Shoe Hand / Photographer / Label Printer
Could we say how old you are to start with?
RT. Er, I’m turned 67 now and when I was young of course er they’d got the old gas lamps in the street then and we used to play, children in the street, doing all sorts of games but I can assure you never a lot of vandalism and damage like they do today. In them days you just daren’t do it. You were brought up properly by your parents and you just daren’t do the vandalism. You were frightened what you were gonna get when you got ‘ome. Nowadays they just don’t bother they do it and the parents don’t seem to bother about ‘em. But as we grew up, of course, I went to the C of E school, then, and in the school again they’re different to what they are today. One teacher, he used to take the ‘ole class then in all subjects. Now they get one teacher for one class and I think there’s more time spent walking around the school changing classes than ever there was in the olden days. We just sat in the class immediately we’d finished one course, one class, we changed over straight away without any palaver or anything. And the teachers in them days could teach all sorts. Mr. Plummer was our teacher and he was a good man on all sorts of subjects. Anything you liked to put in front of him, he could teach on it.
And of course the time came then when we left school and I started work. I started work as a fitting cutter for me father. He used to have a shed at the back of the ‘ouse and he used to make the tops, as they called it, for the factories. They used to bring the leather down or rather (laughs) I used to go up and take the trolley and bring three rolls o’ leather down and then me father used to cut it into shapes for the shoes and I used to do the fittin’s, the inside, and then machinists, like me mother and an aunt, used to machine them up and then they’d go back to the factory to be made up into shoes with the soles, etc. And I started like that for three or four years and then, at the end, I went to work in a factory as a clicker or fitting cutter in the boot and shoe trade and, eventually, I went then to the press shop er cutting the soles out and I ‘ad an injury with the machine there and I ‘ad to leave that.
Then, of course, soon after that the er war broke out and er I went into the services, in the Royal Navy, and I was in the Royal Navy for nearly four years and er twelve month was spent in England and then the rest of the time we went overseas to er oh India, Africa and er more or less in the Indian ocean, you see, on the ship. I was er attached to a ship, the HMS Frobisher, which is now out of commission altogether and then after that, of course, I came ‘ome and got demobbed and started er 6th January 19…49 I think it was 47 or 48 or 49 anyway. I got demobbed and I decided to start on me own because, when we come back er our jobs were ‘ard to get back again and, er I thought well the only thing is I’d start on me own because, I was in the Navy as a photographer, I did manage to get into the Navy as a photographer, and er I went on a course er a photographic course in Johannesburg and I passed out at 98%. So um the skipper told me, he said, “You’ll get a job anywhere in civvy street as a photographer.” Well, of course, when it come to it, I dint want to go and work for anybody I thought well, the thing is, I were young, to start on me own. So I started on me own in a back room upstairs. I’d got no water laid on.
DW. Upstairs in this house?
RT. In this ‘ouse. Where er, well, er, two doors away actually. The same type of ‘ouse – it was in this row. And em when it come to it I’d got no water upstairs at all then in these old terraced ‘ouses, er in the meantime we’ve ad ‘em all done out but in them days there were no water upstairs and er I ad to bring all the stuff down, downstairs in the sink to wash ‘em, when the wife was, er I were married then, when the wife was not busy in the kitchen and er then they all ‘ad to be washed like that. That’s how the photography does, black and white of course in them days. And then I worked on and er I got on a bit and er I started to er ‘ave a building made on the opposite side of the road which is that building across the road now.
DW. What that cottage?
RT. No, the er, shop it was Barwell studio which it is now. I termed it Barwell studio and when it was finished I moved into there and the ‘ole building only cost about £800, then, and er I done studio portraits, weddings, I went out doing weddings and all that sort of thing and I done quite well afterwards but the first two years it was very ‘ard as things weren’t got over the war properly and there weren’t a lot o’ money about and er we found it very, very bad and we very often, the wife and meself, ‘ad to live on a pound a week for a while but then things improved, of course, and we got well known and then I started doing the er developin’ and printin’ for the local chemists all round Hinckley, Barwell, Earl Shilton, Stoney Stanton and we were doing approximately 200 rolls of films a week, just the wife and meself.
