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Lily Hulme's Ashton Memories

Lily Hulme
Lily Hulme in Australia in later years
Lily Hulme
Young Lily Buckley aged 22

Lily Hulme was born in Ashton in 1932 as Lily Buckley (not 'Lillian'!), living originally at Canning Street, Charlestown, until 1936, then at Lees Road, facing where St Christopher's Church is now. She was married at St John's Church, Hurst, in 1956. She continued living on Lees Road until her first child was born in 1960, then moved to Glebe Street, off Penny Meadow, then to Hartshead Avenue, Smallshaw. In 1971, aged 39, she emigrated to Australia with her husband Albert and two children, Karen and Alan.

After being told by her doctor to take things easier, Lily discovered the internet and became the most prolific contributor to the discussion forum. Writing under the pen-name "GroovinGranny", Lily impressing everyone with her wide-ranging and detailed memories of Ashton. Lily died on January 16th 2009 and is much missed by people around the world whom she had never met in real life.

The writing which follows is a compilation of the contributions by Lily to the discussion forum, over a period of years. It helps to know that this was the 'audience' for which Lily was writing and that the extracts below were parts of discussions with other members. Lily's writing has been lightly edited to bring together comments made on similar topics on separate occasions, to avoid too much repetition and to remove remarks addressed to other forum members which don't mean much out of context. Punctuation has also been modified to improve readability. The words are all Lily's. To change those would have taken away her distinctive manner and style.

My Family, Grandparents, Childhood, School Days, The Teenage Years, Getting Married, Emigrating,
Food, Houses, Household Practices, Clothing, Cotton Mills, Buildings, Shops, Ashton Market,
Hurst Cross, Transport, Entertainment, Wartime, Weather, Daisy Nook, Special Times of the Year,
People, Various Other Memories, Expressions & Sayings.

My Family

My parents were wed at Christ Church in 1909, William Buckley and Lily Atherton.

I never knew my dad to cook. I don't think he even knew where the pots and pans were. He went out to work and that was his job done. He and my mother was married 49 years. After she died he soon learnt how to cook. He could actually peel a spud and make himself chips. We used to have him on, my brother and I. He would walk in the pantry, come out holding a big spud and say, "I just feel like a chip." and we used to whisper, "Yes, you look like one too!" We used to have some good laughs. He would have gone mad had he heard us. Today, its different. Lots of men like to cook - pastas, curries, but back years ago it was the wife's job to care for the kids, cook the meals and keep the home clean. Not a lot of women went out to work. They were like the old woman that lived in the shoe, too many kids. As some women used to say, "He only has to hang his pants on the bed rail and I'm pregnant!"

I could kick myself at times for not sitting down with my parents and finding things out about what went on in their younger days. My dad would have been around fourteen years old when Joseph Buckley (Owd Ab) died. My dad was born 1889 and lived in Waterloo up to being wed in 1909. He was 43 when I was born, and would have been around 118 now. My mother would have been 115. I could have learnt so much. I know my grandma used to go round delivering babies. She had never done any training at all. There wasn't any national health back then so if you hadn't money to pay a midwife you sent for someone like my grandmother. It makes you wonder doesn't it? It will be one hundred years next year since my parents were wed at Christ Church, my mother being just 17.

My eldest sister, who was around 23 years older than me, lived in Old Cross St and her boy Lawrence was killed there by a lorry. It would have been around 1936 or so. He was five years old. My sister's name was Annie Dean. Her husband was called Lawrence. I was about 3 years old when young Lawrence was killed, He was sat out on the kerb, so the story went, and a lorry hit him. They later went to live on Union St facing the church.

I remember when my son Alan was 17 months old. I had just left Glebe Street the day before but went back to clean up after the furniture had been moved. It got to lunch time so I took him to the pie shop on Penny Meadow. There was a woman there who I lived near and she kept me talking. Alan must have got fed up and pulled his hand out of mine and ran in the road. A lorry was coming down almost on top of him. I just ran out didn't give it a second thought but how that lorry pulled up I don't know to this day, It was touching us, The driver just looked at me and shook his head in disgust. The poor woman I was talking to nearly collapsed. It was real scary. I was shaking like a leaf. Who was it said kids don't age you?

My aunt Helen died from a flu that hit Ashton. Nearly every house had someone died. Aunt Helen's five year old daughter died too. They were buried together.

When my daughter was small, my sister minded her while I worked. My sister's husband would sit Karen on his knee and teach her nursery rhymes. One was, "incy wincy spider climbed up the spout, down came the rain and washed the bugger out," but no way would Karen say bugger. Then one day, when she was about 6, my husband and I had a row and I was so mad I bounced up the stairs and threw myself on the bed. About fifteen minutes later, Karen came up stairs and said, "Dad said he's brewing up and would you like a cup of tea?" I said, "OK, so long as he doesn't put any arsenic in it." So off she went, and a couple of minutes later my husband came up. He couldn't stop laughing. He said, Karen had said, "My mum will have a cup of tea, but don't put any bottom nick in it." She still doesn't swear... or at least I haven't heard her...

Both my babies were born at home. I had to stay in bed ten days or so the midwife thought. I would be up washing nappies before she came to visit, then sneak back into bed. I think they realised later that staying in bed wasn't a good thing due to deep seat thrombosis, so began getting mums on their feet as quickly as possible.

