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Main road to Buckley from Ewloe Hall bridge, includes article by Ken Shone: Memories of Childhood"

Globe Way, Buckley


Buckley Society Magazine Issue Thirty Six, Spring 2012

p. 61 - 67



written October 2011


I was born on 10th. May 1928; my mother once told me it was Chester Cup Bay - though it never did me any good in that respect. My Mother was Bessie Blackwell, better known then as the youngest sister of Miss (Eleanor) Blackwell who taught at St. Matthew's School for over 30 years. Dennis Millward, a frequent contributor to this Magazine, in latter years boasted that he was a pupil in the first class she taught. While my father was Alf. Shone who was a joiner and later landlord of the Horse & Jockey in Church Road from 1940 to 1970, following his father who was its landlord from 1921 to 1940.


I was born and lived until 1940 at No. 39 Liverpool Road, the house attached to Okell's Farm. I don't remember my maternal grandmother since she died in 1930 but I can remember my maternal grandfather John Blackwell who died in 1934 at the age of 84 years, he was the wheelwright at Catherall's Brickyard, until he was 80 years old, I have a recollection of being taken to the brickyard whether to see him at work or where he worked I'm not sure.


We lived with my grandparents and then later with Aunty Eleanor who took over tenancy on the death of her father in 1934. The house was owned by Catherall's Brickworks and the rent was collected weekly by a Mr. Molyneaux from the Brickworks. In the middle thirties my mother's sister Janie came to live with us when she had to retire as a nanny owing to ill health though she lived to be 91 and died in 1971, while my mother's brother Ernie Blackwell also lived with us for a short time following the death of his wife Milly in 1936.


No. 39 was a big double-fronted house and still stands today. Downstairs at the front was the parlour on the left looking from the road; this room was very rarely used by the family since the fire always smoked. It had a piano in it which was never played. The room did however get used every Saturday when James Beck, a Scotchman from Chester (see Note 1) had his lunch there. On his death he was succeeded by a Mr. Gilles. On the right was the kitchen (living room) with a big kitchen range with an oven. This was replaced in 1937 with a Triplex range which my mother's brother George, who was a builder in Lymn, had taken out of a house he was modernizing. Adjacent to the fireplace were some cupboards. I kept my collection of cigarette cards in albums in one of these cupboards; they got damp and had to be thrown away. What value they may have been today!

I collected these from Capstan cigarettes which my father smoked and Players which Aunty Eleanor smoked - 3 a day after her lunch, tea and supper, though my father never offered her a cigarette - a lady smoking indeed!


The furniture in the kitchen was a table, an old fashioned horsehair sofa, wooden kitchen chairs and a wooden rocking chair (no easy chairs in those days) and an all mains (electric) Phillips radio which Aunty Eleanor had purchased when Herbert Ellis of Chester had canvassed the houses about 1932. It was later replaced in about 1938 with a more modern G.E.C. set. Not many houses in Liverpool Road had an all mains wireless, not even Mr. Tyson who was headmaster of St. Matthew's School and who lived at No. 53. I know because I sometimes took his accumulator to be recharged at Arthur Roberts' Shop next to the Horse & Jockey in Church Road. Downstairs behind the two front rooms was a large wash house with the coal-fired boiler and a large Buckley stone sink and a cold water tap. In about 1938 gas was brought to the house and we had a gas cooker. Next to the washhouse was a reasonably sized pantry with its cold slab and safe with mesh sides to keep out he flies and then there was the back kitchen which my grandfather had used as a workshop - it was very damp and the plaster was falling off the walls.


Upstairs at the front were two bedrooms and at the back a very large bedroom and my bedroom, which was much smaller. The parlour, kitchen, the two front bedrooms and my bedroom had wallpaper on the walls. I remember one room being repapered and copious layers of paper being removed from the walls. I don't remember the house without electricity; I imagine it was installed about 1930. However there was no electric light in the back kitchen or the large bedroom. I believe that at the time it was installed payment was made for the number of lights installed. The only heating in the house was of course from the coal fire in the living room but sometimes in the winter we would have a Valour paraffin heater in the bedroom which had an unpleasant smell of its own and produced a pattern on the ceiling from the flame through the patterned boles on the top of the heater. It kept a young lad of 7/8 awake. The water supply to the house was a tap in the wash house -only cold water. Hot water for washing was from a kettle always on the hob of the coal fire in the kitchen. I think I had a bath in an enamel bath in front of the fire on a Friday night but I don't recall the adults ever having a bath. Very occasionally Aunty Eleanor would go to her sister's at Ewloe Hall, where there was a bathroom with hot water.


