Mo Clougher recalls her father, Fred Wallace, a coal merchant on Tunnel Road
Resource Type: Audio | Posted on 5th January 2012 by Jenny Porter
Mo remembers going to work with her father who owned the coal office at 29a Tunnel Road.
Interviewee: Mo Clougher
Interviewee Gender: Female
Date of Interview: 17th August 2011
Jenny: So tell us a little bit about your dad…
Mo: My Dad
Jenny: And his association with the station..
Mo: Erm…My Dad…er…My Dad..Er Fred Wallace he was a fabulous guy. I’ll get choked up. As I say I think its because I went everywhere with him because our Pat couldn’t travel and my brother and my dad didn’t get on.
Jenny: Were you the youngest?
Mo: I was the youngest yes I was the baby and my brother was the eldest. But my dad was very poorly, he’d been poorly ever from when they were married with rheumatism and arthritis… and he got that way… He used to travel on the buses. Well it was a heck of a long way then for him to come here…
Jenny: I was going to say so all the time so all the time you lived in Moss Grove he had the coal shed.
Jenny: And then even when you moved..
Mo: And carried on travelling. Why on earth he didn’t go to somewhere a bit handier for buses I don’t know because we were a heck of a way for a bus stop. We lived in Milton Avenue I don’t suppose you know it..And the nearest buses were on Broad Green Road and the trams there used to be as well.
Mo: But it was a heck of a long walk.
Jenny: Did you used to go with him sometimes?
Mo: No…no. I was only a youngster then and because we’d be going to school, we’d be going to school as he went to work. I think sometimes somebody gave him a lift, to the bus sometimes..I think, I remember now; Mr Donlan. He used to have a van and he used to take him sometimes to the bus but he got that bad that they decided that we’d have to come back to live nearer, so mum and dad looked at houses and that’s how we ended up coming to live in Salisbury Road. Which was you know harder for them, you know, they weren’t over the moon, but I was …well once I settled I loved it there. My sister didn’t she didn’t make as many friends and that did she…
Mo: But you know I was very happy there. I say, my brother wasn’t there long because he went in the post office and then he went, instead of doing national service, he went into the RAF. Joined the RAF.
Jenny: Oh right..
Mo: So he was away quite a lot. But..er..as I say when he was home, my dad and him… they never got on…They never did.
Jenny: Do you have any memories of the station itself?
Mo: Not of the station, I’m sorry no, it was the coal office I was in an awful lot and I used to come out the back into the goods yard, out the back I used to come out the back.
Jenny: Oh yeah…yeah. What was the back like? because its quite a big drop isn’t it?… yeah…
Mo: It was stee’... There was steps all the way down…
Jenny: (interrupts) There was steps!
Mo: Yes behind my dad’s office.
Mo: There was like a staircase…A wooden staircase down. And there used to be coal stored under there, and the rats used to play there. I used to watch the rats!
Jenny: Eurgh! [Laughs]
Mo: [laughs] Remember I used to have a friend Lily Nubbly (?) lived in Uxbridge street…erm…I used to go to Sunday school up there that was before I knew you (addressing Jean) I’d lived there about a year before..well that was when my dad died I met Jean. But Lily used to go to our school and we used to bring her over to the office and we used to go down to watch the rats playing [laughs].
Jenny: Doesn’t sound like much fun to me that!
Mo: But the yard was always busy with erm the different trucks coming in and out and what not. But my dad said you mustn’t walk over it because of the…the lines everywhere you know. It seems so strange with it being so quiet now you know you can’t see anything there now.
Jenny: Well I know in the photo that you showed to me he actually had his own wagon didn’t he..
Mo: Yes I brought them again so as I could explain which is my dad and which isn’t my dad.
Jenny:[Laughs] So did he have someone else working wth him is that who else is in the photograph?
Mo: No I don’t know that man, I asked my sister she said that was a Mr Hughes. She used to call him Hughsy. I don’t remember him at all. I don’t know who he was.
Jenny: So he could have been another coal merchant maybe?
Mo: Might have been. But the chap he had working for him the carter they used to call them because my dad had a horse and cart there used to be stables at the end of Tunnel Road, on the right, and that’s where his horse was.
