Walking Group

The Walking Group on the Pennine Way

Photograph: Russell Johnson

Changes to the Committee

The main business of the 2011 Annual General Meeting on 12th April was, as usual, the election of officers and other committee members. This year saw a significant number of changes. Among those resigning from the Committee was one of the Littleborough Civic Trust’s most long‐standing and valued members: Rae Street.

In an open letter to members of the Littleborough Civic Trust, Rae writes:

Dear Friends,

I have decided this year to step down from the Littleborough Civic Trust Committee. I think the fortieth anniversary is the appropriate time to do this. I will of course continue to be a member and support where I can. The latter would include the Fortieth anniversary event which has now been moved to 27th October.

I would like to say that I have enjoyed very much working with the Civic Trust over all these years. It is satisfying that there have been real solid achievements for the town. It is amusing sometimes to realise that younger people can hardly imagine a time, for example, when the Coach House or the Country Park weren't there. And here I would pay tribute to all the helpful people who have worked so hard over those years, especially Don Pickis who, together with me, is an active member who has been there from the start. I hope the Trust continues with all the constructive work to preserve our heritage in the lovely setting of the town and keep the distinctive Pennine character of the town.

So thank you everyone that I have worked with along the way; it has been a significant part of my time in Littleborough and I have enjoyed so much of the work.

I am sure I will continue to be involved!

Best wishes to all,

Rae

Details of the new Committee are given in the usual place, inside the front cover of the Newsletter.

We thought it would be interesting if some of the newer members were to introduce themselves, starting with the person who does a rather tricky job, the Minutes Secretary, who has to condense our rambling discussions into a true record!

Photograph of Sue Taylor

Sue Taylor

Photograph: Iain Spencer Gerrard

Born in Milnrow in 1966, on leaving Roch Valley high school I went to train as a nurse and I have worked as a registered nurse ever since, currently being based at The Royal Oldham hospital. In 1989 I moved to Haywards Heath in West Sussex to work in a regional neuroscience unit, where I married and had two children. I returned to Milnrow in 2001. I met Dan Taylor in April 2008 and moved into Littleborough later that year.

Prior to this the only place in Littleborough I had visited was Hollingworth Lake. I enjoy living in Littleborough, as apart from the odd disturbance on a Friday or Saturday night, I like the peace and quiet! The fact that there is a fair bit of green space is a bonus.

Hobbies — I'm a qualified scuba diver (only qualified last year) and can't wait to dive in some exotic locations (hopefully!!). I enjoy art, (going to galleries). I'm a keen genealogist. I love food and eating out and enjoy spending precious time with my family and friends.

Becoming a member of the Trust has opened my eyes to issues that affect the town I live in and I think it's important to retain its heritage and architecture. I have also met new people which is always good for the soul. I feel the LCT should try to involve the younger generation in future projects and continue to be proactive in its approach. It's also important to retain links with other organisations within the Borough.

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Board Meeting of Pennine Prospects

I attended this meeting as a reluctant substitute delegate for the South Pennines Association. However it proved to be an extremely interesting morning packed with information about our Pennine area. Pennine Prospects covers the South Pennines from Ilkley in the north to Greenfield in the south.

Pennine Prospects co‐ordinates a wide range of projects and derives its funding from relevant local authorities, Defra, European and many other sources. One of Pennine Prospect’s roles is the allocation and monitoring of LEADER monies. These range from small grants, including roof insulation for the Coach House, to large commissioned projects across the South Pennine area. An example of this is work on footpaths. To date LEADER has funded projects on canals, local history, food growing and rights of way.

During the meeting we were told about work being undertaken by Defra and Natural England to establish English regions based on landscape. The South Pennines, which is seen as having a distinctive landscape character, has been chosen to be one of three pilot schemes. This will enable the area to attract funding aimed at the prevention of habitat and species loss. Projects will include moorland edge habitats, heath land, blanket bog and restoration of clough woodland.

There was also a presentation on ‘Moorwatch’, a scheme which enables volunteer and members of the public to liaise with police about anti‐social behaviour, fly‐tipping or illegal off‐roading on the moors. Finally we heard about a package of learning materials based on the South Pennines for 16‐19 year olds.

Margaret Edwards

Website editor: For more information on LEADER and a map of the area covered go to: Pennine Prospects website.

