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The Day Before Yesterday: 2 - Our New Palace

While still a young girl Gladys Schofield moved with her family to live in a new council house.

...What a big difference to the one we were leaving. We hadn't thought it strange living in this way with no hot water or toilet facilities on the premises - that was housed in a small hut at the bottom of the garden. Each house was like its neighbour standing in long rows, blackened with smoke from the industrial chimneys and yet a certain pride with their clean scrubbed doorsteps. How many people had been bom and died under the same roof? Plenty, I would say. With transport as it was they didn't have to travel far and any news didn't take long to travel all around the village....

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It was about this time Dad started working in the day time. How he had managed to sleep with the noise of a young family was a mystery to me. We also were allocated a council house at Leymoor Road, Golcar, so I must have brought them luck after all.

What a big difference to the one we were leaving. We hadn't thought it strange living in this way with no hot water or toilet facilities on the premises - that was housed in a small hut at the bottom of the garden. Each house was like its neighbour standing in long rows, blackened with smoke from the industrial chimneys and yet a certain pride with their clean scrubbed doorsteps. How many people had been bom and died under the same roof? Plenty, I would say. With transport as it was they didn't have to travel far and any news didn't take long to travel all around the village.

The houses were being built all over the place to house the many post-war families that had started to spill out of the tiny terrace houses. There were thirty-two new houses where we moved to, four blocks of eight, two lots on the road side (the second one being ours) and the other two blocks well to the back.
Land seemed plentiful as we had a huge back garden. The houses were built of stone with a stone wall surrounding the front garden for privacy, finished off with a gate to enter from the main road.

Mum had to take me along with her when she cleaned the new house. The workers had left their trademarks all over the place and she was anxious to move in as soon as possible. She sat me on a rug and got on with the scrubbing. I seemed to be wondering if she had left the door open. Reaching the door, she glanced at the stairs and there I was sitting on the top step feeling very clever.

The house was light and cosy. The fireplace was again combined with an oven, though this was much more modern. A wetback heated water, and hot and cold taps were in the bathroom and the kitchen.

We had three bedrooms up the stairs and the bathroom and toilet combined. A large box-type system with a long chain handle stood over the toilet. Toilet paper was not known in working class homes, so squares of newspaper were hung there on a hook in the wall.

The kitchen was large enough to take a table, and we ate in there in the warmer weather. Under the draining board at the side of the sink was a gas boiler for extra hot water on wash days. The white clothes were always boiled in the days before modern soap powders.

On one side of the kitchen there was a narrow room with a grate that opened to the outside. We called this the coalhouse. Bags of coal were delivered and tipped through this grate into the coalhouse. This made it easy to just fill the coal bucket through the door in the kitchen.

On the other side was another closed-off section which ran under the stairs at the one side and had rows of shelves to the other side of the door, finished off with a window at the far end. This was our pantry.

I can only imagine how happy Mum must have been, it would seem like a palace to the other home.

The long back garden was the width of the house, separated from our neighbours by a narrow path at each side. Mum and Dad spent long hours preparing this and soon had it productive. They grew all the vegetables and herbs. Everything of use to a growing family was grown in that garden. Mum had a great knowledge of homeopathy and used this instead of drugs on many occasions.

Roses began to grow in abundance along a fence to one side of the garden. They took off from the cuttings in no time at all. 'Dorothy Perkins' was the name. They hung in bunches and the scent was heavenly. Two bushes grew at the back of the garden to make it more private from the neighbours in the back row of houses.

My dad soon made use of the place under the stairs. Here he made a bench with cupboards for his tools, and in the evenings he would work at his many hobbies. One was putting new soles and heels on our shoes. He got quite skilled at this in time. The uppers were always made of leather so were well worth mending.
Another hobby was woodwork. He could make the neatest small chest of drawers, each no more than six or seven inches in height, complete with four drawers and tiny knobs.

These housed spare parts for a third hobby and the most consuming. He mended watches and clocks. He seemed to be able to coax the most reluctant of these to carry on ticking when others had given up on them. He loved clocks. We had an assortment around the house. One large one hung on the living room wall and needed winding up once a week, as two weights slowly moved to the bottom of the clock and a pendulum moved from side to side. Only Dad was allowed to wind this clock at the same time every week. It was word of mouth that brought Dad his trade, he was kept quite busy at times.

I was taught to tell the time on an old black marble clock that sat in the middle of the sideboard. This was a large piece of furniture that almost covered one side of the living room wall. It was beautifully carved, as was all the furniture at that time. A very large mirror covered the back, almost reaching the ceiling and two small cupboards and three drawers finished this off.

We ate wholesome meals, the main one being at midday. Meat and potato pie was one favourite, and stews and dumplings. The cheaper cuts of mutton were good for soups. We didn't eat as much meat as today, but our dinners were always tasty. Mum's early experience with cooking helped her now with our growing family.

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