We worked hard,
played hard and enjoyed life
After the war was over everyone seemed determined to want
to make the world a better place to live in. Bill, shell-shocked
and weary, took some time to settle back into civilian life.
Eventually he left Burnley and went to live in Dalton-in-Furness,
an area of England where the Hanna family had originated. He
lived happily with his family for many years, but still in poor
health, he died whilst still young.
I continued to seek to improve my skills by attending evening
classes at the School of Arts and Crafts. There were extra sessions
on Saturday afternoons for all the part-time students. It was
in these sessions that our instructors were able to make us more
aware of the true colours of the materials we were using.
Those years spent at the school of Arts and Crafts taught
me much of the technical education of my craft; I became much
more knowledgeable about the great masters of art and gained
a much better understanding of the culture and history of furniture
making. In addition to studying the skills of designing and making
furniture, I fell owed a general 'arts' course.
Each year I earned the 'Course Prize' which went to the best
student. The award enabled me to gain a free Scholarship for
an extra year of study. By 1920 I had qualifications which gave
me the opportunity to teach 'junior' cabinet making. These were
exciting times for me - I had a wealth of experience which made
me well-fitted to hold the attention of the students in my classes.
Such questions as -"Why must chairs be eighteen inches from
the floor to the top of the seat ?" - " How can you
recognise the period when a piece of furniture was made ?"
- "Which countries did the timber come from ?" - "How
was the timber obtained and transported ?" - were all questions
that fascinated the students, and were the issues I was confident
to deal with. One of the greatest difficulties was to make a
boy understand that there were rivers that great liners could
sail, especially when the largest rivers they had ever seen were
probably the Brun or the Calder.
Sam - aged 21
Working at Benns and Holmes Cabinet Makers during the day
and attending evening classes - left me little time to spend
with my friends. However, I went to Sunday School and church
and the social events connected with the parish. There were concerts,
dances, hockey, cricket and soccer but I found working backstage
more suited to what free time I had and the things I could do
to be helpful to the stage-productions. I was able to make the
props for the stage. It was here that I teamed up with one of
my Art School friends - Alf Smith. He was involved in making
the back cloths and painting the scenery for the stage and his
sister Edith would be helping with curtain making and costumes
as well as providing the refreshments at many of the parish functions.
With my group of friends, both young men and women, we took
a full part in the life of the church. Apart from our regular
attendance's at Sunday School and Church we shared in the activities
of the mission churches at St. Aidan's and St Oswald's as well
as at Sandygate School. There were friendly competitions throughout
the year, both indoor and out. Some of the lads helped with the
Boy Scout Troop, other joined the choir; there was the annual
Walking Day on Trinity Sunday, usually followed by a parish picnic.
There were trips to the seaside, mostly Blackpool and St Annes-on-Sea;
there were walks and long rambles in the countryside and bicycle
rides. The summers in those days always seemed to be full of
sunshine. It seemed as if everyone worked and played hard and
enjoyed life to the full.
I enjoyed the company of Edith Mary Smith the only daughter
of Alfred John Smith a tackler. I had known her for many years
and we had often been out together with the same group of friends
and her two brothers Billy and Alf. Edith and I were married
in 1926 at Holy Trinity Church.
Before that great day I had managed to earn a top wage of
£3.16s.4d a week. As a Cabinet Maker I knew I could make
the furniture for our future home. First I had to find a workshop.
My parents made a spare room available for my use. I installed
a workbench, arranged all my tools, placed a drawing-board near
the window and got to work. I designed the furniture that would
be fit for a queen - my Edith!
As I worked on the furniture I was inspired by that Yorkshire
craftsman Thomas Chippendale. I worked in mahogany.
Sam and Edith
I carved chairs with cabriole legs, I made a cabinet that
would serve as a desk and a table that would encase a gramophone.
The spare-room workshop became a meeting place for my friends
who would sit and chat as I worked.