No. 39 can be seen standing today, well back from the road about 12-15 yards. It had a very large garden with a path made of Buckley tiles from the front gate to the front door which was in the middle of the house. If you look closely today at the boundary wall on the main road you can see where the original gate has been bricked up. My father had a large kitchen garden on the right hand side looking from the road growing potatoes, peas beans etc. On the left hand side was a large comfrey plant near the gate and some gooseberry bushes. I can recall the left hand side of the house being covered with ivy and story had it that a snake was found in the bedroom so the ivy was cut down. The garden extended at the right side of the house and it was here in September 1939 that Phil Davies (See Note 2) , Ernie Davies from No. 47 and I dug down about 2 ½ feet when we reached heavy clay to build an air raid shelter. We tiled the floor, erected wooden battens, covered them with tin sheets and soil; we even built a fire place with a chimney in one corner. The roof collapsed under the weight of the heavy snow in the winter of 1940. The tin sheets are probably still buried there.


Initially there was a dividing wall between the garden and the backyard made up of Buckley tiles piled up but my father replaced this wall with a fence about 8 feet high made of floorboards. The backyard at the back of the house was covered by Buckley tiles. The outbuildings comprised a 'privy' - no water closet, the tub was emptied weekly during the night- a coal house and a pig sty. I don't remember us having a pignut we did have hens and bantams housed in a hen-house which ran the full length of the side of the house and the backyard. At Easter the hens laid coloured eggs. I could never understand why these always had to be boiled rather than fried until I learned that my mother had coloured them by putting them into boiling water in which she had put cochineal colouring; hence the eggs were part boiled. The hen house must have been removed about 1936/37 since Ernie Davies and I used to play 'shooting in' across the backyard in the winter and cricket up and down the yard in the Summer. I would be Arsenal with the great stars of Moss, Male, Hapgood, Crayston, Roberts, Copping, Kirchen, Beasley, Drake, Les Jones and Bastin, while Ernie would be Manchester City with their stars of Swift, Dale, Barkas, Busby, Persival, Toseland and Eric Brooke. I can remember Arsenal winning the F.A. Cup in 1936 when they beat Sheffield United 1-0 and won the 1st. Division of the Football league in 1937 and 1938 and Arsenal is today a great passion of mine. My father took me to Goodison Park to see Arsenal beat Everton 4-1 in September 1938. Dixie Dean scored for Everton but I don't remember anything else about the game. I know we travelled on the football train - 12 noon from Buckley Junction to Seacombe, across the Mersey on the ferry and then a tram to the ground but I can remember leaving the ground before the final whistle and boarding the tram at the terminus not far from the ground.

The yard behind the side of the house was about 3 yards wide and I can recall while playing cricket breaking the pantry window and a milk jug on the window sill.


I obviously attended St. Matthew's School in Church Road. First when I was four, to the Infants' School, now a house. The teachers were Miss Mabel Usher (later Mrs. Arthur Johnson), Miss Bessie Millington from Padeswood Road and Miss Emily Jones (later Mrs. Bevis Edwards). The headmistress was Miss Griffiths who lived in the house adjoining the School. I don't remember much about the School except getting into trouble for taking some plastercine home - it was stealing!


Then at 6 six I went to the 'big school' just further up the Church Road situated where the Church Hall now stands. The teachers there were (in order of classes) Miss Louise Beavan (from the Feathers Inn in Brook Street), Miss Eleanor Blackwell (Aunty Eleanor), the student teacher (Mr. Peter Rowlands from Drury), Miss Eddie Jones (from Padeswood Road), Mr. Bob Peters who lived very near where I now live in Church Road (he taught the scholarship class and later became headmaster at Gwernaffield) and Mr. Harold Probert from Padeswood Road who taught the 'big' boys in Standards 6 and 7. Mr. 'Jimmy' Tyson was the headmaster. He didn't have an office but sat at a desk adjacent to an open fire between classes 2 and 3 in the big room. He played the piano and took each class for music (which I hated). I passed through Standards 1-5 and passed the scholarship on 25th. May 1939 to go to Hawarden County School. They were happy days at the 'big school'. I particularly remember in Standard 2 the weekly tests in arithmetic and spelling. We were seated in class according to the results of these tests, the bottom of the class in the front row with the top of the class in the back row, where fortunately I always sat. Standards 4 and 5 were housed across the play ground in a wooden hut. Miss Eddie Jones taught Standard 4. She was called 'Nagena,' a character in Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book which she used to read to us. She also took a magazine called the Sphere, from which she showed us pictures of the war then taking place in 1937/38 in China.


