Friday, January 05, 2007

Further Reading.

Further reading. :-

Wikipedia article on the Black Country.
Locating the Black Country in place and time. 'The area is popularly said to have got its name because of pollution from these heavy industries, which covered the area in black soot and led to the name of The Black Country. There is a famous but dubious anecdote about Queen Victoria ordering the blinds lowered on her carriage as the royal train passed through the area. However, historians have suggested that it is more likely that the name was given earlier, arising from above-ground outcroppings of black coal seams that scarred the early heathland. Also, the coal seam just below the surface meant the soil in the area was very black...'

"Ow we spake" (Black Country dialect dictionary).
The unusual local dialect is one thing that the Black Country is most famous for. Linguists believe that Black Country English is closer to Middle English than other English dialects. Part of the Ancient Manor of Sedgley website, which has a wealth of historical information, photographs etc. (Many of the links on this weblog come from this website).
Further reading at Wolverhampton researches Black Country dialect.

Lives of local people.
'These are articles about the lives of local people who lived or worked in Wolverhampton or the surrounding area.' A large collection of further reminiscences of Black Country life. Of particular relevance - childhood reminiscences of Penn. But don't miss five generations of a lock-making family 1758-1901.

Histories of local areas.
Includes some articles on relevant locations :-
Darlaston in old postcards, part of a series of articles about Darlaston.
Growing up on Penn Common, part of a series of articles about Penn.

Old photographs and images of Wolverhampton.
Don't miss - the Staffordshire Yeomanry 1909-1914, old adverts and postcards, Wolverhampton in the 1960s and 1970s.

Wolverhampton's listed buildings.
Notable local architecture.

Wolverhampton war memorials.

Guide to Black Country and Birmingham canals.
The canal system played a major role in the industial development of the region, and are an interesting aspect of its industrial archaeology.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

When we moved to the bungalow that Ted had built in Yew Tree Lane, my dad and Violet came with us. Other people called their bungalows 'Ivy Dene' or 'Rose Dene', but we called ours 'Flora Dene' because of my name.

Then in August 1946, the club man came and told me, 'Florry I've heard your dad's got married.' It didn't surprise me in the least. He had married Margaret who was the widow of his older brother Jim. Margaret used to wave at my dad as she went past on her way to church, then Aunt Esther encouraged them when they would go out drinking together.

My dad came round right away and said, 'I reckon you've heard I've got married. Well if there's anything you want anytime, I'll help you.' But I never did ask him for anything.

He took all his furniture. Margaret had a general shop in the front room of her council house in Harding Street. After a time they started having rows.

Then one Saturday night, Margaret and my dad came round to the bungalow and she sat herself on the chair by the door. The first words she said were, 'This is mine.' It wasn't very often that I raised my voice but I raised it then. I said, 'Ted, get on your bike. Go to the police station, I'll soon show it whether it's yours or np'. As soon as he got up, Margaret walked out.

The following week, I told my dad, 'It's going up for sale now.' He agreed and I advertised in the Express and Star for a part-exchange. A man came with his wife and said he'd have the bungalow.

We got an old terraced house in Regent Street, Swan Village. The toilet was down the bottom of the yard and was shared with the other houses on the yard. The washing was done in an old brewhouse. Everything was old-fashioned but I didn't mind that. I wanted to get out.

The bungalow had had electricity, but in Regent Street there was a gas lamp fixed on the wall and you lit the jet. There was just one room downstairs for everything. It had a sink in for washing ourselves and for preparing food.

Violet came with us. She went out to work, helping to put up meals at a restaurant. I made friends with Ida who lived on the yard. She worked at home, putting clips onto cards, and she had a little girl called Pamela.


The first time that we went away on holiday was in 1948 when Ted, me, Violet and Carole went to Aberdovey for the week. I sent the big pram by train in advance. We got the bus from Coseley to Wolverhampton, then the steam train to Aberdovey.