I had two sisters, one born 1924 one 1926. Well actually, there were ten of us, however them two used to bother with a gang of lads from Hope St as teenagers. All went to the Humane dance hall and one that I remember, why I don't know, but his name was Len Ramsden. My sisters didn't go to the two schools as we moved up there from Charlestown and they were at Christ Church.

I remember when my son Alan was a little one, my husband worked away a lot and came home for a break. A workmate called to take him to Ferranti in Hollinwood to pick up some wages. He turned up in a brand new car and I asked my husband to take Alan with him. He did and Alan vomited all over the car, what a mess! Now Alan travels miles, no problem.

I had a brother lived in Southern Rhodesia. He and his wife and daughter lived there 20 years. His eldest daughter emigrated to Australia in the late sixties. My brother became ill in late 1975. My niece here kept me in touch and then she went over to see her dad. Her husband stayed here to see to the children, and he kept me in touch with what was happening. However in the December I was on my day off during the week and it was very hot, I had done all I needed to do for the day so decided to have a lie down before the kids got home from school. I had just shut my eyes when I heard a man's voice say, "18 days from today." I was like, "WHAT? what the L was that?" So when we were sat at the dinner table I told my family and my husband said, "You must have gone out like a light and you have dreamt it." But they counted the day it would be and it was New Year's Day. So on New Year's Day it was my day to work, as I had Christmas off. I finished work that day and my husband said, "See, I told you you were dreaming." The next day, I had been a couple of hours in work when my husband and niece's husband rolled up in the car, told me my brother had died but had died the day before, during the late afternoon, and seeing it was night time here my niece didn't ring her husband till next morning. I often wonder was I dreaming and it was just a coincidence. I have had three of these things happen.

We bought a cute puppy dog for our two when we lived in Hartshead Ave and my husband took him for a walk, going onto Broadoak Road the pup spied a woman walking along swinging a white handbag on the other side of the road and dashed out and was hit by a bus. My husband came back home carrying the poor little thing dead as a dodo, so we took it on the field at the back of our houses to bury him. When I heard the field had been made into a sports ground, the first thing I thought was, oh our poor doggies bones have been dug up after all those years.

The average time between throwing something away you have had for years then needing it is two weeks, happens to me all the time, proving my husband was always right by hoarding things. He wouldn't throw a rusty nail away. He would have rather got without me first. It was always, "it might come in handy," it always did.

My husband did his apprenticeship at the National Gas and Oil as a marine engine fitter. He started there 1951, but had to do his national service at 18, and when he came out the national was closing down

My cousin, Joe Atherton, ran the fish shop next door to Henry Moon's. I can see him now always stood on the front if he wasn't busy. About 18 stone he was. You couldn't miss him!

Frank Buckley is my nephew, my brothers Frank's son. They lived in the first lot of houses after the Royal Oak. We were all brought up in the row facing the church. Went there in 1936. I was four at that time.

Also I have a sister lives on Anderton Grove. It was just round the corner from Kenworthy Ave wasn't it? There were ten of us and I have 26 nieces and nephews, all over Ashton, all wed, but don't ask how many great nieces and nephews there are, I have lost count.

'Twas a good year, '56. The year I got hitched. My life seems to be governed by leap years! I was born in 1932, a leap year. I wed in '56, a leap year. Karen was born in '60, a leap year. Alan should have been born in January '64, a leap year, but came on Xmas Day '63. So I thought, maybe that's the end of it, but no it wasn't. My husband died in '88, another leap year. Oh boy, do I hate leap years!


I heard this morning that my grandparents Ellen and John Atherton are buried in Christ Church, I knew that but this is confirmation, Ellen since 1906 and John since 1919. That's 102 years for Ellen and 89 years for John, its a sin and a shame to uproot their remains isn't it? Where are they going to put them all, and who knows which will be which? I just hope they went to a better place, and yes they certainly had to pay for graves. I remember my mother telling us that if a baby died and the parents hadn't money to bury them, they would get in touch with the grave diggers and in turn they would tell the parents when there was a burial and to bring the child on that day and they would bury the child with whoever was being buried after the mourners had left the graveside. The parents would then give the grave diggers a couple of bob, if they had it. What sad times those people lived in. Today you will pay any amount of money to bury a still born baby, those poor little mites were wrapped in a shawl or blanket, or a box knocked together.

I haven't any dates, my grandparents were all dead long before I was born. All I know is, my dad died in his 73rd year and that was 1962. His mother was Alice Clementon or Clementson. She wed twice, first to a Schofield having three children, Mary, Emma, Sarah, Elizabeth and Nelson. Her husband died and she wed Frank Buckley and went on to have four more children, Samuel, William (my dad), John, and Alice. I have the census site and tried find out about them. Tried to gauge how old my grand father would have been when he married her and seeing she had already been wed and had 3 children I put him in about his middle thirties, giving a leeway of about 10 years, but it came up with nothing. In those days girls wed very young - 16 upwards so that's why I'm going for the middle thirties. They lived I think in Langham St and Ney St, Waterloo.

Mary Leach was my great grandmother. She had my grandma Alice Clemenson and then married a man called Leach. They had one son, who worked for Lees iron works. He was Lees gardener and lived in one of the cottages belonging to Lees and I believe the cottages are still there. I have sisters named after these relatives, Alice, Ann and Mary Emma,

My paternal great grandma came from Appleby, Westmorland. She was Mary Cleminson....or Clemenson. On the 1871 census she was aged 46. Then my maternal grandad was John Atherton born in Wigan. He was aged 27 in the 1881 census and married my grandma Ellen Kitchens in 1883. She was from Ashton. Thanks for the info on the Hulmes. My son will be interested in that seeing he carries the name on.

