Childhood Days - a Memory of Thurnscoe.
I too have happy and sad memories of Thurnscoe. I started school in 1952 at Hill Infants. Mrs Cartlidge was our teacher. I still remember where I sat behind the door and being given a small blackboard and chalk on my first day there. Every day was an adveture, we never got bored, but then you were allowed to roam all over, up Stotfold Farm with your bottle of water and jam sandwich, into the scary cave wood, but you were always home before dark. Everyone out in the street before bath and bed, playing knock down tin cans and hide and seek, with our mothers at the gate watching, and gossiping, but never in each other's houses. No need to compare what others had, we all had the same, even at Christmas, every child in the street seemed to get the same, one main present. At junior school we had great adventures in the old air raid shelters, you could be anyone you wanted, no toys needed, just an old stick for a gun and you made the noise yourself.
In winter if it snowed we had some great sledge runs, who cared if you fell off, there was no Health & Safety to worry about then. Sometimes you'd wear old socks on your hands for gloves, and black wellies in which your socks went to sleep and left you with black rings round your legs. The bricky near the res, your own fantasy world, never seemed to hear of a child hurt or killed, maybe we were shielded from the real world, but we were kids allowed to grow with childhood years. We had dolls and prams, and went bike rides as we grew older - off out on a Sunday morning, with words ringing in our ears - "Don't be late for your dinner or else"' . Then later on, back we would come, peddling like mad to make it home on time.
I left Thurnscoe in 1966 to join the army W.R.A.C. and each time I came home it was like time had stood still, nothing changed, maybe being away you see things in a different light. The tips and slag heaps from Hickleton pit, nothing ever seemed clean, washing with soot on. Yes everyone knew each other which was at times a bind, cos whatever you did someone knew your mam and dad and would tell them so they knew if you had done owt wrong before you even got home, and would be waiting at the gate for you, and you never got called by your own name, you were Billy's lass or Mary's daughter.
Pay day at the pit where I had to wait near the pit yard for Dad's wages on Friday afternoon before he went down "on after's", then straight home to give them to Mam so she could go shopping, I was only a child then, so trusting in those days. Dad had a bad chest so he came home to get his bath, he was scared of getting more cold on his chest so didn't use the pit baths (he died at 53 from the coal dust). I still see him coming home, layers of clothes duddly swinging round and the sound of his pit boots, big roaring fire, dinner cooking, my mam always seemed to be cooking and baking. I hated wash day, steaming clothes hung all over if you could'nt peg out, no tumbler driers in those days. We had no telly - we didn't even have electric when I was a child, we had gas mantles, and used candles to light us to bed. Outside our house we had a gas lamp, and we used to put a bit of rope on it for a swing.
We also grew all our own veg, and kept chickens and pigs, many's a day you opened the back door and there hung up would be a dead pig with a bowl underneath it for the blood to drip into, mam cut it up and every bit was used, we had no fridges either in those days but we never seemed to get owt or be ill. Maybe we were healthier we did get more fresh air, not like kids of today stuck to their computors or electronic games. We found out about life the hard way, taking all the knocks along the way, you got up and kept going, there were no insurance people then to dole out the money. You worked for every penny as did the colliers of those days, crawling along on their bellies or hands and knees. There was no welfare to pay you if you couldn't work, but your parents never told you of this, you were well fed and clothed and that was all that mattered. If the pits had stayed open would the youth have gone down there? I think not, for me I would never have let my 2 sons go down, I saw my dad die a horrible death through the 'Pits', hardly able to breath, and gasping for breath. The pit was 5 minutes from our house and it took dad 45 minutes to do this walk, with me and my brother pulling him up the hill and stopping every 5 minutes to get his breath, there were no breathing apparators in those days. He left school at the age of 14 to go down the pit.
Has Thurnscoe changed? Yes, a lot, and some for the better and some for the worse. I came back in 1974, not to live there - I would never go back, you have to move on, you can't live that life any more, it's gone and we'll never get it back, childhood days, the freedom we had, the village spirit, market days, baths, dance it was all there for us, it could be an adventure playground. But sadly we grow up and our grandchildren will never have what we had, yes I do tell them about their great-grandad working at the pit, I take them sometimes to where Hickleton Pit stood and tell them "Your great-grandfather worked under here" and the question they ask is "What did he do?". Doesn't that sum it all up, they can't comprehend it killed him at 53. But my memories will never leave me of Thurnscoe and my childhood days in the village, some of which were pure MAGIC!
A Miners Daughter!!
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