Resource Type: Audio | Posted on 21st February 2011 by Jenny Porter
Full length interview with Francis Green
Interviewee: Francis Green
Interviewee Age: 71
Interviewee Gender: Female
Interviewee Address: St Helens
Date of Interview: 8th August 2009
Frances Walsh Transcript
JP -I’ll start by asking your name…
FW-Do you want my name when I lived here, if your going to…hopefully other people will come forward they would recognise my single name and my name was then Corinne and I lived in Whittle which was street.
JP- Right, ok.
So, erm you know the name now of course is Walsh, but that was my name Green, Frances Green.
FW-And I lived in Whittle Street, went to St. Sebastian School in Lockerby road, so if anybody gets in touch, you know, sort of gets in touch with me would be nice, get a few people together and then as you say we can learn from each other.
JP- Yeah, yeah. (Laughter from both parties) Are we recording? Ok, Great . So, you’ve just told us your name, but if you can tell us again, that would be great.
FW-Frances Green, er , originally from Whittle Street which was next to Binge Road, which is a well know road in Edge Lane and I went to St. Sebastian’s School in Lockerby Road. And er, lived up there till I was sixteen. Lived in Edge Lane till I was sixteen.
JP- Ok. Now were just sort of sat in front of the Gala Bingo and the Iceland. Whereabouts from here was Binns Street then, (interrupted by FW- Binns Road) Binns Road.
FW- It was the road parallel to this something Wavertree Road along here, (JP- That’s right, yeah). Well Edge Lane was the next one along running parallel and Binge Road, oh gosh - about half a mile further down. There’s a park, Wavertree Park where Littlewoods was and you carried on down going out of the town and on the right hand side was Binns Road but before that you had Whither? Street, Mellowdyn Road, Thistlewood Road, Brompton Road, you had all those roads and then Binns. And at the top of Binns Road was Crawford Biscuit Factory (JP- Oh, yeah, yeah). And Crawford Biscuit Factory took over our street because they wanted to, I suppose a little bit more room for their vans they wanted to extent their garages. So they became our landlords and that was how we came to move. There was a huge cry over it at the time because they were perfectly good houses, a bit on the line of Coronation Street but they were lovely little houses. And erm, a lot of people didn’t want to move, of course. And Betsy Braddock was the Labour MP at the time, kicked up a huge fuss over this. That these houses were been pulled down for the likes of a factory to expand, but my mother was up in hand because she wanted to move, saving herself for them- and she wanted to move, because we get a little bathroom, which we did. And er, so people were sort of on two sides, some wanted to go some didn’t, but that was the start, I mean they talk about what’s been happening on Edge Hill now, but we it actually happened to us all those years ago 1953/54? Yeah, so they came down and gradually they took over the whole street. I mean Crawford’s new more but when I was a
child during the war, when you could get sweets the girls they use to work in the chocolate w? Which is the big building in the top of our street, very, very high to a child, they use to throw chocolate down to us on the street. And we’ll be skipping or playing leap frog, doing anything really that a child would do. And erm, suddenly flocking like manner, this flock of chocolate would come down from the chocolate room. (JP-Wow)And they of course the girls got the biscuits, I think Tuesday and Thursday were the days for biscuits and so we would go and stand on the corner of Binns Road, the next street, And we’d all stand with are hands like this “biscuit please, any biscuits please” and my poor mother was mortified, because she worked there for a short time. And the though of that I was going round in front of all of her friends begging for biscuits, when she is coming home with bags of them. (Laughter) Crawfords was so many factories, Crawfords, the Automatic, Maccano, I worked in Maccano for a few years and one of those factories you were in danger of being run over by a bicycle. Rather, it was so busy along Edge Lane, of an eve…oh yes sort of 5 O’ clock. It was so busy with all the bikes coming out the Automatic. They were very thriving factories and Crawfords biscuits, very , very well known. And The Automatic and the Maccano, Pecksworth. There where so many on Binns Road as you went up Binns Road, they where all the factories and of course this was the little station, Edge Hill Station.