My mother had a brother Thomas Atherton. He was killed in the world war one and has grandchildren living in Ashton still. Mary Clemenson my great grandma wasn't wed until after she had my grandma, who was born in Ashton. Alice Ann Clemenson her name was. Then Mary wed a John Leech. He was a master brick builder and lived in Ashton. My dad carried his mother's name. He was William Clemenson Buckley.

My dad always spoke of his grandad, or should I say step grandad, having a brick works. It's great to be able to learn about all these people that you came from. Isn't it a pity that people didn't have their photos on their marriage certificates? I haven't a clue what these people looked like. I see they did their lot for the cotton in Ashton. I wondered why I was put in the cotton mill at age fourteen, now I know. My mother used to tell us she worked part time in the mill at age 11 years. The other part school. She used to say, "You don't know you are born." I wonder what the kids today would say about that... John Leech didn't have far to go to court my great grandmother, did he? Just next door. I'm wondering now how the numbers of the houses went on Oldham Road. If they lived Waterloo part or further down, though my dad lived in Waterloo.

William Hulme was my husband's grandfather. The Hulmes lived in Mount Street, West End of Ashton.

(On hearing of the plans to dig up Christ Church graveyard:) Oh heck, all my relations are buried there, married and buried there, the Buckleys and Athertons. Grandmas, grandads, uncles, aunts. I have an 18 month old brother buried there as well. How will they manage that? Surely they wouldn't use a bulldozer? If I'm not mistaken, I think there's a mass grave in Hurst cemetery. Not sure from where, but maybe from the old Methodist church what used to be on Queens Road, where a library was later built.

I think that in the future there won't be graveyards, and that cremations will be made compulsory. Every bit of spare ground will be turned into a money making project and there isn't much of it left now. There can't be, or they wouldn't be robbing the dead of their resting places.



I used to play pops as a kid and got into trouble all the time for having dirt ingrained on my knuckles. It didn't stop me. You would argue who dobbed up first. Then when we got to about 12 we started putting halfpennies in the ring instead of pops. We called it a game of jinks if I remember right. We would have to flirt at the money and if we heard a tinkle we knew we had hit it, so we would take that out of the ring. It was ours.

I loved to hear the tinkle as my marble ran over the money. Such were the games when we were little and poor. But we enjoyed it, just as the kids today enjoy their play stations and computer games. Mind you I don't think we got quite so worked up as they do.

Talk about gambling, eh? There was another game to we played called push penny, an indoors game. Most people at that time had what they called oilskin tablecloths, similar I suppose to the vinyl ones now, and it was good playing on that. We used a penny and a knife. Two people played. We would hold the knife in both hands, keep the handle still and flick the penny with the blade of a blunt knife. What you had to do was stop the other from coming into your side of the table, hit at each other's penny and try to get past the opponent's penny onto his or her side of the table by hitting their penny out of the way. We had no bought games. We were too poor but we made our own fun.

There was another table game too, I think it was called blow football, but that was a bought one. Do any of you oldies remember that one? The ball was made like a ping pong ball, only very small, and we used a kind of a straw or tube to blow the ball around. Try to get it into the other persons goal. I bet the kids today would die laughing at these games!

I used to show Karen and Alan how to play these games. I don't know if Karen remembers but one day I was showing her how to do the crab indoors, that's the one where you tipple over and land with your hands and feet on the ground. I tucked my skirt in to my drawers and off I went and landed in a heap on my back. Her, Alan and their dad just roared laughing. I thought I had broken my back. They had to help me up. I think that was the day I gave it all away. You forget you are getting past it.

Do any of you older ones remember the game we called peggy? We had to find a piece of wood about three inches long, use a knife to shape it into a point, then lay it on a few built up bricks, point just hanging over, whack it with a stick. It would fly up in the air and you had to whack it on its way down. You had to see who could knock it furthest away. I was never in the running, I always missed it coming down. Some of the lads were real good at it, but never picked me to be on their side. They chose me for cricket and rounders, though. I wasn't too bad at marbles, or merps as some called them. We all had our special merp to flirt with. It got a rough surface with use, so was easier to hold between your finger and thumb. I always had a red and white one. You couldn't see through it like you can with these today. The end of my thumb on the wick part was raw from it being too rough, but I wouldn't change it.

Who remembers the hi li bats and balls, a ply wood bat with a hole in, elastic going through with a ball on the end? I was so small, when I first got one, that the elastic was too long, so I had to pull the elastic through the back of the bat and tie another knot further up.

Who remembers when we would draw a square on the ground next to the house wall, raided our mam's button box, put them in the square and then bounce a ball on them to try and knock the buttons out of the square? If we missed we were out. Then the ball would bounce off the wall and you had to catch it each time, otherwise you were out. Them who got most buttons out won.

I never see kids with skipping ropes or whips and tops now any more. I remember skipping ropes, two kids turning up, and the rest all in together - "the cows are in the meadow - when I count twenty the rope must be empty - five, ten, fifteen, twenty..."

