Oct 27

Potato Nostalgia

Lobbies.

My house is full of the smell of lob scouse as I write this. There is a big pot of “lobbies” bubbling away on the stove.

It is an evocative aroma which brings back memories of my mother, my childhood at Tawd Bridge and my Nana’s kitchen on washing day. My Aussie husband even has a great fondness for this very British and very Lancashire dish, (just as well! He tends to get plenty of it!)

So lots of fond memories are going through my head today, and thoughts of my family and friends in Upholland and Skem.

Another fond memory of my childhood in Lancashire is the joy of new potatoes. In my childhood we were a potato growing district. The school holidays we had in late autumn were known as the potato picking holidays, ( or T’pratoh pickin holidays.) I used to go with my Mam and other neighbours, following the potato picking machine along the drills in Forshaw’s field. But it was in spring (I think) when we had the joy and unique taste of new potatoes. Is it still the same? There is an incredible array of different and more fashionable vegetables on the market these days. Can you still get good new potatoes and spring greens?

Even though we have grown our own potatoes here in Australia on many occasions, to my mind we have never been able to replicate the taste of new potatoes that I remember from my younger days in England. And I have never seen spring greens available in the shops in Australia. It’s funny what you miss!

Anyway, where we live now in the Western District of Victoria, we have a “Potato Man”. He is a farmer who periodically loads up his pickup truck (mainly with potatoes but sometimes he has carrots or pumpkins as well) and travels the road from Ballarat to Hamilton (approximately 200km.) He stops at all the little villages along the way, selling his produce. It is a wonderful service and his produce is of excellent quality and comparatively cheap. He arrived yesterday saying he had new season potatoes, only dug the day before, so we got 12kg.

And I have to tell you that they WERE new and fresh with the very thin skin peeling off with just a brush of the thumb! I cooked a few straight away and we ate them just plain with butter and they were superb! The closest I have ever come (but no quite!) to that distant memory of English new potatoes!

Mar 29

May Queen

When I was a child we very often had little “May Queen” parades, just in and around our street. I tried to work out what year this was. It was after the Coronation, as my cousin Jean was dressed as “Sir Edmund Hillary” (and his famous achievement happened on the eve of the coronation.) So I am guessing that this little parade was held as a special event for the coronation, (ie not in May) or it was held the following year, 1954.

The lady in the background in the top photo was one of about 3 ladies who were organising our little parade. Sorry I can’t remember her name.

The girl in the crown is Mary Reed. I was dressed as Little Red Riding Hood and my brother Harold was the granny. The photo is not all that clear, but maybe some of you readers will recognise some of the faces here.

 

Jan 22

British Legion, 1950s

My father, Tom Coulshed, was a keen active member of the British Legion after the war. The local branch used to meet in the Plough and Harrow. I am not sure if it will be possible to read the names in the top picture, so I will copy them here.

Branch Officials: President – Mr M. Baxter   Chairman – Mr T Redfern   Vice Chairman – Mr C J Kenyon

Secretary – Mr G Mills, 321 Ormskirk Road, Upholland.   Treasurer – Mr L Evans

Committee – Messrs. W Fairclough, H Turner, T Coulshed, J Coulshed, A Baxter, L S Yarwood,

J Glover, A.Ashcroft, W Dodson, H Caunce, H Snape

Service Committee: Chairman – Mr H Turner   Vice Chairman – Mr T Redfern

Secretary and Poppy Day Organiser – Mr J Glover   Treasurer – Mr L Evans

Standard Bearer – Mr G Mills.

(My dad, Tom Coulshed is second from the right, back row; my uncle Joe Coulshed is second from the left, back row. As for all the others, maybe someone will leave a comment and put names to faces.)

There was a blotter and calendar which came with this picture. I thought I would include a couple of pages to bring back memories of some of the local trades-persons and businesses of the 1950s

It might have been a good idea to put advertising on a blotter in those days – because we all used them, right? Very few people born after the 1950s would know what a blotter was!

My personal memories of this time – my dad (and the other British Legion members) used to sell poppies in the couple of weeks leading up to Remembrance Day. As soon as I was old enough to be able to walk around with him, Dad always took me with him to sell poppies. The poppies were in a tray that I carried with a strap that went around my neck. We walked all round Tawd Bridge and Grimshaw Lane, (that was my Dad’s “patch”) and knocked on everyone’s door. It was cold, dark and damp in early November as we did our rounds, but I was always proud to go out and sell poppies with my dad.

 

 

 

Jan 09

Washing Day (continued)

My Nana lived in a similar house further up the road in Grimshaw Lane. They had an outhouse at the back. It was a stone building attached to the house and I think originally it had been a type of barn. It had been used as a washhouse. Some of the old equipment was still there, for instance the dolly tubs. These were galvanized corrugated iron barrels. They were filled with water and the washing put in and agitated with a wooden implement called the dolly. Now that was hard work! However Nana didn’t use that equipment when I was there, she had graduated to an electric washing machine. This was a round tub on legs similar to the jazzer but with an Electric Motor and electric wringer. She kept this inside in the utility room at the back of the house. She had her own private backyard to hang her washing, but I must say it was still just as white and perfect as the washing in the communal backyards.

