6322 forum posts
"The Unique" thread drifted off into tales of yesteryear and reminded me how much I regret not interrogating my grandparents. Too young to know what to ask and now I'm older and wiser they've gone. Just a few snippets like my wife's granny mentioning that Zeppelin engines vibrated her sash windows, and my Territorial Army grandad saying an officious sergeant made him swap his comfy private boots for an ill-fitting regulation pair taken from a pile discarded outside a Dressing Station.
The Internet is our opportunity to record experiences that youngsters cannot have.
Nigel's tales of the 'flop-jack' flushes were almost new to me except I have seen one! It was in far from salubrious pub toilet in Devon, circa 1970, where it went off with a crash whilst I was seeing a man about a dog. Pubs were different back then - more of them, often men-only and rough. Lino and spittoons, though I don't recall anyone using them. Curly sandwiches and open derision when soft drinks were ordered. My local was a cider-den and featured a group of retired farm labourers brain damaged by scrumpy. (Modern scrumpy is much more benign, I doubt they still put rats in it.)
I remember Trolley Buses but not trams. A steamroller in disgrace because it couldn't roll tamac uphill. My dad once came home with a story about being in a slip coach dropped at Bath Spa, which he only mentioned because it only just made the platform. I've never seen a slip coach.
Factory chimneys and sooty towns. And the only ice-lolly available was Vanilla.
All this stuff was once ordinary. What do you remember about the past, good and bad? Domestic, work, school, shopping, national service, music - the list is endless.
|mark costello 1||19/09/2020 15:12:45|
607 forum posts
Grand parents not having a car and walking about 2 miles to town for everything.
|geoff adams||19/09/2020 15:26:14|
|180 forum posts|
My Grandad was in the royal flying corps before it was the raf the man in the back dropping the bombs by hand he never talked about it in the second world war was a fire warden in london never new till his funeral
my grandma had her hair ripped out on a pillar drill in the war
Edited By geoff adams on 19/09/2020 15:28:59
Edited By geoff adams on 19/09/2020 15:33:45
382 forum posts
A couple of my boyhood memories that will give Health and Safety a "bad do", going to the local chemist shop to buy ether to make fuel for model air craft engines, you had to take your own bottle which was usually a empty lemonade bottle and travelling on the bus with that bottle of ether in my pocket.
Then there was the glass cased wet acid accumulator for our wireless it was my job to take it to the shop for recharging and bring a fully charged one back in exchange, they had a carrying handle fitted which I slung on my bike handle bars.
|Gary Wooding||19/09/2020 16:22:51|
|763 forum posts|
I recall my dad coming off his bike when a wheel got stuck in a tram track. I also remember when the tar blocks that paved the roads and carried the tram tracks were removed so that a new surface could be laid for the brand new trolley buses. And a guy with a long pole that was used to set the trolley pickup arms onto the overhead cables. I also have strong memories of the London smogs where (trolley)buses were guided by a man on foot holding a flaring torch.
|Harry Wilkes||19/09/2020 17:07:17|
981 forum posts
|Cornish Jack||19/09/2020 17:12:17|
|1170 forum posts|
MichaelR - well remember the 'battery man' - once a fortnight brought exchange 6v accumulators, LT supply for the Murphy valve radio, the HT being a large 120v battery. Reception was only possible via a long (30'-40' ) aerial strung across the back garden supported on porcelain insulators. Switch on and wait for it to 'warm up' and then fiddle with the tuning knob to get BBC Home Service - "In Town Tonight"; "Saturday Night Theatre", "Dick Barton, Special Agent", "Mrs Dale's Diary"; "Happydrome"; The Archers (and Grace in the barn fire!); "Force's Favourites" for Sunday lunch and, and, and... very occasionally the Third Programme. John Snagge, Freddy Grisewood, Alvar Liddell, Barrington Dolby, Ralph Wightman, Wilfred Pickles ("Give her the money, Mabel" ) Gentle qualities from a different (better?) era.