I have never seen any kids here with skipping ropes. I had some in the bedroom drawer. I gave them to Lara my granddaughter a few weeks ago. She had no idea how to skip. I had to show her. Mind you, she's just turned six, so there's time. I loved it when my mam bought a new washing line from Bailey's inside the market. I used to get a bit cut off the end to skip with, and my sisters used to bring two bobbins home from the mill to put on the ends, and of course the old line. So my friends and I could all play. Ah, the memories!

I have been trying to think of the game "queenio coco who's got the ball" wasn't it? Someone threw the ball over their head, someone would catch it, but all the rest playing put their hands behind their backs and she had to guess who had caught the ball. Another thing we used to do as well, if we were going to start a game and didn't know which of us would kind of be in charge first, we would do the... "one potato two potato three potato four, five potato six potato seven potato more," where each of us would have to hold out our hands and whoever's hand she landed on she would say, put that hand behind you, until the first to have both hands behind them won.

I was good at three balls. I always had a ball in my pocket wherever I went. It was about the only asset I had. Awwww! We used to say, "One two three alara, four five six alara, seven eight nine alara, ten alara catch the ball." We used to tuck our hems into our knickers leg, bounce a ball, and each time we said "alara" we would lift our leg up over the ball as it bounced. Ye gads, I don't think I could do that now... Also we used to sing, "Rule britannia, two tanners makes a bob, three makes one and six and four two bob."

And playing two balls against the wall it was, "Nebra Kadebra, the King of the Jews, bought his wife a pair of shoes, when the shoes began to wear, Nebra Kadebra began to swear. When the swear began to stop, Nebra Kadebra bought a shop, when the shop began to sell, Nevra Kadebra bought a bell, when the bell began to ring, Nebra Kadebre began to to sing, doh reh mi fah soh lah ti doh..."

Who remembers the hula hoops? A bit after my time but I was game to have a go. Used to watch the kids on Lees Road with them, one of my nieces were quite good at it. Then some smart doctor said the girls would suffer with their ovaries in later life from it. Whether they did, I don't know.

I will tell you what I haven't seen for years. Some of the toys the lads used to have, like cap guns. You bent them in half and put a little pink cap in them, closed them then pulled the trigger so the cap exploded. Pop guns with a string attached and a cork on the end of it. You put the cork in the barrel of the gun and pulled the trigger to release the cork. Catapults we used to make ourselves. Parachutes we made by tying string on each corner of a man's handkerchief or a silk scarf, and then tying a stone to the ends of the four strings. Lead cowboys and indians with horses. Blow football. I bet most of the above would be classed as dangerous toys now!

The Park

Stamford Park brings fond memories back, right from being a little one in a pram. I remember my two older sisters taking me there and putting me in a swing that had a bar come down at the front to stop me falling out, and then going with my friends when I was old enough.

Wading into the paddling pool to get little yachts that had gone too far out belonging to kids who were there with their mums or dads and didn't want to go in and get them back themselves, then them giving us a few coppers before they packed up to go home. Real little beggars we were. Off to the café we would run then, by the side of the boating lake, for a bag of Smiths crisp and a bottle of pop.

Then later in our teens going there to meet lads on a Sunday afternoon, having a game of putt. Oh the joy of it all. You see, we didn't have cars, so we never went much further than there. Walking back home tired out over Chadwick Dam, the men behind the hospital Sunday afternoon playing pitch and toss, which was illegal. And then, being a mum myself, taking my children to Stamford Park. Yes, fond memories. One I remember distinctly was going with my sister Nellie (Ellen) and her friends. One of her friends Joyce put me in a swing and started to push me too high. I was terrified. I was screaming blue murder. Nellie asked who had pushed me too high and set about Joyce. They were fighting rings rounds while I was still going up in the air, screaming my head off.

I certainly remember Peter Pan Park. It was up by the side of the boating lake. You walked by the café and turned right. It was great. It had a helter skelter. I'm not sure if it didn't have two - a small one for little ones. It had swings with thick chains to hold onto. There was a thing as well we called a cake, it went round and round. You could have a great day there. Then when you were thirsty, there was a kind of water fountain you pressed with your knee to get water out. There used to be a swing in Peter Pan Park. It was like a long plank, and two people, one at each end, would stand up, getting it going. The rest sat in the middle and there were handles coming out of the plank to hold on to. Unfortunately I don't remember what we called it.


I reckon these kids today are a lot more expensive to keep than when I was a young un. I asked my son what I should get for his five year old son, AJ. He said get him a game for his X BOX, I hadn't a clue about X BOX, mind you. Never heard of it. By hell, I must be getting old! However, I went down Wednesday to get it. I nearly collapsed it cost $79. I had to make do with a celluloid doll, no clothes on it, cost about two bob if that. My little brother, who is five years younger than me, was a few months old and hadn't been shortened (meaning still in frocks) as they did in those days. Don't ask me why, my mam dressed my doll in his clothes. I reckon my parents could have taken us all away for the week on $79.

We used to go in the clough off Lees Road, play in the sandpit, and then go down to the stream, wet the back of our hand, place a leaf on it, put sand on top and keep patting until the imprint of the leaf was on our hand. We made daisy chains, and if we were stung by nettles, we would rub it with a dock leaf. We would get the hili bat and ball in summer, the yoyos and whips and tops, so much for so little.

I used to like getting the chicken legs and feet from the fresh chicken shop. There was a piece of gristle that run into the foot and you could pull on it and the toes used to open and shut. If I got one of those I would keep it in my coat pocket ages, claws and all. A chickens foot was one of my favourite toys. I loved them, there were no fancy dolls for us lot on Lees Road as kids, so we made do with what we could.

