See first page for introduction.
My Family, Grandparents, Childhood, School Days, The Teenage Years, Getting Married, Emigrating,
Food, Houses, Household Practices, Clothing, Cotton Mills, Buildings, Shops, Ashton Market,
Hurst Cross, Transport, Entertainment, Wartime, Weather, Daisy Nook, Special Times of the Year,
People, Various Other Memories, Expressions & Sayings.
After 35 years away it's hard sometimes to bring the memory back. I would probably be lost there now. When I think of, say, Queens Road, I always see it with all the old houses still standing and the black and red schools still there. It's probably easier for us that left when things were as they were years ago because its still in our memories. Whereas if you have seen it all change and see the newer look everyday, you tend to forget what it was like. If I think of Swan St, the back of Henry Moon's, I still see the old houses and Joe Wood's pie shop, the old dairy that was just around the corner on Mulberry St. I bet they have all gone now.
I remember Wilson's bakery. It was down the other end of Wellington Road. You walked over Oldham Road and by Connard's photo shop. It was facing the goods yard.
Remember where the buses pulled out on Fletcher St and turned into Swan St near Joe Wood's pie shop, then on to Penny Meadow? Well, that's as far as Fletcher St went. The rest was called Mulberry St and yes, Joe who delivered milk all round Hurst had a bit of a dairy there. He came round on a bike carrying the urns on his handlebars and a crate of bottled milk on the front.
Wasn't the church of the Nazarene known commonly as Old Cross Street Mission? Not forgetting St Johns, Kings Road, Hurst. Can't forget that one, it's where I was married in 1956!
It's funny to say the new police station because the one before that I call the new police station, on Manchester Road. The one I know as the old one was the one underneath the Town Hall. You went down steps to get in there.
What's been built on Mill Lane, is it more shops or houses? I had a cousin lived there, Haydon the name was. She had three children, I think. Joe, Tommy and Irene. I think my cousin and her husband are long gone. I can't believe the places that have gone. When I look on Ashton Market [webcam] it looks so strange seeing new houses built in the background. I still see it as all the old houses. Fletcher St, Swan St, Mulberry St, Old Cross St, Glebe Street.
I remember a dirt back that led onto Old Street from there. A real handy short cut. It was opposite Joe Wood's pie shop, and you came out right facing a photographs shop. Was it Mayfair Studio? I can't remember now.
Speaking of the street where Trufits clothes shop was, it was named Ogden Street not Sugden Street. At one time a guy called Sammy Collins had a betting shop on there but later Bill Coffee's betting shop opened there facing him.
Jimmy Connor's stable - he kept his horse in there. He was the local rag and bone man. He lived on Anderton Grove. Mortimers were the second shop, the toffee shop was the first. There wasn't any houses there, it was just the block of shops. Joe Wright had a fruit shop there and at one time there was a paint and wallpaper shop, and a shop that sold wool and haberdashery. We used to get hot salted peanuts from the toffee shop when going to the Roxy. Walnut whirls too.
Ashton's always been about the people who live there more than the buildings. Ashton was overdue for a face lift. People aren't living on top of each other now like years back, when living in the terraced houses, two up and downers, no electricity, water heated in an old gas boiler... Yes, Ashton has never been better!
You only have to remember how upset people were when the Market was burnt down, but I still think people matter. I don't think you can get people with a better sense of humour than Lancashire and Yorkshire folk. Things have altered dramatically since our parents were young ones. No more running in next door for a cup of sugar, or a bucket of coal till the coalman comes, or a pound till pay day, or can I borrow your black coat I have to go to a funeral, or can I borrow your Sunday joint to make some gravy... [Grin] That's all gone now, hasn't it? And for the better. However, for what its worth, from looking at the pics of Ashton, I think it looks great, ...though I will always remember the old days. When I think of where ikea is built, in my mind it's still the old goods yard both sides of Oldham Road. Connard's photo shop on the corner, Wilsons bakery just down the road from there, the old gas house where we queued for coke, all the little streets leading of Oldham Road. Ha, the memories!
There was a little shop in Hurst Nook. It was a house, really, and an elderly couple kept it. You had to go round the side of the house and through the back yard to get in, and the man used to leave all the empty Barratt's pop bottles in a crate in the yard for pick up. We used to go in and pinch them, then walk in the shop real hard faced and get money off them. Crossley's it was called. It amazes me why he never knew. He sold the old brown stone bottles too, with ginger ale in. They were great to use as hot water bottles in winter. Pity I wasn't brainy enough to keep some of them, they would certainly be a talking point today!
I remember all the shops at Oak Fold. I remember Staffords having the grocers and their daughter Darinda had the chippy next door. When I was a kid, the chippy was the grocers and the grocers were Staffords living quarters. Then when they left, Saults took over, then an elderly couple called Walsh took over and then Audrey and Derek Townsley. They had twin boys while they were there. Audrey's parents kept the Old Nook Inn. We had our wedding reception upstairs there, free of charge, but my dad was a good customer. They were a nice couple though.
There was a wet fish shop next door to Henry Moon's. It was part of that building. I know this for a fact as it was my cousin Joe Atherton who ran it. I don't know if Henry Moon's is still there or if not. It was where the Hurst Circular and Smallshaw Circular buses pulled in to let people off,. We used to stand there waiting for our dates as teenagers. We always said, "Meet you at Henry Moon's." The fish shop stood between that and the Bowling Green Pub.
The Reporter office was on Warrington St, many years ago. I think Marks and Spencers were in its place when I was there in 1989.
I think the shop was called Joe's where we got the Vimto ice lollies from. I also remember the shop on the corner of Glebe Street. It was called Elvina's. I used to buy my bras and nylons from there when I lived on Glebe Street. Also there was a chippy on the corner opposite called Fred's, and next door was Coxen's photo frame shop and next to that Coxen's hairdressers, know as Freesias. Wood's camera shop was there as well, next door to the chemist. Artingstall's had a confectioners on the corner of Old Cross Street, but there was one facing them as well. Can't remember the name. I wonder if they are still there. It was real handy living there for the shops. There used to be Rowel's furniture and carpets, and a vacuum shop, Roland's bike shop, Ashworth's grocers, Casson's shoe shop...
I had an aunt lived on Charles St. I only went Whit Sundays for my coppers for my new clothes. Charles St was just off Margaret Street. If I remember rightly, there used to be a little drapers shop on Margaret Street right facing Charles Street. I never failed to go and buy a ribbon for my hair while down there for the day. I think it was called Draycott's. It's funny how little things stick in your mind, isn't it? I remember as plain as yesterday buying a tartan ribbon one year. Mrs Draycott had all these reels of ribbons all different widths... I was always stuck for choice.
I think Stamford St was going downhill just before we left there. I remember at one time you could hardly walk on the pavement because so many people were shopping all the way down both sides. Then, for reasons unknown, it just started going downhill. Woollies and Littlewoods were still on there as well at that time. I remember going into Woollies to buy the kids thongs - flip flops - to bring here with us. Old Street were still doing well.
