Thursday, 24 November 2016

The Cope Family Ventures in Buxworth.


Over a three day weekend in June 1992 the “Friends of Buxworth / Bugsworth School inaugurated the first “Bygone Buxworth”. It was to be held in Buxworth School. The turnout was something to write home about. The school was packed to the gunnel's with past and present villagers jostling to see both the historical displays and to meet up with long lost friends. The outcome at a post mortem meeting was that with the numerous offerings of more historical material and the interest generated, that a further 10 day exhibition would be staged when the school was not operational during the summer. This occurred in the summer of 1994.


A taste of what was on offer in 1992 follows. The Navigation Inn staged a “Canal Themed Weekend” Richard Hall, the then Chinley milkman brought his shire horses to the Bugsworth Basin. Opposite Buxworth School a slide show and lecture entitled “The Peak Forest Canal and the Bugsworth Basin” was held in the former Primitive Methodist Tabernacle Chapel  A display of old photographs and documents was mounted in the main schoolroom. Morris Dancers, Clog Dancers, Live Theatre and a Jazz and Blues Band filled in the gaps. I produced a 28 page booklet plainly entitled “Bugsworth” for the occasion. An amalgam of local residents recounted businesses and ventures that I edited into an article entitled “Shop-keeping in Bugsworth over 60 years.” Other villagers contributed various Bugsworth / Buxworth related articles.  The booklet sold well and feedback came back fast and furious, mostly landing into my possession as the historical editor. One of the families mentioned was the Cope family who had over many years ran three separate businesses in Bugsworth / Buxworth, ending in 1944. Derek Cope their son, unsolicited, furnished me with a 20 page account of their business dealings, plus a chronological list denoting the names of previous landlords who had kept either the Bull's Head or the Navigation Inn. The list of landlords spanned the years 1842—1941.

Keith Holford. November 2016

Running a business in Buxworth 1932- 1944

Derek's edited article reads --- My parents first commercial venture was the chip shop, which stood at the foot of “ The Dungeon ” the footpath that runs from the former Post Office on New Road, diagonally to the Navigation Inn, adjacent to the Bugsworth Basin. It was a dark wooden shack with a steeply sloping roof and a brick chimney at the side facing the Black Brook. There was a serving counter on the left with the frying fittings behind, a long table with a bench seat faced the counter. At the back, steps led down to the dank and dismal storage area for the fish, potatoes, oil and mineral waters, with a small extension at the rear for the empties.

The village Chip Shop is pictured left of centre
Now this occupation was the before the latter days of the redoubtable “Maude Stiles ” -- Chip Shopper Keeper Extraordinaire. In fact my earliest memories in life are connected with the “fip fop”. The chip cutter was on the serving counter. A long handled lever with a heavy metal block below forced down the potatoes into a mesh of blades, the square chips then fell into a basin below. No bags of ready made chips, you made your own. The fish was delivered to the Buxworth Station in wooden tubs packed with ice. One memory is going with my mother to collect the tub on a cold winter-day, the ground being covered in snow. The fish tub was lowered onto a small porter's trolley and I can still hear the crackle of the frozen snow under the iron wheels of the trolley as we left the station. After a year or two with the chip shop, my parents moved into the realms of higher commerce and took on the Navigation Inn, always known as “The Navvy”. Life was broadening and memories are now more plentiful.

In an article in “ Derbyshire Life” (June 1983) Roy Christian called it “a most interesting old pub ”. Perhaps, but it is now a very different place from the one I knew in the early 1930's, and in my view it has lost much of its individuality. The buildings at that time still showed signs of the former activities connected with the Bugsworth Basin. The extension at the east end contained cart sheds, then used by Bert Ashby both as his garage (and his local coal delivery service by horse and cart. K.H. ). At the end of the block were stables with the stalls still in position, but used as a store for junk or for my father's motor-cycle and a paraffin heated incubator in which he raised chicks. Forming a right angle with the stables was a large floored outhouse used as washhouse. The floor above all these divisions was reached by a flight of steps and a narrow verandah, these contained the offices and workshops of Messrs Barnes, Hill and Barnes Ltd, riddle makers. The proprietor was Jack Barnes, what happened to the other Barnes and the mysterious Mr Hill I never knew. The riddles were handed down from the verandah onto the lorry of Charlie Cooke from Chapel-en-le-firth, a memorable figure in a long overcoat and bowler hat. (A fuller picture of riddle making at Buxworth appears on page 94 in “Peakland ”  published in 1954, author Crichton Porteous. K.H.).