Outdoor 'privies' with Newspapers serving a useful purpose, Water from wells, Milk delivered straight from the (probably insanitary) milkshed, decanted from a churn into a jug, horses providing farm 'power' with occasional Burrell, Fowler and Aveling and Porter steam, smell and noise for threshing. Steam trains on main and branch lines with soot and cinders in the eyes from leaning out of the leather strap conrtolled windows. Collar-detached shirts with collar studs, boots with hob-nails and 'segs'. Saturday night cinema, 1shilling in the stalls or 1 and 9d in the balcony. Lyons ice cream in the interval and continuous performance throughout the day.
Footballs made from leather and needing 'dubbin' to say pliable, knitted woolen bathing suits which gathered and retained sea-water for hours after immersion. Sandwiches with fishpaste, or cucumber and, once a week a bottle of Corona (non-virus!) Dandelion and Burdock, tripe, fried brains, sheep's head braun. faggots, saffron buns the size of tea-plates, scalded cream in a huge bowl golden and fissured surface waiting to scoop onto fresh-baked scones laden with home-made jam ...
... have to stop there, the keyboard isn't dribble proof1
Edited By Cornish Jack on 19/09/2020 17:13:20
Edited By Cornish Jack on 19/09/2020 17:14:21
|Peter G. Shaw||19/09/2020 17:15:41|
1165 forum posts
How far back can we go?
My father left school at 13 - so he said, But I've a feeling that this may have been because the school year finished about a week before his 14th birthday. Apart from that, he did some long distance lorry driving and used to talk about the speed limit of 20mph, the built-in engine speed limit (Gardner diesels) of 29mph, and being overtaken downhill by a wagon & trailer obviously out of gear as he himself was already doing 29mph. Using tramlines to steer him home, that was until he met a tram coming the other way. This was obviously pre-WWII, not that I was alive then!
During WWII, he relates some escapades such as carrying torpedo heads, and spending the night under a tarpaulin guarding a trailer load of sugar - apparently going over a humpbacked bridge, the trailer had become detached, and ran off the road into a field where somehow it remained upright, but the sacks of suger all shunted forward hence leaving a gap for dad to sleep in.
My own earliest proven memories date from around June/July 1948 when I was rising 5. I related these to my parents and was told that yes, I was correct: afternoon sleeps on a camp bed at the Primary School; travelling all night from West Yorkshire to Dagenham to stay with relatives; said relatives had a son who was a steam engine fireman and he took me, aged 5, to the engine depot and for a footplate ride. ok, only a few yards, but still, exiting to me.
Walking to and from primary school every day (3/4 mile), twice a day (I used to come home for lunch). Not much fun when it was raining because at one point the combination of wind & rain and the topology meant that the rain was more or less horizontal.
Frozen milk where the milk had expanded by up to 3" and was stuck out the top of the milk bottle. Ice on the inside of the bedroom windows (no central heating), in fact the only heating was a coal fire or two for which we used both coal and coke. Hens in the backgarden, later battery cages in what we then named the "hen house". Walking to the next village during winter to get the bus to secondary school because the road to our village was blocked by snowdrifts 2 or 3 ft deep. The district nurse turning up on a motorcycle in winter: that must have been in 1952 when my brother was born. Local farmers running up and down with a snowplough fitted to the front of their tractors. My parent's first car - Ford Prefect 1953 model bought s/h in 1954, and how they had to mollycoddle it in winter to get it going (garage, sump heater, blanket or old coat!).
My grandfather slowly "losing his memory" as it was termed, and dying: that had a very great frightening effect on me being 11 at the time. He was 70, and thankfully, I'm well past that same age with, as far as I can tell, no real deterioration mentally. Also lost a younger brother at 12 months: that was described as one of natures accidents. Don't really remember much about him, but I always knew where he was buried and 50 years later I went to find the grave: our parents ashes are now in that grave.
Remember trams through Leeds. Now here's an oddity. I have a recollection of being told that the Leeds trams were the fastest in the UK. But at the same time, I've also seen the Liverpool trams. Anyone know anything about this? Both Huddersfield & Bradford had trolley buses: Halifax had AEC Regent diesels with a pre-selector gearbox. All with rear platforms so people used to jump on and off at low speeds. H&S did someone mention? Clippies & conductors.
That'll do for now, it's teatime.