DW. Which year would this be?
RT. Er , as near as I can say, ooh, 1950. Yes, 1950 and, er, we carried on then and the wife and meself worked across the road and we realised after a few years that er in photography it was all, well, all work and no play. In the six Summer months, as you can say, we were working right up ‘til midnight most nights, Saturday and Sunday included, to get all the films done that we were reaping in and of course er we done quite well but it was very tiring. So we decided to go into something else and er a fellow at ‘inckley er, Mr Charles Riley, of er Riley Brothers the ‘osiery people, he come to see me, he was a friend of mine, and he says, “Why don’t you start doing seals?” Photographics, I mean em printing seals for the er ‘osiery trade y’know the gold seals what they stick on the bags for stockings? Now of course it’s tights and pants and all them sort of things. So we started doing that. We ‘ad one machine we got to know where to get a machine and we worked wi’ one machine. And we worked the business up from that, canvassin’ and getting orders from firms and er we went right on ‘til four years ago when we retired and we were doing, the last two or three years, the wife and meself worked across there and we were doing anything up to a million seals a week for the ‘osiery manufacturers all round. Of course, photography were just fadin’out then. So at the finish er, ooh I should think it would be it was in the last eight years we was at work, the photography faded out and we only done just passports and one now and again becos I wanted to get the studio where I used to use for weddings, I’d got that full of printing machinery. And we finished up with eight machines doing a million seals a week for the ‘osiery manufacturers.
Then the offer came for er one of our customers he worked at another firm he wanted to start on his own and er he bought our place and er it went through and he’s working in the place now doing all sorts o’ printing and of course we’re retired and we only do er cine work now wi’ taking films on our ‘olidays, editing ‘em and putting the sound to ‘em and then in the Winter months we go out showing ‘em free of charge to all different organisations. The only charge we make is, if we’re out o’ Barwell, the cost of petrol and the cost of the bulb. Cos the bulb in the projector’s £8.50 and they’re only guaranteed for 25 hours, mercury bulbs, so or course em we ‘ave to make a little charge just to cover that but all my services and everything are given free of charge and we’re able to go in afternoons anywhere now and we do possibly er twelve or twenty a year. As a matter of fact, its er now it’s November 1980 and I’ve got four bookings for 1981 as far as next October, for two, so that’s more or less my life in the village all the way through.
But I’ve always found Barwell a nice village to live and I was born in Barwell, not far from where we live today, and this row er we’ve lived in these ‘ouses now er the last sixty-three years and we moved, when the war finished, this ‘ouse became available and er so the wife and meself moved into this ‘ouse. My wife was a Stoney Stanton girl and we married and we lived in this ‘ouse and it was straight opposite the business so it was nice and ‘andy and we’ve been ‘ere ever since. We’ve been in this ‘ouse oh above 30 years now and we’ve ‘ad it all modernised since we’ve been ‘ere. It’s only a terraced house but we’ve ‘ad it modernised with gas central ‘eating all over the ‘ouse and the upstairs bedroom, where I used to do me photography, now we’ve got a bath, toilet and er sink unit up there with the water all laid on and so we’re just smiling now.
DW. Have you any brothers and sisters?
RT. No I’m the only child and the wife’s the only child, incidentally.
DW. Tell me about your parents.
