Friday, 9 December 2011

Story about the Tippler toilet and the clouds of ash! (taken from my old blog written in April 2010)

The story of the Tippler toilet and the clouds of ash!

The street in the photo is the one where I was born. East Street, Rawtenstall

You can see it on Google Maps.

The last house on the right with an outhouse attached, is number 12, where I spent my early years until I was 13 years old. The outhouse contained the toilet and next to it, the dustbin shed. There used to be a small wooden door in the outer wall of this shed, for the dustbin men, or the "ash chaps" as they were then known, to be able to open and collect the bin, and take it to the cart at the bottom of the street.
This was no mean feat, given the gradient!
I cannot recall what on earth happened in the wintertime, when the cobbles were frozen solid or there was snow covering the ground!
We had coal fires then, and each morning when my dad got up early, before he went to work, he would clear out the remains of the ashes from the previous evening and take them out to the yard to deposit in the dustbin.

The story goes, ( and the continuing saga of the volcanic ash, April 2010, has prompted me to write about it) that one morning after a night of little sleep, due to one of his young daughter's keeping him awake, he went off down the yard in a stupor, and duly deposited all the ashes in what he thought was their usual place!
He found himself completely enveloped in hissing steam and with misted up glasses!
By this time he had fully woken up, and realised what he had done.
He had thrown the whole of the still extremely warm ashes down the tippler toilet..........!!
I have added a link about tippler toilets which explains how they were made and how they functioned.
It used to frighten me when I was small as it was such a long drop down from the seat. I am not surprised then that children sometimes fell in! It was like some deep dark mysterious well. And when the pan at the bottom tipped the contents into the drain it made a noise that scared me stiff if I happened to be sitting on the seat at the time!
In winter our parents kept a small paraffin heater lit in this outside loo, situated down the yard. 
"Dolly tub"
And I recall that my mother's "dolly" tub for the washing, stood in there upside down, so an old orange box was on the top, in which was some sacking. Our cat Tommy, a black and white un-neutered tom, slept in in it. Even in the most severe weather, he never slept in the house.            

How we take all our mod cons for granted now!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Woodcroft. Church "Walking Days" and Rose Queens........'50's and 60's.

Sunnyside Baptist procession passing the Globe Slipper works. 1935
This is me outside No 12 East Street ready to go to the St Paul's Walking Day
Our small community of streets had a  rhythm to it, which included the local churches. The nearest one to Woodcroft was Sunnyside Baptist Church, where my parents were married in 1942. They then went on to attend the Anglican church St Paul's Constable Lee,  which had a school attached. This was where I and my other childhood friends began our education.
Looking at the picture of the valley now, most of the fields behind the streets to the right, as far as the factory, with it's chimney, in the distance, are now houses.These were the fields where we used to roam and play.The steep hillside in the foreground is still the same if you care to climb it! The view is always good from that vantage point. 
Looking towards the factory and the five streets situated just in front, which was known as the Woodcroft" area 

Sunnyside Baptist Church held a Rose Queen procession, and most of my young friends were on the lorry which carried the tableau.        

Parents would be involved in decorating the lorries which carried the Rose Queen and her attendants, and there would always be the great traditional Brass Band. There were several Brass Bands in the Rossendale Valley, and our local one was Goodshaw Band. It gave us all a feeling of excitement to see them marching and playing.
The first "Walking Day" of each year, would be the St James the Less RC church, the second Sunday in May, and everyone lined the roadside to watch the procession pass by.The girls in their "First Communion" white dresses and veils. After which they would be able to take part in the Mass.  
St Paul's Anglican Constable Lee procession.
In the Anglican churches which surrounded the town of Rawtenstall, each of the girl's Sunday School classes wore the same dress material. Not being party to the mother's decisions about it, I am assuming they all got together and decided which material to buy, and also who would make up the dresses. I remember each year going to be fitted for my dress, at the house of someone my mother knew, and to me she seemed to permanently have a mouth full of dressmaking pins! I had to stand on a chair, when I was younger to have the hem pinned up. The patterns were not uniformly the same, but the effect was pleasing.
The younger children walked in twos, between two long rope cords, which they held in one hand, depending whether they were on the left or right. You can see these in the photo above.  And sometimes small flower baskets were carried.
My dad, Leslie Smith, in his "banner " shirt and trousers. (1930's)  Before going to St Mary's Cof E church to help carry their banner.   
 Each church had it's own banner and the older boys dressed in white shirts and black, or white trousers, helped the men to carry them. In windy weather it was quite a feat to keep them upright. All of the local Anglican churches in Rawtenstall, then paraded along the main road, each from their muster point, eventually arriving at the town centre for a united church service. This was always in July. It was known as a United Procession of Witness. Each band could be heard, along with the Scout band of St Mary's Parish Church, converging on the piece of waste ground in the centre.The banners flapping in the breeze. These were laid against the wall of the Pavilion cinema opposite.
So the service commenced. Children fidgeted, and we all let our minds wander! Once it was finished, we  returned to our own church, and hall, and had a tea party, followed by what was commonly known as a Field Day. We would be accompanied to a nearby field which had been mown, and spent a wonderful late afternoon, having a mini Field Sports day. It was a special occasion in the calendar year.            
St Paul's Anglican Church leaving the Rawtenstall Town centre after a United Service of Witness

