David has been given a lovely poem of childhood memories of Feniscowles by Audrey (Cranage) Ashton of 675 Preston Old Road. Both people and places in it will bring back lots of memories for some and provide a window into a lost past for many others who have come to know the area since.
The poem is annotated to show links to people and places familiar to many.
Very many thanks to Audrey for providing this original to David.
If anyone has any old photo’s of people and places mentioned please contact David who will publish them in the magazine and on the website.
Memories of a Happy Childhood
For all those who shared it
By Audrey (Cranage) Ashton
They say when you look back over the years
Things look better with time
So step back with me to Feniscowles
Its about 1939.
Feniscowles was only a village then
Where everyone knew each other
All was familiar in this ‘little world’
My family and friends, dad and mother.
The ‘village’ consisted of just the two streets
And York Terrace (with gardens as well)!
A hairdresser’s now stood where the
antiques shop is now
(But they used dinky curler—not gel!)
The Post Office was on the site of the Spar
With sawdust on the Co-op floor
And in most of the shops a little bell rang
When anyone opened the door.
(Post office first on right, Sutton Street)
The ‘Fieldens Arms’ Landlord stood on the step
A master of all he surveyed!
With gold watch and chain and ‘slick’ combed- back hair
Jim Ward - a man of the trade!
Pye’s Butcher’s Shop has been turned into a house
Bill Pye’s meat was delivered by bike!
Of course - meat was rationed, so you didn’t get much.
Not like now - when you get what you like!
(House belongs to Norman and Edna Simm)
The hairdresser’s now, was the cloggers
Smells of dubbin and leather - a last.
With tacks in his mouth and silver rimmed specs
Over which a stern eye he would cast!
Across from the Fieldens - the Smithy
Where we stood - peering into the dark!
Smells of smoke, sounds of metal - and horses
With anvil - and ‘clanking’ - and spark!
(Many trades used horses as transport)
And next to the Smithy - the Grocers,
Mrs Dolphin made wonderful cakes!
Nothing was wrapped up in plastic then,
Things were just put on plates.
(Jose Beetson’s mother, Sharon Morley’s Grandma)
So there were such lovely aromas!
Of baking, fresh ham - and cheese
There were brass scales and weights - and lovely fresh bread
Firewood and coffee and teas!
At the sweet shop next door, lived Norman Simm’s Gran!
She saved sugar coupons for us
For the children had never tasted ice cream
Then one day - Oh what a fuss!
Word swept round the village - quick as a flash
There was something free - strange and white
And if you ran to the sweet shop as quick as you could
You’d get something quite cold to bite
Every night in the War was the ‘black-out’
No chinks of light could we see!
Or we’d hear at the door—a rather loud knock
Bill’s father—Bobby Magee!
(Bill and May Magee)
Me and my sister lived on Livesey Branch Road
Near Gloria, Frank, Donald and Jean
And just on the corner in what is ‘Rose Bank’
Lived the Bennetts and their daughter, Irene! -
(Gloria Fleming, Donald Rishton)
(The Bennetts emigrated To Capetown in 1948, still in touch)
Bob was what was called a ‘rough diamond’
Didn’t smoke or drink - so they say!
A Builder and Contractor in haulage
An ‘entrepreneur’ of his day!
His wife was so pretty - a ‘real lady’!
She made pretty hats for her head
With little short veils and flowers
A fur cape - when she went to collect bread!
Although many items of clothing were homemade - non had such panache as these)
Bob’s ‘Rolls’ used to whiz round the corner
He was covered in grease and grime
‘Come on all you kids - we’ll go for a spin’!
Off to Glasson to have a good time!
(Bob had a boat there - very unusual in those days!)
One week - his car needed mending
So he borrowed our ‘Standard’ of blue
It hadn’t been used very much in the war
In fact - it was just like new!
(It must be appreciated how precious cars were then)
Bob drove it as if he was racing!
At speeds that would break your neck!
My Dad said “Bennett’s going too far!
At this rate my car’ll be a wreck!”
The exhaust fell off - it really looked rough
Then Bob said “Look ‘ere Joe -
I’ve got a good customer for your car
At a good price - you’d best let it go’!
