I can remember back to the time when the streetlights, which seemed quite dim and few and far between, had to be switched on just before dark. A man rode round on a bike, with a long pole with a sort of hook on the end. This enabled him to reach up and switch on the lights.
Do you remember when we got the new amber coloured streetlights?
At Tawd Bridge we had a very small but very pretty front garden with a lovely collection of dahlias. Dad and I were very fond of them and proud of our little colourful display.
Up in Grimshaw Lane, my Nana had a row of potted geraniums in her front window, of which she was equally proud.
On the night that they first switched on the new amber street lights, all the dahlias and all the geraniums just lay down. Like somebody had knocked them flat! (Sort of like a crop circle!)
I think they eventually recovered, but for that first night it was really wierd.
When I was a childat Tawd Bridge everyone I knew “talked broad” in other words, they spoke in a dialect specific to our own little community. My Mam told me that her grandparents and people of that generation never had any other language. When I went to school I suppose it was then that I started to learn standard English, in other words, became bi-lingual.
In the last few years before she died, I asked my Mam how she thought that people of her generation learned to speak and use standard English. In the early days of the 20th century, our little community was very isolated. They did not have radio broadcasts, movies were silent, they did not travel widely – how were they exposed to standard English? Mam said they must have learned it at school, but I wondered about that, because if the teachers were local, how did they learn to speak English?
Often in those days, teachers were trained on the job. For instance, my Gran when she got to school leaving age at Digmoor, started to train as a pupil teacher. It was a sort of on the job apprenticeship. Also training with her at that time was Eunice Gaskell. Gran had to quit her training and stay at home to help in the Watkinson family business, the shop and bakery. But of course Mrs Gaskell went on to become a teacher at Digmoor for many years. (She was my first teacher, no doubt many would remember her.)
Anyway, I suppose some teachers may have gone away to do further training and learned the pronunciations and grammatical laws of English! Maybe it had something to do with the ministers and preachers at the church or chapel. I still can’t imagine, though, how the majority of the people in this isolated situation could be generally exposed to standard English. It is the very isolation, of course, that enabled the use of our dialect for so long.
When our family moved to Australia, my parents and my Aunty Belle continued to use the dialect whenever they spoke to each other. My Mam eventually modified her speech enough to be able to communicate with the Australians around us. It was all part of assimilating into our new community. My Dad, however, never did change the way he spoke! My Australian school friends could never understand him! Because I had mentioned to them that we came from a place called Upholland, my friends assumed that Dad was Dutch! I must say though that that my bother’s children(Aussie born and bred) never had any difficulty at all in understanding the dialect of their grandparents
Since my parents and my Aunty Belle died, I no longer get to hear our dialect, and I miss it greatly.
My Aunty Belle and family migrated to Australia in the early 60s. Before they left they went round all our family and all our friends in the community and recorded messages on a tape recorder. They brought this with them and I can’t tell you how we loved listening to those messages, over and over. For the past 40 years or so, the tapes have been packed away. Recently, my brother fixed up an old Reel to Reel tape recorder and added a device to enable me to record the messages on the old tapes onto my computer. I got quite emotional, listening to those messages again!
For many years I worked in the Outback of Australia in Aboriginal communities. The tribal languages and culture can be dated back more than 40000 years, with little change until the British settled in Australia just over 200 years ago. Now with the contact with the outside world, there is a concern that the aborigines are losing their language and culture. While I was working there we had a constant influx of eminent linguists from all over the world who came to work on a dictionary, and to record and document the ancient language.
It makes me jealous because I feel that the same should be done for our ancient language.
The difficulty that arises with the aboriginal languages is that they were a purely oral tradition. It was never meant to be written. So the linguists have all kinds of difficulty and arguments regarding the pronunciation and which letters to use for which sounds.
I feel that it is the same with our dialect, it was only ever an oral tradition. Anyone who leaned to read and write would use standard English, it was just the pronunciation (and a bit of a disregard for some basic rules of grammar) that would be different.
So although I have had access to some items of written “Lanky Dialect” poems and prose, and really appreciate and value them, I find them hard to read. Each author or poet has their own interpretation of how the pronunciation should be written and spelled.
So it was with great joy and delight that I listened to the “videos” of “Deein Dialect” on this web site. This is exactly what we need to help preserve out dialect. While I also loved the recitations of Mrs Swift, I feel that the narration in Deein Dialect is just great. For me it is just like having a conversation with the speaker, talking about everyday things. I would like to congratulate everyone who was involved in producing those videos. All I can say to them is “More, Please!”
In my last post, I mentioned that we had brooks to paddle in. I know that the Tawd River was known as ” ‘T’ Bruck” as in “from o’er t’ bruck”. However, the brook I was referring to was the one that ran down parallel to Grimshaw Lane and ran into the Tawd nearer the bridge. That was a nice brook and a delight to children such as myself. It ran down across the bottom of what had been my Grandad’s garden. There were some gardens that sloped down from the back of the houses down to the brook. My Mam told me that her family, the Watkinsons, who had a shop at Tawd Bridge , used to have a bit of pasture along the side of the brook where they kept their horses. My Grandad had a greenhouse near the side of that brook. There was a grapevine growing in it, and Grandad and my dad after him, used to grow tomatoes in the greenhouse. Nearby was a little set of stone steps where you could get down to the brook. There were no taps and garden hoses! You had a “degging can” (a watering can) and you went down the stone steps and got water from the brook to water the plants.
