Friday, 16 October 2015

Growing up at Garswood

Garswood, 7 Diglee Road, Furness Vale

Garswood is one of the three "Australian Bungalows" on Diglee Road. This story, by a previous resident, at present un-named, is an account of the house where she was born. The introductory, and perhaps closing pages are missing.  The author of this article is believed to be Olive Wallwork. The introductory paragraph refers to her parents.

Later they moved further into the country, to Whaley Bridge, renting Lochaber, a large stone-built semi-detached house on Start Lane at the top of Whaley Lane where they had an Irish terrier called Kerry and a white cat. They also took on a live-in-maid, Sarah Kelly, who came from Hensingham near Whitehaven. She had previously been a laundry maid at St Bees School, walking daily across the cliff tops from Hensingham to the school together with other domestic workers, many of whom became her lifelong friends Sarah had left St Bees ‘to go into service’ a few years before she joined my parents at Lochaber, though I don’t know what families she was with. I think they must have been fairly wealthy, because she was a stickler for doing things correctly and for good manners. In those days people who came to stay still tipped the maid when they left !  her knowledge of the right way to lay a table and fold table napkins, take in the letters and visiting cards on a silver tray, cook and serve meals and other niceties was second to none. She was an extremely good cook and baked marvellous cakes, lemon meringue pies, bread, made jams and marmalade and so on. These talents were particularly impressive given the rationing and general restrictions of the war years.

The house where I was born, Garswood, Furness Vale.

About 1933, the year before I was born my parents decided that Whaley Lane was too steep to push a pram up and therefore moved to Furness. Sarah came too.  Yeardsley Lane, which leads up from the village to Diglee Road was still a hill, but shorter!  Garswood overlooked fields and farmland.
There were three bungalows built by the Knowles-Barton family who lived higher up Diglee Road at a house called Heatherby. The Knowles-Boltons were the gentry of the village
and owned the brick-works, now a mini industrial estate just off the A6 in the middle of the village.  They were also the owners of the bungalows and therefore our landlords - so, as I learned very early, we had to be very nice to them otherwise any necessary repairs or maintenance never got done !  They could of course, turn us out, were they so minded.

Garswood was the top one of three bungalows, next door lived the Alexanders who had a daughter Joan, to whom  I was a bridesmaid at the age of seven. Next door but one lived Mr and Mrs Carter, who seemed to me to be very old but I adored them and was in and out of their house all of the time.. They had a little wood with a stream running through it next to their house in which they kept hens and I played there for hours. Mr Carter used to act as Father Christmas when I was small. He always came, dressed in his red suit with his sack of presents on Christmas Eve which I thought was quite magical. I must have been about eight when I recognised his boots. Until then, I had no idea who he was.
Next to us on the ‘top’ side live the Matthews family in quite a large house with a big garden. They had three children.  The younger two were twins, Trevor and Helen.  They were about five years older than me and had a large twin pram which they played with, usually with both hoods up and their dog inside. Above the Matthews house was a field where there were pit ponies. These ponies pulled the trucks in
the fairly shallow drift mine that supplied coal to fire the kilns in the brickyard. They were put out to grass between their shifts. Tom, who was also the Matthews’ gardener looked after them. I loved Tom. He used to lean over the Matthews’ fence and talk to Sarah and me when we were out in the garden or feeding the hens. Sometimes I walked down the hill with Tom when he was taking the ponies back to work. He would put me in one of the empty trucks and I would have a ride into the mine until there was just a speck of daylight visible from the entrance. The he would lift me out and I ran back along the narrow little metal rails to the entrance.
At the back of the pony field there was a small rather temporary-looking bungalow where Marjorie Dale lived, I suppose with her parents, although I remember nothing of them. For some reason she was always referred to in our house as ‘poor Marjorie’.
At a large house on the corner, where Diglee Road branches off from Yeardsley Lane, lived Mrs Ford, a widow with a very lively little griffon that I was very fond of. She let me play in her garden which was beautiful and had a lily pond as well as a greenhouse with exotic plants. She kept bantams and once gave me a bantam egg in a silver plated egg cup, to take home. I still have that little egg cup. Mr and Mrs Heathcote lived in a little detached house, painted green and cream, jus opposite what was then called “Fords’ Corner”.  Just below them lived Mr and Mrs Bold - Joey Bold who kept the local garage was regarded as rather raffish! They had an only child called Edwin, with whom I used to play sometimes.  He was mischievous and always teasing Sarah, which didn’t go down well. She once caught him picking some of ‘her’ snowdrops and chased him down the road with a broom.
Opposite Edwin’s was Charlesworth Road where Mr and Mrs Riddick lived. Jim Riddick was the local builder turned property developer and thought to be inordinately rich!  They had two sons, Jim and John known as Jack, and a daughter, Barbara. Jim followed his father into the business and in later years set up his office in what had been the Co-operative Wholesale Society’s shop on the corner of Yeardsley Lane and Buxton Road. At the present it is a Chinese restaurant.

