Do you have any memories from growing up in Cheslyn Hay that you would like to share.. This page is devoted to Memories. So we are now looking to anyone who has ever lived in Cheslyn Hay to recall some of their memories – whether happy, sad or just poignant. And whether times were better in the more austere years of during the war and just afterwards – or would you prefer life as it is today. And would you begrudge your grandchildren all their computer related toys in this high tech age?
So please dig into your memory banks and share those priceless memories with us all.
To start the page off we have this delightful passage from Kath Reeves who now lives in Stoke.
Please email memories to:firstname.lastname@example.org
‘Things Aint What They Used To Be!’ by Peter Cadman
There are things I remember about life in the village which have now been confined to the past. They are not seen or heard anymore and exist only in our memories and one of my earliest memories as a young lad was of the sounds of the siren being tested. It was situated at the side of Salem Chapel. It did cause a problem as it interfered with the parking there and eventually, with thinking that it would, hopefully, never be needed again, it was removed. Before that, though it was tested regularly and I remember the wailing sound well and the continuous note of the “All Clear!” at the end. Ironically, the young man testing the siren all those years ago, Ron Mayou, later became my father-in-law!
Today, the days of the week don’t really seem to have any particular routine to them but when I was growing up, you knew what day of the week it was by what was happening around you – it never altered. Monday was a very significant part of the week – it was Washday! It would begin with my nan, Ethel Horton, coming down the village from The Lot, where she lived, to our house in Station Street. Both she and my mother would then do up their hair in turbans, tied with a bow at the front, in the manner of war-time factory girls, as my mother had once been, in the munitions factory in West Bromwich. My mother had a top-loading washing machine and once the laundry was washed, it would be put through the mangle and if it was a dry day, hung out on the line which would stretch the length of the garden. If it was a rainy Monday, the wet washing would be draped over a clothes horse and put in front of the coal fire in the living room. The room would be full of the smell of wet washing and be completely steamed up. Even now that smell is synonymous with Mondays to me!
Monday was washday for most people on the village. Annie Wesley, Joe “Badger” Wesleys’mother who lived next door to us, could be heard plunging her dolly peg into the tub and then pouring the water down the drain. She would get the yard brush and sweep away the suds, cleaning the yard at the same time.
When the houses were built in Glenthorne Drive in the mid 60s, a Launderette was opened. It proved very popular and when we moved to Short Lane, I remember seeing lots of people using it. I’m sure most people on the village have automatic washing machines now and use them on all days of the week, not just Mondays!
I must admit, I haven’t been on a bus for a number of years, but in the 50s if you went outside the village it tended to be either by ‘Shank’s Pony’ or the number 17 Bus! Very different from today’s buses. You would swing onto it via the pole at the open entrance at the back. The conductor would pull the cable to tell the driver to go and you would scramble upstairs. Here you would be met with a smog of cigarette smoke from those puffing away on the top deck! The only thing forbidden on the bus in those days was spitting as the sign told. The conductor followed you up and issued you a stumpy ticket to your destination. Different to nowadays where ‘No Smoking’ has replaced ‘No Spitting’ and the driver is also the conductor, issuing you a ticket as you alight!
That most people walked everywhere is reflected in the fact that the 1950s traffic was very sparse.Tim Perks and myself would play a game involving sitting on the kerb towards the top of Coppice Lane, outside the house of Mr and Mrs Horton and their daughter, Mary. We chose this place as we couldn’t see what was coming up or down Station Street or Coppice Lane. We would challenge each other to guess what would be the next vehicle to appear in Coppice Lane. Would it be a car, a lorry, a bus or a bike? Sometimes we’d have to wait 15 / 20 minutes before anything appeared! Don’t think you’d wait that long today! Of course Coppice Lane, as most of the roads in Cheslyn Hay are, is one way now – reflecting the volume of today’s traffic.