A flagged passage ran around the end of the east block, with a set of disused pig-sties on the other side adjoining a larger building that must have been a former bakehouse since there were baking ovens in one corner. We used the place as a coal store. At the west end of the north frontage, below the shop window was a ramp of two heavy timbers over steps (still there) down which beer barrels were lowered gently into the cellars, which partly ran underneath the Navvy shop. The 36 gallon wooden barrels were pushed off the dray on to a large thick cushion shaped pad to prevent bursting, and then lowered down the ramp by means of two thick ropes and great exertion by the draymen. It was an operation of considerable interest to local children.

Once in the cellar, the barrels were wedged onto wooden cradles ready for “tapping”. This involved forcing a wooden tap through a bung in the lower side of the barrel face and then adding a small wooden peg into a hole on the middle of the top of the barrel. Pipes led up through the ceiling to the hand pumps in the bar above . During our tenancy the metal pipes were replaced with thick glass pipes, which allowed the sight of the amber liquid being lifted up to the bar as the pumps were operated from above.

The Navvy at this time, early 1930's, looked very different inside from today's open plan arrangement. From the front door facing the New Road, a wide passage ran through the pub to the south frontage facing the Bugsworth Basin. On the right was a narrow serving bar with a zinc-covered counter, beer pumps to the left and shelves above with rows of glasses and tins of biscuits. Behind and reached from a short passage at the end of the bar, was ”The Snug”, a small longish room, well named, with three or four round iron tables. An oblong table at the window end was used by the domino players. With a bright fire blazing, it was indeed very snug. Next on the right was the “ Front Room”, paradoxically at the back of the pub but may hark to the former operating days of the canal system when it was more likely to have been used as the main entrance to The Navvy.

The Front Room contained the usual round cast-iron tables, bench seats ran along the walls and there were bentwood chairs elsewhere. On the middle of the opposite wall was a fireplace and a mantelpiece holding a heavy marble clock. To the left of the fireplace, in the corner, was a piano, frequently used, since the Front Room, was in a sense, the “Concert Room”.

On the left, opposite the Front Room, was the “Tap Room”, a bleak unwelcoming room which was seldom used, and then to the north front of the pub again, our living room, shielded from  the vulgar gaze of the customers by a wooden screen just inside the room. Between this room and the serving bar mentioned were enclosed stairs, one set going down to the cellar by risky stone steps, and one set above, stairs to the upper floor, open from the front door so that a person could go upstairs without entering the pub, and it also opened up to the living room.

Using the upstairs one reached a landing. Opposite the top of the stairs was a bathroom, and to the left “The Club Room ” which ran the whole depth of the pub from front to back. It contained, on the right, a billiard table, seldom used, and various unused articles of furniture including a drum shaped knife cleaner. Opposite the door stood another piano, this was seldom played, on the left a long table used on club nights by the AOF (Ancient Order of Foresters). They also had a storage cupboard. On the right on the landing were two bedrooms. The “Back” bedroom was directly over the downstairs Front Room, but the “Front” bedroom was where it should be, at the front of the public-house. All very contradictory, but it caused no problems, we knew where we were.

There was no electricity or central heating. All the rooms had fireplaces for coal fires and illumination was by gas. A pipe came down from the ceiling to a circular bracket, which held a glass globe, inside an incandescent gauze like mantle fitted on the end of the pipe to provide the light. The gas was turned on and off by a thin dangling chain, a lighted match or taper near the mantle lit the gas with a  “pop”. Since the mantle filament was incredible fragile it took great care not to touch the mantle, when it would disintegrate.