Jenny: Oh right.
Mo: Dobbin dead original.
Mo: He was a huge horse. And he had this erm…the…What did they used to call em? Oh heavens! I can’t remember the expression they used to call em…Used to drive the horse. Carter! He was a carter. That’s right. His name was Jackson. Yes he was a nice guy but..
Jenny: [Interrupts] So he used to deliver the coal.
Mo: Yes yeah yeah but then when a lot of the coal merchants were starting to use lorries of course Jackson couldn’t drive and this is when I think business started getting harder because my dad was very soft hearted and he couldn’t afford to employ two people so he used to hire somebody now and then because he was starting loose business because the others were spreading further out because they could go in the cars and Jackson couldn’t drive..well my dad didn’t either…So he sued to hire somebody once a week to help take one of the wagons out and but he still kept Jackson on with the horse and cart. Which wasn’t a very good idea… Although he was a nice man Jackson he really was and his wife, I met her a few times.
Jenny: And what would have happened to Dobbin as well? (laughs)
Mo: I don’t know I really don’t remember. Don’t know, couldn’t tell you. Because I knew Jackson, he must have still had him when he died because I remember when er…Jackons’s wife coming round to see my mum because she wondered could my mum and her carry on..using… running the business. And my mum said no way she didn’t have a business idea at all and she knew by then anyway…I don’t know why she didn’t…as I say, I’ve got these details of my dad selling up to Martindale, and yet I can remember…Unless she came round when my dad was ill before…it might have been… it might have been before he died. I thought it was after. To see if they could run the business.
Jenny: I know you can remember quite vividly what it was like inside the coal….shed
Mo..Oh yes yes it was lovely. It was really cosy, gorgeous place.
Jenny: Sorry it wouldn’t have been the coal….
Mo: Coal office.
Jenny: The coal office. And that would be open to the public ..
Mo: To his customers…to pay…yeah
Jenny: So what was it like?
Mo: It was so cosy. They were so tiny inside and you’d go in and on your right there would be the main window at the front and it was just like…er..Something out of Dickens like a Bob Cratchit Office. There was a window, at the front, not a very big window, and a desk sloping right down.. the full length of the wall. And the window sloping down and then to sit at the desk you had to be on a very high stool…It was very high. And then behind that there was like the corner was angular and there was a little tiny erm coal fire there with a beautiful wrought iron grate round this tiny fire and it was so cosy it was gorgeous, but it was very tiny. But I used to go with me friend and take our sandwiches (laughs). Go in the school holidays. It was lovely and as I say walking out the back it was 29a Tunnel Road.
Mo: As I say I believe they are still there somebody’s hoping to maybe renovate them. I’ll go and help if they do.
Jenny: (laughs) Yeah they are still standing aren’t they.
Mo: Yes. Its round the middle somewhere. His closest friend was Martindale who he sold up to, now I think his son, it was so strange, because when my dad died, my dad died when I was twelve…And we had hard times then financially because of course my dad’s business was going down with him being so ill… but erm she was bothered and she talked to Mr.Martindale about it and he said well if you like, and what I think to do, and God love my mum she always been in service, that’s all she’d ever known, well if you want, I’ve got a friend who wants someone to help with housework and what not and it was Mr Martindale’s son’s wife’s family, The Yates’ who turned out to be lovely people.
Jenny: (interrupts) oh good.
Mo: We got very pally with them I went on holiday with them, they were lovely people. Yates’ from Allerton.
Jenny: So did they have a big house?
Mo: They had a huge house in Allerton he was a Doctor.
Jenny: Ah right…
Mo: Yes…And as I say it was his daughter who was married to Mr Martindale’s son. Whose name I can’t remember name now his was a heck of a nice guy but I think there was still a Martindale business, I don’t know whether its just coal now or central heating or something like that I don’t know.
Jenny: Oh right.
Mo: But they were a lovely family the Matindale’s. They were. In fact all of the coal people were quite friendly but I can’t remember their names but they’d be popping in and out of each other’s you know it was a friendly. But as I say as to do with the station I didn’t know much about that at all.
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