After choir practice at St Mark’s on Fridays, we would always call for sixpenneth of chips and batter bits at George Lunt’s chip shop. These would come wrapped in yesterday’s newspaper. The other chip shop I remember was Hilda Hicken’s. I know she had a son called Michael who was just a few years older than me. I don’t know if there were any more on the village – perhaps readers can remember others? But it reflects our multicultural society that chip shops have now been overtaken by Indian and Chinese takeaways. Unheard of, unfortunately, when I was a young boy in the 50s otherwise I’m sure we’d have enjoyed onion barjees on the way home on Friday nights instead!
In Cheslyn Hay in the fifties, many of the men were miners. It would be a common sight to see the NCB lorries dropping off the coal allowance on the path in front of the houses. I remember my UnclePercy Poole, who lived next door to us in Station Street, wheeling the coal round in his barrow to his outhouse where he would place the big lumps, or ‘rakers’ at the front and the small lumps at the back. I think this practice was called ‘cogging’ but I’m not totally sure – hope someone can put me right. Mostly I’m sure that the only coal in houses on the village now is the coal effect gas fires supplementing the central heating! Although my Aunty Jean Hemmingsley still has her coal allowance but it is delivered to her coalhouse in hundredweight sacks now. She still sorts it out into ‘rakers’ and small lumps though and makes up her own fire with it at the grand age of mid to late 80s.
The houses in our row in Station Street, numbers 80 – 86, were built without bathrooms. We had outside toilets at the bottom of the yard, for the day and ‘guz-unders’ if you were taken short during the night! We had to have a wash in the kitchen sink and our baths in a tin bath, which was kept on the wall of the outhouse. As a young lad I was always popping next door to my great uncle Percy and great aunt Emma Poole. But I was never allowed to go on Friday nights and their door would be locked because it was their daughters’ Margaret and Maureen’s bath night which they would have in their tin bath in front of the roaring coal fire!
During the mid 50s, a man called Mr Eggerton came and put bathrooms in for a few of us residents in Station Street. He did this in the tiny room upstairs. There was room for a wash basin and bath but not a toilet so we still had to use the outside lavatory. Nowadays houses have full bathrooms, often attached to every bedroom. It certainly felt like luxury when we moved to Short Lane and its proper full bathroom upstairs! As the words of the Tommy Steele song goes – “Once our beer was frothy, now its frothy coffee – things aint what they used to be!” Things have changed and moved on, mostly for the better, I suppose, though I can’t say we ever felt deprived!
Memories from Olive (nee Whitehouse)
To set the scene, I would like to introduce my family. My Dad, Harry Whitehouse, was the eldest of his family, then came Aunt Elsie who married Jack Stacey. They were quite musical and they used to go round pubs in Walsall playing the accordian and banjo. Next was Aunt Edie and Uncle Bob Titley who always lived with Gran and Grandad Hannah (nee Crutchley) and Thomas Whitehouse of Mount Pleasant. Uncle Bert was the youngest and was married to Aunt Hannah. He was quite different from the others always laughing and joking. Uncle Bob Titley also played the banjo which he eventually gave to my son Allan, which he treasures.
On Mom’s side were Uncle Jack Cooke and Aunt Florence, who lived in Nottingham. Aunt Sarah and Uncle Fred Reynolds will be well remembered, she being the one who kept the family together and made most of the important decisions. A very good hearted person, she reared cousin Doll and also Judah Ball who wasn’t related to us but we believed he was the son of a family who could not afford to keep him so Aunt Sarah took him in. Aunt Lilian, Doll’s mother, came next, but she went to live in Dorking. Mom was next followed by Uncle George, married to Hilda. He was jolly, laughed a lot and teased unmercifully. He left the pits and went to work in the newly opened Austin works in Birmingham where they got on very well. My favourite was Uncle Job, married to May – a very kind, gentle and softly spoken man with a great sense of humour. Aunt Gladys came after Job and there was then Ruth whom we all loved dearly. In all, Gran and Grandad Cooke had thirteen children but some died young.