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Conserving Our Heritage

LCT members continue to be vigilant in looking at proposed developments so the best of our heritage can be kept. As recently as this April, initiated by a group of Civic Trust members and with the assistance of the RMBC Conservation officer, we achieved an 'emergency' extension of the Central Conservation Area, which will now stretch up Hare Hill Road to the crossroads with Calderbrook Road and include the former Caldermoor public house which is likely to be 're‐developed' (date stone 1755).

The extended area also includes the terrace houses; this stone built row at the top of the road, on the left as you leave Littleborough, is named Bleak Earth Terrace — local people were ever realists! It includes too the very interesting houses at Lea Bank, Calder Cottage, the recently converted Zionist Methodist chapel and the remains of the barn which must have belonged to the Caldermoor pub, formerly the Dog and Partidge. Recently one of our members rescued a handsome date stone from the barn marked: L.SN we guess Lawrence Newall) 1852.

Around the cross roads there must have been a cluster of hand loom weavers' cottages — and dyers — as this would have been a junction of lanes, with the main highway going over Calderbrook to Yorkshire. At a guess, Hare Hill Road would have been just a narrow lane leading down to the river and the cluster of cottages in the centre.

Rae Street

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Heritage in the South Pennines

Two LCT members attended an extremely interesting event at the Birchcliffe Centre on Saturday 10th April. This day was organised to showcase the accomplishments of Pennine Prospects and to reinvigorate the South Pennine Association. Over 45 people came from all over the South Pennine region providing us with a wonderful chance to network. Yet again we both benefited greatly from the opportunity to hear about other organisations in the area, to gain new ideas and to share plans and initiatives.

The day started with an eloquent introduction to the South Pennines heritage and landscape by David Fletcher. He neatly summarised the mixture of remote uplands and post‐industrial valleys as “an acquired but addictive taste”. David explained that the South Pennine Associatioin is an important organisation, representing the many volunteers and voluntary societies who work to protect and enhance our landscape. This was later echoed by Sarah Pennie who spoke with enthusiasm about the advantages of different groups sharing their experiences and supporting each other. She warned that the current economic climate will make our tasks much harder and that we need effective ways of working collaboratively across boundaries.

It was energising to hear about the projects which Pennine Prospects are supporting and of the ways in which they involve volunteers, young people on work experience and provide 'outdoor classrooms' for students. We heard about the Stone Carving project which offers training for volunteers who then ‘map’ the cup and ring carvings on Rombalds Moor; the work to reinstate heather uplands and to stabilise the blanket peat bog; to secure increases in habitat for the twite, 'the Pennine Finch'; to propagate and re‐introduce our beautiful Cotton Grass and to use 'low impact’ working horses to curb bracken encroachment – so much better than chemical sprays.

There is so much negativity, gloom and doom about the future and in particular about the environment that it was truly inspirational to hear of so many projects designed to protect and enhance our area. It is impressive that a small organisation with limited funding has been able to work in conjunction with local authorities, farming organisations, water boards, the EU, Groundwork, RSPB and many others to launch such a wide range of initiatives and also to offer training and work experience to people in the area.

Inevitably we left the Birchcliffe Centre feeling energised and inspired. There were so many examples of how small groups can make significant changes. Let’s hope that we can use some of these ideas to make Littleborough an even better place!

Bernice Clifton and Margaret Edwards

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Pennine Prospects "Moorwatch" Initiative

Pennine Prospects have created a website (www.moorwatch.com/) which enables anyone to report illegal or undesirable activities that threaten local moorland. You can help the police and local authorities keep an eye on the moors by keeping a look out for anti‐social behaviour such as fly‐tipping and illegal off‐roading. By visiting the website, the public can report incidents on the moors easily. With just a few clicks, you can record where you have seen something on a map, upload a photograph and any additional details for the police and local authorities to check.

All reports are read and sent to the appropriate authorities. In some cases they will be acted upon straight away. In others they become part of ongoing intelligence gathering and may well become a basis for future police crime targeting.

Recent reports include several incidents of illegal off‐roading by motorbikes and four‐wheel drives and wild fires set deliberately or by careless use of barbecues.

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Littleborough Civic Trust Footpath Group

Every Sunday afternoon, come rain or shine, a group of intrepid walkers meets up to walk for approximately five miles.

