at the bar as if to order her first half pint, hesitated, then did a quarter turn towards the group . Head down and eyes averted she looked somewhat sheepishly at the numerous glowing, animated faces absorbed in and engaged in a newly found atmosphere of pleasure and eager anticipation . But even a cursory glance at the regulars on this particular night was a sight to see
Some had taken the trouble to have their hair trimmed whilst others had it tonged, and a few had experimented with lipstick and face powder. Some had even gone the whole hog and already bathed for the trip.
The only thing that seemed to betray Betty's agitation was the absence of one of Betty's hatpins causing her hat to tilt slightly.
Ginnie Murphy was the first to 'cotton on' to the situation, rolling her eyes at Betty's hat and turning sideways to her lifelong companions Nora and Mary Ellen and nudging them both with her elbows, she spat out the words,
" Oy up !"
Silence descended on the group and all eyes were on Betty. In barely audible tones, she began to speak.
" Ladies, a'm very sorry but I'll 'ave to tell yus. Last night I 'ad a fire in ower front kitchen cupboard.....an' it burnt all the pound notes I 'ad for the trip ! "
Then she disappeared quicker than ' Marley's Ghost' which had just been showing on the Paragon .
You could have heard a pin drop. Suddenly the Duckie became airless. The shabby bottle-green curtains at the small window nicknamed the scrappybar and the door space itself turned into sheets of steel. Ashen and red-faced regulars gasped for breath. Big Maggie who had never fainted in her life before, slumped to the floor from one of the footstools. Heart-rending sobs echoed around the room.
" You Lackenby b---------- !" a voice shouted vehemently.
Litttle Maggie sprang onto the narrow table shouting as she did so,
" Hang on te ya glasses lasses!"
This dwarf-like figure, with not a picking on her, pranced on the table in her
tow buttoned up boots, shadow-boxing Betty's vacant place screaming,
" If I gets me'ands on ya arl kill ya !"
A know-it-all voice sounded out,
" Ar knew there was somethin' fishy about THAT woman !"
" Why didn't ya bloody well tell US then ?" came the disgusted reply.
Bridgie, who had never sworn in her life before, mumbled,
" Po'ga ma'hone!"( Kiss me irish arse !)
Disturbed by all the commotion, Kate the barmaid ran for Mr Fred True the Manager.
"Ee....ye berra come straightaway Sir ...there's somethin' radically wrong in the ‘Duckie!”
Author : Eileen Rooney 1980
Before I proceed to tell you of the times between 1926,when I was born, and 1938, when we, the original fatty cakes left the street. I must tell you some of the tales I heard whilst sitting in the passage in between waking, sleeping and unconsciously eavesdropping: true facts of the First World War and after - the laughs, one or two cries and the social set-up as I saw it. Now as a working class housewife, I can remember and speak of the innocence and the uneducated but razor-sharp wits of those wonderful people, my own childhood and family background. I sincerely hope that you understand it, for at times, I don't.
Still, I must follow the street code and tell you about us..the O'Neills..who lived,
( I can hardly say resided ) at number 86.
I arrived tenth, in a dwindling family of twelve. Only five of us survived to adulthood - for in those days, child deaths ran riot.
You will be wondering what I was doing in the passage. Well I fell asleep anywhere and everywhere. The neighbours said that I had sleeping sickness, a bad case of worms, or some foreign malady. In 1976 aged 50, and nine children of my own, I was told I had narcolepsy.
This malady gained me a place in everyone's passage, for Mama would cart me with her wherever she went. In the house of the day she would join friends to mull over tactics - how to dodge the rentman, what could be found to send to ' uncles’, as the pawhbrokers were affectionately called when not being cursed, and whose turn it was to go to Catherine Anne's to borrow five shillings until the pawn opened on Monday morning. They would also of course tell each other the local crack (gossip) for they loved to have " a good call ". They were not committing the sins of calumny and detraction, but just laughing at neighbours’ mistakes. It boosted their morale and helped them face life by forgetting their own circumstances and misdemeanours. On entering the house Mama would say apologetically,
"I've brought our Eileen, she's not very strong.”
It was strictly taboo for children to listen to adults conversation. The street saying was,
Little pigs should be seen and not heard'.
This, like the rest of the unwritten rules of the street was strictly adhered to. So Mama would park me in the passage, but the door was slightly ajar and they would forget that I was there.
