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Bombed Out in Salford

by Andy Smith

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Andy Smith
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15 May 2005

Present day photo of 46 Romney Street. Last time I saw this house it was 1940 a bombed out shell with no interior walls, windows or doors!


Joan Smith (nee Anderson) was one of a family of seven. She was born in 1923 and lived in Romney Street Salford. During the 1940 Manchester Air Raid Joan worked at Metro Vics in Trafford Park Manchester, once home from work she donned her siren suit and became an ARP warden, (fully equipped with stirrup pump and a bucket full of sand.) This is her story as retold to her son Andrew.

After finishing work at Metro Vics I had taken my usual bus ride back to Salford and was making my way home to Romney St.
As I walked through the maze of terraced streets that made up the area of Salford known as Pendleton the Air Raid Siren started wailing.
As I rounded Saint Georges Church on the corner of Frederic Road and Whit St close to the ARP shelter, I heard the crack of rifle fire, not something you would normally hear on your way home from work even in wartime Salford. At seventeen years of age I was more inquisitive, some would say stupid, than frightened, so I decided to go and find out what was going on.
At the opposite end of the street there was a group of home guard, one of them had his Rifle pointing skyward, as I followed the general direction his rifle was pointing, there, what seemed miles away, was a parachute with what appeared to be a large cigar hanging from it.
The leader of the Home Guard was known to me so I asked him what he was doing, “He`s trying and get it before it lands” he said. I was taken aback, what will happen if you hit it? I asked him, What makes you think we will hit it? Harry couldn`t hit a cows arse with a shovel” he said,” that things so bloody far away he can hardly see it”. Sure enough he was right, the cigar disappeared from view behind the skyline and later was followed by the crump, we had all come to recognise as the sound a bomb made when it exploded. I guessed that it had fallen safely on nearby Kearsal Moor and after getting the all clear continued on my way home.
When I turned the corner of Littleton road into Romney St, my eyes were set on a peculiar sight, it seemed that everyone in the entire street had decided to start spring cleaning at the same time. All the front doors and windows appeared open and the curtains were hanging through the windows on the outside of house and flapping in the breeze. As I got near to my house I was stopped by a member of the civil defence, He told me I could not go any further because the buildings were likely to collapse, it was then that the penny dropped and I realised that I was looking at blast damage, the landmine had landed a few streets away but the blast from the explosion had literally sucked out all the interior walls and left them as rubble piled up inside the house.
Luckily all my family including my father who was bedridden and terminally ill with cancer had been taken to the community shelter when the air raid warning sounded and were unscathed. The house had literally become a shell and was of course uninhabitable, so together with my elder sister Win and our mother, we had to find somewhere to live.
We went to the local housing office, the clerk behind the desk told us to go and find somewhere to live and then let them know where we were. I didn`t understand and asked if they had a house for us anywhere, to which the clerk gave me the usual response heard at that time, “didn`t I know there was a war on?” the council did not have any houses for bomb victims!. We would literally have to find an empty house and squat in it,until the owners of the property could be found, notified and a rent agreed.
We were put up by a local neighbours for a while until we were told of a property in nearby Moor Lane, the 4 bedroomed house had been evacuated by a family who had escaped the bombing by moving into the countryside. The house had been left completely furnished and with what little possessions we had left from our own home it took us no time to move in. After notifying the housing office as instructed it took six months to locate the owners, they had no intention of returning to the house while the war was on and agreed a rent of seven shillings and sixpence a week.
I lived in that house from 1940 until 1946 when I married my husband and moved to Prestwich. My sister and my mother remained there until 1964 when they bought a property of there own and finally moved out.

I was amazed to discover that our bombed out home of 46 Romney St was rebuilt inside and is still occupied to this day.

Joan Smith

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