This was started in Littleborough when the Littleborough Civic Trust set up a footpaths group to ensure that rights of way remain open and free of obstacles. The meetings were to be every fortnight. However somewhere along the line walkers from a Whitworth group joined our walks and, as their walks were on the alternate Sunday, some of the Littleborough group went to walk with their group and so it became that the same group now meet up on every Sunday.

But, as with a lot of other groups and organisations these days, the numbers are diminishing, and the average age is increasing. I do find it ironic that people will spend good money to be cooped up in a gymnasium in an attempt to keep fit, when everything they need to achieve this is practically on their doorstep. I feel that a good climb up one or more of our hills, in the good fresh air is every bit as beneficial as time spent in the gym.

Of course it goes without saying there are exceptions, the disabled, etc., but for most people a good walk ticks all the right boxes.

The Walking Group takes a break

The group takes a break. Joe Taylor (third from the left) is still leading strenuous walks at 83 years of age.

Photograph: Russell Johnson

The walking group itself varies in size from week to week; sometimes only two people turn up, other times there are many more, but one thing is certain a good time is had by all! Our destinations differ each week, with walks taking place in as diverse places as Newhey, Bury, Todmorden, Bacup, and of course Whitworth and Littleborough; there is even an option to travel up to the Dales for an all day walk.

But I digress. The walks themselves are planned by a small committee, and a program is issued to cover the next couple of months’ walks. Each walk has a leader, who often does the walk first in order to reconnoitre it. The leader explains to the group where we are going, and if there are any changes to the advertised route, a head count is made and off we go. As most of our walks start from a valley bottom it is almost inevitable that we will encounter some hill climbing along the way, although we start off as a group we tend to spread out somewhat, but this happens in most walking groups, with walkers chatting to different members as we go along.

When the weather is good, the pleasure is almost in classical proportions, but when the rain comes we are sheathed in our waterproofs, and stride steadily on. It is not very often that we encounter rain all the way, it does happen of course, but not often.

In the winter months the walks are inevitable shorter because of the lack of daylight, but usually our walks tend to end around four to four thirty, when we return to our cars, not necessarily tired, but pleasantly fatigued, and with a sense of pride and achievement.

The next few Littleborough walks are printed in this newsletter and on the website, so do come and join in, you will be surprised how much you enjoy it.

Russell Johnson

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Duncan Innes and the Caldermoor

My father, Duncan Innes, joined the army under‐aged (as many young men did). He was captured at Crete and spent his 21st birthday as a POW in Stalag 8. He had been shot in the leg whilst being captured and received a severe bayonet wound to the head. His parents received letters saying ‘lost in action, presumed dead’. Dad’s sister, my aunty, said they were not told of his POW status for quite a few months, thus there was lots of stress for his family. She remembers him coming home and seeing him get off the train hardly able to walk – if it were not for penicillin Duncan may have lost his leg.

Dad met my mum (Winifred) whilst stationed at Manchester. Mum’s parents, Winifred and James Hulmes, ran the Dan O’Connell’s pub in Manchester; this is now the Daily Express club. They lived with my mum’s parents (as many young couples did then, due to the housing shortage), then rented their first house with my elder brother John and me, in Lesley Street, Moss Side.

Their first pub as Managers was The Globe Hotel in Halifax. This was knocked down years ago as was the Globe Theatre opposite the pub off North Bridge in the centre. At the time the pub was regularly visited by thespians appearing at the Globe. Their next pub was The Fullers Arms at Healey Dell, Whitworth; the owners were Beverley Beers, Wakefield. This became a private house shortly after they left.

They were offered the tenancy of the then Dog and Partridge, now the Caldermoor, about 1954. The pub was rundown and doing very little trade. That soon changed: at weekends my dad would play the drums accompanied by Tommy the Pianist, and people would get up on the small stage and sing (old‐style karaoke).

They also put down a new floor in the top room of the building where weddings and other functions were held. The only problem was that to reach the room people had to walk through the living quarters and up the stairs. As a child I remember each time the door leading to the living accommodation opened, huge puffs of smoke came in, and we could hear loud laughter and chatter, and the sound of George Whittle or Harry Cronshaw singing, to name but a few.

