Our lounge was only used at weekends. This room had a coal fire which included an oven and a back boiler. The back boiler was designed to provide hot water for the kitchen and bathroom. In our case this facility was of limited value as the fire was only lit at weekends. We also had a fender, which included two buffets that could be used for storing coal. The set of fire irons were made by my dad. The lighting of the fire was one of dad’s responsibilities. He screwed up newspapers and laid them out as a base. On this he laid sticks in a crisscross pattern followed by coal. He then lit the paper and put up the blower. The blower was a galvanized sheet of metal with a handle, made by my dad.To give the fire lighting process an extra boost he would place a sheet of newspaper across the blower. This paper usually set on fire causing a minor panic. To the best of my knowledge we never had a chimney fire which was always a spectacular event for all the local children. After many years we graduated to using firelighters like posh people.
Soon after moving into Laxey Road my dad bought a second hand mechanical gramophone which was also a large piece of furniture. My dad borrowed a hand truck from a local plumber to bring the gramophone from Abraham Street. To start the gramophone you had to wind the motor up with a handle similar to a car starter handle. Our fragile records included Owd Shuttleworth, The Laughing Policeman and Paul Robeson. To increase the volume you had to change the stylus to a larger one. To me they looked similar to small nails.
Surprisingly I was aware that my parents were considering buying an electric wireless. One Saturday we all went down to the Co-op Emporium (now the library) and the decision was made to buy an Alba wireless. We could not have it right away, as my parents did not believe in hire purchase. When the money was saved the wireless was delivered and plugged into the only power point in the house. The radio's presence changed our routine. Normally the radio was switched on at 5pm each evening when Children’s Hour started. My favourite programs included Romany and Raq, Uncle Mac, Dennis the dashound and Ernest the policeman.
Many of our neighbours still used the old type of wireless powered by heavy glass cased batteries. This was an opportunity for young lads to earn a copper or two, carrying batteries to and from a shop in Grimshaw Park for the batteries to be charged.
In the lounge we had good quality oil cloth and a pegged rug. The pegged rug was made from a two cwt sugar sack for a backing and old clothes cut into small rectangular pieces. We pegged the rug as a family sitting in front of the fire and when completed it would be laid on the floor during the Christmas period. When possible we would have a rug each Christmas. We also had two easy chairs, a table and two pictures on the wall. This was the only room in the house with a shade over the electric light bulb. Upstairs we had two bedrooms and a box room. The main bedroom was equipped with a gas fire, though I never saw it used. The house was very cold in winter and thick frost was a regular feature on the inside of the windows. The main bedroom had a built in wardrobe, and on the shelf were two brown paper bags. One held my dad's black bowler hat and the other a black hat for my mother. These were worn when attending funerals.
My childhood prior to starting school is vague though I remember it was a happy time. A few photos did exist but they have not survived. The photographs had been taken using a crude wooden box camera given free with the John Bull magazine. We could play in the road (no traffic), and in the nearby Railway Clerks cricket ground, now covered with the Longshaw Junior school. After dark we played near any convenient gas lamp. A favourite game if you had a length of rope was to make a swing or better still swing round a lamp on the end of a rope. This was an excellent way to knock yourself senseless. No need for drugs in those days.
When the war started and the street lights were turned off this improved our prospects when we played kiss-catch. Having said that I cannot remember why! Sex education was not on the school agenda so "discovery learning" was the name of the game. When roads had to be repaired a watchman would work through the night for safety reasons. He was provided with a wood hut, similar to an army sentry box, a brazier for a coke fire and a stack of fuel. We would join him for warmth and take the opportunity to roast potatoes on his fire.
As children we could safely play out on the roads as most vehicles were drawn by horses owned by milk, coal, laundry and fruit and vegetable men. We occasionally had visits by rag and bone men and scissor sharpeners. Each evening when horses had finished their work rounds, they joined us in the Railway Clerks field. I cannot remember any children getting hurt with the horses galloping around the field among the children. When the war started a large air raid shelter was built in the field which provided more opportunities for games.
Laxey Road was initially built with seventy two houses; and no one owned a car until after the war. The first car owner lived at number thirty six; it was a weird brown colour with a canvas roof. A second car soon appeared and this was a very smart Alvis. In those days cars were only taxed for six months, the remainder of the time they would be raised on blocks for the winter.
How tenants were selected for the estate I do not know. Most people appeared to be working class and in employment. The exceptions included Mr Gregory (at number 31) who owned a soap powder factory in Hall Street; Mr Shorrock the founder of Shorrocks Securities Ltd; but my hero was Tommy Mclean who lived at number 20. He played for Blackburn Rovers at inside left, and scored the second goal in the 1928 Wembley cup final. He also owned a red setter dog that enthusiastically joined in our games. During the war there was an anti aircraft gun emplacement at the end of the road, presumably part of the Fuse factory defences.
At the end of the war Laxey road was extended as far as Manxman Road. This changed the road from a cul-de-sac to a through Road. The new houses were built by Italian prisoners of war. To a great extent the character of the area changed when tenants came from a slum clearance area. One person that remains in my memory was an old lady who lived at number seventy five. As children we knew her as Mary Ann; she always wore a shawl and clogs. Every evening seven days a week she emerged from home carrying a pint jug and walked the length of Laxey Road, then up Park Lee Road, which at that time was unmade to the "Stop and Rest" pub. She would buy a pint of beer for her husband and make the long journey home. The jug was covered with crocheted material edged with beads. Why I should so clearly remember this lady I do not know. Perhaps she was the "last of her kind".