This is where I fell in. Several times! My dad even had a little song he used to sing, (to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) – “Dear oh dear oh what shall I do? Fawed in t’ Bruck an’ ‘er geet weet through!” Adults never seemed too stressed about children falling in the brook in those days. It just seemed to be regarded as a normal part of growing up, and rather amusing!
Past my Grandad’s garden the brook ran through Tommy Bellamy’s garden and then through Bennet’s property. Bennets had a sort of market garden and lots of hens.
Finally the brook emptied into the Tawd River. We were quite proud of the Tawd, as we had been taught at school that it was a real River, not just a brook. Also it was the border between Upholland and Skelmersdale. In my imagination it was like the border checkpoint into a foreign land! We used to stand in the middle of the bridge and say we had one foot in Upholland and one foot in Skem!
My friends and I thoroughly explored all along the river. It used to be a clear pleasant stream. Once we actually caught a trout in that river.
Then something terrible happened, almost overnight it seemed. The river suddenly changed to a nasty brown colour. I still don’t know what it was, probably some sort of industrial discharge. It was toxic. No more trout.
Now it is gone all together. The brook is gone too, I suppose. The last time I saw that valley it was a main road! But we still refer to each other as from o’er t’ Bruck!
I have often thought that we children of the “Baby Boomer” generation are the luckiest generation in history. WW2 was over and there was a new spirit of optimism. We never had to survive the Great Depression. In my family we were pretty hard up during the 50s, but we were never starving or lacking in the basic comforts of life. We didn’t have the technology of today, or the vast array of material goods, but I don’t think we needed it.
I recall having a very happy childhood in our little world of Tawd Bridge. I had a little group of friends to play with and lots of interesting things to do. No mobile phones, no computers no hugely expensive toys. Even at school we only really had one item of play equipment, a pair of swings on the field at the back of the school. Everything else depended on our imagination and ingenuity.
We walked, unsupervised, to school. We had to go up Ormskirk road then turn up the “pads” – a footpath giving a shortcut to Daniels Lane. In the last couple of years that I was there we had a Lollypop man to supervise us crossing Ormskirk road to get to the pads. Whatever the weather, we had to walk, (or run!) We thought it was fun when it was foggy and you could not see the school from the pads. “Oh, no! The school has disappeared! No school for us today!”
There seem to have been few restrictions on what we could do. I vividly remember playing outside in the snow at night when it was dark, and I have sometimes wondered about why my Mam would have allowed me to play outside at night. Then I suddenly remembered that in winter in England it is often dark at 5:30, so I guess that is the answer, we could play outside until we had to come in for the evening meal, and it would have been well dark by then.
When it wasn’t winter, we could have a wonderful time outside. The houses at Tawd Bridge were crowded closely together along Ormskirk Road, but if you went a hundred yards to the back of the houses you were in open country. It was a real adventure playground! There were trees to climb, birds nests to find, brooks to paddle in (and fall in, sometimes!) We used to walk as far as the actual bridge over the Tawd River, then turn along a path towards “The Lump” as we used to call it. Or you could go the other way and go up the back lane. Along there was an old shed and a sort of allotment that belonged to “Owd Bill”. Near there by the side of the lane was a spring, water constantly bubbling up into a little pool. I always found it fascinating. The last time I was in England was in 1989, and I went down to Tawd Bridge to try to find that back lane. There was a sort of abbreviated and modified lane where I thought it should have been, but no sign of the spring.
Another thing that my friend and I liked to do was to walk up the brow to Dick Valentines farm. At the side there was a paddock in which was kept a friendly chestnut horse. We loved him. He allowed us to pat his nose and feed him with a handful of grass.
If you kept on walking along from there you came to a place that we called “Tom Brown’s Garden”. I can’t remember anything about the house apart from the fact that it had a lovely garden. We used to just stand there and admire it.
If any of this jogs the memory of any of the other Tawd Bridge or Digmoor children, leave a comment!
Does anyone know what happend to the two steam trains that children used to climb on, one was in Digmoor and the other was in New Church Farm. Thanks for any information on this.
Something new for me, posting a blog!
I was born in Tawd Bridge and lived very happily there, attending Digmoor school and chapel, until I was 10 years old. My family and I migrated to Australia in 1958, and I have been living here off and on ever since. I came back to live in Upholland for 4 years or so in the 1970s, and have been back for shorter visits on several occasions since.
While I was growing up in Australia, I was obsessed with the idea that Iwould return to live in England at the soonest opportunity. I was homesick for England and Tawd Bridge all the time that I was away!
Anyway, as it usualy happens, time moves on and you get involved in your life, your work, your family and other interests, and suddenly before you know it, more than 40 years have passed!
I still have a deep and abiding love for the home of my youth, and still miss the place; which is why I visit websites such as this quite often. A little nostalgia once a week or so makes me feel closer to “home”.
In starting this blog I intend to write about my memories and feelings for the old days in Tawd Bridge, Digmoor and Skem. I hope that whoever reads this may perhaps leave a comment, it would be wonderful to make “virtual” contact with people who belong to Skelmersdale.
I am a decendant of the Phillipson/Pennington family of 105 Sandy Lane. We had neighbours, The Mason Family and think we have found pictures of them and would be interested if any of the family are still living in the Skelmersdale area and could identify who was who in the photos. Four generations of my family lived in Sandy Lane and I think that the Mason’s lived in 103 or 101 Sandy Lane. Any help would be much appreciated.
Val Lees nee Pennington
My Father John (aka Bob) Dobie played for Skelmersdale United in the early fifties.During that time the club won the Liverpool County Football Combination and the George Mahon Cup.I have several photographs and press cuttings of the team If anyone wants to see them I`ll gladly add them to the site.