If my mind serves me correctly, back in the thirties, there were three photograph studios. One was the Mayfair Studio, on Old Street, another was called connards, on the corner of Wellington Road and Oldham Road, and one was called Maynard's but can't remember where that one was situated. There was also a guy used to go round all the dance halls taking photos by the name of Smoky. He had a place on Penny Meadow. He would take your photo, give you a receipt to go and pick it up a few days later.
As a kid, one of our neighbours in Hurst used to sell things, like pins, needles, threads, ribbon, nylon stocking. Haberdashery, I suppose you would call it. And she was supplied by a Mrs Draycott, who had a shop on Margaret Street, West End of Ashton. It wasn't a big shop. It was just a house turned into a shop in the middle of a row of of houses.
I remember the Co-op on Whiteacre Road, just as you turned from Penny Meadow left hand side. There's a pic of it on the archives. Then I think there was one further up Whiteacre on the right side near Princess St. Also I think there was one facing St James School, top of Hillgate, but not 100% on that one. I'm thinking there was a Co-op shop on Warrington St, just round by the Town Hall near perhaps corner of Germyn St or Tatton St, maybe opened as a bottle shop later on. It's just in my mind's eye.
They sold some good stuff at Riley's didn't they? I have a photo in a frame of my daughter when she was four years old wearing a dress I bought from there. It was beautiful and cost around three pounds, I think. Mind you, that was back in 1964. Also I bought a lovely suit from there. It was blue with a black and red fine fleck in it, a pleated skirt and jacket. I also got a red handbag and shoes to go with it. I think it cost about twelve pounds for the lot. The bag was a box bag, all the go at the time, with a mirror on the inside of the lid. That would have been around 1954. I was courting with my husband to be and he paid for the bag and shoes.
The War Memorial area looks really nice, doesn't it? I lived just up from there after being wed. I just had to walk by the side of the clinic, Glebe Street, to get there. It was so handy living there. All the shops around me - the market, Stamford St, Old Street. I don't think I really realised until I left just how lucky I was. When I think about it, I had the chemist on the corner of our street, Fred's chippy on the other corner, Elvina's clothes shop across the road, two pie shops, a butchers, an herbalist, a newspaper shop, grocers, two hairdressers, Wood's photography shop, Rowell's furniture. Vic Marsden or Marsland, I forget now, who stood on the market selling bedding, had a shop on the corner of Union Road, near the Albion pub. His wife Irene ran it. And the list goes on! Not forgetting Joe Wood's pie shop, the Old Cross St Mission, St James church and school. I didn't need any bus fares in those days. I remember I used to be flying down Penny Meadow three and four times a day, always left my front door open in case any of the rellies from Hurst were calling in for a cuppa, and everything was just as I left it when I got back. You couldn't do that today, could you? All the shopkeepers knew me. Alan was born in that house and after, if he was asleep, I would nip out to the shop and ask could I be served first as I had left him asleep. They always obliged.
It tickled me when someone's mam sent him to the butchers for a sheep's head, and told him to make sure it still had its eyes because it had to see them through the week. I'm still smiling at that one!
I remember John Kelly's fruit stall. I used to go there Saturday mornings for my mother. It used to go through me in winter when he had all the lettuce in a zinc bath and ice formed over!
I'm sure emails have gone a long way towards the decline of post offices. It's bound to have. I feel a bit sad though about them closing. My great great grandmother must have dealt at the post office on Warrington St, and it's always nice to think you are treading in their footsteps. Like Leigh and Arderns, the Co-op fish shop next to Henry Moon's, Tophams, Knights and Sewells chippy, the progressive stores...
I think Harrop's on Stamford St was one of the last shops before you turned into St Michael's Square. There was a dry cleaners round the corner in the square itself. I used to buy lozenges in a little packet as a kid from the herbalist. I don't know what they were called but they were a little flat square and were light brown in colour. They used to really burn your tongue. You got heaps in the packet. That's why I bought them - yes they are 'Victory V'.
There was what we called the clock shop on Warrington Street just round by the Town Hall. Facing it was a second hand shop. These shops were run by husband and wife, the name being Topham's. The shops were there when I was a kid 75 years ago. From Turner Lane under the bridge cross over Wellington Road and onto Warrington St and that's where you passed the clock shop. The cake shop was on the corner of Wellington Road, where you crossed over from.
Going from the Town Hall, Knights were on the right and Sewells right facing. I don't know the name of the haberdashery, but at one time there was a second hand shop on that corner named Tophams, facing the clock shop, so these must have taken over when it closed.
There used to be a dressmakers near the Prince of Orange, the woman there made all the dresses for the May Queens at St Mary's and their retinues, also the dresses for the Black Knight pageant queens. Her name slips my memory. The dresses for the pageant were beautiful - kind of medieval. Well, going back to when the Black Knight roamed the streets.... who remembers the specials we used to get from the chippy? A slice of potato done in batter, I used to love them. I think they were a penny each when I was a youngster. I think they call them potato cakes now. I used to ask for three penn'oth of chips, a special, and can you put me some scraps on please, and plenty of salt and vinegar... It makes you shamed to put your head outside the door when you think about what you were like as a kid!
The sisters who had the chippy at the Broadoak was called Reynolds. They retired in 1997 after 48 years. Do you remember the man who kept the post office there? I can't remember the name but remember he had a short arm,. He used to come round Hartshead Ave with the Reporter on Fridays and bought lots of dahlia tubers from my husband. He used to order them before they were dug up in the early winter. There were so many wanting them, sixpence each I think they were, something like that, but they were beautiful. The flowers were as big as a dinner plate!
I remember Tatton St, Duncan St, Yorkshire Street, Water Street, Gas Street, Pitt Street. all in that area. Knights and Sewells chippy did well round there. So did Mary Ellen Wild's pawn shop. There were two brothers, Tommy and Sammy Duck lived in Pitt St in one of the lodging houses round there. They used to go round Monday mornings asking if anyone wanted them to take their parcel to Mary Ellen's which saved any embarrassment of them carrying their own through the streets. Sammy and Tommy were given a few coppers for this. How times have changed. I remember Mary Ellen Wild's on Katherine Street. It was still there at the end of the precinct before I left Ashton in 1971, but wasn't a pawn shop any more. It was a jewellers. There were two entries into Mary Ellen's when I was a kid, the door into where they sold things was at the front and a ginnell that led into a side door where you took things to pawn. As kids you were not allowed to pawn things except, say, an adult was in the shop and would sign for you, but you had to give them a penny for signing. Eeh when you think back!
Connard's photo shop was on the corner of Wellington and Oldham Road. It was facing you as you walked up Wellington Road, facing the pub.
Ashton market is like a magnet isn't it? I loved rummaging through all the stalls when I was there, and also bumping into people I knew.
