Nov 11

T’Bruck

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!

Nov 11

Tawd Bridge Child

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!

Nov 07

Something New

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.

Jan 04

Shopping part 2

Apart from the little grocery shops along Ormskirk Road we were also very well served with mobile traders.

There were a couple of butchers who came along in their vans and the householders could go out an buy fresh meat out of the back of the van. I remember the Darbyshires had a butchers van and I think there was another – Hutchins, was it? Somebody might leave a comment and remind me!

There was also at least one van that came round with fruit and vegetables.

I seem to remember a vehicle of some sort which sold hardware. I hope I am jogging memories and that someone will comment with more details.

I guess I could include the ice cream vans as deliveries! On weekends in summer the Fairhurst’s ice cream van used to stop near our house. This was a motor van, the ice cream was delicious and the thing I best remember was the raspberry vinegar that was squirted over the top of your ice cream cornet.

Tom Watson, quite a character, used to come around in his round shaped van pulled along by a patient little horse. Children got a small cornet for 2d, and the adults would have a wafer. I remember an incident once when Tom had pulled up near Watkinson’s shop and went in for some cigs, leaving the horse and cart unattended. My brother told the horse to “Gee up” and to our surprise, she did! Off she went towards Skem. Tom came out and had to run to catch up. I can’t tell you what he was yelling…but he was not at all pleased.

Ice cream vans – such a luxury and a treat when you consider that we rarely ate anything that was not home made. People of the 21st century could hardly envision a world where there was no cafes, restaurants or take away outlets.

So I guess this is why all the people of Tawd Bridge and Grimshaw Lane thought it was wonderful to have a fish and chip shop! I think it must have been in about 1956 when P Kenyon’s little grocery shop was converted into a chippy. It was run by May, who I think was P’s daughter. Fish and chips were what was on the menu, maybe with peas, but certainly not all the chicken, burgers or curries that you get in a chippy these days. But the fish and chips were so good! No convenient plastic bags of frozen chips! All the potatoes were peeled in the back of the shop, then out would come a bucket of freshly peeled potatoes and May would pass them, one at a time, through a simple machine that cut them into chips. Of course it meant that this fast food was not as fast as we might expect today. But people were prepared to stand and wait, knowing that these perfectly prepared hand made chips and freshly battered fish were going to be so good! In fact I used to really enjoy waiting for my chips. It was fascinating to watch May do the cooking and to just stand and listen to the conversation of the other customers.