JP-So erm , what did they use to make at The Automatic?
FW-It was something to do with telephones a think, they were very erm, very technical if you like -electrical things, electrical components. During the war they were helping with the war effort. I don’t what they made unfortunately but they were helping with the war effort. But I know- I had an uncle who worked there a lot of well known people at the time. Erm, some stayed at worked at The Automatic my Aunt worked there and she with a couple of comedians that were well known in the 50’s and early 60’s, Ted Ray and Arthur Askey. They both worked in The Automatic. Oh, yes. And then my Uncle worked there but then got the job in the Post office and when you got a job at the Post Office you became, you were established (JP-Right) you could get married then. Its a well know thing, that if you got into the Post Office from The Automatic, they did very similar things, but the Post Office was a little bit cut above and you were established.
JP- Right. So,that was your uncle he got the job at the post office?
FW - Yeah. I think that he put the electricity in for us in Whittle Street. And a think we were one of the first to have electricity in and the little round brown switches, because he was sort of electrical and knew what he was doing, before that it was the gas lamp, which you leave on the table.
J- you were saying before that your granddad use to work at the station… (FW-Oh, yes, yeah.) What did he do?
FW-He was in charge of looking after the lining and taming suppose to safety of the line. And he was the ganger. I would imagine he would have been in charge from Lime Street perhaps to Edge Hill. And because he had that responsibility he was the form, they called it the ganger those days. I looked it up in the dictionary last night it means form of a group of labourers. So that they would get that little bit more money. Which of course is important and that was what he did. And how he got
the job, I don’t know. He lived in Crewe from when he was a child, now there’s a big railway yard in Crewe , whether or not he started out there I don’t go that far back. And then came to Liverpool, came here, I don’t quite know. But it was a thriving little station at one time, I do remember it of course, being children we always wanted to play where it was dangerous and remember being chased away from the _and anyone else who was on duty. We’d go round to the station, and erm cause mayhem as you did. And erm, he’d chase us as well, you know. You just had to get off, get away from the station, but then as I say was the big tank, which was a draw for all of the children because it was boarded up so ‘cos you immediately wanted to see what was on the other side and I remember pushing a friend in, quite bad. We were getting through the little holes to go in, and I lost my balance, I was totally timid in those days and pushed this child, I can still remember Pattie Thompson and I pushed her in. And she fell and cut her hand. I remember running home and locking myself in because my mother was at work and was only the two of us and locking myself in the house ‘cos I thought this girl’s mother would come over and shout at me. Anyway, she got over it. I do remember that.
JP-So, that was an old army tank?
FW-I think it was a tank, I think it was during the war for storage for water (JP-Oh, right!) I think that’s what it was. But after sort of after war ‘45-’46 it was, to me there where bombs around here it was a bit of a derelict place really. It was a horrible place, you were always told not to play in the tank because there were broken things, you could-you know quite hurt yourself really. And I remember sort of a lot of rubble bricks, maybe there where houses had been there originally and maybe they had been bombed. I honestly don’t know about that but it was just rubble, for many years for a long time after the war, that remained there. Because they didn’t, I don’t imagine start rebuilding sort of these areas straight away, it would be the city they would be concentrating on.
JP-Yeah, yeah. So that was an old tank, was it near to the station?
FW-Yes it was. It was near, it was more on the Edge Lane side of the station not Wavertree. On Edge Lane, if you walked along Edge Lane you weren’t very far from what use to be the Croswell bus depot (JP- Right.) It was just on the other side from the old Croswell depot, a few hundred yards coming back towards the town. So, there was a little station and the tankers on Binns Road just of the back of the houses on the left hand side there was sort of an open plot, if you like and the tank had been put there originally. I don’t remember obviously I was too small for that. But the tank had been put there. If you could get someone who sort of was ten years ahead of me, they could probably tell you more about the tank. All I remember is that the tank had been there and this was the remains that we use to play in. And of course when you were young you don’t think safety of your parents-what was that there for?