RT. Well me father was in the boot and shoe trade. He eventually got a factory on his own in Barwell. I was too young to work then and he got a factory up Goose Lane in Barwell. Only a small boot and shoe factory and an uncle was in with him and the factory was known as Tippler and Iliffe, er Boot Manufacturers, and then er what finished them they ‘ad a fire, accidentally started fire. Cos in them days they’d got no central ‘eating and that so much they’d got an old coke stove in the rooms and that sort o’ thing and something ‘appened and er with the coke stove and they ‘ad a fire and er they couldn’t work anymore. It didn’t do a lot o’ damage to the factory but er the ‘inckley firemen, the fire were nearly out when they come, but the ‘inckley firemen, it was the old horse drawn fire brigade then, and er they took a little while in coming and it was nearly out by people round, er neighbours with buckets of water. But when they come they just poured the water onto the fire and spoilt everything, machinery and everything was spoilt and they just wouldn’t stop. People, neighbours were jumping on the ‘oses to try and stop the water but they wouldn’t and it was right out the fire but that’s what finished them on the er factory, they were the ..er
DW. Go on.
RT. And er next door to us, er there was an old man there, Sam Miller. Old Barwellians know Sam Miller and knows what ‘e were. There were ‘im and ‘is sister, he were never married, and er ‘im and ‘is sister lived next door to us and er ohh for years and years and years, when I were a lad, nobody’d been in his ‘ouse, didn’t know what it were like he wouldn’t ave nobody in his ‘ouse . And eventually, when I was married, we lived next door to ‘im and ‘e were getting on and, unfortunately, his sister died and er we went into the ‘ouse. He ask us to go and ‘elp ‘im out you see with different things and, well you’d never seen nothing like it. One of the things he did in the ‘ouse he’d got an old coal fireplace, he’d got two oil stoves, Valoroil stoves, and he used to do all his cooking on the Valoroil stoves. They were going all day on and off all day and he were a vegetarian and he used to live on this nut butter and all that sort of thing. And when he boiled his milk, he used to boil milk in an old cocoa tin, and it were rusty and he used to put the milk in and it had boiled over onto the stoves, and it were all thick with milk burnt milk, on the stoves and all down the tin and all them sort of things and, y’know, he ate potatoes with the jackets on and all them sort of things and he was a real old skinflint as you might call ‘im. Never gave nothing away.
RT. Yes. And one year he asked me, he’d got a big orchard down the back, and he asked me one year if I’d get his apples for him, becos it were dangerous for ‘im to go up the ladder. He were about 70-odd then. I says, “Yes, I’ll get’em for you Sam.” He says, “I’ll mek it worth your while for getting’em.” So when it come to it, he em he were selling the apples then he tells me at 4d a pound, and when it come to it about getting the apples I got all the apples, ooh I don’t know, perhaps 100 lb of apples for him from all his trees. And he says, “Well I tell you what I’m going to do” he says, “ I sell the apples at 4d a pound,” he says “and I shall give you ha’penny a pound for getting them.” I says, “Well” I says, mind you, I’d got to take all the apples out, sell ‘em and take ‘em out for him because he couldn’t do anything about it. And he were gonna give me ha’penny a pound for getting them y’see so, anyway, I did get him at the finish, a penny a pound, and er one little incident, er, his ‘ouse were that dirty, one thing he used to do with his old coal fire, he used to get his ashes up every morning and er put ‘em in a little ‘eap up the corner of the room. He’d got no carpets down, it were just er quarry floors, dirty quarry floors with sackbags around to walk on and I always knew every time I’d been in the ‘ouse it was like that and he used to put the ashes on the slabs up the corner of the ‘ouse and take ‘em out in a bucket once a week.
So in the ‘ouse where he lived he’d got the ashes up the corner out of his fire and er, one incident, when my mother were alive er his sister had died and the relatives were coming from Leicester. He’d only got about ooh p’raps half a dozen cousins that’s all his relatives in Leicester. And they were a-coming to the funeral you see. So me mother told him he says “Look Sam” she says “give me a bit of soap and I’ll clean your winders for you cos your cousins are a-coming.” So she took his curtains down took ‘em in ‘ome. He’d got no soap she used her own soap it were on ration then just after the war, and she washed the curtains for him and put ‘em up and cleaned his winders and he says “Ooh that’s very kind of you Mrs Tippler” he says “’ere’s four apples. Mr. Tippler likes apples don’t he?” That were me dad. “Yes he does.” “’Ere’s one of each kind - see if he likes’em.” She says “Oh thank you very much.” He says “There’s just a pound there,” he says “that’s 4d.” And he accepted the 4d. She gave him the 4d. and he accepted it.
