BNC Text K63

Walsall Local Studies Centre: interview. Sample containing about 8708 words speech recorded in leisure context

4 speakers recorded by respondent number C618

PS5B3 X f (Joyce, age unknown) unspecified
PS5B4 X m (Gilbert, age unknown, retired) unspecified
K63PSUNK (respondent W0000) X u (Unknown speaker, age unknown) other
K63PSUGP (respondent W000M) X u (Group of unknown speakers, age unknown) other

1 recordings

  1. Tape 091601 recorded on 1987-04-30. LocationWest Midlands: Caldmore () Activity: interview

Undivided text

Gilbert (PS5B4) [1] It was just a very low part, there was a little shopping area just round there at the time er, a butcher's shop and a greengrocer's shop and a Post Office, Street was the Post Office on the corner, and then Street and Road which lead down into , Lane and just round oh just round there you see, but I was born at the last house in the Street almost at the bottom of Street.
[2] Now then what else do you want to know?
Joyce (PS5B3) [3] What sort of house was it?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [4] Oh just an ordinary house, nothing er nothing pretentious.
Joyce (PS5B3) [5] A terraced house?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [6] A terraced house yes, yeah.
Joyce (PS5B3) [7] And how many rooms downstairs?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [8] Three up three down.
Joyce (PS5B3) [9] And where did you move from there?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [10] We went into Street for a ... few years and then we came up here in nineteen twenty eight.
Joyce (PS5B3) [11] Erm why did they move to Street, your family?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [12] Oh it was a bigger house, better house altogether ah that was a very nice house, a very nice garden as well.
Joyce (PS5B3) [13] Was that sort of house typical of the area?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [14] Well it was a question in those days whether you got a bay window or a flat window [laugh] I mean erm ... the houses down Street are better quality I suppose really ... er all property around there is rented, I mean no one bought the houses at all not even up , I mean they were all rented houses.
[15] Er and I remember, I remember Street West, when the right hand side of Street west going from Road, every house was empty before the First World War and they gave somebody er somebody who lives in the end one and they ... were rent free if they keep all the rest clean, and always you see house to let where wherever it was in every street there was houses to let, and the price of the house in Street must be about eight shillings a week in those days, and then if you went up to I mean you'd get in the twelve and sixpenny bracket and down in, those houses down in the that they were ten and six or something like that er ...
Joyce (PS5B3) [16] So would you say that that was the smart side of [...] ?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [17] Oh yes yes, yes you'd say that was the smart side of Caldmore, but er ...
Joyce (PS5B3) [18] What ways did the families differ then that lived in those sort of houses to the families that lived in the terraced houses [...] ?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [19] Oh I I think, think that they differed in as far as they were a tiny little bit more ambitious and wanted a sort of erm a ... a little bit better life, but everybody even in the terraced houses they were all very respectable people, very respectable people I mean er ... I
Joyce (PS5B3) [20] Were any of the families considered rough?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [21] No, no I can, I can honestly say that I don't think there was any, any what you can call rough families as I can remember.
[22] Now you take all those, take Street and Street, they were all very respectable people and er I don't think you could say there were any slums about at all as far as I can remember.
[23] Now you go to Road and Street and round there, probably that wasn't quite as er as nice but Street and Street they were very nice people, very respectable.
Joyce (PS5B3) [24] So some streets were considered better than others?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [25] Oh yes yes er ... I should say that er Street er Street then you get into Palfrey now you see ... Palfrey was a little bit less ... due to the fact that there were a hell of a lot of railway men at work down there, I mean [...] really all belonging to some department on the railway, you get er drivers and all the men and the permanent way of being in Street I mean a lot of people from Palfrey lived down lived in Palfrey was working in the permanent way in Street, so it was a really, Palfrey you could say was a railway community.
[26] Now if you come to Caldmore, you'll find out then that the majority of the ... married ladies had worked in I mean ... I should say that erm I know my mother was very snooty she'd been an apprentice to some dressmakers in Street and work for one year for nothing she always used to tell me, and she was quite er toffee- nosed about these [...] girls that used that er that used to go, well they were very respectable people, and when I was a kid when I growing up in my teens a lot of the girls I used to know were in the offices at [...] er it they employed about fifteen hundred people at in those days you know I mean coming out of at night it was fighting your way against the crowd if you were going towards it, and the same thing going through the square for people who have worked in when they left that's why all those shops in the square used to do reasonably well, it was the people walking through to go up the other side of Walsall, but there was a crowd of people I can, I can always remember as a kid a crowd of people and then there'd be ... well you can tell it was along Street in those days I can remember ... fruiters' carts where the girls used to go and buy apples, and that all sort of going along there you know people used to wait for them coming out, these are my impressions as a kid I mean I ... can remember the, the er and the men of course were cutters and various people and a quite a lot of my father's friends were, were er had er skilled jobs at as cutters and managers of the cutters' department and that sort of thing.
[27] Then, then of course there weren't no traffic signs in the middle of the road, it was a sort of er certain people from went and started that up and er they were all wor all worked in Caldmore it was almost as though the tailoring ... Caldmore was full of tailors in a way then there were people starting up on their own making clothes, but er there was quite a lot of tailors around er I know there was he'd got a shop on Caldmore, he was a tailor and ... [sigh] er ... shall we go through all the shops?
