Leaving Yorkley for North Staffordshire
Moving Day - 18th February 1955
Recalled by brother Steve, August 2004
To the left of this text is an article taken from the local Forest of Dean newspaper, The Lydney Observer.
"It must have been early in 1955, in our council house at 10 Severn View Road, Yorkley, Gloucestershire, that Mum told me, Allan, Ken and Roland to go into the sitting room as Dad wanted to talk to us. He told us that we would be moving to Staffordshire. He had answered an advertisement for “miners wanted” in the North Staffordshire coalfield. He was then almost 53 and later confided that one of the reasons he believed he was accepted was that he would be bringing with him six potential miners. It may have been me who asked him then, or subsequently, if they talked a different language in Staffordshire. No, he said, but it just sounded a bit different, like Wilfred Pickles on the radio who had a Yorkshire (or was it Lancashire?) accent. Dad had already started work in Staffordshire, and was living in lodgings.
Moving day came around and the one thing I shall always remember is one of my aunties (could it have been Olive, or Doris?) making the biggest pile of sandwiches I had ever seen, for the train journey. “We’ll never need all of those”, I thought, but of course there were eight of us - as Dad had travelled back to accompany us - and I seem to recall that we soon demolished them.
Unaccountably, I had accumulated some pocket money, which I duly totted-up while no doubt all sorts of activity was going on all around me. I found myself on the landing, with Dad just inside his and Mum’s bedroom. I went in proudly and said, “Dad I’ve got 8s-4d (about 42 pence)”. (No, I don’t know the exact amount I had, but it was something like that ! ) Untypically, particularly of his later (subsequent) years, he said, “Would you like me to make that up to 10s-0d (ten shillings) which he promptly did. It’s not that he was mean - far from it - but he seldom fussed over us. It was a lovely gesture, and I felt like I owned the world. (I have subsequently learned that Dad was not there that day and so I can only surmise that this incident took place the previous weekend when he must have returned home).
The time came to set off for Gloucester Station, something like 20 miles away. This journey was undertaken in the back of a van driven by a local man called Mr. Ratcliffe. Few people had cars of any sort, but he had some sort of tumbledown garage on the outskirts of the village. I think it was a 3-wheeler van. I have no real memory of the train journey, other than a very vague memory of eating the sandwiches.
I do remember setting foot on Stoke Station. There was a bookstall there, and I was keen to spend my ten shilling on something I can’t remember (a game of some sort?); but Mum counselled against this and I made do with a Rupert Annual instead, the stories in which I got to know rather well.
We then walked to the bus stop in Church Street, opposite the supplementary graveyard to the church. We made our way to Dad’s lodgings at Adderley Green, and all trooped in for a cup of tea. I’m sure Dad was quite proud to introduce Mum and his six sons to his landlady. Then it was another walk to a bus stop, catching the bus to the crossroads at Weston Coyney ; and from there, it was only a short walk to the Coal Board housing estate where we saw our new home at 34 Cross Street - a 3-bedroom semi of a rendered and painted concrete construction. As events turned out, by the summer we were on the move again to a 4-bedroomed house in the next street : 19 Bath Street. As Mum was pregnant again, this may have helped the case !
With undue haste, or so I thought, Roland and I were enrolled at the Infants’ School on Coalville, just a street or so away from our new house. It seemed to me that this took place on the morning after we moved and we certainly started there after lunch, whichever day it was. I remember the remnants of snow on the street leading to the school although I don’t recall seeing snow when we first arrived.
It is always daunting to move to a new school when young. As I was somewhat more shy than the average 7-year-old, it was even more of a trial. Luckily, Roland was in the same school and was there for me at playtime. Even some of the hymns were different at this new school and I particularly remember, “For The Beauty Of The Earth”. I know the tune of course, but I shall have to find its name because it has been set to at least three different melodies. But it is the sound emblem to me of those first few weeks in my new school. Mum, incidentally, said the school had been built especially for me and Roland and I certainly believed it for some time ; although, come to think of it, they didn’t make THAT much fuss of us on our first day."
Moving Day - 18th February 1955
Recalled by brother Roland, February 2005
"Dad had moved up to Stoke some weeks earlier, and stayed in digs near Mossfield Colliery. I think he came home once for a weekend.
Among the things that went on the furniture van were several dozen eggs which, in due course, were kept in a bucket of liquid isinglass preservative. I think we may have brought a plum tree with us as well (it never bore fruit).
We left 10 Severn View Road in a Yorkley man’s 3-wheeled motor-bike-engined homemade van. There were seven of us plus the driver. Mum paid him ten shillings to take us to Gloucester station. Auntie Olive and Auntie Elsie saw us off. Dad met us at Birmingham station, where we changed trains. I was unaware that he would be there and was surprised to see him coming towards us, smiling and taking his cap off as he walked.
We must have caught a bus from Stoke station to Adderley Green (changing at Longton?) and then went to Dad’s lodging, where we had a meal. The landlady’s son kept singing, “The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane”.
Presumably we caught a bus (Stonier’s?) to Weston Coyney. The furniture van was from a Crewe company, I think (was it Hunt’s?), but I don’t remember whether it got there before us. There was snow and ice about.
I can remember Mum and Dad erecting the beds (it was the first time I’d ever seen him do anything ‘handy’).
Although we (except Mum) had all looked forward to this adventure, I can remember crying in bed that night as realisation set in. Allan had a septic foot which Mum had been dressing daily with kaolin poultices (seems archaic, now) and, writing this, I recall Stephen having a carbuncle on his bum circa 1954.
We started school the following Monday (22nd February). They were expecting us. I was in the top class (Mrs. Burndred). Other teachers were Miss Critchley, Miss Foster and the Head was Miss Jones. Ken initially went to school in Caverswall, and Allan to Longton High School (then at Sandon Road, Meir). "
Postscript : Mum died on 19th February 2000 - 45 years and one day later.