Darling Mama..... Mary Ellen Mannix , to the rest of the street, would sit down in one of the worn out faded plush chairs, a relic of someone's granny's seven- piece suite. Her laughing blue eyes surrounded by tear-worn wrinkles were her outstanding feature.
She, like the rest of the women, always looked older than her years not like the young looking smartly dressed middle-aged women of today. It had something to do with the street uniform. A print crossover pinafore hid the cheapest of dresses. The low slung calico brassiere dragged one's breast to the waist. Thick stockings were worn summer and winter with shapeless flat healed shoes adorned by a single crossover strap which gave way in winter to boots. Boots that always reminded me of a picture I once saw of Russian peasant women - colourless, styleless and worn with a depressed air. As we would say in the streets : ' Your on the rocks Luv '.
This climate of hard times can be summed up in the words of a dear friend. Now you must remember I was not supposed to hear any swearing or vulgarity, but looking back now I can't help but laugh, for when life in general was getting her down she'd say in a falsetto voice,
"Anyone for tennis?", then add in her own, downhearted down-to-earth voice,
“It’s all balls "
I remember now, but never noticed then, that Mama's nails were bitten to the quick. Another street trait. She was warm hearted, generous to a fault, defiant and a proper scream. She did admit the defect of not being able to manage the 'Big money', but who could manage on the pittance the government called social assistance in the thirties? Dadda was a road foreman some of this time, but the wages were extremely low.
Mama, like all Vaughan Street mothers, was overprotective of her brood. One of our neighbours would regularly say,
"If my son committed murder the judge would hang”
Our happy-go-lucky Mama followed the advice that there’s good in everyone if you’re willing to go and look for it.
Assembled in that small front kitchen would be Big and Little Maggie, Jinny, Norah, Rachel, Emily, Lizzie and Mrs G. As one or two left, they would be replaced by others.
I stirred from my slumbers in the passage as laughter came tumbling through the door. The conversation continued.............
Norah : "Did you know that Buffer's dog witnessed a murder on the hills?"
Mrs. G. poker-faced,
“I wonder what he'll say in court..........Bow-wow?”
"Katie K. was down from South Bank. She told me she'd just made her pies for the Sunday tea when one of her neighbours ran in flustered, saying,
" Katie I've got company coming, will you lend me your pies and the knife to cut them?" she said.
"Oh Almighty God, I’ll never see them again" thought Katie as she handed over her four dinner plate pies and the knife. But her neighbour reassured her saying,
" Don't worry Katie, they are just for show, I’ll bring them back as soon as I get rid of my friends.
Katie heaved a sigh of relief for she knew she meant the company and not her precious pies."
" You know her, out our back, the one that's no bottle (referring to her morals) that madam at 'Custer's Last Stand' ?..... Well... her lad’s got a motor-bike and he's driving me crackers. He revs it up, goes up the back arch, round the corner, down their street then straight through the house...it's a straight run through” ...adding the afterthought “ mind you ......he can’t damage owt .....there's bugger all in it! "
Mrs B: quietly spoken, her vacant expression denoting that Jinny's plight had not touched her, said glumly,"
“ What if he has an accident in the back kitchen ? He'll get no insurance.”
" Did you hear that John, out of Stapylton Street, gassed himself ? They had to take the oven away. "
Big Maggie: (who laid out the dead)
" I wonder why they haven't sent for me yet ? Mind you I was called out this morning at one o'clock by Mrs M....... Her husband had died and to cheer her up a bit, I said,
He’s got a smile on his face Louie.”
"Smiling or not he's out of here as soon as you can fix it up," she snapped back at me. "
“ Shall we see if we can get in Aunt Poll’s Spiritualist Meeting but we'd better not do what we did last time.”
Apparently Diddy the medium had gone into a trance, pointed at Sally and said
"Friend, there's a spirit here to see you. He has no head."
Sally jumped up and said,
" Oh....... its my uncle who cut his throat in Cheetham Street. "
She fell into a dead faint. Her friends became hysterical and were evicted from the meeting. I moved closer to the door to get a better view.
Mama's lifelong friend was sitting on the steel fender which encased the fire. She was a born actress and it was obvious that the memory of the last meeting at Aunt Poll’s had stirred her natural acting talent and inspired her to use it as a vehicle to recount her last encounter with the man from the National Assistance Board. She could contain herself no longer. Pressing her finger-tips to her compressed lips, the company fell silent. This thin, angular woman leapt agily from the fender, took a quick stride to the table and grasped it with both hands. She leaned over the table towards her spellbound audience and in low confidential tones she began,
" That, that assistance man. The little man. What a name to give him ?"