[Market trader, Harry Star] I remember him, he was called Star. You got some good bargains off him. He stood on the back of his van. I remember another one, he stood near where the old Reporter office used to be. I think Marks and Spencers is there now. He used to empty everything on the ground. I remember when I was about 14 and worked at the Waterside Mill, they were having a dance, so me and my mate Brenda went on the market and bought a dress alike, grey with a white pin stripe. Then off to the man in question to root through handbags. I found a black patent leather one but Brenda said, "We need two." So we rummaged through till we found another one. We said, "How much are these, mister?" He said, "Are you buying them both?" We said, "Yes." He said, "OK then, a shilling each". When we got to the dance we sat with some of the married women. Then the M.C. came on the mike and said a pair of black gloves had been found and held them up. One of the women we were with said, "Oh, they are mine, but I'm not claiming them. I'm too shamed - they have a hole in them!" Then said to me, "If you go and get them, you can keep them." I said, "Honest? OK!" And off I went and claimed the gloves. Well gloves were gloves, holes or not. I thought I was the cat's whiskers going home that night with them on...
I bet if the market does open again, there will be quite a few new stall holders because some of the old ones will no doubt have retired after the fire.
I bet there was a lot of new ones already as far as when I lived there 36 years ago. I remember a few of the old stalls, like Pickles, Bailey's Hardware, Billy Briggs Butchers, Redmans, Sowerbutts Florist, Jack Taylor's fruit stall, Queenies, The Music Shop, and the drink stall, the little corner make-up stall, Rose Wallwork's hat stall, which I think later became Brian's Curtains, the biscuit stall, and the little cafés where you could order tater pie.
But besides all that, Ashton Market was such a friendly place, wasn't it? Everybody knew everybody. I don't think I ever walked through there without having a natter to someone. Last time I was over there I couldn't wait to get to Ashton Market. My sister and I went down and couldn't believe the people that stopped to talk to us. We just couldn't get on, we went to the Trustee Bank so I could put money in, and the manager took us in his office and offered us tea or coffee, which I thought was a lovely gesture! It's all rush in the supermarkets now, though that seems the same everywhere, just interested in getting their sales up. Sure, that's what business is all about but somehow it doesn't seem they were as greedy years ago. It amazes me how many people here know Ashton Market. All come from surrounding areas of Ashton. Some though living as far away as Manchester before the freeway was built. You only mention you come from Ashton under Lyne and they say, "Oh I used to go to Ashton Market!"
Still, so long as you have the market back, its all that matters, Ashton mustn't be the same without it. It was the first place I went as I got off the bus at Henry Moon's, even if I was going onto the outside market, I always walked through, and stopped for a natter to my sister who managed the little bread shop next door to the deli - was that Pearson's? - and then rummage threw a few more stalls like Queenies. It's funny people should say how higgledy piggledy it was because even now here, we have quite a few stores like Target, K Mart, Coles, Myers and Best and Less, and I love to go in Best and Less where everything is on top of everything, clothes knocked off their hangers, which I always pick up and put back. I think people must think I work there, but I feel right at home there, piles of undies there to rummage through. Not like the others where they are in packets. It must be because I was used to Ashton Market. I remember the clothes in Ashton Market Hall were hung up very high and the server would get a big pole with a hook on the end to hook them down to let you look. When I lived there and Woolworths and Littlewoods were on Stamford St, I loved going in Woolworths. Everything were higgledy!
Back in the 30s and 40s there used to be a downs syndrome man by the name of Harold. He used to carry water in buckets for the stall holders. He used to splash everyone's legs! As a teenager I also remember going to Jack Taylor's the fruiters to buy a piece of mistletoe every Christmas, to chase the men at work and, of course, going to Gleave's for my broken biscuits! Also Billy Briggs the butcher, also Pickles - you could buy some nice presents from there, nice picture frames and brass ornaments. Everyone went to Rose Wallwork's for their wedding hats and chiffon scarves.
Around Hurst Cross
You know, when we went to live on Lees Road, there was nothing from Hurst Cross till you got to Oldham, except the private houses next to Plants Garage, and then the few private ones facing where the New Nook pub was built. It was all fields belonging to the three farms up there.
The houses that are back to back with the football ground was just a field we called The Ninth. Why we called it that I don't know. All I can think is that perhaps it was the ninth field of one of the farmers. It had a big wall all along about 8ft high, all stone, then they made it smaller when the houses were built.
The New Nook, or Turnpike as its called now, wasn't there, nor was St Christopher's. It was great being a kid there. We spent many hours in the clough. We had a big thick rope hung round a tree by the side of the stream that ran through the clough and we would swing across like Tarzan. Then opposite that was the sand pit.
I think it's a pity that the estate was built up there because it was nature at its best. The blackberry bushes, bluebell wood, mayflower fields, a bottle of water, or lemonade if we were lucky, a couple of jam butties and we were off for the day. If it was during the September holidays from school, we would be sure to have blackberry pie the next day. If it was May we would take a bunch of bluebells home to our mother. Actually, Lees Road was a dirt road when we first went there. No cars, horse and cart, the milk man on his bike, policemen on bikes. There were cars, of course, but no one up there could afford them!
I remember the little hut corner of Lees Road. Remember Townsend's shop at Hurst Cross? Albert and Bertha. That hut belonged to Albert. There was a massive garage at the back of the hut at one time. Albert was a coal merchant and it's where he kept the coal. The hut was his office. Mr Smith from Connery Crescent, David, worked for him delivering. Then, when Albert retired, David and his wife opened the hut as a shop. They used to sell black peas every Saturday night. They were real yummy! After a while they sold it and a guy named Frank Hughes bought it. He lived in the Nook somewhere, had two daughters, one named Margaret. Then Frank's wife died and later he remarried, and his second wife took over the hut. That was up until the houses were built by the side of the church, when the hut was knocked down.
I remember all the farms, also John Stopford's farm we used to take peelings up to John's for his pigs. He used to give us a lift home on the horse and trap. I believe one of the farms up there now is a fruit shop. I remember Bowler's too, at the back of the Coalpit Hills. There was a stream run through it. We used to go fishing for tiddlers there. They didn't live long once you got them into the jam jars. I think Roland Bardsley the builder bought Bowlers and built a beautiful spanish style house.
A pity most of it's gone. The Roxy, the Cake-a-Pie, the two schools. Do you remember Jimmy Connor, the tatter? I got a pic sent me of Hurst Cross taken many years ago. Jimmy is on it with his horse and cart just coming up Lees Road by Plants Garage, sadly it's not a very plain pic. There are people sat on each side of the Cross, probably waiting for a bus. Jimmy had his stable on the ground next to Jessie Lee's shop. It burned down in the 60s and a garage was built there later.
I remember a man who lived in one of those houses there. He died and I heard my mam and dad talking about when he was being buried. I must have only been 6 or 7 at the time and I went up there and sat on the Cross watching this funeral. The railing had been taken away then, but that wasn't enough for me, I sat there till all the mourners came back home. My mam were going mad wondering where I was, so I told her. I said, "I went to watch Mr So and So's funeral and waited for everybody coming back." Then I said, "They all came back except Mr So and So." My dad said, "Eeh, it's to be hoped not, seeing they have just buried him!" I never lived that one down!
I'm not sure about the lamp posts. They could at that time have been gas lights, but certainly the arms are there that I said we slung a rope round.
