Memoirs of a Refugee
by Alan Barry
Houses on Daisy Lane, viewed from Whalley Old Road, awaiting demolition.
I was born in Plumstead, Kent, on August 24th 1938, first son of Elizabeth Alice Barry and Joseph Francis Barry. After a severe German bombing raid we were left with only the clothes we stood in, the complete street was razed to the ground. My grandmother Margaret Hartley, lived in Blackburn so we were evacuated to Lancashire and settled at 105 Daisy Lane, where we stayed until I was married in 1960.
Daisy Lane was a cobbled street with no electricity and rows of terraced houses, mostly run down and in need of repair. All had coal fires and gas lighting, the only light being a mantle in the middle of the room, which often blew off if the door was left open.
The house had flag floors with either lino or “peg” rugs scattered about. Peg rugs were made by cutting a piece of hessian sacking and cutting up strips of old clothes that you pushed through the hessian with the prong of an old wooden peg.
I remember my mother decorating the walls by mixing a bucket of whitewash and adding a dolly blue to make it a pale blue colour. When it was dry she added more dolly blue to make it darker and with a sponge dabbed on a pattern. My father was called into the R.A.F. and our life on Daisy Lane had begun.
Houses on Daisy Lane at Larkhill in around 1960.
My recollection of the War years is a bit sketchy but I remember the end of the war quite distinctly. We were awakened in the early hours of the morning by banging on the doors and cheering in the streets, people shouting “The wars over, they have opened the pubs”. Why I remember it so distinctly I don’t know but I can still see me sitting on the bar of the Plantation Tavern on the corner of Daisy Lane and Moss Street with everyone singing and dancing. I remember the street parties with all the streets decorated with bunting and tables full of food prepared and served by all the parents.
My brother Fred was born in 1943 and my father was shipped out to Egypt. By the time my father was demobilized my brother was 2 or 3 years old and I can remember him hiding under the table when this strange man came in and started hugging and kissing my mother. My sister Margaret was born in 1948 and the family was complete.
View of the houses on Trinity Street, Holy Trinity School was on this street,
this view was taken in around 1960.
My school days began at Holy Trinity School on Trinity Street. The school had a flat roof and boys played on the roof while the girls played on the school yard. The only teacher I can remember is Mr Ramsbottom, the school head teacher and the only reason I remember him is that he meted out punishment to any wrongdoers and from what I remember it could be quite severe!
My lunch used to be sandwiches of bread and dripping, its about the only school lunch I can remember taking. Every household had a chip pan usually full of beef dripping. This would solidify after the chips were cooked. My mother used to scrape off the top of the dripping, add a little salt and spread it on two thick slices of bread. The desert would be a square of newspaper which contained either cocoa and sugar or cornflakes and sugar, I think thinks crisps must have been in short supply.
The house on Daisy Lane had a living room with a large cast-iron fire place that my mother lovingly used to black-lead and polish. It had a kitchen, flag-floored with a solid stone sink and a brick built boiler that had a copper inside and a wooden lid. When the weekly wash was was done we lit a fire under the boiler, filled it with water and “poshed” it with a stick. We had a coal store in the kitchen, it was under the stairs, very healthy!
The toilet was in the yard and had a 6” gap under the door and would be freezing on a cold, wintry day. Toilet paper was made by cutting up squares of the ‘Telegraph’ and pushing a string through the corner, it was then hung up behind the door. It was rumoured that you could still read the print off your backside on the following day!