Playing Out

I remember as a kid always wanting to be out in the open. Miles and miles I would travel, or so it seemed. I loved the rain as well. I would go for walks so long as I could sneak one of my sisters umbrellas out without them seeing me. Our front door was at the foot of the stairs and I would sit ages on the bottom stair just watching the rain. I loved playing marbles, skipping ropes, Whit Sunday and going to Daisy Nook every Easter Friday. I loved Pancake Tuesday. I loved to sit at Hartshead Pike and look all around me. You could see for miles on a clear day. To me, as a kid, it was as if I was on top of the world... And not forgetting the snow, oh how I loved that. And to add to that, most of these thing were free. I still to this day cannot stand being in a confined space. I must have room to move.

I liked nothing better than camping out in front of our houses on Lees Road in a home made tent. As soon as everyone's light went out we would go into people's gardens wapping gooseberries, strawberries and rhubarb. We would have a hell of a tummy ache next day. Also going up Lily Lane near Christmas at night when it snowed looking for holly. Why we never felt the cold, I don't know. Our cheeks used to be all roses. Talk about healthy! Nothing ever ailed us. We were hardly ever in doors only to eat and sleep.

We used to get home from school at about 4.30, toss our coats off, get a drink of water and off out to play until we were called in for dinner, swallow that quick smart and off out again. Even after it had gone dark we would play under the lamp post, tie a rope around the top of the lamp and swing to our heart's content, or knock a door and run, annoying the neighbours. Sometime one of us would creep up to a door, tie the end of a bobbin of thread to the door knocker, then walk away as far as the thread would let us, then pull the thread and keep tapping the door. In winter, when it snowed, we used to make a slide until it was like glass, The lights from the lamps would shine on it, that is until some misery came out and put salt on it. "Some poor buggers going to break their bloody neck!" they would say. My mother used to say I was an angel with clogs on.

Childhood Health

There were two sides of the goods yard on Oldham Road and the one on the same side as Connard's photo shop there was a building inside. It was down facing a bakery I think was called Wilsons, and if kids got scabies, which were raging in the 30s & 40s, because food was hard to get because of the war, we were lucky if we got an orange or apple... And so kids were short, I suppose, of vitamins. They were sent to this building, where two women worked. There was a bathroom inside and the women's job were to bath the kids then paint them with white stuff all over their body. Kids had to take clean underwear and the ones they took off were kept there and fumigated and given back the week after. I haven't heard of scabies in years.

I didn't mind the durbeck soap, it was the nit comb that did me in. I'm sure I had no rotten skin on my head after my mam had done scorping it through my hair... she was a great believer in using vinegar on your hair, at least it made it shine even if it didn't get rid of nits.

Do you know, I never had any inoculations as a youngster. I had the usual kids' illnesses, like the measles just after starting school, then chickenpox, then german measles. I had the mumps when I was 11 months old, so I don't remember that. As I said before, I was in hospital for 11 months after being born, and the day after I was discharged, I woke up with the mumps, and my dad went to the hospital to let them know but they had already closed the ward up because of the mumps outbreak. I don't think my mother was very happy about it as all my brothers and sisters got them...

I was listening to the news, and according to the doctors in England it's better to let your kids get dirty than keep mollycoddling them. They say your kids are much healthier and become immuned to germs and in later life it serves them well so don't worry if you send your kids to bed without a bath, you will be doing them a favour. I wish someone had told me about it when mine were little. I think the word got around when I was growing up. I was always as black as the ace of spades after a day out playing, always nice rosie cheeks though.

My mother used to put senna pods in the teapot every so often and brew it with the tea, she never told us until after we had drank it. "To keep a road through us," she would say. We were all queuing up for the loo next morning. She bought blood bitters and make us drink a small glass each every few months. They were terrible, but not one of us got acne as teenagers. We were always given blood bitters growing up. Grey's chemist used to sell them. He was opposite the old fire station on Wellington Road. We used to take our own medicine bottle, it saved a couple of coppers. I'm not kidding, that medicine bottle was used for years for one thing or another. I bet it knew its own way to Grey's! Does anyone remember cephos powders, fords pink pills? I always sucked Victory V lozenges if I had a cold.

Goose grease was a well know remedy for anyone who had the flu years ago. In 1912, when an outbreak of flu occurred, and hit Ashton, every other door had someone died from it. Hundreds died from it, including my mothers sister, aged 29 and her 6 year old daughter, who were buried together. My dad used to tell us people walked miles to farms where they got the goose grease from. It saved many lives taken by mouth and rubbed on the chest. It broke all the phlegm up. (flem)


My brother, who was five years older than me, used to deliver newspapers for the shop at Hurst Cross. I was about eight at the time, and the last private house on Lees Road from Plants Garage had a dog, so he would call home and ask me to go with him to deliver the paper there and he would take me to the Roxy and pay when he got his wages. I was scared of the dog myself, it was a swine, but the thought of going to the Roxy always won out... course I wasn't allowed to say swine in those days even though it isn't a swear word. It was fourpence for kids at the Roxy, I often wonder, was it worth getting ravaged by a dog, but aye, course it were.

