I started work at the age of fourteen years in the town of Reddish. The year is nineteen hundred and twenty five. At that time Reddish consisted mainly of one straggling road, mainly containing rows of houses on either side but immediately behind fields or farmland. Just past Reddish Station North on the left hand side was Bundekins Farm, whilst on the right hand side was Willie Tattons rather extensive spread stretching past the canal to almost Levenshulme. I remember the terrible tragedy when his herd caught foot and mouth disease and all the cattle had to be slaughtered and were burned in a huge pit in a field that now consists of Reddish Park.. At one period of time held on one of the fields down Tattons Lane, now Longford Road West, an Aerial Gymkhana was held. It was owned by a famous aviator of that time Sir Allan Cobhani. There were some stunts performed, wing walking, flying upside down, looping the loop. All the aircraft were hi-planes with open cockpits. There were flights for five shillings a time, what a thrill!
The street lighting was gas. We had a tram service. The trains were double deckers open to the vagaries of the weather at either end. The poor driver had to endure whatever was thrown at him. These trams had only four wheels and they used to shake very ominously but they served a very useful purpose.
On a Saturday morning before people had started to bestir themselves the horse drawn night soil cart used to rumble its way through the town. There was a small clutch of houses down Station Road in an isolated area known locally as The Soot Hole that did not enjoy the luxury of modern sanitation. Before you reached Houldsworth Square on the left hand side was a small block of buildings comprising a swimming baths, a library, a fire station and a mortuary. The fire engine was horsedrawn. Sometimes the horse was also used to draw the ambulance.
I must tell you a funny story... my father a non-swimmer and my Uncle Bill a good swimmer, went to the Reddish Baths. My uncle dived in. My father, not to be outdone, dived in also but they dived in at the three foot end. When my father came up at the six foot end he was out of his depth. He panicked and started to flail his aims. He went under, swallowed a gallon of water, went blue in the face, rose again feebly flapping at the water. My uncle fortunately saw him and pulled him to the side. My father sat there ruminating his narrow escape when a small boy sidled up to him and said Do it again Master. It is nice to know you have brought enjoyment to one creature at least. To my knowledge my father never went to the swimming baths again.
A little nearer to the square by a field that was the sports field for the Reddish Green Wesleyan Chapel was a wooden building with an asbestos frontage that was made to resemble magpie architecture. It was the Bijou cinema. (Bijou meaning the little jewel) but known locally as The Bug Hut. It held, at the most, about a hundred people. About the first six rows were wooden forms and the last three rows upholstered seats. When the upholsterer asked the proprietor how he would like his seats covered the ready answer the proprietor gave was with backsides or words to that effect.
Starting from the Bulls Head Hotel on the boundary of Reddish, Gorton and Denton, was a dirt road that ran obliquely to Gorton Road behind the rows of houses. It was known as Thornley Lane. At the very beginning of the lane was a large farm owned by a man known as Charlie Goodier. He had a large herd of friesan cows and he used to deliver milk round the district in a special custom built cart open at the back end. In this cart he had two large cans with highly polished brass lids and he used to ladle the milk out in the appropriate ones to your needs, gill or pint etc. This was before cooling and pasteurisation. Sometimes the milk was still warm when you took delivery. Sometimes if they had been making butter they would come round calling out. that whey was on offer. It is the watery substance that is left. After the milk is curdled they called it Buttermilk. Personally I am in complete ignorance of the use of this commodity. Further up the lane was some scrub land upon which was a number of ponds. Itinerary fishermen used to try their luck there they must have been endowed with the patience of Job.
Next came Munroes Farm. A dirt lane leading down to Reddish Cricket Clubs ground now occupied by Denton West Cricket Club divided it from Aspinal Chapels Sportsfield. At the very end of the lane where Thornley Lane met Windmill Lane, another dirt road flanked on either side by field all the way to Denton broken only by a brick croft on the right hand side at the Denton end stood a large house owned by a family by the name of Booth. They owned a large fodder business directly facing Far Lane Gorton that stood next to Leicesters bakery on Hyde Road. Leicester used to deliver the bread to local shops. The bread was in large baskets totally unwrapped. Ordinary bread was rounded and smooth and a little brown on top. The milk bread had a cut, a sort of parting down the middle, and was paler in colour. Coming back from the Grocers one day I remember my mother expressing her disgust when I told her the milk bread had gone up to sevenpence a loaf. That in todays currency is approximately three and a halfpence.
We had got as far as Munroes farm in Thomley Lane. Now he used his land for grazing purposes. He had some pig styes. He used to breed pigs and he had a large poultry complex that produced a large quantity of eggs. Now Munroe and a small syndicate of four butchers that I know of there could have probably been more, but I only know of the local ones. They were butchers who only sold the absolute top quality meat. They had a tradition. Munroe used to go to Ireland to purchase the cattle - mainly two broad teeth heifers beasts, having only just passed the stirk stage. They would come to North Reddish Station and then they would be driven on the hoof to his farm. The cattle dogs ever watchful moving from side to side. A beast will dart to go through any opening that presents itself. The movement of cattle on the hoof is forbidden in towns now, they have to be floated. The four butchers concerned were Jimmy Hamnett in Gorton Road, Tom Goddard in Wellington Street, Gorton. It was his slaughterhouse behind his shop where the cattle met their demise. Walter Guest in Gorton Lane and a certain Walton in Clowes Street. I mention these names because the more senior ones of us somewhere in the recesses of our mind could possibly remember.
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