The sun was shining when we started out on the Saturday, but it rained all the week afterwards. We stayed in a guest house. When we got there we found we had forgotten to bring the money to pay for the guest house, so I had to write to Stella. She sent us the money and we paid her back afterwards.

There was entertainment in the guest house one night, but Carole didn't like it and she started to cry, so I had to go up to the bathroom with her. One of the other guests and his wife went out one day and came back with a toy boat for Carole.

Violet and Ted went on a boat trip round the estuary while I stayed on the sands and played with Carole.

I met a friend from Sankeys. When she saw me with Ted, she said, 'That's your husband then.' She had seen Ted before doing bricklaying jobs, but she didn't know he was my husband.

We stayed near the church and we used to hear the bells playing a tune.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

When Ted was in the army he wrote and told me that he hadn't been very well. When he came home on leave I met him at the station and he looked terrible. I had never seen anything like it.

I took him to Dr Waddell's surgery. The doctory examined him and said, 'Let him have his leave. He'll be all right for travelling back. Take his letter to the army MO.'

My cousin Violet and I travelled back with him. We stayed the night in a little room in someone's house. When I met Ted the next morning, he said, 'Florry I've got to go into hospital tomorrow.' He was in hospital a while and then he was discharged from the army. If he had been in the army any longer it would have killed him.

When he came home, he stayed in bed for a while. Dr Waddell came out to visit him. I worked at Sankeys and my sister Violet would look after him while I was at work.

He got a bit of a pension at first but then they took it off him. A friend asked him to do a small painting job on his house. He began to do more jobs and to work for a builder. He got a job with Bilston Council and worked there till he retired at 65.


One of the nicest things was in July 1946 when Carole was born. I woke Ted up at half past four in the morning and told him that I thought I'd better have the midwife. He got up and made his breakfast, then he went to fetch the midwife. Later on he made himself another breakfast. Carole was born about 4:30 in the afternoon. I'd only just had her when Ted's mother and Stella came to visit.

When Dr Waddell came and looked at the baby, he said, 'Ooh, she is lovely. You want to have another one.' My dad told him in a broad Black Country accent, 'Yo day say that when yo had you'rn'. He had only one child. After all, I was 36.

I liked to get out with the pram and show off the baby. She was a beautiful baby. Mrs Fellows, the headmistress of Daisy Bank School, who liked a drink, looked in the pram one day and said, 'Don't let anyone kiss her'.

The following winter was the coldest in living memory. I had a little cot at the side of our bed and kept the baby warm. The was no fire in the bedroom but I saw the baby was well wrapped up. I couldn't push the pram out for nearly 10 weeks because of the snow and ice. I tried to venture out one day but I couldn't manage it.

In February 1947, Stella went into labour. She was booked to have her baby in a nursing home on the Penn Road. The weather was so bad that a taxi couldn't get across Penn Common. Stella and Charlie had to walk through the ice and snow across the Common. The snow was up over the hedges. Stella couldn't push the baby out herself. The had to use forceps. Charlie and Stella paid a lot of money for the nursing hom, but it might have been better if she'd just stayed at home. I had no trouble at home with just the midwife.

When I went to visit them, I was walking over the trees and hedges. You couldn't see the path in the snow. The baby, David, wasn't very well. Ted's mother brought him back to Brook House and Stella stayed in the home for a bit. Later the home was closed down.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Ted's mother had an old-fashioned cart that Bessie's husband Jim used to drive to fetch things for the farm. He would fetch grain from the brewery for pig food. Ted's sister Bessie and Edie Perry used to delivery milk by cart. They would go round Sedgley and Gornal with cans of milk. People would come out of their houses with their jugs and Edie would dip a measuring can in the milk and tip it in the jug.

One sunny afternoon, while Ted was away in the army, Ted's mother said, 'Come on, we'll go for a ride in the country'. She said she would take Stella, Charlie, Violet and me to Ebstree in the cart. The pony was named Bob. He was a lovely pony and he was used to stopping at the pub at Ebstree when Jim used to drive him.

