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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
Wakefield Libraries & Information Services
People in story: 
BW (nee Craven); Doreen Hills, Stella Dickinson, Mary Morris
Location of story: 
Seedley, Salford; Irlam o' the Heights
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
17 January 2006

This story has been submitted to the People's war site by Christine Wadsworth of Wakefield Libraries and Information Services on behalf of BW ( nee Craven) and has been added with her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

It was a week before war started and I was twelve years old and attending Langworthy Road School, Seedley, Salford. With my Mother and two younger sisters, I was being evacuated to Blackpool. It was to be a trial run, if war started during the week we were away, we would be staying in Blackpool, if not, we would return home. Whilst we were away war was declared — we would be staying!

My sister E. was six years younger than me and the youngest of the three of us, A. was just a baby. When we got to Blackpool we were split up, E. who was seven went to stay with a woman who didn’t look after her very well. One night she had to sit outside on the doorstep in the dark awaiting the return of her hostess and son from the pictures, they had forgotten about her. E. never forgot the experience - how frightened she had been sitting there alone in the dark in a strange place.

I went to live with Mrs Reed who had a wallpaper shop on Grasmere Road, in Blackpool. She had a daughter of nineteen and a son who was twenty seven. Mrs Reed was lovely, she had taken in four evacuees, me, Doreen Hills, Stella Dickinson and Mary Morris, and looked after all four of us.

Everybody in Blackpool was kind to us being evacuees. We used to go for ice creams and were given them free of charge.If we went down to the beach we were given free candyfloss! Once, as we stood by a machine, the man who ran it saw us looking and asked if we were evacuees and when we said that we were, he opened up the machine and gave us all a string of beads.

One of the biggest factories producing ice cream was having to close because of the war and consequently gave it’s stock of ice cream away for free — I was sick, I ate so much of it!

Mother meanwhile was evacuated with my baby sister A., to Warton. Dad was left at home working on munitions. Mother, A. and E. later returned home to be with Dad, but I stayed with Mrs Reed until Christmas. She was very kind and wanted me to stay, but I missed my parents and sisters, so I returned home to Highfield Road, Seedley.

The following year, when I was thirteen, the Manchester Blitz started. One night after heavy bombing, we were all in our brick shelter when there was a slight lull. Dad took E. and I, to get some, biscuits, chocolates and drinks to take back into the shelter. We went through the house to the front door. Opposite the house was a park with an ack ack gun placement, manned by Canadians, Dad looked across and up and saw something floating down from the sky, he hustled us back through the house into the shelter. Suddenly there was an explosion and some of the terraced houses in our row were knocked down like a pack of cards. We were lucky, next door to us was an off-licence with a jutting-out wall and this saved our house, although the front was badly damaged making it uninhabitable.

As a result of the damage we were homeless for three months. My Mother got a pram and with my baby sister and E. she walked to my Grandma’s at Broughton. Grandma had a big house and we lived in the cellar for three months. We only had one bed between us - Mother and Dad slept at the top end, me and E. at the bottom. Baby A. slept on a pillow in a lined tin bath.

My paternal Grandma felt sorry for us. She had had incendiary bombs drop on her house and although it had burnt the front rooms it was still habitable. Grandma went to live with her married daughter whose husband was in India and we moved into Grandma’s house.

Mother, pushing baby A. in the pram, went out every day knocking on doors asking landlords if they had somewhere for us to live. One day, Mum was out and I was left in the house on my own — my schooling had stopped at that time. There was a knock on the door, it was a landlord who felt sorry for us, being homeless, and was offering us a house in the Heights o' Irlam, on New Barton Street.

By the time we moved to New Barton Street, I had only six months to do at school. Whilst in Blackpool I had attended Revo School, but my education had remained at a standstill as the teacher who had also been evacuated to Blackpool, spent most of the time looking out of the window at the Tower. Once settled in New Barton Road, I returned to my old school in Langworthy Road, but because it was some distance away I was allowed to leave early to get home before it was dark. All the time I was at school, I was friendly with a girl called Dorothy — we still write!

When I was fourteen I had to leave school and go to work. I got a job in Evan’s Bakehouse, just up the street and across the road from where I lived. It was hard work, but I loved it. Mr Evans was a good boss. I worked there for eight years until I met my husband whilst on holiday in Blackpool, got married and then went to live in Yorkshire.

We made cakes and bread at Evan’s, Wednesdays were devoted to cake baking. Moore’s Bakery in Seedley had made Moore’s Luxury Loaves, cakes, and other fancy goods, but had to concentrate on bread during the war. As bakehouses were rationed to the amount of flour, sugar and other ingredients that they had used before the war, the owner of Moores who was a friend of Mr Evans, let us make Dundee, Madeira and Seed Cakes every week using Moore’s ration of sugar etc.

Whilst working in the bakehouse, I and a girl called Josie, firewatched at Mr Evan’s other shop. If there was a fire we were supposed to go across to the Chemists to tell the men there — luckily there never was a fire to report! One night Josie didn’t turn up and I was frightened in the dark on my own. Josie’s dad called at our house and told my Dad that she wouldn’t be going on watch, so Dad came and took me back home.

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