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24 September 2014

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Childhood Memories

You are in: Stoke & Staffordshire > Inside Lives > Childhood Memories > Winter Magic

Trees in winter

Winter Magic

The magic of being a child...when ordinary things become extraordinary just because they were new. Coll remembers the magical winters of her childhood.

I've lived in Leek in Staffordshire for 33 years, although I am originally from the North East.

I sail, belong to the ramblers, do yoga and belly dancing, sew, write and paint. I am 58 and am looking forward to retiring and having more time for it all!

Around Christmas time I was thinking about the totally bewildering variety of things available now and how little there was when I was a child. In spite of this there was still magic and excitement.

Inside Lives was really stimulating and enjoyable! I have learnt a lot!


When I was a child, hardly anybody had central heating in their homes.

People didn’t have tumble driers or extractor fans, so windows tended to mist up with condensation. In the Winter this froze in the most wonderful delicate patterns, like ferns and flowers and fairy forests.

I used to lick my finger tip and try and "draw" on the patterns to add my own embellishments, but when the window froze again it was never as beautiful as the untouched frost pattern.

Our street was still lit by gas lights when I was a very little girl and I used to love looking out of my bedroom window to see the lamplighter come wobbling up the street on his bike.

He carried a long pole over his shoulder with a hook at the end and tiny red glow you could just about see. He would stop at each lamp post and put the hook through a ring in the glass lantern at the top and then the lamp would light up with a golden glow.

I now realise that the hook was used to turn the gas on, but at the time it seemed as though he was carrying a magic wand that lit things up just by touching.

The whole town was dark and gloomy in the Winter...when there wasn’t a covering of cloud, the steam and smoke and fumes from the steel works and chemical works hung over everything.

But sometimes, something even more magical used to happen. On certain days they would open up the blast furnaces to let them cool so they could rake out the slag. When this happened a brilliant flickering crimson glow would spread across the sky, reflected off the clouds and smoke.

It was an explosion of colour, followed by another and another as all the furnaces were opened and then it would slowly die away to orange and browny red. You could only really see this in the Winter, and seen through a tracery of frost patterns it was pure enchantment.

last updated: 05/07/07

You are in: Stoke & Staffordshire > Inside Lives > Childhood Memories > Winter Magic

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