The House and Garden at Garswood

There was a garden at the front with a white painted seat which can also be seen in the photo of Sarah and Alice at Lochaber.  That seat finally fell to pieces at Holker.  And there was a swing for me. A flowering cherry tree grew in the middle of the lawn, where mother eventually scattered my father’s ashes.  There was a big mock orange that smelled lovely, a purple lilac, a witch-hazel that flowered in winter, pieris and many other shrubs. A verandah had been built onto the front of the house-very sunny-which was fully glazed and in which Sarah grew tomatoes and huge chrysanthemums as well as the smaller sort known as bachelor’s buttons. My father had an aviary built at the end of this verandah in which were canaries, budgerigars and two java sparrows. I loved feeding them and we collected groundsel all over the fields and verges which was their favourite treat.  One pair of budgies actually nested, hatched their eggs successfully and three babies flourished. But when the war broke out the only seed available did not suit most of them and one by one they died. At last, only one canary survived but he was the best singer of the lot and lasted a long time with the aviary all to himself.
We also had a tabby cat called Scamp who would occasionally submit to being put in my doll’s pram and covered with blankets, though not for long at a time. I remember rescuing a very wet bee from the garden one day. It didn’t seem able to fly. I put it into the bottom half of a match box on the verandah in the sun and Sarah made some sugar syrup. We put a drop near him in the box and after an hour or so, as I watched him intently, he put out his long tongue and tasted it. The he started to  wash his furry head with his front legs. After 24 hours he perked up and when we opened the door he flew off !  As you can tell, I inhabited a very small world in those days, where the interests and excitements were equally tiny.
There was a tarmac drive at the side of the house wide enough for a car, although of course we did not have one, but I used to ride my trike on and bounce balls, skip, etc.  The bungalow was stone fronted but had red brick walls at the sides. I liked this because I could play ball games against the smooth side walls-impossible against the rough stone at the front.

The back garden was my favourite bit. It was long and finished at the top where there was a belt of trees and then a steep drop to the brick yard and the little coal mine below. There was an old gate in the fence, called by my father ‘a debtor’s retreat’. I was not supposed to go through it and so always longed to. The back garden was planted with sweet williams, sweet peas, michaelmas daisies and many, many vegetables. There was even horseradish and of course masses of mint and parsley. There was much fruit-soft fruit- such as raspberries, loganberries, blackberries, red and black currants, strawberries and gooseberries for eating and jam-making. All this was supplemented in season with whimberry picking and elderberries which Sarah used in making apple pies.
Opposite the back door was a rabbit hutch with a black and silver bunny. I can’t remember his name! We spent hours collecting dandelion leaves for him and never came back from even the shortest walk empty-handed.  In the ‘waste not, want not’ period that came in with the Depression and was  reinforced by the War, when he died he was made into a pair of fur mittens for me, by  a woman in the village who knew how to ‘cure’ animal skins. I adored those mittens and they gave me warmth and comfort throughout my days at Ricky, when the heating was almost non-existent.
Near the back door, down one steep step, was a yard across which was a range of outbuildings-a coal house, a middle storage bit for potatoes and a wash-house at the end with a fireplace (a rusty old range), an enormous mangle, a dolly tub with its copper posser on a broom handle and a brick-built boiler for the washing. There was a long washing line across the yard and also a dove cote on a pole with white pigeons that laid too many eggs. Some of the eggs had to be collected so that we were not over-run with doves. At the back of this little group of buildings was another small windowless room, set up by my father as a dark room for developing and printing his photographs, a hobby he was very keen on. He took colour transparencies of me aged about three, in a dress with a Union Jack bodice and a frilly skirt which must have been for George VI’s coronation in 1937. His brother Edward VIII, abdicated that year to marry Mrs Simpson and so was never crowned. I know we had a flagpole with a Union Jack on it in the front garden by the gate.