She stooped, ran to the door and knocked on it, walked bow-leggedly over to mama and pulling her imaginary glasses down her nose she stopped in front of her.
"Particulars Mrs Smith" she asked mama (in a man's voice).
Mama glanced down demurely to her pinny pocket and pulled out invisible papers.
The assistance man coughed and thundered on in halting, deliberate speech,
"One pound.. thirteen shillings..and sixpence.. for man,wife and eight children."
She looked towards the table. Every eye followed hers, picturing Mrs Smith's eight children stood round the table eating a tea of bread and jam. Stroking her chin she looked at the ceiling philosophically and said ( in the voice of the assistance man ),
“ All I can suggest to you, Mrs Smith, is to sit them down and they'll eat less."
She flung her arms in the air, brought them down wringing her hands, and almost crying, said in her own voice,
" Couldn't that stupid little man see there were no chairs in the room? Hadn't I just pawned the last one for ninepence, to buy the bread and jam ?"
The drama ended abruptly, when a commotion in the street was heard.
It was a case of all hands on deck. Buffer's dog had stolen the sixpenneth of boiling meat from someone's soup.
Fortunately one of the street kids had forced the dog to drop it . The meat was returned quickly to the soup. When asked if she had washed the meat, the cook replied,
"Don't be daft. It adds to the flavour !"
In the First World War, discretion ruled, if one man was having an affair with another's wife. A 'rendezvous' was arranged, usually. Unluckily for one would-be Romeo meeting at her house, the husband answered the door.Unruffled he looked the husband in the eye and said,
" Will you tell Doris that fourteen is on the duck?” referring to a street raffle.
Though the neighbours admired his quick wit they put an end to his romance, for scratched on every shell and bar made at the steel works, most destined for the Western Front, were the words ;
Fourteen won the duck,
Thirteen had hard luck
The saying still survives, though the street and 1overs have long since gone, and is called out locally when 14 is pulled out of the bingo.
Sex was not bandied about as it is now, it was treated as 'holier than thou' and for us children it was non-existent for we knew absolutely nothing about it. Displays of affection embarressed the watchers. Mama for instance would get flustered, shrug her shoulders and say,
It's just cupboard love".
On reflection everyone was too preoccupied with the problem of where the next meal was coming from to spare much time to think about sex.
We were reared in an atmosphere vcry different to today. Recently a pregnant girl confided to my sister, Mary, and I ,
"I went in for this one."
Mary gave her a typical Vaughan Street reply,
'What in? A raffle?"
Author Eileen Rooney 1981
Tindle's Coming !!
Rent Day and a Tribute to Old Mr.Tindle.
We all came in the world with nothing, no clothes to wear
When you die you must bear in mind
All your money you must leave behind.
You must finish up the same as you began.
There’s not the slightest doubt
For we all came in the world with nothing
And you can’t take anything out.
Saturday: A sunny carefree day in our happy more than friendly street. Our proxy relatives gossipped on doorsteps, some even bringing out rickety chairs to finish the crack in comfort. Scores of children played mont-a-kitty, checks, hop-scotch and football. Older youths played illicit card games in the passages. Gambling men rolled pennies in the back arch out of view of the police. Babies contentedly sucked dummies laden with condensed milk from threepenny tins boldly labelled 'Unfit for babies'.
At 11 am the cry went round: " Mr Tindle is on his way " Within minutes, the street was deserted . Doors acquired locks, though some were just a knife pushed through the sneck to a hole in the opposite wall. Back doors without hinges were lifted back on the step and barracaded with the dust-bin. Even newspapers in the gutter took on a still - life appearance.
Down the street he came- ' Our Mr. Tindle'. He was slightly built, about five feet tall, with dark hair, sharp eyes and a rosy complexion.With his thin moustache, dark pin-striped trousers, frock coat, bowler and a black and white striped shirt with the inevitable stiff celluloid collar. He had the air of a dandy. On his arm he carried a rolled umbrella to bray the doors with, as many were ashamedly heedless to his knock. He walked with a quick sloping step, his right shoulder pushed forward. On his right hand and forearm rested the notorious rent ledger. It could not have been the weight of the money bag on his left shoulder which caused the slope. Mama used to say he had a stiff left leg, but this only seemed to accentuate his debonair manner.
