Living on Bradder Street in the 1940's
In the beginning
I was born at 67 Bradder Street. Mansfield. Nottingham…On the 29th 0f November 1933, and believe it or not, I was 14.lb at birth. At one month old I had phneumonia and was given up by the Doctor, and were it not for a home made concoction of Fever Mixture made by my mother, I would not be here…When the Doctor came the next day, he told my mother that he expected to see the curtains drawn… I was the seventh child of my mother, she was a widow when my father and she married, and so I was the fifth child of my father.
‘Paying your way’
There is an old saying ” Living Hand To Mouth. ” I don’t really know what it means, what I do know is that when the folk of Bradder Street had paid their way, most families hadn’t two ha’pennies to rub together. In those days everything was Weekly, the rent was 4s..2d a week, the shop book ( bill ) had to be paid,( everyone ran up a weekly bill at the corner shop.) If you bought any clothes or furniture or indeed, anything, it was always on the weekly payment scheme. Also the tallyman and insurance man had to be paid. I cannot remember anything being paid for Monthly…. People had to work long hours for low wages.Only the well off owned their own house. Everyone else paid rent, and the rent man came every Saturday morning.( I guess that was because he knew people were paid on Fridays ).
In and around Bradder Street
Bradder Street was absolutely surrounded by railways, and the river Maun ran along the bottom of the street parrallel to Quarry Lane untill it reached the Field Mill Damn, of which the Mansfield Town football ground is named. I recently visited Bradder Way on a nostalgia trip, and noticed the old stone wall at the rear of where our home used to be, was still the same. I used to use that wall as access to what was the Tippin between Bradder Street and Sibthorpe Street…The Tippin used to be an old sand quarry between the two streets,which was filled in with waste from the town’s business’s. I remember finding many a treasure there as a youngster. The Tippin was used and fenced off to store ammunition during the war. Night watchmen used to gaurd the perimeter every night. In it’s sand quarry days, a caretaker of the quarry used to live in an old tin hut there. His name was Billy Brierley, and all the young kids were frightened to death of him. At the Quarry Lane end of the Tippin on Sibthorpe Street, there was a Slaughter house…Bradder Street was named after the Bradder family who lived in the big house at the bottom of the street, I think it was named Arlington House. This was later to become a Fish and Chip shop when a family named Austin moved in.
How people lived
The people who lived on the street were from all walks of life, but in the main were Coal Miners. They would come home from the Pit in all their ” muck “, and as there were no bathrooms in the houses, they would bathe in a tin bath in front of the fire. With only a cold water tap in the Kitchen, water was ladled from the tap to a boiler at the side of the fire grate, the other side of the grate was the oven. When one went to bed at night in Winter,the oven shelf would be taken out of the oven,wrapped in a sheet and used as a bed warmer, it was lovely to put your feet on…we went to bed by candle light, having a metal dish like holder for the candle. Others were employed at the Mills, Railways, Hosiery Factorys, Bus’s, etc. Everyone seemed to have a job in those days. Some Miners were killed or injured at work, It was then that everyone rallied round….There were two corner shops on the street, and when anyone passed away, a collection was made round the street, a vase was purchased and put in one of the shop windows. Any monies left over was given to the family. People did not seem to live as long then, and were usually laid out in the coffin in the front room untill the day of the funeral. There was no such thing as a T.V. we did rent a wireless which was powered by an accumerlator which had to be changed every week to be recharged. Everyone would gather round the wireless to hear it. I remember listening to the announcement saying that we are at war with Germany. The rent for the wireless was 6d a week.
The war years and rationing took its toll on the families. Food was in very short supply and a weeks rations didn,t go very far. It was at this time that Allotments came into their own. Bread was the main diet, and just about everyone made their own jam and did their own baking.
Games and pastimes
Kids hung about in small gangs but didn’t get into any trouble. They played games including football, rounders, dob, fag-cards. tin-a-lurky, marbles, hopscotch,skipping and cricket, using a dustbin lid for the wickets. You always knew when you were bowled out with a dustbin lid, It made a large bang. We used to bowl an old bicycle rim with a small stick and run down the street with it. In summer we used to go swimming in the Hermitage Damn, or paddling on Titchfield Park. Another treat was going on a picnic to the Hermitage and taking a thick chunk of bread and a Tizer bottle filled with water, This we could only have after having a paddle in the river Maun trying to catch minnows with a home made fishing net..Fishing was always a great pastime at the Crawler near to Reed Mills…And it was great fun playing in what was called ” The Robin Hood “…..Near to Bonfire night,” Scragging” another gangs bonfire was a great achievement.
