Workshop 10: Meir Heath

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5th March 2010 St Francis Day Opportunities Group Meir Heath

Seeing our group's memories in print for the first time

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Introduction and Recording Sessions -April and May 2009

Meir Heath, 22nd May 2009. St Francis Day Centre Meir Heath:

To listen to our stories click here


Video clip of Meir Heath Session:

The player will show in this paragraph

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Below some of the recordings being made:-

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Our Stories

Joan Lane: Meir Heath St Francis Day Centre



I lived in Longton in Stoke-on-Trent in the 1920s and we always went to Blackpool for our holidays. We used to go on the train from Normacot station and I think we changed at either Longton or Stoke. I was always frightened when the train came into the station and I used to hide behind my dad while the engine passed us. My dad was a colour mixer in the pottery industry. He was in charge of producing the colours for all the pottery factories owned by the company he worked for. It was a very precise job. I said to him once that I couldn’t remember him with anything but white hair. He said, ‘Well, you wouldn’t. It was the sight of you that turned me white.’

At Blackpool we always stayed in a boarding house somewhere on the front. There would be Mum, Dad and the three youngest of us nine children with Granny, my mother’s mother, and a cousin of my mother’s, whom we were very fond of, went with us occasionally. We slept three in a bed. In the room there was a ewer and basin and half of us washed in the same water. I remember we always had to go downstairs and ask for a jug of hot water that Dad could use for shaving. We took much of our own food and gave it to the landlady to cook. If you wanted bacon, meat or fish you had to take it with you but the landlady always provided the vegetables and charged you accordingly.

When we played on the sands, Granny was quite happy if you just put her in one of those shelters they have at the seaside so she could see what was going on. As a special treat we’d have rides on the donkeys or spend a bit of time at the Pleasure Beach. My brother, who was older than me, went on the chair-a-planes once and when he came off I’ve never seen anyone so white. He said it made him feel sick. We’d probably go to the Tower once while we were there because it was expensive. My parent’s hadn’t got a terrific lot of money but they always made sure we had a treat. I had wonderful parents and I’ve got very happy memories of my seaside holidays.


Jean Roberts:  Meir Heath St Francis Day Centre


When I was young we always used to go to Blackpool for our holidays. In those days most folks couldn’t afford holidays but we could because my dad’s sister lived there. We went every year up to when I was about 18 and working. It was the only way we could get a holiday. My father was only a dustman and my mother worked on the pots so they weren’t getting great wages. It wasn’t just us; the whole of our family went to my auntie’s house for holidays but not all together.

I was living in Stoke-on-Trent then and we went on the train from Longton station. It was always very crowded and you had to queue for the tickets before you went. They used to put a notice in The Sentinel when the tickets were going to be on sale so you went down to the station and joined the queue. The journey on the train was always quite cosy.

My auntie lived in a house just past the Pleasure Beach. You had to go up a bank and over the railway bridge then over the other side and along to Auntie Gerties’. There would be Mum, Dad, my sister and me. We always had a great time but my auntie never had any children and she was very strict with us – even when I was grown up and working. We daren’t put a foot wrong when we were at Auntie Gerties’. She’d had a big seat made for outside her front door so she could sit in the sunshine. It was like those seats you see in the parks and that’s as far as we dared go. We were all right if we sat there: we weren’t getting into any trouble. We lapped up the sunshine sitting on that seat, not being used to a lot of sunshine in the Potteries. I always remember the weather as being sunny but I suppose that’s a bit of wishful thinking.

We were only allowed to visit the Pleasure Beach and go on the rides if Mother and Dad were with us. Although I didn’t like heights and wasn’t very adventurous, I did go on the Big Dipper. My sister was a lot younger than me and after she was born we spent more time on the beach. She liked to be on the beach and, of course, sister had to be with her along with Dad who liked the beach as well. I can remember walking up the front to the Tower and going in and watching them dancing in the evening, although we couldn’t go very often because we hadn’t got the money. Neither my sister nor I could dance but my mother wasn’t very good on her feet so we used to go and watch so she could sit down. She loved that because she had all the family around her for company.



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Eric Bettany: Meir Heath St Francis Day Centre


In the 1930s when I was about ten, I was sent to Rhyl Homes for a holiday. I lived in Anchor Place in Longton with my parents and I was the youngest of five children. My dad worked in the pits at first but he got out and became a bricklayer. He was pretty good at that. The doctor said I was a bit weak, although I never thought of myself as weak at the time, and he got me into Rhyl Homes for a fortnight. 

A bus picked me up from school and then picked others up before setting off for North Wales. Rhyl Homes, or the Stoke-on-Trent Children’s Holiday and Convalescent Home to give it its proper name, was a big house behind the prom. When I got there, I didn’t know anyone. They put me on my own upstairs but I didn’t want that. I wanted to be with the rest and eventually they sent another lad up who’d also come from Longton.

It was a decent place with nice grounds where you could walk or play football but I was never a football man. We’d never had a ball anyway, just rolled up newspaper. We got our meals provided and the food was really good. It was much better than I was used to. The people in charge were very decent and tried to do their best for us. Sometimes they’d organize games for those who were capable of joining in and if you could help out they got you helping them.

I didn’t have any chores to do so I’d just walk out and go around Rhyl with some of the others. We’d look around the shops. We never went on the donkeys. They said we might catch things but we couldn’t afford it anyway. In the evenings I’d read a bit and then go to bed. My father and mother came once to see how I was going on. I remember telling them I’d be glad to get home but I did enjoy it there.

I went to Rhyl several times afterwards but I never went back to the house. I’d got more money then so there were other things I could do. Going to Rhyl Homes certainly did me good, though, and opened my eyes a bit, mixing with other people. I was one of the lucky ones, able to go there for a holiday.


Ada Moss:  Meir Heath St Francis Day Centre


In the early 1950s when I was a little girl I went on a day trip to Rhyl from our chapel. I was living at Halmerend in Stoke-on-Trent at the time and I’d be about ten or eleven. I went with my two cousins. I was the eldest one and they were much younger than me. My parents didn’t go but I didn’t bother all that much. I was just pleased I was going on the trip and wondering what it would be like. We went on a coach from chapel and it seemed to be ever such a long way. We took sandwiches, a drink of pop and some biscuits with us and on the way we stopped to go you-know-where and to have a cup of tea.

I’d never seen the sea before. I remember being a bit nervous when I saw so much water and wondered if we’d be able to get back home again. We went on the sands, making sand castles and looking at the sea shells. Then we took our shoes and socks off and paddled in the edge of the sea. The water was lovely and blue but I kept my dress and coat on because, although it was a fine day, it was cold and windy. I had my photograph taken with my cousins while we were in the sea but it’s ages ago and I haven’t got the photograph now.

We had a walk around until it was time to go home again and bought some rock to take back with us for the people who didn’t go. I only remember going on the trip the once but I had a lovely time.





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