News, events and discoveries of the Walkley Ways, Walkley Wars history project.
Audrey Buxton recalls the benefits of childhood illness in the 1940s and 50s.
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We’d just got two bedrooms upstairs and ours was a little bit bigger than the neighbours because we’d got two houses in our yard and that was a bit, ours was a bit bigger because we’d got the area over the passage that we called the landing. There was no light on there, well it was just like a ‘glory hole’. We used to keep toys and dirty washing, stuff like that that you needed access to. The bedrooms upstairs, the front bedroom which was my mum and dad’s, because that was the bigger room, it had an old fashioned cast iron fireplace and actually that was lit on occasions but only when you were poorly, it was almost worth being poorly ‘cos you could sleep in your mum and dad’s bed which always seemed softer than ours, and the fire was lit.
And it overlooked, there was a gap in the houses on the other side of the road, and it overlooked Neepsend area, and I remember being ill one time, I don’t know what I’d got, but I was in this bed with the fire going, and I was just watching, you could see steam engines actually going past on the railway track. You could see the smoke coming out, yes, and I spent ages and like I said I can’t remember what was wrong with me, I was brought food up and like I said it was almost a pleasure to be ill. And unusually for my mum because she didn’t really coddle us, you know, she was a bit strict with things like that, I think she was brought up not to be ill, so if we had a cold and things like that, we used to have to walk on the Bolehills to clear our lungs.
Well, I suppose it was expensive to be ill.
Well it was.
There was no National Health.
No there wasn’t, they had to call, I can’t think how much it was to call a doctor in but… so no, we didn’t see doctors. Then our bedroom, I shared with my two sisters and we had a double bed and a single bed so I shared the double bed with my youngest sister and my middle sister had a bed on her own because she fidgeted too much at night so nobody would sleep with her, and if you did have to sleep with her because Valerie was poorly she used to roll round with clothes all round her and you ended up with no clothes on so she was ostracized although the beds were pushed together.
We just had that and a wardrobe. We had light up there, we had electric lights but no sockets, there were no sockets at all upstairs and I can’t remember, I can’t remember having a socket. I’m just trying to think how we ran the wire for the wireless, because downstairs in the kitchen, like I say everything used to happen down there, and when my mum used to iron, she used to iron from a double adaptor from the light, so if I was doing my homework, I’d be sat at the table doing my homework and all I got was this shadow going backwards and forwards over my flipping books while my mum did the ironing and she didn’t even have an ironing board, she used to have like a wooden pallet thing that she used to put on the back of the table with a flannelette sheet or something like that on it. So, you know it was poor but we managed and everybody was in the same boat so we didn’t feel any different.