Sunnyside Baptist Church Rose Queen Lorry. 

As I attended St Paul's Church, I also  had a lot of friends who went to Sunnyside Baptist. Their Rose Queen procession was a grand sight. And this photo is an evocative reminder of summer days as kids, when the sun always seemed to shine. I can smell the freshness of the leaves on the trees and catch again the scent of bluebells in those woods.   

St Paul's leaving the Town centre after the service.  

The "First Communion" girls of St James the Less RC church parading along Burnley Road, Rawenstall. The 2nd Sunday in May.  

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Heather Dawson's letter about the recollections of her childhood in Woodcroft during the 1950's and '60's.

I really enjoy looking through the old photos which Peter Fisher has collected and put on smugmug. 

Playing in the fields by the little stream. All this is now covered by houses  

Recollections of days gone by, happy childhoods, and remembered dramas in the ongoing life of our community of streets. Take a look, and be transported back in time to earlier years. It is a superb history book. 
Of all the letters which were written to the Rossendale Free Press about those days, this is the one which captures the essence of how we lived. I have read it and re-read it. A different era.      
Heather's (then Dawson) letter to the Rossendale Free Press
So, as Ken Stott continues to film the now grown up children of the '50's and '60's, and prepare a DVD how we are all looking forward to the final complete version-
"Woodcroft"- Capturing History for the Next Generation".  
So far he has filmed people from the Midlands, the Isle of Wight, Derbyshire, Cheshire and Yorkshire, amongst others who still live in the Rossendale Valley in Lancashire.
As I had a phone conversation with him only this week, he said he wasn't really creative!
Well, I got news for you Ken, my French friend asked me who had done the filming, having watched the edited version of one of the clips.
"It is a superb job," he said, (only you have to imagine that said in French!)  With the relevant Gallic expression!  

The Woodcroft Story of our 50's childhood. How it all began.

Leslie Smith at Crown Point. Lancashire. 2008
Text of Maureen Fisher's letter to the  Rossendale Free Press, in 2000, which set off a chain of others. Leading to a reunion in September 2001 

"I agree with your correspondent Mrs Wilkes- Rawtenstall market should be left alone. It is 31 years since I left Rawtenstall, and on my (sadly infrequent) trips back it is always a delight to find the market virtually unchanged from the days of my childhood. It is like stepping back in time and the more to be treasured for that reason. I hope that the council and public ensure that the market is preserved, it really is a jewel.
Another Rawtenstall treasure is Les Smith, whose witty letters never fail to amuse me and recall memories of when he lived near me in East Street. His daughter Vivien and I were best friends for the duration of our school days at St Paul's Constable Lee. My best memory is of the attic in her house, where we would troll about in dressing-up clothes to the strains of old 78 rpm records played on a wind-up gramophone.
Our favourites were "Rustle of Spring" , "The Cobbler's Song" and " A Bachelor Gay am I"
Happy Days!!"       

Maureen Fisher. Front row at the left-hand side   
"Woodcroft" Reunion in September 2001

Reply from Peter Fisher, Maureen's brother. 
I read the letter from my sister ......and the replies .......
"The Woodcroft area was a great place to live as a child.The area from Rosedale Street to Newchurch Boot (factory) had a community feeling all of its own.
All the children played together..Sledging, building bonfires...and those wonderful days playing by the little stream that fed the lodge above Broadley's factory, a place we called "Little Blackpool".Many times we were told off for trying to build dams and endangering the factory's water supply.
There were two "gang huts" at the top of East Street. One was for the girls and one, rented for 6d a week, for boys.It was full of comics and I remember spending many hours there reading for all I was worth. When my mother or sister came to find me, I pretended not to be in.
From the top of  East Street to the top of Woodcroft Street were lots of pens, full of hens. A paradise for fathers and children. There was also Donald Howarth's garage. He kept his car spotlessly clean. I am  sure he spent more time cleaning it than driving it.
One particular memory is the Coronation. I think we were each given a mug and a spoon. It felt like we had each been given some treasure."

Peter Fisher on the right (front)