In the front room was the piano on which performers among the customers would entertain the clientele,  most of them had a limited repertoire. One soon got to know what was coming. If old Bill Gould took to the ivories you knew that --- “I bring thee red, red roses” was coming. My parents would give duets with their backs to the marble clock. I never felt that they were the stuff of which opera singers are made. At times it caused me some secret embarrassment. Their staple repertoire was --- “When the moon comes over the mountains ”.  It was a song lifted from one of our gramophone records and performed to a much improvised accompaniment. One performer, Fred Burbage, nicknamed “ Brum” possessed a rich fruity voice of distinct character, a tremendous wobble known as “vibrato”. He could make magic with the song “ Me and Jane in a plane”. Mechanical entertainment came from a gramophone which stood on a table in the passage opposite the Front Room, records by Jack Payne, Debroy Somers, Leyton and Johnson, Albert Sandler, Teddy Brown, the musical celebrities of the era.

In the living room we had a “wireless ” they were not yet called “Radios”. This was the time of home made radios, and ours, the first we had ever had, was constructed by my Uncle Harry. It was large square wooden box with a fret-worked plywood front with a rising sun design    very common then – backed by some gilded fabric. A graduated dial at the front was for tuning and a set of push buttons for changing the wavelength. An aerial wire extended from the back of the radio, through a hole bored in the window frame and onto the roof. The radio was powered by a large dry battery and a wet accumulator, a large clear square glass container containing acid that had to be recharged from time to time – a service provided by the radio shops of the day and garages. Tiny white and red balls floating in the acid gave a hint as to the need to be recharged. I quickly took to the radio programmes and I would read the programmes printed in the daily newspapers to see if Reginald Dixon was “on” today. Sometimes, as a special treat I was allowed to stay up late to listen to the live dance band relays, hoping to hear “Wheezy Anna ”or” Lets all sing like the birdies sing” my favourite song at the time.

Some of “The Navvy ” customers stay in the memory, for differing reasons.  Tom Ratcliffe, had a watch chain which carried a dark red stone set in a ring, always known as “The Bloodstone”. Jodie Rogers, who could only light his pipe by lifting his arm stiffly forward of his body in a wide semi-circle thus lighting the pipe from the front, the result of a WW1 wound. “Joss Barrow ” Williams who once affronted my six year dignity by squirting a mouthful of beer into my face. No doubt a small child could be a pest to some of the customers but no one else was so forthright about it .

Occasionally we had boarders for short periods. When the  gasholder below Rosey Bank was
dismantled in the early 1930's, one of the workmen, a Yorkshire man called Bill White stayed with us and became a great chum of mine. A local chap, Dick Bradbury had the front  bedroom for a time. Dick played in the Chinley and Buxworth Silver Band, often practising his euphonium in his bedroom. He tried to get my mother to polish the instrument, but she declined his every overture. Two Scots, Jock and Hughie Haining shared one room. One morning Jock was cooking breakfast on the gas cooker in the living room and sent me upstairs to tell Hughie that “ his wee breakfast was ready” a message I delivered verbatim. More transient visitors included newspaper representatives trying to persuade villagers to change from the “The News Chronicle” to the “Daily Dispatch ” or the reverse. When the “Walker and  Homfrays ” brewery representative came-- a Mr Knibb appropriately enough, as I remember him solely by the flashing gold fountain pen he flourished – there was an air of “general inspection” on his visits. My parents appeared anxious and on their best behaviour, a novel sight in grown-ups .

A constant preoccupation in a pub was “ time ”and its observance, with the constant threat of lurking policemen observing breaches of the licensing hours. If the coast was clear, favoured   customers were sometimes allowed refuge in the kitchen and served refreshment at unorthodox hours. Alarming and horrific First World War experiences were often related, while other ex-servicemen preferred to stay silent on the horrors they had witnessed. The strict licensing hours were occasionally relaxed to allow “an extension ” for some special function, a significant magisterial favour rarely granted and accordingly savoured.

For a child living in a pub, life was all pros and cons. One could be made much of by some customers out of indirect deference to the landlord. On the other hand, service and activity continued long after bedtime. It seemed an unfair world where grown-ups could stay up as long as they liked, especially frustrating around Christmas when the pub was busy and noisy, and one were packed off to bed and forced to listen to the noise of the revelry below and wishing you too could stay up like the grown-ups.