Mum and dad worked really hard as “The Dog” (as locals called the pub) got busier and busier. All the bar staff wore white cotton jackets with “Beverleys” written on them. Some of the barmen I can remember are Keith Beresford, John Foster, Kevin Jones (who won a race in Littleborough about 1958, carrying a sack of coal), Barry Howarth, Georgie Dann, Mick McCormick, Sammy Evans, Wilf Bamford and Joe Armstrong. (For a bet my dad cut Joe’s hair like a Mohican – his wife Eileen didn’t speak to him for a week). The pub’s Bookie runner was George Kilty – he showed me how to make a bet at the tender age of 9. My brother John and I had to help out and as young as 8/9 years old we had to collect glasses and make sure all the shelves were 'bottled up'.

The Family behind the bar

Janet (left) with her father and mother behind the bar
Photograph: Copyright Janet Sarsfield

On Sunday afternoons, when the pub was open from 12 noon ‐ 2 pm, my dad had to have the beer lined up on the bar as everyone (but no women allowed in, in those days), flowed into the Tap Room – games of dominoes, cards and darts were played. The room would be chock‐a‐block. Little Walter Bamford would start to sing as Harry Bateman, Walter Winstanley, Billy Crowther and many, many others played dominoes.

Licensing laws hours then gave mum and dad a break in the afternoon from about 3 – 5 pm. This was when we ate and mum and dad went for a sleep. Eventually, as John and I got a little older mum and dad made sure they got Tuesdays off as well. When John left home to join the Army it was my turn to come home from school and see to the cellar: unkeg the barrels, turn the beer on and pull it through, stock up and open up the pub at 5 p.m. If this happened now it would be regarded as child abuse but in those days children had to contribute and a lot of my friends were left alone whilst their parents worked in the mills.

Dad also had a mobile bar which he would set up for dances at the Co‐op Hall in Bare Hill Street. I used to help him get it ready. Shore Mill employed a lot of the village then. I can remember the Prime Minister (Harold MacMillan) visiting the Mill and all our class from Littleborough Central School stood on the pub’s car park to watch him go by. My dad brought orange juices out for us all. I was so proud and pleased of my dad. Unfortunately a few years later Shore Mill was closed and a lot of locals lost their jobs. Some stayed at the Mill as it was taken over by a Pharmaceutical Company, Ash Labs.

It was not all work as a child and my best childhood friend, Susan Stafford (her father was T om Stafford, head Fireman) and I would play on the avenues of Shore estate with lots of other kids, and in the Park.

Even though mum and dad worked extremely long hours and we were left alone a lot, they would occasionally (when my dad eventually got his first car, about 1958) take us to Blackpool for a treat. There used to be Jay’s garage across the road and old Mr.Jay would run a coach to Blackpool and the locals would take advantage of that. Also there was a Co‐op across the road and at the top of Whitelees Road Mrs. Gavin ran a small corner shop and the husband had the only taxi rank in the centre of Littleborough. Before the school was built on Caldermoor Road there was a huge grassy area and we often went there to play rugby and football. Also there used to be a fair each year on the Cricket Club car park, plus 2 cinemas: the Victoria and the Queens. As children we used to go to the Saturday matinee. The Victoria then became a Bingo Hall and later Steve Walker opened it as a Snooker Hall as it is today.

In the mid 1960’s the pub started to struggle a bit. My mum had been ill due to overwork. My dad had contacts from his POW days with a German chap called Hans, from Hamburg, who worked at a Holstein Brewery. Dad had a brainwave: he introduced Lager to the Dog and Partridge and it took off in a big way, as there was now a decline in bottled beers (e.g. Pale Ale, Brown Ale, Milk Stout etc). Lager was a new line. It was a massive hit and people came from all over to try it. The name of the pub changed to “The Caldermoor” about 1970. Dad chose that name because locals said that the pub years ago was known by this name.

Steve and I took over the tenancy about 1985: we changed the interior of the pub and Steve put all new bars in. Again the pub had a new lease of life. I put my own juke box in, playing ‘Good old Oldies’ and with Holstein still very popular the pub was booming. We had two football teams and rugby teams. I would cook the food and we got voted the Most Hospitable and Best Grub Pub.

As pubs decline and close down, I remember the marvellous atmosphere and family feeling that flowed through the Caldermoor and indeed many other pubs. It was good while it lasted and it’s such a shame that villages are losing their heart of social community and closeness.

