Terry and Sandra Williams talk about their families
Resource Type: Audio | Posted on 24th February 2012 by Liam Physick
Terry and Sandra Williams remember their families and how close-knit they were: Sandra’s grandparents lived next door to her. Sandra names her parents, William Blight and Emily McKenna, and her paternal grandparents, Jack and Sarah Blight. Terry then mentions that most of his family was born in Chatsworth Street: he would regularly see his paternal grandmother, the former Florence Smith, who lived in Oldham Street, but never knew his grandfather, Benjamin Williams, who died of pneumonia from sitting on the roof watching racing pigeons! Apparently, Florence and Benjamin had 14 children - though not all in the house at the same time! His mother would often ask his maternal grandparents to keep an eye on her children when she worked as a cleaner. He had two brothers and a sister, and only two beds (one for each sex). Sandra next mentions that there were 15 people living in her paternal grandparents’ two-bedroom house, and jokes that they must have gone to bed in shifts! Jodie remarks that this must be why children played out all the time - they had no other choice because the house was so cramped
Interviewee: Terry and Sandra Williams
Date of Interview: 22nd November 2011
Jodie: What years did you live in the house?
Terry: Well, that, that was from, and I can remember, it, it, it happened, Rimmer’s milk it was, I think, something . . .
Terry: Yeah, yeah, Rimmer’s milk . . .
Jodie: Rimmer’s milk.
Terry: . . . yeah.
Sandra: I was about 10 then . . .
Sandra: . . . so, that’s, what, 1958.
Terry: For you, yeah! (Jodie laughs) She keeps rubbing it in that she’s younger than me! (Jodie and Sandra laugh)
Sandra: Never mind, love, I’ll look after you!
Terry: Yeah, that’d be in the 50s. But coming back to the area, my parents and your parents were, were, were born in Edge Hill.
Sandra: Yeah, and my grandmother and grandfather lived next door to us.
Sandra: So it was always a, a, a close-knit community, you always had aunties and uncles . . .
Sandra: . . . lived in streets around.
Jodie: What were their names, what were their names, your parents and grandparents?
Terry: Well . . .
Terry: And Blight.
Sandra: Yeah. It was William and Emily McKenna, that was my mum and dad, and then there was Sarah and Jack, wasn’t it, Blight, which was my grandparents.
Jodie: Oh, right, and, they all lived in this area, yeah?
Sandra: Yes, yes.
Terry: They lived next door to each other, yeah.
Terry: And in my case, my dad, grand, grandmother, not, not since me grandmother, but all my aunties and uncles, most of them were born in Chatsworth Street, assuming opposite the school, and my mother, on my mother’s side, my grandparents lived in Oldham Street, number 12 Oldham Street, and we always had access to family in terms of, nowadays people down see each other from one month to another or one year to another . . .
Terry: . . . then we used to run round anyway and do messages for your, your nan . . .
Terry: . . . I didn’t know my granddad because he died, cos he was sat outside on the roof, where they had pigeons in Oldham Street, racing pigeons, and he got pneumonia and died, so I didn’t, I never knew him . . .
Terry: . . . but me, me grandma, Nanny Smith, Florence Smith, she had three girls and boy, again, there was five of them originally, they used to live in a, in the house in Oldham Street.
Jodie: Yeah. What was, what were their names, on your, on your side, what were your family’s names?
Terry: On my side, Williams . . .
Terry: . . . and there was Florence Williams and Benjamin Williams, and they had 14 children . . .
Jodie: Oh, wow!
Sandra: My grandparents, yeah, 14, 15.
Terry: Not all living in the same house, because the age of the children was quite a, a big range from 18, 19, 20s year olds down to a couple year old, so as the eldest got moved on, and out, they seemed to
Jodie: Another one would be born!
Terry: . . . have another baby, yeah! (Jodie laughs)
Sandra: Yes, yes.
Terry: Yeah, and that grandfather I didn’t know, he died when he was 50, he was a tram, a tram conductor for a number of years but he came from Wales, where he was, like most of them at that time was designated to work in the, the quarries, but he took it upon himself to get out of that and he’d made his way to Liverpool and met my, me grandma, and obviously he, you know, got married and, and settled in Liverpool. But the shop where they, the, address in, in Chatsworth Street where they lived was a pork shop which, we don’t know whether, there, there’s a little bit of vagueness about who owned it, but we were always told that they, my grandparents owned it, but there’s a little bit of iffy to that, we don’t know whether it was her father who owned it and she used to work for, and . . .
Terry: . . . but, anyway, it shaped . . .
Jodie: Oh, right.
Terry: . . . that’s where the family was brought up, two hundred and, 231 Chatsworth Street . . .
Jodie: Oh, right.
Terry: . . . opposite the school. So, so . . .
Jodie: And that was Florence and Benjamin, was that?
Terry: Yeah . . .
Jodie: It was Williams.
Terry: . . . and, and from, from one grandparent to the other was a matter of two minutes . . .
Terry: . . . and what I was about to say is, the, the, the family was fairly close by, and always offered support, you, you know, me mother used to go out cleaning for people to get money, and she would ask her mother, “Can you keep an eye on, on the children?”, and it was always there, the comfort of knowing that you were, you always had, then again, you had your grandparents you could go to but people in the area would look after you, they’d give you a good telling off if you stepped out of line, and they didn’t think anything of clipping you across the ear, as well (Sandra bursts out laughing), and then they’d tell your parents, and then you’d get another clip over the ear! (Jodie laughs) But, yeah, I think it was a very close community . . .
Sandra: Very close.
Terry: . . . very different, obviously different people, different, some of the houses were three bedroom, so they were considered to be a little bit better off than us, but when you got three boys and girl, and you had one bedroom, you know, three in the bed, and your sister in a single-sized bed, it was pretty full-on! (laughs)
Sandra: That’s right, yeah.
Jodie: Yeah, yeah, I can imagine.
Sandra: Well, my grandparents on, on me dad’s side lived in Apple Terrace, off Wavertree Road, and I think there was 15 of them (Jodie tuts) in that terraced house, yeah.
Jodie: And that would have been two bedroom, would it, yeah?
Sandra: Two bedroom, yeah.
Jodie: Yeah, (sounds awed) 15 of them!
Sandra: Yeah. I think they must have just gone to bed in shifts!
Jodie: Yeah! (all three laugh)
Sandra: Top and tail! Yeah (indecipherable)
Jodie: Yeah, definitely. No wonder people were out of the house, like, the kids played out a lot as well because . . .
Terry: Oh, yeah.
Jodie: . . . you had no choice, really, did you . . .
Sandra: No, no.
Jodie: . . . to, but to, but to play out.
Categorised under: Change & Communities