That’s what sort of a man he were and he’d got an old wireless, battery driven wireless with accumulators, cost about 8d to fill’em then. Used to go up go Perce King up Barwell and I used to take’em up for him and never had nothing for taking’em up of course and when he got a battery them 100/120 volt batteries on his wireless he’d ask me to go in, tap the wall and I used to go round. He says “Reg, I think there’s some left in the battery. I’ve got a new battery - will you test the old one and see how much there is left in?” I says “Ooh it’s not worth it, there’s only 5 volts left in.” I’d got a voltmeter and he says “Ooh yes that’s 5 volts - I’ve got to use it” he says. “Shall you connect the two together?” So I had to connect the two batteries together for him so he could use the 5 volts out the old one before he throwed it away and his accumulator he always used to pay me for it. They used to cost 8d then to recharge an accumulator and that’s what sort of a man he was.
During the war before I was called up, everybody had to black out and they asked you to put a shade blackout your windows and put a shade in front of your light so it didn’t shine on the windows. Well of course Sam were at the wall one night and I went to the door and he come to the door and he says “Oh Will you come in” he says “I want you to see what you think of my fantastic idea.” He says “You know we’ve got to cover the light up.” And well when I went in the room I got the biggest surprise of my life. On the table, it was night, and he’d got the blackouts up and on the table he’d got a big piece of wood about 2” thick and it weren’t very clean on his dining table and on that he’d got a piece of wood in the centre as were really moth-eaten worm eaten that were nailed on the bottom so it stood up and then he’d got a rusty old round dustbin lid nailed to it and that were standing up in front of his old gas mantle from there. A real old, rusty dustbin lid and on a straight piece of wood down which were worm eaten on a dirty old piece of wood on the table and he’d got that on his dining table at night. Never seen nothing like it – he was a character next door.
There’s been something in the papers, in the Hinckley Times about old Sam in basket weaving. Cos in his olden days he used to do basket weaving and he was the only basket weaver in Barwell and the Hinckley Times, what’s the building society, Earl Shilton Building Society, they put one in every week. I don’t know whether you’ve seen it, of olden times, and the one of basket weaving was Sam and it was most like him as well in the drawing, weaving the baskets.
Then he’d got an old three-wheel bike up a place at the back of our building and it was a real old one – one of them as you sit in the seats and you got chains going down from there to the two wheels and you drove it along like this and when you wanted to turn you stopped for turn number one and turned the other when you were going round a corner – a real old one. I tried to get hold of that but he wouldn’t sell it , oh no, it were up there and it were all rusted up when he died. It were no good for nothing. And I believe Harry Ellis, down here, he had the old bike. What he done with it I don’t know but I think he had it and done it up a bit but he was a character the old Sam was, niver known nothing like it in my life a man like him - the ‘ouse was dirty.
When he died he left £9,000 and he left it to an old people’s ‘ome in London as he didn’t know nothing about and another ‘ome in London for the retired Methodist ministers. He didn’t know nothing about none of ’em and all his cousins in Leicester he left ’em £300 between them and all the rest was left to these two ‘omes in London as he didn’t know anything about. Cos I asked him I says “Well Sam” I says, he told me where he’d left it and I says “Well do you know these ‘omes?” “No” he says “but they do some good work” he says. He was a Methodist and he says “It’s the Methodist ministers’ hom, retired, and the other’s the home for the poor or summat in London.” He didn’t know who were there, he didn’t know anything about ’em at all and he just left £300 to his relatives between nine of ’em and all the rest were left to these ‘omes. He left £9,000.
