Post 129 - Howe's Life Part Two

“HOWE’S LIFE” -Part Two MEMORIES OF A 40’s CHILD

St Peter’s Ward seen from the air in 1937
St Peter’s Ward seen from the air in 1937

“There used to be a playground” in the shadow of St Peter’s.

As I said in part one; my long journey through life started above the “Londes” in a Victorian built terraced house in Nursery Street.

In 1937 If you follow the line from the rooftop of James Beatties store in the centre of this scene bearing to your left across the roof of the majestic Retail Market. Then follow the path of North Street as it passes the Wholesale Market on its way north to the five ways at Dunstall.

At the top left corner you will see a patch of waste ground then known as “Mongers Patch”, this small piece of ground ran alongside the right of “The Londes” and separated Lawyers Field and Deanery Row from Nursery Street, my family home and that of my grandparents.

To give you more of an idea of what a delightful adventure playground this area was to grow up in, just out of this view on your left stood the Molineux Grounds home of the “Wolves” and a few hundred yards further on, the splendid “West Park” and then just out of view, on your right, was for us kids “The icing on the cake” Faulkland patch, Littles Lane, and the Canals and Railways complex.      

 

North Street showing the 150 yard Victorian terrace than ran on the east side from Camp Street to Deanery Row.and fronted the Londes.
North Street showing the 150 yard Victorian terrace than ran on the east side from Camp Street to Deanery Row.and fronted the Londes.

 

THE WAR YEARS

This wartime photograph taken from the front of the “Feathers” public house an small area my father always referred to as The wide causeway, would have a 50 yard long Air Raid Shelter built on it at this time and shortly afterwards, the cast iron railings that enclosed the Feathers would be claimed by the Government for the War effort.

Also in the photo on the far left on the corner of Birchfield Street you can just make out Marstons Lock factory, who had gone over as most other manufacturers had to war time production and were making Hand Grenades.

The end house in the foreground with the evocative posters displayed on it fronted North Street, opposite Vincent street, it was owned by George Monger with the south entrance to the “Londes” and Mongers patch on its right.

 

Air Raids were on everyone's mind as I recall.
Air Raids were on everyone’s mind as I recall.

 

ANDERSON SHELTERS

My early memories of the war as it intruded into our lives in Nursery Street.

In the early day’s I don’t recall seeing dad much. He was always at work or in bed or perhaps on fire watch duties. But mom was always there. I remember we were all given rubber gas masks in case poison gas was dropped from aeroplanes, and I recall watching them delivering Anderson shelters from the Railway goods yard in Littles Lane, I think there was only one family that could afford one in Nursery Street.  

I can still remember the air-raid siren and when it sounded we should have rushed to the large shelter that had been erected on our back yard, it had brick walls and a foot thick concrete roof, placed there if needed to to accommodate the five families adjoining ours in case of Air – raids. But it was never used for that purpose as most of the families would go down there own cellars or the one’s next door belonging to a neighbour. Using the cellar was much better than using the damp smelling construction outside especially during the winter.

Our cellar was rather basic as I remember, I recall a rocking horse down there and also a large rubber object with a perspex front this was to place my baby sister Mary in born in 1941, in should there be a gas attack. It was never used. I recall my mom being more than terrified when she heard the sirens go, as her mother lived in Colliery Road, off the Willenhall road where there had been a large bomb dropped, destroying houses in St Giles Crescent close by at that time.      

 

Beaumont Street cul-de-sac, off Lower Stafford Street
Beaumont Street cul-de-sac, off Lower Stafford Street

 

In July 1942 we had a small taste of what had been suffered by Coventry and Birmingham when incendiaries rained down from the sky over Wolverhampton.

In one incident staff at the Royal Hospital kicked clusters of incendiaries from the roofs into the streets below, luckily only a wooden stores was destroyed.

A house, not far from us opposite Beaumont Street in Lower Stafford Street, I believe had been incendiary bombed, and I remember the next morning standing on tiptoe looking through what had been the front room window, all the brickwork was intact only the different patterned wallpaper separated the first floor and the bedrooms, the roof and the floors had gone.

It was so strange to look down into the cellar, and then to look up to see the sky through the missing roof, and that smell of charred wood I’ll never forget.

 

The war years were mostly fun for kids
The war years were mostly fun for kids

 

BOMB SITES

Looking back now at the war years they seemed to be full of wonderful activities for us kids. Most of the time we were left to our own devices, playing on derelict sites. We made dens and camps, and collected waste paper and cardboard to take to Blackwells Paper merchants in Hughes Street to earn the price of a ticket to the pictures at the Olympia in Thornley Street.

 

 

The war in Europe ended in May 1945
The war in Europe ended in May 1945

 

V.E.DAY

When the war ended in Europe in May 1945 I was just coming eight. It was an exciting time for us kids. There would be street parties, and bonfires would be lit on any bits of waste ground.

But as it turned out, most of these fires were held in the street itself.

 

Bonfire Night

Well, on what began as a wonderful day, and an even better night with plenty to eat and drink, I will always remember for the wrong reasons and with bitterness and regret.

As long as I could remember we had this loving mongrel bitch; dad had called her Pats. She was devoted to me and followed me everywhere. She would be waiting on the step as I came home from school, and would race down the street to meet me.