Joyce (PS5B3) [28] Yes.
Gilbert (PS5B4) [29] Well we'll start off at the top of Road and on the one side there was the furniture people they used to make furniture.
Joyce (PS5B3) [30] Did they make it on the premises?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [31] Oh yes they made it Miss has just died [...] erm then coming down there was the Post Office with old Pa and the, then the Miss , they used to keep the Post Office, then there was er well there was a gents outfitters and then there was a beautiful shop I always used to think, it was called, another , but it was confectioners, but it was all most delightful old oldy-worldy sort of shop and my mother often used to go in there then you'd
Joyce (PS5B3) [32] Tell me a bit more about that shop then.
Gilbert (PS5B4) [33] About that shop.
[34] There was a Victorian air about it somehow there were, there were quite ladies who'd kept it, almost the same sort of thing as you'd find out in the country, country Ye Olde Elizabethan Coffee Shop type of thing you know, they they'd be the er there was that atmosphere about it and you'd buy lovely cakes and things like that.
[35] Then coming on to the end of Street next door was a milliners, now that nobody knows what they are today Miss the name was and then coming across Street to the other side was which was a drapers, and next coming down was Smiths the butcher's shop, and next to that was the grocers, following on down there was the ironmonger, then there was the newspaper, and you come down to the White Hart ... erm then we come to the White Hart
Joyce (PS5B3) [36] Do you remember anything about that?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [37] Oh yes er I think somebody kept it around father's day, a chap named , but it was a beautiful old place and he always, because my father always used to erm start off about seven o'clock in the morning to walk down to Walkers and er call in at the White Hart because they were open at six o'clock in the morning, for a rum and coffee for about tuppence or thruppence, then he always used to er go to his mother's for his breakfast and er he used to go down and see all the men start off and then, then slip over to his mother's, she lived on the Road and er she, for years and years this went on that he had his break ... he never had his breakfast at home he'd start off going down there and come back to his mother's, but he always stopped at the White Hart for his rum and coffee [laugh]
Joyce (PS5B3) [38] Did many people go in [...] ?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [39] Oh yes yes oh well yes for a rum and coffee yeah, and I'm afraid it was very acceptable on a winter's morning, but erm now we come, we've come on that side of Road, we'll now start at the top of Road again and come along as far as er what I call Street I believe it's now where St Michael's church is, and you come to Sammy the butchers.
[40] Now Sammy was a character in himself he was a bachelor and his wi ... his sister was Fanny the elocutionist er and, and er there the women used to, to go into old Sammy's shop on a Friday night simply to be entertained by all the wisecracks and nonsense that used to go on in there, and somebody would say I suppose you're off this weekend and he'd say yes I'm off to my little widow in Wales, he hadn't got a little widow in Wales at all now but it would the start of the conversation going.
[41] My mother's been up there and she didn't come back for two hours and she came back [laugh] we kept well he'd sold a lot of meat in the meantime.
[42] [laugh] The next three shops was which was a er he become I think in the finish but it was a toy shop and then you came to er the fruiters, on the other side of Street, and you came down to er little pawnshop.
[43] I, I shall be seeing the [laugh] you know in a few weeks time the daughter she's a, she's er Rene that was erm Eddie , who were very big pals of mine and we go to the [...] anniversary lunch together so we're all over eighty but erm ... you couldn't ... the bread shop, was another confectioner's shop, and then turning round the corner you come to another shop, up two steps, which was and that was another type of confectionery and [...] shop, then you get as far as the corn and seed people er they used to have a shop in Street as well, and then before the First World War there was the butchers and they sold foreign meat.
[44] Fourpence ha'penny a pound this New Zealand lamb was I remember.
[45] Mother wouldn't have anything to do with it whatsoever, don't you bring anything, any of that stuff into our house, I mean of course it be this New Zealand lamb had just arrived on the scene before the First Word War, I mean nobody was, anybody dare have it I mean they'd be standing on the pavement at eleven o'clock at night almost giving it away [laugh] on Saturday night, but anyway that's all changed now, we all eat it.
[46] Then you got to er the picture house ... er that happened just before the First World War that was put up as far as I can remember, I know I used to go there and see erm the Broken Coin which was a ... serial picture and it was you know er where somebody was up to their neck in water one week and it would say that the continuation of this picture would be shown in this theatre one week from today [laugh] and you [...] .
Joyce (PS5B3) [47] [...] what was it like inside?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [48] Pardon?
Joyce (PS5B3) [49] What was it like inside?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [50] Nice, very nice, you went up a long hall toward, as soon as you got er through the doors it was very nice really, quite, quite something for Caldmore anyway.
[51] Then on the corner of Street and Green was the tobacconist shop.
[52] Then coming along Street you come to the picture frame people and then the Conservative Club, then there was the big house further on towards the top of Street and that was owned by somebody named Winnie , was my second wife's ... she went to school with her they used [...] but her father lived there, and on the other side of the road you got the toy shop and er ... the draper's shop on the corner of er Road then there was the newsagents and one or two people kept that, but that takes you from the top of Street straight the way up to Caldmore.