The Kitchen

The kitchen was very much Sarah’s domain. The pantry led off it, down two stone steps. It face north and the window, always open, was covered with zinc gauge to keep out the flies. There was a stone slab the length of the room with a meat safe on it and many shelves. The walls were lime-washed white every year by Sarah and the stone slab regularly scrubbed and donkey stoned white. On the inside of the pantry door was a large brown paper carrier bag printed in blue with the butcher’s name and pictures of curly haired bull’s heads. This was full of different lengths of carefully unknotted string, each piece neatly rolled and tied. String could always be found for packing any possible shape and size of parcel. Brown paper was also folded up and saved in the cat’s cupboard by the kitchen range for wrapping parcels. Sellotape was, of course, unknown.
In the corner near the pantry was a two ring gas-stove (no oven) standing on top of a brown-painted cupboard with a white enamel top. The gas was used to boil milk or vegetables if the kitchen range fire was not hot enough or was already full of pans. Sarah also made appalling coffee on the gas ring. Milk was put in a pan, a few grains of ground coffee scattered on the top and then it was brought to the boil. It was pale fawn but did not taste of anything much!
The kitchen floor was covered in rubber flooring in marbled green and white  with a solid green border about six inches wide. The walls were painted shiny cream. The deal-topped square kitchen table, covered with green oil cloth was against the wall and this was where Sarah did all the baking - and I was allowed to lick out the mixing bowl with her wooden spoon. Kept on the table for special occasions was
the waffle iron mother had brought back from her trip across Canada in her late teens with Annie Downes, her elder cousin. When Sarah made waffles it was a rare and exotic treat. We filled up all the holes in the waffles with golden syrup.
The kitchen range was black-leaded. The oven to the right had shiny steel hinges and a knob on its latch. A shining steel topped hob to rest the kettle on when it was not on the fire was to the left. The kettle was big and black with soot. The whole heart was surrounded with a brass-railed fire guard, covered in drying washing in the winter. It was my job to poke the corners of the wet handkerchiefs through the mesh holes to dry.
On ironing day three heavy flat irons were put to heat facing the fire. As one got cold it was put back to re-heat and one of its fellows came into service. The maidens were brought out and opened and all the starched ironing hung neatly on them to air. Starch was made in a big enamel basin with boiling water. When it thickened Sarah rinsed the item for starching in this mixture, squeezed the out and let them half-dry before pressing them. She taught me how to iron, starting with hankies-my father’s seemed huge! - and going on to table napkins (a three-screen fold), pillowcases(never iron over the seams-they will wear out), shirts and blouses (underside of collar first, right side of collar second, always press from the collar points inwards, then cuffs, sleeves - never iron a crease in the sleeve  then shoulders, fronts, and lastly, the back).
The kitchen sink under the window was a solid slab of stone about three inches deep with a wooden draining board, a chipped enamel bowl and two taps. The hot water depended on the state of the fire, since it was heated by the kitchen range. A lot of ‘panshine’ or Vim as it was called - an abrasive cleaning powder you sprinkled out of a tall tin with holes in the top - was in constant use together with ample supplies of wire wool and elbow grease. Detergents and washing up liquid were unknown. One’s hair was washed in green stuff in a tub called soft soap.
Roasting the Sunday joint was a performance in the extreme. The fire had to be got going into a real blaze, a great log was forced into it and as far under the oven as possible. It was so long it stuck out into the kitchen and had to be tumped down as it burned in the fire. This got the oven hot and in went the meat.
To the left of the range was  a tall built in cupboard. The cat’s bed was in the bottom and that was where she had her kittens. In front of the range was a large rag rug, pegged into old cut up sacks (washed first!) by Sarah from bits of old material and cut up clothing on winter evenings. It had a black border and a green, red and white diamond pattern in the middle. Brightly coloured bits of material were much prized and kept for the pattern. It must have been deadly dull doing the deep borders of black, navy and brown bits. All our old clothes were recognisable in these rag rugs. There was a basket chair in front of the fire and a wooden armchair to the right of the range where Sarah had her afternoon rest from 2 o’clock till 3. It was sacrilege for anyone to disturb this. At 3 pm she had her bath and changed from her morning overall and flowered pinny into a fresh black or green dress with a white apron. Sarah’s aprons were beautiful - all hand made, embroidered, pin-tucked and some of them edged with lace or broderie Anglais. All tied in a big bow and had wide cross-over starched cotton straps at the back. When I was little, Sarah still wore a starched white cap with her beautifully embroidered white aprons.
Sarah always sat in the kitchen with the radio and her sewing machine, of which she was very proud. Her parents had given it to her for her 21st birthday. She was very good looking with  brown eyes and freckles and hair that was down to her waist, the colour of glowing conkers - really chestnut - and with deep natural waves. She twisted her hair into two long, thick strands and wound them right round her head during the day.