I remember Hurst Cross as being... the corner shop on the Cross and Kenworthy Ave were Albert and Bertha Townsend's, the shop facing just further up than Trufit's, which wasn't there then, was Appleton's, later belonging to a woman by the name of Joan, who opened a little café there in the living quarters. The fruit shop was May Bailey's. Across from them was Jessie Lee's toffee shop. Next door was a little shop called Wood's Grocers and next to that was Sutton's Butchers. Phyllis from Trufit's married one of the Sutton's sons.
Going along Kings Road was, right side, the Co-op, but not food. It sold clothes and shoes. The windows were painted, you couldn't see in. Further down were a grocers called Kilner's which is now the laundermatte, or was, then Wild's pie shop. Then Joe Hollingworth's barbers. Then the end was the Post Office.
Left side, starting from Sutton's butchers, were row of houses, then a kind of dirt back, then the old shop Mad Bob had, later changed to a chippy, then the Hare and Hounds, then the butchers, then the men's ablutions and telephone box, then another dirt back, and then another chippy, ran by Edith Thewliss, then the Miners' Arms and then Attwood's shop- a German he was, and it was a little mixed business.
I remember Reg from the butchers. Lawrence my brother started his apprenticeship there with Reg. I also remember Margaret Gent. Her dad was called Bracewell. And yes, there was a funeral director lived near the Hare. I don't know who. I knew Cyril Vernon. He was in my class at school, but he lived on Oak Fold Ave, then moved onto Broadoak Road, into Timperley House that was once Hunt's Farm. It could have been they lived there before going onto Oak Fold Ave.
Can you remember how many shops there were near the Roxy? I can't remember. The sweet shop was first, then the chemist, then Joe Wright's fruit shop, then at one time there was a paint and paper shop. The man himself was a painter and decorator. His wife ran the shop, but I'm not sure if that changed to the wool shop. Then Ward's grocers. Do you remember Milhenches lamp oil shop at the back in Carr St? An old couple ran that, and Appleton's mixed business on Hurst Cross itself, by the side of Ogden St, May Bailey's fruit shop, later taken over by Hastie's. Yes, I'm sure the chocolate boxes were empty! Loved their warm salted peanuts.
I had my wedding reception upstairs at the Old Nook pub. Then a couple of years later it closed and the New Nook opened.
It's funny that some people called the shops at Oak Fold 'the top shops' because we on Lees Road called them 'the bottom shops'. Hurst Cross shops were the top shops for us! The end shop that Audrey and Derek Townsley kept was once the living part of the little shop next door to it. It belonged to Staffords. The little shop next door was the greengrocers, then Staffords had the living part turned into a shop and the one previously turned into a chippy. Their daughter Darinda ran the chippy. They went to live on Queens Road right next to the black school.
That's as I remember it, its so long ago, and you do tend to forget. The thing I noticed when I went back there was how narrow the streets and roads were, also the how small the gardens were. I felt when going down Broadoak Road on the bus, I was almost in people's front rooms. The thing was I had argued with my husband that they were the same as here. I couldn't believe it when we got there.
I just remembered, last time I was there, there was a betting house. I think it was called Bill Coffey's. It wasn't there, I don't think, when we left in 1971. It was down the bottom of the little street, Ogden St. He had the two last houses knocked into one, near the football ground. But years before that there was another bookie in that street. He was called Sammy Collins. I used to take bets there for my dad and the neighbours. They used to give me a couple of pennies if they won. I was still in school then. I was up and down Lees Road all Saturday, either placing bets or going for the winnings. Sammy used to treat me, too. It's a wonder I'm not a gambler myself isn't it?
There was a shop near Roxy Cinema. It was Bob Symes lived in that place. He had it as a kind of shop. He repaired clocks, I think. It was a real tip of a place, too.
Do you remember the horse that was always in the field St Christopher's is built on now? Bonnie, its name was. We used to go down the side of Lees Road into the lane and Bonnie would be over the other side behind the Nook Sunday School and we would call out BONNIE, and it would come galloping over at top speed. I didn't mind when I wasn't alone but at times I was, I would call out BONNIE and as soon as it turned to gallop towards me, I would run away! I was terrified on my own. I haven't a clue to this day whether it was a mare or a stallion,. All the kids loved it though. I suppose going off the name, it would have been a mare. I wonder if it belonged to Charlie Bowler? He was the nearest farm. There goes another Charlie...
I remember the lamplighter when I was going to the infant school back in 1937. There were gas lights at Hurst Cross. He carried a long pole. Also there were gas lit houses for years after that. My sister was wed in around 1944 and went to live with her in-laws on Moss St as the War was on and no houses to be had. I used to go down there and visit her and they had gas light. Really dismal it was, especially if there was a pea soup fog. The house would be all misty and the gas light you could just about see a glimmer from it. And even though we moved onto a council estate in 1936, from gas lit houses in Charlestown, and now had electricity, lots of people brought their oil lamps with them and still used them, especially for the bedroom at night. There was still a lamp oil shop at Hurst Cross, in Carr St, called Milhenches Then later, night light candles came out. They were exactly the same shape as the perfumed candles, the ones you get to float on top of the water while your bathing, but had a thin kind of waxed cardboard wrapper round them. My mother always had a night light candle burning all night. She used to stand it in a saucer with water in it so that if it burned down it wouldn't set on fire. . If you go onto Tameside Archives, http://www.tameside.gov.uk/ and search 'Hurst Cross' on the photographic, it shows a couple of pics of the gas lamps. Also I was asking my brother about the isolation hospital near Hartshead Pike. He says yes, he remembers it, and says was a small pox hospital.
Going down Broadoak Road, I remember after the Oakfold shops there was a spare ground which housed the Salvation Army, a little wooden hut, but then bungalows were built there. After them there was some very old houses that once housed the managers of the coal pits - long before my time - then came Hunt's Farm facing the Co-op, later becoming Tom Vernon's private home, known as Timperley House. Then after that came the start of the council houses. But later on, between Vernon's and the council houses, about four private houses were built. Many years ago, before old Farmer and Mrs Hunt died, there was a wooden fence going around, all along where the four houses were later built. It went along the front and then along the narrow path that led on to Timperley Road and beyond. I'm not sure whether Hunt had two daughters or one, but after the War was over and women started to work on the buses, one of the daughters was a conductress and later a driver. I knew one of the women who lived in the next house to Vernon's. Her name was Beryl. She was called Bradley before being married. I didn't know her married name. She had one daughter. Last time I was in the UK, she was running the flower shop at Hurst Cross, where Trufit's used to be. I went in and had a natter to her.
If you look on the Tameside Archives there's a pic of the houses on Broadoak Road that the managers of the pits in Broadoak and Hurst lived in. They are still there as far as I know, just a bit further down from the shops at Oak Fold. The bungalows after the shops wasn't built then, it was all open fields, and at the back of the pit houses was a big pond. Great during winter for skating on, not that we had skates... we hardly had shoes!
