Mile Cross from the Twenties to Today – part 2

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(Continued from PartOne.)

The war – firewatching, men leaving the factory and women doing new jobs

And it was never bombed – the Start-rite factory?

Wife: No, thank God.

Husband: They got machine gunned once when they come across.

Wife: Oh did they? I don't know I can't remember that.

Husband: When the planes come across during…

Wife: Oh yeah, I believe I can remember now you say that.

Husband: I come back once off leave and were at the factory to see my father and the manager stood against the door and he say: "If you're looking for your father, he's in the Denmark".

Wife: They went down the pub and they should have been fire-watching.

Husband: With all the rest of the fire watchers.

And he went to the pub?

Husband: Yeah, all in the pub.

So was that part… so fire-watchers, was that people at your work?

Wife: Yeah, it was people who worked there, ‘cos my father used to have to go there when he was working during the day; some nights he used to have to go to his place where he worked for fire-watching.

And did women do that as well or was it just the men?

Wife: Oh I can't remember if the women…… There was no women went or was there? Fire-watching?

Husband: Yeah!

Wife: Oh was they! Oh there was. I didn't know.

Husband: They didn't have them on at the factories, but some of the shops and that did.

Wife: Well at the shops they would ‘cos probably the shops most of them were women. I mean the men that worked there would be liable to go in the army or whatever wouldn't they?

Of course, of course. So did a lot of men leave Start-rite during the war to go off to the army?

Wife: Oh, there was a good lot went in the war. It depends how old they were don't it?

And did more women come and work there?

Wife: And then they did get so there was more women sort of in the men's room – what I always used to call the men's room – but they done sort of cleaning the shoes and then if they'd got scraped or anything they used to cover them over. They used to have to make the colour up – they used to have to mix it all and make it up so that it was like the shoes, so that looked alright.

You now pay good money for that.

Wife: Yeah, and they were already scraped.

Mile Cross in the 20s – people moving from the City, the general strike and the pubs

Husband: When they first built Mile Cross they took all the houses in Ber Street and Barrack St. Well Barrack Street they had what they called the yards and that was about this size and – they had outside water and they used to have water pipes and they would stand there and wash.

So when was that? During the….

Wife: Before the war weren't it?

Husband: That was up to 19… they first started building Mile Cross in 1923.

And can you remember that? Can you remember what it was like back then?

Husband: Yeah. There were all the roughs there. When they built Woodcock Road they found when they went round collecting there was coal in the baths and the doors had been ripped off the … skirting boards ripped up – they were real rogues then. My father was a special constable during the war ‘cos he got, what was it…?

Wife: I was then trying to think. You know when that … that upset your heart. Your heart isn't quite so strong…. so he couldn't get in the army or anything. I can't think what it was now.

Husband: It was something to do with the heart.

Wife: Oh angina, is it angina?

Husband: No.

Wife: No it wasn't that was it? Not angina.

Husband: He was 83 when he died.

Wife: Yeah, he lived a lot of years.

Husband: And when he was in the police force during the war; he come out – he finished in 1926 when the General Strike was on and nearly all the special constables did. They say: "We had enough of the war; bugger the General Strike."

Did he strike? He striked as well?

Husband: He used to … he say when they used to go Ber Street they always had a sergeant with 'em who was, you know, a proper policeman, and a special constable as we called them, they would never go on Barrack Street, you know Barrack Street, they would go right round the outside but they would never go through.

Because it was so rough? Because it was dangerous?

Husband: They were rough then. They used to … we used to go over there to what was that…?

Wife: I don't know to tell you the truth, what?

Husband: What was that where we used to go to – like a club? I don't know what it was now.

Wife: I don't know.

Husband: Anyway they used to say: "Come on, don't go down there" and they'd go outside and there was the old girl with the saucepan and the frying pan…

Wife: I can't remember nothing like that. They were alright where we were.

Husband: Oh yeah, that was only Ber Street. That was only Ber Street.

Wife: Oh Ber Street.

Husband: That was only Ber Street and Barrack Street.

Wife: Oh, King Street that weren't very good either, was it, King Street? That weren't too good either. There was loads of little pubs down there and there was always fights down there. I can remember them saying that.

Husband: Well there was in Magdalen Street. There was a good number of pubs in Magdalen Street.

Wife: There was so many pubs. They're all gone

All the shoe factories, pubs …

Husband: Well I am going to tell you – when they first built Mile Cross, Galley Hill was the first pub that they put up. The next one they put up was, well they didn't put it up but they changed it – was the Manor House. That's what they called the pub before it was changed.

The Manor House?

Wife: That's on Drayton Road. That's Lidl's now.

Husband: And then that was the …. One was never hardly open … where we used to go past – King's…

Wife: Oh yeah, King Arms or something like that. That have been shut ages but that's getting all overgrown. They were going to pull that down directly but they haven't.