Peter G. Shaw
|john fletcher 1||19/09/2020 17:48:09|
|623 forum posts|
I remember going from Warkly tram terminus to another one in Sheffield for HALF A PENNY.. Also being machine gunned by a German fighter plane whilst potato picking with my mother. Hearing the Lancaster bomber going to Germany from Coningsby and other aerodromes in Lincolnshire and seeing them on the way home, when walking to school with bits dangling down underneath them. Air sea rescue boats going to sea, seeing the army bomb disposal digging out bombs. The policeman attempting to keep us kids out of the way, I could go on.
|larry phelan 1||19/09/2020 17:50:11|
|820 forum posts|
Yes Cornish Jack, I remember most of those radio shows, pity they finished, nothing on the radio now except crap.
I recall using trams in Dublin, although not for long since they were scrapped in the name of "Progress" Strange to say, the latest aid to rapid transport in the city is---TRAMS [By another name, of course ]
The wheel turns !!
The list is too long to mention all the things I remember.
|232 forum posts|
My best tram memory was when a tram came into Wimbledon terminus at some speed with part of the rear platform on fire. The conductor poured sand over the flames and all was well.
|Bill Phinn||19/09/2020 18:11:59|
|367 forum posts|
Having no central heating ourselves, and having only backyard privies at both sets of grandparents'.
Many more people with bandy legs [effect of rickets] than you see today, and many more limbless and sightless men.
Scrap yards [I used to go to with my father] where you could climb up great big stacks of semi-flattened cars and scavenge yourself for the bits you wanted.
Standing in a crowd of grown-ups in car auction rooms and being acutely aware, through an almost impenetrable fug of ciggy smoke, that lots of adults didn't bathe or wash their clothes very often.
My grandmother's neighbour, whose brothers were too old to serve in the Great War; the photos she had of them on her mantelpiece dated from the Boer War era.
Lots more horses, and their poop, on the roads.
Fogs and smogs.
Snow, and real winters.
No low fat or low sugar alternatives to full fat or full sugar foods and drinks.
Wearing my leather school shoes for all outdoor leisure activities; trainers hadn't been invented, and my thin canvas P.E. plimsolls wouldn't have stood the daily abuse of outdoor football, running, cycling, scrapping, and general running amok carried on with my co-evals.
Seeing my mother off at the airport and being able to sit in the departure lounge with her until she boarded, then being allowed to go out onto the roof of a single-storey building that looked down on to the tarmac the passengers walked across to board and chucking down an item to my mother that she had forgotten to take with her. No security staff batted an eyelid - not that there even were any security staff as such in those days.
|Mick B1||19/09/2020 18:51:20|
|1725 forum posts|
Yes, I remember trams.
Dad was working in Germany for 3 years in the mid-50s and our family was with him, living just outside Cologne. Trams were swift and quiet into town and back, and the butchers where mum bought meat used to give me a slice of garlic sausage over the counter.
Then in '56 we came back to England. On the train from Dover, I was trying to reconcile the stories about England being the best country in the world with the wet, dirty, old-fashioned streets we were passing.
We went to stay with an Aunt in Sheffield, and she took us into town on what must have been one of the last tramlines in service. It shook, rattled and groaned as if it hadn't seen an oilcan in years. It rarely seemed to exceed walking pace. There seemed to be no springs at all and I was sore and achy by the time we got off.
It was right outside a butchers shop, and there was a pair of lungs hanging by the door and a skinned sheep's head staring out the window.
Call me a snowflake, but I wanted our old life in Cologne back!
OK, I don't feel that way any more, but you can imagine why people miight have different memories of UK trams...
Edited By Mick B1 on 19/09/2020 18:53:33
|879 forum posts|
I remember back up to the early 1960's our house had no central heating - we then moved to one that did - but the heat and hot water was supplied by a coal fire with a back boiler in the dining room, the main source of heat all autumn, winter and spring. That fire was never allowed to go out, you 'banked' it up with coal dust last thing at night so it lasted until the morning. Only very occasionally would the fire in the front room be lit but that was for aduts only, us kids realy went in there. A paraffin heater in the hall and another in the bathroom took the chill off the rest of the house. Jack Frost on the bedroom window was the norm. Getting dressed in the morning was a very quick affair!