According to Google, Vernons still live on Broadoak Road, so perhaps they do there business from the town centre now. The house they live in is almost facing the old Co-op, the end of Coronation Road. It stands on its own and next to it there's about four private houses then the giggle gaggle to get onto Timperley Road. Cyril Vernon went to the same schools as I went to, so he must be our age now. He had a younger brother than him. Their dad Tom used to drink in the tap room in the Old and the New Nook. My dad used to come home and tell us Tom had been round asking if anyone wanted to join his Christmas Club.
I don't remember the lamp oil man, but used to go to Milhenches on Carr St, Hurst, to the lamp oil shop. It used to stink there. It was just a slang word, "lamp oil" for paraffin.
I remember a man coming round pushing a cart shouting, "Ashton Moss celery!" There used to be a man came round cutting hair, and one came round sharpening knives and scissors. He had this round stone stuck near the handlebars of his bike we called flint stone, and he would sit on his bike and pedal and the stone would go round and he would hold the blades against it, sparks used to fly off it. What they did those days to make a few coppers! We got the occasional black man selling bits and pieces, like haberdashery, who I was terrified of because if I were acting up my mother would say she was going to run away with a black man. Either that, or she would put a shawl on she had hanging at the back of the front door which she never wore normally and say she was taking me to the workhouse. She would say, "Hey up, I'm taking that one to the workhouse!" Why ever she always put the shawl on, I don't know, but it always quietened me down.
When I was a kid living up there, the shoe mender had his shop. on Nook Lane itself. As you turned onto Nook Lane going from Lees Road end and turned into Nook Lane, it was on your left just after you walked by the side of the old Nook... then Stella Fern's gardens were next... then further up was the Sunday School, the little cottage was on the dirt lane leading to Hampson Road. There were no street at the back, just the golf course. If I remember rightly the little cottage was done up. It was pebble dashed on the front and new windows put in. It looked real nice and cosy.
The dirt road I'm on about was going from Nook Lane itself, and as you turned into it, left side there was a little old cottage stood on its own, and the other side of the road had a few old houses. After the cottage came Waddicor Ave to your left. It went in a sort of crescent, and came back out at the top of the dirt road, that's where Crossley's shop was. It was just a house and you had to go through the back yard to get into the shop. Just before the shop, a little street ran off to your left. I'm not sure what it was called but I'm thinking Crossley St. Then came the council houses up to Kings Road, facing the cemetery. I'm sure there was a girl named Barbara Taylor went to the red and black school. Also I feel her dad had the shoe repairers in the Nook.
There were heaps of fields years ago. From our houses on Lees Road, there were nothing but fields except a couple of farms way beyond the Red House, right through to almost getting into Oldham. Park Bridge was nestled in there, just a couple of rows of terraced houses and a church. I remember one of the rows were called Dingle Terrace. I wonder if it's still there? Lees' Iron Works was close by. There was a country lane turned off Lees Road to get to Park Bridge. We called it the three quarter mile, and it went right through to Failsworth. When I think of the miles we must have walked.
I remember the handbag factory. One of our neighbours worked there and use to bring home work. Beads that needed threading for evening bags and things like that. I was a good friend of his niece who was brought up by the family and she and I used to help him, and he would give us a few coppers. I used to love doing that. We would sit on the doorstep. Well, a threepenny bit was a threepenny bit.
The German prisoners [kept in Whittaker's Mill] looked well cared for didn't they? Not like the German and Japanese camps. They used to be taken up Lees Road nearly every day, I suppose to stretch their legs. There was always soldiers with them from the barracks. I remember one hot Saturday afternoon, my mate Brenda and I had been a walk up Lees Road to Stopfords Farm. Where the New Nook was built was just a field with a thicket hedge around it, and there was a gap in it and we could see this man sat on he grass on the other side. I said to Brenda, "I think it's a German spy!" So we ran home and told my dad. He said, "A German spy? Where is he?" I said, "He's in the field and he's reading a map." So he put his jacket and cap on, and came to look with us. He popped his head though the gap and shouted, "Hello Artie, what are doin there?" It turns out the man was had been in the Old Nook pub, had a few and was sat looking at the racing paper. My dad said, "These young uns 'ull ger an innocent mon hung. A were ready fer shootin thi!"
Do you remember when some of the bus conductors use to shout at the top of his voice, "DEBTORS RETREAT!" when the bus stopped at Coronation Road? It used to really tickle me, that. Even the people getting off there that lived on Corrie used to laugh. They were cheeky sods them conductors!
I remember going to the Royal Oak, Hurst Cross, as a kid when my dad was having a quiet night in [tongue in cheek] [grin]. I would take two pop bottles up there and get two quarts of bitter ale. I could never open the door because it had a strong hinge on it so one of the men would open for me from inside then pass the two bottles to be filled over to the landlord, then open the door again when I was going out. Everyone knew me there. The bar was right next to the door and rooms going off. Bill and Annie Roberts run it back then, but when I was over there last time, I went in, and couldn't believe the change. The bar was in the centre of the room with loads of space all around it. What a change! And yet I liked it as it was before, the little rooms with the big open fires and the brasses all around. After Bill and Annie left I didn't see them again until one night I was in the Hare and Hounds. I was married and had the two children, and on the way out I saw Annie sat next to the door. I said, "Hello Mrs Roberts." She looked at me and said, "Should I know you?" I said, "I think so, I used to go to get my dad's beer at the Royal Oak." She said, "It's not little Lily Buckley is it?" I had to laugh but she was so pleased to see me, she followed us outside and told my husband all about me! [grin] Lots of kids used to go for beer for their dad or their grandparents, take the old jug to be filled. I'm sure it must have been illegal to sell beer to kids. They wouldn't get away with it today, I don't think!
The red and black schools, I attended there from being five until I was eleven. The clough, spent many happy hours there during the summer holidays. The Hare and Hounds, spent many happy Saturday nights in there, had our going away party in there, 19th February 1971. Stamford Park, spent lots of time there in the Peter Pan swing park, and boating lake. The Colliers' Arms, last time I was in there was back when I was around nineteen, went in with the boyfriend at that time. Didn't marry him! Knott Hill reservoir, we went round there often on Sunday afternoons. There used to be a house when you got half way round. A family Allenby lived in it. If I remember rightly, both he and his young son drowned in there.
Where St Christopher's Ave is now, it used to be a dirt lane leading down to the golf links. On the right going down there from Lees Road were pens and on the left was the Coal Pit Hills. As a kid in winter I used to go on there picking coal. I used to pick the wrong stuff up though - anything to fill the bucket, they called it slate and it used to explode on the fire. made you jump out of your skin almost!
Anyone remember the single decker bus known as the Little Piggy? We used to catch one of them at Oakfold Ave, Smallshaw. It was going to Littlemoss but stopped outside Christ Church.
The piggy bus I'm referring to was back in 1940s. I started at Christ Church in 1943, and left 1946 age 14. The bus as I said started at Oak Fold Ave, Smallshaw. It didn't go down Broadoak Road like the double deckers, it went down Smallshaw Lane, stopped around Hegginbottom Cres, then at the Old Ball pub, down Henrietta St and then stopped at the bus stop facing the old fire station, then on to Taunton Road and up to Littlemoss.
