Workshop Venue 7: Stone: Bromfield Court, Age Concern Lunch Club

11th February 2010


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Our Stories

Ivy Deere:  Stone Bromfield Court Age Concern



Prior to the War I lived in Longton in Stoke-on-Trent where my father was a builder and contractor. He was employed to buy up all the iron railings and chop them up for the war effort. He also built tanks and exported them abroad as well as building roads at Swynnerton where all the ammunition was made.

We had a caravan, which we kept on a campsite in North Wales, and we used to go there on holiday. The five of us: Mum, Dad, me, my sister and my brother, who was only tiny then, drove from Longton in our car. It took a long time to get to the seaside in those days. In the car we’d play ‘I spy with my little eye’ and count the cows in fields or the road signs, anything to keep us amused. On the way we stopped in Tarvin at The Headless Woman pub. My sister and I were always scared to go there because we were expecting to see a woman walking about without her head. There were lots of ghost stories about the place, based on a true event apparently.

At the caravan we had a little oil stove to cook on and a wash stand that had a bowl of water on it. I remember the latrines left a lot to be desired. We took most of our food with us and bought anything else we needed from the village shop or a local farmer.

On the beach there were some peculiar sites in the 1930s. Men from the Potteries often wore white handkerchiefs on the heads, tied with a knot at each corner. They looked really comical but it was sensible in a way as it kept the sun from their bald heads. Some of them wore all-in-one swimming costumes with long sleeves and the ladies wore knickerbocker outfits with little hats like shower caps. The beaches also had bathing huts that were pushed down to the edge of the water so people could change in them. Lots of people wore kiss-me-quick hats and bought ‘ninety-nine’ ice creams from a man riding around on a peddle cycle with a square tub on the front saying, ‘Stop me and buy one’. There were funny postcards, too, that made fun of large ladies but only in the nicest way. There was nothing nasty about it. They were happy times.


Janet Stevens:  Stone Bromfield Court


My early memories of seaside holidays are of South Devon. I lived in what is now Warley in the West Midlands and to get to the sea we were reliant on the Great Western Railway so we always headed of to Torquay, Paignton, Goodrington or Brixham. Warley was an industrial area and everybody had their holidays in the same two weeks. We would go from the local station usually for a week every year and there would be fifteen or more coaches full of holidaymakers.

I was one of four children and the family would stay in a boarding house or sometimes in a caravan. When we were there we didn’t go visiting many places because we just couldn’t afford it. We would spend our time on the beach playing games and making sand castles. My father didn’t just make castles; he would entertain us by making a crocodile or a car using bits and pieces off the sands. All the seaside places had theatres and we would usually go to an afternoon show. Our moment of glory was when we entered a talent competition on Teignmouth pier. My little sister and I had just started dancing lessons so she tap-danced and I did the poem, ‘Three little kittens lost their mittens’. I presume the other acts weren’t very good because between us we won 5 shillings (25 pence) that went towards the ice creams for the rest of the holiday.

When I was 15 or 16 we started to go to Dunster Beach in Somerset. With my father now having a car, Dunster was a shorter distance from home than South Devon. They had chalets there like little sheds on the beach that you could rent. I think they were built for people needing convalescence at the end of the War. My mother was one of eight so lots of family members would go on holiday together and we’d rent four of these chalets at a time. It was a wonderful atmosphere. We would play rounders on the beach and there was a little pitch ‘n’ putt golf course and tennis courts. One of us would book the tennis courts and, although none of us could play properly, about eight of us would take our old rackets and play at different times. One night we’d all arrange to have fish and chips and then go to North Hill in Minehead to see the sunset that it was famous for. Some of the same people were there year after year and we’d often sit and sing around a barbeque while someone played the guitar. It was all self-made fun.

This went on for a few years and some of the family still go there although the prices now are more than you’d pay for a foreign holiday. We often wished we’d bought a chalet between us. They sell for about £70,000 these days. Whenever I get down there I have all these memories and I feel it’s such a lovely place to be.

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Alma Barker:  Stone Bromfield Court  Age Concern


We didn’t have proper summer holidays when I was growing up. Apart from there being a war on, our parents just couldn’t afford holidays. It took them all their time to feed and clothe us. Once a year, though, we did go on an outing to the seaside with the local working men’s club.

I lived in Hanley in Stoke-on-Trent and my dad and his friends were members of Bucknall Working Men’s Club. This was an ex-servicemen’s club and throughout the year part of their subscriptions and the money from raffles that the committee ran, went in the pot for the children of the members to go on an outing. We always went to somewhere not too far away like Morecambe or Rhyl which were thriving places in those days. I’d be about 12 or 13 when I first went and you went until you got to an age when you didn’t want to go with your mum and dad, round about when you started work.

My first trips were by train. We were all given a number so we all knew which carriage we were in. All the kids were kept together with parents in another part of the train. In later years they advanced from the train to coaches with sometimes as many as 30 or 40 coaches lined up waiting for us. We’d be given the number of our coach but it didn’t matter where you sat. We didn’t dress up, we just went in our everyday clothes but your mum and day always saw you were decently turned out for the simple fact they’d be seen with you.

These trips were the highlight of our year. You just seemed to laugh all the way with your friends. When we were about half way there we each got a bottle of pop and a bag of crisps and before we got off the train we were all given half a crown (12½ pence). That was our spending money. When we got there our parents usually asked where we wanted to go and just tagged along. We spent most of the day messing about on the sands. We’d only got half a crown which had to last all day and if you went on the roll-a-penny stalls at the fun fair it was soon gone. You never won at roll-a-penny.

We always came back very tired, having spent our half a crown and having had a jolly good time. Eventually these outings were phased out. I don’t know how long they carried on when I left school because I wasn’t part of it then but when I was part of it, it was a real treat.


Alma Forth: Stone Bromfield Court Age Concern


The first real holiday I remember was going to Torquay just after the War when I’d be about 18. I went by car with Mum and Dad and my two sisters and we stayed at the top of the cliffs in a boarding house.  

I’d never been on holiday during the War because my father was an ambulance driver. He drove a lorry that served as a makeshift ambulance. Before the War he had a garage at Dresden in Stoke-on-Trent and he used to have a small charabanc and run trips to places like Llandudno, Rhyl, Colwyn Bay and Southport Flower Show. People would call at the garage and book with him. Occasionally I went along but they were only day trips to the seaside.

I started at Thistley Hough School in Penkhull in 1939. I should have started on September 6th but with war being declared on September 3rd we alternated mornings and afternoons with children from Longton High School until the November when they moved to another site. I was at school until I was 16 when I went to work at the telegraph office in Hanley Post Office. During the August holidays the children at Thistley Hough School who were14 and over went to work at Knightwich Manor Farm near Worcester because so many of the farm workers were in the forces. For the first fortnight they would pick Worcester Pearmain apples, damsons and damazines, which are similar to damsons but smaller. In the second fortnight they would stook corn and in the third fortnight they picked potatoes.

I went for the first or second fortnight. Stooking corn was an uncomfortable job; all you arms got scratched picking up the stooks. We stayed in a big hut and slept on straw palliasses and they fed us wonderfully well. We took sandwiches out with us for lunch and we had a proper evening meal when we got back. We started about 8 o’clock in the morning and they took us to the fields on a dray if we had a long way to go. In the evenings we used to go into the hut and probably have a singsong. We had a brilliant time; a summer holiday with a difference. 






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