DW. Hmm. That was a good deal of money then.
RT. It was. But that were the story of old Sam and we lived next door to him and we knowed what he were and everything more or less about him. As my wife says we could almost write a book on it which we could all the things as happened. You know such things as he told me, one day, “You know, soot water’s very good for apple trees.” I says “Ooh yes” and he says “You come along with me.” And I went down the garden he’d got a little watering can wouldn’t hold above ohh quornt p’raps and he’d got some very, very weak soot water and he were just watering the long grass about 2’ high grass and stingers all round and he says “That’ll do ’em good.” I says “That’ll nivver get down to ’em.” He says “Ooh it will - it’ll go down.” That’s what he used to, that were his apple trees. But, oh dear, the things that’s happened at different times with him and … The only thing as I’ve got belonging to him – when he died, there were nobody in the ‘ouse, of course, there were no end of stuff stolen with different people as come. The only thing I had - before he died he was in Market Bosworth and he asked me if I’d … he says on the stairs which I knew was there were an old extending ladder. About 20’ extending ladder. And he says “Will you take it off the stairs and put it in your ‘ut?” he says “and look after it because it’s a very good ladder.” I says “Right-o, I’ll do that Sam.” He says “Cos you never know” and, in the meantime, he died so I’ve got his ladder and that’s the only thing I’ve got to remember him by, which is his ladder.
Yes I’ve told you the story of the old three-wheeled bike he bought, ooh years and years ago, and he did tell me how he got that bike. And of course my parents they knew at the time because they were young and they said that, and Sam told me as well to convince me, that White Windsor soap, they gave coupons about two coupons in each pound of soap and you could have what you wanted from these coupons. And he bought an whole consignment of soap, I don’t know how many he, oooh hundreds of pounds of soap, as he bought and stacked ’em all in his bedroom upstairs. Took all the coupons out of ’em and then he were selling ’em to all his tenants when he went to collect the rent from about twelve different ‘ouses. He used to take it every week and sell em the White Windsor soap and he got all the coupons out – that’s how he got his bike, taking the coupons out the soap. He’d bought hundreds of pounds of soap and me dad says his bedroom upstairs must’ve been stacked up with these. You could see it from his bedroom winder stacked all up in lines above the bedroom winder. All this soap, hundreds of pounds of it and took the two coupons out of each packet and that’s how he got his bike. [laughs]
DW It’d make the house smell nice.
RT. Oh you’re telling me! Well the house smelt right believe me. And when we were cleaning out the ‘ouse, after he’d died, we were cleaning the back room upstairs and I was with the other chap cleaning the ‘ouse, looking through what he’d got. And there was a painting up there and this painting it was a real, old real, old, well I don’t know how old it was, but Mr Flavell, I think it was, the solicitor. No, I don’t know if it was Flavell or Mr Webster, he took it away and that painting made £150. And it was just lying rolled up in his bedroom upstairs.
Another incident about him when his sister died, Arthur Smith, he was the carpenter then in Barwell. Everybody knowed Arthur Smith and Charlie Smith his dad. When nails were tuppence a pound then and I used to go up for bits and bobs and, since he died, Arthur had got the business on his own, his father had died and Arthur had got the business in Barwell. He used to be an undertaker you see and he were telling us as Sam had had him to do the undertaking and make the coffin for his sister. And when he brought it down, she were put in the coffin, of course, and she were put on the table on the side table in the living room where he were living. And Arthur Smith told him he says “Ooh you’re not going to have it there Sam - you want it in the front.” But he insisted on having it there. He were going to have Susan in the living room with him while all his meals and everything. But anyway, when it come to it, Arthur he told us it went on months and months and months and he couldn’t get the money for the funeral. And upstairs Sam had bought an old Indian carpet and this Indian carpet had been up there for donkey’s years and he called Arthur in one day. And Arthur come in - we were having our tea - and Arthur come in he says “Well yer beggar” he says “I’ve just been to see old Sam and he’s took me upstairs and showed me this Indian carpet and could I have that in lieu of Susan’s funeral expenses?” So Arthur, he were a bit old fashioned, he says “Well I soon told him. I says, when I go to Leicester to buy wood for coffins I can’t take Indian carpet to pay forrit!” Such things as that you see. And, oh dear, as I say, I could almost write a book on the things as old Sam used to do.
