I was born at 86 Moor Street in 1943, and lived there for almost 30 Years. I was one of 5; my older brother Tom and sister Sheila (‘She’ who must be obeyed) and my younger sisters Margaret(Meg) and Susan(Sue). We were poor but happy and many of the people mentioned in these pages were our friends and acquaintances. Previous contributors Martin Gorner, Ivan ‘Pop’ Saunders and Peter Hibbert and his siblings are all fondly remembered. My father was an Iron Founder and my Uncles were Railway fitters, drivers and firemen.
In those days, it was normal to know and respect all your neighbours (though we were often quite mischievous). Our doors were always left open and, when not at school, we played outside from dawn until dark in all weathers. We were often clad in ‘recycled/hand made and knitted/patched clothing and were seen as under nourished but we enjoyed life. We roamed on foot from Forest Town to Sutton Lawns, Pleasley Vale to Rufford Lakes and Kirkby to Cresswell Crags. Later, on a ‘re-cycle’, we travelled to Tamworth, Newark and Nottingham as train-spotters.
My siblings and I followed each other through Moor Lane School and were expected to be as good as Tom(head boy in his time). Our teachers were often tyrannical and punishment in the form of cane, ruler or slipper was accepted without complaint. I had more than my share of all three and totally ruined the high esteem that my brother had enjoyed. The other teachers at Moor Lane are all fondly remembered and Mr Phillips(Butch) remained a friend and mentor for most of my early adult life.
Having failed the Eleven Plus in my favourite subject, I was despatched to High Oakham, a good mile walk through the Brickyard, over the railway, down Bradder Backs, across the River Maun at the Old Byron then through the estate to Nottingham Road and High Oakham. Every weekday; rain, hail snow or blow we trudged to school and woe betide any late-comers! I must have been lucky though, my brother went to QEGS and hated it!
All the places documented so well by Alan Curtis and others are fondly recalled, as are the teachers, who moulded us into the citizens we became. Other teachers of my era included Dagger Dagnall (Science and Physics), Killer Keaton (Maths and Games), Slipper Martin(English and Drama) and ‘Mister’ Saunders (Woodwork) (E & OE). I was in the same class as Alan’s Brother in Law, Alan Allsop and Ivan Sanders and managed to stay in the ‘A’ Stream until leaving, despite spending a good deal of time standing at Mr Barke’s and Miss Weddle’s doors!
I left High Oakham to pursue my birthright as an apprentice electrician at Rufford Colliery, but left to join the RAF in 1961. In 1970, though by now a globe-trotter, I was ensnared by my wife June (Nee Beastall) on a trip ‘home’ to Mansfield. We still travel to Mansfield every Christmas and stay for a few days with June’s relatives. There’s nowt so fine as a Mansfield lass…………..I just had to say that! 29 years service and 3 grown-up sons later, I moved to AWE in Berkshire and became an I.T. Manager until my retirement to Fareham in 2008.
The Bleakhills were never bleak………….and the trains ……….. aahhh, the memories…….!