Christmas was always a very happy time. For weeks beforehand we used to be given the job of peeling what seemed to be hundreds of shallots for pickling. It was a horror of a job. We would sit all night with our eyes streaming, occasionally staring into the hot fire to dry them out ready to start again! Mom would then begin to make the mincemeat and mix the Christmas puddings. We had to help grate the suet and apples and to stone the raisins as they did not come ready stoned in those days. The fruit would then go through the mincer – life was never dull as there was always a job to do! When the mixture was ready to go into the basins everyone had to have a stir and make a wish. Mom used to make at least six big puddings to eat throughout the year. There was great excitement to see if your portion contained a silver threepenny bit!
Then there were the decorations to be made. We would cut up sheets of tissue paper, mix flour and water paste, and make long chains to decorate the rooms. The tree itself was decorated on Christmas Eve. Then we would go to bed early with a stocking to hang up and every year we had the same things in it – an apple, an orange, some nuts, a handkerchief, bar of chocolate, and other small gifts. Always for Christmas breakfast there was a large pork pie and for a special treat Dad would put a teaspoonful of whisky, which I detested, in our tea. This ruined it for me.
After eating our Christmas dinner, we would go and see Gran and Grandad Whitehouse down the village. Aunt Edie, Uncle Bob, cousins Cliff and Ethel lived with them. Sometimes Dad’s other sister, Elsie, and her family would join us so the house would be full. Uncle Bob had a wind-up gramophone with a big green horn. No one else we knew had a gramophone so we loved listening to records and also playing card games. Boxing Day and New Year’s Day were spent visiting or entertaining our Cooke relatives when plenty of homemade wine was consumed.
There was one memorable Christmas when Aunt Sally, Uncle Fred Reynolds , Mom and Dad, with Ron and John went to spend Christmas with Aunt Gladys in Worcester. Ruth and Doll Cooke came to stay with us and we had a great time. In the afternoon we played Blind Man’s Buff and Ruth trying not to get caught, stood on the sofa and put her backside through the window. It was snowing at the time, so what were we to do about this broken window? Bill Whitehouse had the idea of pasting sheets of newspaper over it, but Mom and Dad were none too pleased when they came home the next day. The first thing they saw was the broken window. We had also broken the gas mantle and the only lights we had were candles. They never went away and left us on our own again at Christmas but we had really enjoyed it.
A Walk down memory Lane By Kath Reeves, nee Brough
After visiting the local History Society at the village hall in Pinfold Lane, Cheslyn Hay, I decided to walk down the High Street as I was slowly walking, along came memories of my childhood, when I lived in the High Street came flooding into my mind. Once again as I was looking around I remember Mrs. Hicken she had a chip shop, she would serve me and my friends she would give me & my friends a small paper bag. Inside it were a few chips and sometimes a tiny piece of fish in batter she only charged us a penny each.
Below the chip shop were little cottages. My Aunty Alice and her husband lived in one of them next door to them in the last cottage lived Mr and Mrs Baker. Mrs. Baker on the same side as the fish shop. Mr and Mrs Bakers cottage was on the High Street Mrs Baker was a very deaf lady but she would come over the road and knock on my families back door. We lived at the back of the Chemist she would ask me if I would go shopping for her. I went into different small shops in the High Street then gave her the basket with as much food she was able to receive with her food coupons.
Mr Ferraday worked in the Chemist he used to take peoples dogs If they were very poorly dogs he would walk the dogs up the entry at the side of the chemist, then he would knock on our back door like lots of other people he would ask my Dad Tom Brough to help him. When the poor little dogs were dead my Dad would bury them in our back garden I used to think of the poor little dogs all the time, because each time they had been put to rest our garden over the years would be filled with all kinds of poppies. Also at the top of our chimney purple wild flowers were growing my young brother Tom Brough two years younger than me would say to me look up to the chimney Kath and see the flowers swaying around.
Before our family lived at 32 High Street we lived in Low Street as I walked down Cross Street to enter into Low Street my mind filled once again in my childhood years. Memories started flowing around I pictured my little cottage home, number 42 Low Street where me and my brother Tom were born our Mother Mary Ann Brough nee Wedge was a wonderful mother. As I looked along the Low Street I was once more playing with my two friends Viviane Davies and Christine Wilcox also lots of other girls and boys in the same street.