[53] Now on Green, now we go, we've come along from the top of Street right along Road, the toy shop then you get to the Kings Arms and on the other side of the road there was another pub and I can't remember the name of it, then there was the fish shop and then the Liberal Club then the pork butchers you'd think they were all full of meat.
Joyce (PS5B3) [54] There were a lot of butchers.
Gilbert (PS5B4) [55] Butchers and er then there was the butchers and that was on the corner of and er and and then cross over there towards Street you've got the stores, then you come the, the er drapers, then er Tommy the butcher who was my first wife's uncle ... and then you come to a shop which was owned by one or two people, which was a sort of er general store and then my mother-in-law's shop a cook's which was
Joyce (PS5B3) [56] What sort of shop was that?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [57] Which was a bakers and confectioners, they used to er bake at the, they got the er the bakehouse at the back and they used to make confectionery and high class bread.
Joyce (PS5B3) [58] And what sort of shop was it itself was it a large shop?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [59] Oh quite a nice shop, yes very nice shop.
Joyce (PS5B3) [60] Would they display the bread?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [61] Oh yes, yes in the, in the window yes ... I think and many and many a ticket I got when I first got married to my first wife I used to do my mother-in-law's little tickets for all the various custards, and, and Eccles cakes and [...] four for thruppence ha'penny [laugh] it doesn't [laugh] of course I could print right you see she said, being a draughtsman I always could print right so I used to do the four for thruppence ha'penny.
[62] How much are they today?
[63] Well I bought, I bought three custards the other day and I think they were about fifty three pence.
Joyce (PS5B3) [64] Have you got any special memories about any of these shops at all for any reason?
[65] Any that you used to go in a lot that you can tell me about?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [sigh]
Joyce (PS5B3) [66] Perhaps for instance.
Gilbert (PS5B4) [67] Oh yes I used to go and fetch the er erm I used to go into every week, oh there was the maypole next to as well.
[68] I used to go and fetch the, the butter from ... don't bring margarine my father used to say we put better stuff on our machines so [laugh] er ... I used to go to for my father kept foul, I used to fetch a peck of, bushel of this and a bushel of, you know all the various things that, bran and stuff for the foul yes, yes and I believe a lady, she has, she's only recently died and but she kept it for [sigh] a long long while Elsie her name was.
Joyce (PS5B3) [69] And what was it like inside were ... ?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [70] Oh yes, sacks of [...] other and they used to have a proper corner seedman's shop, which you don't see about today the er Garden Centre has knocked all that on the nut hasn't it really?
Joyce (PS5B3) [71] What about chemist.
[72] Whereabouts was that?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [73] That was er ... coming down from Street you come to then you come to the grocers and was next- door there [...]
Joyce (PS5B3) [74] [...] that's the only link with Caldmore as it used to be and Caldmore as it is now
Gilbert (PS5B4) [75] Maybe
Joyce (PS5B3) [76] because it's still there.
Gilbert (PS5B4) [77] Yes probably yes.
Joyce (PS5B3) [78] [laugh] And what sort of shop was it in your day when you were young Michael?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [79] Oh quite a nice [...] shop.
Joyce (PS5B3) [clears throat]
Gilbert (PS5B4) [80] I used to know, I used to play at tennis with Bay , the daughter and er the eldest daughter she married another chemist and he ran the place afterwards I think, then there was Jack but er ... I, I used to know, I used to know quite a lot of the er people on the, who kept these shops.
Joyce (PS5B3) [81] Was it the sort of chemist that erm [cuckoo clock] was it the sort of chemist that you'd go in if you'd got something the matter with you and rather than go to the doctor, they would sort of dole out something for you?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [82] Well I've never had the experience and I don't think my family have, I er no I shouldn't think it was really, they might, I suppose somebody, they used to have a reputation at one time these chemists was doing minor, giving you something for some minor ailment, but I wouldn't care to sort of er, I'd never think of it, no there were quite a lot of doctors about you know, there was er Doctor at the top of Road and there was Doctor , Doctor oh there was a lot of doctors about.
Joyce (PS5B3) [83] Were you sent to Sunday School when you [...] ?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [84] Oh yes rather.
Joyce (PS5B3) [85] Which one did you used to go to?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [86] Well my mother was one of the pillars of the Palfrey church and er she er oh I went, my father never used to go, but she used to go and of course I, I used to be an altar server down there ... when I got a bit older I did for a week or two to the erm ... do you know anything about an Anglo-Catholic Church I mean where they swing the incense and there is this little boy with the boat?
[87] I was that for about, I soon got fed up with that job. [laugh]
Joyce (PS5B3) [88] How old were you when you did that?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [89] Oh about eight, seven or eight, but when we first went there the honourable S G W was the vicar, fourth son of the Earl of [...] [cuckoo clock] and er, oh you ... he was there then afterwards er Father came, and I used to do ... altar serving oh I was never interested in it you know I was forced into it.
