Life at home

Unfortunately, the demands upon my time and the work load which I had taken upon myself, resulted in a marked deterioration in my health. On one occasion I as found unconscious in a pool of blood. I had duodenal ulcers.

Although not in the best of health I continued as best I could, Edith kept a watchful eye on me . The family was a great source of strength to me and even in those war years the day to day events were full of interest and some of them I was able to record on film.

Monday was 'meat and potato pie' day. One of the children would call at the Dainty Shop on Coal Clough Lane, buy six hot pies, each as big as a small plate, and within minutes we would be all sat round the table. There would be my father-in-law at the head of the table, my eldest son John sat opposite and Zena and Bobby, Edith and I all keeping our allotted places which seldom changed. H.P. sauce added to the flavour of our meat and potato pie dinner, for a 'washday' - it was a popular meal to look forward to..... especially if any of the family found more than one piece of meat in the pie !

Edith always put on good meals, but Monday was 'Washing-Day' and with six of us, Edith was up early boiling the clothes, sorting out the 'whites', prodding and stirring with her posser and scrubbing them on her scrubbing-board before the final rinse and mangle. The mangle had to be hand turned and as the water was squeezed out between the two rollers it ran back into the dolly tub.

The whole kitchen was full of steam, there as a smell of damp clothes throughout the house. The clothes-rack was in the living-room and hung above the fireplace and, with pulleys and a long line, was highered and lowered a. required. If it had not been for those meat and potato pies, Monday would not have been a popular day for any of us.

On fine days, Edith got as much of the washing on to the clothes line which zigzagged across the back street. It was a time for neighbourly chats as the women folk picked out their own washing-line hooks which had been permanently secured in the backyard walls. Sometimes the hooks had to be shared and the whole of the back-street as criss-crossed with washing lines and flapping in the breeze, for everyone to see, was the family wash which included everything from bloomers to bed sheets.

Monday was the only day that the milk-lady did not bring her horse and cart down the back street. On other days the Co-op milk cart, a 'Rolls-Royce' cart compared with the Birchall's farm milk cart, used to come along the cobbles without its lady driver. She would be busy delivering the milk and collecting empty bottles, chatting to the ladies - whilst Dobbin plodded along its regular route, making frequent stops as it felt fit, - or responding to "whoa or ' gee-up' called by the milk-lady.

Not many minutes after the milk-cart had gone, old Mr Stanworth would be out with his shovel and bucket to collect the manure which the obliging Dobbin seemed to always leave somewhere on our back-street. It was said that Mr Stanworth had some fine vegetables on his allotment.

Father-in-law kept an allotment for a few years - it was down the slope at the bottom of Prestwich Street. But it was not vegetables that Alf brought home, it was coal. On his bit of ground he had started open-cast mining, but the coal seam soon petered out. What coal he did find proved to be most useful. Like everything else, coal was rationed and a mixture of Alf's coal with that from Aldersons the coal merchants, plus a few clay balls mixed with coal dust - soon filled the fire grate. But what a mess the following day.

When Alf was off to the mill at Loveclough, where he was a tackler, he was up first every morning. Often we could bear him scraping all the ashes from the living-room fire place and taking them out to the dustbin in the back yard. He would then come to the bottom of the stairs and shout up "Sam ... Edith ... Sam... Edith, I'm off now." I would wait until I heard the back gate close, then I would get up.

Alf had not only cleaned the fire grate, but it was all set for lighting. He had carefully folded strips of old newspapers in concertina fashion and even without firewood, once the paper had been set a light, and with the damper pulled out, air was draw. up the chimney and the coal fire was soon giving off its welcome heat and cheery flames.

 But, with all the smoke bellowing out from the houses and factories, it was not surprising that the stone houses soon became blackened and that the washing had often to be taken in again to have the offending smuts of grime robbed out. There was great pride in the family wash and Persil was the washing powder to use - with it giving something 'whiter than white'.

 Of equal importance were the door steps. Without a doubt, the queen of doorstep cleaning in our neighbourhood - was Mrs Lambert. She lived on Coal Clough Lane, her back doorstep was in view of all the ladies on the shared back-street of Prestwich and Prince Street. Mrs Lambert was not satisfied with 'doing' her steps on Friday, they had to be nice every day - although she did have some surprises for the weekend. During the week she scrubbed her back doorstep, which happened to be larger than most, she would then swill off the soapy water, mop it with a large cloth and before it dried rub the step over, not just with a white 'donkey' stone, but with . yellow-stone as well. The biggest surprise she gave us all, was the day she painted her doorstep brown, and then polished it. The weekly 'donkey-stoning' was never the same after this remarkable event.

I think, had I not been busy teaching, I would have filmed some of these events. My 9.5 Pathe camera had already recorded some of the everyday happenings in the family, but like most home-movie makers, I had filmed family events - parties (especially at Christmas), outings in the countryside, holidays, choir-trips, Parish Walking Days on Trinity Sunday, I even managed to record the first steps taken by my youngest son. Slowly I was building up a library of family films.

I gave regular film shows to the whole family - my father and mother, Edith's father and our children plus friends; we would all sit and watch the family films with other films which I had bought or hired. There was Charlie Chaplin, Our Gang, Felix the Cat and the odd documentary film.

Filming on Pendle Hill with my Kodak Special

The children seldom tired of watching these films and often, even when quite young, they were able to operate the projector for themselves. To add to their amusement it was fun to watch the films in reverse. All this experimenting with taking and projecting films - slowly built up a bank of knowledge which I constantly drew upon when I started producing films for education.

Now with a family of three young children and a career I as enjoying, I made a promise to myself to continue to treat the children in my care as I would my own children. At home I had built up a library of books, which included ten volumes of Arthur Mee' Children's Encyclopaedias, the complete works of Charles Dickens, a set of volumes of The Children's Library and there were books on famous paintings and artists as well as other encyclopaedias and dictionaries.

At school I often introduced new thoughts and ideas to the children which I had gained through my own experiences and through reading books. I wished to foster in the pupils an appreciation of the values of the people who worked with their hands.

I had met many craftsmen in town and village and I searched for a way of bringing their example and craftsmanship into the classroom. I knew that films could help me to do this. I had had no training in photography. I had to learn the hard way by trial and error. As my skills improved I started to record local events - the Hospital Fete and Carnival in 1932, which included a rare shot of Bobbie Heyworth a well known character who was Burnley's last Cab Driver; Burnley FC playing Luton Town in the 4th round of the English Cup on January 26th 1935 (Burnley won 3 - 1); Burnley a last tram at midnight on 7th May 1935 and many, many more events.