Spending Money

My dad used to give my brother and me a threepenny bit every Thursday and off we would go to Jessie Lees at Hurst Cross. It would take my little brother forever to spend his threepence. He's five years younger than me. I used to shout at him "Make your mind up what you want!" Poor Jessie was fed up as well. It amazes me how much we could buy with that amount of money - a little bar of Cadburys chocolate, just one smooth row of chocolate in a soft packet you just slid off, a packet of kayli with spanish sticking out the corner of the bag, a packet of PK chewy, and maybe a gob stopper. I remember the the black spanish pipes they used to sell. On the end were all these coloured little sweet beads. We used to pretend we were smoking the pipe until it went all soft at the end, then we would devour it. Also packets of five toffee cigarettes, It wouldn't be politically correct to sell them now, would it? It would be said, "young ones would learn to smoke." They are now here about children's book from when we were kids, one has the name of the boy Dick in it., so it has to be changed, silly buggers. We used to buy chocolate drops covered in those little beads as well, also some of the liquorice allsorts were covered in them.

Running Errands

I had a brother five years older than me and one five years younger. The other seven was all at work or married so when the one older than me was fourteen and started work I was left to go all the errands as the younger one was too little. I used to go to Staffords at Oak Fold and many times my two friends would come with me. Stafford had all his fruit at the back of the shop our side, also his bottles of Tizer and Vimto, and while I was being served my friends would sneak all sorts and walk out the shop. I remember one time, one of them thought she had a bottle of Tizer and when she got outside, it was vinegar she had pinched, They never looked, they just stood close by and put their hands behind their back and take whatever they thought it was. They used to pinch apples, oranges, carrots, whatever they could get, I was always afraid of doing anything like that as my parents would have murdered me had they found out, My dad never hit us but would have dragged me to the police station by the hair of my head had I sullied the family name, but I did have my share of whatever my friends got. Aiding and abetting, I suppose.


Occasionally I felt that my mother was old. I remember my schoolfriends being brought to school by their mums who were in their twenties and early thirties. It's as well I had lots of siblings. My eldest sister was 23 years older than me, married and had three children before I was born. My mother brought me up the same way my sister was brought up, or tried to. My older sisters would say to her, its not like that now, she's not doing anything wrong, and in 23 years, things change dramatically.

At the Pictures

It was great fun Saturday afternoon with all the kids throwing projectiles before the film began, its a wonder the usherettes didn't have a nervous breakdown, oranges and apples flying everywhere, paper bags blown up and bursted in your eardrum, lads scrapping, and we talk about the kids today, the queue for the Roxy used to be down almost to the Cake-a-Pie flour mill, I think every kid in Hurst went. Poor Tommy Bennett did his nut, then a man came on the stage with what he called a magic mirror, he would shine it all over then stop on one certain kid and they would get a prize, all the kids would jump up and down screaming for it to stop on them,

The Baths

We used to go to the baths every Friday afternoon from Christ Church. We used to walk it, a teacher with us. As soon as we got our cossies on, she used to make us go under the cold shower, before getting into the baths, and every time, it never failed... my nose bled, so I couldn't go into the baths ever. I always suffered nose bleeds from being very young, but the teacher wouldn't listen, so I think I'm probably the only one in Oz who can't swim!

School Dinners

I loved school dinner back in the forties at Christ Church, mind you the war was still going on so we were on ration books so I would have eaten a scabby cow on a butty, it was (quote) "every man for his bleedin self." But I honestly did love the school dinners. The canteen was right next to our classroom when I was in the top class and about 11 am you could smell the dinners. It was torture having to sit there an hour waiting. It put me right off my lessons. I always went back for seconds if they were going. My friend Marion didn't like dessert but used to get a serving and I ate that as well. The dinners back then were fourpence a day. I took one and eightpence to school every Friday for the following week.

Children Working

It was well known for kids back then to go to work half day and school the other half. My mother worked in the cotton mill at age ten years half day. She went to school until lunch time then on to work at one pm until 5.30. Times were certainly hard. I started work at age fourteen. I look at my grandchildren now and wonder what they would say if you asked them to start work at age sixteen. They would look at you like you had come in on the last banana boat, but after having said that, my fifteen yr old granddaughter works at McDonalds a few hours a week, so I had better shut up in case she reads this. [Grin] It pays for her mobile phone. That's another thing, too. Kids with mobiles. We had to run up the road to get an ambulance or a doctor. No one had telephones in their homes let alone take one to school with us. A couple of days ago here in Sydney, an 11 yr old boy had nude women pics on his mobile and was showing them around, so now they are thinking of banning them in schools. Makes you wonder doesn't it?

Odds and Ends

I wonder do the corporation still go round with the big machines that used to suck stuff out of the drains in the gutter. It was like a vacuum. Then what it sucked was dumped on the ground beside the grid. As kids we used to stand by the men doing it. You would be amazed at the farthings, halfpennies and sometimes threepenny pieces and sixpences that came up. We used to all dive down to pick them up. The men let us keep them. We would follow them all along the road. I bet they were fed up with us! If anyone dropped a coin it was guaranteed to roll down a grid. I'm sure there were magnets under there somewhere, coining it in...

I remember as a kid going to John Kelly's stall queuing up for vegs, all the lettuce in a zinc bath, and in winter a thin ice over the top of them.

I was always envious of the Queen and Princess Margaret as a kid, I would see them on the newsreel at the Roxy and wish I had a coat and bonnet like them.

I remember the smell of beer when passing a pub, I think that's why I can't stand the stuff!