So a man - with a blond - and a pile of pound notes
Made an offer Dad ‘couldn’t refuse’
But he always said Bob had set it all up
As a way to pay off his dues.
(probably one of his drivers??)
At New Year a party was held at our house
During which the Police - all the four
P.C.’s Stamper, Magee - and Berry as well
Plus the sergeant were stood at the door!
(The fathers of Pamela Lund,
Bill Magee and Harold Wiggins)
Dad said “Don’t worry” - and he let them all in
As to him it was not a surprise!
He knew what they’d come for - it was not to arrest!
A quick drink - and my Mother’s mince pies
Now most of the children went to one of two schools,
Pleasington - for al the R.C.’s!
Or the Council School here - it was very small then
With a garden and flowers and trees!
(Priory Close is now on the school site)
Each Monday night - we’d play top and whip
Anh ‘Hopscothch’ in the school yard
But at eight o’clock prompt - we’d all have to go
When practice began for Home Guard!
Ely Jepson had a beautiful garden
On our bikes we’d go to Park View
He sold bedding plants, tomatoes, lupins
Did weddings and funerals too!
(LH End house and rear large garden
He was the ‘main man’ at the Mission
And very respected by all
His sister in law ‘Aunty Marie’
Played piano in the Church Hall.
(Mission concerts were a popular attraction - Percy (Norman Simm’s father) had a fine voice)
Where Park farm Estate stands there isn’t a trace
Of the cobbled yard, dairy and farm
And the meadow - so sweet with buttercups
Dog Roses - a hedge and a barn
(Park farm Cottage is the only remaining part)
Our bedroom looked over the meadow
Once a year - to a perfume we’d wake
The weather’s ‘set in’ so everyone said
So the children all looked for a rake!
(Large wooden rakes)
An Irishman came over a haytime
To lend a hand - with work on the farm
We were all very shocked when the farmer told us
That his ‘home’ for his stay was the barn.
The hay would be raked - and then loaded up
All - plus the horse - played their part
Then back to the yard - hay passed to the barn
Then a ride on the big wooden cart!
The dinner - called ‘baggin’ - in straw baskets and cloths
Was brought down to the field to save time
Jugs of tea. Bread and cheese, home made scones and some jam
With the farmer we’d sit down and dine.
Each week was a cry from the front - ‘Rag and Bone!’
There was the man with the cart!
He’d give you a rubbing stone for some old clothes
The small pony - head in sack - stole my heart
(Rubbing stones were a square block of chalky
substance used for cleaning front steps)
The Sun and the Star and the Eclipse
Were all thriving workplaces then
The men carried square wicker baskets of food
No vending or canteens for them!
(Eclipse cotton mill)
Each Thursday night - all during that time
In the Sunday School - just down the road
Mrs Barratt ran dances for ‘our boys in the war’
And everyone joned ‘A-la-mode’!
Her son had ‘gone missing’ but she lived in hope
Of him coming back home once more
But he never returned - but she never gave up
His name’s on the Memorial of war.
When we went to the Abbey - much later on
And saw the grave of the Warrior unknown
My Father - in whispers - reminded us all
To think of Joe Barratt from home.
Twice a year there was held a Fancy Dress Ball
Run by Miss Redmond and brothers
In very hushed voices - tickets went on sale
‘Proceeds for Unmarried Mothers’!
( In Immanuel Sunday School, these tickets with pretty edges were put on the mantelpiece for display many weeks before)
Every Friday - from what was then ‘Jamworks Lane’
It’s called Stocklough Lane now I believe!
Came Edmondson’s farmers with their horse and cart
Selling home grown veg, spuds, beans and peas.
(This farm was completely destroyed by the Abbey
Saturday mornings when we were off school
Gerty came from the farm on the hill
We waited to hear the ‘clip-clop’ of the hooves
Of ‘Captain’ the horse - what a thrill!
She’d take no more than three in the cart behind her
Where she stood erect - holding the reins!
Black wool stockings - pull down hat - cross o’er pinny as well
We trotted up streets, roads and lanes.