There were no muggings and no vandals, no one had anything to steal. There was respect and kindness and caring from everyone in those days, and folk were safe going out in the dark. No one worried about not locking their doors, no one had ” nowt “… If we had a 1d in our pockets/purse, we felt rich. Everyone looked out for each other.
There were no holidays abroad, infact it was not untill after the war that we went on holiday at all, in a caravan at Skegness. Let me tell you how we got to Skegness for that holiday…..From Mansfield we bought a workers return to Newark. From Newark we bought another workers return to Lincoln. From Lincoln we had to buy a return ticket at full price to Skegness, all by Bus. Quite a trek, but worth it.
Air Raid Shelters & Call up
For the safety of all citizens, there were two brick and concrete Air-Raid Shelters built on Bradder Street. There was also one in the Brickyard, an underground one at the side of the Engine Sheds, and an underground one in the allotments at Moorlane School…Most streets had Air-Raid Shelters built during the war. The number of people in the street were reduced when the war started, except for the Miners ( and some of those enlisted ). Men were called up to the services, and many ladies went in the Land Army…Even I received my calling up papers at the age of 9 years old… The War Office had got it wrong. One of my mothers first children who had died at the age of 2, ( my half brother ), had the same initial as me, and they sent his papers addressed to me. I wonder what would have been said had I turned up ….
Bradder Street was not on a bus route, the nearest one could get near to the street from down town was Sutton Road, close to Moor Lane. Most folk used to walk everywhere. There was no electricity, only gas. It was 1953 before electricity arrived on the street. The old Gas Lighter man used to come round morning and night to turn the street lamps on and off. The lamps were a good place to congregate, and great to ” swarm up “…The lamps were not lit during the Blackout and no house had to have any light showing. If you had a chink of light showing, the Air Raid Warden would shout Put That Light Out !! There was a man who came around to wake you up for work, or if there was an emergency. A ” Knocker Up ” man who carried a long pole and would knock on your bedroom window untill you showed him you were out of bed.
My father worked at the Engine Sheds, he came from Cambridge, but always kept his accent. I believe he worked in the stores/office in the Engine Sheds, was always dressed up, wore patent leather boots, and was always spotless. He new first aid, and was often called upon in an emergency, hence being awoken by the ” Knocker Up ” man. He was once called out to save a mans life who had fallen into the Brickyard pond. Many is the time that I had to take him his Sunday dinner between two plates and wrapped around with a tea cloth, along with a pop bottle full of tea. He had a telephone in his office, a wall type with the earpiece hung on the side, and a handle you turned to call the operater. He passed away just a week after the war in Europe ended. I remember he was in the Victoria (The old Workhouse ). I went to see him with my Mother, but was not allowed to see him, I could not go in because I was only 11 years old, and I had to be 14 to be allowed in.
Joy and saddness
In the summer of 1945, I learned that I had passed my 11 plus for High Oakham Boys School. How sad it was my father had not lived to hear.
Growing up on Bradder Street was fantastic, and I would not change it for the world. I’m sorry that I wondered away from the street for a moment… I remember the Miners on the street had a monthly allowance of a ton of coal. This was tipped on the street and had to be barrowed into the coalhouse at the back of the house. If I got the coal in for anyone I could have the last two barrows as payment. This would help keep our fire going.
An escapeism for we youngsters was the tu’penny rush. I remember my sister Ina taking me as a child to the Hippodrome on a Saturday afternoon. We bought a ha’puth of monkey nuts in their shells to eat inside. What a mess we must have left behind. Flash Gorden, Johnny Mac Brown, The Black Hand Gang, Gene Autrey and others. Of course later we went to the Granada. All this took our young minds off everyday happenings.
I received a very good schooling at Moorlane School,I was only 3 years old when I started, and I also remember being put to bed in the afternoon on a fold up bed. I remember school dinners being 1s..8d for the week. It was always good to get past the ” Nit-nurse ” without her taking your name. I will always be greatful to High Oakham School, I feel I learned so much. Pop Payling always made the class say the verse ” They shall grow not old.” I had to leave in 1948. The teachers wanted me to stay on and take the School Certificate Exam. But unfortunately I was the only one at home with my widdowed mother, and I had to leave school to help with the income.