Brenda Allen recalls the community that lived in the railway cottages

Resource Type: Audio | Posted on 12th September 2011 by Liam Physick

Brenda Allen remembers the close-knit community that existed in the railway cottages. She loved hearing the sound of the wagons as she lay in bed at night, and mentions how her brothers followed in their father’s footsteps by working on the railway. She particularly remembers the big house at the end of the street, that belonged to a Mr. and Mrs. Elliott - the house contained a model railway, and Mr. Elliott would allow Brenda and her brothers to play with it. Brenda also notes how the community was very territorial, so much so that when it snowed, everyone would walk in the same footsteps, so as not to ruin “their” snow, and were determined that no one from another street could walk over it!

Interviewee: Brenda Allen

Interviewee Gender: Female

Interview Transcript

Margi: What’s your earliest memories of living in the house next to the railway?

Brenda: Well, we had this little, there was only 14 houses on one side, and the top, top of the street was blocked off with the railway wall on the side, so it was our street, and it was quite safe and everyone knew each other. But me, me loveliest memories are, we’d lay in bed of a night, and you’d hear the wagons clanging together.

Margi: Comforting?

Brenda: It was, you always knew of a night, it’d be dark, and you’d hear these wagons. I’d love to hear that sound now . . .

Margi: Yeah.

Brenda: . . . the old wagons clanging, and you knew you were home and safe, and it, it was nice.

Margi: Well, we might have a surprise for you, we might actually be able to get that sound on the website . . .

Brenda: Oh, God, would you?

Margi: . . . if you have a look at the website downstairs . . .

Brenda: Yeah?

Margi: . . . it’s got different applications, different sounds of the railway . . .

Brenda: Yeah.

Margi: . . . so just get . . .

Brenda: Yeah.

Margi: . . . Jenny to show you, when we go down in a minute.

Brenda: Oh, right, that would be, cos, you could, sort of, still hear it in the back of your, your mind, you were always safe.

Margi: It’s, like, the same as, like, when you get a smell or something like that . . .

Brenda: Yeah, yeah.

Margi: . . . it brings all those memories back. Did you follow in the railway footsteps, did you work for the . . . ?

Brenda: No, no, me two brothers did, one went to be a train driver, but, I think there was deregulisation (sic) or something, so it was, it went to the electric trains, I don’t know, so he, he went to, that was Roy Allan, he went to the parcel depot, and then he, he went to Fords. Me younger brother spent some time as a signalman. They all wanted to emulate me dad, you know, with him dying so young, as well, cos he was a big man, and that was nice about the railway, cos it was a big community, everyone knew each other . . .

Margi: Yeah.

Brenda: . . . and as I say, in our street, if, we used to go round to the, the railway gate, and they’d let us have some sand to play with, to put in the tin back (Margi laughs), and sometimes we’d the ball would go over the railway, we’d ask to go and get our ball, there was no tracks there then, it was just the workings by the railway cottages, but, cos everyone in the street more or less worked on the railway as well, so . . .

Margi: Yeah, so, and you say there was 14 cottages, were, were there?

Brenda: Yeah, there was 14, there was a big house at the end, and they had, like, they used to have, like, old buses, and things, it was, like, a breakage yard, but the middle house, it had a cellar, and it had three floors, Mrs. Elliott, Mr. and Mrs. Elliott lived, the children were Kenny and Susan, they didn’t work on the railway, but I think Mr. Elliott’s dad had done, cos we always thought we should have lived there cos it was, we were the biggest family in the street, and there was only two of them, but they actually had a cellar, and Mr. Elliott, one of the bedrooms was just, cos it was a big old house, it was just massive and had a big table in with a model railway on it, and sometimes he let us go in and . . . you know, a proper model . . .

Margi: Oh, God, that must have been fabulous!

Brenda: Yeah. The house was absolutely, they had two big, big living rooms, they just lived in the kitchen like, they had a double garden at the back, cos they were back to front, they had the back yard at the back, so . . . that was nice, they let us go in there and we looked round the stairs where all the . . .

Margi: And what was the name of their road?

Brenda: It was the Railway Cottages, that’s what they were called.

Margi: And so, but were they set on, on . . .

Brenda: Yeah, it was off Spekeland Road . . .

Margi: Yeah.

Brenda: . . . opposite Acton Street, that’s it, we’d run down the street and cross over, and be Acton Street, the chippy on the corner, but on the other side of Spekeland Road, there was all the houses, like Horton Street, Huyton Street, Raeburn Street . . .

Margi: Yeah.

Brenda: . . . it was just full of terraced houses . . .

Margi: Yeah.

Brenda: . . . but we had our own street to ourselves.

Margi: You were special!

Brenda: Yeah, and they were talking about before about being territorial. It was then, everyone sort of, had their street and their . . . with ours being blocked off, and it was silly things, like, it, when it snowed in the winter, we’d all walk in the same footsteps, so nobody would ruin our snow (Margi laughs), if somebody from another street had come up and stepped all over it, it was, it was just quaint.

Tagged under: railway workers, wagons, trucks, railway cottages, drivers, spekeland road, electric locomotives, snow, community, model railways

Categorised under: Change & Communities

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