The following text was written by Mal's Mother and is added verbatim. It has been tided up by correcting the spelling and “tense”, otherwise it is intact. It was read by Mal at the funeral. She asked that it go on the internet.
My story, written by Jean Teresa NOBLE (Mum) 1929-2007.
I was born at No 6 Renshaw St. Patricroft Manchester England in May 1929. When I was 12 months old. My mother sent me to my grandmothers in Irlam. She told me, I stayed there until I was 3 years old. That was because she could not cope. She already had my brother Terry. He was 23 months old. I was one year old when she had twins Margaret & Mary. They were born on my first birthday 31st May 1929. Being 3 I can't remember a lot. But my mother had 6 more children with 13 & 14 months in between. But the last 2 children there was a gap of 8 years, from John to Christine
When I was about 9 years of age. I was went to (what they called in my day) and open air school. I believe I was sent there because I was under nourished. I was to have lessons all morning and was put on bunk beds outside in the afternoon (Whether Permitting) and sent home about 3.30 Monday to Friday.
I remember we lived in a house in new lane, Eccles, when the war broke out. The first siren when I was 11 years of age. It was scary because I didn't know what the noise was, when war started. So I banged on the wall to next door. My auntie Margaret lived there and she told me what it was. At that time my father was in the army, mother of course was out.
After the war started we moved to a bigger house in Barlow lane Eccles. It had an attic and a cellar a big cobbled yard stone steps at the front of the house. Across the croft in front of our house, we had air raid shelters were we had to go as soon as the siren went of, we had to collect our gas mask and “butties” (sandwiches) and drinks. There were a lot of people in the shelter, very cramped. Some times we were in there all night. And there was quite a lot of bombing around Eccles. We had 2 hospitals Monton Mill, and Eccles. Spinning Mill and other large buildings. They tried to bomb. We used to go all over Eccles picking of shrapnel and sell it at the scarp yard. All so we used to find material of barrage balloons, and tried to make things like pinafores and table cloths. If we were caught in the street without our gas mask, we were sent home for it.
We were very very poor, mainly because my mother didn't know how to cope, but she went out a lot. Having a big family we got quite a lot of coupons rations for food but mother used to sell most of them. She also sold the clothing coupons as she seldom bought us clothes, we relied on people giving them to us, or waiting for the rag & bone cart to come around. My father was de-mobbed from the army about 4 times but after arguing and fighting he re-joined again each time. He didn’t care about us or he would have stayed at home and helped. Being a chef in the army he brought a lot of food home, like butter, bacon, cheese, ham in large amounts. He would empty his kit bacon the table. And after that night we never saw it again. They used to both go out to the Wellington (Pub) and sell the lot and of course spend the money on booze for them and other people.
We used to have a man come to the house. They call it social service’s these days but our days it was called the cruelty man just to see if we were OK. Mother was always warned about the state of the house, our cleanliness and school attendance very often we had nothing to go in or nothing washed. When mother new the cruelty man was coming. That was when a neighbour had seen him. She would put food in the pantry on the shelf, like bread, butter and bananas and clean up a bit but one day when I was 13 I went to auntie Margaret. She had now moved to Trafford park, I ask auntie Margaret if I could take Colin my baby cousin to my house on the way there coming over Barton bridge with Colin in the pram I met my mother. She said to come back with her to auntie Margaret ( She is my mother’s sister) on our way there she told me the authority had been and taken all the children of her except my brother Terry he was at work they started work then at 14 when we got to her sisters my mother got me to have a bath as she told me she had to take to, what was then, a work house in green lane patricroft.
We were the only children there and a lot of old people with long clothes on, big fire guard round coal fire. We were very afraid looking out the window we could see our house in Barlow Lane. The only person that came to see us was grand mother. Waddell our mother was not allowed to see us. We were only there a few weeks until they found somewhere for us, then a car came for us, and took us to a convent in Tottington Bury, it wasn’t a catholic home but we didn’t stay there very long as they split us up Pat & Kathleen were fostered in Ormskirk, Danny & John went to broad green convent Liverpool. Margaret Mary & Myself (Jean) went to Greenfield Orphanage in Billinge.
Greenfield wasn’t a very happy place as the nuns were very cruel. Nothing we did was right, we worked in the nursery kitchen laundry day room corridors dormitory. They found fault all the time, silly incidents. I got battered for e.g.. leaving my spectacles on the windows sil one day I had to have my pupils dilated as I had very bad eyes because I couldn’t see to darn the socks, I got battered again this time with a cane.