DW The village itself must’ve changed quite a lot.
RT. Oh yes. There’s new ‘ousing estates and a lot of buildings been fetched down it’s a big change in the village. In Mill Street alone, of course, we’ve got all the big estate at the back here. On the left hand side coming from ‘inckley here, I don’t know what, the street’s not been named yet but it’s an industrial estate and there’s all factories all been built down there by McLeish & Spencer. And one of em wondered what were happening about two years ago I should think it’d be 1978 as near as I can say. They’d got one on the front ‘ere belonging to’em - now then, what is it, Faye? I forget the name, Martin, Foye and Martin. It belonged to the one on the front and I understand that they used to make engineering parts for the car industry, which they do now.
McLeish & Spencer put it up and that were the first one to go up on the estate there. And in 1978, it was about a quarter past 12 and there was such a BANG. We were in bed, we slep’ on the front here, and such a BANG and everywhere lit up, and the first thing I thought of - my wife says “Were that thunder?” I says “No, it’s too brisk for thunder” I says. There were no rumbling and I says Yer beggar I wonder whether it was IRA bomb or something. Anyway I got up and looked out the winder and there were people across the other side the road, looking across and I dressed me and come downstairs and went out onto the front. And what had happened, a propane gas cylinder’d blowed up inside the factory and all the walls, all the three walls, the two side walls and the front wall, were all blowed out flat and left the roof on. Cos it were made a different way that factory were. They put the concrete stanchions up, built the roof, onto the concrete stanchions and then they put the wall round it, you see, and it blowed all the walls out. It were all double wall all round and it blowed the lot, flat to the ground. And you could see all the machinery there standing inside no fire or nothing and, luckily, nobody were working in there because it were quarter past 12 at night but they had been working nights. But it blowed the whole lot out – you never seen such a sight in your life. That was another incident.
The house next door where old Sam used to live, Don Pear and his wife live there now, and their daughter-in-law - she were upstairs expecting a baby - and she slep’ all through it. And it wouldn’t be no farther from here to them white railings away from the place and that wall were blasted right out. No winders broke at all anywhere. Strangest thing I’ve ever known that were. Fire brigade come and the ambulance, but no need for the ambulance, but the fire brigade were here nearly all night and he were a-stood outside here and his light were a-flashing like this on the top of the fire brigade for hours and hours right across our bedroom wall like that. So, but it was an experience, believe me, that were that night it were. Blowed all the walls out and they come and started clearing up McLeish & Spencer. And they put a temporary wall up so they could get started work again inside because it didn’t damage the machines and they tell me it didn’t move none of the machines anywhere. And all the blast were down in the floor and not up top and yet it blowed all the walls clean out. And they didn’t fall, just a lot of bricks, they all fell flat like that. I’ve never seen nothing like it when I got up there and seen the factory standing there.
DW. So the complete wall was lying on the floor?
RT. The complete wall was lying on the floor flat. ‘Course, it were broke as it dropped, you could see the complete wall, the front and the two sides were blown out flat. It was a double wall and looked good quality bricks as well. And then, of course, seeing as it hadn’t hurt the machinery, they put a temporary plaster board inch thick plaster board all round. And they started work again and, in the meantime, they were building it up and they were back at work again within a month with the walls all built up and everything, they didn’t half work on it. Real good they were but I can’t say it frightened everybody to death because nobody hardly heard it. One or two across the road facing it, they ‘eard it. They were at the front door but a lot of people, people in this road didn’t hear nothing, didn’t know there were anything happened. We weren’t asleep as it happens and BANG, such a BANG and a thud. Dear, wonder what the Dickens it … IRA bomb were my first thought cos it were such a loud bang. And the propane gas cylinder that blowed up, it were about that height and that far round that’s all. Cos it lay outside for quite a time as they bought it out. Just shattered the sides so what caused it I don’t know unless it were, they said, it might’ve been somebody’d been working the day before and they’d left it on and the gas were escaping a little bit and it filled the room with gas and, when the oil fire sparked up to start, it blowed the whole lot. (Laughs) I don’t know but that’s what they say. But it was, it was a bang.
