News, events and discoveries of the Walkley Ways, Walkley Wars history project.
My mother’s family – the Smiths – lived at 111 King James St from about 1900 until the death of my grandmother in 1941. My mother then lived with her sister and family at Shiregreen until she moved with my father back to Grammar St in 1945. They rented rooms from a couple who lived on the street to the left of King James St. My only memory of this place is that the couple kept some chickens in the back. My mother hated it there, mainly, I think, because she was given only very limited access to water which made life difficult, especially with a young baby.
The location of the modern Grammar St today.
Across the road from there was an elderly lady who I called Grandma Kirk. At one time she and her husband had run a chip shop there. She must have been a family friend as I remember going there for tea once and my cousin and his wife and children joining us. When they arrived I was sitting on the back step screaming! I had been sent out as a punishment for something, probably I had refused to eat meat! There was a yard at the back with a couple of outside toilets serving several houses. Grandma Kirk had a metal box (possibly pewter) with a hinged lid. It was full of buttons. I used to love to play with them and inherited it when she died!
When I was very young I had whooping cough and was very ill. When I was recovering a boy from one of the neighbours was allowed to come and play. I swopped my toy bus for his six wheeler car! I remember playing, possibly with the same boy, at swinging from the steps at the front of the house. He got shouted at by my mum for teaching me bad words and wasn’t allowed to come again.
While I was still very young we moved to a house in Grammar St on the other side of King James St. We had a room at the front of the house and one above it. There was just a gas ring for cooking. I don’t recall the name of the man who we rented the rooms from, but I have a picture in my mind of a very old man sitting stooped over his kitchen fire in the back. Monday was washing day and my mother took our washing across the road where there was a copper in which everything was boiled up. It was then passed through a mangle before being hung out in the yard.
There was a large courtyard at the back of this house and my mother was friendly with a couple of the women who were neighbours. One of them had a granddaughter called Susan Twig who was a little older than me. Her mother worked (a cause of great disapproval!) so she was cared for by her grandmother. We were great friends, so inseparable that when Susan started school, I was allowed to start at the same time even though I wasn’t quite old enough. We were in different classes though and used to kiss each other goodbye in the cloakroom every morning. I don’t remember the name of the school but the headmistress was Miss Pass who was really nice. She used to play the piano for assembly in the mornings. I remember there was a central hall with, I think classrooms off divided by semi glazed partitions. At Christmas we were all given a piece of Christmas cake as a treat. I hated marzipan and left mine. I was made to stand on a chair as a punishment for not eating my ‘treat’. I was taken to school by an older girl, Christine, who was the daughter of another of the neighbours round the courtyard. It was up a hill and through a gennel where there were often bits of paintings floating about. If I managed to avoid Christine, I used to collect up the nicest bits and pretend I’d done them.
Christine’s mum was famous for her scones but kept the recipe secret! My mother had a greet friend across the road who had two boys one a bit older and one a bit younger than me. One was David and the other, I think, Stephen. They had a pedal car which we thought was great fun. Their mother had china ducks on the wall which my mother loved. We moved to Shiregreen when I was about five. The last time I saw Susan was at my birthday party just after we moved. I saw David and Stephen once more when they visited with their mother.