The babies and little boys came of worst as there wasn’t anyone to comfort them, at 16 a lady came to the convent a few of us girls were in a room with mother Brendan the lady choose me to go and work for her as a maid, I wore a uniform brown & cream. I did some house work got meals ready and helped to look after 3 children, Damien 5, Anthony 3, and Kathleen 18 months. There father was a doctor, mum a teacher Mr & Mrs McCurdy very nice family I was free at last but the only clothes the Nuns gave me was 1 nightdress, 1blouse, a check black & white suit so I asked Mrs McCurdy to lend me money to get a coat as it was very cold. She lent me 2 weeks wages £3 I used to go back to the convent to visit my twin sisters a lot they were there for 12 months after I left.
One day they had a concert in the hall, I went to it. It finished about 6 o’clock. By that time it was dark and Carmill Rd. was very lonely. I saw a man fixing the lights after the concert so I asked my friend (Margaret Sumner) who he was? She said that he worked at the convent as the gardener, I said would it be safe if she asked him to walk me to the bus stop, she said yes as he was a nice man, DENNIS. He not only walked me to the bus stop but came all the way to Ashton-in-Makerfield where I lived with Dr & Mrs McCurdy. We talked a long time at there gate. He asked me for their phone number. We had not a pen between us so I gave him my lipstick. Looking at the time, I found he had missed his last bus back to Billinge, so Dennis had to walk it home.
It must have been worth it as we have done 52 years and must admit I would do it all again (if god would permit me) without changing ONE thing. Dennis was an Orphan from the age of 10, his auntie Alice & Uncle Jimmy brought him out of a home in Nottingham when he was 16 he was born in Nottingham. I was born at No 6 Renshaw St. Patricroft and we met in Billinge. Dennis was 22 when we met I was 17. We courted for 12 months and decide to get married. I had to live in Trafford Park for at least 3 months because we had a special licence it cost £2 so I stayed with Auntie Eileen in Clarence Ave. After we got married we lived with Auntie Alice for 10 months. Then with Edith and Bert Ward in Newton Rd. Billinge.
We married on the 24th January 1948 then along came our first child, Malcolm 11 months after. 2 and a haft year later Janet was born. We lived at the farm in Carmill Rd. were Dennis worked then when Janet was 12 months old we moved to a cottage at Startam Billinge Janet was 2 when Denise was born and Malcolm had started school. We then got our first council house 14 Claremont Rd., Billinge Denise was 2, when Barbara was born. Barbara was 2 years 4 months old when our last child came along, Carole.
Auntie Alice was very good to us. She helped me a lot with the children, Malcolm was born in Billinge hospital. The day I went home we had to go back to Edith’s as we were still waiting for a house then George Kearsley let us move to the farm house where Dennis worked. Apart from aunty Alice, George was our best friend. I do not know how we would manage without him as Dennis had an accident on the farm. It caused a slipped disc. He was in bed for 4 weeks George came every week with money for us.
I got some help in the house when Carole started school. I got a job with home help, went out cleaning, potato picking, pea picking, carrot picking, any thing to make ends meet. In 1968 I started work at Billinge British Legion after 12 months. I took it over as stewardess in1970. The secretary from Newtown Labour Club came to our house in Billinge to ask me if I would go and take the job there as Stewardess. It was a big decision as there was 2 bars to manage, 6 staff, apart from they told me the club was loosing money, so I had to try and get it going for them. I needed a better job but didn’t expect one with so much responsibility and I didn’t think that I could cope but by that time Dennis had finished at the farm as he had already had a slight stroke. But he was capable of doing a light job. He had never done bar work so he came as cellar man (and he was the best) Dennis used to serve in the games room in the after afternoon but if he didn’t know the price of bottles he would say have that on me) He always addresses Dennis as steward. He was such a good worker and got on very well with the rep’s and brewery’s then decimalisation came and the tills had to go and be altered. I put our girls one on each till after the first night it was easy.
After I had got to manage the club the committee wanted us to move into the bungalow that belonged to the club so sadly we left 14 Claremont Rd, and moved to St. Marks Ave. Newtown. I did manage to get the club on its feet and after five years we had a huge extension built. It meant more staff as we had another bar altogether I had 3 bars to run but my own family were a great help. We had a big opening night in 1979 Harold Wilson. It was a big day in Newtown as they hadn’t had a prime minister before, there were police everywhere, the whole place had to be searched for bombs etc. making sure but everything went very well and Harold enjoyed a glass of Dennis's best bitter.
I worked Newtown labour Club for 9 years and left to go to west Houghton Legion a smaller club but Whitbread’s brewery gave us a big party at Newtown labour Club. Before I left and I was presented with £200 on stage a silver tray and Dennis got a Pewter Tankard with his name on. They had Wigan Evening Post Down a great party but they were very sorry to loose us. We move into the Bungalow Belonging to West Houghton Legion but only stayed 2 years and moved on to Standish Con Club again we moved and lived in the club upstairs another 2 years passed and Newtown Labour Club asked me if I would do there club again for a short. While I was there for another 2 years. But Dennis wasn’t really fit for it so I decide to call it a day and look after him.