DW. It’s been, not only the change in the village but the change in the people and the way they react to other people and the way they dress. I can remember my grandmother with dresses down here.
RT. Oh yes. Then of course the new look come in when it were right above the knee. It’s coming back again to below the knees and now they say it’s going back again to short. I don’t know, (Laughs) But I think meself taking it all round looking at all the villages and towns all round - the girls today they’re not feminine at all. They’re all wearing trousers and the teenagers going out on a Sunday night in dirty overalls and unkempt hair. They look terrible going around the younger generation don’t they today?
DW. Some of them do, yes.
RT. From what I see the bigger majority do. You see ’em come down ‘ere, a gang o’ chaps on a Sunday night, s’posed to be nice and smart. They’re going somewhere, get on the bus dirty overalls, overalls with marks all over ’em. Only last Sunday there were some waiting for a bus ‘ere, about teatime, and they’d got all the knees torn out o’ the overalls. I said “Look at that lot! Sunday afternoon. You ever seen nothing like it?”
DW.Yes but when you were a lad you used to get up to some roguish things, like they do today.
RT. Ooh yes, yes, when I were a lad. We used to go spirit knocking and spout roaring and that sort of thing but we never used to do any damage to nothing.
DW. Spout roaring?
RT. Spout roaring. Where the spout comes down y’know from the roof, comes down - usually it used to run out onto the pavement and into the gutter and (laughs) near somebody’s door and put some paper up there and set fire to it and (laughs again) used to roar up the spout, make a Dickens of a row!
DW. I’ve never heard that one before.
RT. Ooh yes, spout roaring. Then there’s spirit knocking. You’ve ‘eard o’ that one with the button and a bit o’ cotton and - I never done this but I know lads did do it. A lot o’ the things they did I were a bit scared. I come down ‘ome, y’know, in case they were caught. Two ‘ouses where the doors are side be side and you tie a piece o’ rope on each ‘andle o’ the door and then just leave a bit o’ slack in the middle and then bang both doors and they bang to and one door’ll bang to when the other one tries to come to the door and the doors are a-banging like this (laughs). But I mean, now, the young uns go about now scratching cars and bursting tyres and breaking windscreens, don’t they, and all that, vandalism. That’s all they do today. I don’t know why, it’s not at all like it was in our day. In our day we used to be playing in the streets ‘ide and seek y’know, 2-4-6-8-10 Johnny on a mopstick all off again and games like that under the street lamps. And then you’d p’raps ‘ear the policeman coming down the street and we used to bolt then, not that we need to, but …
RT. Aye, old Bobby Martin, that were it. Ay-up here’s old Bobby Martin when we were kids and we used to run but he never bothered. He used to come down p’raps and frighten us more than anything and he were all right Bobby Martin were. But in them days we used to do things like that but now you never see a policeman and, all that sort o’ thing. Cars parking on the pavement and they shouldn’t do and children riding on the pavement and all that, and they shouldn’t do, and you see all that and you can see the police cars go by. There were three cars parked right on the pavement here the other night and a police car went by, tea time it were, light, police car went by and he weren’t bothered, didn’t care tuppence. But I don’t think they police are so strict as they were in them days. I don’t, they were in our days.
DW. There weren’t the facilities for getting about. Most of the people stayed in their own village didn’t they?
