In June 2008 I spent several days staying with my dad in Rawtenstall, and managed to arrange to see 3 of my old childhood friends.
We all used to live in the area called Woodcroft, a community of several streets bordered by a factory to the north and a playing field to the south. It was situated in a narrow valley on the the main road between
Rawtenstall and Burnley. Bounded by fields and hills.
The old streets are still there.
And every time I have been there to visit I usually pay it a sentimental call.
We had a childhood that most children couldn't even dream of today. Such freedom to roam the hills, catch sticklebacks in the stream, climb trees, play out in the streets, or in one another's homes.
It was such a close community that a reunion was mooted in 2001 September and around 130+ people came along.
Lots of laughter, meeting up with folk we hadn't seen for years, or those with whom we had kept in touch.
In the photos I took, are the 4 of us. Left to right:
Susan, me, Maureen (née Fisher) and Val.
The picture was taken in front of the same window where the Coronation group was assembled in 1953.
See if you can possibly spot us all in the picture above!
We all went for a walk tracing our favourite haunts, trying to pinpoint their locations, and some of them have not changed. The first picture is more or less as it was then. The view is timeless. Cribden and Little Cribden hills in the background. We knew every inch. I loved climbing to the top, looking out over the valley of Rossendale. The feel of the spiky grass when you sat down for a break.
The sound of the skylark in spring. There was always a cuckoo, and I knew that summer was on its way. Spring carpeted the fields and hills in buttercups, daisies, mayflowers, kingcups by the streams, bluebells in the woods across the road, sweet smelling purple and white clover.......... the rhythm of the seasons had a pattern we followed. Our games matched the time of year, sledging in the winter down the steep streets and hillsides, "swealing" grass in spring.
The farmers sometimes burned off the old pasture, to let the new grass grow. In that area it was known as swealing. It had a very distinctive smell. And we from time to time helped the process along! Then had fun stamping it out!! Health and Safety eat your hearts out!! Paddling in the nearby stream everyone knew as Little Blackpool, community bonfire, courtesy of Mr Pickles the farmer. Church "Walking Days" very much a feature of the North I always felt. These were at Whitsuntide and were known also as "Whit Walks". The church congregation adults at the back, and the Sunday School girls' classes wearing special dresses and the lads in white shirts and dark trousers, usually with white pumps on their feet, at the front. Some of them designated to carry the church banners. It was quite a sight when the brass bands processing in front of each church converged on the town centre for a united service on the spare ground. Other churches had "Rose Queens" who rode on a decorated float with whitewashed tyres, garlanded with flowers.
The next photo is an old friend of mine Janet, in the lane to Pickles farm. I used to go with my dad at times to get some more milk if we had run out. If we went at night he took a torch and it made a pool of light around our feet when it was particularly dark. In moonlight everything was bathed in silver. The trees looked so different. Sound seemed to be
magnified...................the swish of the wind through the grass and the leaves rustling, as we crunched along the stony lane. Lights twinkling behind us from the houses we had left behind.
So many, many memories, so many stories! And now it is proposed to make a kind of Living History DVD, with Vox Pop's interviews and old photos, interspersed with a commentary.
So, I hope that it does our childhood proud. It is absolutely worth the effort.
The picture below is of the Sunnyside Baptist Church Rose Queen float in 1960.