We’d go to the steps - where we’d get her the jugs
Complete with little lace covers
Beads round the edge (to stop flies) was a ‘must’
No bottles or fridges for our mothers!
Gerty would take out the long metal scoop
From the kit - was it pint, gill or quart!
Then back to the farm (the motorway’s through now)
And Captain - alas ‘il est morte’
Just before ‘D-Day’ the Americans arrived
The children thought film-stars had come!
We ran errands for them - from the shops - loaves of bread!
In exchange they threw us chocolate and gum!
Only on the films!)
They were camped under trees - behind the stone wall
Up on Broken Stones Road
But one day we went there and there wasn’t a trace
They’d gone - all shipped abroad!
(Many of these boys would have been killed in the D Day landings)
At the end of the War was a party
With parades - dressed in red, white and blue
But it rained - so no tea on the Rec as was planned
The Sunday School had to do
It was soon after that - we made a new friend
Her name was Renata I think!
She wore big gold ear rings—and had thick long black hair
A low necked dress - in gingham and pink!
She sang us the song called ‘Lily Marlene’
A soldier had brought back a bride
Her home was in Napoli - so she told us
And tears rolled down her cheeks - and she cried!
The local Doctor was called Doctor Leigh
A true gentleman to be sure
He lived in a big Georgian house (now knocked down)
In Cherry Tree - he’d find a cure!
A kindlier man you could not have met
As a matter of fact - it was said
That he saved all hi sweet ration regularly
And gave sweets to kids ill in bed.
One of the places we used to explore
Was down in Feniscowles Old Hall
Both gate houses were occupied then
So we had to get over the wall!
(Both gate houses are still there but in ruins!)
Then all of a sudden - we’d hear a loud shout
It was ‘Curly’ -the man from the lodge
He’d start to give chase on this Private Lane
But if we were quick - we could dodge!
In a big house at Beechwood lived ‘Popeye’
He said ‘I own all land around’
With a patch on his eye—and a silver topped cane
If we met our feet didn’t touch the ground!
(In woods on the site of the old Oak tree Pub, now Tesco)
As we got a bit older there was no need to go far
To get music and friendship and fun
For every week—dances were held in a school
Pleasi’ - Tocholes and Houghton were some!
On Saturday we would go to the market
For a dress length - then we’d treadle all day!
By Saturday night - it was ready to wear
A unique model dress some may say!
We’d be quite safe to walk - shoes wrapped in brown paper
And chiffon scarves over our hair
We didn’t use lipstick at home when we left
My goodness - we didn’t dare!
So we shared one - any colour would do!
And we put it on - once on the way
And when we arrived at our ‘Dance of Romance’
We’d need a shilling to pay!
There was one special place where we all loved to go
On our bikes - or we’d walk all the way!
It was Bolton Hall farm in Hoghton
We’d go there and stay for the day.
(Fondest memories of Donny, Lance, Mary, Jenny RIP, Sally, Alison, Jim and Len)
All the teenagersloved to make there
It was ‘Open House’ to us all
There was music from a wind-up gramophone
And you always felt welcome to call.
It was ‘out in the wilds with flag floors and oil lamps
And we’d dance to the tunes of the day
Cheating Heart - Wheel of Fortune - This Old House - I Believe
Delaware - Sugar Bush - Volare!
You remember I told you about Edmonson’s cart
With the veg on a Friday Night?
Well round about now - Mary and Jim
Had a new business venture in sight!
They started a Band - Jim played the drums
The accordion was squeezed by Mary!
And dressed in their best - and looking quite smart
They’d arrive with their ‘gear’ -a bit early!
Mary was there in her black evening dress
With sequins and diamante - so perfect
But when she lifted the skirt - so she didn’t trip up
The ‘wellies’ rather spoiled the effect!
At Feniscowles Station - now called Feniscowles Bridge
You could buy tickets to go on the train
And stand in the Waiting Room by a warm fire
In the cold - or if it started to rain.
No problem - Chorley and Southport
To the Isle of Man you could roam!
Geraldo - Ted Heath—Ivy Benson were on
Much better bands than at home!
So that was when childhood vanished
I was now in the ‘Social Whirl’
But a wonderful time to remember
Is when I was a little girl!