Food then played little part in pub fare, the bar served sweet wafer biscuits and cream crackers with a cheese that was significantly hard and largely unpalatable. That was the sum total on offer.  My mother would bake batches of oval savoury ducks, still available today in some High Peak shops. Offal was minced in small bright cast-iron mincers that clamped onto the edge of the kitchen table. Everyone at this time seemed to own a similar contraption. The offal was minced with bread, onion and dried sage, shaped into ovals and baked slowly in the gas oven. They were especially popular around Christmas.

Pubs were, and still are, often the headquarters of various clubs and societies. The Navvy was then the HQ of the village football team Buxworth Athletic, the appendage “Athletic” was then the “buzz word ”. The players used the Tap Room as a changing room, almost its sole use, to the sounds of lively chit-chat and the strong smell of embrocation. For half-time refreshment my mother prepared coffee in a huge enamel bucket, a gallon or more, the coffee  grains sewn in a cloth bag. I doubt if it was very hot by the time it reached the ground on Barren Clough (Now renamed Western Lane. K.H.). On one celebrated occasion the team won the local league cup, a trophy which graced the sideboard of our living-room, until it was borne away by the renowned Nora Cotterill. We even had a song about the team at this time that included the names of all the star players.

Besides the football team, the Navvy was also the clearing house for betting, being regularly visited by local bookies, Tim Oldham from Whaley Bridge and a Mr Wright. They came to collect the little piles of bets written on odd bits of envelopes or cigarette packets with the accompanying silver threepences and sixpences, it was seldom more. Shillings were reserved for horses who were odds on certainties. Overheard conversations mention jockeys --- Gordon Richards, Harry Wragg and Freddie Fox, owners Lord Derby, Dorothy Paget, the Aga Khan and trainer Captain Boyd- Rochfort. Later a telephone was installed in the living-room and then the bets were transmitted by this new technology to a central office at Whaley Bridge. The telephone was used for little else. On one memorable occasion my mother backed a good priced winner named  “Jean's Dream”. With the proceeds she bought a pair of stylish snake skin shoes.

I have mentioned the “ Club Room ”. Here on a Friday evening, members of the sonorously titled “Court of Endeavour No 823. Ancient Order of Foresters” came to pay their dues and draw sickness entitlement. The room was strictly out-of-bounds for me. My father's card shows that in 1932 he paid 2s 8d (12p) per month subscription. My card shows that I was enrolled in the Juvenile Foresters in 1931, on my behalf he paid 6d in old money per month. Interestingly, in view of the rumpus over the name of the village (Bugsworth / Buxworth ) my card had been updated to Buxworth. Later I was initiated as a full blown member with due ritual and solemnity.

By now we had kept the pub for about four years when my parents decided on a change of bushiness, taking over the Navigation Shop from Matthew Smith. Perhaps the increase of a pint of beer to 5 old pence per pint from 2 old pence was killing off the trade. Or my mother felt it was wiser to keep my father's hand at a distance from the beer pumps. I shall never know: matters of high policy were not then revealed to children.

Moving to the Navvy Shop was hardly “ flitting” since it was only next door and I remember that my father moved the furniture on a small cart with the help of friends. Like the pub premises, the shop as it was then cannot have changed much with the years. There were still signs of its previous use both as a shop and a canal office. The back wall was filled with pigeon holes, some with small drawers, presumably for carriers orders, bills and such documents. Near the front door was a Post Office type posting box for their reception.

A large display window at the end facing the New Road was flanked by shelves on each side and below, divided into compartments. There were other larger under the window on the long side facing Silk Hill. The main counter stood in front of the pigeon holes with another lighter counter to the left., with a raising flap between them. The shop had a bare stone flagged floor, with the luxury of a strip of carpet on the serving side. We had no automatic slicer and no refrigerator – in a Derbyshire winter a fridge was hardly needed, but we had a Valor paraffin heated stove which I guess would not now be allowed anywhere near food premises .
Mrs Cope stands in front of the Navvy Shop in 1935. Behind her, steps lead down to the pub cellar