I can't remember what colour the bus was. but think it was whatever the double deckers were. I haven't a clue what colour they were either. we are going back 60 years. Don't think the blue and white ones were in service then, were they? They could have been red white and blue.
When I was a youngster, the bike shop was called Rolands. I bought my first bike there when I started work at 14. It was a Raleigh, black with gold trims, and cost about 18 pounds. I got it for one pound down and two and sixpence a week. My dad had to come with me and sign as I was under age. I thought I was the cats whiskers. It took me ages to pay it off. I had an accident on it, ended up at the infirmary. Still got marks under my nose to this day! My dad reckoned it made me look better as I couldn't be made to look any worse. Cheeky monkey!
It used to be chaotic down at Ashton Market with the buses. Before they started doing the circulars, you caught the Oakfold Avenue, the Hurst Cross and the Higher Hurst buses by the side of the inside market, facing the old Queens Cinema. When people were going home from work all three queues were right round by the old electric showroom. I remember some days, I had to go to the gas house after school to get half 100 weight of coke and carry it on my back in a sack, and at rush hours I would queue up. But, when I got to the bus, depending on who were the conductor, they would say, "You can't get on here with that!" All the workmen used to shout and say, "Let her on!" But it made no difference, I had to hawk the sack all the way up to Hurst. Up Henrietta St, through King George's Playing Fields, along Ladbrooke Road, up Smallshaw Lane and down Connery Crescent. My fingers felt like they were dropping off with the cold. I had a brother who was a driver on the buses before going as an ambulance driver and I used to say to the conductors, "I will tell our Bill about you when I see him." But it made no difference, I still had to shanks pony. I can't remember when the Hurst circular and Smallshaw circular began. We had to go to Hurst Cross or Oakfold ave to get the bus, but it was when the bus started to circle you got the Hurst circular on Fletcher Street. The Mossley one as well I was thinking the blue and white buses were the Ashton ones. The buses in the thirties and forties were red white and blue were red white and blue, then changed to blue and white.
I can't believe another bus station, it was round the corner from the Town Hall before I left there. I had a terrible time catching buses there when I last came over. Nearly all the old buses had gone and smaller ones flying round, they all went on different routes as well. It was like going on a mystery drive to me. I hadn't a clue where I was heading. Just sat there and hoped I got to where I wanted to go. I did a lot of walking! I just couldn't fathom out which bus to get on if I was alone.
The conductors were always nice. Do you remember when an inspector would get on and ask you to show your ticket? It was woe betide you if you had thrown it down, you had to scramble under the seats to find it. The inspectors always surprised you by getting on anywhere. The standing room was five persons but just on the lower deck.
Who of you remember when everything was delivered by horse and cart? You don't see that now, do you? Our coal used to be delivered that way, also the milk. It used to be first there first served if a horse did a dollop. It was shovelled up while it was still steaming. I think them neighbours on Lees Road must haver been watching for it. Leonard Hartley was still using horse and cart well into the fifties. A guy by the name of Jim Hollingworth used to go around in it. I forget what his horse was called now. He dressed it up every year for the Black Knight pageant. It won lots of prizes. Roads were a lot safer back then, though a few kids were knocked down by a horse and cart. As kids we used to save peelings for John Stopford who had a farm on Lees Road, way by the Red House. I used to carry the sack on my back up there on a Sunday. His wife Lily would have made donuts, apple pie, fresh bread. I always got a good feed, and sometimes he would bring me back on his horse and buggy. "TCH TCH!" he would say, pull at the rein and the horse would trot down Lees Road. Fantastic it was. Thought I was in a landau at Blackpool. I suppose public transport was once horsedrawn.
I think charabangs first started off with horse drawn coaches. Those ones were kind of double deckers and didn't have a top. They were all open, it was like people sitting on the roof. I haven't a clue why they were called so. There's a pic of one on the Tameside Archives outside a pub on Penny Meadow. The customers were going for a trip out. I have been wondering if the name came from chariots in the beginning, seeing they were horse drawn, then when an engine was put in later it probably did a bit of banging from the exhaust, so someone added bang. Probably someone from Ashton, knowing them lot!
The Dukinfield bus went from St Michaels Square as well. I used to get it there to go to my boyfriend's. It went up Crescent Road to Chapel Hill and then along Foundry St. I think the Mossley bus went from Fletcher St, same as he Hurst circular. The Oldham bus went from facing the fire station where the clock was. The Oldham bus was brown and cream, I think. I used to go in SHMD canteen when I worked at the Tower Mill on Tame Valley for lunch or dinner as we called it. Good grub... wonder if it's still there?
Most of these on here won't remember the bus conductors. It was great if you knew the conductor on your bus. He would let you on free, but what a scramble to get to you and give you a ticket if an inspector got on! They were real crafty, the inspectors would get on the bus at any given bus stop, walk along saying "tickets please." People would be diving on the floor looking for their ticket they had throw away. It's all pay as you enter now.
The Theatre Royal was on Oldham Road. Cotton Street was at one side of it and Moss Street the other side. We had some good Friday nights there up in the gods. We could only afford that. Every Friday without fail we were there, up in the gods. It were crummy up there - no carpets and long wooden benches, but we enjoyed it. It was all live shows, and great pantomimes every Christmas. All the old places have gone now - the Queens cinema shut, the Pavilion was made into a bingo hall, so was the Roxy. Still I suppose we have to move with the times.
There was a cinema on Church St, back of Stamford St, called THE STAR. It was taken over by the GPO as a sorting office, but was later demolished. It was said that if people didn't like the films that were showing, they would stand on their seats and make shapes on the screen through the projection beam, as the projection box was so low down. Just like Ashton folk. Eh? I remember going there to see The Wizard of Oz.
I don't know when the Roxy opened as a bingo hall. It opened as a picture house in 1938. The first film to be shown was 'Three smart girls' starring Deanna Durbin. The last film to be shown was on the 29th July 1960 and was called 'Please Turn Over' starring Ted Ray. I haven't a clue when it was demolished but it's in the last few years.
When I was a youngster, the Ashton United football ground had just wooden fences around. We used to take one off and get in for free. We didn't go to watch the match, it was just somewhere to mess around Saturday afternoon.
Dance halls - there were three in as Ashton as I remember. They were the Premiere down on Park St, close to the Baths. It was quite an elite place really. You can see pics of the Premiere on the Tameside Archives, under Park St. Then the Palais, then the Empress, named before I was a teenager the Humane because it was over the top of the Humane Friendly Society on Old Street, facing the Angel. It later became a night club. You went up stairs to it. You might remember it as being a club better than the dance hall. Maybe some of the younger end remember what the club was called, I don't.
The name of the Majestic was changed to the Gaumont cinema in 1946 then became the Odeon in 1962 until 1981 then became the Metro.
The Tameside Theatre opened in 1904. It was called the Empire Hippodrome, and besides Charlie Chaplin there was George Formby and Stan Laurel. I just had a thought, I wonder where they stayed in Ashton? Maybe one of the lodging houses in Charlestown? Well, who knows? They would just be starting out then and probably a bit skint.