Joyce (PS5B3) [90] Who forced you into it?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [91] My mother [...] I remember [laugh] there was a sale of work going on at Palfrey church once and bef I had just been made apprentice at Wolverhampton and of course I got amongst the, they, when they came the, the Derby day they were all having ... a bet on it so I, I said to the [...] give them half a crown, so he said you can't have half a crown and he said what do you want it for so I said they're putting it on a horse [...] was on this horse it won, so of course this sale of work was in great progress when I gets off the train at station and thought well I couldn't understand [...] in er Palfrey Church Hall, so she was there in all her finery and I said we've won, we've won [laugh] she said shut up, shut up she said [laugh] but erm ... no I think the biggest character in Caldmore was Father .
Gilbert (PS5B4) [92] What do you remember about him?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [93] Oh I don't, I just, I remember that er if you walked down er Road at night you'd see him with his mortar board on and his curate by his side coming down to to post the letters, and then when all these ladies were in Sammy shop one night being entertained by Sammy erm Father and his curate went by, and old Sammy turned round to the audience and said well if dressing up will get him anywhere they'll be on the first row in heaven.
[94] [laugh] I was there that night I was, sometimes when I was a little boy I used to go with my mother you know to, for the ent I didn't know whether, yells of laughter used to come out of his shop.
[95] I'm trying to explain to you that there was a different atmosphere about it, the whole situation, I know they were hard times, I know that some people had some really rough times but it didn't show very much, and when I come to think of all my parents' friends I don't remember anybody having a wife bashing episode or they all seemed to be very ... contented with their lot somehow except one, and that was a little bit dicey when I was a little kid, but the man died and the Observer the next week [laugh] the er obituary notice was put in the paper and underneath they'd got, with Christ which is far better and my father said and they she couldn't have said anything better words [laugh]
Joyce (PS5B3) [96] Do you remember anything more about Father ?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [97] Yes oh I ee I, I'm led to understand that he, he built that church and I'm led to understand that at the same time he started, he came as a curate to St Matthew's and then he came to Street into a house and he had a little, he started a little church down there in a private house and then he built the church.
[98] He very wealthy, but oh dear dear he was a, he was a, tyrannical I should call him, I know for a fact that he used to ... before the choir walked in at night he'd have his watch out in his hand and they'd start at exactly the same time.
[99] I remember when he always used to read out during the service before the sermon the previous week's collection and it used to consist of the collection last Sunday consisted of one pensioning note, twenty ha'penny half crown pieces, forty florins and he'd go all through the coinage down to the last ha'penny [laugh] but erm ... oh I believe he was, he was er very aristocratic, very aristocratic, but er Father , cos he used to come over our house quite a lot when my mother was on the parochial church council, and er he had a curate that was quite leftish and he got himself on the old Board of Guardians and of course he used to sort of er go into the Labour Club and was quite of er [...] father, he said to old Father one night he said erm he's a funny chap your curate [...] he said well he [...] , he's the son of a farm labourer he says and I'm the son of a country squire and that's the difference.
[100] [laugh] So that was the attitude hey, but erm [laugh] they'll have me up for libel here.
Joyce (PS5B3) [101] Tell me about some of these other characters around, can you recall anyone?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [102] Well old was, was er absolute er you'd never think anybody'd would buy anything out of his shop, er my father went in for something once and he, and he said you can see them hanging up can't you, I mean er salesmanship was on unheard of as far as he was concerned [laugh] they were there, why ask him if he'd got any, but erm course you must remember I was only a little boy I mean I can remember all this, I took it all in but I wouldn't say that I knew them er I knew Miss , from the grocer's shop she was a Sunday School teacher, and er the Sunday School used to be at Road School we used to have a Sunday School there and a Mr used to take this.
[103] He was another character er ... there was er ... I remember they used to have a lot of socials and things at the church you know, it was very well attended I suppose in those days.
[104] Don't know what it's like now.
Joyce (PS5B3) [105] What about the Conservative Club and the Liberal Club did they, were they more social clubs?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [106] Oh yes, er ... yes they were, they were er of course there was a great divide there I mean between the Liberals I mean they were the only two parties in those days.
[107] The Conservative Club was there before the, the Liberal Club.
[108] I think if the Liberal Club [...] was only like First World War it wasn't there it hasn't always been there but the Conservative Club was there as long as I can remember.
Joyce (PS5B3) [109] Do you recall any of the activities that were associated with either of them?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [110] Did [...] what?
Joyce (PS5B3) [111] Do you recall any of the activities that were associated?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [112] Well I was in the tennis club when I was a ... er they used to have a tennis court at the back.
Joyce (PS5B3) [113] Which club was that?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [114] Conservative Club, and my wife she wa we were both members there ... oh and there was a, I tell you another shop that probably I haven't mentioned, just before you get to the White Hart there was Thompsons the butcher's shop with er [...] they got three or four er daughters I remember.
Joyce (PS5B3) [115] Why do you think there were so many butcher's shops?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [116] [...] there was a lot of meat I suppose really I mean erm
Joyce (PS5B3) [117] [...] answer.
[118] I mean were there sort of different quality meats being sold [...]
Gilbert (PS5B4) [119] [...] all the rest were [...]