The bits of cotton on the road side that had blown off the lorries delivering to the mills. We used to collect it in winter and put it into a tin that had a lid, make holes in the lid, put a match to the cotton, and put the lid back on, it used to smoulder and it kept our hands warm. Winter warmers we called them.

I remember counting the buttons on our coats and cardigans and saying Want a boy, Got a boy, Engaged, Married. and walking down the street saying If you tread on a nick, You'll marry a stick, And a blackjack will come to your wedding. and picking fag ends up off the street and smoking them... well trying to.

Do any of you remember getting tar all over your fingers from bursting tar bubbles on the roadway? We used to rub butter on to try and get it off, and the knuckles with in-ground dirt from playing marbles. Your clothes full of green stains from rolling over in the grass.

My best friend Brenda had an uncle who lived the end house corner of Boodle St and Turner Lane. Their name was Hurst. Right facing their house was a chippy, which was also on Boodle St, we used to call at the chippy on our way home from Christ Church school if we had threepence, then walk under the little tunnel where Meg's mum was brought up, which was always lovely and clean. I think Meg said her mum used to sweep it out!

There were a train stop at Park Bridge. My mate Maud had a married sister lived in Park Bridge on Dingle Terrace, we used to visit her and if we stayed until it was getting dark she wouldn't let us walk it home and would give us the train fare. We got off at Charlestown but still had to walk all the way up to Hurst. We would have been better walking it in the first place. It would have been quicker I'm sure. We were never afraid of walking through the clough no matter what time it was.

We were happy as kids in Ashton, even though we had nowt, just to go to the pictures Saturday afternoon, have new clothes at Whitsuntide, a big bunty on Guy Fawkes night, a little present for Christmas, and a belt over the ears now and again, what more could we want?

The Good Old Days

When I was growing up in a twelve house row, there were over one hundred children between them. The biggest family being of 14. A family of five was known as a small family back then. Our mothers didn't go out to work, there was just the one wage coming in. We got one small present each at Christmas, and one new outfit of clothes at Whitsuntide. If we didn't toe the line we got a hiding. If we didn't do as we were told at school we got the cane. We took it all in our stride as there were no use rebelling against it. I don't think it did us any harm in the long run. Most of us grew up with a good sense of honesty and loyalty and a good sense of humour. We could always take the good with the bad.

Today there's too much keeping up with the Joneses, everyone wants to have a nicer house, give their kids every modern toy that comes out. This I think stems from the working mum, she feels guilty working, not having a lot of spare time to spend with her children. I have never believed in hitting children, but I do believe teachers should be able to make the rules at school, and punish children without parents interfering. If I went home and told my mother I had been given the cane at school she would say, well you must have deserved it.

Lees Road: the Hurst family with 14 kids. the Warrens 12 boys, Brassingtons 10 kids, Briggs 11 kids, Wilsons 6 kids, Laughlans 6 kids, Buckley 10 kids, Ryans 7 kids, Collins 5 kids, Halls 7 kids, Jewitts 6 kids, Rileys 5 kids. I could go on to Broadoak Road and Connery Crescent but I wont. Lots of playmates we had but so many kids for a row of 12 houses. 99 in all... a great bunty every year with wood from the clough!

Ice Cream Man

Alec Talco. He came round when I was a kid. I didn't know the name of his horse but I remember Alec's hands were all swollen and blue, and his back was humped a little. In summer I used to get a fourpenny wafer with a roll of crumbly chocolate inside for my mother and our next door neighbour, and when the war began Alec had to stop coming round. All the shops stopped selling ice cream, they couldn't get the sugar amongst other things, but on his last trip, he gave me two wafers for my mother and neighbour and a cornet for me free. We were good customers!


I remember going on Ashton Wakes and watching my mam roll pennies down a little sort of chute to try and get them to land on a square that paid money. The man behind the stall coming round scorping the pennies in with a wooden rake kind of thing, his hands black from holding the money.

The waltzer, I loved that. The fairground men used to jump on the back and make it spin faster. I remember one Wakes Week, I had my two weeks holiday pay oddie in my bag and while spinning round my bag flew out of my hand and ended up in the crowd that was stood by watching. Every time I went round I was looking to see if I could see it. When it finally stopped I ran round to where my bag had flown, and these two lads came forward with it, all intact I might add. I bet these days that wouldn't have happened. Someone would have run off with it, but still I like to think there are more honest than dishonest people today. I remember that handbag distinctly, it was what we called a box handbag, shaped like a box with a lid kind of top that had a mirror stuck onto it, and was brown in colour.

I loved the fair on Ashton Market as a kid. There was everything there, the caterpillar, the waltzer, the noahs ark, the bumping cars, all the side shows, then later the big boats. Every year all the kids from the workhouse would be taken and given free rides on everything in the early 30s before it closed. I used to like to go down to the market when the scholars were walking as well. They always had a service there before setting off down Stamford St. Ah, those were the days!

And I loved Daisy Nook. My mate Brenda and I would go religiously every Easter Friday. We would call at my two uncles in Waterloo every year and to one of Brenda's uncles. They always gave us a few coppers, real little beggars we were, still threepence were threepence, it made the shilling our mams had given us into one and ninepence so well worth the visits. The first thing we bought when we got there was a tin of ovaltine tablets. Every year we did that, we loved them.