It's changed quite a lot hasn't it?

Wife: Yeah.

Husband: And they were all the best pubs there was …

Wife: And the Woodcock, that's closed, well they're built on them, there are flats on them.

Husband: Where I worked for 13 year …

Wife: He used to go nights and serve then.

Oh did you?

Wife: Well he did. I didn't

Which pub was that… The Woodcock?

Wife: What's that? Did you go to The Whiffler and serve?

Husband: No. It was a big pub.

Wife: No I didn't think he did. He used to.

Husband: They … if you went to a dance at The Lido.

Wife: Lido. They used to all go in this pub.

Husband: There was so many went there they used to let ‘em out and they all used to go there of course, I think they took their money than any pub in England. Me and St… what was his name, L.B.

Wife: L.B. He used to work with you didn't he? He used to…

Husband: Work with me.

Wife: In the pub.

Husband: Did he work in the …

Wife: He worked at the Co-op daytimes didn't he?

Husband: Yeah, he was a baker.

Wife: Doing the furniture – moving the furniture around.

Husband: What was the first one I went with St's father?

Wife: King's Arms – oh, who?

Husband: Your best man.

Husband: What was the first pub I said at Mile Cross? It was down the corner .. at Sloughbottom …

Wife: He now said it.

I know. What was the name of it?

Wife: I can't remember.

It wasn't The Miller … something Arms

Husband: It was on a corner right opposite …

Wife: Yeah, it's still there

Husband: Opposite Sloughbottom.

So many old places!

Wife: That's definitely gone. I can't think at all what that was. We ought to know. We used to go in there a lot as long as long as he served there. And do you know Barrack Street?

Yeah.

Wife: Oh well, that's changed because there used to be a brewery down there

Husband: Where's that?

Wife: Down Barrack Street.

Husband: Steward and Pattersons.

Wife: Yes, Steward and Pattersons, that was called weren't it? And they used to have horses in there because they used to have them big … what did you call them? Drays? Carts? They used to have two great big horses, didn't they? So they used to keep them horses down there – and a girl I used to play with down Alma Terrace, her father worked there as a night worker, you know, a night watchman and he used to go round and take them some sugar and one of them bit his finger off once.

Really.

Wife: Yeah.

Husband: When they used to … when they used to come home the nighttimes after being out in the country they used to get near the Denmark and then that was up Silver Road, that was all uphill they used to say gee up, talk about gee up – and they'd go up that hill like an arrow because they knew they were going home.

Yeah, I bet they did if it was a cold night. Is there anything else…? I'll let you have your lunch now. Thank you so much.

Wife: Have we give you enough?

Yeah.

Wife: Oh good

Yeah, lots of things

Wife: I didn't think I knew all that. Anyway I said to S when she asked me, I said well he'll know more than I do but as you keep thinking about it you remember things don't you?

And I'm sure that once I go you'll remember other things. Is there anything else you remember that stands out from when you were younger, when you were growing up, anything?

Wife: I know – ‘cos my father didn't work Saturday night as I've told you, well Sunday morning we used to get up early and go for a walk over Mousehold and then on the way back there used to be a little greengrocers shop at the bottom of Alma Terrace and we, he always used to buy us – what are them things that have little old seeds in?

What kind of buns … were they sweet?

Wife: Yes, and there were all like little seeds in them. What are they called? Oh I thought I knew, now I've forgotten.

Rolls?

Wife: That's what I say. You eat ‘em. That's a fruit. I can't think what they are? What was it?

Kiwi.

Wife: No they didn't have anything like that there; that was only a' old cheap shop. Oh what ever…. When he was talking I was thinking about that and I thought I'll tell you and I knew what it was. Now I can't think what is that …

What colour was it?

Wife: I can't remember, a sort of greeny grey colour. What are they – what are they called when they have all the seeds?

Husband: I was trying to tell you and now it's gone.

For all of us!

Husband: That's the same as …well, I worked with St in that pub for about four year, do you think … We got wrong because I used to have fishing meetings every third Sunday and they used to open at eleven, well they didn't open but they used let us in the back door and I used to serve them … and this particular Sunday I got just to the bottom of …

Wife: Heath Road or somewhere like that?

Husband: No, a long road what they're closed off now..

Wife: Oh I don't know.

Husband: Anyway I got a puncture so I left the bike there at the shop, I walked and that took me nearly a half hour and I got there and he said: "What time do you think this is?" I was in a nice temper to start with and I say: "You know what you can do with your job". I say: "I'll finish at 2 o'clock this afternoon." I'd been away about a week and the bloke come at me and say you're gotta start …

Come back?

Husband: No, what I was saying? What was the thing I worked at all them years. What was the big one I worked at?

Wife: Yeah I know, Mile Cross.

Husband: Mile Cross.

Wife: He went and worked up there.

Husband: Best bloke I ever worked for.

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