Joyce (PS5B3) [120] No difference
Gilbert (PS5B4) [121] No of course one or two of them had slaughter houses at the back of them you know.
Joyce (PS5B3) [122] I see
Gilbert (PS5B4) [123] I mean er
Joyce (PS5B3) [124] Which were those?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [125] Well Tommy used to slaughter all his cattle and er ... you see my father-in-law's bakehouse and his slaughter house were next to one another an open yard at the back of the shops and er
Joyce (PS5B3) [126] How did the cattle arrive?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [127] Oh driven up from the station from the, from the goods yard oh yes.
Joyce (PS5B3) [128] Was that in Street Walsall or [...] ?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [129] Yes a long street or somewhere around there, and yes I mean many oh many a time I've, you'd see ca ... every Wednesday night you'd see the cattle being driven up.
Joyce (PS5B3) [130] Always the same night was it?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [131] Yeah, and one got stuck in the, there was an entry between my father-in-law's shop and the next one and one of these cattle ran down the entry and got stuck in the entry, you know it was only narrow and the they had to shoot it, but er oh yes it was a, that was a thing you never hear of today and you never hear of people putting tannin down when people are ill do you?
[132] You see Walsall being a leather town there was a lot of this er bark tannin as went and when anyone who was ill so they wouldn't hear the noises of the horse driven vehicles going by they used to, for about fifty yards each side of the house they used to put this stuff in the road to deaden the sound.
Joyce (PS5B3) [133] Do you recall this being done?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [134] Oh yes.
Joyce (PS5B3) [135] And what, where did this happen that you remember?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [136] Oh I've known it happen all over Caldmore.
Joyce (PS5B3) [137] So it was a regular happening?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [138] Oh yes they put this, this tannin down ... [...] it was like a bark I don't know what it was cos I'm not in the leather trade, I, I don't know much about it except that it was some by-product from the ... of the er tanning process, and they used to put this stuff down when people were ill.
Joyce (PS5B3) [139] So with you mentioning leather then it leads me onto another question erm was there much done in the way of leather work in the Caldmore area?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [140] Oh rather yes, out-work, people used ... during the First World War there were no end of people were sort of er especially if they'd had a bit of experience in the leather industry like harness and saddlery and that sort of thing, especially the harness and er other work attached to leather cavalry and er revolver holsters and that sort of thing, they'd do them at home you know oh yes there was er now Walsall's divided isn't it?
[141] It's got leather and, and iron and steel, now you come onto the Road and you wouldn't think there a leather factory about would you?
[142] Because from top to bottom it was all connected with iron and steel the whole lot all the way down.
[143] You go from er Hopeworths, Mason and Burnhams, John , Gill and Russells, Walker Brothers it was er a terribly industrial, well you could fi Road used to be all granite sets in the road, there wasn't the, because there was so much traffic went up and down ... er it was all made of granite sets when I, when I was a kid, but my, shall I tell you what I used to do when I was a kid for my Saturday morning?
[144] Well first of all I'd go down Street and up Street West and up to the top of Street and there was some puddling furnaces, the new side iron works and I'd watch those men they'd produce wrought iron and during the process the metal boils up and I'd have to get a big rubbling bar and rubble they'd call rubble into a ball, there's a little wagon put underneath the [...] put under the wagon and off he goes to the steam hammer, now I used to be fascinated with this and Saturday after Saturday I used to go up there and watch one of the heats and as soon as they'd finished doing they used to go into the Forge and Hammer for a drink, I mean it was such hard work so they'd do a heat go up the Forge and Iron and come back and then do another heat when I'd
Unknown speaker (K63PSUNK) [...]
Joyce (PS5B3) [145] How long would it take to do a heat?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [146] Oh ... I should think it would be the best part of an hour ... and er ... then I'd go along Street down into Walker Brothers call in my father's office.
[147] Can I go in the rolling mills?
[148] I used to go into the rolling mills and watch them rolling steel sheets and over about half an hour there, this was Saturday after Saturday after Saturday I used to do this.
[149] I'd come along Road and up Lane into Street to a shop that had got rabbits in the window.
[150] I used to walk along there to see these rabbits I think the name was and they, it was a barber's shop that had got these sold all sorts of pet things and that I used to, then I used to come home that was my Saturday morning, but I always used to go in up to the news line.
[151] Now the funny thing about it, when I took metallurgy I got, I, I got all this process I knew all about it you know, and er I had it the theory explained to me then, but er I was in the Bell one day about twenty years ago and an old boy came in and I started talking to him and ... he says, I bet you don't know what I am?
[152] I said no I don't, he said well what I was anyway he said I'm retired now.
[153] He says you'll never guess.
[154] I said well what was it?
[155] He says I was a puddler.
[156] I said, were you?
[157] He said you don't know what that was, that is do you?
[158] I said I do a bit, so er he said, well do you know anything about it?
[159] I said a bit, and I never let him know, I thought I'll wait a little bit until he go so he says to me, he says I bet you don't know why they put the damper in just before they'd put the, bring the ball out do you?
[160] I said yes I do, he says you know?
[161] I said course I know I said to put some of the carbons from the smoke back into the, into the er wrought iron, he says how did you find that out?
[162] And I told him that er [laugh] all about it, but I said do they make, do they do this puddling these days, he says yes at West Bromwich they still do it, but er they used to do it up on
Joyce (PS5B3) [163] Do you recall what they used to wear?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [164] Moleskin trousers.
Joyce (PS5B3) [165] Were there any protective gear of any kind?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [166] No no just the [...] used to wear like a, a pork pie hat.
Joyce (PS5B3) [167] Did he wear anything in par
Gilbert (PS5B4) [168] No no no no not that I know of.
Joyce (PS5B3) [169] Did you see them load the furnace?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [170] Oh yes they used to put pig sc iron and scrap in it.
[171] Pig iron you know er pig iron was what they had [...] I've seen them pouring [...] furnaces pouring it onto the pig beds, and you know when I was a kid when we lived in Caldmore from about half past nine at night all across West Bromwich, Wednesbury all over that area, you'd see the sky light up and it was due to the pouring of er pouring the pig iron.
[172] They open up the these blast furnaces and the, we'd all be in the open air and the reflection there used to be quite a reflection in the sky all round there.
Joyce (PS5B3) [173] Did, getting back to Caldmore.
[174] Erm were there any small workshops around doing odd things you may recall, sort of small set-ups?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [175] No I don't think there were, there might have been one or two, yes I do know one that used to make some form of er something for the saddlery trade and you know those houses opposite the alms houses in Road, there are some alms houses on the one side, then there's some houses that lie up steps on the other side of the road if they're still there.
[176] The back of there there used to be one or two people who used to have little outhouses where they used to sort of make things, and my grandfather up the Pleck, he was a good locksmith and he had his shop at the back of the house and he cou he could watch the Walsall races going on, which is now where the Road is, from his workshop before Street was put and any of those and he could stand in his workshop and watch the races.
Joyce (PS5B3) [177] And when would that be?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [178] Oh [sigh] [clock strikes] oh in the eighteen nineties I should think eighteen eighties, eighteen nineties.
Joyce (PS5B3) [179] And did he have any men working for him or did he work on his own?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [180] Yes he er he had a nephew for ... part time but he was a ... now he was a Wolverhampton Grammar School boy.
[181] His two brothers both died with smallpox cos one was, they all three went to Wolverhampton Grammar School and they were a Wednesbury family and they ... died with the smallpox but I thought they were putting the youngest which was my grandfather for the best trai one was going in for law and the other was going in for medicine, and the youngest was go which was the same as engineering is today I suppose, and he went into the gun trade, and I can remember him, he was a grand old chap and er he used to come and bring the springs that he'd made and to temper them he used to throw them in the kitchen fire, and they'd die out [...] and get them all out of the ashes in the morning, and he used to take his week's work in his waistcoat pockets and his day out was to get on the tram at the Brown Lion, and go straight through Wednesbury and right through West Bromwich up to the Constitutional in Birmingham to Greeners or Wembley and Scotts and he'd got these gun locks as he'd made during the week in his waistcoat pockets.
Unknown speaker (K63PSUNK) [...]
Joyce (PS5B3) [182] They were very small then?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [183] Yeah.
Joyce (PS5B3) [184] That's interesting.
Gilbert (PS5B4) [185] Yes and er my mother was frightened to death of guns because, oh he was a bit of a boy at heart I mean you can just imagine everybody used to bring the sporting guns to be repaired and there was guns floating about all over the place, and my mother was scared stiff of guns right till the time she died er, and he got mixed up with all these sporting connections you know like go off to shoots and various things and I think he did a bit of cock fighting in his day as well, but I've, I've got the exercise books that his two brothers.
[186] Do you want to see them?
Joyce (PS5B3) [187] You can show me?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [188] I can show you afterwards aye you can have a look at them and see what you think about them.
[189] Erm yes aye ... that's the Pleck that's not Caldmore you know.
Joyce (PS5B3) [190] Yes [...] yes but very interesting all the same.
Gilbert (PS5B4) [191] Yeah oh yes he oh and he was erm ... being better educated than the majority of people in the Pleck he used to stand outside the Brown Lion to read the newspaper out to them cos they couldn't read, and he attended all the weddings, all the funerals and er made the wills out and he almost was the father confessor for the Pleck, and when the old steam tram came off the lines down in the Pleck, when there was a steam train coming through there, he was the man who put it on the rails again.
Joyce (PS5B3) [192] What was his name?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [193] John .
Joyce (PS5B3) [194] Tell me about transport through Caldmore when you were a young man.
Gilbert (PS5B4) [195] Do you mean public transport?
Joyce (PS5B3) [196] Well both sorts.
Gilbert (PS5B4) [197] Non-existent until about ... I shouldn't think there was an a bus did come to the bottom of Road, I can't remember what [...] was, it must have been about nineteen twenty I suppose something like that, it used to go to the bottom of Road and turn round there, but I never er my mother always used to say you'd ruin the trade, the trade down well I don't believe it did really er ... now I think the lack of transport now you've hit something there, lack of transport there encouraged people to shop in Green rather to go down the town cos you could get anything off Green you know, you just think you'd ju you, you smiled about the er butcher's shops, the grocer's shops, the cake shops, you could get the gents [...] , you could get anything on Green the ironmonger shop, you needn't go anywhere else but, when they started transport ... er yes I think the buses had quite a bit gradually cos things that, you don't think get things happening in this country overnight I mean, they grow on you don't they?
[198] I mean you get a bus coming as far as Road and back [...] I don't suppose it has half a dozen folks on what's this thing coming up here, nobody I'd er I've walked into Walsall all my life and [...] but gradually the whole thing changes doesn't it, and then the thing gets off as far as West Bromwich, and in, then, then there's through traffic and then how far and the Green's not big enough to take the turn around up Road then they change the direction, and it's all done on bit by bit by bit and so Green's got eroded it's er
Joyce (PS5B3) [199] So they took bits of Green away then?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [200] Oh yes they did for, for the increase in traffic I mean that er ... that er went on over the years gradually creep, creep, creep on until the whole atmosphere of the place was er ... I don't know improved should you say or not ... I don't know whether it's er well it certainly hasn't improved but erm it changed, it was such a lovely little place really, and of course you could run across the road whenever you liked I mean we used to play in Street of picking out in a sweet shop window er a name be Cadbury's or chocolate or something you'd be standing across the road and you'd be running backwards and forwards backwards and forwards, there was no sign of anyone getting run over cos there was nothing about, and when I was a kid going to the Bluecoat School I'd run across that bridge every morning without looking right or left, because if anything had hit me, well nothing used to be coming you could see a tram coming but oh there was nothing else at that time in the morning oh no it was, wouldn't like to run across today.
Joyce (PS5B3) [201] What about private transport in Caldmore about this time, how was, what was that?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [202] Do you mean somebody who owned a ... er some kind of vehicle, tradesmen some of the tradesmen did but not many that I can remember, no I don't think there was too many of them.
Joyce (PS5B3) [203] Would private individuals have their own transport?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [204] No no no no there was nobody, now er probably up at the top of Gallway there though one or two would have er stables I should think, one or two of those houses, but by and large no I shouldn't think so.
[205] Now there is another, another part it's very nice and that is round Lane and er Road and all round there used to be very nice at one time.
[206] Do you know it?
Joyce (PS5B3) [207] Er
Gilbert (PS5B4) [208] I can't er ...
Joyce (PS5B3) [209] Were there any open rural areas?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [210] Oh yes.
Joyce (PS5B3) [...]
Gilbert (PS5B4) [211] Yes my playground.
[212] Go up Road, and from there turn down Follyhouse Lane the continuation of it and you'd come right to the Dales and nothing at all from there to West Bromwich, and you could see, if you go over one stile from one field then onto another and then brook that now runs through the Road there, that used to be a little country brook that run across the golf course and there was a little stile over it, a little bridge and a stile, then you go straight up to Dells common and not a house in sight.
Joyce (PS5B3) [213] Was it open farmland?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [214] No , cut straight across it.
[215] I mean that's what cut straight the way across that it was, it was all ... and my aunt she used to live by All Saints West Bromwich, we never used, we never went to see them we used to walk it down the road past the Boars Head onto the Navigation Inn, and up by the Sandlow and she used to live opposite er All Saints Church in West Bromwich, and erm coming back we should come back round midnight you know and er have you ever heard of the Whirly Gang?
Joyce (PS5B3) [216] Yes.
Gilbert (PS5B4) [217] Has that come up in your er ... in your ... well we were coming back there one night from my aunt's and er there were quite a lot of policemen about and I was only a little boy, it was before the First World War and my father said to one of these policemen, what's happening so, oh we had a tip-off he says that er there's these Whirly Gang folks and in the morning we saw somebody'd been maimed or killed, but er that was another bit of interesting news around, and I remember down in Caldmore one day there used to be some ladies who used to come from, well they used to be, one of them used to call them the salt ladies, they used to come with blocks of salt on a, on a ... I think they used to come from [...] and I saw a horse there as a kid and I, it had got a long gash right across its body and I said to this lady I said, what's happened to this, she said oh the Whirly Gang and er I was in Paris in nineteen twenty two and er we got to this hotel and there was another Englishman on this trip and he said to me he said where do you come from?
[218] I said Walsall he said oh the Whirly Gang [laugh]
Joyce (PS5B3) [219] You just mentioned these salt ladies coming round.
Gilbert (PS5B4) [220] Yeah.
Joyce (PS5B3) [221] Erm tell me a bit about that.
Gilbert (PS5B4) [222] Well all the way from, they used to come from [...] and they used to have some sunbonnets on, I always remember they used to have the, I'm not a dressmaker but you know a la they don't like frills down the back that used to hang down the back and the I remember them coming round selling blocks of salt.
Joyce (PS5B3) [223] Horse and cart?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [224] Horse and cart and of course milk was never delivered by, in bottles in those days.
[225] I mean that was always a milkman used, there used to be er James was one of the milkmen down Palfrey, he used to come ... .
[226] they used to pour it out of a can you know, it's a wonder we didn't all die of tuberculosis but we didn't.
Joyce (PS5B3) [227] Did anyone else come round the streets selling things?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [228] Oh yes the watercress man on a Sunday afternoon and er all the various things were s fruiters, fishmongers, all used to bring their stuff round.
Joyce (PS5B3) [229] How did you know they were in the street, did they have a call?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [230] Shout, they'd shout something but er ... well since we've been living up here, my mother used to give, the man used to come for the order for the grocery, the baker used to come round, the milk used to come round, they all used to come round at she'd ha she didn't have go out for heavy loads of stuff to bring in it was all delivered, but when they started some new technique of er of ordering by computer, it's going to come back to square one again you know, they'll be delivering stuff in the same jolly old way hey.
Joyce (PS5B3) [231] Could be yes.
Gilbert (PS5B4) [232] Yes don't you think?
Joyce (PS5B3) [233] Could be yes, yes.
Gilbert (PS5B4) [234] Give it fifty years and I'll bet you that the baker and all the rest of the folks, it'll be coming from a supermarket, but they'll be delivering stuff that you've put on your computer.
Joyce (PS5B3) [235] That's right that [laugh] would be interesting.
Gilbert (PS5B4) [236] Hey [laugh] er ... well, during, just after the war they started these concerts in the Temperance Hall.
[237] Now the Temperance Hall was a very very nice hall er balcony all the way around, it held five or six hundred people er candelabras and all the rest of it, a lovely stage and these travelling concert parties used to come round on a Saturday night, and I should imagine they'd be doing the seasides during the summer and then they came back in the Walsall and various areas during the er winter months, and we used to get concert parties like The Roosters and The Bonbons and all those sort of people come along and they were real and of course fellas my age, I mean eighteen and nine we used to take our girls there I mean it was full of young people er you'd perhaps have been to the pictures one night and it's another way of entertaining really and it was really a first class entertainment.
[238] Well my pal and myself we took these two girls and we sat in the middle of the Temperance Hall ... and he said come on let's sit over on the balcony he says and put up my clothes by the radiator he says it's been raining he says and it will dry them, so we moved, and exactly from were we moved was where the women got killed, just candelabra dropped on her and er ... when it happened the fella on the stage the comedian was singing, a hundred years from now you won't be here, and I won't be here and from the corner of my eye I could see something gradually dropping like one of these candelabras and I thought hello that's part of the act you know, it was just gradually coming down and all of a sudden, whooosh and the roof came straight in ... oh and I don't know sure I'd ... I, everything went dark of course I mean it was all in blacked-out all the chairs were loose, so as the folks wended their way towards the exit doors they took the chairs with them, so they politely threw them back in the crowd that stood in the hall so you were dodging chairs as well as trying to get out, where we were, where we were seated the firemen were hacking at the windows thinking that it was a fire because all the dust had gone up in the air and the reflection of the light from the market I suppose and that would give the appearance of smoke, and he was, I said to this fireman I said there's no fire, he says, he says there is I said there's no fire in here, anyway we eventually got out but I took these girls back home to and I really, it was, properly unnerved us both and as we came [laugh] [...] on that old tram [...] we were, we thought you know everything seemed to sort of upset us and when I got far more upset on the Sunday morning when I went to have a look at it, the whole roof had come right in, but there were fifty people got injured you know and about, oh there was one lady killed.
[239] I knew one of the girls and er she never got right properly again.
[240] She got injured in her back somewhere, but er it was national news, I mean it was in The Mirror and all the papers and it became a, for a day or two it was er it was in everywhere, and the theory is that er it was this erm ... very very dry summer and a very very wet autumn and a bit of dry rot in the timbers somewhere, but it was [laugh] it was another [...] [laugh]
Joyce (PS5B3) [241] How long did it actually take you to get out of there?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [242] Oh, half an hour.
Joyce (PS5B3) [243] Quite a time really?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [244] Yeah, yeah, oh yes of course a lot of the people were, that were in the [...] we were in under the balcony but they were up to their knees in plaster and goodness knows what that had come out of the roof they couldn't move it all dropped round them.
Joyce (PS5B3) [245] So they had to wait to be dug out did they?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [246] Yes I've
Joyce (PS5B3) [247] [clears throat] Good gracious, was anyone trying to organize the [...] ?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [248] Well you can't in the dark can you really?
[249] You can't really, you see we came out into a side door into the old square.
[250] I don't know what happened to the front entrance, but there was a basement underneath there and my first wife was dancing in Harvey Martin's dance hall underneath, her pal and herself she, they'd gone to this dance it was a dancing lesson on a Saturday night it was famous in those days Harvey Martin's dance class er ... yes I ...
Joyce (PS5B3) [251] Was, was there any damage down [...] ?
Gilbert (PS5B4) [252] No no no.
Joyce (PS5B3) [253] In the basement, it was just on the
Gilbert (PS5B4) [254] Just on the top yeah
Joyce (PS5B3) [255] on the top of it ...
Gilbert (PS5B4) [256] That's about all I can tell you about that, but er it makes you wonder whether I hadn't better keep out of Street, doesn't it?