Trolley busses in Brighton until the early 1950's when they stopped running them, they were so quiet, I loved them.
You used to go to school regardless of how you felt, ie unless you were actually dying, or unless you were so stricken you couldn't get out of bed, or you had something considered highly infectious like measles or chicken pox, no skiving off because you felt like a day off - how would todays snowflakes coped? And you walked or cycled the mile or more to school each day in all weathers regardless, carrying your satchel with all your books in, no soft run in mummys car back then.
Dad had a pre-war car in the late 1950's, on one Chrismas Boxing Day, waiting for Dad to get the car out to go to Great Aunts for the day, after ages he came in and said no go, the engine had frozen, despite a paraffin heater and a blanket, both under the bonnet. That was the end of that car!
We had inside toilets and bathrooms, the houses were 1930's built, but I remember even in 1970 being in a house in 'Sunny' South Shields with the toilet at the end of the garden, great in the dark and rain.
The change to decimal money in 1972 (was it) was a great rip off. The sensible solution would have been to call the ten shilling note the 'new' pound, a bob would have been ten pence instead of twelve, ten ten pences would still have been ten shillings or a new pound, we wouldn't have had the inflation and rip-off we had and the elderly wouldn't have been so confused - explain to an 80 year old that the penny she has in her hand is not what it was and is in effect 2.4 new pennies. The ten bob note to become a dollar is what Australia and New Zealand very sensibly and painlessly did; it was suggested in the UK but the idiots in charge said no we must have tradition, we must retain the pound - then years later the same idiots or their successors suggested we did away with the pound and swapped it for the Euro!
Rationing - as a kid if I was very lucky I might have a sixpence now and again - at very long intervals!! - to go into a sweet shop and it felt like all my birthdays had come at once that day, then decisions decisions, what should I buy, the luxury of it, but I don't think sweets were rationed but everything else food wise seemed to be. I remember you had very simple meals, filling meals, to keep you going, you were usually hungrey, and you eat everything on the plate and any 'seconds' if it was available. Eating a plate clean is so ingrained in me I do it to this day. You certainly would be a fussy snowflake at the dinner table back then, you would have starved.
|352 forum posts|
Born Liverpool in 1944, moved to London 1951, only remember one tram journey out to Aintree when was told off for running down the aisle flipping all the seat backs in one direction then returning, tipping them all back again.
|Howard Lewis||19/09/2020 20:50:20|
|3605 forum posts|
Some of you must be as old as me!
My father was firewatching in Birmingham on the night that Coventry was bombed. he said that they could see the glow in sky. He was in the Ministry of War Transport.so was allowed petrol for our car. One only two in the road!
Being carried min my Grandfather's arms down into the Anderson shelter, to sit on upturned flowerpots, by the light of candles, and seeing a bomber flying down the next road, just above the roof of the houses!
One night in the winter of 1947 it dropped a foot of snow outside our backdoor. Thankfully, it stayed in place when we opened the door! Schools stayed open until the pipes froze. One teacher used to come in from a village outside town.
What a contrast with today, where they seem to close if the sky clouds over!
An uncle was a corn merchant, living in a watermill five miles out of town. Auntie cooked on a paraffin stove, even baking with a paraffin heated oven! A high powere paraffin lamp was an Aladdin with a mantle. Almost as good as a modern 60 watt bulb.
I rode on what must have been one of the last trams in Birmingham. Hereford had what must have been the last Midlkand Red double decker where the bell was rung, on both decks, by a long leather thong hung from the ceiling.. (Just like the single deckers, with their cast iron route number boards. The new ones with roller screens were amazing!
We used to have fogs that were so bad that you could scarcely see the lit gas mantle when you stood at the base of the post. And you could not see across the road!
Saturday cinema, 6d , or 9d to sit upstairs, to watch the Lone ranger, Robin Hood, the Ghost Riders!
Rooms lit by gas mantles, with little bits drifting down on to.