St. Matthew's School had a good football team. The whole time I was there the players were the 'big boys' from Standards 6 and 7. We usually won the local school league but always came unstuck against the school at Hope who always seemed to have a regular supply of the 'Speed brothers' each year. We weren't allowed onto the field behind the school to watch the matches but stood along the fence in the schoolyard. But Mr. Tyson used to take us in arithmetic same afternoons and if we got all the sums correct he would let us out onto the field itself. I clearly remember on one such occasion I was first to complete all the sums but got one wrong even after a second attempt but saw the answer at the back of Mr. Tyson's book so got it correct at the 3rd. attempt before anyone else in the class and was allowed out onto the field, only shortly to be called back into school because Phil Davies had told Mr. Tyson that I had cheated.


I remember Mr. Tyson bringing Alan Hughes (Coppa View Farm) around the classes with the cap he gained when he played in goal for Welsh School Boys (he later distinguished himself in goal for Mold Alex, while his younger brother Fred was in goal for Buckley Wanderers for many years). While I was at the 'big' School, Trevor Davies and Ken Ellis (both from Spon Green) played for Flintshire Schoolboys. I also remember Mr. Tyson bringing Jim Boswell (he lived in a cottage on the site where I now live) round the classes in the uniform of a guardsman. The school played cricket against the Board School and Bistre School on the cricket field in the Lane End and I was the scorer in both seasons 1938 and 1939.


Free milk was introduced while I was at the 'big' school and Norman Williams (Stud Farm) and George Davies (Oaks Farm) had the job of bringing the crates into school and placing them by the fire to take the chill off and in the winter to thaw the milk out. Mr. Tyson christened them the 'Farmers Union'. Mr. Tyson used to let George Davies and myself out early on 23rd. April of each year - St. George's Day - since we were named George. He didn't do the same for Davids on the 1st. March - that would be considered blatant racism today.


On Saturday 27th. August 1939, I was taken on holiday by Mr. & Mrs. Albert Davies together with their son Phil (see Note 2) and their daughter Honour to Winkups Caravan Camp at Towyn. (It still exists today but in a much more sophisticated form). The weather was good and we played outside all week. The camp backed onto the main railway line to Holyhead and on Thursday and Friday the 1st. and 2nd. September I can remember seeing trains laden with evacuees going past. War was imminent and we returned home on the Friday instead of the Saturday. On the Friday morning quite early I remember playing on a one-armed bandit and getting 999 - the jackpot, which had to be claimed from the attendant who hadn't turned up. Phil & I guarded the machine to prevent anyone playing on it until I could claim my prize. In the meantime I was offered five shillings (25p today) which I refused and when the machine was opened the prize was six shillings and four pence (about 31p). I think I returned home with more money than I left with.


I arrived home to find we had two evacuees billeted on us - Stanislaus and Tom Elcock from a Roman Catholic School in Birkenhead - they were nice lads. Stan was my age and Tom a little younger. The thing I particularly remember about them was them having been to mass on a Sunday morning and I returned from St. Matthew's Church to find them playing with a ball in the backyard. Playing games on a Sunday was something I was never allowed to do.


War with Germany was declared at 11 o'clock on Sunday, 4th. September. I started at Hawarden County School in September 1939. We travelled on Richardson's bus. The fare was 1/3d (6p) per week and Mrs. Eddie Dolby came round the classrooms on a Monday afternoon selling the weekly tickets, The war had started and a school from Birkenhead occupied some of the classrooms. The Winter of 1940 was extremely hard, with heavy falls of snow and all the buses stopped running because there were deep ruts in the compressed snow - no snow clearing equipment in those days, only manual labour. I walked to School two or three times during the bad weather.


What did we do as children to amuse ourselves in those days of no television? Bedtime in the week was eight o'clock. We played games such as ludo, draughts, snakes and ladders, strip-jack-naked. I had a dart board on which I devised a game of cricket to play on my own (that was how I learned to score properly). I started collecting stamps in 1935 when my aunt brought a small album at the church Jumble Sale. Time was passed reading books and of course in 1938/39 there was homework leading up to the Scholarship Examination for which we had to read and be proficient in Dicken's A Christmas Carol on which we had to answer questions on the day of the examination. One question on the paper (not related to A Christmas Carol) which still sticks in my mind was, 'Why are Children allowed to travel on the train at half price?' I answered, 'because they can sit on their parent's knee'. I don't think I got many marks for that answer!


