« Bricks Without Straw | Main | find the big dream »

U3A Writing: Memories Of Childhood

...my attention was always drawn to the row of painted cocoa tins on the mantelpiece in which granddad put pennies every week for each of his grandchildren. It was a highlight of the year when at Christmas and again at holiday time the tins were ceremoniously opened and the contents handed over...

Norma Shreeve recalls her childhood days in Stockport.

I was born and brought up in Stockport, an industrial town 7 miles south of Manchester and at the head of the Mersey River. My paternal grandfather was a sand moulder for an iron foundry and grandma "minded" several looms in one of the many cotton mills.

They lived in a two up, two down mill terrace with gas lighting downstairs only. My memory of visits were of washing on the pulley rail and huge mangle which took up almost one wall of the cluttered room, but my attention was always drawn to the row of painted cocoa tins on the mantelpiece in which granddad put pennies every week for each of his grandchildren. It was a highlight of the year when at Christmas and again at holiday time the tins were ceremoniously opened and the contents handed over.

I lived with my sister and parents on the main A6 and the trams rattling along were my bedtime lullaby. My maternal grandfather drove one of the trams on this route and if I was lucky I could ride up the front with him for a short ride. Grandma ran a bakers shop for which my auntie was the confectioner. Uncle had a dairy and another uncle a fish shop so when my sister and I were old enough we were never short of a job. We were also very lucky as during the difficult years of rationing we were never short of food.

My father worked for the then L M S Railway. He started work in the stables of the Stockport Goods Depot where goods were unloaded and distributed to local firms. When my father started work in 1916 it was all horse drawn but eventually the progressed to being a motor lorry driver. He used to tell me stories of the horses he loved and especially of the day during the general strike when he had to wear a special identifying arm band in order to get through the picket lines to feed the horses. He also told how for the local Show the horses were groomed, their manes plaited and he would sit up all night with them.

Comparing my childhood with that of my grandchildren they would consider us very poor and deprived. No bath, no TV, definitely no central heating, but I always felt lucky. I particularly remember Christmas, all I wanted from Santa was a doll that went to sleep. My parents tried very hard to find one without success, till my father spotted a broken doll on some nearby waste ground. The body was smashed but the head, although cracked, was intact and had opening and closing eyes. He brought it home and painted over the cracks and my mother made a fabric body and a set of clothes. Granddad made her a bed so she could go to sleep and so as I was always swapping my dolls clothes, she arrived with a label saying "I'm Polly Particular and I like my own clothes". I still have Polly together with most of her clothes, but her face is even more cracked, just like her owner.

Categories

Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.