RT. Well that’s right and we’d got the village policeman and that’s ‘ow it happened but nowadays they’ve got the radios and talk to each other be radio and all them, which makes it a lot better, and yet there’s more things happen today as they can’t catch than what they ever did in the olden days, isn’t it?
DW. Like technology’s progressed, so has the technology of crime and crime-catching.
RT. Yes, it is but we had some good times. I don’t know whether they have such good times now, the young uns, but we had some good times when were were kids. I mean I ad pianer lessons when I were about 9 or 10. And it were in the front room. Me father’s house used to be two doors away and now the ‘ouse is up for sale it’s been done up. When he died Trevor Golding were the man. He come to me and asked me if I’d sell ‘im the ‘ouse and we had it valued and sold ‘im the ‘ouse. And he says he’s got somebody who wants to do it up straight away Somebody coming in - it stood empty for six years, me dad’s been dead six years and nobody’s been in the ouse since and that sale notice’s been up now since last January but nobody’s bought it.
DW. He probably wants too much for it.
RT. He wants £13,500 for it.
DW. That’s why it’s still empty.
RT. You’re telling me! When he bought it off me he paid £2,700 for it. And he’s knocked that middle wall all out and he’s put stairs all up there which I reckon are ‘orrible. And another thing as he done, which was a mistake, down the back we got quite a nice piece o’ garden. And the garden goes that way and a main path straight down and me dad had got the garden belonging to ‘is ‘ouse, you see. And Golding come to me and he said he couldn’t get all the money as he wanted for the house y’see. The ‘ouse were £3,000. And he couldn’t get all the £3,000 - why I don’t know - but he said he couldn’t get it all and I said “Oh well that’s the price. That’s it.” Then he come the next day and he says “Well you know your dad’s garden” he says “I can get £2,700” he says. “Would you buy your dad’s garden and I’ll pay for it to be turned over onto your deeds and let me ‘ave the ‘ouse for £2,700 cos I want it urgent.” “Well” I said “that’s OK.” We talked it over, the wife and meself, and I said well it’d be a good idea cos a lot o’ people’ve not got gardens down the back and the price o’ things today in foodstuffs. A piece o’ garden as you can see from your back winder where you live is a lot better than having it on an allotment where stuff gets stolen. So we said OK he can have it and that’s the trouble cos there’s no land to the ‘ouse now. He paid forrit and had it turned over.
Two people have been to look at the ‘ouse and I were talking to one out there. He says “What garden is there down the back?” I says “This little bit here and a bit on the front.” “Well” he says and on his plans he’d got all me dad’s marked in. I said “That don’t belong to the ‘ouse.” “Well” he says “here it is on the plans. He’s lent me a copy plan.” “Oooh well” I said “you can take it from me that garden belongs to me.” “ Oh well” he says “it’s no good wi’out that but what’s it on the plan for?” “Oh” I said “that’s up to im.” So I told the wife I’m a-going over to Mr Webster - he’s our solicitor - and I went over to see ‘im. And he says “That’s marked on his plan?” I says “Yes.” He says “Golding’s getting up to some jiggery pokery somewhere” he says. “I shall have to see into that.” He says “No, you can take it from me” and he fetched the plans out of his office. He says “Here’s Golding’s plan, it’s took off and here’s your plans.” He holds all our plans for the ‘ouse and everything, the deeds. And he says “Here’s your deeds and here’s a plan and here it is on yours.” And he says, “You rest assured that ground belongs to you. He’s working a fast un somewhere.” He says “That man as you were telling,” he says, “I’m got him.” He was going to have the house but he’s never ‘ad it and that’s been two months ago but he’s never ‘ad it.
DW. There were plenty of old wide boys about even going back in time, weren’t there? Things have not changed
RT. Oh not a lot since then. No, there were a lot of jiggery pokery as they called it going about then, I agree. Oh yes that’s not changed but, I mean, the daring things they do I mean it has changed.
Interviewed by David J Wood
Transcribed by Margaret Osborne