I remember listening to the wireless -such programmes as Harry S. Pepper's Minstrel Show, Monday Night at Seven, Howard Marshall's Cricket Commentary when Len Hutton scored 364 against the Australians. My father and I got up in the middle of the night to listen to the commentary of the Tommy Farr/Joe Louis fight from America - what little we could hear, the atmospheric interruption was very pronounced. Friday night was usually bath night, proceeded by having my hair combed in case I had caught 'nits' during the previous week and then taking a Carter' Castorette (laxative) Tablet before going to bed, which necessitated staying around the house the next day in case of need.


Sometimes on a Friday night in the winter I would be taken to the Tivoli by my mother to see a George Formby or Gracie Fields film, while in the Summers of 1938 and 39 I usually went on a Friday evening to the cricket field in the Lane End to watch a match in the local knock-out competition. It was after one of these on 4th. August 1939 that my father was meeting me at the bottom of Church Road past the Horse & Jockey to tell me that I had a baby brother. I knew my mother was ill in bed during the day because I had been told to keep quiet - I didn't even know she was expecting and I hadn't seen anything unusual under the gooseberry bushes in the garden when I left home. How innocent an 11 year old was in those days.


Saturday nights we always went as a family to the Jockey where my grandparents lived. I used to play with my cousins across the Road at Rosedene where we had chips and half a bottle of pop for supper and then joined my parents in the kitchen at the Jockey. We left for home at about 10 o'clock but immediately called at Bert Dolby's sweet shop which stood on the corner of Church Road and Drury Lane where my father bought my mother and me sweets for the week. I had my choice, usually a quarter of 'Velvona' chocolate caramels which cost 2d (less than 1p). Sometimes I was allowed a penny of cheap sweets, usually 'alphabet letters' as well.


Leisure time in the hours of daylight was spent playing cowboys and Indians in Wrongles Wood over the railway line by Pickow Farm or in 'Neelie's" wood behind what is now St. Matthew's Park or on the 'Metal Bank' at the bottom of Liverpool Road. We saw a snake one day so didn't go there again. A favourite pastime was sitting on the wall by the front gate collecting vehicle numbers. There are probably more vehicles passing now in fifteen minutes than passed in a whole afternoon in those days. During the first week in July we would listen for the chugging of the traction engines struggling up the bottom of Liverpool Road bringing Collin's Jubilee Fair - often three or even four trailers each, one of which would be the caravan in which the Collins family slept.


We played hopscotch and skipping on the footpath and football on the road - boys and girls often played together in all the games. If I was lucky I went to the children's matinee at the Tivoli on a Saturday afternoon when the serial was Tom Mix of Buck Rogers and then to watch the second half at Buckley Town who played on a pitch behind the old Midland Bank, somewhere between where the Health Centre and the Library now stands. We were allowed on after halftime free of charge. The team was Thomas John Catherall in goal, full- backs Mansell and Woolridge, who took the penalties, half-backs Venables (the captain who worked in Lloyds Bank), Percy Millington and John Beavan, and the forwards Len Hughes, Joe Kelsall, Arthur Peters, Len Gandy & Jackie Lloyd from Brymbo . When I was at Bangor University in 1949 he was playing for Bangor City. The Town played in the West Cheshire League and I vividly recall the buses coming back from the Wirral when they won the Pyke Cup.


My paternal grandfather had died on 3rd. August 1940 after a heart attack. He had been chairman of Buckley Urban District Council in 1926 and 1927. Since Shone Bros. Haulage was operated from the Horse and Jockey and K. & W. Shone Builders used the outbuildings there, family loyalty decreed that my father should succeed my grandfather as Land lord of The Horse and Jockey. So, on a Friday early in September Aunty Eleanor relinquished the tenancy of No. 39 Liverpool Road and we all went to live at The Horse and Jockey. It was heavenly: we had a bathroom with hot water and a flush toilet. We even had a telephone - number: Buckley 69. The evacuees did not come with us since a public house was not deemed a suitable place for them to be billeted. And so ended a very happy association with Liverpool Road. I have some further memories of Liverpool Road as a community which perhaps I shall have the opportunity of relating to you in the future.


NOTE ONE: A Scotchman was a draper who called on people at home selling them made-to-measure clothes. I think they were paid for when he called each week.


NOTE TWO: Phillip Davies later became Rector of St. Deiniol's Church at Hawarden.



Author: Shone, Ken


Year = 1967

Landscape = Urban

Extra = 1960s

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