The Nursery

The back bedroom was always called my nursery. It had a three-quarter sized green bed (the ‘doggy’ bed) with a picture of a dog on headboard and footboard and rails that extended a third of the way down the length of it from the headboard to stop me falling out. The window overlooked the dovecote and washhouse and some of the garden. There was a chest of drawers and a wicker chair. My blankets were crotcheted by Granny Anna - a pink one and a black and red one. The sheets were pink flanelette.

The Bathroom

This was next to the kitchen and had the same swirly green-patterned rubber flooring. I could imagine all sorts of pictures in those green swirls, from witches to animals and trees, and I made up lots of stories about them. There was a bath of course, loo and basin and a little paraffin stove on which my father boiled a little pan of water for shaving. This was the only source of heat!  Beside the basin hung a long leather strap about three inches wide that my father used for stropping his razor to sharpen it. Sarah scrubbed this floor on hands and knees at least once a week, spreading huge sheets of The Manchester Guardian down on it until it was dry.

The Front Room

This was the name used for the sitting room. It had a pianola that played rolls. There were two foot pedals and the hand controls were housed in a drop-down flap at the front of the keyboard. There was also a wind-up gramophone (His Master’s Voice) set in a cabinet where the records (78’s) were stored in the cupboards below. Sheet music was kept in the bow-fronted cabinet Isabel has. The black cabinet was behind the couch which had a drop-down arm and my doll’s house stood on a low circular wicker table in the window. My father’s sword stick (from his time in the First World War) stood in the corner by the fireplace. The fire was lit every day at 4pm having been laid in the morning by Sarah with fire-lighters made from The Manchester Guardian and small pieces of coal. Sarah prided herself on never having to use sticks to get the fire going. The coal scuttle stood to the right with big lumps of coal in it for later in the evening. In the corner was an oriel window with bookcases following the wall around two sides.  Two comfortable arm chairs completed the furnishings and this was where mother and father and I sat, played, listened to records or the piano and sang, played board games or read stories on winter afternoons and evenings.

The three bungalows were originally named No 3, "Yarrawonga", No 5, "Boominoomina" and No 7,  "Taendrum". Only Yarrawonda retains its Australian name.

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