I could go on and on about the Caldermoor. So many funny stories and tales, so many different people I met – from the very rich, such as Sir Charles Harvey and his wife Isla who lived in the mansion in Blue Bell Wood, to poor old Black Molly who kept her horse in the front room of her cottage in Whitelees Road. Stories and times to remember: “The Urn”; The blind dog eats the pies; smuggled to Hamburg; Don’t commit suicide in here! Throw yourself under a train; the knicker peeping tom gets thrown out; the Queen’s Jubilee; the headless horseman; Steve Thatcher gets lost; our wedding day; poor Tom Ryon; Little Edith; fighting in the car park in fancy dress on New Year’s Eve; money raised for local charities; Honresfield Christmas Parties and community spirit; Jack Lewis transport; the black goat and Mick; and lots more.

Janet Sarsfield

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The 1940s Memory Box

Rod Broome, who now lives in Rochdale, was born in Littleborough in 1937. He has had a number of books published, and his latest work is a collection of reminiscences of his childhood in Littleborough in the 1940s, evoked by various artifacts he re‐discovered in a Memory Box. Mr. Broome has kindly allowed us to include extracts from these reminiscences in the Newsletter. The first, “The Budget Book” is printed below, preceded by the author’s introduction.

Introduction

What was it like in the ‘Holden Days?’ was a question my granddaughter often used to ask when she was seven or eight years old. Or sometimes she would say, ‘Tell me what you used to do when you were a little boy.’ So I would embark on some tale or other, relating an incident from the past as I remembered it.

Whether or not someone who had shared the same experience would have recognised the events from my account is questionable, because memories are intensely personal things.

I once watched a craftswoman stringing beads on to a piece of nylon thread to make a necklace, and it struck me that the beads she chose and the order in which she placed them greatly affected the finished article. Similarly, the way in which events are related and strung together influences how the story comes out.

All the tales in this little book have been recaptured from the mind of a child who grew up in the 1940s. They are uncluttered with adult sophistication (not that there was a lot of it around in my family!)and wartime worries. Some of them may have been coloured slightly over the years by glancing back through rose‐coloured spectacles. But none of them is complete fiction. They all happened – and I have done my best to record the events accurately. They certainly speak of a time when, in many ways, life was simpler, the years seemed to pass more slowly and Littleborough was still a village.

The Budget Book

It’s Friday night – bath night – and the night we have lots of callers. Dad has brought the long tin bath up from the cellar and put it on the rug in the front room. Now he’s having his tea at the table, reading the newspaper.

Mum has built up the fire with some slack from the coal scuttle. She borrows the Daily Herald from Dad and holds it up in front of the fireplace to make it draw. Quite a skilful job that. If you aren’t quick off the mark the whole paper can go up in flames.

Mum’s proud of our fireplace because it’s a modern one, made out of square, beige tiles. It doesn’t need black‐leading. We’ve just got to be careful not to crack the tiles by dropping anything on them, because one corner tile already has a little chip in it where someone (not me!) caught it with a bucket of coal.

The clothes maiden has been stored away. It’s the end of the week and there aren’t any clothes to dry anyway, and we need it warm in here. Mum has put water in the boiler in the kitchen – the one she uses on washing day – and it’s singing away merrily.

Now it’s time to fill the bath. I have to take all my clothes off and go round the back of the table whilst Mum and Dad carry in pans of steaming water and rattle it into the bath. After a few journeys, all the hot water is used up and Mum starts bringing in some cold water from the kitchen tap. She pours some in and then calls me over and says it’s time to get in.

It’s always too hot! Mum puts her hand in, pours in another cup of cold water, swishes it round and tells me it’s just right. It’s still too hot. Mum tells me not to be so soft, and to put my foot in. After a few tries I manage to put in one foot, then the other, and stand there complaining. It takes another few minutes before I can sit down. When I do so I lift up both my feet and they are cherry red. I knew it was too hot, but Mum tells me not to be so soft again.

I splash around in the bath for a bit with Mum kneeling beside me. She hands me the Wrights Coal Tar Soap and says it’s time to get washed. Mum gives me a running commentary on which parts of myself to wash next, but she takes control of my hair, ears, neck and face. I screw up my eyes until she’s finished. After a final wipe with the flannel she says I can play for two minutes until it’s time to get out. She picks up a towel from the hearth which has been put there to warm, but at that moment, there’s a knock at the door.