I have sometimes wondered how customers entered the shop in the days when the canal was still operative. Old photographs of the long side show three sets of windows on the ground floor but no door in the middle as we knew it. Was the entrance from the pub yard? Another old photo shows what looks like a doorway in the corner between the pub and shop, but there is no obvious sign of a blocked up doorway from the outside. As one entered the shop from the ground level front door, a door on the left gave entrance to the shop and immediately in front was a door that gave access to our living quarters. A passage gave access to the shop from the living quarters, and at the end in an alcove was a gas cooker. On the right, stairs led up to the front of the building, and a door on the right gave direct access to our living room. As one entered the living room, directly opposite was a small window, a fireplace and an oven, a cast iron multi -purpose range with steel fender in front and a suspended wooden clothes drying rack above. To the right in a cupboard was a sink with pot shelves above. The wall to the right had a large window. Unusually, both windows were closed with wooden shutters that locked with a flat metal bar and which during the day folded back into side recesses. This appeared to be the legacy of a safeguarding system of older times. There were no shutters in the shop premises or Navvy and I never came across any other similar shutters in the village. Anyhow they made for excellent “black-out curtains ” during WW2.

Upstairs on the left was the main bedroom, while to the right a wide landing area had been partitioned off with wooden screening that fell short of the ceiling to form another bedroom. This was my bedroom over several years. This might have been a storeroom in previous years, evidenced by a wooden door closing what was presumably a loading entrance facing the road.
It is now masonry but in a photograph circa 1935, the outline of the original wooden door can be seen. There was a fireplace on the same side, but at that time all the bedrooms in the Navigation complex contained fireplaces.

This bedroom has some vivid memories for me. Sometimes when awakening during the night I would hear a slow measured chuffing, suddenly broken up by a flurry and speeded up bursts of sound from an heavily laden goods train labouring up the railway embankment along Brierley Green. Then there was that never forgotten night in WW2 when I first heard the sound of German bombers flying to attack Merseyside and Manchester, a sound immediately recognised for what it was, for my father had often described the peculiar sound of their engines having heard them in WW1. On one occasion I was ill and I had the unusual luxury of a fire in my bedroom with the reflections of the firelight moving over the walls and ceiling. I don't remember there being any lights upstairs. Did we have candles? The downstairs rooms and shop were lit by gas as was the Navvy.

Behind the landing bedroom was a sealed door, and next to it was a door leading up to three or four stairs into an empty, very dusty attic lit by roof lights, a room never used except for storing junk. One fascinating feature was a raised wooden section the size of a kitchen table, by heaving up the top one could see into the corner of the Navvy's back bedroom. It points to the fact that originally that the pub and the shop must at one time have been one establishment, the shop being separated from the whole. The gas cooker alcove downstairs could also have been a connecting doorway.

What did we sell? A wide selection of fresh foodstuffs including bacon, cheese, boiled ham, margarine (but not butter) fresh bread and cakes, biscuits. A variety of tinned goods, sardines, salmon, corned beef, syrup and treacle, tinned fruit and condensed milk. Other consumables included jam, sugar, tea, coffee, cigarettes and tobacco. Confectionery, boiled sweets from 7lb glass jars, slab toffee, chewing gum, chocolate and mineral waters. Besides the fit and well, we catered for the local ailing with branded medicines such as Aspro, Beecham's Powders, Rennies, sticky plasters and bicarbonate of soda. We also stocked a selection of miscellaneous every day requirements, matches, gas mantles, sticky flycatchers, dolly blue, starch, “Monkey Brand ” rubbing stones, green household soap and “Cherry Blossom ” boot polish.

These were all tried and tested “lines ”that would sell in any event. There was little inclination for experimenting with doubtful new products and unfamiliar lines were treated with reserve when travellers tried to extol their merits, although there was ample shelf room to double the stock we kept. Similarly our suppliers and brands were old allies unchanging over the years: Black and Greens tea, Crawford's biscuits, Hartley's jams, John West salmon, Fray Bentos corned beef, Carnation tinned milk, Birkett and Bostock's bread . Familiar Cigarettes brands included Player's, Woodbines, Gold Flake, Craven A and Players Weights. Much favoured “pops” were Dandelion and Burdock, Sarsaparilla, American Cream Soda and Lime Juice and Soda. A penny a bottle was added to the price to encourage the return of the empties.

Our suppliers were mainly from the Stockport area, George Little of Underbank, Stockport for ham, bacon and other perishables. Barrowdales for confectionery, Birkett and Bostock for Champion bread, Watters Westbrook for tobacco, while cakes were supplied by Wilson's of New Mills and the wide ranging Broadhursts of Nantwich. Mineral waters came from further afield, the Palatine Bottling Co of Manchester. They also supplied the Navvy.