Yes, the Odeon was on Stockport Road. It opened in 1936 and closed in 1961. Its use was later a Catholic church. Don't know if that's still the case. I remember the Star. I only ever went once. It was showing The Wizard of Oz. What a crummy place! Mind you, it opened in 1879, so we shouldn't grumble. I have a book here of all the cinemas. It's called 'A History of the Theatres and Cinemas of Tameside' costing at the time it was bought in 1987 one pound seventy five. It was bought from Ashton Library I think. My friend bought it for me. I read it then tucked it in a drawer. I didn't realise how handy it was going to become!
People's Opera House, also know as Booth's Theatre, corner of Stamford St and Booth St; Theatre Royal, Oldham Road; Tameside Theatre; I think I may have found the fourth theatre. The cinema near the billiard hall know once as the Queens Cinema opened in 1913 as the Queens Electric Theatre. Then it changed in 1952 when it was done up and became the Ritz... So that's solved... I think. The Oddfellows is the same one I said, Booth's Theatre. It later became Oddfellows.
There was a gang that my mate Jean and I spent our teenage years with. All were from Stalybridge. We spent Friday nights at the Theatre Royal live shows, Saturday and Sundays at the Premier dance hall, Sunday afternoons strolling round Stamford Park. They are Tommy Finan, Bill Higgins, Charlie Lumley, Kath Connelly and Marian Jamison. I would love to be in touch. All will be in their seventies now....
I remember as a youngster, The Star being called 'the bug house' and the Queens Cinema 'the flea pit'. I went to The Star, but only occasionally. At that time there were seats but all in bad repair. The Star closed in 1947. The last film showing was 'Ziegfeld Follies' with Judy Garland and Fred Astaire. The Theatre Royal had wooden benches but only up in the balcony, we called the gods. Downstairs were lovely plush seats. The benches went the whole length of the theatre and were tiered so that people could see over the heads of the people in front. A gang of us used to go Friday nights as teenagers to watch live performances. It was so dirty and dusty in the gods in those days. I don't think anyone ever took a broom up there. Not that it bothered us at such a young age. It cost a shilling up there and two shilling to sit downstairs.
The Pavilion was the first cinema in Ashton to use Cinemascope back in 1954, the film being THE ROBE. It closed its doors on films in 1966 and then opened as a bingo hall. I'm remembering the Gaumont Cinema showing the musical South Pacific, back in 1956. It was in 3D. They gave us coloured lens to look through, and before the film came on they showed a roller coaster so you would know what 3D was all about and it just felt like you were on it. It was fantastic!
It looks as though us oldies all went to the same places but never bumped into each other, doesn't it? A gang of us used to go to Stamford Park every Sunday afternoon back in the forties, and then the Queens Cinema Sunday night and afterwards parade round the outside of the inside market. Friday night the Theatre Royal, Saturday night the Premier or the Empress dance hall, also know as the Humane.
I remember the doors at the side of the Roxy. There were a bar that you lifted then slid across. My mate Jean used to go with her mum and then would come and open the doors for us lot. We would sometimes have to wait in the toilets until the second house because the first house was full, we would just get sat down when Tommy Bennett would come and ask for our tickets and then throw us out!
I was never short of a dance partner, no not because I was drop dead gorgeous (if only), but because my mate Jean and I began going to the Premier Ballroom, Park St when we were about 15, and the mill I worked at, a young lad came working there and asked me where I went on the weekends so I told him. The Saturday following he turned up with a mate and they sat with us. Then, the week after, he turned up with a couple more mates, then a couple of girls. They were all from Stalybridge except me and Jean, and it ended up with about nine or ten of us. We were all the best of friends. During the interval we would all put our coppers together to get tea and a packet of two biscuits for each of us. It covered for anyone who hadn't any money left. Then later the Premier began opening Sundays. They called it the 200 Club. It was just dancing to records on Sundays.
We stayed friends until the lads were eighteen and called up for National Service. Hence lots of dancing partners and someone to walk us home. They were great lads too. All will be 74 now and probably great grand dads! I often wonder where they all are. And the great thing about it was, that's all it was. Best friends. We would be there every Saturday and Sunday afternoon whitening our sling back wedge heel canvas shoes and put them on the window ledge outside to dry and have our dirndle skirts and Jane Russell blouses at the ready. Then, when we were around 16, the new look came out. I was never really struck on it. Just think, in the next forty or fifty years, kids of today will be putting messages on here about when they were young and had their ears, belly buttons, lips, tongues and nipples pierced....... ouch!
I remember the last bus, it used to leave the Market for Hurst and Smallshaw at ten minutes to eleven. I always ended up legging it home and calling for chips at Axons on Penny Meadow. Course, if a lad was walking me home, I didn't buy chips. Who wants to kiss greasy lips? The dance halls didn't close till eleven, so I wasn't going to miss out on the last ten minutes - 'The Last Waltz' and 'Who's taking you home tonight after the dance is through?' Course, after I wed, I had to catch the last bus home to let the baby sitter get off home. Right killjoys are kids, aren't they?
I certainly do remember walking round the market every Sunday night after being at the Queens Cinema. The Old Cross Street Mission people out there telling us how bad we were and trying to convert us! It was fun days, wasn't it? If you stopped to speak to the lads, a policeman told you to move on, so round we would go again and meet the same lads and finish our conversation, quite a few scraps there too, wasn't there? Lads fighting over girls and sometimes girls crying if the lad they fancied took another girl home. Do you remember the clothes we wore then? The dirndle skirts and Jane Russell blouses, the three quarter reversible coats with tie belts, and the lads in long military style macs with the leather football type buttons, looking just like Al Capone himself? Do you remember Jean Aldridge? She used to get up and sing at the Humane. Quite a nice singer she was, too. I remember a guy playing the piano without a break at the Humane, supposedly for a full week. His hands were all swollen, his whiskers long and his ashtray full of dimps. I often wondered if he had a kip during the night!
I also remember Jack Tasker, didn't his dad have a coal business? We were amongst the elite wasn't we? [grin] It seems like Joe Wright had his nose in everywhere. Someone on here said he opened the Empress dance hall facing the Angel Hotel as a night club. My mate Jean and I had some happy times at the Empress, better known as the Humane. We used to slip across to the Angel during the interval and buy a gill of ale. That's all we could afford, also we were not old enough to go in there. I would have been in serious trouble with my parents had they ever found out. When you think back you have no rights at all to get onto your teenage kids to do the right thing, do you? Still, as my mother used to say, you can't put an old head on young shoulders. Hope my daughter doesn't read this..... hi Karen!
It amazes me now how people just jump in the car and go to Blackpool for the day. Back when I was a youngster it was planned weeks and weeks before. When someone got a trip up at work just for the day to go, they would come round collecting for it every pay day, maybe sixpence, shilling at most. Then, after you had paid for your seat on the charabang, you could carry on paying towards your spending money. Then it was given back to you in a little packet. You would only need a pound to spend anyway back then. I thought I was the cat's whiskers with a pound in my sky rocket! My mother would ask how much I had and when I said a pound she would say, !A pound? By hell, you don't know when your well done to!" We always had to have a collection for the driver so that was threepence gone straight away!