Our old radio had a 2 volt accumulator, but the High Tension battery Eliminator charge it when the set was switched off. The "switch" control was a small bridge that you moved from one socket to another, and got quite a belt if your hands were wet. And the noises that you could make by turning the Reaction control too far!
Swinging the handle to start tractors, and a binder towed behind was high tech, instead of a gang of men with Scythes.
Distance lends enchantment to the view???????????
|pgk pgk||19/09/2020 21:28:41|
|1911 forum posts|
Wife and I were only reminiscing yesterday about frost on the inside of windows when we were kids and not wanting to get up until our dads had lit the fire...
|martin perman||19/09/2020 21:42:07|
1873 forum posts
Reading the above makes me think I'm one of the youngest, I was born in 1954 and was brought up in Selhurst, South East London, when I went to Junior school it was only a 10 minute walk but when the smog came down you only knew when you found a zebra crossing when you bumped into the belisha beacon pole, I remember trolley buses, yellow in colour but cant remember where. Before WWII my Grandfather was a Chaffeur for a family in Kent, they Holidayed in Scotland and it was a three day trip for my Grandfather to drive them there in their Rolls Royce, he thought I was winding him up when I said I drove to Stirling and back in a day and did several hours work on a Robot welding system, I have a note book of his full of notes on how the car worked, he had done a course with RR Cars, during the war he worked for Thorney Croft machining turret rings for tanks, after the war he went to Daimler car hire and drove for them. Many years later we were walking around Long Melford steam rally looking at the cars when he took his diary out looked at a Daimler and said I drove that one for Daimler. Grandad later on bought his own London Cab and learnt the Knowledge.
From about the age of nine I used to get the train from Selhurst Park and travel on my own to South Kensington underground station and visit the museums on the understanding I was home no later than 18:00, god help me, imagine children being allowed to do that today.
As kids my brother, sister and I were brought up on Offal and we still enjoy it today, I used to go to the Faggots shop to fetch Faggots and peas pudding for my Dads tea and with Mum we used to visit a Grocer who still sold sugar and salt in paper bags and loose tea, like others have said frozen windows in the morning and usually frozen shut as well. In 1967 we moved to Bury St Edmunds because Dad had a new job working for Vintens as a draftsman, whilst we were packing up to move Dad tried to get a Mobylette Moped and a push bike with an engine in the back wheel on to the van but mum told him to leave them as he no longer used them, try and buy the engine in the wheel push bike today and you would need a big load to buy one, from that point on our uncles and aunts refered to us as country bumkins, the rest of my parents family all stayed within very short distances of the home town of Sutton ot Wimbledon.
Edited By martin perman on 19/09/2020 21:44:30
Edited By martin perman on 19/09/2020 21:49:29
|geoff walker 1||19/09/2020 21:44:43|
|425 forum posts|
Dad was an aeromodeller.
Sunday mornings he would put his kit in his backpack, pick up his assembled aeroplane, climb on his bicycle and off he went to see his mates at the flying field.
One morning he slipped as he set off, the wing dipped down in front of the handlebars and plunged into the spokes in the front wheel. Crunch crunch and a broken wing.
Dad was very reserved but on this occasion it was one of the few times I heard him swear.
|old mart||19/09/2020 21:54:58|
|1980 forum posts|
My father could have written a great book about his second world war, even though he never fired his rifle at anyone. He was captured by the Italians, a few days after reaching North Africa, and spent most of his war in Italy. He nearly died of dysentry and was saved by the Italian doctors, who were superb. He later escaped from the camp he was in and made his way north and lived with the Italians after the fall of Italy, but was captured by the germans and put in a cattle truck en route to Germany. One night he escaped from the cattle truck and ran for his life, his friend was shot as they ran. Luckily for his friend, it was a sympathetic German who shot him in the leg, and dad was surprised to meet him after the war, fit and well. Father walked into Switzerland and spent the last part of the war living with a family there. He spoke fluent Italian and German and got on well with his captors, who told him, as a British prisoner things that would have had them executed if their officers had found out. I have all the correspondence between him and my aunt during his captivity, and the certificates from the British Legation in Berne thanking his foster family on behalf of the government. He was one of those fortunate people who never held any grudge against his captors afterward.
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