In winter, he enveloped all this finery, plus ledger, in an ankle-length baggy raincoat, and he wore gloves with the finger-ends missing to help him count the coppers he got for rent. He began in the middle of the street at the widow's house. He knew he would get 2/6 out of the 4/6 weekly rent from the ten shilling Parish Money she existed on. ( Parish Money had to be paid back if your circumstances changed , say if you took in a lodger) .Then he went off to the odd one or two families in the street who had small families. He would probably get the same from them.
He knocked on No. 302. A timid child answered.
"Please Mr. Tindle, my mam's at Middlesbrough."
He knew full well that her mother hadn't the threepence ha’penny for the fare, but asked,
“When will she be back ?”
The child answered as she scurried in,
" I'll just ask her, she’s on the stairs.”
Next door a laughing eyed confident girl answered,
"We can't pay the rent because my mam has had a new baby.”
He followed the girl into the house, up the bare wooden stairs and gave the new baby two shillings for luck, telling the mother to take care of herself.
When he left, the mother Welsh, with wits as sharp as a needle, knocked the bedroom door with her shoe and gave an urgent whisper that rang downstairs to her daughter,
“ Quick ..wrap the baby up and tell Lizzie next door to get into bed "
Mr Tindle reached the other side of the street some time later and said whimsically to the fourteenth new mother,
" It is the same baby. I've already given it twenty six shillings! "
He knew the adoptive mothers would quickly spend the two shilling pieces. Two shillings would buy threepenn’orth of bacon bones, two-penn’orth of pots-stuff (1 leek, 2 large carrots, 2 parsnips, 2 onions and woe to the child who didn't ask for a turnip as well) and a tuppence ha’penny packet of dried peas, barley and lentils. This mixture produced a large pan of homemade soup better known as a pan of shackles. With the change, a thrifty mother could have a ‘bake-in’.
Every week Mr Tindle threatened to take Grandma's sewing machine. It was a scream. We squinted through the curtained windows at the scene. Grandma, looking like a bag of floor length rags, at one end of the treadle and Mr. Tindle in his dapper olothes at the other, pulling the machine to and fro between them.
The proud family at number four hundred also boasted the ownership of a sewing machine. It sat majestically behind the parted neat lace curtains of the front window, covered with a crochet cloth. On the cloth, for everyone to see, on view an hour before Mr Tindle was expected, sat the rent book and a full week's rent- that enviable 4/6d. The poor man rarely got in, for both front and back doors were bolted against invasion.Still it was a sight for sore eyes just the same.
When on the rare occasions he managed to get someone to open a door, the lady of the house in a posh, haughty voice would say,
“ Well I have left it in the sewing machine every week but I must have been out when you called. Would you mind just taking one weeks rent ?”
He walked into John's. John was hard of hearing and still shell-shocked from the First World War
“ RENT !” shouted Mr. Tindle.
“Leave it on the table,” bellowed John from the back kitchen.
Good humouredly Mr. Tindle said,
" Now John when am I going to get some rent from you ?"
John at first humbly replied,
Well it’s like this Mr. Tindle, Sir, I write all my commitments on a piece of paper, put them in a hat and the first three I pick out get paid. He continued shouting cheekily, due to his complaint,
“....... and If you don’t bloody well shut-up, your name won't even go in the hat ! ”
For all his bravado behaviour, Mr Tindle was sensitive to our problems. He knew the people in the streets were honest people who wanted nothing more than the wherewithal to pay the rent. He also knew the extremes they went to get it. Very few women in the streets still had their original wedding ring. Their rings had been pawned to pay a remittance of the rent, and most of them wore earrings made by Kenny at 504 from copper twelve sided threepenny bits.
Mama once told me that one day she was desperate for the rent money and having nothing of real value left to pawn. Dadda having gone to camp with the terriers ( T.A.) leaving behind his ammunition belt and bayonet, a friend’s son was quickly dispatched to Uncle’s with these items.
This Fatty Cake is now sixty two years old and swears he can still feel the weight on his twelve year old shoulders as he staggered up the street to the pawnshop. Imagine his abject disappointment when after waiting his turn in the long queue, standing on the box and heaving the weapons onto the high counter, he was told,
“ Sorry we’re not taking weaponry this week son.”