Dad gets up from his chair and a moment later in comes Mr. Speak wearing his flat cap and bicycle clips as usual. He gives me a friendly grin, just as though I have all my clothes on, and then brings in the order that Mum gave him when she called at his shop during the week. They’re all vegetables, because Mr. Speak has a Greengrocer’s Shop on Church Street near the centre of Littleborough. He puts the brown paper bags on the table one at a time, telling Mum what’s in them and watching as she opens the top of each one and peeps inside.

Then comes the big question. ‘How much do I owe you?’

Mr. Speak takes a piece of paper from his top pocket and gives it to Mum in silence. She looks at it for a few moments before walking over to the brown, grained cupboard built into an alcove next to the window. Underneath the cupboard is a set of brown, grained drawers and she reaches into the top one and takes out her purse. She opens it.

‘Let me see. One shilling…two shillings…and ten pence. Two shillings and ten pence. That’s just right, isn’t it?’

Mr. Speak smiles and nods, puts the money in a leather pouch on his belt, and turns to leave. ‘I’ll see you next week, Mrs. Broome.’ And with that he opens the vestibule door and disappears through it, followed by Dad. Although I cannot see him, I know that he will climb on his strange‐looking bike – with the small wheel at the front and an enormous basket above it – and pedal away to make his next delivery.

When he’s gone, Mum puts her purse back in the drawer, and takes out a small notebook with a shiny red cover. She writes something in it, and then comes over to me, still sitting in the bath in front of the fire.

‘Right,’ she says, opening the towel. ‘It’s time to get you out. Let’s get you dry.’

I am sitting on Mum’s knee wrapped in the large towel, drinking a cup of hot Ovaltine. Dad has cleared away the pots and is just about to take off the tablecloth when there’s another knock at the door. This time it’s a big man with an oblong face who walks in carrying a flat leather case under his arm.

Mum turns and smiles at him. ‘Hello, Alfred. How are you?’

Alfred says he’s very well, thank you.

‘And how’s your Mother?’

Apparently Alfred’s mother has not been very well, and a conversation follows in which her condition is explained and Mum promises to call in and see her in the next day or so.

When the pleasantries are over, Mum points to a dark blue insurance book on the sideboard. ‘I’ve got it out for you, Alfred. There it is.’

Alfred opens the dark blue book, picks up some coins resting inside it and makes a note on one of the pages. Then he turns towards the door.

‘I’ll tell Mum you’ve been asking after her,’ he says and a few moments later he has gone. Mum goes to the drawer again, takes out the shiny red book and writes something in it.

I find out a few years later that we are distantly related to Alfred. Apparently he is the son of one of Mum’s many cousins who, everyone says, has a dressed‐up job and has done very well for himself. Unlike Dad, who is a cobbler, he has smooth, soft hands and nice finger nails. I don’t particularly like him.

I’ve got my pyjamas on and am on my way to bed when the third visitor arrives. It’s Miss Fletcher, come to collect the rent money. All the houses, except one, in our row are owned by ‘The Fletchers’ who live in a large stone property further up Calderbrook Road. I don’t know anything about them except that they are our landlords and Mum and Dad don’t seem to think they are doing all the repairs to our house that they should be doing.

Mum has put the rent book and a pile of money on the sideboard and Dad indicates with a gesture where it is when Miss Fletcher comes in. She picks up the money and makes a note in the book.

The visit is marked by silence. Everyone is pleasant and behaves politely, but there is no friendly conversation or small talk.

As she leaves by the front door, I get my marching orders from Mum.

‘Come along, young man, it’s way past your bedtime. Kiss Dad goodnight and I’ll follow you up in a minute or two.’

I pick up Cowboy and head for the kitchen, because the staircase goes up from the kitchen. After the first two steps there is a door, but the next three steps are shaped like triangles and turn a corner. I sleep in the back bedroom, and as soon as I get into bed, Mum comes up to tuck me in.

***

The following day is Saturday, and now I am six I have to go errands for Mum. My first trip is to Ruby Jones’ shop across the road. She keeps the post office, and as well as postal orders and stamps, she sells tins of peas, packets of jelly and bundles of firewood.