Some of the “reps”, or “travellers” as we called them, come to mind. Mr. Whalley from Watters Westbrook was an earnest, youngish man, very deferential, he made you feel that your modest order was the big deal of the day, though no doubt small stuff in his scheme of things. In those days perhaps any business at all was welcome. Wilson's Brewery was represented by tall, lean lip smacking Clifford Rose, who must long ago have tired of cheeky plays on his name. Most  welcome was Mr. Grimshaw of John Borrowdales, an elderly, portly, jaw clenching, dignified, amiable gentleman carrying a Gladstone type bag stuffed with sweet samples in small bottles and a variety of chocolate bars. These he would spread over the counter for inspection, it was fascinating to watch him deftly stow them away again. It looked impossible, but long practice had made him the master of getting a quart into a pint pot. Yet, somehow there always seemed to be one leftover that he just couldn't make room for, which was pushed over the counter to me with a resigned air. He was of course my favourite traveller.

We added to our sales with some home produced items. My father had kept poultry for years before we took over the Navvy shop, but we now sold our own hen and duck eggs. My mother made regular batches of teacakes, mixed in a very large earthenware bowl, rising the mixture before the iron kitchen range, later used to bake the self same items.

As a child my interest was in the sweets. One staple item for my modest pocket was” Banana Splits”, a cheap slab toffee sandwich of brown and yellow at 2d per quarter pound, broken with a small steel hammer. The usual purchase was 2ozs, since a 1d was usually as much as my funds would stretch to. At 4d per quarter you were going it some, and there were even breathlessly expensive chocolates at 6d per quarter for the really affluent, all served in conical paper-bags twisted at the top corners. Serving sweets was one of my jobs in the shop, I dealt with the easy things like weighing sweets and biscuits, handling tins and jars, anything in packets. Bread came already wrapped in strong grease proof paper, but nothing needing dexterity or judgement like cutting boiled  ham or bacon. We had no automatic slicer and the ham and bacon were cut by hand with a large bladed carving knife. I was from time to time  sent to the William Deacons Bank on the New Road at Buxworth to draw 5 shillings worth of copper from Geoffrey Stamper the bank clerk. The 60 pennies (There were 240 pennies to an old pound. K.H.) were enclosed in a stiff, blue paper cylinder and often wondered how the bank ever got them inside. Honest days-- I was never waylaid on my way back down The Dungeon.

Roy Christian relates that "in the 1890's the Navigation Shop was turning over an average of £100 per week” and those were the days when a pound was worth a pound. I doubt if my parents took that much money in a month. “Regular ” customers were allowed weekly credit. Considering the time, it was a mistake, though nearly all the customers paid up.

As with the Navvy pub, some of the more individual customers come to mind. From time to time, “Irish Tommy” would appear, an elderly tramp who shuffled into the shop for an invariable “ penno'th o'sugar ”, about 4ozs then. Or “Little Dan” Thorpe from the Rose and Crown Farm, never seen without his large peaked cap jammed down, walking with an uneven knock- kneed gait. He has a pessimistic approach to shopping opening his requests by saying “You haven't got a such and such, have you?” If one had to admit failure to stock his required item, he would conclude with “ No, I didn't think you would have ”, his expectations, or lack of them were then confirmed. Gilbert, also from the Rose and Crown, a strong silent type, plagued by dyspepsia, would lean back slightly and gaze somewhere above your head into the suspended packets before requesting his habitual “Packet of Rennie's”. Maria Bailey, prone to accidents when lighting the gas, was a good customer for gas mantles, informing you that once again “we'n knocked it off”. Frank Holford had a slight stammer, and in purchasing his favourite brand of cigarettes would request “ A doo-ooo-ooo - double woodbine”. On one memorable occasion we were visited by two young Germans on foot who bought bacon. They made an impression since foreigners were as rare as diamonds in Buxworth. There was much speculation later on for the real reason of their visit.