We sold the house in Argyle St. It was always Dennis ambition to go to Australia to see the other half of the family so when the money came through we went. We had a few holidays with the stroke club but I got a lot of help with Dennis. We went to lourd’s with St Cuthbert’s, they helped me a lot because by this time Dennis was in a wheelchair. The second time we went to lourd Carole came with us that was a lot easer for me. The last holiday we had Carole & Barbara came with us to Blackpool, Dennis loved it, Dennis and me had a few holidays with Denise & Flank and we went to Blackpool with Janet & Tom for a long weekend. One year I took Dennis to Butlin's that was very hard work for me as Dennis was in a wheelchair.
Then in 1988 Dennis had another stroke, he was in Billinge Hospital Malcolm came home from Australia to see him, the children gave us a wonderful Ruby Wedding Anniversary Party 1988 at Wigan Infirmary Social Club, it was a big surprise but Malcolm was back in Australia as he had already been home that year. Over the year Dennis got worse very placid but got harder work. He started going to larch Ave. day centre twice a week and Hindly day centre on Sunday. It was a great help for me as I was able to go out and do my own things. Dennis went to Whelly Hospital every 3 months for respite he stayed 2 weeks at a time but I couldn’t resist going to see him. I was told off a few time as they said he was in there to give me a rest. I had 2 home care coming every morning to bed bath and dress Dennis and 2 more at night to put him in bed. The nurse (John) came once a week to bath Dennis. We had an electric chair to lower him down in the bath all the carers loved Dennis to bits and a lot of fun with him. He would kiss the back of there hand and tell them your beautiful with the help of Carole we had Dennis in a few nursing home not very good any of them.
In 1998 it was our Golden Wedding Anniversary the children did us proud. They put a big party on at St Jude’s Club Poolstock lane. The highlight of the day was the girls had got Malcolm to come from Australia a fantastic surprise. We had a lovely party with family & friends, aunty Alice wasn’t well enough to come. She died the same month 1998 Dennis had a great time and loved all the fuss. He was so pleased to see our work mates there Arnold Fyshwick we was the treasurer at the club and worked with us for 11 years a good & honest man. His mate was the odd job man Colin Hayes Dennis loved him and he thought the world of Dennis. Arnold died 2001 age 74. My sister Margaret died young age 57, twin to Marry born 1930 next was Ann also 56 born 1946 next was my brother Terry born 1928 died January 2000 age 72 then John age 67 died May 2002, 6 of us left. I am the eldest Kathleen Pat & Me had a few holidays together. We got on very well. We would have loved Mary to come on Holiday but she couldn’t leave (Kathleen sadly died in 2004 age 72, 5 of us left). Mary's husband Al had Polio Myelitis in 1957 and never walked again, but Mary looked after him and he is alive today. She is martyr and did not have much life.
It is 2007 now. And I have got a great family, thank God, 5 children, 12 grand children, 19 great grand children, I am 77 and in a quite good health, expert for common things. We all get growing old. The Bungalow I live now is in Worsley Mesnes Wigan, Dennis lived here with me for 4 years before he died age 76. I love it here Dennis was a hard Grafter after he left Greenfield as a gardener he went to work with Auntie Alice at the Farm we were never too well of but always had good friends who gave us lots of hand me downs. I went Bar tending at Billinge British Legion is 1968 and then took it on as Stewardess in 1970. Dennis wasn’t well enough to work on the farm so he came to work with me. We were a good team and always had very good bar staff apart from the odd cheat that I soon sorted but Denise & Carole were always there to help me out
Malcolm our eldest child was in the navy from 15 and a half, didn’t think he would cope with it but he surprised us all. After 9 years he met and married a very nice girl Anna. They had 4 lovely children, 2 of which were born in Elgin Scotland. Zoe & Paul, when Zoe was 3 years they immigrated to Australia that is 34 year ago as at 2007. The other 2 children Sharon & Pamela are both teachers, Malcolm & Anna now have grandchildren and it is 2006. Janet is auxiliary nurse, 3 grand children, Denise has a good job and 2 girls and 4 grand children, Barbara has 3 girls, her youngest Ruth lives in Spain, Barbara has 3 grand children, Carole first worked as a nursery, nurse at Billinge hospital until she started up her own nursery, unfortunately she wasn’t able to have children but has always had a very stable marriage.
Dennis my husband had been dead now 6 years, only feels like weeks. I miss him so much and every one loved him.