I did not know anyone who had an ironing board. A pad made of an old blanket and sheet was put on the dining table and the ironing done on that. Everything was ironed, including the sheets and pillowcases. No steam irons; I remember my Nana had a bottle of water with an attachment like a pepper-shaker, and water could be sprinkled on the ironing using this.

When we first arrived in Australia we were living in temporary migrant accommodation and again my Mam ended up using a communal washhouse, now refered to as a “laundry” in Australia. This was even cruder and even harder work than the facilities in England! To obtain hot water she was obliged to chop wood and make a fire under the copper, (a copper boiler set into a brick surround, with a fireplace underneath it.) There was no washing machine, just old cement troughs with a hand-operated wringer clamped on the side. Again, there were communal washing lines strung out across the garden.

Over the years, Mam graduated to a series of ever improving electric washing machines. She had a Hoover twin tub for many years and finally in about 1983 became the proud owner of an automatic top-loading washing machine. (We still have it to this day and it is still in regular use! Pretty amazing for a modern appliance to last for so long!)

We always found it amusing that even though Mam had a top notch fully automatic labour saving machine, she couldn’t bring herself to just turn it on and let it do its job. She always had to dissolve the detergent powder first in a bucket of warm water before adding it to the machine. She couldn’t let the machine just wash, she had to be fiddling with it and rearranging it. After it finished she always had to turn it on again to give the washing an extra rinse. Finally she would usually catch the rinsing water in buckets and put it on the garden. The old habit of washing being hard labour died hard with my Mam!

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Jan 07

Washing Day, part 1

My Gran’s house at Tawd Bridge was one of a row of four old stone terrace houses with a shop at the end. My parents lived there after they were married and this is where I was born. There were three bedrooms upstairs, the parlour at the front, living room in the middle and a kitchen at the back. Gran’s house had a glass veranda built on at the back. These days it would be called a conservatory but then it was mainly used as a utility room. Most of the houses I knew at that time had a typical cooking range, which used an open fire. This was set in the living room, serving for warmth as well as cooking. At the back was a communal backyard shared by all of the families in the row. Across the backyard was a block of four separate toilets.

At the back of the toilet block was a shed built of timber with a tar-cloth clad roof and this was the washhouse. As far as I remember it contained tubs or troughs and a large cast iron mangle with wooden rollers, and these were for the use of all of the four houses.

In the backyard there were various poles and hooks  at strategic places where the housewives could string out the washing lines. They never left the lines out after washing day, they were all reeled in and put away when the washing was taken in, because soot dropping down from the coal fires would make the lines dirty. They used to use a prop, which was at 10 foot pole of 4X2 to hold up the sagging rope lines.

When I lived there my grandmother didn’t use the communal laundry, she did her washing in the glass veranda. She had a hand-operated washing machine, which they called a jazzer. It was a galvanized corrugated iron rectangular tub set on four angle iron legs with a wringer attached to one side. It had a wooden lid with an agitator and handle, which you cranked to operate the machine. A boiler provided the hot water for the washing. (This was a freestanding electric powered boiler, not the modern type of boiler which is integrated into a hot water service or central heating system.)

Every Monday it was washing day in the whole community. All of the housewives in the row of houses would do their washing on Monday, and hang out the washing on the communal lines all together.

Thinking of this makes me begin to understand why my mother was always so particular about her washing. In those days it was very important for those women to get their washing perfect because it had to go out on display in front of their neighbours.

Gran told me a story about her Grandmother Whittle, (who ran the shop at Tawd Bridge.) She had a little sideline job of “doing up” collars. The men wore detachable white collars to their shirts. These were laundered separately and starched very stiffly then ironed. Grandma Whittle would do up these collars for a small fee. There was another woman in the neighbourhood who also did up collars – a rival! One day this woman had been cleaning or black-leading the stove and her hands were stained black. She said to Grandma Whittle that she was about to go home and do a bit of baking to whiten her hands so that they would be clean to do up the collars! Grandma had a laugh thinking about that subsequent state of the baking!

Of course it was never guaranteed that you would be able to get your washing dry outside. The housewives were always very grateful for a good drying day. Even on a good day the washing may not be perfectly dry, so had to be aired before it was put away or used. Every house I knew had a line in the living room. This was a drying rack made of wooden slats attached to pulleys on the ceiling. You hung the washing on the line and pulled it up with a rope, and then it could hang until dry. Usually this line was placed near the cooking range for warmth. My Nana also had what was known as a maiden, a wooden rack which stood in front of the fire.

