zaterdag 17 mei 2008

Molly’s Tale Chapter 2 – The move to Backworth Village

When Molly was about seven years old, her father got a new job as payclerk in the colliery offices. There was a house tied to that job, and the family moved to 10 Northumberland Terrace in Backworth. As this was a colliery house there was no rent to pay, and in addition we would be entitled to receive one load of best coal a month. These benefits would ease the family finances somewhat, so it was a good move. At this time Molly’s father was also company secretary for the local blacksmith whose forge was next to the pub. He worked there each morning between 8.00 and 8.30 before walking up to the colliery for 9.00 o’clock.

One the day of the move the whole family was up with the larks as the men with the lorry were expected at 8 o’clock. Molly’s job was to look after Norah in her pram while they were all loading the lorry. But everyone was still busy as it neared 9 o’clock, and Molly decided to leave Norah with the neighbour Mrs Archbold at No 4. Mrs Archbold was happy to help, and Molly went off to school.

At dinner time, the main meal in the middle of the day, Molly walked along to find the new house in Backworth. The family were horrified to find she had been to school, and did not have Norah with her. Molly had to walk back to Holywell to get her, before she was allowed to eat dinner. For a seven year old, this was a long walk, at least three or four kilometres round trip, and would have taken the good part of an hour. On her return there was no time to go back to school that day, and she had to help with the move.
Molly writes that

as a child I often suffered from chilblains and had to go to school in mothers boots when my feet were swollen

I hope on the day of the move she was wearing shoes that fitted properly.

Living in Backworth had benefits, but also brought different chores. The free coal was delivered by the haulier with bad grace, and was always dumped OUTSIDE the coal house; meaning the family had to shovel the whole load inside every time.

There were, of course, no carpets, and the new house had to have floor coverings. The usual practice was to make rag rugs or “clippy mats”. Molly’s father would cut the old clothes into strips and all the children would make short “clippings” of the strips. Then Auntie Lily Todd who lived at number 5 would help them push the rag clipping in and out through the burlap backing to make a firm, warm, “clippie mat”.

Each morning Roy and Molly had to carry water from the tap opposite the Todds house (House number 5) before they went off to school. They filled the large jug and the kettle, and topped up the large washtub that stood in the pantry held 5 pails of water. In the yard there was a large butt for rainwater which was used to wash hands and clean anything. On wash days they had to fill the pot of the boiler and half fill the posstub in the wash house over the road too.

Molly remembered an terrible accident one Thursday. Granny Patterson tripped in the back yard when going to the water butt outside. As she fell she broke the big ware dish that was used for the bread making and cut her wrist. It was a deep gash, and severed a nerve. The poor woman was never able to use the arm again. Granny Patterson died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 68, and her death affected Molly deeply; not only did she miss her greatly, but as oldest child at 9 years old, with a younger brother and two younger sisters, the household chores were mounting.

After her grandmothers death, Molly often went to stay a few days with Aunty Belle Patterson and Granddad Patterson at 9 Gladstone Terrace, Whitley Bay. It must have been quite restful there, and she would have had a lot of attention, and love. She writes

Aunty Belle taught me to knit this edging which I put around a bit of real Irish linen and made a tray cloth. Dad put it on a nice tray we had which we used for mother’s breakfast in bed on Sunday mornings.

Even the haven at her granddad’s house was not sacrosanct for Molly. On one visit, she had only been there two days when her father came to "seek" her as her little sister Louie would not eat because she was fretting so much for Molly. Molly writes:

I cannot remember much about Louie being born but once she could walk she was always in trouble somewhere or other.

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