They had gone to the trouble of putting rubber wheels on the cart. We got to Ebstree and we'd just started back when the rubber started to come off. The wheels started to make such a row that the pony took fright. I could see the rubber coming off and I said, 'I'm taking no risks'. Charlie, Violet and me all jumped off. Stella and Ted's mother managed to stop the cart by the police station. They had to leave the cart all night and get a wheelwright to fix the wheel. Charlie had to walk the pony back to Penn Common and me and Violet had to walk all the way back to Coseley.


In the Second World War there were doodlebugs. We thought the German planes followed the canals in Coseley. We looked for searchlights in the sky and then we knew bombs were coming. As soon as I knew, I dashed into one of the school shelters. Once I went into a shelter that was all in darkness and I was on my own. It was a really frightening time. We could hear the German planes overhead when we were in the shelters.

There was only Ted and a man named Tom Baker who wouldn't go down in the shelters. One night there were bombs dropped on Roseville and Ted darted under the table.

Eventually little house shelters we built of brick and put on main roads and we used them. Once when Violet and me were out shopping, the sirens went and we shelters in somebody's own Anderson shelter. We didn't know the people but they let us in.

Food was rationed in the war and afterwards. We had ration books with coupons. We got the books from an office in Roseville. You could use the coupones for a quarter of a pound of butter, say, but when you had used all the coupons up, you couldn't get any more food. The rationing was very tight. Margaret, my Uncle Jim's widow, got ham on the black market. She would give my dad a slive and we would have to sit and watch him eat it for his breakfast.

In 1946, I heard there were Jaffa oranges on Dudley market. I was as big as could be because my baby was very nearly due. I went to Dudley and stood in a queue for the oranges. The were beautiful big Jaffas, lovely and juicy.


Monday, January 01, 2007

Ted's father was a very shy man. When I went to Brook House he kept out of the way, doing jobs with the pigs or cattle.

One night Ted had told me that his dad wasn't very well. The next time I should have met Ted he didn't turn up. It was a dark winter's night and I walked all the way from Coseley to Penn Common.

Edie, who use to work for Ted's family milking cows and delivering milk, came to the door. She called me in and said Ted's dad wasn't very well. She asked me if I'd like to see him. I said I would. He was the most good-looking man you ever saw.

Edie said to him, 'Do you know who this is? It's Florry.' Maybe he thought she meand Florry his daught who died when she was a little girl. Ted's dad died the same night.


I once went to Liverpool on the train for the day with Stella, Charl and my dad. Someone had told my dad he had a relative in Liverpool and that's what we were looking for, but we didn't find them.

My dad took us into one place to have a meal but we walked out without eating the food. It wasn't a very nice place. There were women standing on street corners with no shoes on.

When we were walking back to the train station, my dad found some silver sixpences on the floor.


At 20 Yew Tree Lane, the light came from gas lamps on the wall. A pipe carried gas to the lamp. My dad attached another pipe to that pipe. He fixed it so the pipe reache the kitchen table and went into a little ring that was loose on the table.

After we moved into Flora Dene in 1935, we had electric light, but my dad didn't much care for it. He said it didn't suit his eyes.

The wireless had accumulators inside. A man in the next road used to call and take the accumulators and bring them back ready to use. My dad said that, one day, there would be pictures witht he wireless and people would be able to see people in other places. I looked at him amazed.

I used to listen to Housewives' Choice on the wireless in the mornings. My sister Violet used to write in and request records. She had had records played for me and for Ted's mother. She had a lot of records chosen. A reporter from the Express & Star came to see her and asked how she got so many records picked. She said it must be because they liked the records she chose.

In 1956 she had written in toe had a record plahyed for mine and Ted's wedding anniversary. I didn't hear it but one of her neighbours told me it was played on September 7th. The record was 'The September Song' with the words 'These few golden years I spend with you'. She was just 39 and she was already dead when the record was played - she couldn't spend any more years with us.