On completion of his fruitless collection round, Mr. Tindle made his way back to the tram-stop in the market square. Children appeared from nowhere, following him and chanting,
"Give us a ha'penny Mr. Tindale. “Give us a ha'penny Mr. Tindale
Mr. Tindle waited until he reached the tram lines where he turned and said politely, for he never swore,
"You black devils you're blacker than your mothers."
Then one by one he gave them a ha’penny, even waiting for the stragglers to catch up.
He was also skilled in many aspects of medical knowledge. Today he might be described as a 'quack doctor ' or perhaps a herbalist. But mama’s friend, who is now ninety-three swears he saved her life. She had severe hemorrhages after a confinement and her doctor has given up hope. Mr. Tindle was told and he brought her one of his concoctions. Within a fortnight she was on her feet again.
The old lady that kept the little shop was shy and so neglected a breast abscess. Her daughter told Mr Tindle. He cured it and refused to accept payment. My cousin trapped her finger. It is still misshapen to this day but without Mr. Tindle's prompt treatment ( he carried a first aid kit with him ) she would have lost her finger end.
Mama would sit for hours and tell us of the tricks they played on Mr; Tindle and he on them.
Just think of it - Britain then, had an Empire and all Vaughan Street fatty cakes had was Mr. Tindle. He didn't invent anything or discover anywhere. He did more than that. He saved people from suicide in those dark, dire days of the depression. Old Vaughan Street people never forget such deeds.They say he should have been included in any honours list. His tribute is, that he was and still is spoken of with affection and respect. He was another of nature's gentlemen. During the Second World War, he was still remembered by all those begging children, in letters home from all parts of the world. Now, their children, who have gone to universities and colleges, have heard the stories and fables of Mr. Tindle.
Mama always said,
“ Get on, but don't forget yourself. Tell your children about Mr. Tindle and pray that they will have his foresight and compassion”
She also said that he knew the secret of life. He didn’t make a million or 1eave one. He never got to the top of any ladder but he cared when no-one else did. He helped make people happy. Do we ?
I don't want to leave you with the impression that nobody left the street with a clear rent book. There was a minimal few. I'm afraid our family wasn't one of them.
On the other side of the coin, the owners of these properties also had a hard time. Years later when Mr. Tindle had sold the houses, the new rentman was still trying to reclaim the arrears.
" RENT !” he'd call, " and anything off the back ? " ( off the arrears .)
" Yes, was the reply, " the coalhouse door, lavatory door and back door."
A joiner would be sent round to remove the front door, leaving it on the front pavement until the arrears were paid.
Pikelets and Lark's Legs
|Pikelets and Lark's Legs : Gerald O'Neill
Street vendors were many and varied in our small town in the 30's and did not seem to diminish in number from one year to the next. There always seemed to be a profit to be made despite the many and varied shops that existed on Whitworth Road and the small shops that plied their trade on the corner of every street.
Competition was fierce, but no trader seemed to mind. Small shops would open at all kinds of times, day or night, and the larger traders contributed to this competition by selling their produce in the smallest weights and numbers: Butter could be bought by the ounce, as could a range of other goods, tea, sugar or cheese. No sale was too small in those deprived days. Sales were made of goods in quantities that would not be tolerated in these days of pre-packed supermarket goods. In the greengrocer's one could ask for three-pennorth of “Pot Stuff” and expect to receive a selection of at least three kinds of vegetables which would give a large family enough for their main meal.
All this, providing you had the initial finance, which could be a problem with an average working man's wage at £2 ten shillings per week, and, and an average dole payment of half that amount. This was compounded, if you were on the 'Parish' The traders were satisfied with much smaller returns and were always treated as respected, and valued members of the community.
All the small traders were known and recognised by their first names. Hubert (Adams), Pearl (Lingard), Banty (Clay), Geordy (Lightfoot), Dicky (Coates), Little Pat (O'Neill), Elsie (Wilson), Harry (Dowson), Berty (Kendra), Percy (Porter), Reuben and Billy (Turner), Arty (Wilson) Julie (Breen) Meg ( Kirkup)
In my street there were the three small house shops of Lizzie (Rawlings), Ginnie (Norton) and Meg (Kirkup). In the dark winter nights, Jimmy Johns brought round mushy peas, which were carried in two small chums suspended from a yolk, more commonly seen in the farmyard. These were collected in saucers, plates or basins and, when sprinkled with vinegar, and eaten with bread, formed a sustaining supper.
