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Topic: When I was a lad
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When I was a lad
on: December 29, 2012, 19:35

Tonight's, The Way We Were in the Sentinel has printed a short article about Goldenhill written by myself.

I love writing this kind of thing and judging by the comments I receive , people love to read it too.

Unfortunately the item has been modified to the point where it loses its meaning.

Sometimes the Sentinel prints the rest of the article a few weeks later but by then the thread has been lost.

I have placed the whole article below, read it and enjoy.

If you don't like it or you have any comments or criticisms let me know.

David Wood

Goldenhill, when I was a lad.

Let me see if I can give you a general idea of what it was like in the village of Goldenhill in the 1940s and 50s, or as the saying goes, when I was a lad.

There was a maze of streets and back alleys, perfectly designed for young lads to explore and create mischief in.

Within minutes you could be out of those streets and into green fields kicking a ball for all you were worth.

It was in the 1960s when everything changed with the city council embarking on a massive slum clearance programme.

The village stands 700 feet above sea level and has commanding views over the city and the Cheshire Plain.

There are records of people living in the area as long ago as 1640.

I can trace my family back to 1760 at Woodstock, which is a hamlet just outside the village.

In the 1950s the village was mainly inhabited by people whose families had lived there for generations, lots of young people married other young people from the village and eventually settled down there too.

The village itself had almost every shop you could possibly need; there was very little cause to travel to Tunstall, Hanley or Kidsgrove for anything else apart from absolute luxuries or to see a doctor.

The Co-op bread man and a couple of the coal men delivered their wares by horse and cart, the rag and bone men were also similarly equipped.

One of the milk men had a hand pulled cart complete with churns from which he ladled the milk into your own container.

Imagine the uproar from the European Community if you did that now.

We even had our own cinema and an ice cream manufacturer.

Down at Woodstock we bought milk straight from Burgess’s farm, still warm from the cow and we never caught any diseases from it.

In the early 50s the smog which was a mixture of smoke and fog was awful to have to walk or drive in.

You couldn’t see more than a couple of feet in front of you when it was at its worst.

The smoke came from the bottle kilns in the city, the chimneys of the Birchenwood coking plant and the fact that every house had a coal fire.

The view over the city was non-existent because of the layer of dense black smoke which hung there continually.

Almost all the household rubbish was burned on the fire, while this created a lot of extra smoke it actually saved on what we now call landfill.

Recycling wasn’t a reality then because bottles had a deposit paid on them so you took them back to the shop, plastic packaging hadn’t been invented and newspapers were used to light the fire.

Monday was wash day, no fancy automatic machines then, it was the dolly tub and mangle and the coal fired boiler in the back kitchen.

It didn’t always happen but it happened a lot, just as mum pegged out the washing on the line someone would put a shovel full of coal on the fire and the black lumps of soot would come tumbling down all over the nice clean washing.

There were still houses without electricity and running water and the majority of them still had outside toilets at the bottom of the yard.

The butcher sold you your meat in tissue paper not blister packs.

The chip shop wrapped your chips in newspaper which you had taken to them in the first place, good thermal insulation while you ran home to eat them.

If you saved the Sentinels and Daily Mirrors for a week the lady at the chippy would give you a small portion of chips in return.

The bin men called weekly for the two bins, one was for ashes from the coal fire and the other was for salvage or cardboard, there was very little food waste.

In winter you scattered some of the ashes from the fire on the pavement outside your front door to make the footpath easier to walk on.

The general atmosphere in the village was usually friendly, I am not trying to say that it was Paradise, just that there was a generally good feeling all round.

The reason for that was probably because almost everyone knew each other and if you misbehaved word soon got back to your dad or even worse, your mum.

The pubs always did a good trade and the churches, all six of them, had a pretty good turnout too.

Most children completed their education starting in the nursery class through to the Secondary Modern School without having to venture outside the village.

A few went to the local grammar schools which were just a bus ride away.

Not many managed to go to the university; I can only recall two or three doing this.

Most of the workers were employed in the potteries or the coalmines.

The best thing about Goldenhill is that they didn’t knock it all down and there is still enough of it left to provoke memories of days gone by.

Those days were my childhood and my teenage years spent with my family and friends all within easy reach.

David Wood

© David Wood 2012

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