Opening hours were somewhat elastic. It usually started off with the men from the adjacent riddle works coming around about 8am for a “brew” bringing jugs, tea and sugar in small metal containers, we supplied the hot water and milk.  We did not close for lunch or tea and we would be often called into the shop to serve during our meal times. Nominal closing time was 8pm, but even then customers would call in an emergency or forgetfulness, confident that they would still be served. Sundays were no exception until WW2 reductions in trade made it no longer worthwhile and from March 1942 we closed on Sundays.

Wartime brought other changes. Most significantly rationing, which became increasingly stringent as the war went on. For the rationed foods had to be “ registered ” with a retailer, a retailer who alone could supply the particular item, though rationed foods could be bought in any shop willing to sell them. Increasingly the shopkeepers tended to keep other goods, especially those in demand or in short supply for their  “registered ” customers in order to keep their trade. It was possible at times to re-register with a different retailer if you were not satisfied, though as the war progressed there was not much to choose. I remember that my parents applied this unofficial rationing to cigarettes. (K.H. The basic weekly ration was fixed at 4oz of bacon, 2oz of tea, 8oz of sugar, 1lb of meat, 8oz of fats, 3ozs of Cheese and 2 pints of milk)

The paperwork connected with rationing was a pain in the neck. Ration books contained pages for each food, divided into coupons numbered for each week of the rationing year, it was the shopkeeper's job to clip out these fiddly little squares when supplying the ration. They were easily lost, it would have been much easier just to cancel them, but the continuation of supply depended on submitting the various coupons. On the other hand there was a small allowance for “spillage ” in distribution and with great care a little could be gained over the strict ration, a sort of perk but not much.

The wartime introduced us to a few new types of foods, foods that we had not seen or heard of before, these mostly came from a America. The most famous of all was “Spam ”-- spiced ham in tins –  much welcomed on its first appearance by our by then deprived palates. Other were “Snoek ”--whale meat, dried milk and powdered egg,  a powder like custard. In our depleted state, anything was welcomed, but some things were more welcome than others.

One year we augmented our supplies by keeping pigs. This was a wartime scheme by which a householder could rear two pigs, keeping one for domestic use and sending the other to a bacon factory. The two we kept lived largely on kitchen scraps boiled up into a swill augmented by some meal and a peculiar compound called “Tottenham Pudding”, a grey compact wedge looking a lot like suet pudding that had gone off. It was supplied to pig keepers in the scheme. We kept the pigs in our poultry run between the canal arms near  “The Wide Hole”. They lived in the remains of the stone crusher, which was floored with old railway sleepers making an admirable sty. My job was to prepare swill in an old wash boiler that my father mounted on bricks with a fire-grate below. For firewood I gradually demolished the remains of a ruined longboat that had been abandoned years ago at the end of the nearby canal arm. To keep up the supply, kitchen waste was collected from neighbours enticed by the promise of slices of pork when the time came. A lot of pigs went that way, but the bacon, ham, chops and offal that we kept was a godsend. ( With no refrigeration available ! K.H.)

A similar scheme applied to poultry keepers. Poultry food was rationed and in order to obtain supplies of the milling by-products --- bran --- sharps--- thirds--- and middlings that went into poultry mash, one had to  register with a supplier and in return send a quota of eggs to a packing station. Strangely at this time “chicken ” was not a common item of our diet as it has now become. It tended be treated as something of luxury, reserved for Christmas.

Shortage of supply in wartime meant that the recovery of re-usable materials had a high priority, now more familiar under the umbrella name of “Re-cycling” but in WW2 it was “Salvage”: paper, card, bottles, tins, rags and even bones were collected. By  comparison. the present vogue for re-cycling seems half-hearted.

Before the end of WW2 there came a change in direction for the Cope family. In September of 1944 we moved to Whaley Bridge. The shop and whole bag of tricks was handed over to Jim and Frances Pearson, our business days ended for good. There was a distinct sense of relief in leaving the shop where one always seemed to be on duty. 

Derek Cope. October 1994. Edited by Keith Holford 2016.

Brookside with the Navigation at the foot of the hill

The former Bull's Head and Methodist Chapel

Staff and pupils of the village school

In the foreground is the chippy. Western Lane in the distance

Matthew Hall's family

Abandoned tramway wagons. No 174 in the foreground is now at the National Railway Museum.

Bugsworth Basin 1924

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