John Marston talks more about the community in which he grew up

Resource Type: Audio | Posted on 13th February 2012 by Liam Physick

John Marston recalls more details of life in the railway cottages. He mentions that he moved in 1962 to Smithdown Road, then later Childwall Valley, and the schools he attended, Webster Road (in primary school) and Earle Road Secondary Modern (both now defunct). He mentions how they were plagued by cockroaches, how they washed in tin baths (all using the same water), and how there was a tin hut where they would play table tennis or chess, dance to music or do artwork. Almost in tears, he mentions his close friendship with Brenda and Brian

Interviewee: John Marston

Interviewee Gender: Male

Date of Interview: 2nd September 2011

Interview Transcript

John: You know, the 60s came along, I mean, the street eventually was demolished, it was cleared away in the late 60s, I left in 62 to move to Smithdown and then I left to go down to Childwall Valley, Brenda left in 68 to go to, to Halewood, but, you know, I always feel that, you know, there are one or two people living in that area I’m still in touch with, I’ve got a friend called Harry Smith, who lived in a road that adjoined the railway cotts, and I, he’s still one of my closest friends now, you know what I mean, so, but I think Harry has a more different attitude that (sic) I do, he, he doesn’t like reunions, Brenda’s been on a few reunions . . .

Jodie: Oh, right!

John: . . . we used to go to a school there, it’s still there now, it’s gone now, the road’s still there, Webster Road, which is just down here, and that was our local school, primary school, and then we went to Earle Road, which was a senior, senior school, and Brenda’s been to a few reunions from them schools, I never went to them, for whatever reason, but Harry, our friend, doesn’t have the same kind of lookback, he doesn’t eat, “Well, that was gone, that’s the past, I’m not into reunions”, you know what I mean, and . . . I think, he’s more, sort of, aware that it was a bit poverty, I mean, some of the stories, I mean, it was, they were, they were basically slums, you know, I mean, we, we basically, Brenda tells the story, I tell the story, that you used to actually check your shoes before you went to school, to make sure there was nothing in them . . .

Brenda: Cockroaches.

Jodie: Ah . . . !

John: . . . you know, in terms of cockroaches or something like that, I mean, that’s how, I mean, you ,you had the gardens, there were, there were insects coming in out the garden, but, these were pretty old properties by the time the 50s and 60s came along, so, you basically did have an accumulation of problems with, you know, vermin and that kind of thing, and, you know, Brenda always says, you know, you check your shoes before you go to school to make sure there’s nothing! (he and Jodie both laugh) But, it was basic, as I said before, no hot water, no heating, only your coal fire, outside toilet, tin bath, that, you know, everyone in the family, when it was bath night, everyone in the family would use, start off with, I don’t know how it worked in Bren’s family . . . I can’t remember having a tin bath, we probably did have, I mean, we used to wash in the sink . . .

Jodie: Yeah (laughs).

John: . . . that’s how . . .

Brenda: The cleaners went in first.

John: And you were using the same water, I mean, it, it sounds terribly unhygienic, but that’s the way life was then, you know what I mean, there was no access to, sort of, you know, hot water, you know, most of the water was boiled on the stove, emptied into the tin bath, and then you’d go down in succession, you know, unfortunately, if you were the last one in, then you were looking at real dirty . . . !

Jodie: Oh, yeah! (both laugh)

John: It is, it sounds horrible when you think about it, but . . .

Jodie: Well, that’s just the way it, it, yeah . . .

John: Well, that was life, then, that was life in the 1950s.

Brenda: You’d go out feeling cleaner, didn’t you? (laughs)

John: You know, and the tin bath was there, after use was hang, hung up in the yard, you know, so, you know, I mean, for me, I suppose when you, when you’re a child, you don’t, the privatations (sic) in terms of the word poverty and so on, you don’t really, when you’re a child, I don’t think you notice, I’m more politically aware now, about that kind of thing, I’m a member of a political organisation, and I, for me, you know, that is horrendous to think about, the kind of poverty that we experienced, but, when you’re a child, I think it’s different . . .

Brenda: You don’t know anything else.

John: . . . I think, you know, you, you, you, you’re growing up, aren’t you, so you, you know, you’re experiencing all the things that a child of that period experienced, I mean, it wasn’t just that, there were, we had a place we used to tin hut, wasn’t it, a big tin hut, and you’d go there and you’d have a game of table tennis or play chess or dance to some records or do a bit of art, and for, for us, that, that was, you know, a big thing, you know what I mean in that sense, and, you know, I’ve, I’ve tried to explain to my children, I’ve got two boys one’s 24 and one’s 31, and they’re, like, sort of, weirdly looking at you, think, “Oh, my God, it sounds absolutely . . . so Victorian and primitive” that, I don’t know, you know, I mean, but, for us, it was just normal and . . .

Brenda: Normal, yeah.

John: . . . we just basically though that, you know, you know, that’s the way things were, you know what I mean in that sense, but, I think, for me, it was, it was idyllic, it was a, kind of, you know, a nice childhood, because friendships, you know, the fact that we had gardens, access to gardens, and the fact that we basically . . . I’ve got, well, the big thing for me, I think, is that, I’ve got friendship, Brenda and Brian, who I, I’ve still got now, 50-odd years later, I’ve known Bren, Brenda since two, since I can remember . . .

Jodie: Yeah.

John: . . . and they’re still my closest friends now, and for me that is a really big thing, you know what I mean, in, in that sense, it means a lot to me (sounds on the verge of tears).

Tagged under: demolition, railway cottages, earle road, smithdown road, webster road, community spirit, earle road school, webster road school, halewood, childwall valley

Categorised under: Change & Communities

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