JP-Yeah, yeah. Or what you could of been playing with, you know. Yeah, yeah. So your granddad worked at Edge Hill station, what was his name?
FW-Joe Greene. (JP-Joe Greene?)
FW-Yeah. I’d loved to find out more about what he did. I was so mad when that chap told me, I said if I only came last year. Yeah (JP- Yeah). So he worked here and as I say, there where allotments now, just where they where I don’t know-but there were allotments. I think there was really, they might not of died out of the vern now. But erm, I think it was mainly not so much allotments that had always been there but mainly dig for victory. You know, everyone was just given, wherever there was any land and to grow stuff. And my granddad did because he came from a sort of er, I think a bit of a gardening family and he did grow things. But the Rhubarb I do remember, I remember him coming up with Rhubarb, yeah.
It’s amazing going back really. I just wish there were more of us here to jog each others memory. During the war there use to be a little shop not far from the station, I remember the name of the shop it was Fleets. And it was off Binns Road, the shop off Binns Road. And erm, they use to sell, have tins of Peanut Butter. But your guttered to go in. My cousin use to come from Norris Green, which in those days was very posh. She lived in Strawberry Road in Norris Green. She use to come to our house sometimes to stay. And erm, she’d go round gives us some Peanut Butter and dumped it on the square of a newspaper. The lady use to keep the old newspapers some of paper s and some of the old papers had Hitler’s face on. And you could imagine what they’d be used for? (Laughter) Because you had it in your outside toilet as well. And you say pen or a heap of Peanut Butter and she would just whack it out on to a little square of newspaper, and you came away and dipped in. Nothing tasted as nice. We all kept cats as well. We nearly all kept cats….because in our street the particularly the biscuits and the mice. So you’d find people would borrow your cat if they didn’t have one. But er, I was always brought up with a cat in the house. And the cats really didn’t need feeding because they would find their own food because the biscuit would feed the mice, you see. So, the idea was to have a cat. (yeah.)
JP-So when you moved to from, you didn’t live on Binns Road did you… (FW- No. I lived on Whither Street, the road before Binns Road , if you coming from town.)
JP- Where did you move to from Whither street?
FW-I moved to Knotty Ash where Ken Dodd lived. (laughter) We had to move there didn’t we? Because there was the only two of us, we got a little prefab. They were fine in the winter but in the summer they were very hot actually. Because in the winter they were bitterly cold, oh they were bitterly cold. But they did have a lovely bathroom, bathroom heated towel rail, my mother thought she won the pools. Heated towel rail a little fridge, yeah suppose really we did better ourselves if you like, in the prefab. And there is definitely isn’t that community spirit, definitely wasn’t that community spirit. And the old lady that use to live next door to use , that sort of kept an eye on me after my grand mother died, she moved-she didn’t want to move. I mean there was so many houses up to one ....they all came down. This old lady that lived next door to us, she was on her own and she didn’t want to move. So we when the old lady down the road died. Which the houses were still standing up, Crawfords moved her into that house. And she was quite happy with that. And erm, she was fine there until every night she use to go across to the local pub, The Wellington and she had a little white jug and she use to go over with the jug to The Wellington and they fill it up for her. And she’d bring right back and she had a lovely little dog Flossy. And wasn’t she coming back across Edge Lane one night and one of first hit and run drivers. Yeah, she was killed. It was a thing about it in the paper and everything. I think it was the first sort of what they called it hit and run in Liverpool or something. She was killed coming back over the road. It was only from here to –she only had to cross Edge Lane, the pub was just there for her.
JP-Well you look at Edge Lane now you can imagine it….can’t ya?
FW- That’s right but in those days, she used to go out in a little coat or cardigan something on her. A little walk and just across with a little jug-she use to have it with her every night. And erm, her husband must of been killed probably during the first war. Because she was on her own, she had no children but she did have a sister that lived up Binns Road and probably that was why she didn’t want to move to far from the area.
JP-So, really the area has changed so much…
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