She also sells bread, delivered every day by a van from Whittles’ Bakery. The van driver is called Charlie Rhodes, and everyone says he has a cushy number because he has the ‘local run’ and has often finished work by half past three. Some of the other vans go far afield to shops in Halifax, Bolton, Sowerby Bridge and Luddenden Foot. They don’t get back until six o’clock.

Anyway, I go to Ruby Jones’s to buy the bread and, as it’s weekend, Mum tells me to choose three cakes from the cake tray for the family. She gives me strict instructions on which ones to choose. I can choose a vanilla slice, a maid of honour, a butterfly bun, or a jap fancy, but must not bring a cream horn, a cream crisp or a chocolate éclair. Mum says they’re not the same without fresh cream in. I don’t know what she means but it’s something to do with the War.

Inside the shop, Ruby wraps the small, unsliced loaf in white paper, which I put in my basket, but she gives me the cakes in a white paper bag and I have to walk back across the road balancing it on the palm of my hand. When I get home Mum puts the bread in the bread bin, the cakes in a cupboard, and checks my change. Then she writes in her little red book again.

My second job on Saturday morning is to go to the store at the corner of Harehill Road. It’s really a branch of Littleborough Cooperative Society Grocery Department, but Mum just calls it ‘the store’. I take the basket again but this time Mum has written out a list, and she also gives me a ten shilling note which I have to hold tightly in my hand until I get there.

It’s not very far, and when I go in I go up to the counter and give the basket, the paper and the money to Mr. Cockcroft, the manager. He knows that my Dad works in the Coop Shoe Department, so he asks me about the family. I say we are all very well thank you.

As he brings the goods and puts them in my basket, Mr. Cockcroft writes down on my list what each thing costs with a blue pencil so Mum can check it when I get home. Then he gives me the change and watches while I put it in my pocket.

Today the basket is really heavy and I have to keep changing hands as I walk home, but a few weeks ago there were only three things in it and I could swing it right round and over my head without anything falling out.

Picture: Housekeeping book

The Little Red Book

Photograph: Rod Broome

When I get home, I give the change to Mum and she adds up Mr. Cockcroft’s figures and tells me I can go out to play. But just at that moment the coal men arrive, so I go and sit on the front step to watch them deliver the coal.

The Co‐op coal cart is pulled along by a big brown carthorse that keeps shaking its head and stamping its hoof on the cobbles every time it has to stop. Dad says they do that when they’re bored and want to get back to the stable for some oats and a rest.

The coal cart is a flat cart with no sides. It carries a lot of sacks of coal, all propped up in rows at the front, and a pile of folded, empty sacks at the back which the coal men have put there after they have emptied the coal down people’s coal‐holes.

There are two coal men on our cart. They have dirty hands and dirty faces and wear old, dirty clothes. Over their shirts they wear black leather waistcoats with metal studs on the back. When the cart stops they jump down and stand with their backs to the cart. They reach up behind their heads, heave a sack on to their shoulders and walk to the coal hole where they drop it with a thud on the flags. Then they lift up the bottom of the sack and tip the coal down the chute.

Today, when Mum comes to the door, they call, ‘How many bags?’ and Mum calls back, ‘Six, please,’ and goes inside to get her purse. Our coal hole is round the back, under the kitchen window, so the men have to walk a long way with the sacks.

Dad has told Mum to keep an eye on the coal men because sometimes they get up to their tricks. When I asked him what he meant, he said that they drop a bag on the flags and then tip it down the chute in two halves, so the person inside the house thinks they’ve delivered two bags.

I go round the back and sit on a wall near our back door and watch them put the coal down our coal‐hole. They’re not up to any tricks today because they put six bags down the chute, and Mum pays them at the back door.

When they’ve gone, she walks over to the cupboard to get her little red book.

On the bed before me is a small, tattered notebook – minus its red cover – containing Mum’s weekly accounts, written in pencil, during the late 1930s and early 1940s. At the top of each page she has put the date, including the year, and underneath it a list of all her household expenses for that particular week. At the foot of each page, Mum has recorded the amount of money earned by Dad that week and has balanced his income against the amount she has spent.

I don’t know how this book came to be in my possession. I assume that I found it when I was clearing out her house after her death and decided to keep it. It has no value whatsoever except to me, but I do not want to part with it.

I put it back in my Memory Box.

Rod Broome

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Editor: Brian Walker