One time when dad was cowering over me threatening to pale me for one of many misdemeanours, patsy tore across the room and took a piece out of dad’s trousers and backside. I really loved that dog.

On V E Night, Patsy had been locked in the house but by some means she had got out to look for me, and during the noise of the festivities she bit this young lad who lived near to where the bonfire was sited, above the “Londes” at the bottom of the street.

His Mother came round to our house the next day, and through some kind of threat, forced my dad to have Patsy put down. Dad took her to the vet without my knowledge, and when I found out I was distraught for days.

We later found out someone had thrown a firework behind the dog which had startled her and was probably the reason she had gone a bit crazy. To make matters worse, Dad said that he probably wouldn’t have had her put down, had he known that earlier, and this only added to my misery.

I never went near or forgave that lady again for the pain she caused me that summer of 1945.

 

PART 3 COMING SOON!

“The Post War years” in the shadow of St Peter’s.

Facebook Comments
Share

14 comments

  1. Hi I am currently working on the family tree with my grandfather he was born in 1937 I believe and I am trying to find photographs of littles lane as he has fond memories of it and his uncle Ted (Edward Lane and Kathleen) used to live there. Could you please help me, that would be an amazing surprise for him.
    Many thanks
    Jade Johnson

    1. Hi, I lived in Herbert St. until I was about11 which is not far from littles lane, and in later years worked at Willenhall motor radiator in Neachells lane in Wednesfield where I knew a fellow who worked in the gatehouse there. His name was Teddy Lane and I believe he lived somewhere around Stafford St. He also organised the wednesfield cribbage league. he was a really big man with a really dry sense of humour. could this be the same man?

      1. Yes John That was Teddy Lane lived in Littles Lane, close to the Warwick. As its been said before, a Robbie Coltrane lookalike Funny you should mention him I saw Nipper Joyce his boyhood friend last week. do you recall him?

        1. Hi Billy ,I think that I must be getting mixed up somewhere, where my uncle lived, you went down Queens St. crossed over the road (pipers row) looked to your left and on the other side of the street was a big building which stretched around the corner, follow that round to the right and there was a street on your left which I thought was bone mill lane, any Idea which street that was Please?

          1. John. I think we are talking about Horseley Field here. The tall building that stretched around the corner was The London Midland
            Railway Station Buildings The street that turned left adjacent to them was Old Mill Street.

  2. Hello Jade
    Yes I remember a Ted Lane – The chap I remember was a likeable man very much overweight for one reason or another which was not so common then as it is today.
    He lived at No. 2 Littles lane in the 1940’s 50’s. Next door to the Warwick Pub

    What is your grandfathers name Jade Were was he born

    There are a few photos that have been posted of the top of Littles Lane But not so many of the newer houses built in the early 1930’s were the Lanes lived.

    We have a forum here and a facebook group as well called Lost Wolverhampton. try to join.
    them and I will put your request on them and also any relevant Pictures of Littles Lane.

    Whatever you decide keep in touch

  3. My nan and grandad Arthur and Alice Drakeley had a shop in Blakenhall before it was knocked down. It was at the junction of Cobden Street/Moore Street. My dad Barry Ray lived in Moore Street. His mother and father were called George and Winifred Ray. The children were Kathleen, Brenda and Bryan Drakeley and Barry, Terry and Pat Ray. Does anybody know them or the shop. Opposite the shop was a post office and on the other corner was a veg shop.

  4. Hi Billy, I showed your article to my mate Pete Connolly and he remembered Ted Lane straight away. A very nice bloke, he said, built like Robbie Coltrane. Pete said he was an excellent tennis or badminton player, very light on his feet for a “big fella”

  5. I fancy Peter must have visited The “Warwick” a few times in Littles Lane, Steve Ted Lane lived a few doors down and was a bit of a regular, in there. Did he perhaps come in contact with Tony Mincher, I fancy he may have. Has Pete quietened down now Steve perhaps he hasn’t mentioned he was a bit of a lad when he knocked about with Ginger Evans in the early 1950’s.

    1. Yes Billy Pete Knew Teddy Lane very well and used to drink in the Warwick regularly. Tony Mincher was a big mate of Pete’s at one time, as you say Pete was a bit of a lad in his day and him and Tony got into a few scrapes together. Pete’s also one of life’s natural story-tellers, mention a place or a name and it’s a good bet that Pete’s had an “adventure there”. Unfortunately some of his stories are X rated but very funny. Like the night Tony and Pete came out of the Warwick to find a young fella injured, he said it was the fair ground guys who were pitching up on a patch near to the Warwick that had done it. Pete and Tony went up the road and ended up in an altercation with any number of the guys. And then there was the Douglas bros. Brian, Lenny and Big Henry but you know many of those stories and most of them X rated.

  6. Fascinating stuff Billy, thanks for the memories. I was born in Camp Street in 1959 and can well remember the area as you describe it. It was my playground too. I can also remember the changes that came as the 60s progressed towards the 70s. Like many others we moved out to Heath Town in 1970, it seemed like luxury to move from a house with an outside toilet to one with two inside toilets. Nevertheless I missed the old place which I believe was demolished in 1975. I’m living in Essex now and your blog makes a fascinating lunchtime read – keep up the good work.

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *