The First Non-Tied Dwelling
“History may be written in the books of the famous – but it is created by the lives of everyday individuals”
THE STORY OF BILL
Osborne Terrace – The First ‘Non-Tied’ Dwelling
Another phase. We were lucky to get another Offer of a house. Again a back-to-back, the Owner living at the front and we could rent the Street one. A house which would not be a ‘tied’ Dwelling. A step forward, more space, more freedom. Not far from our Cottage, just around the Corner, called OSBORNE TERRACE. There were many, many of these Houses in the Area, in fact, most of them. A long, long Terrace of about 12 to 14 Houses. We had the second House at the far end. This was very good as the Toilet Blocks were separate little Buildings on each end. So if you lived in the middle Houses you had to pass six houses to go, we had only one to pass.
This helped on rainy days, when we got dressed in Wellies and Coats each time one had to go to the Loo. Much to the Amusement of my German Visitors. To have an excursion each time one had to go.
The Owners at the Front had a lovely large Garden to their House with a magnificent View over the Valleys. We had this View from our Back Attic Window. But the street Side was a tremendous Step up for us. Another Row of Houses opposite us, who also had a little Garden in front of their House. Again, a subtle difference. In the 19th Century, when most of these Houses were built, often by the Mills, the one Side, with the Garden would be for skilled Workers and Foremen, and the street Side for unskilled Men. But this was not so any more when we moved in. A house was a house and you were lucky to get one.
The house had only Gaslight, so I was introduced to another way of living. In this ‘Lamp’ was a ‘Gasmantle’. A little thing as big as a Thumb. It was made from a starched gauzy substance, and made the little Gas flame into a larger distributor, to give a better light. If you touched that by mistake, whilst you pulled a little Chain to let the Gas come through, you had broken the Mantle and had made a mess of it. “Oh, where are the Candles? Are the shops still open?”
Anyway, this Establishment had a Cellar below, two Compartments, one for Storage, one for Coal. The first one soon made by Bill into a cosy kitchen, where we could cook and even have a meal when we were just three. One side of the Wall had lots of stone Shelves. Bill made doors for these in no time which gave us cupboards and was very handy. Phyllis and Roy gave us an ‘automatic’ Washer. In those days ‘automatic’ meant, you put the Washing in, and Water, closed the lid, which had Wooden Ladles on it, and swished the Washing to and fro by the handle. This took a good half hour or so, and saved you scrubbing things on the Board. It also heated the Water by Gas, so it WAS automatic. Bill often took his turn in that, even so it was NOT the done thing at all, to let your MAN do housework after his Days work. NO WAY!
Making Shelves and things like that, decorating, Paper hanging, those were Mens’ things, but the Housework, you must be kidding!
The house had, on Street level, a nice large Sitting room with a nice open Fireplace, in the middle of the Wall. No cooking on it as I had a Gas oven downstairs in my ‘kitchen’. It had an oven, I could have done, but had no need to do. A nice large Window in the street side, a Cupboard with a Stone Sink on the right of the Fireplace.
Coming from outside you faced the Stairs, leading to the upper floors. The Stairs to the Cellar being in the corner of the Stairwell.
Up the Steps you had a Landing leading to the Door to the main Bedroom. Doors and proper ceiling were already an enormous ‘PLUS’
A nice bedroom for the two of us, another set of Stairs led to the 2 Attic rooms. The first one, facing the Street, also had a ceiling, it became Peter’s Bedroom. The other was open to the Rafters and served as a lovely drying, hanging room on rainy days. And the wonderful view across the Valley.
On nice days the drying was done outside. Right across the street. Every House had a Hook on each side of the front door. So each one had a chance for a line across the Road. You had long wooden ‘Props’ to lift your line very high, if a Car came past and wanted to get through. But Monday was Washday, and the Coalman or others like him would not dare come on Monday. It was understood that the Women had the right of way that day, and would tell him off all the way, with the Prop held high.
All this does not have to do entirely with Bill. But it was ‘OUR LIFE’ and we shared everything and it was different altogether from his upbringing. His was much lower, mine was much higher, and here was OURS, quite different again. So it had to do with BILL.
We offered to have Electricity put in, but had to ask permission of the two Landladies, Spinster Sisters, both working in mills all their lives and tremendously proud of it. These two decided that THEY did not want Electricity. To start with it could be a bit dangerous, but they would have it put in for us and charge us 3 pence a week more Rent. That was alright by us, and it was done, costing about £20, at that time about two weeks Wages.
So, we were getting organized. And Bill could think of another kind of work, as he was no longer bound by the Mill. He made good friends there, but now, for the first time, he could think what he would LIKE to do in his work.
Our friend Roy Hopkinson was the good friend who advised, and we could talk freely to him. They to us, we to them. Years later, without hesitation we lent them ALL our meager savings to buy a house, which they paid back immediately they had sold their house. That was the sort of trust you had with all your friends then.
That was the sort of trust you had with your friends, back then! In the days of trolling for ‘friends’ on Social Media – what a sobering thought to hear what friendship meant to my parents. We ‘bastardize’ the language at our peril, methinks…
For myself, I hope that today’s post has, in some way, encouraged you – Dear Reader – to reflect on the life journeys you have and are undertaking.
As well as those undertaken by those who are near and dear to YOU.
You are who you are because of these journeys.
Where is YOUR journey taking you next, I wonder?
Oh, and by the way,
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