We would leave home about ten am, walk all the way there and stay for hours, even after our money ran out, so we needed something to keep us going and to walk all the way home... You wouldn't get far on one and ninepence these days would you? The bus fares were only a penny but we couldn't resist spending up. We hated walking home. [Grin] You never learn as kids though do you? There was one stall there, all it was, was a bucket tilted, and you had to get a wooden ball into it. We spent quite a lot of our money on that because the prizes were good, but we never once won. When I think back, I bet any money that ball had elastic inside like a golf ball, twisting pigs they were, it was a penny a go as well.


I remember walking down Queens Road to the red infants school. All the street lights on because it had gone dark and began snowing, and seeing the little paper chains and lanterns hung up on the school windows we had made for Christmas.


Where did I go as a kid for my holidays? I didn't know anywhere else existed, only Ashton. Daisy Nook and Ashton Wakes were my limit. I never went on holiday, nor did my parents. The first holiday I ever had was when I was 15. Blackpool with my eldest sister. We couldn't afford holidays. My brothers were all in the forces when I was a kid, there was hardly any money.

As a youngster, if my mother put her coat on, I would say, "where are you going mam?" She would say, "On mi holidays," "Where to?" I would ask. "To our house and back," she would say. "Oh good, can I come with you?" [Grin] We were lucky to get to Blackpool for the day back then. Imagine carting ten kids to Blackpool. Not many had holidays, and God knows they needed it. [Cry] It wasn't that bad though for us. By the time I was six. Two of the eldest were married, two in the army that got themselves wed during that time, three sisters working, so there was just the three of us younger ones to see to. [Cry] Our next door neighbour and her daughter went every year to Blackpool. I couldn't wait for them to get back, they always bought me a beachball (made of rubber back then not like these plastic ones - they bounced real good, and you could put a puncture patch on them if they bursted). They used to bring me a stick of rock as well... I thought I was the cats whiskers with that. I couldn't wait for them to get back every year. That was as good as a holiday to me.


I used to stand on Stamford St opposite the Co-op. I liked for the parade to sort of get untangled and spread out. The same when watching the scholars walk. I always remember Leonard Hartley's horse and cart. It was always done up like a dog's dinner, ribbons on that he had previously won.

Handing Down

I remember a family lived near us, they had three girls and the clothes were always passed down, not just the Whit clothes but everything, tartan kilts, jumpers. Every year the same summer shorts would come out. I was lucky there as there was almost seven years between the sister who was next eldest to me. We had a brother between us who was five years older than me, so I was more or less on my own where clothes were concerned. Even toys, what few we had, were handed down. I remember one family had a game called bag a tell. (don't know if that's how its spelt ) but I think every kid on Lees Road went in their house with a member of the family their age, to play it. They also had a whip and top the top we called a conker. It was different than the other tops. It was big and round and would knock your little top for six. The daughter same age as me had a tile that would come out every summer for hop scotch, and they had an old tent we used to put up on the front of the houses and camp out. Skipping ropes with wooden handles that had bells inside were always handed down, I always yearned for them but never got them. I used to get the cut off when my mother bought a new clothes line. My sister would bring two tubes home from the mill to make handles for it.


As a kid I was terrified of the policeman. I know you should tell your children never to be afraid of them because they are there to help, but back then they were not soft like today. Any cheek and they would give you a smack across the ear, and never in a million years would we have thought to hit them back. But it's the same with teachers, they are not allowed to discipline kids, one false word and the parents have them up in court. It's not easy being a policeman or teacher today.

I remember one Sunday going up to the farms on Lees Road. I had a sack with peelings in for the pigs. There were five girls and two lads. On the way back, as you got to the Red House, there was a path leading down into the clough and as you walked over the path there was a little blue box stuck on the wall with a police telephone inside, so we decided to open the box and I picked the phone up. Then one of the lads said, "your fingerprints will be on it." So instead of putting it back on the hook I just threw it down, left it hanging. I didn't realise it would be ringing at the police station.

We ambled on down the road and then saw a police car racing up towards us, he passed us and stopped at the telephone box then got back in the car to come back down so we said, "if he stops let's say it wasn't us!" He did stop, jumped out and said, "right, which one of you did it?" He went all along the line and we each said "it weren't me". However, he said to the girl who was biggest, "right, you look the eldest, tell me who did it or I will take you to the police station." She burst out crying and said "it was Lily." Oh God, was I ever scared. He said to me, "right, what do they call you?" I thought he meant what did they call people who did things like this so I said "a trespasser." He said "OK, don't get funny with me, what do they call you?" So I tried to think what other name I could give to him, and said "a thief." I still hadn't twigged he wanted my name. Why couldn't he have said "what's your name?" So he said, "right, get into the car. I'm taking you to the police station." I burst out crying and was wiping my tears on this old dirty stinking sack.

I was terrified. He had hold of my arm and my friend Brenda had hold of the other one pulling me back. She was crying too and saying, "She didn't mean it, mister. Don't take her away." Oh, what a to do. I ended up at the police station, the old one under the Town Hall, and dobbed the lot of them in, told their names and addresses. I was absolutely heartbroken. He took me home afterwards. Oh boy, was I ever in trouble with my mam and dad. My dad said I was the only one in the family with a police record. He was livid. All my friends got in trouble too because the policeman went to their houses too. One of the lads Kenny Robinson ended up a major in the Salvation Army. I would love to know if he remembers this!

You don't realise as kids, do you, because as the policeman told my parents, they thought someone had either been attacked whilst trying to phone or had collapsed. It was my first and last brush with the law... hello, hello, hello, what have we 'ere then?

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