The Premier dance hall was on Park St, on the block between Cavendish St and Margaret St. My mates and I had some good times there. The Junction and Bath pub was just around the corner from there.
There was a dance place on King St, Dukinfield. You went up some stairs to get in. I went there a few times Monday nights. It was records, not a live band. Why I went to dance halls I will never know, because I could never dance. Just managed to get round, but then the lads couldn't either. Still, it was good. Not like the dances now, you don't need a partner.
The sense of humour does change. I loved going to the Roxy every Saturday afternoon as a kid. The place was in an uproar with Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, Laurel and Hardy and Old Mother Riley. But later I couldn't abide to watch them, thought they were so stupid!
As teenagers we used to go to the Premier dance hall Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. We had to get tickets a while before hand because it wasn't as big as the Palais, so the number was limited. After the dance we would be invited to someone's home. Lots of turkey and pork sandwiches, pork pie and mince pies. Christmas Eve we had to work but at lunch time we all went in the Wellington Inn, facing the mill, had a few drinks so wasn't allowed to run our machines, so we spent the afternoon going round kissing all the men under the mistletoe! Then about 4 pm the overlooker would come round and say, "Merry Christmas, now get your coats on and bugger off home!" It was the 50s.
The old Theatre Royal on Oldham Road, that was demolished years ago... my mam and dad used to go to the Theatre Royal, and my friend and I used to go every Friday night, about 40 years later! Still live shows. There used to be a clairvoyant go there. During the first world war, my mam and her neighbours in Charlestown, all young mums whose husbands were fighting overseas, used to go and listen to her. I remember my mam telling us a tale about one Friday night. She was late getting there and the lady had just finished up. Then, as my mam sat down, the lady said, "I have another message just come through," and went on to collapse on the stage and screamed out her knee was hurting her. A few weeks later, my mam got a letter from the war office to say my dad had been taken prisoner of war and had an injury to his knee. All baloney, if you ask me, but my mam always thought the woman had got that message for her. Do any of you believe in this kind of thing? Do tell us!
There were lots of the old stars played at the Theatre Royal as well. Charlie Chaplin for one, but before our time. I loved the pantomimes every Christmas. Then during the year all the entertainers. Eddie Calvert was there once. I went to hear him play his golden trumpet. The theatre has long gone...
There was a guy there one week - a tight rope walker. He had the rope slung from the stage up to the gods. Talk about holding your breath... Then in 1951, the theatre was taken over by the Jack Rose repertory players. This company included such players as Pat Phoenix, then know as Pat Pilkington, Yootha Joyce and Derek Benfield who later appeared in the BBC serial The Brothers. Others in the company were Joanne Glass, Pat Wilmore, Donald McKillop and Connie Merrygold. Their last performances there were in 'See how they run'. Frank Randell was one of the last to perform there. Back when I was a youngster you couldn't move round Old Street and Oldham Road. It was always crowded. There was the Majestic cinema, later know as the Gaumont, then the Odeon and later the Metro. There was the Pavilion, then just round on to Oldham Road was the Empire, which later became the Tameside Hippodrome, and the Theatre Royal. Queues at every one of them!
I went to the Roxy in Hurst as a youngster. Before the film started, a man would go on the stage with what he called the magic mirror. He would focus it all over the cinema and if he let it rest on your face for a couple of minutes, one of the ushers would come and give you a free ticket for the next Saturday afternoon. All the kids would be jumping up and down shouting., "Me, me, me!" It cost fourpence to get in then in the 1930s. It was a free for all before the film started. Orange peel and apple cores flying over your head. Lads blowing up paper bags and bursting them in your ears. It was terrible. Tommy Bennett, who was a bit of a cripple, dragging them out of the seats and throwing them out. We all called him Hopalong Cassidy. We watched Roy Rogers and Trigger, the Lone Ranger and Silver, "hie ho silver, away!" Zorro, Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, Frank Randall, Old Mother Riley, Dracula... so many more. I loved Shirley Temple, "On the good ship Lollipop." When anyone asked what film was going to be on, we always said, Tom Mix in Cement.
Old Cross St was just around the corner from the Humane dance hall. I used to go there sometimes. It was called the Empress then, but my sisters, who were older than me, both would be in their 80s now, went when it was known as the Humane. Cyril Blake owned the dance hall at that time.
People have changed from back then. My sisters and their friends would borrow each other's clothes to go to the Humane. It didn't matter that the friends had been there the week before wearing them. I remember one Saturday afternoon when I was about ten, my sister asked me to go a few doors from us to ask the daughter there if she would give me a white blouse my sister had lent her. She went and got it for me and her mother followed her to the door, and said, "I don't know why you have to borrow clothes when you have clothes in the wardrobe that have never seen daylight." Her daughter said, "What clothes? Them you got off Jimmy Conner, the tat cart man?" Her mother battered her all round the head. I shot off with the blouse and left them to it. When I told my mam what had happened, she said, "By hell, she's coming up in the world isn't she? Wardrobe... she's lucky to have a clothes peg behind the front door."
You had to laugh at them, there were four sisters older than me three still at home. Saturday night was like a picnic with them, getting ready to go out, curling tongues stuck in the fire, pulled out when they got hot, spat on to see if they were hot enough and then the hair curled around them. You could hear their hair sizzle. You couldn't get in the bathroom at all. There putting powder on their faces from a deep box with a big powder puff, then they started to use pipe cleaners to curl their hair. Loads of hair stuck to them when they come to take them out. How they ever got though without going bald beats me....
We always got paid Thursdays and my first week's spends... Me and my mate Maud, who started the same time as me at the same mill, went to the Roxy. There was a big queue for the second house and even then kids were only allowed in the first house, unless you were with an adult. Five pence it cost and Maud and I were both small at fourteen, so was going to ask for a fivepenny ticket like always. Tommy Bennett, who thought he owned the Roxy, was stood by the pay box. As soon as he saw us he said, "OUT, OUT!" and was pushing us both. We said, "We are working now!" He still carried on pushing us out, then one of our neighbours said, "Leave them alone, Tommy. They are both working." So he said, "OK, if they're working, they pay the full price, tenpence. The pair of us were pig sick. After that, one of us would pay to go in then open the fire escape doors for the other one, which were in the men's and ladies' toilets. Dangerous work it was too. They were double doors with a bar across that you had to pull forward then slide to one side. My teeth would be gritted hoping I didn't make too much of a noise. If he caught us, we both got threw out. He had eyes like a bloomin hawk, that Tommy!
Do any of you older end remember Smoky, who used to go round to all the dance halls and pubs every weekend taking photos? He had his place on Penny Meadow with I'm sure a thousand photos in his front window that no one had gone to pick up. I wonder where all those pics are now? You couldn't afford to buy them out of your oddy at the time, but I bet people would give anything for them now. Also, who remember Owd Harry, who sold second hand shoes? You were always sure of a good pair to go dancing Saturday night!
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