Mr. Sleight was the 'Pikelet man'. He lived in a cottage just out of town in Church Lane, on a smallholding, which was rented from the council. The house had been very ingeniously built out of hard pieces of slag, and the walls rendered with sand and cement. On this holding he kept a few poultry and a donkey, which pulled a small box on wheels containing delicious pikelets which were made on the premises by his wife and then sold round the streets. The pikelets were covered with snowy white cloths and at 'two for a penny' were a good value buy for children just in from school clammering for tea. People were always asking for the recipe, which he stoutly refused to give! I can remember calling at the cottage for a drink of water in the vain hope that we could gain some insight into the mystery, and thereby impart the knowledge to our mothers! These culinary delights have not been copied since.
The cottage stood till after the war, but when he passed on it was pulled down to make way for the new road. It is said that one of our hometown boys being inducted into the Army, and given his first intelligence test was asked, "Who lives in the White House ?" He replied " The Pikelet Man!" We could not understand why adults chortled at this, as we knew it to be true.
Mr. Dale was the travelling greengrocer, who came twice a week, usually in the afternoons to distribute his various fruits and vegetables. It was always a wonder to me why nothing ever fell off the cart as the horse pulled it along. It was packed in a sloping manner on both sides as on the best static market stall or shop, and he was always ready with a quip or humorous remark. His pony was very popular with us as children and would take pieces of bread very daintily from outstretched flat hands, I used to love the feel of its soft, velvety muzzle roaming over my palm before the titbit disappeared into its mouth. We must have supplied at least half the pony's dietary needs and he never discouraged that. The only evidence that I had about his reputation was that once he said to me as he looked at the retreating rear of a lady customer "I'll bet she's a good singer." On my asking how he knew, he replied, "She's got lark's legs", and chuckled at my mystified look.
The milkman was Jimmy Hierons and he took the milk round using a pony and milk float with the? churns in front of him as he drove along the street. It was quite usual to ask for a 'gill of milk', a small measure not in use today and as he lifted up the lid of the chum he stirred up the contents with a ladle in order to distribute the cream evenly. We had never heard of pasteurised, semi-skimmed or skimmed milk being sold to households in those days.
Rington's tea was sold from a very smart pony and trap combination and Wall's ice cream tricycles were? a very? familiar sight with their recognisable?'Stop me and buy one' sign, but to my mind the best ice-cream sold was from Pascoe Lanny's ice-cream barrows. Young men in white coats pushed the barrows around the streets. They would stop at strategic spots, to dispense their creamy wares, The barrow would be parked and a wooden step between the shafts formed a platform for the young salesman to stand on whilst he prised the lid off the metal tub in the centre of the barrow and plunged in the wooden spoon to lift out the ice-cream, which he smoothed on to a comet or a sandwich implement. All this to wordy encouragement from us to: 'Make us a big one" or "Can I have some raspberry please ?" At this he would shake the mixture out of a bottle over your ice-cream and make your purchase even more delicious!
I can remember once buying an h'apenny comet with raspberry sauce and before going into the house I broke off the bottom of the cornet and inverted it and stuck it on the top. I then confronted my sister Eileen with this and informed her that this was the new addition to the range and only one penny in cost. She asked me to chase, after him to get another, which I promptly did and brought back the two for one purchase, making sure I was well into mine before she caught on!
Reuben and Billy Turner had the coal monopoly with the best coal at 1/10 pence a cwt and slack at 1/5 pence (approximately 9p and 7p). We often saw the 'Knife Grinder' with his barrow that was turned upside down and the wheel used in conjunction with a belt and foot pedal to turn the sharpening wheel in order to sharpen knives, scissors or any other implements of the kitchen or allotment.
Arty Wilson sold bundles of kindling sticks and logs of wood for fuel, slightly cheaper than coal, from his horse and cart. His establishment was a large corrugated building at the top of Laing Street on land belonging to the steel company. He used discarded sleepers to produce his product ? these being obtained very locally
at the steelworks or railway.
We, as boys, were fascinated by the kindling and log making process and never tired of the resin or creosote smells that pervaded our nostrils as we stood in the doorway and watched as the saws cut through the, timber which was held by one of the boy workers. The logs were placed vertically under an automatic chisel while it chipped them into kindling. When Arty saw us he would lecture us about the dangers of the place before ordering us away. These dangers were well evidenced when he showed us his own hands with one or two fingers missing due to mishandling the machinery.