It was very hard work doing the washing in those days even when they had the hand cranked washing machines. All the water had to be carried twice, ladling it in and draining it out. It also entailed a lot of lifting of heavy wet washing and putting it through the wringer. When I was a little go they still used rubbing boards or washboards to scrub the stains out of the clothes. I remember that any day that we were not at school, my Gran would always try to commandeer us to scrub the socks. Our white socksuse to get very stained on the soles and had to be scrubbed on the washboard to get them clean. I really didn’t like this job, I was more interested in operating the wringer. I used to find it fascinating mainly because it was a bit dangerous and we were not really allowed to touch it. But very often I would get the job of turning the handle while an adult put the washing through the wringer.

When we moved to our own house at Tawd Bridge the configuration of the house was very similar to Gran’s, with a utility room at the back where mum had a hand-operated washing machine and an electric boiler to do their washing.

(To the editor of this blog – thanks for the us of the image, and I hope you will leave a comment to explain your connection with The Housewife’s Darling.)

 

 

Oct 01

Just because…

I wanted to include this old photo just because I think it is quite beautiful.

It shows Lizzie Middlehurst nee Lockwood, and her son Bill.

I have fond memories of Lizzie because she was always such fun and was always laughing. She always livened up any gatherings at my Gran’s house!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is another interesting old photo, full of character. This is Ellen Ashcroft, who was somehow related to my great grandmother, Polly Watkinson. Ellen was the grandmother of Norman and Walt Nixon.

She is wearing the traditional Lancashire shawl, but I am a bit disappointed that she is wearing her best shoes rather than the traditional clogs!

Sep 08

Mam’s Camera

My mother must have acquired this camera soon after WW2. She saved up the coupons which were given with Kensitas cigarettes and when she had collected enough she sent them off and the camera was the result. She used it very effectively for the next 12 years or so.

The brand name of the camera is Coronet. As a camera, it could not be a much simpler piece of technology. I guess it was very similar to the original Brownie Box camera. The roll of film was about 650mm wide. You could get some really excellent photos from this old camera, but it was only really effective if you took the photos on a bright sunny day. There was no means of using a flash. It is still in excellent condition, I believe it could probably still take very good photos if we could buy the film to fit it.

There was a lot of interest in photography in my mother’s family. Her father, Tom Myers, was a keen amateur photographer and used to process his own prints. When I was a child, my mother still had some of the old photographic equipment that had belonged to her father, and she showed me how to use it. You took the big old negatives and put them in a frame with the photo paper. You could then expose it for a few seconds in the sun, then rush inside and put the print into the chemicals to fix it. The prints all came out in brown tonings.

The film that my mother used came from a firm called Gratispool, ( because when you sent in a film to be processed, they sent you a free film in return.)

I have always been glad that we had this dear old camera as it has provided us with a detailed record and many happy memories of our family life in the 1950s.

Sep 08

Tawd Bridge Kids

Here are some photos from Mam’s camera. It’s good that she conveniently put the date on the border!

At the door of our house at Tawd Bridge, my brother Harold, my friend Sheila and I with our long suffering cat, Timothy.

 

Sheila lived next-door-but-one and was my best friend from the time we first started at Digmoor school. What a lot of childhood adventures we shared!

 

I was very sorry to hear that Sheila had recently passed away. I send my greetings, sympathy and best wishes to any of her family and friends who may read this.

 

 

 

 

 

Aug 25

Digmoor School Fete

 

 

 

A while ago I included the above photo in this blog, knowing that it was some occasion at Digmoor School and that my Nana was in the picture, but left wondering about any further details.

Recently I was looking through an old scrapbook that had belonged to my mother and found a photo copy of a newspaper report which describes this occasion in full.

I think it was the Observer of September 9th, 1937. The headline is:

DIGMOOR’S HORTICULTURAL SHOW.

Successful effort for Upholland Church funds.

It was the third annual exhibition and bazaar, and it seems to have been organised by Mrs R.G. Mack, who was praised for her hard work and organisational skills. (I am assuming that Mrs Mack is one of the ladies wearing a hat in the photo above.)

The opening ceremony was performed by Dr Shirlaw of Hall Green, and presided over by the vicar, Rev. Ivo Keown-Bond.

There is a list of all the prize winners. The thing that I found quite interesting here was that a Mr. T. Watson won a total of 9 prizes for tomatoes, apples, chrysanthemums, roses, asters and most tasteful flower arrangemant. So of course I am wondering – is this the same T. Watson that so many of us were familiar with as an ice cream vendor?  Was horticulture just another of his various talents and interests?

I also note that my Nana, (Mrs Coulshed who had a little grocery shop in Spencer’s Lane and then later in Grimshaw Lane) was names as one of the helpers who ran the grocery stall.

I’d like to upload the whole article, but it is an old photocopy, and not very clear so I don’t know if it would be readable.