Christine also Viviane and me were the same ages about seven or eight years old when we were children one morning in the winter time, The three of us were going to school in Pinfold Lane the three of us walked together from our homes. The rain was pouring down we did not have an umbrella we all rushed along the High Street on the left hand side until we came to the big houses at the top of that street. There was a big long entry in between two of the houses it also had a small roof. The three of us ran along the entry we were stamping our feet because they were cold and our shoes were very wet we were watching the rain flooding the paths and the road when the rain started to get a bit lighter falling down we ran out of the entry to the school..
One day Christine and Viviane along with me and other children went down the Boards it was the fields only a slight distance from our homes in Low Street, I was wearing a long black dress that belonged to my Grandmother Sarah, my Dads Mother. I climbed up a small hill in the fields then sang and danced to entertain every one. There was a horse in the field and some of the boys were running after it they got in trouble with Mrs. Jellyman she was the owner of the horse. She was a busy lady she used to have the horse driving a cart for her she used to sell lots of vegetables and brush sticks she made them herself.
MY CHRISTMAS MEMORY
Many years I have kept in mind this wonderful memory when I was a young child aged ten in 1943. World War Two was heavy and blazing with armed conflict across the world. On some of the street walls in Cheslyn Hay I remember seeing war posters advertising for men and women to join the war. At the bottom of each poster was a message ‘JOIN THE ARMY’,’DIG FOR VICTORY’, ‘KEEP ON SAVING’, ‘SALUTE THE SOLDIER’,’BUY VICTORY BONDS’ and a poster showing a pretty lady with ‘JOIN THE WOMENS LAND ARMY’ underneath.
Mum and Dad read magazines known as ‘WOMAN’ and ‘WOMANS OWN’ priced 3d as well as a small booklet ‘LILLIPUT’ costing 6d and 9d with flying aeroplanes on the cover. Dad played records like ‘THEY CANT BLACK OUT THE MOON’ by Ambrose and his Orchestra and ‘MEET ME IN THE BLACKOUT SWEETHEART’ sung by Max Miller.
It was nearly Christmas and the weather was very cold and frosty. One morning I went to the Pinfold Lane School and all the shops in the High Street had decorated their windows. The people who worked in the shops had made the paper streamers of all different colours and draped them across the windows from top to bottom together with strips of glttering tinsel.
As I passed each shop the atmosphere felt mystic and I sang Christmas carols as I walked to the top of the High Street. On the left hand side was Hassalls, who sold toys and I stopped outside to look in at the window. I pressed my face against the glass and at the back of the window I saw a toy that melted mt heart. It was a black doll in a black and green little boy’s suit with a matching hat made from soft material and his face looked so kindly at me that I stood staring at him until my feet were frozen.
All through the school lessons I kept thinking about this little black doll and after school I ran down the High Street up through the entry into my home and Mum said to me ‘You look excited Kathy. What has happened?’
I told her about the doll in Hassall’s shop and I pleaded for it with my Mum for my Christmas present.
The next day and every day getting closer to Christmas I would look in the shop window at that doll until it was Christmas Eve morning. The school was closed now and I was running errands for my Mum. I had money and grocery coupons for Mr Perks shop and bread coupons for Stantons cake shop , but when I had finished the shopping I ran up to Hassalls to take a look at the black doll. There was no sign of it. I went into the shop and asked the lady where it was. ‘I’ve sold it Kathy’ she said and I felt drained and I cried all the way home.
Then on Christmas morning I got out of bed thinking ‘I don’t even want any presents’ and slowly went downstairs into the kitchen. Mum said ‘Happy Christmas and here’s a present for you’.
It was wrapped in brown paper which I carefully prised open. There looking up at me was the little black doll’s china face. I shouted a loud ‘Thank You’ to Mum who told me that I had to give him a name.
I sat on a chair by the table cuddling my doll when a warm memory came into my mind. I used to enjoy picking blackberries in the fields during the summer and one boy in particular always helped me. I looked at Mum and said ‘I’ll call my little black doll Lenny’
A Walk down memory Lane By Kath Reeves, nee Brough